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  1. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 2 Lessons Learned from the Twins 2023 Draft   
    Before we dig into some reflections on the Twins 2023 draft class, I wanted to provide a few notes on the second annual Consensus Draft Board. I ranked 311 players using nine industry boards and added 115 player write ups in what I believe to be the first and only board of its type available for the MLB Draft. Through six rounds of the draft (around 200 picks), 90% of players drafted were on the Consensus Board. By the end of the draft, only six college players I listed weren't drafted. I'm working on a more robust look at where prospects were drafted in relation to their consensus position compared to their ranking on others boards, but that's a work in progress. Thank you to everyone who used and engaged in it.
    The Twins ‘Preferring College Players’ is a Myth Busted
    For multiple years now, we’ve heard the refrain ‘Twins prefer college bats’ from draft analysts and in draft content (including here at Twins Daily, and including me). It’s time to put that narrative to bed. The Twins drafted prep players at 5 (Jenkins), 34 (Soto), 82 (Winokur), and 150 (Questad). High school players comprised four of the Twins first six picks.
    Indeed, looking at the past 25 years of MLB Drafts, the Twins have taken college players on average 61.6% of the time, the fourth smallest percentage in MLB. By contrast, the Twins have taken high school players on average 38.1% of the time, the fourth highest percentage in MLB over that same span.
    The transferable takeaway, then, is that trying to simplify the Twins preferences to a particular demographic is a far too reductionist approach. In a pre-draft interview with Darren Wolfson, Twins VP of Amateur Scouting Sean Johnson stated that the organization's goal is always to ‘lean into the strength of the draft’. That's a much more useful principle to center when considering Twins draft picks in future cycles.
    The Twins Leaned into What They Excel at, Developing Arms
    In addition to leaning into the strength of the Draft, MLB organizations with excellent talent recognition also lean into their player development strengths. The Marlins took Noble Meyer and Thomas White with their first two picks, for example. In the case of the Twins, it’s developing pitching and adding velocity to arms. 
    Another misapplied principle in Twins organizational parlance is the idea of ‘Falvey’s pitching pipeline’, as we tend to fixate on arms who have contributed to the major league team, and in an even more hyper-focused fashion, on starting pitching. The Twins organization is flush with pitching in a variety of roles that has been exceptionally developed since the beginning of the Falvey regime.
    At the major league level up to 40% of the Twins rotation this season has at times been pitchers the Twins drafted and developed in or after the 12th round (Bailey Ober and Louie Varland). Other pitchers at least partially developed in house that have contributed include Joe Ryan, Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic, Brent Headrick, Griffin Jax, Jovani Moran, Brock Stewart, and Caleb Thielbar. Look through other levels of the minor leagues and you’ll find many more promising arms at various stages of the development continuum from David Festa and Marco Raya, to Cory Lewis and C.J. Culpepper. The Twins know how to develop arms.
    In the 2023 draft, The Twins went on a college pitching run, selecting college pitchers in 12 consecutive picks between rounds seven and 18. Many of those pitchers are from smaller schools and colleges and have a pitch, a feature, or a quirk the Twins feel like they can meaningfully develop. To inspire confidence in this approach, we only need look back at the Twins 2022 draft, and the performance to date of arms drafted in similar rounds:
    Zebby Matthews, RHP, 8th round (234th overall pick)
    70.1 IP, 3.71 ERA, 77 K, 7 BB (A and A+ combined)
    Cory Lewis, RHP, 9th round (264th overall pick)
    63 IP, 2.29 ERA, 81 K, 21 BB (A and A+ combined)
    C.J. Culpepper, RHP, 13th round (384th overall pick)
    57.1 IP, 1.88 ERA, 61 K, 16 BB (A and A+ combined)
    All three of these pitchers were drafted outside the top 200 picks, but have added velocity, have already been promoted to A+ Cedar Rapids in their first full professional seasons, and have excellent production. An extremely promising start to their careers with the organization.
    While it's easy to look at an outlets pre-draft rankings and struggle to see why the Twins may not take a player ‘still on the board’, this is both the nature of the later rounds of the MLB draft and an excellent example of the Twins leveraging their strengths. After the outstanding early returns on 2022’s college pitching class, the Twins talent identification and player development should have the full confidence of fans in their ability to develop useful arms to contribute or trade for other assets.
