MN_ExPat reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Twins 7, Guardians 6: Twins Lose (Players), but Win in Walk-off Fashion
SP: Jorge Lopez: 5.2 IP, 8 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (88 pitches, 67 strikes (76%)
Home Runs: Royce Lewis (2), Michael A. Taylor (6)
Top 3 WPA: Royce Lewis (.257), Jorge Polanco (.146), Donovan Solano (.144)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Everything happens in three's
Byron Buxton was a topic of the game. From the booth, Eric Perkins touched a little bit Buxton not in center-field and those have also been echoed by some Twins fans on Twitter. Buxton, while improving, is not a life-long designated hitter and seems to hit better, and is more alive when he is in the outfield. So when will Buxton get back to center field? Probably not anytime soon. He has played in 90% of the games to start this season. However, he is missed in center field.
All this was spoken about before he was drilled in the ribs by a Tanner Bibee fastball. He remained in the game and reached third base, but when his spot came up again, Donovan Solano batted.
Max Kepler continues to work on bringing up his batting average, and it seems to help for him to be playing against the Guardians. Kepler could be in a slump, and stepping up to bat against the Guardians somehow energizes him and brings out the best baseball in him. In his first at-bat, Kepler singled, but was ultimately stranded. Later, he ripped a ball into right field scoring Kirilloff, tying the game. But, ultimately was replaced by Willi Castro, leaving the game with a migraine. An issue he hasn't really battled before, or at least has been mentioned. Either way, his presence tonight before leaving was vital to the outcome of the game.
Carlos Correa made ball contact tonight, but left the game with re-aggravated plantar fasciitis. He was replaced by Kyle Farmer, who had five at-bats but wasn't able to produce anything.
Plenty of Offense to go around
Pablo Lopez started out strong in his 12th start with the Twins, his sixth start at Target Field. With the exception of the one run in the second inning, Lopez was able to control the game through five innings. The Twins offense answered in the fourth getting a run of their own to tie up the game and then continued to get runs in the fifth inning.
One of the bright spots of the night was Michael A. Taylor's home run into left center field pulling the Twins ahead 2-1. Taylor doesn't have the best offensive numbers, but he continues to come in clutch. Christian Vasquez got a double with only one out on the inning and the infield came in for Alex Kirilloff, thinking they would be able to stop him. It did the Guardians no good, Kirilloff hit a high line drive above the head of second baseman Andres Gimenez to score Vasquez.
The Twins were up 3-1, but that all changed with a walk from Myles Straw. Lopez was really struggling to get out of the inning, his command waivered and the Guardians took advantage. They scored five runs in the inning to take a 6-3 with two outs. Lopez was replaced by Emilio Pagan to finish out the inning with no additional damage.
Pagan added a smooth seventh inning, with a little assistance from Joey Gallo who robbed Steven Kwan of a base hit diving after the ball in superman fashion for the first out of the inning and then catching a fly ball from Ramirez. The eighth inning was touch-and-go for Pagan and the Twins defense, the Guardians certainly threatened by putting two guys on, but they were left stranded.
The Twins battled back in the eighth inning with another single from Willi Castro (replaced Kepler) giving way to Donovan Solano (replaced Buxton) to double and score Castro to get the game within two runs. With Solano on base and an 0-for-3 count on the night, Royce Lewis stepped up to the plate and on a 1-1 count, timed a perfect swing hitting a 421 foot homerun to tie up the game.
Griffin Jax held the Guardians to six runs, and Vasquez and the Twins brought the funk and the noise in the ninth inning. Not in the mood for extra innings, the Twins decided to clean up in the ninth inning. Jorge Polanco had a night like Lewis, came up to the plate with 0-for-4 count and ripped a ball into right field down the first base line putting the Twins in a position to generate runs.
With no outs, the Guardians who had seen enough of Kirilloff and his bat for the night, walked him to load the bases in hopes of a double play. But Castro ruined their plans. On a change-up, Castro hit a sac fly deep into center field, sending Jeffers (pinch runner for Vasquez) home to walk-off the Guardians. The first walk off win for Castro and the first win of the series for the Twins.
The Twins will spend the weekend in a match with the Guardians before taking on the other first place team, Tampa Bay Rays starting Tuesday.
Friday 7:10 pm: RHP Bailey Ober (3-2, 2.68 ERA) vs. RHP Aaron Civale (1-1, 2.84ERA)
Saturday 6:15 pm: RHP Sonny Gray (4-0, 1.94 ERA) vs. LHP L.T. Allen (2-2, 2.72 ERA)
Sunday 2:10 pm: RHP Joe Ryan (7-2, 2.77 ERA) vs. TBD (not posted as of 6/1/23)
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
MN_ExPat reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Twins 8, Astros 2: Bats Erupt, Varland Throws a Gem, Twins Win the Series
Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 7.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (86 pitches, 66 strikes, 76.7%)
Home Runs: none
Top 3 WPA: Louie Varland (.229), Donovan Solano (.184), Ryan Jeffers (.095)
Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)
Early offense (finally!) delivers with the bases loaded
Rookie starter Hunter Brown took the mound for Houston, hoping to carry on his solid season thus far. Instead, the Twins’ offense drove his pitch count up early and did some bases-loaded damage to back up Louie Varland. Though the offense went down in order in the first two innings of the game, a 12-pitch at-bat from Alex Kirilloff in the first had Brown reaching 21 pitches to end the inning. Meanwhile, Varland needed only 17 pitches to cruise through two, and he got some run support right away.
The bottom third of the Twins’ lineup ambushed Brown in the third, with the first three Minnesota batters reaching: after Max Kepler and Willi Castro hit back-to-back singles, Michael A. Taylor drew a four-pitch walk to load them up. Before tonight’s game, the Twins had gone 5-for-46 (.109) with the bases juiced this season – the worst batting average in said situations. Could they break the slump?
Édouard Julien struck out next for the first out, but Donovan Solano didn’t waste his opportunity and snapped a team 0-for-14 skid with the bases loaded. He slapped a single to shallow right to score Kepler and Castro and send Taylor to third. Then, Kirilloff came through with a chopper to the gap at short to push Taylor across and make it 3-0 Minnesota.
Bats cash in with the bases loaded again; Varland still cruising
Despite closing in on 80 pitches, Brown remained in the game, and the Twins took advantage of that once again. After coming out of the fourth empty-handed, Minnesota’s offense added on in the fifth. Solano and Kyle Farmer reached on a one-out walk and a two-out single. But with Brown surpassing the 100-pitch mark, he was pulled from the game with two outs.
Facing reliever Parker Mushinski, Joey Gallo got hit in the elbow on the very first pitch of the at-bat, and suddenly, the bases were loaded again. Red-hot Jeffers, who had been slashing .400/.500/.867 in the previous seven games, made Mushinski pay: he smacked a long double to center that would’ve been a bases-clearing hit had it not one-hopped into the bullpen and been ruled a ground-rule double. Solano and Farmer scored, making it 5-0 Twins. This was the first time in the season that the Twins got two bases-loaded hits in the same game.
Varland continued to dominate the Astros lineup with ease, completing five scoreless on only 53 pitches. He also continued to be rewarded for his superb performance with more run support. Castro and Taylor opened the top of the sixth with a single and a walk against Mushinski, and the offense was at it again. Solano crushed a double to left to bring home both runners and make it 7-0 Minnesota.
Varland completes seven, a career-high
Heck, even when Varland wasn’t so sharp, he got some more run support. After recording the first two outs in the bottom of the sixth on only nine pitches, the Minnesota native lost the next two batters to a single and a walk, his first of the night. He got the force out in the following at-bat and kept the zero on the scoreboard, but not before throwing 20 pitches in the inning, his longest one of the night.
The offense added on against reliever Seth Martinez in the top of the seventh. Castro drew a two-out walk, stole second, then was pushed across by a Taylor double to center, making it 8-0 Minnesota. Varland came back for the home half of the inning with only 73, and he delivered yet another scoreless frame to complete seven shutout innings. Before tonight’s game, Varland’s longest start of his young career had been the 6 1/3 he tossed against the Cubs earlier this month.
Jorge López continues to struggle badly
Having allowed earned runs in three of his previous four games, Jorge López came into the game in the eighth hoping to get back on track after an awful month of May. Unfortunately, he would end up having what was maybe his worst outing as a Twin. Jake Meyers hit a leadoff home run on the very first pitch of the inning, which was followed by another home run next, by Yainer Díaz, scoring Houston’s second run.
He then lost Mauricio Dubón on a ten-pitch walk and hit Jeremy Peña on the fingers next, giving Houston the chance to cut the lead down to only three on a swing of the bat. Rocco Baldelli decided to bring Brock Stewart in before López could record an out. Stewart did a phenomenal job by striking out the side on 13 pitches to shut down the Astros’ rally. López, who didn’t allow a single run during his March and April outings, ends the month of May with a 9.00 ERA.
José De León pitched around a hit batter in the bottom of the ninth, and with that, the Twins secured only their second road series win on the season, the first one since the Royals series that opened the season for the Twins.
The Twins head back home, where they’ll start a four-game series against the Cleveland Guardians at Target Field. The series opener is scheduled for 6:40 pm CDT on Thursday (6/1), with Pablo López (3-3, 4.11 ERA) set to make the start for Minnesota and Tanner Bibee (1-1, 2.88 ERA) toeing the rubber for Cleveland.
Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sands 0 16 0 48 0 64 Stewart 13 0 18 0 13 44 J. López 22 0 6 0 16 44 De León 0 27 0 0 16 43 Durán 12 0 29 0 0 41 Jax 0 12 0 8 0 20 Morán 9 0 0 1 0 10 Pagán 0 7 0 0 0 7
MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Personal Cheeseballs: First Basemen
It’s not that it never works out. It’s that it almost never works out. Prince Fielder (7th overall in 2002) is an exception. Adrian Gonzalez (1st overall in 2000) is an exception. Beyond that, it’s been pretty brutal.
Matt LaPorta, the 7th overall pick in 2007, was a complete bust.
Eric Hosmer (3rd overall in 2008) helped the Royals win a ring in 2015, but has always been attached to a terrible contract since. Michael Aubrey, Justin Smoak, Allan Dykstra are other examples of first-round busts.
The latest wave of Spencer Torkelson and Andrew Vaughn, who went 1st and 3rd overall, has been disappointing so far.
When the bat doesn’t play as expected, what’s left? Well, maybe that has teams viewing players differently. Let’s take a look at some of my favorite first basemen this year.
The term “personal cheeseball” (better represented by #personalcheeseball) originated over twenty years ago in the Baseball America offices when former writer and current Twins scout John Manuel started using it as “shorthand for a personal favorite that does not reflect the popular consensus.”
We’ve covered almost every position so far in this series. And, again, as a warning, my radar isn’t reflective of any single team’s preferences or draft board.
Tre’ Morgan, LSU: If you’ve watched any LSU baseball this year, you’ve definitely noticed Morgan. And that’s probably because of the long curly bleached-blonde hair that can’t be contained by his hat. He’s also nothing like a typical first baseman. He’s sleek and athletic and likely has the ability to play other places around the diamond. There isn’t the power in the bat to play first, but he’s so good defensively that it works. It will be very interesting to see where he’s deployed at the professional level. Morgan probably comes off the board early on Day 2.
Nolan Schanuel, Florida Atlantic: Schanuel will be the first pure first baseman to get drafted, but will he sneak into Round 1? At this point, it appears so. Schanuel profiles as more of an all-around hitter than power hitter despite putting up good power numbers. Teams that buy into analytics will appreciate him and his ability to put up impressive exit velocities.
Brock Vradenburg, Michigan State: Vradenburg is sort of the opposite of Schanuel. He’s not going to be put up silly exit velocities, but his almost 1.300 OPS this season is an indication of how much power he has in his bat and his ability to work the zone. Vradenburg will likely go in the middle third of the second day.
Drew Williamson, Alabama: The back half of the second day is going to be littered with seniors and that almost assuredly is where Williamson goes. He’ll save the signing team six figures and in return they’ll get a powerful first baseman who has a good eye and the potential to be more than organizational filler. He won’t have time on his side as he’ll make his pro debut as a 23-year-old, but there is potential here.
Sam Harris, Iowa prep (committed to Duke): Harris will likely make it to campus and be a high pick in three years. He’s got the power profile and depending on how he develops may be able to spend some time in the outfield. If a team can bank up some money to throw at an early Day 3 pick, Harris would be a good option.
Next week we will look at some more outfielders who didn’t make the first list.
There are plenty of others that could have been listed here. This isn’t to say anyone is or isn’t going to be a good draft or baseball prospect. If you have your own local #personalcheeseball, leave in the comments!
MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/24): A Walkoff, a Blowout Win, a Loss, and a Rainout
On Wednesday afternoon, the Minnesota Twins salvaged the third game of their three-game series against the San Francisco Giants. They got another solid start from Joe Ryan, and Edouard Julien and Matt Wallner both contributed mightily to the Twins win.
Fort Myers was rained out on Wednesday, but the three other affiliates played. There were some big innings. There were comebacks. There was a walkoff. There was a Quality Start. There were homers, and lots of multi-hit games. Continue on to find out what all happened.
St. Paul Saints: 24-21
Wichita Wind Surge: 19-21
Cedar Rapids Kernels: 22-19
Fort Myers Mighty Mussels: 23-17
Let’s get to the report. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions.
No transactions on Wednesday.
St. Paul 6, Omaha 5
In the bottom of the second inning, the Saints put up a big five spot. Were they able to hang on to that lead? Well, Omaha scored three runs in the top of the third and another in the fourth. But as the game went into the ninth inning, the Saints still held a 5-4 lead.
Before we get to that, let’s talk about that five-run second frame. Hernan Perez got the team on the board with a double to score Ryan LaMarre. Jair Camargo followed with a single that drove in Perez with the second run. Royce Lewis, who batted second and played third base, then lined a double to left field that drove in Camargo and Andrew Stevenson. Finally, Jose Miranda singled to score Lewis with the fifth run of the inning.
Lefty Brent Headrick was the Saints starter. In the third inning, he gave up a three-run homer to Royals middle infield prospect Nick Loftin. He also was charged with an unearned run in the fourth inning. In all, Headrick needed 82 pitches to work through four innings. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on seven hits and two walks. He recorded three strikeouts.
Josh Winder had a nice outing. He tossed 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, walked three and struck out four batters. Connor Sadzeck got the next four outs, three on strikeouts while maintaining the 5-4 lead. Oliver Ortega came on and walked a batter before getting a strikeout to get the eighth inning.
In the top of the ninth inning, Ortega remained on the mound. He got the first batter to line out. Then he recorded a strikeout. With two outs, Logan Porter hit a soft single. Ortega then got a ground ball, but a throwing error put runners on first and third. Unfortunately, Dairon lined an 88 mph single that tied the score at five. Ortega got the final out on a fly out.
So the Saints had to take their at-bats in the bottom of the ninth. Andrew Stevenson got things started with an opposite-field single. With Andrew Bechtold batting, Stevenson stole second base, his 16th of the season. Then on a 3-2 count, Bechtold hit a ground ball that the pitcher deflected toward second base, but he beat the throw to first. With runners on first and third and nobody out, Jose Miranda stepped to the plate. Bechtold took second on Defensive Indifference before Miranda walked it off with a single to left field to give the Saints a 6-5 win.
Jose Miranda went 2-for- 5 with two RBI in the game. Lewis played the first seven innings before being replaced by Bechtold. Lewis went 2-for-4 with a double and two RBI. Stevenson went 2-for-5.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 13, Springfield 1
It was a big day for the Wind Surge offense. They had a four-run third inning. In the seventh, they had a five-run inning to increase their lead to 10-1. They added three more in the eighth inning to provide the final score. Wichita had 18 hits and four walks in the game. Eight of nine starters had at least one hit. Seven of nine had multi-hit games. Three players had three hits in the game.
We will get into the specifics for the hitters, but it's always important to highlight strong pitching. Blayne Enlow was the beneficiary of the offensive explosion, but he again did his job and kept the Cardinals’ prospects at bay. Enlow started with five shutout innings. He then gave up one run in the sixth inning. He was very efficient as well. He had just one out (the final batter he faced), but he also walked no one. He needed just 76 pitches to get through six innings. When the offense had their long, five-run seventh inning, his night was over. It was his third Quality Start of the season.
Following the game, Blayne Enlow told Twins Daily, “It felt great. Complete opposite of last outing with the Ks (he had 10 strikeouts in 5 ⅓ innings), but I made the right pitches when I needed to and got weak contact that the defense just vacuumed up today.”
Lefty Denny Bentley is back. He got five outs in this game, two on strikeouts. Alex Scherff gave up three hits and a walk over the final 1 1/3 innings, but also did not allow a run.
Back to the offense. Let’s start with the big hits. In the four-run third, Anthony Prato got things started with a solo home run, his second of the season. Soon after, Yoyner Fajardo doubled in a run, and that was followed by Brooks Lee’s fourth homer of the year. Fajardo drove in Prato with a single in the fourth inning to make it 5-0.
Yunior Severino got things going in the five-run seventh frame. His sixth double scored Brooks Lee. Next, Jake Rucker scored on a passed ball. DaShawn Keirsey’s seventh double (you need to see this one!) drove in two runs and the scoring for the inning was complete when Pat Winkel singled in Keirsey.
Yoyner Fajardo has been incredible with the Wind Surge this season. In the eighth inning, he singled in another run. Lee followed with his 13th double. Finally, Severino hit into a double play that scored the team’s 13th and final run of the night.
Fajardo, who came to the Twins organization as a minor-league Rule 5 pick this offseason, is speedy. But after his 3-for-5 night pushes his batting average to .316. The 24-year-old outfielder’s on-base percentage is up to .377. Following the game, Fajardo noted, "My thoughts for tonight were to hit (the ball to) the middle since the opposing team threw me a lot of breaking pitches the night before. I tried to think for the middle, and thank God, the results turned out well."
Jake Rucker went 3-for-5. Seth Gray went 3-for-4 with a triple in the game. Brooks Lee went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, and a home run. His batting average is now .252 with an OPS of .753. Severino went 2-for-5. Keirsey went 2-for-5. Winkel went 2-for-4 with a walk.
We seem to always highlight when the Twins and their affiliates don’t do well with runners in scoring position. Well, in this game, the Wind Surge went 7-for-9 in those situations.
Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 4 (10 innings)
The Kernels hosted an afternoon game on Wednesday. It was quite a pitchers duel and needed an extra inning to decide it.
Jaylen Nowlin made the start. The southpaw was charged with one run on seven hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out five batters. Regi Grace came on and worked two scoreless innings. He gave up one hit, walked two and struck one out. Miguel Rodriguez worked two perfect innings and struck out one batter.
Niklas Rimmel came on for the top of the 10th inning. As you know, the Rattlers started the inning with a runner on second base. Rimmel got a strikeout of Robert Moore. However, Matthew Wood singled to left which advanced the runner, Eric Brown Jr., to third base. However, Rimmel got Ben Metzinger to line out for the second out of the inning. Unfortunately, Joe Gray Jr drilled a three-run homer to put Wisconsin in front 4-1.
With one out in the bottom of the 10th inning, Jeferson Morales singled to drive in the “Manfred Man” Andrew Cossetti to deficit to 4-2. But that was it for the Kernels and they fall to 22-19.
In the game, the Kernels managed just three hits. Misael Urbina hit a solo homer leading off the second inning. Along with his 10th inning single, Morales had one of the team’s four walks. In his first High-A game, Cossetti went 0-for-4.
Bonus Brewers Content
(If you are a friend of the Brewers, or know people who are, be sure to send them to Brewer Fanatic.)
For the Brewer Fanatic readers checking out today’s report, here are a few notes. OF Joe Gray was the Brewers second-round pick in 2018 out of high school in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. In high school, he played with and against Kernels RHP Regi Grace and OF Willie Joe Garry. Alexander Cornielle gave up one run on two hits and two walks over 5 1/3 innings. Alex Hall went 2-for-3 with a walk. Matthew Wood was the Brewers fourth round pick out of Penn State last year. He had two hits in this game and is now hitting .344 with an .806 OPS in eight games since his promotion.
Finally, 2022 top pick, shortstop Eric Brown Jr. was hit in the face by a pitch in late April. At the time, he was hitting .137/.267/.157 (.424) with one double in 14 games. After missing about 10 days, he returned to the lineup in early May. In 18 games since his return, he has hit .329/.429/.471 (.900) with four doubles and two homers. Overall, he has 17 walks with 22 strikeouts in 144 plate appearances. He also has 20 stolen bases and has only been caught twice. Definitely one to watch, including in this two-part Brewers Spotlight interview.
Fort Myers, Dunedin (PPD-Rain)
The game was postponed due to weather and field conditions in Dunedin. The teams will make up the game as part of a doubleheader on Saturday. .
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Blayne Enlow (Wichita Wind Surge) - 6 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 0 BB, 1 K. 76 pitches, 49 strikes (62.2%).
Hitter of the Day – Brooks Lee (Wichita Wind Surge) - 2-for-4, BB, 2B(13), HR(4), 3 R, 3 RBI, K.
Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Wednesday.
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 2-for-4, BB, 2B(13), HR(4), 3 R, 3 RBI, K,
#2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul-Rehab) - 2-for-4, 2B(1), R, 2 RBI, 2 K, E. (played 3B).
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, BB, K.
#4 - Edouard Julien (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, BB, HR(3), 2 R, 2 RBI, SF, K, E
#9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, 2B(1), R, RBI, SB,
#12 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, BB, 2 K.
#13 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4.
#15 - Brent Headrick (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K, 82 pitches, 51 strikes (62.2%)
#17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 6 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 76 pitches, 49 strikes (64.5%)
#19 - Yunior Severino (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 2B(6), R, RBI, K .
THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE AND PITCHING PROBABLES
Omaha @ St. Paul (7:07 PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez (2-4, 4.89 ERA)
Wichita @ Springfield (7:05 PM CST) - RHP David Festa (2-2, 5.58 ERA)
Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Kyle Jones (2-2, 3.62 ERA)
Fort Myers @ Dunedin (5:30 PM CST) - TBD
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Consensus MLB Draft Board V2
How to Use This Tool
This is hopefully easy to navigate. For a full explainer on the what, why, and how, here’s the explainer for V1. For each ranked player, you’ll see position, age, ranking, school, first name, last name, height, weight, handedness (S=switch), future value (not yet), and writeup. Every top 100 player has a writeup, if you hover over the report icon for that player, it’ll give you notes on players tools, strengths, areas of growth, and recent performance.
What’s New for V2?
Here’s some brief notes about V2 of the Consensus Board:
The rankings are based on a consensus from 10 draft boards that provide a range of evaluations from well-known industry standard boards, to more data-driven boards. I DID NOT update writeups for the players who remained in the top 100 from the beginning of May. I’ll update them a final time on a rolling basis between June and July. I added ten more writeups for prospects who moved into the consensus top 100 since the beginning of May. If you see a prospect outside the top 100 with a writeup, it means they’ve fallen out (I’m not adding new reports outside the top 100). Finally, I color coded the top 75 players to track risers and fallers between V1 and V2. Specifically: Light green - moved up 5-9 spots Dark green - moved up 10+ spots Light red - moved down 5-9 spots Dark red - moved down 10+ spots What’s Next?
The Consensus Board will get one more big update, to be published at the beginning of July. Additionally, there will be updates to the notes of the most significant prospects, accounting for their end of season performance (particularly for college players), in addition to future value grades added for prospects in the final version of the board.
The final rankings will also be published as articles at all three sites. I recognize that some folks may prefer to consume rankings as an article, so I’ll publish them with write ups as part of a 2 or 3 part series in the final week leading up to the draft, working to get players highlights added to those pieces.
If you have questions or feedback about the process or generation of the board, please use the comments. I want readers at all three sites to feel well-informed and excited about the draft and the influx of talent to their favorite teams. Whether it's an idea to make the rankings better, catching a mistake (I’m sure there are some), or a comment on who you want your team to draft, we’d love to hear from you. Jeremy Nygaard and I will be working to provide y’all with comprehensive draft coverage as July gets closer, so let’s chop it up!
2023 Consensus MLB Draft Board V2
MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, What do the Twins Have in Louie Varland?
Last season saw the Minnesota Twins call on Louie Varland in a big spot on the road facing the New York Yankees. He went on to make five starts and posted a 3.81 ERA. He more than held his own, and while it wasn’t expected for Varland to crack the rotation out of spring training, he was a key part of the starting rotation depth established by Minnesota.
Fast forward to where Rocco Baldelli finds his club now, with both Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda n the shelf, and Varland is squarely in line for an extended run. It’s not often you find success through the lens of a 15th round pick, but this is both Varland's and the Twins opportunity to showcase his development.
Derek Falvey was hired on the premise of his pitching development prowess when with the Cleveland Guardians. Minnesota has not seen as much of that take place during his tenure, but Varland gives the organization another option alongside Bailey Ober. While Varland has yet to see the same level of success, there is reason to believe he could take another step forward.
Through five starts and 28 innings this season, Varland has compiled a 31/7 K/BB, which is a significant jump from the 7.3 K/9 he posted a year ago. Although there is not a substantial amount of familiarity developed with opponents yet, he has shown that attacking the game’s best hitters is not something that deters him. Aaron Judge struck out in their first matchup last season (before eventually taking him deep), and Varland got both Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani (before the designated hitter went yard) on Saturday night in Anaheim.
Coming into professional baseball from a Division II school in Concordia, St. Paul, Varland saw a very real jump in talent, but also a jump in development. He went from being a low-90’s arm to pushing his fastball into the mid-90’s and having nearly reached triple-digits. This season Varland has averaged 95.2 mph on his fastball, which is nearly a two mph jump from where he was a year ago.
Leaning into his repertoire a bit more, the former Golden Bear has upped the slider usage in 2023 and his whiff rate is nearly double what it was last season. Varland is also allowing less contact, dropping down to 74.3% while having a good amount of success out of the strike zone.
The biggest thing holding him back continues to be the longball, and that has gotten worse than last season. Despite keeping opposing hitters below a 40% hard hit rate, far too often Varland’s offerings are being barreled. Owning a 6.4% barrel rate last year and now jumping up over 10%, he’s seen nearly one-quarter of the balls put in the air against him leave the yard. Having allowed seven homers in just 28 innings this year, it’s often been the longball that has done him in.
Fortunately Varland has kept the bases clean when giving up home runs. With a tight walk rate and manageable hit rate, the big fly has often been limited to solo shots. Still though, with the threat of a single swing doing significant damage at any point, it’s a part of his game that can be improved upon as he grows.
Without the pedigree of a big school and a background with significant technology to work through, it seems fair to reason that the developmental curve could be longer here. Varland has impressed at each level, and he’s taken measurable strides forward every season in pro ball. This wasn’t an expected path, but he’s certainly established himself as a capable fifth arm in a Major League rotation. The hope for Minnesota is that he can continue to grow and tweak his game, potentially serving as a number three down the line.
What the Twins get from Varland this season remains to be seen, but he has a sizable opportunity in front of him. As a tireless worker and someone who has shown an ability to make consistent improvements, watching him grow at the highest level could be a good amount of fun in the year ahead.
MN_ExPat reacted to Lou Hennessy for an article, It's Louie's Time to Shine
Louie Varland didn’t spend the offseason planning for an easy ride to MLB stardom. He didn’t head to the Dominican Republic or Mexico to play winter ball. He didn’t hang around with an entire entourage of MLB players (aside from his brother Gus Varland , who is currently rehabbing in Triple-A for the Milwaukee Brewers).
Instead, he mixed in his off-season workouts around a side hustle working for the man. More specifically, he worked for his old man, Wade, who owns Varland drywall. Surely, plastering drywall didn’t have some magical effect on his pitches, their individual intricacies and his execution of each offering. But those pitches in his repertoire are already off to a great start for the 25-year-old. They even share some key characteristics with a certain surefire future member of the Hall of Fame. So what has made Varland Drywall’s ace effective so far in his young career, and what can he patch up if he wants to reach his ceiling?
One of the young right-hander’s biggest areas of growth over the last few seasons has been his fastball, especially in terms of adding velocity. He topped out at 88-89 mph while pitching for Concordia University, St. Paul, but has already ramped all the way up to averaging 95.7 mph on his heater in 2023. In his game this week against the Padres, he hit 99 mph.
On its own, that velocity is solid, if unspectacular (45th percentile). But Varland’s fastball also boasts above-average spin, creating more deception for opposing hitters. So far, his four-seamer has resulted in a 26.1% whiff rate in his three starts, which is above the league average over the last two years (22.3%).
He works quickly, using that fastball early in counts so that he can set the table for his strong secondary offerings. His changeup has had more swinging-misses than any of the other options in his repertoire (43.5% whiff rate), but he’s limited damage with his high-spin cutter (.267 opponent slugging percentage). On top of that, he has a plus slider that he’s used less often in 2023, but was his most effective offering in 2022. Look for him to start using it more as the season progresses and the league adjusts to him as a more permanent fixture in the Twins’ rotation for the time being.
Interestingly enough, Varland’s pitches have a high similarity score to those in Max Scherzer’s 2022 repertoire in terms of velocity and movement according to Baseball Savant. Granted, this doesn’t mean that he’s bound to follow in the steps of a three-time Cy Young award winner. But it’s encouraging to see that his raw stuff bears a resemblance to a frontline starter in a season where he had a 2.29 ERA and struck out 30.6% of opponents faced.
In order to have a performance in the same realm as Scherzer had when he was healthy last year, Varland is going to have to find a way to limit the damage on that same fastball that has developed into a mid-to-upper nineties weapon. While its growth has been impressive, it still gets knocked around a decent amount. It’s not uncommon to have a higher expected slugging percentage on fastballs, but Varland’s .690 mark in that regard is not sustainable for how essential it is when it comes to setting up the rest of the at-bat. This can be seen in the fact that he currently finds himself below average when it comes to barrel percentage (9th percentile) and average exit velocity (41st percentile). When hitters get a hold of one, it gets plastered, and not in the way that Varland is familiar with.
With veterans Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda out for the foreseeable future, Varland is going to have an extended opportunity to hone his craft at the game’s highest level on the fly. Like he did with his dad in the offseason, he’ll have success by hitting the corners, working quickly and paving over the cracks that are presented to him.
What do you think? Have you been encouraged by the North St. Paul product? What are reasonable expectations for Varland going forward? Let us know what you think in the comment section below.
MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/13): Offense Continues to Surge for Wichita
Let’s get to the report. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions in the COMMENTS. I plan to check in frequently to answer as many questions as we get.