    Stay tuned in the next few weeks for an announcement from Jeremy Nygaard and me about how we’ll be expanding our coverage of the draft for the 2024 cycle. Thanks for reading and engaging since February. The Draft community at Twins Daily is the best.
    Do you have any reflections or trends to share from the 2023 draft cycle? join the discussion with a comment below.
  2. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, How Does Walker Jenkins Fit with This Front Office's History of Top Draft Picks?   
    At a basic level, most people in MLB front offices would likely agree that "Best Player Available" is a proper guiding principle for the amateur draft. It's a smart approach to drafting in any sport, really, but especially one with such lengthy, circuitous, and unpredictable development timelines. 
    With that said, determining the "Best Player Available" is not so straightforward in practice. After a certain early point in the first round, this assessment becomes very subjective, and even at the highest picks, opinions tend to vary wildly about who is better than who. Moreover, you have different organizational metrics and evaluation systems, different priorities, and different strategies in play.
    The bottom line: looking back at players chosen with the highest-stakes draft picks can tell you a lot about a front office's philosophies. Reviewing how those decisions have panned out can be telling in terms of how effective these philosophies have been, and what lessons might be carried forward.
    Is the Walker Jenkins selection reflective of an adaptive front office evolving its mentality? Or are they merely following their usual blueprint? Let's run it back to the start and see what patterns or takeaways we can find.
    Top Twins Draft Picks Under the Falvey/Levine Front Office
    2017: Royce Lewis, SS (1st overall)
    By virtue of joining the reigning worst team in the major leagues, Derek Falvey inherited the No. 1 overall pick in the first draft he would oversee as Chief Baseball Officer. Quite a welcoming gift.
    The top of the that class was a fascinating one. Sometimes there is a clear-cut No. 1 pick, sometimes there are two or three guys who could reasonably be the choice. In 2017, there were a handful of plausible options. Lewis was among them, but generally considered lower in that mix.
    Two-way player hysteria was taking over in the face of Shohei Ohtani's looming stateside arrival. There was a pair of talents billed as such at the top of the 2017 draft class: Louisville's Brendan McKay and high school phenom Hunter Greene. 
    To the extent there was a consensus choice for the top pick, it was probably Greene. He would've been an exciting addition as a teenager throwing in triple digits along with that trendy two-way potential. Alas, that also made for a highly experimental path, and a costly one to boot with Greene expected to command a big signing bonus.
    The Twins opted for Lewis in a move that preserved draft pool funds for a later splash. (They took prep pitcher and LSU commit Blayne Enlow in the third round, and signed him overslot with the leftover budget.) 
    Interestingly, they used their second pick, which was essentially a late first-rounder at No. 35 overall, to select college slugger Brent Rooker – a much "safer" draft pick after dominating higher-level competition at Mississippi State.
    While the Twins would later develop a reputation for highly preferring college players in the draft under Falvey, the first and most significant draft selection under his regime was a high schooler. Take note of this. They did, however, aim to offset the volatility of a raw prep talent with their first pick by adding a more polished college slugger shortly after. Take note of that also. Six years after being drafted with the No. 1 and 2 overall picks, Greene and Lewis are still working to establish themselves as big-leaguers: Greene has thrown 199 MLB innings, Lewis has accrued a whole 140 plate appearances. This despite the fact that both have mostly delivered on their promise when healthy and on the field. A reminder that with high school prospects – even the small percentage who don't fizzle out – it can take a while. 2018: Trevor Larnach, OF (20th overall)
    In the second draft under the new regime, Minnesota went back to the Rooker profile with their first pick. Larnach was an established collegiate masher who featured on a star-studded, national champion Oregon State team. There were no illusions about Larnach being a defensive maven or future batting champ. He was drafted for his proven power at the highest amateur level, which theoretically made him a low-risk pick in the second half of the first round. 
    Looking back, that assessment was ... pretty accurate? It's definitely fair to say the 26-year-old Larnach has fulfilled the "high floor" part of his scouting report. He can hit. He has a .292/.379/.463 career slash line in the minors and a respectable career OPS+ of 93 in the majors. 
    Has he hit enough to justify regular MLB playing time at a bat-first position? Not really, as evidenced by his current presence in Triple-A. 
    Then again, neither had Rooker at age 26. Now he's an All-Star at 28.
    College bats like Larnach might be appealing for their ostensible quicker path to the majors, but it doesn't always work out that way. Rooker took every bit as long as Lewis to find his footing in the majors. Larnach's breakout might still be ahead, five years in. We probably shouldn't be super hasty to give up on Trevor Larnach?  2019: Keoni Cavaco, SS (13th overall)
    This pick seemingly went against the organization's scruples. Not only was Cavaco an unrefined prep talent out of high school, he was also generally viewed as a reach this high in the first round. (Cavaco ranked 28th on MLB Pipeline's pre-draft board.) The Twins had scouted him heavily and bought into their favorable assessment of his tools and potential.
    “I think upside is the right word to use here.” scouting director Sean Johnson said at the time. “He’s got electric bat speed. We think he’s going to have home run power. He’s one of the best third basemen I’ve seen in the high school ranks in my time scouting, and most of the guys who saw him -- that’s including guys that’s done it 20-plus years -- so a great defender.”
    Most great infield defenders don't play third base in high school. Never mind. Like so many other promising high school players who enamor scouts with their conceptual ceiling, Cavaco didn't reach his. In fact, he has never come close. He's had no success in the pros and currently has a .544 OPS at Single-A as a 22-year-old, on the verge of fizzling out of the system. 
    In this draft, as they did two years earlier when they took a high schooler with their top selection, the Twins aimed for some level of assurance in their next two picks, going with college slugger Matt Wallner (39th overall) and college fireballer Matt Canterino (54th overall).
    Toolsy teenaged high schoolers are risky, especially near the top of the draft – even when they amaze with their tantalizing potential against prep competition. Cavaco is shaping up as a banner example; he might not even make it Double-A. While the Twins were showing a willingness to gamble on prep picks in the draft, they also were noticeably balancing those gambles out with college standouts in the following selections. 2020: Aaron Sabato, 1B (27th overall)
    The Twins picked near the end of the first round in 2020 due to their 101-win season the prior year. This was a weird draft – because of COVID, it was cut down to five rounds, and teams had relatively little data to evaluate the class. 
    Under the circumstances, Minnesota opted for what they viewed as the safe pick to pan out into something of substance. Like Larnach and Rooker, Sabato was a proven college slugger seemingly poised for a quick path to the majors on the strength of his bat alone. 
    Unfortunately, we've witnessed the downside of a one-dimensional, strikeout-prone slugger who doesn't slug. (Sound familiar?) The Twins liked his offensive profile, in part, because of advanced metrics. (Sound familiar?) "If you look at him analytically, he lined up with some of the guys that went at the very top of the board," said Johnson at the time.
    While patience and power have kept his numbers afloat, Sabato has never dominated pro pitching as hoped. He owns a .785 OPS through two-and-a-half minor-league seasons, and is currently batting .226 with a 34% K-rate as a 24-year-old at Double-A. 
    Again: there is no such thing as a safe bet in the MLB Draft. Even the apparent sure-thing bat – drafted solely for that purpose, already at the bottom of the defensive spectrum – can fail to figure it out against professional pitching.  Probably not a good idea to use a first-rounder on a position player with zero likelihood of offering any defensive value at any point.  2021: Chase Petty, RHP (26th overall)
    Another division-winning season in 2020 left the Twins drafting late in the first round again. This time, they reversed course dramatically from the prior year's strategy – from collegiate slugger to prep pitcher. High school arms are notoriously the most high-risk proposition for a top draft pick, and it's a profile the Twins have resolutely avoided with their highest picks under Falvey.
    Petty was a big exception, due in large part to his big fastball. While reaching triple digits as a high schooler might not have been as novel as it was four years earlier when Hunter Greene was doing it, Petty had plenty of steam behind him and flashed impressive stuff during a brief pro debut.
    That was enough to sell the Cincinnati Reds on him. They flipped Sonny Gray to Minnesota for Petty in a one-for-one swap, securing the Twins a frontline starter who's made a huge impact over two seasons. 
    In many ways, for a team that fancies itself in immediate contention mode, this is the most ideal use of a late-first-round pick you could ask for. 
    Major-league teams like upside. Would the Twins have enticed Cincinnati if they'd instead selected and offered some 22-year-old college pitcher, or run-of-the-mill high school shortstop? Maybe. I kind of doubt it. The allure of age and projection adds a lot of shine to young pitching prospects. Sometimes it's good to sell high on these assets when the shine is still there. Sometimes that comes back to haunt you. While the Twins have certainly gotten back a lot of value on this pick already, it may ultimately be another we look back at with dread.  2022: Brooks Lee, SS (8th overall)
    I think most Twins officials would agree that, among all draft picks covered on this list, Lee was the least difficult choice. Possessing a top 10 pick for the first time since Falvey took over, the team had eyes on Lee but didn't figure he would fall to them at No. 8. When he did, the decision was a no-brainer. 