With Max Kepler going on the Injured List with a hamstring injury, the Twins recalled Trevor Larnach from St. Paul. RHP Dereck Rodriguez was optioned to St. Paul with Cole Sands being recalled by the Twins. 1B Tyler White was activated from the Development List. Wichita announced that RHP Tyler Beck has been released. OF Alerick Soularie has been activated from the IL. He had been hit by a pitch in the wrist. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 1, Indianapolis 3
In the bottom of the first inning, Matt Wallner hit his third home run for the Saints this season. Unfortunately, that was the only run for the Saints on Saturday afternoon.
Aaron Sanchez made the start for the Saints. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on seven hits and three walks over 4 1/3 innings. He had two strikeouts. Kody Funderburk came out of the bullpen and recorded six outs, three of them came on strikeouts. He gave up no runs and no hits, though he walked one. Patrick Murphy and Oliver Ortega didn’t allow a run or a hit over the final 2 2/3 innings.
Wallner had a good day at the plate. He went 2-for-3 with a walk, a double, and the home run. Edouard Julien had a single and a walk out of the leadoff spot. Jose Miranda went 1-for-5. Hernan Perez added a triple.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 12, Frisco 3
The Wind Surge offense just continues to, well, surge. After scoring 16 runs on Wednesday and 13 runs on Friday, they scored a dozen runs on Saturday and won their fifth straight game. In the first five games of the series, the Wind Surge have outscored the RoughRiders 54-26.
In this game, the offense was just very consistent throughout the game. They scored in six of the nine innings. They had 11 hits and 10 walks in the game.
What you’re here for… Brooks Lee was back in the lineup, leading off and playing third base. He went 0-for-4 but walked twice. Royce Lewis played the first seven innings at shortstop and batted second. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double. He also added a stolen base. The two combined to score five of the team’s runs.
Yunior Severino remains on fire. After hitting two home runs on Friday night, he went 3-for-4 with a walk and his 10th home run of the season. That is four home runs in five games so far this series. Jake Rucker went 2-for-4 with a double and five RBI. (So yes, the top four hitters in the lineup went a combined 7-for-15 with 10 runs scored and eight driven in.)
Pat Winkel went 2-for-4 with a walk and did a very nice job behind the plate. Alerick Soularie returned from his wrist injury and went 1-for-3 with two walks.
David Festa made the start for the Wind Surge and looked really good, frequently hitting 98 mph with his fastball. He was charged with one run on four hits and two walks over five innings. He had four strikeouts.
Festa told Twins Daily what helped make him successful, “My fastball command was definitely better than previous outings, and (Pat) Winkel did a great job calling the game. We were both on the same page, and the defense was great behind me.”
And Festa also enjoyed the opportunity to face big-league rehabber Corey Seager. In the first inning, Seager grounded out to second base. In the fourth frame, Seager popped up to the catcher. In the fifth inning, Festa walked the $325 million man.
“Facing Corey Seager was awesome. An elite hitter like him, in a few big situations, was such a cool experience.”
Seth Nordlin came on and gave up two runs on four hits and three walks over two innings. Jose Bravo walked one and struck out four batters over the final two, scoreless, innings.
Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2
The Kernels clinched a series win in Davenport on Saturday night with a 4-2 win.
Kyle Jones went the first four innings and gave up just one run on three hits. He walked two batters and struck out five batters. Niklas Rimmel came on and gave up one run on three walks over 1 2/3 innings. He struck out three batters. Malik Barrington entered the game with the bases loaded and allowed just one of the inherited runners to score. In total, he went 1 2/3 innings and gave up no runs on one hit and one walk. He struck out two batters. Miguel Rodriguez gets the save with 1 2/3 scoreless innings.
Following the game, Barrington told Twins Daily, “Honestly, I try not to think about the runners when it’s a bases-loaded situation. My mentality in that situation is to just attack the hitter because if I give up a hit there, then runners are scoring regardless.” He continued, “Anytime I can get out of a jam, especially in that scenario, is a big confidence boost, and it gets the team going as well. So in that scenario, I just think ‘never shy away from competition. It’s a do-or-die situation, so throw the best I have and trust that I will be successful.’”
The Kernels took the lead right away in the first inning when a Tanner Schobel double scored Ben Ross. Then Misael Urbina singled in Schobel for the second run. Then in the fourth frame, Ernie Yake hit a triple that scored Kyler Fedko before he was singled in by Ross.
Cedar Rapids had seven hits by seven different hitters. The two batters that didn’t get a hit combined for three walks. They had more opportunities to score but went 2-for-9 with runners in scoring position.
Fort Myers 5, Tampa 2
The Mighty Mussels had a four-run fifth inning and held on late to record their fifth straight win against the Yankees affiliate.
In that fifth frame, Andrew Cossetti “drove in” the first run with a bases-loaded walk. That was followed by a bases-clearing triple off the bat of Carlos Aguiar. Aguiar drove in the other run on a fielder’s choice in the seventh inning.
It may not surprise you that the Mighty Mussels managed just three hits in this game and had 14 strikeouts. However, they had the patience to coax 10 walks. Cossetti hit his ninth double and walked three times. Danny De Andrade, Dalton Shuffield, and Alec Sayre each had two walks.
The Mighty Mussels had a really good day on the mound. Lefty Wilker Reyes made his first start (fifth appearance) of the season. He gave up two hits and walked three batters, but he threw two scoreless innings with the help of three strikeouts. The 21-year-old topped out at 91.7 mph.
Sam Perez improved to 3-1 with three innings of one-hit baseball. He had six strikeouts and didn’t issue a walk. Perez is an interesting prospect. He has experienced a lot of success in the low levels of the minor leagues. He was the Twins Daily Short-Season Pitcher of the Year in 2021. As you see in this game, he gets swings-and-misses. But the southpaw tops out at 83.3 mph. Statcast calls out 38 of his 48 pitches as change ups. However, the velocity range on the pitch are from 72.5 to 83.3 mph, so my assumption is that his fastball and his changeup are both called changeups.
Right-hander Jackson Hicks gave up three hits but no runs over two scoreless innings. He had three strikeouts. The 25-year-old threw 32 pitches and 20 of them were 81-84 mph sliders. His fastball topped out at 91.8 mph, but he threw just 10 fastballs.
Finally, Zach Veen, the third lefty of the day, came in for the final two innings. He pitched a scoreless eighth frame, but a leadoff error led to two unearned runs in the ninth inning. He struck out two batters and dropped his ERA to 1.20 this season. The 2022 draft pick threw 25 breaking balls among his 41 pitches.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – David Festa (Wichita Wind Surge) - 5 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 4 K. 70 pitches, 43 strikes.
Hitter of the Day – Matt Wallner (St. Paul Saints) -2-for-3, BB, 2B(7), HR(3), R, RBI.
Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Wednesday.
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 0-for-4, 2 BB, 2 R, K, SB
#2 - Royce Lewis (Wichita-on Rehab) - 2-for-3, BB, 2B, R, RBI
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, BB, K, E(2)
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 2-for-3, BB, 2B(7), HR(3), R, RBI.
#13 - David Festa (Wichita) - 5 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 70 pitches, 43 strikes.
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-3, BB, K, SB(6).
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, BB, 2B(4), R, RBI, 3K.
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, RBI, 2K.
SUNDAY’S SCHEDULE AND PITCHING PROBABLES
Toledo @ St. Paul(2:07 PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (0-0, 2.45 ERA)
Wichita @ Frisco (4:05 PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams (1-4, 8.50 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (1:00 PM CST) - LHP Jordan Carr (0-1, 3.00 ERA)
Tampa @ Fort Myers (11:00 AM CST) - RHP Cory Lewis (3-1, 3.00 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Saturday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/11): Royce Returns
St. Paul 8, Indianapolis 7
Twins pitching prospect Simeon Woods Richardson made the start for the Saints. It was a tough outing as he lasted just 4 1/3 innings giving up five runs on six hits. Richardson did punch out four and allowed only a single walk but ceded a pair of longballs. His ERA on the seasons sits at 7.17.
After getting behind 1-0 in the 2nd inning, Ryan LaMarre evened things through a throwing error that plated Mark Contereras. The 3rd inning saw Indianapolis plate four and St. Paul fell behind by a score of 5-1
The Twins sent Trevor Larnach down to find power, and he did so with a 3rd inning solo shot to right field. Michael Helman then walked with the bases loaded in the 5th inning and brought Larnach across the plate. Andrew Stevenson then singled to score Kyle Garlick and it was a 5-4 game.
Looking to regain the lead Larnach blasted his second dinger of the evening and knotted things up. Michael Helman then tripled for the first time this season, scoring Garlick to take the lead, and Stevenson brought Helman in on a fielder’s choice.
St. Paul was able to hang on and win by an 8-7 score giving the Twins a new look into the future. Larnach had two hits on the day and was tied in that regard by Helman. Jose Miranda made his 2023 debut with St. Paul going 1-for-5 with a strikeout.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 8, Frisco 6
Twins star prospect Royce Lewis made his 2023 debut for Wichita, and while he went 0-for-3 with three strikeouts and was hit by a pitch in the shoulder, his availability was the key. Carlos Luna made the start for Wichita and worked four innings while allowing two runs on four hits. He struck out five and walked a pair.
Down 2-0 through four innings, the Wind Surge plated their first run in the 5th inning. Anthony Prato stole second base and Will Holland was able to race home on a throwing error by catcher Scott Kapers. After giving up a few more in the 5th inning, Wichita scored Brooks Lee on a Yunior Severino 6th inning single.
Kapers got his run back with a solo shot in the 6th inning, but then Wichita went to work. DaShawn Keirsey Jr. singled to drive in both Holland and Pat Winkel before Lee lifted a sacrifice fly to score Prato. By the end of the 7th inning it was a tie game at 5.
In the top of the 9th inning Alex Isola singled home both Jake Rucker and Lee before a Yoyner Fajardo single plated Isola. The Wind Surge had their first lead of the game and it came at a great time. Despite Frisco getting a run back in the bottom of the 9th inning, this one ended 8-6.
Severino and Fajardo both had a pair of hits on the evening.
Quad Cities 3, Cedar Rapids 0 (Game 1)
After a rainout on Wednesday the Kernels played a pair against Quad Cities on Thursday. Pierson Ohl worked a complete game in the opener going six innings. He allowed three runs on nine hits while striking out four and walking none.
Quad Cities scored in the bottom half of the 1st inning and that would be enough of a lead to win this one. The Kernels were able to put up only four hits and three dropped the first half of the twin bill.
Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2 (Game 2)
Looking to even the day, Cedar Rapids sent Mike Paredes to the mound. He worked 2 2/3 innings allowing one run on a pair of hits and a trio of walks. He did strike out two. Regi Grace continues to be a bright spot in relief and picked up his second save while working a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
Misael Urbina started the scoring with a single that plated Noah Miller in the 1st inning. A Jose Salas ground out then brought Tanner Schobel home and Cedar Rapids was off and running. Quad Cities answered with a run in the 2nd inning, but the Kernels immediately responded.
Salas ripped his third double of the year in the 3rd inning to score Schobel for a second time in the nightcap and Jeferson Morales lifted a sacrifice fly to score Kala’i Rosario. Up 4-1, the Kernels would withstand a late run by Quad Cities and wound up taking game two.
Emmanuel Rodriguez, who has been scuffling since his return, had a nice multi-hit game.
For Myers 4, Tampa 0
Develson Aria took the mound and was lights out against Tampa on Thursday night. He worked five innings and put up a scoreless effort on the evening. He allowed just two hits and struck out seven while walking just three. Aria lowered his season ERA to 3.38 with the outing.
Andrew Cossetti started the scoring in the 4th inning with a sacrifice fly to score Jorel Ortega. Ricardo Olivar then flew out to left field but scored Danny De Andrade in the process. Before the frame was over Dalton Shuffield reached on an error that allowed Carlos Aguiar to cross the plate. Up 3-0, the Mighty Mussels had some breathing room.
De Andrade ripped a solo shot, his first homer of the season, in the 6th inning to make it 4-0. That’s where this one ended. De Andrade reached twice and recorded two of the five Fort Myers hits.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Develson Aria (Fort Myers) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K
Hitter of the Day – Trevor Larnach (St. Paul) - 2-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 HR(2)
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:
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 0-3, 2 R, RBI, BB K
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 2-6, BB, 3 K
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 0-5, 2 K
#6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 4.1 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 1-6, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 K
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 0-6, R, BB K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, 2 R, BB, K
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, RBI, BB, K
FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Indianapolis @ St. Paul (6:37PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick
Wichita @ Frisco (7:05PM CST) - LHP Blayne Enlow
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya
Tampa @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP C.J. Culpepper
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 3 Trends from the Latest MLB Draft Rankings
As a reminder, here’s a link to the board that was published at the end of April.
2023 Consensus MLB Draft Board V1
A Consensus Top Five
I’ve been tracking the draft boards since an initial Top 30 in February. With recent updates, it’s clear that there’s currently a consensus top five players, split into tiers. Dylan Crews is in a world by himself. He’s ranked number one by every board that I use for the Consensus Board. Wyatt Langford and Paul Skenes are two and three (although I think Skenes may go number two overall), followed by outfielders Walker Jenkins and Max Clark. Long the top prep player in the draft, Clark has recently been surpassed by Jenkins, with most outlets weighing a higher hit/power ceiling in Jenkins’ favor.
College Bats on the Rise
I’ve written for a while that this draft is well stocked with excellent college bats. That has become more evident in the last month, with several surging up the Consensus Board. Here are some notes on a few favorites.
Tommy Troy (2B Stanford) is up from 20th in February all the way to 13th currently. Troy is putting up a .669 SLG with an improved 13 BB% in the PAC 12.
Kyle Teel (C, Virginia) was 22nd in March and is up to 12th overall, aided by a lack of top-end catching talent.
Colton Ledbetter (OF Mississippi State) was 52nd overall in March and is now 29th. I think he’s firmly a first round talent, and he has the analytical profile to match.
Jack Hurley (OF, Virginia Tech) is up from 38th in March to 25th currently One of the most aggressive hitters in the draft, he’s putting up a .781 SLG in the ACC.
Chase Davis (OF, Arizona) is perhaps the most improved hitter in college baseball in 2023. He has moved up from 49th in March to 34th currently. He’s cut his strikeouts from 28 K% to 16 K% with matching contact rate improvements and is crushing the ball. I think he'll continue to rise quickly up the rankings through May and June. I think he’ll go no later than the teens if he has a strong end to the season.
College Pitchers Stock Falling
College starting pitching has been disappointing and a lot of it has fallen pretty sharply on the board. My current working board for June has 214 prospects on it. Outside the top handful of top college arms (Skenes, Hurston Waldrep, Rhett Lowder, Chase Dollander), there are five more college arms in the current Top 50. All but one have fallen in the past two months, mostly due to uneven production or uncertainties around health.
There’s still plenty of college arm talent available though, particularly for teams picking between 35 and 50 overall. Juaron Watts-Brown (RHP, Oklahoma State), Cade Kuehler (RHP, Campbell), Tanner Witt (RHP, Texas), Hunter Owen (LHP, Vanderbilt), and Will Sanders (RHP, South Carolina) are all in or around that range, with massive UCLA righty Alonzo Treadwell lurking just outside.