    Lee is a pretty prototypical first-round draft pick: standout collegiate shortstop with a chance to stick at the position. This profile offers a nice mix of polish and floor with upside and ceiling. Surprisingly, he was the first (and only) player of this ilk that the Twins have drafted under this front office. In fact, it's the first such player they've drafted since 2011 when they took Levi Michael, who could aptly be described as Brooks Lee Lite. Outside of Lee and Michael, the Twins haven't taken a college infielder in the first round in almost 30 years ago, when they took Todd Walker out of LSU in 1994. 
    Michael was emblematic of the downside in these types; he had already basically reached his ceiling when the Twins drafted him. Walker better represented the upside – a readymade impact player – and he's probably a better comp for Lee, given that he too was taken with the eighth overall pick.
    Due to preference or circumstance, the Twins have been really averse to drafting college infielders in the first round!  In the MLB draft, things fall where they may and sometimes you have to take what you're given. That looks to have worked out well for the Twins last year. As for this year...  2023: Walker Jenkins, OF (5th overall)
    For months leading up to this year's draft, consensus solidified around five distinct standout talents atop the class. The three college stars were likely to be off the board by the time Minnesota's selection swung around at No. 5, leaving them with the proposition of taking whichever prep outfielder was left, or pivoting to a different strategy.
    The Twins chose not to get cute. And that shouldn't surprise anyone. As we've seen while going through this review, the idea that Minnesota's current front office heavily favors college players is pretty off-base. They have used all of their highest-stakes picks on high-school players. Jenkins is merely a continuation of that trend.
    This front office has amassed lefty-hitting outfielders, having added Larnach and Wallner with previous first-rounders. And it's an affinity that predates the current regime. In recent Twins draft history, Jenkins best approximates Alex Kirilloff, who was taken 15th overall in 2016, just before Falvey took over.
    A good reminder that while Falvey now ultimately calls the shots, scouting director Sean Johnson runs the draft, and he's a carryover from the previous regime. Some old habits die hard. The Twins love drafting high-school outfielders in the first round and frankly it ain't hard to see why.
    Of the six prep outfielders the Twins have drafted since the turn of the century – Denard Span (2002), Chris Parmelee (2006), Ben Revere (2007), Aaron Hicks (20008), Byron Buxton (2012), and Kirilloff (2016) – all six have reached the major leagues. A six-for-six hit rate. That just doesn't happen in the crapshoot known as the MLB Draft.
    Jenkins seems to blend the best of many worlds from the history of Twins drafts. He offers the exhilarating upside of an ascendant teenaged talent, in a historically safe profile. And the team didn't go out on a limb one bit to draft him. 
  3. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Report (7/14): Big Innings Decide Friday Games in Minors   
    The Minnesota Twins got tor runs off the batted of                                        
    Here are the records of the six Twins affiliates through games on Friday. 
    St. Paul Saints: 52-35 
    Wichita Wind Surge: 34-47
    Cedar Rapids Kernels: 50-32 
    Fort Myers Mighty Mussels: 42-40
    FCL Twins: 12-15
    DSL Twins: 7-20
    Let’s get to the report. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. 
    Following the Twins win in Oakland, Dan Hayes tweeted that Jose Miranda will be going on the injured list. Matt Wallner will join the team in Oakland. 
    Lefties Zach Neff and Josh Mitchell were deemed recovered from their Tommy John surgeries. They pitched in a couple of rehab games… and on Thursday, the Twins released them. 
    Right-hander Juan Mercedes was promoted from the FCL Twins to the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. John Klein was sent back to the FCL. 
    RHP Eduardo Soriano was promoted from the DSL to the FCL Twins. 
    In fun, former Twins prospect transactions, 2015 fourth-round pick Trey Cabbage was called up to the Angels and activated before Friday night’s game. In the game, he hit for second baseman Michael Stefanic
    St. Paul 5, Durham 8
    Box Score
    The Saints open up their “second half” at CHS Field.  They fell behind early but quickly caught up and went ahead only to give up five in the ninth to fall to the Bulls. 