Depth in the Top 50
There’s a great variety of prospects and prospect depth in the Top 50 this season. There’s something to fit your profile or flavor, pretty much regardless of what that might be. With the exception of catching, which is a position of weakness at the top end, you can land great talent throughout.
Which prospects are you interested in your team targeting with their first round pick? In the top 50? Join the discussion in the comments below.
MN_ExPat reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, Carlos Correa Doesn’t Deserve Boos at Home
I was sitting along the third baseline at the game, and the boos caught me off guard. Correa has had an abysmal start to the season; he’s batting .185, and to sum things up, his Baseball Savant page stats are primarily in the blue (poor) range. I thought the boos were coming from the scores of rowdy Padres fans crowding the lower deck, but I quickly realized that they were coming from Twins fans. Later that evening, I saw what stood out to me as one of the saddest sports quotes I have seen in a while.
“I’d boo myself, too, with the amount of money I’m making, and I’m playing like that,” Correa said after the game.
Despite his early season struggles, Correa does not deserve to get booed at home. Is it necessary to be hostile to our players, especially when they are holding themselves accountable?
Look, I’m a lifelong Minnesota sports fan. I’ve been at Timberwolves games where the Wolves have been down by 20 or 30 at halftime, and I booed. I was at that putrid 2018 Vikings home loss vs. the at-the-time bottom feeder Bills with the Pioneer Press headline “Boos bombard Vikings in 27-6 loss to Bills at U.S. Bank Stadium,” and I joined in. I’m not trying to take a “Holier than Thou” position.
And I know someone making $33 million a season doesn’t need my defense; after all, he’s the one who made that Dior store comment. Correa needs to be better, but he knows that. One doesn’t get to where he is in his career without being the fiercest competitor imaginable. Players are frustrated enough when they are struggling; when others are on their case, it makes it even worse. Plus, Correa is far from the only Twins player batting poorly right now.
Slumps are a part of baseball. They come and go, and everyone goes through them. Fans boo a slumping Correa. What is he supposed to do about it? Try harder? It’s the truth that even when players are paid tons of money, it doesn’t mean they are not allowed to go through slumps. Plus, I wonder how much Correa’s back is still affecting him; he already missed time for it this season, and he was wearing what possibly looked like a heating pad in the dugout Tuesday night.
I see a difference between booing the overall team based on a perceived lack of effort and booing a specific individual player who, by all accounts, is doing his best but is struggling. Twins fans might argue that because Correa is a team leader, criticism comes with the territory, and I do not deny that, and when you’re being paid that much, you probably should be subject to some extra scrutiny. Correa also gets his fair share of boos everywhere he goes because he was on the 2018 Astros. I don’t think we need to shed any tears for him. But what amount of money does a player need to be paid for him to be “justifiably” treated poorly?
And when a fanbase turns against a player, it can get ugly. Those looking for an example need look no further than Joey Gallo’s time on the Yankees. Gallo said that he stopped going out in public in New York because of the ugly treatment he received from Yankees fans.
“A bunch of [players on other teams reached out to offer support],” Gallo told Randy Miller. “It makes me feel like a piece of s--t, honestly. I remember playing here with the Rangers, watching guys get booed off the field and thinking, ‘Holy s--t! I feel bad for that guy.’ Now it’s me. I do appreciate people reaching out, but it makes me feel like I’m a problem,” Gallo said.
After being traded to the Yankees in July 2021, Gallo hit .160 in 188 at-bats across 58 games. In 2022, he batted .159 in 233 at-bats over 82 games before being traded to the Dodgers at the trade deadline. Based on Gallo’s comments, suggesting that the hostility of the environment contributed to his extended slump is not outrageous.
I’m not suggesting this is going to happen in Minnesota. If Correa went to the grocery store, even when he’s slumping, fans would crowd him in adoration and ask for a picture. But when I read Correa’s postgame quote, I couldn’t help but think: “What are we, Yankees fans?” Will booing make you feel better? Will booing motivate Correa more? Based on his full comments, Correa is already blaming no one but himself. He doesn't blame you for booing, but it doesn't mean you have to do it.
It’s still early in the season. Correa’s bat will heat up; it always does. He’s a proven star. And according to a piece by Dan Hayes, Carlos Correa’s recent metrics suggest his slump is close to over.
Correa will be with the Twins for years; the least fans can do is show him a little grace while he’s working through whatever he is battling.
MN_ExPat reacted to Matthew Taylor for an article, The Tyler Mahle Trade Was Still the Right Trade
On Tuesday afternoon, it was announced that Tyler Mahle would be undergoing Tommy John surgery, ending his season and potentially ending his time as a member of the Minnesota Twins. Mahle was acquired by the Minnesota Twins at the 2022 trade deadline in exchange for infield prospects Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and left-handed pitcher Steve Hajjar . Since joining the Minnesota Twins, Mahle started just nine games, with four of those starts lasting less than five innings.
Looking at the trade, there is no other way to frame it than to say that the trade was a failure for the Twins. Tyler Mahle contributed only 0.5 fWAR in his time in Minnesota, while Spencer Steer has already reached the majors with the Cincinnati Reds and Christian Encarnacion-Strand has a 1.103 OPS in 69 plate appearances in AAA. The front office made a poor trade that will only get worse as time goes on and the prospects they let go continue to perform.
Even though the Mahle trade was a failure, and the front office would surely take the trade back if they could, it was still the right trade to make at the time.
For years, everyone in Twins Territory had been clamoring for the Minnesota Twins to acquire a front-line starting pitcher. At the time of the trade, the Twins were in first place in the American League Central, but their starting pitchers ranked 18th in baseball with a 4.19 ERA. The Twins were a legitimate starting pitcher away from being a real threat to make the playoffs and make noise in the playoffs.
Among the starting pitchers available at the trade deadline, Tyler Mahle was one of just a few top names. Mahle was a 28-year-old front-line starting pitcher who had a 3.72 ERA between 2020 and 2021 while playing in one of the most hitter-friendly parks in all of baseball. Mahle had excellent underlying numbers and had a season and a half of team control at the time of the trade deadline.
Mahle wasn’t without risk as he had previously struggled with shoulder issues and was recently on the injured list weeks before the Twins traded for him. The Twins recognized the risk and made the trade anyways, recognizing that no pitchers are completely without risk and believing that it was the time to push in some chips and go for it. The Twins had a deep farm system at the time and the prospects they traded away played positions that they had depth within the organization.
While the Twins may have pushed in their chips for a pitcher who was “damaged goods”, it’s worth looking at the other pitcher who was traded at the trade deadline that nearly every Twins fan wanted even more than Mahle, Frankie Montas.
Montas was the top name on the trade market after Luis Castillo was traded to the Mariners and was an extremely popular trade target in Twins Territory (does ‘Where Frankie?’ ring a bell?). The Twins didn’t end up with Frankie Montas as he was traded to the Yankees, but Montas turned out to be an even worse trade acquisition than Mahle when he was injured after eight starts in 2022 and is set to miss most (or all) of 2023 with a shoulder injury.
The moral to the story is that pitchers are extremely unpredictable and trading for a pitcher brings with it an enormous amount of risk. The Twins decided that they were willing to make that risk at the 2022 deadline. It didn’t work out, but the decision made a lot of sense at the time, and the top alternative name wouldn’t have worked out either.
The Twins should remain cautious when they look for starting pitchers in the future, but they shouldn’t let the 2022 trade deadline scare them away from trading for a front-line starting pitcher. An ace pitcher is the most valuable thing in all of baseball, and they don’t become available via free agency. The Twins need to either develop their own front-line starting pitchers (they are starting to do this) or continue taking swings at trading for them.
Do you think the Tyler Mahle trade was made with the right process in mind? Leave a comment below and start the conversation.
MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/10): Big Bats, Big Innings, and Big Returns
The Twins got a fun extra-innings win against the Padres on Wednesday night. In the minor leagues, a lot of good things happened, especially with the hitters in Wichita and Fort Myers.
Infielder Kyle Farmer was activated from the Injured List after missing about a month after being hit in the face by a Lucas Giolito fastball. To make room for Farmer, Jose Miranda was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul. (Discussion here) LHP Christian MacLeod started a rehab assignment with the Mighty Mussels on Wednesday. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 2, Indianapolis 4
The Saints had seven hits and four walks, but managed just two runs and fell to Indianapolis.
Jose De Leon started and gave up three runs on five hits over 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven batters without issuing a walk. Kody Funderburk came on and recorded the final two outs of the sixth inning, stranding an inherited runner. Ronny Henriquez came on and worked two innings in his first rehab appearance with the Saints. He gave up one run on three hits and two walks over two innings. Cole Sands gave up two hits, but no runs, in the ninth.
Trevor Larnach went 2-for-3 with a walk and a double, and is now 4-for-8 with four RBI in his two games. He also played a little defense!
Andrew Stevenson went 2-for-4 with a double. He stole his 11th base of the season. Edouard Julien went 1-for-3 with a walk and his eighth double. Jair Camargo hit a solo homer in the fifth inning. He now has three on the season.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 16, Frisco 8
This was a game for the hitters. Big performances. Big innings. Eight out of nine Wind Surge hitters had at least one hit. Seven out of nine in the lineup had two or more hits. It might surprise you that leadoff man and top prospect Brooks Lee went 0-for-6. The Wind Surge scored four in the second inning, five in the third inning, and four runs in the sixth inning. Let’s just go through the lineup, starting with the second spot.
DaShawn Keirsey went 3-for-5 with a walk and two doubles. Yunior Severino went 2-for-5 with a walk, his fifth double, and his seventh home run. Alex Isola went 2-for-4 with two walks and his third homer. Yoyner Fajardo’s hitting streak ended at 11 games on Tuesday night, so he started a new one. He went 3-for-5 with a walk and his fourth double. Jake Rucker went 1-for-4 with two walks. Will Holland went 2-for-2 with four walks. Armani Smith went 2-for-6. David Banuelos went 3-for-5 with his second homer and six RBI. Holland and Fajardo each had three RBI in the game. In addition, Fajardo stole his 11th and 12th bases while Holland stole his eighth and Smith stole his first.
Chad Donato put together one of his better starts of the still-young season. He gave up two runs on six hits and four walks in four innings. Jose Bravo gave up three runs on three hits (2 homers) and a walk and only recorded one out. Osiris German went the next 2 1/3 innings and gave up three runs on six hits and a walk. Seth Nordlin got the final seven outs and gave up only one hit.
Reminder: Royce Lewis is set to begin his 20 days of rehab with the Wind Surge. On Thursday in Frisco, he and the team will face Jack Leiter.
Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 12
The Kernels fell behind 3-0 after one, and a seven-run sixth inning put it well out of reach.
Orlando Rodriguez started and gave up four runs (3 earned) on five hits and three walks over four innings. He had five strikeouts. Malik Barrington gave up four runs on two hits and two walks in 1 2/3 innings. Matt Mullenbach then was charged with four runs on six hits and a walk in one inning. Charlie Neuweiler got the final four outs, two on strikeouts.
The Kernels had just five hits in the game, although they actually had five walks as well. Willie Joe Garry led the way. He went 2-for-2 with a double and a triple. Ernie Yake and Kala’i Rosario each walked twice.
Fort Myers 8, Tampa 3
The Mighty Mussels put up a three-spot in the first inning, another in the fourth inning, and got some strong pitching along the way.
However, the big news (from a big-picture perspective) was the return of lefty Christian MacLeod. The talented lefty, and son of former minor-league pitcher Kevin MacLeod, from Mississippi State was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2021. He had Tommy John surgery last March and has been working his way back since. He is on the Cedar Rapids roster, so technically this is a rehab start. Semantics.
Certainly MacLeod wasn’t at his finest. He gave up one run on four walks over 1 1/3 innings. He struck out one batter. Just 19 of his 41 pitches were strikes, but none of that is as important as getting the first appearance out of the way and feeling healthy.
His catcher, Andrew Cossetti, understood the struggles but was impressed with MacLeod. “I thought MacLeod battled today in his start. Anytime you’re making your first start in a while, it can be difficult to get in a rhythm, but he stayed strong in a tough situation and kept us in the game. I think that’s a tribute to his mentality as a competitor and a teammate.”
Johnathan Lavallee went the next 2 2/3 innings. He gave up two runs on two hits> He struck out five batters. Then Zebby Matthews came out of the bullpen tossed 4 2/3 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out four batters. Jackson Hicks came in and got the final out.
Cossetti has worked with Matthews several times already this season. The Twins Daily Hitter of the Month of April said of the Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Month of April, “Matthews just continues to dominate. He’s fun to catch because he has confidence throwing any pitch in any count. He continues to upgrade his arsenal day in and day out. Anytime he’s on the mound you know you’re going to be in the game.”
In addition to his work behind the plate, Cossetti continues his assault on pitchers in the Florida State League, the 2012 11th round pick from St. Joseph’s went 2-for-3 with a walk tonight. In the first inning, he hit a two-run homer, his fifth of the season. It was followed immediately by the fourth homer of the season for Carlos Aguiar. Then in the seventh inning, Cossetti hit his second home run of the game to give the Mussels some insurance.
Finding success takes a lot of work. After the game, Cossetti told Twins Daily, “I’ve been working a lot with the hitting coaches to create a better and more efficient bat path, and focusing on that process has definitely been bringing me success. I’m just trying to use my opportunity with the Mussels to become a more complete hitter and allow me to have more success in the future.” He continued, “I would call myself a power hitter. I’ve always been able to hit the ball out of the yard, and my goal is to continue to tap into more power. ”
In between the Cossetti home runs, Jorel Ortega - who had four hits on Tuesday - hit a three-run homer. Ortega is now hitting .308 with a .942 OPS on the season. Aguiar went 2-for-4. Dillon Tatum went 2-for-4.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Zebby Matthews (Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) - 4 2/3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 4 K. 52 pitches, 34 strikes.
Hitter of the Day – David Banuelos (Wichita Wind Surge) - 3-for-5, HR(3), R, 6 RBI.
Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Wednesday.
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 0-for-6, K
#2 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - IL (Rehab begins Thursday in Wichita)
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, K
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, BB, 2B(8), R
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, BB, R
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-for-4, 2 K.
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, K
#17 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul-Rehab) - 2 IP, 1 ER, 3 H, 2 BB, 1 K, 29 pitches, 13 Strikes.
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, K.
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K.
THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE AND PITCHING PROBABLES
Indianapolis @ St. Paul (6:37 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (0-3, 6.35 ERA)
Wichita @ Frisco (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Carlos Luna (0-1, 5.89 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (DH at 5:00 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (2-1, 2.25 ERA), RHP Mike Paredes (0-0, 2.00 ERA).
Tampa @ Fort Myers (5:45 PM CST) - LHP Develson Aria (0-0, 4.41 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/9): Helboy? No, He Is a Helman!
The Saint Paul Saints transferred SS Alex De Goti to the development list, activated 3B Andrew Bechtold from the temporary inactive list, and were sent RHP Ronny Henriquez from the Minnesota Twins on a rehab assignment. RHP Matthew Swain was placed on the temporary inactive list at Cedar Rapids, and the Kernels were assigned RHP Gianluca Dalatri from the FCL Twins in his place. The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels placed RHP Tomas Cleto on the injured list and transferred CF Luis Baez to the development list. In their place, they were assigned RHP Jarret Whorff and SS Rafael Cruz from the FCL Twins. SAINTS SENTINEL
St. Paul 11, Indianapolis 3
The Saints jumped out to an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first inning, when Edouard Julien led off the game by getting hit by a pitch, and was promptly driven in by a double off the bat of Michael Helman, whom you’ll be hearing from repeatedly in this summary.
Starter Jordan Balazovic continued to trend in the right direction, though he probably would have liked to have gone deeper into this one. He allowed no runs on three hits in his four innings, exiting a bit early as his pitch count got run up to 77 (45 for strikes). He did strike out five but his first win at the Triple-A level still eludes him.
The top of St. Paul’s lineup got to work again in the third inning, as Edouard Julien followed Tony Wolter’s walk with a single to put multiple runners on base, and Helman brought them all home with his fourth home run in 15 games with the Saints this season to make it 4-0.
In the fourth Helman’s bases-loaded single scored the first run of the inning, before Trevor Larnach's double emptied them to make it 8-0. They tacked on a single run in the seventh thanks to a Mark Contreras RBI single, and Chris Williams punctuated their scoring outburst with a two-run bomb in the eighth.
Helman finished 3-for-5, a triple shy of the cycle, and drove in five runs in the game. More than half his hits on the season have gone for extra bases, and speed is still showing up as he has also stolen five bases so far on the year. Joining Helman in the multi-hit club were Julien (2-for-2, 3 R, 2 BB), Larnach (2-for-5, R, 2B, 3 RBI, K), Williams (2-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K), and Contreras (2-for-5, 2B, RBI).
After Balazovic’s exit, Patrick Murphy delivered two scoreless innings to pick up the win. He allowed one hit and two walks. Connor Sadzeck allowed three earned runs on two hits and three walks in 1 2/3 innings, striking out two. Oliver Ortega finished off the blowout with 1 1/3 frames, allowing one hit, walking one, and striking out one.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 5, Frisco 4 (10 innings)
The RoughRiders struck first against Wind Surge starter Aaron Rozek, as he gave up a solo home run and RBI single in the second inning. He went on to finish 4 1/3 innings, being charged with those two runs on five total hits and no walks, while striking out four.
Wichita had taken the lead 4-2 at that point, as Pat Winkel tied the game at two in the top of the fourth with a two-run home run, before a Brooks Lee RBI double and DeShawn Keirsey Jr. RBI single in the fifth put them out front 4-2.
In the bottom of the fifth, a leadoff double preceded a groundout before Rozek was replaced by Hunter McMahon from the bullpen. He allowed an inherited runner to score, before giving up one of his own, and the game was tied back up at four. Tyler Beck came on in relief to start the sixth and delivered three scoreless frames to keep the game tied. He allowed just one hit and struck out four in the outing.
Still tied after nine, this one went to extra innings, which the Wind Surge wasted no time taking advantage of. In the top of the 10th with the speedy Will Holland starting on second base, Yoyner Fajardo hit a ball deep enough to center to move him to third, before Lee’s groundout to second base allowed him to come home for a 5-4 lead.
Righthander Jordan Brink delivered a scoreless ninth and was back out for the 10th, looking to seal the win. After a strikeout and a flyout, the tying run was on third base when a pitch got away from catcher Pat Winkel. He was quick enough to track it down and feed it back to Brink in time to beat the runner home, and the out at the plate ended the game.
Brink picked up his first win of the season with his two scoreless innings, allowing just a hit batter and striking out three. Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5, RBI, 3 K, 2 SB) and Yunior Severino (2-for-5, R, 2B, 2 K, SB) each had multiple hits in the victory.
Cedar Rapids 7, Quad Cities 3
The 19-year-old Alejandro Hidalgo took the mound for the Kernels on Tuesday, looking to build on his last outing where he gave up just three hits and struck out nine in 5 1/3 innings. He wasn’t nearly that dominant again, but he kept his team in the game with a four-inning effort. He allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits and three walks, while striking out just two.
When he left the game, the Kernels had built a three-run lead. Three consecutive singles in the third inning put their first run on the scoreboard before they busted out the lumber in the fourth. Misael Urbina started the four-run outburst with a double, Jose Salas traded places with him after a double of his own, and then Jeferson Morales and Keoni Cavaco went back-to-back with home runs, making it 5-2 Kernels.
They tacked on two more in the fifth inning after an RBI double from Tanner Schobel was followed by an RBI single from Urbina, and that was all the scoring Cedar Rapids would need.
The bullpen quartet of Niklas Rimmel (2 IP, H, BB, 2 K), John Wilson (1 IP, 3 H, ER, K), John Stankiewicz (1 IP, H, K), and Regi Grace (1 IP, H) kept the River Bandits at bay for the final five innings. Rimmel picked up his third win of the season.
Urbina led the offense with three hits in five at-bats, including a double. Noah Miller finished 1-for-4 with a run scored, a walk, and stole two bases. Emmanuel Rodriguez recorded his first hit since returning from the injured list.
Fort Myers 8, Tampa 7
The Mighty Mussels jumped all over the Tarpons early in this one, taking a 5-0 lead after two innings. They scored three in the first behind a sac fly from Carlos Aguiar, and RBI doubles from Ricardo Olivar and Rafael Cruz, freshly bumped up from the FCL Twins roster. In the second, it was an RBI groundout from the reigning Florida State League Player of the Month, Andrew Cosetti, and an RBI single from Aguiar that extended their lead.
The Tampa lineup finally got to Fort Myers starter Jose Olivares in the top of the fourth, getting a two-run home run to cut the lead to three. Olivares finished the fourth, allowing those two runs on three hits and three walks in total, striking out two in the start.
The Mighty Mussels got one back in the bottom of the fourth on an RBI single from Cosetti, making it 6-2.
Gabriel Yanez chipped in two innings of relief, allowing an unearned run on two hits while striking out three, before giving way to A.J. Labas to begin the top of the seventh. Before it was over the Tarpons had taken a 7-6 lead as five straight hitters reached base, with a two-run homer and an error included. Labas came back on for the eighth and delivered a one-two-three inning to give his lineup a chance.
They did so in the bottom half. Alec Sayre drew a one-out walk before coming around to score on Jorel Ortega’s second triple of the season. Ortega then scampered home on a wild pitch to give Fort Myers the lead 8-7.
Lefty Zach Veen was summoned to close the game out for the home team and set the Tarpon lineup down in order, including a strikeout to punctuate the win and pick up his second save of the season.
Ortega led the offense by reaching base in all five of his plate appearances, finishing 4-for-4 with a triple and a walk, scoring four runs, and driving in one. Joining him with multiple hits on the game were Danny De Andrade (2-for-4, R, 2B, BB, K) and Olivar (2-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, 2 K). Cosetti and Aguiar each drove in two runs.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day - Tyler Beck, Wichita Wind Surge (3 IP, H, 4 K)
Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman, St. Paul Saints (3-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, K)
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B (12), 2 RBI
#3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, 3 K
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-for-2, 3 R, 2 BB
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, 2 K
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, BB, 2 SB
#16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 3 H, 2 BB, 5 K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, BB
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, K
WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Indianapolis @ St. Paul (6:37 PM CDT) - TBD
Wichita @ Frisco (11:05 AM CDT) -RHP Chad Donato (0-3, 12.79 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CDT) - RHP Orlando Rodriguez (3-1, 1.10 ERA)
Tampa @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CDT) - TBD
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, This Relief Prospect Might Be the Next Caleb Thielbar
In recent years, the Twins have seen several solid late-inning options, including Taylor Rogers, Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, and Tyler Duffey. Relievers tend to burn bright for a few seasons and then fade away. This was the case with Duffey during the 2022 season, and Rogers has struggled since leaving the Twins organization. Minnesota hopes Duran and Jax are part of the team's relief core for multiple years, but teams will always need more pitching depth.
Last week, MLB Pipeline identified one future closer for each organization. This identification process can be challenging for writers because many of the best relievers were failed starters at one point in their professional careers. MLB Pipeline identified Kody Funderburk as a potential future closer for the Twins, but that seems unlikely with his current projections. Let's examine the 26-year-old's professional career and why he'd be a candidate for a late-inning role with the Twins.
The Twins selected Funderburk in the 15th round of the 2018 MLB Draft from Dallas Baptist University. He had been used as a two-way player in college, but the Twins wanted him to be a pitcher. His first two professional seasons saw him work his way from rookie ball to High-A by posting a 4.60 ERA with a 9.1 K/9 and some control issues (7 HBP and 14 WP). He was around the age of the competition at each level, but he had a tough time finding consistent success. The pandemic took away the 2020 season, and Funderburk has looked like a different pitcher over the last three seasons.
In 2021, Funderburk split time between High- and Double-A while being used as a starter and a multi-inning reliever. In 11 appearances with Cedar Rapids, he posted a 3.18 ERA with a 1.19 WHIP and 11.7 K/9. He moved up to Double-A in July and pitched exclusively out of the bullpen for the first time in his career. Funderburk allowed three earned runs in 21 2/3 innings (1.25 ERA) with a 23-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Following the season, the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League, traditionally known as an offensive environment that favors hitters. He started six games and allowed 12 earned runs in 17 2/3 innings with an 11.2 K/9.
Funderburk started the 2022 season in the Wind Surge bullpen, but the team needed him to return to the rotation by the season's end. By looking at his numbers, it's easy to see why the team had difficulty deciding which role would be a long-term fit for Funderburk. In the bullpen, he allowed eight earned runs in 36 1/3 innings (1.98 ERA) with a 1.40 WHIP and 6.4 K/9. His ERA rose to 3.44 in 17 starts, but he had a lower WHIP (1.29) and a better K/9 (9.8 K/9). Batter's OPS was only separated by 10 points in his two roles, but the Twins decided it was time to move him to the bullpen for 2023.
He began the year at Double-A, where he was 1.3 years older than the average age of the competition. Across nine innings, he allowed one earned run with a 14-to-6 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed too many walks and hits, but his strikeout rate jumped to 14.0 K/9. The Twins promoted him to Triple-A before the calendar turned to May, and he has seen limited appearances with the club. However, his strikeout rate continues to be at a career-high. His transition to the bullpen hasn't been flawless, but there have been some positive signs.
When he started, Funderburk utilized a four-pitch mix that included a cutter, a two-seamer, a slider, and a changeup. His cutter is the pitch he throws most regularly, and it typically sits in the low-90s. His left-handed arm action is unique, and it helps his pitches have more east-west movement to keep batters off-balance. Seeing how his pitch mix evolves in his transition to the bullpen will be interesting.
Minnesota may need another left-handed reliever later this season, and Funderburk is a prime candidate to get an opportunity. It seems unlikely for Funderburk to be Minnesota's closer of the future when the team's current closer is over a year younger than Funderburk. If he can continue adjusting to his new bullpen role, he can be a late-inning option for the Twins in the future.
What are your initial thoughts on Funderburk? Can he help the Twins this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/4): May the Fourth Be With Them
None to report
Nashville 10, St. Paul 8 (F/10)
Brent Headrick, recently back from his debut with the Minnesota Twins, made the start tonight for St. Paul. He worked 3 2/3 innings, scattering seven hits that turned into four runs. Headrick did strike out nine while allowing no free passes.
The Saints jumped out to an early lead with a four-spot in the 1st inning. Kyle Garlick singled allowing both Edouard Julien and Michael Helman to score before Ryan LaMarre drove in Garlick with a single of his own. Chris Williams finished the frame with his third double of the season to score LaMarre, and the good guys were off and running.
After allowing six Nashville runs to cross the plate, St. Paul got back to work. Julien crushed his third homer of the season to draw within one, and then his single in the 6th inning plated Williams and Elliot Soto to regain the lead. Ryan LaMarre crushed his third homer of the season to provide a bit of additional insurance, and it was needed in the 9th inning.
Former Twins prospect Brian Navarreto singled off of Kody Funderburk to pull Nashville within one. Rather than grab his second Triple-A save, Funderburk allowed the tying run to score on a Payton Henry single. With Connor Sadzeck on in the 10th inning, Nashville went back to work and added a pair of runs to put themselves back in the lead. With St. Paul unable to answer in the 10th, that's where this one would end.
Although he is no longer rehabbing, Alex Kirilloff continues to produce for the Saints. Tonight he was 1-for-4 with a double. Kyle Farmer had the night off. The Saints picked up a franchise record 19 strikeouts on the evening.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Scheduled to square off against NW Arkansas after their 3-1 victory last night, the Wichita Wind Surge saw the action tonight get banged. With the contest canceled due to weather, the clubs will play a doubleheader tomorrow night. Carlos Luna is expected to start game one for Wichita.
Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 1
The Kernels turned to Orlando Rodriguez for the start this evening and he was nothing short of extraordinary. Working five innings allowing only a single unearned run, Rodriguez worked around five hits while punching out six and ceded no free passes. The dominant effort on the mound was more than enough on a night where the lineup did heavy lifting on its own.
Cedar Rapids quickly gave Rodriguez a lead when Jose Salas singled in Ben Ross during the opening frame. After things were evened up in the bottom half, Kala’i Rosario singled in the 5th inning to plate both Ernie Yake and Noah Cardenas.
The 6th inning turned the game into a blowout. Keoni Cavaco brought in Jeferson Morales with a double, and then Yake sent Cavaco home with a triple of his own. Ross found a way on thanks to a throwing error that allowed Yake to score, and Cardenas then doubled to bring him home. When the dust settled it was a four-run inning that led to a 7-1 lead.
Rosario contributed again on a line drive in the 8th inning to score Ross, and the 8-1 lead held up as a final tally. Rosario posted a three-hit game on the evening with both Cavaco and Yake grabbing a pair of their own.
Dunedin 6, Fort Myers 5
Zebby Matthews was on the mound tonight for Fort Myers and while he continued to rack up strikeouts, he did give up some traffic on the evening. Across four innings of work, Matthews allowed four runs (three earned) on nine hits. His eight strikeouts came with only one walk.
Dunedin jumped out to an early lead scoring on an RBI single in the 1st inning. Rubel Cespedes did answer things for the Mighty Mussels when he singled in Andrew Cossetti during the bottom half however.
From there, it was largely Dunedin’s ballgame. They plated two more in the 3rd inning, and a double steal of Ricardo Olivar and Jorel Ortega saw the latter swipe home.
Trailing 6-2 entering their final at bats of the night, Ortega again came through as he ripped his 9th double of the season, scoring Yohander Martinez, Fort Myers was within three. Fort Myers made things even more interesting after a Carlos Aguiar single brough in Ortega, and then Cossetti singled to drive him in. Down one with runners on second and third, that's where the rally ended. Ultimately, the 15 hits by Dunedin were too much to overcome.
Ortega was the lone hitter to record multiple hits on the evening, but Cossetti was given his due earlier in the day being named the Florida State League player of the month. During April he slashed an incredible .339/.474/.678 and tallied a league-best 20 RBI.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Orlando Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K
Hitter of the Day – Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR(3), BB
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:
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR(3), BB
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, RBI, K
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-5, 3 K
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, BB
#20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-5
FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Nashville @ St. Paul (6:37PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
Wichita @ NW Arkansas (5:00PM CST) - RHP Carlos Luna
Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya
Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - LHP Develson Aria
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - April 2023
Relief pitching in the minors is weird. Not only are pitchers often shuffled between the rotation and bullpen, leaving the designation of titles obsolete and confusing, but their broad lack of command can lead to bizarre peripherals and misleading ERAs. It is far from uncommon to see a relief outing with three or more walks. Knowing this, let us cut through the fray, hopefully striking at a few names that rose from the control muck and grime, making themselves undeniable in their excellence.