    Louie Varland made the start. He was charged with three unearned runs on eight hits over the first four innings. He struck out seven batters without issuing a walk. Josh Winder came on and struck out three batters over 2 2/3 scoreless innings. Michael Boyle had a walk and a strikeout and recorded three outs. Patrick Murphy got the final out of the eighth inning. Then he came out for the ninth and gave up five runs on four hits and a walk. Austin Brice came on with two runners on base and allowed both to score. 
    Anthony Prato got St. Paul on the board in the second with a two-run homer, his fifth since joining the Saints. In the third frame, Andrew Stevenson’s 10th homer tied the game at 3-3. Stevenson gave the team the 4-3 season with a single that drove in Prato. Gilberto Celestino gave the Twins another run in the seventh inning with a ground out that scored Stevenson. 
    Stevenson went 3-for-5 in the game from the leadoff spot. Jair Camargo had two hits. Prato his his ninth double and fifth homer during his five weeks with the Saints. 
    Wichita 3, Springfield 4
    Box Score
    Like the Saints, the Wind Surge got a lead going into the late innings. Unfortunately, a big-inning was enough to give the team a loss. 
    The Wind Surge powered their way to an early lead. Patrick Winkel drilled his fourth homer of the season in the second inning. 
    In the fifth frame, DaShawn Keirsey hit his 10th home run. Aaron Sabato made it a 3-0 lead with a single that scored Yunior Severino. 
    Highly-regarded Marco Raya made his second Double-A start and it went quite well. In 3 2/3 innings, he gave up no runs. He gave up just one hit and one walk, and he struck out four batters. He was more efficient with his pitches and was able to almost get through the fourth inning. He threw 51 pitches in the game. Isaac Mattson came on and walked two batters but no runners crossed the plate before he got the final out. 
    David Festa returned to the team after his scoreless inning in Saturday’s Futures Game in Seattle. He got back in the action with two perfect innings. Three of the six outs came on strikeouts. However, Regi Grace came in for the seventh inning. He’s been the best reliever in the organization all season and really had his first rough outing of the year. He gave up four runs on four hits and a walk and recorded just one out. Denny Bentley came on and allowed an inherited runner to score, but he was able to provide five outs without any additional runs scoring. Alex Scherff struck out two batters in a one-hit ninth. 
    Keirsey and Winkel each went 2-for-4 in the game with the home run. 
    Cedar Rapids 15, Beloit 2
    Box Score
    The Kernels went to their old stomping grounds (well, the Twins old Midwest League affiliate grounds) and used a couple of big innings to record an easy win in the new stadium. 
    Jorel Ortega put the Kernels on the scoreboard with a solo homer, his second since joining the team. He also kicked off a big, eight-run fourth inning when he singled with the bases loaded to score Kala’i Rosario. Misael Urbina walked to score Noah Cardenas. Jose Salas drove in Noah Miller on a fielder’s choice. Willie Joe Garry’s single then drove in Ortega to make it 5-0. 
    Leadoff man Tanner Schobel kept things going with a two-run double to give the Kernels a 7-0 lead. Emmanuel Rodriguez followed with a triple and then scored on a Rosario sacrifice fly that made it 9-0 after four innings. 
    Beloit hit a couple of solo homers in the bottom of the fifth frame, so that Kernels wanted to get that back… and more. 
    In the top of the sixth, Rosario singled in Rodriguez with the 10th run. Then Noah Miller drove in Rosario with a single. Jorel Ortega’s second homer of the night (and third in his short time with the Kernels). The three-run shot made it 14-2. 
    The Kernels added one more in the seventh inning as well. 
    Zebby Matthews was one out from qualifying for the Win. He gave up two solo homers in the fifth inning, the only runs he gave up in 4 2/3 innings. (56 of his 80 pitches (70%) were strikes.) He struck out five and didn’t issue a walk. Malik Barrington “vultured” the Win to improve to 4-0. That said, he struck out three batters over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up two hits and walked one batter. Finally, John Wilson struck out two batters over two scoreless innings to close the door. 
    The Kernels got contributions from everyone. Misael Urbina was the only player without a hit, but he had a bases-loaded walk. Noah Miller was the lone player with just one hit. Seven hitters had at least two hits
    Jorel Ortega, the team’s sixth-round pick a year ago, finished the game going 4-for-5 with the two home runs. He scored three runs and drove in five runs. Emmanuel Rodriguez went 3-for-5 with a walk and his third triple. He also stole his 11th base. Rosario went 2-for-4 with a walk. Noah Cardenas went 2-for-5 with a walk and his 14th double. Jose Salas was also 2-for-5. Willie Joe Garry was 2-for-4 with a walk. Tanner Schobel went 2-for-6 with his ninth double. 