But first, a few honorable mentions:
RHP Juan Mendez
I really wanted to put Mendez on the list given his respectable peripherals, but there's something about the crudeness of a 6.35 ERA that turned me off from doing that. Still, he struck out 32.7% of hitters he faced; a commendable achievement.
RHP Brock Stewart
Now a Twin, Stewart smoked AAA with a 48.6% (yes a 48.6%) strikeout rate. His most recent MLB outing was shaky, but he could potentially contribute to the team as they look to settle their middle relief situation.
LHP Gabriel Yanez
41.9 K-BB%. Who cares about ERA?
RHP Jackson Hicks
Hicks' low innings total—just 7 1/3 frames—kept him off the list, but he was tremendous by every other metric. Get him some playing time!
5. RHP Connor Sadzeck - AAA St. Paul Saints, 12 2/3 IP, 25.5 K%, 3.55 ERA, 3.44 FIP
It’s been a long and winding road for Sadzeck. The member of six separate franchises, Sadzeck owns 36 career MLB innings, often finding injuries halting his effort to hone his craft. He re-entered the minors cycle after signing with Minnesota in the 11th hour on a minor league deal—this time finding himself in St. Paul. The early returns have been excellent. Often used as a two-inning stopper, Sadzeck has only allowed more than one earned run once, cultivating a respectable 3.55 ERA with a 25.5 % strikeout rate. With the unpredictability surrounding relievers and pitching injuries, Sadzeck could join the Twins at some time this season in another effort to prove himself to MLB teams.
4. RHP Ben Ethridge - A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 10 IP, 27.5 K%, 0.90 ERA, 3.17 FIP
Hot out of Southern Mississippi, the college where Brian Dozier set hitting records and Matt Wallner broke them, Ben Ethridge fits perfectly in the mold Minnesota prefers from their pitchers: command wizards with a potential for more. He slid into the Fort Myers bullpen to start 2023, potentially in order to better utilize his classic fastball/slider combo to its full effect. The results—a miniscule ERA with plenty of strikeouts; perhaps more walks than expected—have landed him here on this list. Certainly, the height of his career, this must be. He'll likely earn a promotion to Cedar Rapids soon if he continues to pitch like this.
3. LHP Kody Funderburk - AA/AAA Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints, 10 2/3 IP, 31.9 K%, 0.84 ERA, 3.10 FIP
You cannot do it. Search your mind for days; interrogate Baseball Reference until it sputters and whines; stare at your screen until your eyes bleed red and your brain loses thought and ambition: you will not find a better name in the Twins’ system. A 15th round pick in the 2018 MLB Draft out Dallas Baptist University—the alma mater of Ben Zobrist and Lew Ford—Funderburk has trickled upwards through the years, finally receiving a promotion to AAA in April after spending parts of three seasons at AA. His April was nearly flawless; an outing on the 14th stood as the only run-allowing appearance of the month. The walks were a little high, holding Funderburk back from a better placement on this esteemed list.
2. LHP Zach Veen - A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 10 IP, 26.3 K%, 1.80 ERA, 2.17 FIP
Not to be confused with the “h” deficient Zac Veen drafted by the Rockies in the first round in 2020, Veen joined the Twins in 2022 from Point Loma Nazarene University (they’ve had two major leaguers in their history, don’t laugh), and is beginning to break out in 2023. With just one walk and as many strikeouts as innings pitched (10), Veen’s peripherals support the story his ERA tells: he’s been difficult to score against. Veen is in a similar boat as Ethridge, making him a possible fast-moving short-stint arm capable of impacting the major league roster if he continues his efficient ways.
1. RHP Regi Grace - A+ Cedar Rapids Kernels, 11 1/3 IP, 36.6 K%, 0.79 ERA, 2.40 FIP
This was not a difficult choice. Grace was so dominant—better than any other choice—that deciding to place him first took seconds, not minutes. Pick a stat; Grace likely crushed it. He allowed just one earned run in April, striking out 36.6% of batters over his 11 1/3 frames of work; a single April 20th outing proved to be the lone stain on his resume. He suffered from a few streaks of wildness as some hit by pitches cloud an otherwise passable walk rate,
The start likely comes as a great relief for Grace, who earned a 4.47 ERA across a trio of levels in 2022. Improved command—about a 3% drop in walks from the season prior—appears to be the positive force working in his favor. Maybe the fifth season in the system will prove to be the best for Grace.
What are your thoughts on our choices for the top performing relievers in the Minnesota Twins organization in April? Congratulations to right-hander Regi Grace, this month's top reliever in the Twins farm system.
MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (5/3): Hidalgo, Rozek Pitch Great; Wallner, Prato, Fedko Deliver Big Hits
Before we get started with the daily minor-league update, we're trying to come up with as many Minnesotans in pro baseball there are. Click here to see what players we have, and let us know in those comments if we missed someone.
While we knew it was coming, the Twins officially placed RHP Tyler Mahle on the Injured List and recalled RHP Louie Varland.
RHP Ronny Henriquez was sent to Fort Myers to start his rehab assignment.
RHP Alex Phillips was placed on the 7-Day IL by Wichita.
St. Paul 5, Nashville 3
While it wasn’t perfect, Jordan Balazovic made his first start of the season. He went 3 1/3 innings and was charged with one run on one hit. He walked three and struck out six batters. Things looked much better after three innings. He walked the first two batters he faced in the fourth frame before getting a ground out and handing things over to Jose De Leon who allowed one of the inherited runners to score.
De Leon worked 3 2/3 innings out of the bullpen. He was charged with two runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out two batters. Jorge Alcala pitched the eighth inning and got the first two outs of the ninth frame. He walked leadoff man, Maple Grove’s Isaac Collins, to start the ninth. Then he struck out Monte Harrison and Blake Perkins. However, Eddy Alvarez walked, bringing up slugger Jon Singleton as the go-ahead run. Toby Gardenhire went to newly-promoted southpaw Kody Funderburk. On three pitches, the former two-way player at Dallas Baptist got a strikeout to end the threat and the game. Alcala gets the Win, and Funderburk recorded his first Triple-A save.
Following the game, Funderburk told Twins Daily that tried to keep it simple in the big moment. "It was a really exciting experience to come into that situation. (I) just tried to focus on doing my job and getting the lefty out."
The Saints took the lead in the third inning. Elliot Soto doubled, and Edouard Julien followed by switching places with him. Soon after, Alex Kirilloff singled in Julien and the Saints had the 2-0 lead.
However, the Saints were down 3-2 going into the bottom of the eighth inning. Kirilloff singled, and Kyle Garlick walked. Andrew Stevenson pinch ran for him. Matt Wallner came to the plate and came through with a two-run double. Soon after, Wallner took off for third base on a Lucas Erceg wild pitch. Catcher Payton Henry threw the ball away and Wallner scored with the fifth run of the game.
Kyle Farmer went 0-for-3 with a walk and two strikeouts in his second rehab game with the Saints. Kirilloff went 2-for-4. Michael Helman went 3-for-4 and is now hitting .348 since his return to St. Paul.
WIND SURGE WISDOM
Wichita 3, Northwest Arkansas 1
Last week, the Wind Surge gave up 53 runs over the final five games of the week against Springfield. So what the pitching staff did in this game is greatly appreciated. Lefty Aaron Rozek had his best game of the season. He gave up one run on four hits over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out two, but he walked none. The performance was good for him him, but it was also good for his younger brother!
Back to Aaron Rozek's performance... after the game, he told Twins Daily a little bit about what was working for him. "Cutter was the go-to pitch tonight for sure. (I) was able to use that in any count. Think the biggest thing for me was being able to just go deeper into the game to allow our bullpen to relax a bit, and ultimately just giving our team a chance to win."
The Burnsville native continued, regarding his early-season struggles and what he needed to focus on in the game on Wednesday. "No huge adjustments were made, just fine-tuning, I think. Being able to throw pitches in better locations... obviously not going to blow guys away with velocity, so have to move the ball around more than others would."
Next, Tyler Beck worked 2 1/3 innings of one-hit ball and was credited with the Win to improve to 3-0. Alex Scherff recorded his second save of the season. He gave up a hit and a walk, and another batter reached on an error. However, Scherff got a double play - the Wind Surge’s third of the game - and ended the game with the score at 3-1.
The Wind Surge tied the game at one in the second innings when Yoyner Fajardo singled to score Pat Winkel. Then in the seventh inning, the Wind Surge took the lead. Brooks Lee led off with a single. He advanced to second when DaShawn Keirsey reached on an error by the shortstop. However, the next two batters got out. Winkel walked to load the bases, and then Anthony Prato came through with a huge hit. He lined a single to center that scored Lee and Keirsey and gave the Wind Surge a lead that they didn’t relinquish.
Lee led the way by reaching base four times. He was 3-for-4 with a walk and a double. Prato went 2-for-4 with a walk and clearly the biggest hit of the day.
Cedar Rapids 9, South Bend 5
The Kernels had an afternoon game in South Bend against the Cubs. The game was scoreless through the first five innings, but then the two teams combined for 14 runs over the final four innings, and fortunately, the Kernels scored nine of them.
Let’s start with the pitching. Alejandro Hidalgo made the start. The 19-year-old acquired in the Gio Urshela trade struck out nine batters over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up just three hits and one walk. The outing dropped his season ERA to just 1.29. Most important, since his Kernels/Twins debut when he gave up six walks in just 1 2/3 innings, he has just four walks in 12 1/3 innings over his next three outings.
On the other side, Brandon Birdsell tossed five shutout innings for the Cubs. He gave up just three hits and two walks, and he struck out five Kernels. Why does the Birdsell name sound familiar? Maybe you follow Texas Tech baseball really closely? Or, maybe you remember that the Twins selected him in the 11th round of the 2021 draft and offered him as much as they had available above slot but within their allotted amount. Instead, he went back to school and the Cubs made him their fifth-round pick a year ago. He didn’t debut until this season. He has now made five starts for South Bend and is 1-0 with a 0.44 ERA. In 20 2/3 innings, he has given up one run on seven hits. He’s walked eight and struck out 18 batters.
And then came the runs. The Kernels scored first with two runs in the sixth inning. Kala’i Rosario hit his first home run of the year, and it was followed by Jose Salas’s first home run as a member of the Twins organization. In the seventh frame, Charles Mack picked up his first hit of the season, a double that drove in Keoni Cavaco (who had reached on a double).
John Wilson walked two but got the final two outs of the sixth inning while he maintained the shutout. Unfortunately, in the seventh inning, he faced three batters and all three singled. Niklas Rimmel came in and got the first out on a ground out. However, Scott McKeon tripled to drive in two runs to tie the game at three. Rimmel got the next two batters out without allowing McKeon to score. He then worked a perfect eighth frame.
That sent us to the ninth inning, and the Kernels busted out. It started out simple enough. Cavaco walked. Ernie Yake came in to run for him. He advanced to second on a wild pitch, stole third base, and scored the go-ahead run on a Mack sacrifice fly. Noah Miller struck out for the second out. Then the real fun began. Ben Ross and Tanner Schobel singled. Rosario singled to score Ross. Jose Salas walked to load the bases. Kyle Fedko drove a bases-clearing double to open things up. A wild pitch and a Willie Joe Garry single scored another run and the Kernels had a 9-2 lead. And they needed it.
Miguel Rodriguez came in for the ninth and gave up two runs on four hits and a walk, but the Kernels held on to work to a 9-5 win.
Rosario led the offense. He went 3-for-4 with the homer and two RBI. Tanner Schobel and Ben Ross each went 2-for-5. For the Northside Cubs readers, Scott McKeon went 3-for-5 with two RBI. Fabian Pertuz and Jacob Wetzel each had two hits.
Fort Myers 4, Dunedin 5
For six innings, the Mussels offense did nothing. Down 4-0 going to the seventh-inning stretch, Ft. Myers scored one run in the bottom of the seventh. A Dalton Shuffield single scored Ricardo Olivar. In the bottom of the eighth frame, a run double off the bat of Jorel Ortega scored Alec Sayre with the second run. Ortega advanced to third base on the play and scored when the Dunedin catcher tried to pick him off.
The Blue Jays added an insurance run in the top of the ninth, but the Mussels made it very interesting in the bottom of the ninth inning. With one out, Shuffield walked. Dylan Neuse singled, and Mikey Perez walked to load the bases. Sayre struck out for the inning’s second out. But Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Month, Andrew Cossetti, came up and walked on five pitches that weren’t near the strike zone. After a pitching change, Ortega came up but struck out to end the game.
Young Jose Olivares started and was charged with three runs on seven hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out four batters.
Ronny Henriquez came on for the sixth and gave up a run. He started the seventh inning and got two more outs before being replaced by AJ Labas who got out of the seventh and worked a scoreless eighth inning. Juan Mendez gave up the ninth inning insurance run when he walked two and gave up a hit.
Henriquez looked solid in his first rehab appearance of the year. Sure, he gave up a run on a hit and two walks in 1 2/3 innings, but that isn’t terribly important. How he looked, how his pitches looked, and then how he responds tomorrow physically is what really is important to the process. His stuff sure looked like it did last year. His fastball sat between 94.4 and 96.3 mph. His slider was between 84.4 and 87.9 mph. His changeup was between 86.8 and 89.6 mph. His slider and changeup both got really good vertical movement, and his changeup had a nice horizontal drop. With how much time he has missed this spring, I would expect his rehab to be very close to the 30 day maximum, and even at that point, I would expect he would be activated and optioned to St. Paul to continue the work.
TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY
Pitcher of the Day – Alejandro Hidalgo (Cedar Rapids) - 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K.
Hitter of the Day – Kala’i Rosario (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-4, BB, HR(1), 2 R, 2 RBI.
Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Wednesday.
#1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 3-for-4, BB, 2B(9), R, SB(2), E(3)
#5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, BB, 2B, R, RBI.
#8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, BB, HR(1), 2 R, RBI, K.
#9 - Louie Varland (Minnesota) - 4 2/3 innings, 4 ER, 7 H, 2 BB, 6 K, 87 pitches, 59 strikes.
#11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, 2B(6), R, 2 RBI, 2 K.
#14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, BB, SB, 2 K.
#16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3 1/3 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 6 K, 60 pitches, 32 strikes.
#17 - Ronny Henriquez (Ft. Myers-Rehab) - 1.2 IP, 1 ER, 1 H, 2 BB, 0 K, 33 pitches, 22 Strikes.
#18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-5, R.
THURSDAY’S SCHEDULE AND PITCHING PROBABLES
Nashville @ St. Paul (6:37 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (0-0, 6.00 ERA)
Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Chad Donato (0-2, 12.54 ERA)
Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Orlando Rodriguez (2-1, 1.59 ERA)
Dunedin @ Fort Myers (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Zebby Matthews (3-0, 3.10 ERA)
Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
MN_ExPat reacted to Steven Trefz for an article, Series Preview: Time to Put the Chi-Sox Out of Their Misery
At the beginning of the 2023 season, the Chicago White Sox and Minnesota Twins sat at about even odds of winning the World Series. What a difference a month makes! The Twins enter this three-game tilt at Guaranteed Rate Field with a 17-12 record, and a commanding nine-game lead over the White Sox after only 29 games.