    Fort Myers 6, Clearwater 2
    Box Score 
    Ft. Myers took the early lead and then had a big-inning late and held on for the win. 
    Right-hander Ben Ethridge, the Twins 15th-round pick in 2022 from Southern Miss, finally earned his first Win of the season and as a professional. Coming into the night, he was 0-4 despite an ERA of just 2.49 and a WHIP at 1.06.  After beginning the season in the bullpen, this was his sixth consecutive appearance as a start. 
    I could argue that his Friday night start was his best yet, but he’s had a few good starts. In this game, he tossed five shutout innings. He gave up just two hits, walked one and struck out two batters. He dropped his season ERA to 2.23. 
    Wilker Reyes struck out four batters over the next two innings. He gave up no hits and no runs and walked two batters. Ricardo Velez pitched a scoreless eighth inning but gave up a two-run homer in the ninth.
    The Twins signed Carson McCusker recently after spending three seasons with Tri-City in the Frontier League. That was after four seasons at Oklahoma State. In the first inning, he gave the Mussels a 2-0 lead with his fifth home run in his 10th game. He went 3-for-4 and is now hitting .439 with a 1.270 OPS. 
    The Mussels grabbed some insurance runs in the eighth inning, turning a 2-0 lead to a 6-0 lead. Rubel Cespedes hit his 19th double which scored two runs. Rafael Cruz drove Cespedes in with a single. Ricardo Olivar concluded the scoring by knocking in Cruz with the fourth run of the inning.  
    Danny De Andrade went 2-for-5 with his 11th and 12th doubles. 
    FCL Twins 9 FCL Red Sox 8 
    Box Score
    In a day filled with big innings, it was very true in the FCL game on Friday. The Twins had a four-run second inning and kept piling on runs including two runs in the top of the ninth. That gave them a 9-2 lead, but the Red Sox countered with six runs in the bottom of the ninth. Thankfully the Twins stopped the bleeding just in time. 
    In this game, it was all about the offense. Yasser Mercedes is a top ten Twins prospects according to Twins Daily and other places. But he got off to a very slow start in his Stateside debut. Coming into Friday’s game, Mercedes was hitting just .157/.228/.255 (.483) with two doubles and a homer. He had played in just 13 games. In this game, we were reminded of the talent that he has. He went 4-for-5 with his second and third home runs. He stole his fourth base. He scored three runs and drive in four runs. After this game, he is still hitting just .214 with a .685 OPS. Not great, but adding .200 points of OPS in one day is a good start. 
    Keoni Cavaco was sent back to the FCL Twins after hitting below .200 with the Kernels in the first half. It appears to be an opportunity for a restart for Cavaco, a chance to play against a lower level of competition, hopefully experience some success, gain some confidence, work on some things, and then see where it goes. In his second FCL game, he had a single, double and triple over five at-bats. He scored two runs and drove in three runs. 
    Harold Grant  went 2-for-5 and his two-run homer in the ninth inning proved to be more important than originally thought. It was his second homer. 
    Brayan Medina made the start. In 4 2/3 innings, he gave up two runs on three hits. He walked four batters and struck out three batters. Cleiber Maldonado then struck out five batters over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Lopez came on and worked a scoreless eighth inning. However, in the ninth frame, he gave up six runs on five hits and two walks. Yon Landaeta came on with two runners on base and both scored. However, he struck out two batters and was able to get the third out before the Red Sox were able to tie it up. 
    The Twins scored runs in four of the first five innings. Normally that, and the nine runs that came with it, would be considered good. And it is. However, when the pitchers give up runs in each of the five innings, and 17 runs in those innings, it isn’t great. 
    Jeicol Surumay started. In 1 2/3 innings, he gave up four runs (3 earned) on three hits and three walks. Cristian Hernandez came on and was charged with eight runs (5 earned) on eight hits and three walks over 2 1/3 innings. Eider Machuca came on and gave up five runs (4 earned) on three hits and a walk and recorded just one out (despite two strikeouts!). Jose Ojo came and allowed one inherited runner to score. But he got five outs without any more runs crossing the plate. 
    The best news to come out of this game was the return of Hendry Chivilli. He hadn’t played since opening day, June 5. He went 1-for-3 with a walk and a stolen base. Dameury Pena went 2-for-2 Ariel Castro went 2-for-4. Yilber Herrera was 1-for-3 with a walk. 