On Tuesday night, the Twins begin a six-game AL Central road trip with a three-game series against the Chicago White Sox. Chicago is in free-fall mode, having just benched Luis Robert for not hustling on what he claims is a tight hamstring. They had a miracle ninth-inning comeback against the Rays on Sunday, which stopped a 10-game losing streak. Minnesota, meanwhile, has been winning series both home and away, and looks to extend their lead over their long-time rivals.
Fun Fact: The Twins took two of three from the White Sox in mid-April at Target Field, but the scores were as close as they get. 3-4, 4-3, and 3-1. Since then the Sox have gone 3-13, and 8-21 overall in Pedro Grifol's first year as manager.
Weather Factor: Chicago looks to be chilly, with temperatures in the low-40's and slight winds adding to the chill (and probably keeping the baseball in the park) Tuesday and Wednesday nights. Thursday's afternoon game might touch the high-50's if they get lucky.
Game 1 - Tuesday, May 2nd - 6:10pm CDT - The first game in the series will feature Twins RHP Joe Ryan (5-0, 2.81 ERA) versus White Sox RHP Michael Kopech (0-3, 7.01 ERA). While Ryan is tied for the MLB lead in wins, Kopech is still looking for his first win on the season.
On paper, this looks like a great matchup for the Twins to kick off the road trip. The Twins have yet to face Kopech this season, however, and their lineup has a cumulative .180 batting average against him in 74 plate appearances. Ryan has little experience against the current White Sox lineup, but will face a team charged up from an improbable comeback in their most recent game. Will the momentum of a seven-run ninth-inning rally be enough to overcome the inertia of a .675 OPS? Or will Ryan's stuff continue to dominate against this short-handed squad?
Game 2 – Wednesday, May 3rd – 6:10pm CDT - The Twins announced that RHP Louie Varland (0-0, 4.50 ERA) will take the mound opposite White Sox RHP Dylan Cease (2-1, 4.15 ERA). Louie Varland last pitched April 27th for the St. Paul Saints, going 5 1/3 innings and getting the win. He seems to be the logical call up with Tyler Mahle getting shut down for a period of time.
Varland looked sharp at Yankee Stadium in mid-April, and Cease faced the Twins on April 10th at Target Field. He five innings and gave up three hits and three runs over that span. Cease's last outing ended after only four innings, having surrendered seven runs to the Blue Jays.
Game 3 - Thursday, May 4th (be with you) - 1:10pm CDT - The Twins have scheduled RHP Pablo Lopez (2-2, 4.00 ERA) to close out the series. The White Sox will counter with RHP Lucas Giolito (1-2, 4.15 ERA). Lopez earned a no-decision against the White Sox in their first matchup this season, going 7 2/3 innings with 10 strike outs, giving up two runs.
Last time the Twins saw Giolito they handed him a hard-luck loss, and he handed Kyle Farmer a 91.6 mph fastball to the teeth. The action on the field shook-up players, coaches, and fans. Nothing about the pitch seemed intentional, but it will be interesting to see if the moment comes up in any way as the two teams meet again this week.
What’s your prediction for this important road series against the White Sox? Can the Twins offense feast on a pitching staff with an ERA barely under 6.00? Will the momentum of Chicago's walk-off win Sunday to snap the 10-game skid continue all the way into Tuesday? Let's go, Twins Territory, tell us what you think!
Steve is on a mission to take in a Twins series in every Major League ballpark by 2025.
Follow the journey on Twitter @TwinsTrefz
MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - April 2023
Cody Christie covered the hitting portion of our awards the other day, making it time to crown the best pitcher in the Twins system for April 2023. We start with the starting pitchers. Of course, in minor-league baseball, there are a lot of starters and potential starters. Sometimes teams strategically piggyback a couple of starters together, but one looks like a reliever in the stat line. We will take a look at the starters who began the 2023 season with a strong month. Coming Soon will be the top relievers in April.
But before we jump into our Top 5 Twins Minor League Starting Pitchers for April, here some honorable mentions:
RHP Blayne Enlow, Wichita Wind Surge
The last cut, Enlow was great in April, striking out 24 batters while pitching more than 20 innings in his most effective month since returning from Tommy John surgery last summer.
LHP Jaylen Nowlin, Cedar Rapids Kernels
Nowlin walked a few too many batters, holding him back from greater honor, meaning a higher ranking on this list, but he also struck out 20 batters—something only six other pitchers in the system accomplished in April.
RHP Kyle Jones, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels
Inhaling more than 19 frames, Jones posted a 2.42 FIP thanks in large part to a miniscule walk rate (5.3%). Jones was a 7th-round pick in the 2022 draft.
5. RHP Bailey Ober - AAA St. Paul Saints, 17 2/3 IP, 30.1 K%, 2.55 ERA, 2.70 FIP
Too good to be contained by the AAA confines that limit him, Bailey Ober turned in an excellent month of pitching for the Saints, earning a 2.55 ERA and a 2.70 FIP while striking out a hair over 30% of batters faced. He allowed just one homer. The walks were troublesome, though—an 8.2% rate is far higher than his typical, trustworthy command allows—and in a cutthroat environment like the Twins Daily Minor League Monthly Awards, these are the lines that must be drawn to determine dominance. Better news comes knocking for Ober, however: recent injuries in the starting rotation open up a chance for the tall righty to prove himself once more; he appears very likely to take over a starting spot as Kenta Maeda and Tyler Mahle deal with their ailments.
4. RHP Louie Varland - AAA St. Paul Saints, 15 IP, 40.3 K%, 4.20 ERA, 1.77 FIP
A similar figure as Ober, Louie Varland is simply too good for AAA. His peripherals—good lord, his peripherals—were overwhelmingly dominant in April as the Minnesota native one-upped Ober, striking out over 40% of the batters he faced in the month. That’s deGrom territory. He also walked just four hitters. So why not rank him higher? Needing to be a stickler over such minor sample sizes necessitates a certain meanness when looking at one’s body of work, and Varland lacked the innings the other starters provided (15).
With ever-increasing velocity, Varland’s ascent appears never-ending; his movement from fun hometown story, to legitimate minor league performer, to potentially dominant major leaguer has been breathtaking, astounding. His final hurdle appears to be the all-important playing time—something he should run into very soon. For now, he’ll settle for 4th place on this prestigious list.
3. RHP Cory Lewis - Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 19 IP, 34.2 K%, 3.32 ERA, 3.50 FIP
And now we reach the unicorn. Minnesota’s 9th-round pick in the 2022 draft carries the usual pitching repertoire—a spinny fastball; a dazzling curve; ideal extension—on top of a true wild card: “an impressive knuckleball.” More than a freak side-show, Lewis’ game has translated well to the minor leagues, as the starter pitched 19 innings in April, punching out 34.2% of batters while carrying an ERA of 3.32. The peak of his bat-missing madness came on April 26th, when the 22-year-old elicited 19 swings and misses over just 4 2/3 frames.
The effectiveness has more to do with his fastball/curveball punch, potentially disappointing those hoping to see MLB’s first consistent knuckleballer since Steven Wright in 2019. Still, his success may not be a fluke, and continued production may result in night classes for Twins catchers unsure of handling the dancing, unpredictable nature of the 82-mph knuckleball.
2. RHP David Festa - AA Wichita Wind Surge, 19 IP, 35.5 K%, 3.79 ERA, 3.35 FIP
Back to your regular, normal right-handed prospecting. David Festa popped up in 2022, elevating from a random 13th-round pick from Seton Hall—the college of Craig Biggio, Mo Vaughn, and Zack Granite—into a respectable potential rotation fixture. He “pops mid-90s heat and pairs it with a potential plus mid-80s slider with power 11-6 depth,” giving him a classic modern starter’s profile—with more apparent limbs than your prototypical hurler.
And his tools served him well in April; the righty covered 19 innings while striking out 35.5% of batters at AA, a level he had not yet touched, while in the Texas League, a division famous for hitting. The early returns favor a repeat of 2022 for Festa, and such a development could push him into rotation plans for the big-league club in 2024.
1. RHP Zebby Matthews - Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels, 20 1/3 IP, 34.7 K%, 3.10 ERA, 2.39 FIP
One of the most apparent, sweeping movements in the Twins system under Falvey and Levine has been the rapid improvements made by anonymous college pitchers suddenly breaking out after draft day. Zebby Matthews is no exception. While he’s actually the highest-drafted arm of the five we talked about today—a regal 8th-round selection—Matthews’ immediate impact was not well-predicted.
But it has been glorious. Combining the efficiency of a command artist with the punch outs of a workhorse, Matthews walked just three batters, struck out 26 of them, and swallowed 20 1/3 innings over four promising starts. One was a clunker, but the other three flashed brilliance; he didn’t allow a run for 13 consecutive frames to begin the season.
What’s fascinating and different about Matthews’ success is his approach: a full serving of almost every pitch a pitcher can throw (except for that one, you know which), that has apparently befuddled Low-A hitters. When a batter must react to the four-seamer, sinker, slider, curveball, changeup, or cutter, it evidently leads to missed hacks, foolish takes, and the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month Award.
MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (4/24-4/30)
If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor leagues.
Alex Kirilloff was activated from the Twins injured list and optioned to Triple-A. Trevor Megill was traded to the Brewers for a PTBN and cash considerations. RESULTS
Tuesday (4/25): Blowouts and Bombs Wednesday (4/26): Not a Good Day in the Twins Organization Thursday (4/27): Saints March Home Early Friday (4/28): Woods Richardson Takes No-No to the 6th Inning Saturday (4/29): Wichita Offensive Explosion Highlights Disappointing Night in the Minors MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT
Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - April 2023 Alex Kirilloff and Embracing the Unknown Edouard Julien’s Triple-A Improvement Checklist TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
Nashville @ St. Paul (11:07 PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez (1-1, 2.42 ERA) Wichita @ Northwest Arkansas (11:05 PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams (1-3, 7.71 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (5:05 PM CST) - LHP Jordan Carr (0-1, 3.38 ERA) Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - RHP Cory Lewis (2-1, 3.32 ERA) WEEK IN REVIEW
Triple-A: St. Paul Saints (Week: 2-3)
Overall: 15-10, 2.0 games back in the International League West. Overview: After a convincing series win against Rochester, the Saints lost three of their final four games before the finale was rained out on Sunday. 🔥: Michael Helman returned to the Saints and had two home runs (among four hits) and six runs batted in. 🔥: Mark Contreras was the only Saint who batted better than .300 (8-22, .421) and supplied a nice power supply with three doubles and a home run. 🔥: Louie Varland and Simeon Woods Richardson are both jockeying to join the Twins rotation and did well in their starts. (You can see entire stat lines for them in the Top 20 roundup below.) 🥶: Dereck Rodriguez allowed four runs on five hits in his lone inning of work. 🥶: Andrew Stevenson had been very good for the Saints, but was 3-15 this week with six strikeouts. What's Next: The Saints will host Nashville (14-12) in the front half of a two-week homestand. Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge (Week: 2-4)
Overall: 9-12, 5.0 games back in the Texas League North and currently tied for last place. Overview: Lots of scoring for both Wichita and Springfield this past week (all games had 10 or more combined runs), but the Wind Surge had two games where they combined for one run. They also lost while scoring 10 and now have a three-game losing streak. 🔥: Yoyner Fajardo tied for the organizational lead with 9 hits on the week. He scored six runs, walked twice and stole a base. He only had one strikeout in 23 at-bats. 🔥: Yunior Severino has continued to provide power and a load of strikeouts for Wichita. Three more home runs this week, ten runs batted in and also ten strikeouts. You can take the swing-and-miss when you have a .373 OBP with a .958 OPS on the season. 🥶: The pitching staff, as a whole, struggled mightily. Five different pitchers who pitched three or more inning had ERAs of 12.00 or greater. All but two pitchers on the entire staff allowed two or more earned runs. Five pitchers issued three or more walks. What's Next: Wichita will look to get back on track as they travel to Northwest Arkansas (10-11). High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Week: 3-3)
Overall: 9-11, 5.0 games back and in last place in the Midwest League West. Overview: The Kernels took three of the first four in the series, but lost the final two games to settle for a split. 🔥: Ben Ross was the lone hitter with a batting average over .300 (6-19, .316). Ross had two doubles, two walks and stole a base. 🔥: Regi Grace pitched well at the back of the Kernels bullpen. He earned a win and picked up a save by pitching three near-perfect innings over two games. He struck out three in three innings and only allowed a walk. 🔥: Kyle Jones has been inconsistent through four starts, but when he’s good, he’s really good. In five shutout innings this week, he allowed three hits and a walk while striking out five. 🥶: Keoni Cavaco has had a bumpy go since being drafted. In four games this past week, he was hitless in 11 at-bats, striking out seven times. He did walk four times though, if you’re looking for a silver lining. What's Next: Cedar Rapids hits the road for a two-week road trip, starting in South Bend (13-8). Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (Week: 4-2)
Overall: 12-9, 3.0 games behind Bradenton in the Florida State League West. Overview: Fort Myers took three of the first four before a Saturday rainout forced a Sunday double-header, which they split. 🔥: Carlos Aguiar had five extra base hits (two doubles, three triples) among his eight hits. He scored six runs and drove in four. He did strike out 10 times, though, in 26 plate appearances. 🔥: Andrew Cossetti keeps raking. He had six hits this week and five of them were doubles. 🔥: CJ Culpepper threw five shutout innings and struck out seven. He only allowed three hits. 🥶: Mikey Perez had 24 hits in 10 games after being drafted in 2021. He really struggled in 2022 and 2023 hasn’t been much better. A 2-16 week drops him to .118/.211/.206 on the season. 🥶: Develson Aria, who’s been highlighted before, struggle in his start this week, allowing five hits, three walks and four runs in the 3 ⅔ innings. He did strike out five. What's Next: Fort Myers will host Dunedin (10-11) this week and get to stay at home again the following week. PROSPECT SUMMARY
This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. (Season-long stats will be in parenthesis.)
20. Misael Urbina, OF, Cedar Rapids: 4-21, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, BB, 11 K. (.138/.230/.246. .476 OPS) 19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Extended Spring Training 18. Tanner Schobel, 2B, Cedar Rapids: 4-19, 2B, HR, 5 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 K. (.203/.260/.348. .608 OPS), played two games at second base (ten total) and committed one error chances (two in 42 chances total); played two games at third base and was perfect in seven chances (has not committed any errors in 11 total chances in six games). 17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: On Minnesota’s injured list with elbow inflammation. 16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0, 4.50 ERA, 2 IP, 2 H, ER, HRA, 4 K. (1.30 WHIP, .192 BAA) 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 14. Noah Miller, SS, Cedar Rapids: 3-24, 3 RBI, R, 2 BB, 5 K. (.247/.333/.315. .648 OPS), played shortstop in five games (15 total) and committed no errors in 20 chances (one error in 58 total chances); played one game (three total) at second base and committed no errors in six chances (15 total). 13. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 0-0, 6.23 ERA, 4.1 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 2 HRA, 1 BB, 7 K. (1.11 WHIP, .229 BAA) 12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Extended Spring Training 11. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 2-12, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K. (.268/.453/.500. 953 OPS); Minnesota: (.000/.273/.000. .273 OPS) 10. Austin Martin, SS: Martin is still recovering from an arm injury. 9. Louie Varland, RHP, St. Paul: 1-0, 1.69 ERA, 5.1 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 8 K. (1.27 WHIP, .263 BAA); Minnesota: (1.17 WHIP, .250 BAA) 8. Jose Salas, INF: 3-15, 2B, 2 BB, 4 K, 1 SB (.143/.226/.161. .387 OPS), played one game at shortstop and had no errors in two chances (one error in 17 chances in five games total) and two games (six total) at third base with no errors (one total) in three chances (12 total). He played two games (five total) at second base with no errors in five chances (no errors in 14 total chances). 7. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: Prielipp is expected to resume throwing this week, though it’s unclear when he will return to game action. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: 0-1, 2.57 ERA, 7.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (1.57 WHIP, .298 BAA); Minnesota: (2.14 WHIP, .350 BAA) 5. Edouard Julien, 2B, St. Paul: 3-13, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 6 K, SB. (.241/.414/.426. .840 OPS); Minnesota: (.222/.276/.444. .720 OPS) 4. Marco Raya, RHP, Cedar Rapids: 0-0, 9.00 ERA, 3.0 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, BB, 2 K. (1.41 WHIP, .211 BAA) 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: Rodriguez is still recovering from an abdomen strain. 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Lewis is still recovering from his second ACL surgery, but is getting back into action in extended spring games. 1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 7-22, 3 2B, 4 RBI, 6 R, 2 BB, 3 K. (.263/.323/.439. .762 OPS), played all five games (19 total) at shortstop and committed no errors in 20 chances (two errors in 84 total chances). PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (as voted on by fans on Twitter)
PITCHER - Simeon Woods Richardson, St. Paul. (Woods Richardson 36%, Enlow 27%, Culpepper 25%, Grace 12%) HITTER - Mark Contreras, St. Paul. (Contreras 49%, Severino 40%, Aguiar 6%, Ross 5%) Who would have been your picks? Any early season surprises or disappointments? Ask questions and discuss the Twins prospects in the COMMENTS below.
MN_ExPat reacted to Steven Trefz for an article, No Longer Roadkill? Notes from my Month as a Twins Roadie
I wrote in the pre-season about how the Twins 2022 road record doomed their playoff hopes, despite carrying a division lead for much of the season. The 2023 Twins squad faced a daunting opening travel schedule, with the opening week of the season taking them 1,900 miles to Kansas City and Miami without an off-day in between. Just six days later they hit the road again, journeying 1,500 miles to New York and Boston with the off-day being Boston Marathon/Patriot Day, which led to the team spending the flex time in New York instead of at the second series site.
The road schedule couldn’t have started any better. The Twins drew substantial fan support at Kansas City, and they swept the Royals with great pitching and timely hitting. Any jet lag that might have journeyed to Miami with the team got blasted away by a few bombas and even some SKOL chants from the traveling Twins faithful, and the Twins were 4-0 to start the season. Since that hot start, the Twins have struggled in opposing stadiums, going 3-6 the rest of the month.
So what went right, what went wrong, and how do these trends play into a month of May where Chicago, Cleveland, Los Angeles x2, and Houston await the Twins baseball caravan?
What Went Right
Starting Pitching – Without a doubt, the key to April’s winning road record started with the starters. Especially in the Kansas City series, the Twins’ ability to pitch shutouts in the first two games, and then hold the Royals to only one run until the game was well in hand served to deliver the sweep. The remaining wins on the road saw the opposing team score one, two, three, and four runs respectively. Two of the losses involved starters holding the opponent to two runs or less.
Big Innings Early – Each road series saw the Twins win a game where they dropped a three-spot or larger in an early inning. If the road team is going to have any advantage, its when you can get on the board early and often. Sometimes it came through homeruns, sometimes it was small ball. Inevitably, it resulted in a victory.
Reversing the Curse – The first inning at Yankee Stadium will go down in history as one of the best innings in Twins history. Edouard Julien led off with his first MLB hit, and got the chance to hit his first MLB home run before the inning ended. What happened in between was pure magic. Two walks, a single, a sacrifice fly, three doubles, and two other home runs later the Twins were up 9-0, and the game against the perennial nemesis was over before it began.
What Went Wrong
Manufacturing Base runners – In four of the Twins road losses, they managed a measly eight, five, four, and three base runners in total. One could conclude that Gerrit Cole, Sandy Alcantara, Jesus Luzardo, and Domingo German’s rosin are to blame for the Twins poor offensive showings in those contests.
When I watched those four games live and in person at the stadium, a different story emerged. The three-outcome approach (Strikeout, Home Run, Walk) was in full effect against dominant starters. These games followed offensive outbursts dominated by extra-base hits and homers, but when the Twins needed to manufacture a run no one changed their approach at the plate. The fact stood out especially against Luis Arraez and DJ LeMahieu’s performance in those games. Granted the long-ball also beat the Twins in those games, but when you see professional and adaptable hitting in a close game, it stands out. Who for the Twins will step up to fill this void in the lineup?
Get-Away Days – Every time the last game of a road series rolled around, I was ready to be done. My van was packed, the trip after the game to the next destination was planned, and I had to almost remind myself that there was still a game to be played that day. Unfortunately, I wasn’t alone in this feeling. The Twins went 1-3 in “get-away” day games in April, the last game of each series. They actually finished around .500 in 2022 on these dates, so I’m guessing more series and months will average things out.
I do feel its important to note that in each of the road series so far, the game and the team felt “flat,” and the lineups that were put on the field didn’t imply that they put their best foot forward. The human urge to lose focus on the road is real, so one might argue that the last game of a series should be the time to put the most effort into lineup construction.
Random Implosions – The bullpen gave up a four-spot in the eighth inning to make a 1-1 tie into a late- inning laugher against Miami. Tyler Mahle’s arm began its slow descent onto the injured list in New York. Christian Vazquez forgot how to catch late in the game at his old home, Fenway Park, and the Twins lost in an extra innings that should have never happened. Kenta Maeda took a rocket off of his shin, and Emilio Pagan served up six runs immediately after being lights out all season up until that point.
Road games carry less of a margin for error than home games, and when the Twins provided the errors, the negative results followed. Each of the players mentioned have also been responsible for wins this season, so its not even about them individually. Instead, April’s away games remind us that no implosion will go unpunished on the road.
Where Does the Road Go From Here?
The Twins begin May with two “must-win” road series within the division. The White Sox are one sweep away from imploding for the season, and the Guardians could leapfrog the Twins for first place with a sweep of their own. Los Angeles brings three games apiece against the Dodgers and Angels, and Houston always serves as a difficult venue for Twins to find success.
If the Twins can attack any ace pitching that they find along the way with some adaptive approaches, keep their eyes focused on the task at hand on get-away days, and keep what they can control efficient and clean on the defensive end, a 10-6 record on the road in May isn’t out of the question. Based on 2022’s results, a 5-11 record is just as likely.
Are the Twins’ days of being roadkill over? May will have a lot to say about that.
MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Brent Headrick The Starter?
Brent Headrick wasn’t one of the Twins locks to be added to the 40-man roster this winter but made the cut along with Casey Legumina who was later traded to Cincinnati. Despite being somewhat of an afterthought, the left-hander has been one of the more impressive up-and-down pitchers on the roster this season. The Twins could possibly start looking for a way to get him up for good soon.
Headrick’s MLB career is in its infancy having only made three appearances to date. We can be cautious given the incredibly small sample size, but the early results are encouraging. In 8 1/3 innings, Headrick has a 3.24 ERA and 12 strikeouts. His WHIP stands at an impressive 0.96. He’s showing signs of being able to consistently retire Major League hitters, and it can be argued that may be going to waste in a long relief role.
Headrick is in an interesting spot. The Twins clearly believed in him having protected him from the Rule 5 draft. It’s important to note that his addition to the 40-man has to speed up his timeline to the big leagues which is likely why he’s filling long relief innings. So far, his effectiveness in bulk innings makes it worth wondering whether Headrick could be a usable big-league starting pitcher.
The dominoes are starting to fall at the big-league level. Kenta Maeda's injury has opened up a well-deserved opportunity for Bailey Ober, who very well may not allow Maeda to get his job back when healthy. On Thursday night, Tyler Mahle left his start after four innings due to elbow soreness. He played down the injury after the game, but at this point, it's a little difficult to take Mahle's word after several brief returns from the IL only to head right back in 2022. We hope it's just an early-season tweak, but the Twins should be making plans in case it isn't.
The likely replacement for Mahle is Louie Varland, who appears to be another MLB-worthy starter stuck in Triple-A due to the roster crunch. The Twins pitching depth is coming through for them early, but it's already beginning to run out.
Assuming Ober and Varland get the call, the Twins' rotation in Triple-A will be headed by Simeon Woods Richardson. The right-hander the Twins got in the Jose Berrios trade has already debuted this season in long relief. It's possible he would be the next man up, but his future as a starting pitcher is not yet written in stone. He appears to have a fastball that's going to regularly dip into the 80s with a changeup as his main secondary pitch.
Even if the Twins' plan is for Woods Richardson to be slotted into the rotation in the event of another injury, he's the tail end of the list of starters you want to see called up. Aaron Sanchez, Jose De Leon, and Dereck Rodriguez are the best of what's left. Given what we've seen from Headrick, it may be time to settle him into a role as a legitimate starting pitcher.
Headrick has only made nine starts above A-Ball but has essentially reached a starter's workload in the MLB. Dropping him into the Triple-A rotation should be an easy task and should leave him available if the Twins still need to cycle him in occasionally as a long reliever. His success thus far at the MLB level (and his spot on the 40-man roster) has put him ahead of the veteran minor-league signings they have stashed away in Triple-A. Veteran starting pitching depth is great to have, but it's hard to call it depth when there's so little promise in the event that any of these guys get called up.
Headrick has been found money for the Twins, and he could wind up playing a bigger role than many thought he would when he was given a 40-man roster spot in the offseason. He may not be the most seasoned starting pitching prospect, but what he's shown in the majors should be taken into account. The Twins should have Brent Headrick starting every fifth day in Triple-A. To have another seemingly solid starter waiting in the wings could pay off, especially on with the health luck the Twins have had in recent years. Do you agree?
MN_ExPat reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Mahle Diagnosed with Forearm Strain and Elbow Impingement
Posterior impingement simply means that a soft tissue structure on the back side of the elbow is getting “pinched” repeatedly with each throw. Usually, the culprit is either the triceps tendon or the ligament-like capsule that helps hold the joint together. While uncomfortable and potentially nagging, it isn’t an overly concerning injury in the long run.
What is of slightly more concern, though, is the other injury in Hayes’ tweet. The wrist flexors and pronators, two distinct muscle groups in the forearm, attach along the inner elbow near the ulnar collateral ligament, or UCL. These muscles flex the wrist and fingers (i.e. making a fist and bending the wrist down) and also pronate the forearm (i.e. placing the hand in a palm-down position). These muscles are important for gripping and imparting spin to the baseball. Their forceful contractions also provide dynamic stability to the inner elbow, attenuating a mild amount of force that is otherwise placed on the UCL. Basically, if the flexors and pronators are injured, the UCL is at an increased risk for injury.
As Hayes mentioned in his article following Mahle’s recent start against the Kansas City Royals, Mahle’s fastball velocity dropped over five miles per hour between the third and fourth innings. He originally stated that his pain was located at the back of the elbow and was “sore”, which originally led to the impingement diagnosis. The MRI revealed the muscle strain.
According to Baseball Prospectus’ Recovery Dashboard, the median days missed due to elbow flexor strains is 40 days, with a minimum of 17 and a maximum of 84. However, flexor strains often precede a UCL sprain diagnosis, which may ultimately lead to Tommy John surgery. It should be noted, though, that frequently athletes are provided a flexor strain diagnosis prior to undergoing imaging; the MRI then reveals the UCL tear.
In Mahle’s case, there’s no reason to suspect UCL involvement at this time as it was not included in the team’s official diagnosis. There’s also no reason to suggest that surgery is imminent and his season is over.
The initial timeline provided by the Twins is suggestive of a Grade 1 or 2 strain, both of which can take weeks to months to heal. Mahle will likely resume a throwing program after the next four weeks conclude, at which point it will be determined if will be ramped back up or shut down further.
This is a developing story, so stay tuned to Twins Daily for the latest information.
MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Who Is Brock Stewart?
With the Minnesota Twins having an open roster spot after optioning Bailey Ober back to Triple-A St. Paul on Monday, they have decided to use it on hard-throwing righty Brock Stewart. He was not on the 40-man roster, so the Twins chose to Designate RHP Trevor Megill for Assignment.
The 31-year-old's story is an interesting one, and when he takes the mound for the Twins, it will be the first time he’s been on a big league mound since 2019.
Drafted by the Los Angeles Dodgers in the 6th round of the 2014 Major League Baseball draft, Stewart was taken out of Illinois State University. The former Redbird worked as a reliever in college and racked up strikeouts with strong velocity numbers. Los Angeles immediately tried him as a starter, and while the results were middling in 2015, he broke out in 2016.
Across 121 innings from Single-A to Triple-A in 2016, Stewart posted a sparkling 1.79 ERA with a 9.6 K/9. He made 21 starts and excelled at the upper levels of the farm. While that year didn’t get him on any top-100 prospect lists, he vaulted up the Dodgers system and was now an arm with plenty of intrigue.
With the strong effort on the farm in 2016, Stewart was called up to the big leagues for his debut. He pitched 28 innings for the Dodgers, but was bit by the longball, allowing seven of them in that timeframe.
Working out of the Dodgers bullpen for the majority of 2017, Stewart saw plenty of success when it came to ERA. His 3.41 number was solid, but continuously he was walking a tightrope as the strikeouts dipped and the walks rose. A lackluster 2018 with the Dodgers meant his chances were running out, and by 2019 he found opportunity north of the border with Toronto. In 21 2/3 innings with the Blue Jays, Stewart posted an 8.31 ERA and was allowing a whopping 3.7 HR/9. At 27 years old, his career was at a crossroads.
Out of affiliated baseball during Covid, Stewart found run with the Chicago Deep Dish, an independent team playing in the City of Champions Cup. He turned in a strong 3.38 ERA and the strikeout numbers rebounded. Unfortunately, he blew out his arm in 2021 and underwent Tommy John surgery.
Signed by the Minnesota Twins last summer, Stewart was a prioritized minor league free agent as the organization brought him in to oversee his rehab. The righty made his organizational debut on August 23, 2022 working two innings in the Complex League. He then made three appearances for the Mighty Mussels before eventually finishing his season throwing 7 1/3 innings with the St. Paul Saints.
The results weren’t good last year, but it was the first opportunity for him to get his feet wet following the long road back. Invited to big league spring training for Minnesota this year, Stewart threw 9 1/3 innings across Grapefruit League action. The results weren’t ideal, but it was another building block in the process.
Having now worked 8 2/3 innings to start 2023 for the Saints, Stewart has been among the best relievers at Triple-A. His fastball velocity has sat in the upper 90’s, which is a big jump from his 92.8 mph career average. He has a ridiculous 17/2 K/BB. Maybe most importantly, he has yet to allow a home run. How manager Rocco Baldelli utilizes Stewart out of the Twins pen remains to be seen. He is not a traditional long man, although he has the ability to go multiple innings. He will obviously see most of his work in lower leverage, but this is a spot for Stewart to show he can hang and enjoy the hard work paying off. It has been a long road to get back, and you can imagine emotions will run high the first time the bullpen door swings open for him.