    Hitters of the Day – Jorel Ortega (Cedar Rapids) - 4-for-5, 2 HR(3), 3 R, 5 RBI. 
                                      Yasser Mercedes (FCL Twins) - 4-for-5, 2 HR(3), 3 R, 4 RBI, SB(4).
    Pitcher of the Day – Ben Ethridge (Fort Myers) - 5 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 2 K. 77 pitches, 46 strikes (59.7%) 
    Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Wednesday. (Note - our next prospect rankings update will come after the draft.)

    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-for-4
    #3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-5, 3B(3), 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 K, SB(11).
    #4 - Edouard Julien (Minnesota) - 2-for-3, 2B(11), RBI, K.  
    #6 - Marco Raya (Wichita) - 3 2/3 IP, H, 0 R, BB, 4 K, 51 pitches, 34 strikes (66.7%).
    #8 - David Festa (Wichita) - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K, 25 pitches, 16 strikes (64.0%).
    #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, BB,K. E(5). 
    #10 - Yasser Mercedes (FCL Twins) - 4-for-5, 2 HR(3), 3 R, 4 RBI, SB(4).
    #11 - Austin Martin (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, BB, K, SB(1) (2B, batted second)
    #12 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-5, R, RBI, K.
    #13 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-5, BB, 2 R, RBI, BB, 3 K. 
    #14 - Jordan Balazovic (Minnesota) - 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 K. 17 pitches, 11 strikes (64.7%)
    #18 - Jose Rodriguez (FCL Twins) - 1-for-5, K.
    #19 - Yunior Severino (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2B(12), R, 2 K..
    Durham @ St. Paul (7:07 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (3-1, 4.05 ERA)
    Springfield @ Wichita (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (1-2, 4.73 ERA)
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Kyle Jones (4-4, 4.53 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Jupiter (5:30 PM CST) - LHP Jarrett Whorff (2-0, 1.71 ERA) 
    FCL Red Sox @ FCL Twins (9:00 AM CST) - TBD 
    DSL Guardians Red @ DSL Twins (10:00 AM CST) - TBD
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Friday’s games or any other Twins minor league topics! 
  4. Haha
    MN_ExPat reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, Person Who Has Never Heard of Any of These Guys Furious Over Twins Draft   
    Unlike the NFL or NBA drafts, where players spend time in the national spotlight in college (and even high school for some basketball standouts), the Major League Baseball draft centers prospects from high school and the less glamorous college baseball ranks. It’s fair to say that unless you’re a diehard amateur baseball fan or related to one of the players, you’ve never heard of a single person in the 2023 MLB Draft.
    That’s not stopping Drew Barber from losing his mind.
    “I can’t believe the Twins lucked into the fifth pick of the draft and took a teenager,” said Barber, who has watched Skip Bayless on purpose more than once. “They are an unserious team. Heads need to roll.”
    That teenager is North Carolina high school outfielder Walker Jenkins. He was a consensus top five pick per multiple scouting organizations and the choice was almost universally praised. If anything, this has made Barber angrier.
    “This is just baseball guys covering for (Derek) Falvey and (Thad) Levine,” said the 35-year-old day trader. “They keep them as sources, so they’ll say, ‘Great pick, love this guy, you the man.’ It’s BS.”
    Barber didn’t know until last week that there was a College World Series, or that it was held in Omaha, or that Omaha was in Nebraska. Still, he has some suggestions for how the Twins could have had a successful draft.
    “This team needs a guy who can step in right away and hold down the middle of the order,” said Barber. “Take someone from Alabama or USC and roll ‘em out there before Labor Day. Done and dusted.”
    When told that this is incredibly rare in baseball, and that neither Alabama nor USC are as prospect-rich in baseball as they are on the gridiron, Barber shifted focus.
    “You can probably get high school kids on the cheap compared to some SEC stud,” speculated the lifelong Blaine resident, who could not name any SEC baseball player from this year or any year. “Typical Twins. The Patriots got Touchdown Tom (Tom Brady) in the sixth-round and we're out here getting high schoolers. Fire everyone.”
    Barber concluded by saying the Twins should trade Byron Buxton for Shohei Ohtani.
  5. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get to Know Twins Draft Pick RHP Jace Stoffal   
    Jace Stoffal pitched for the Oregon Ducks each of the past two seasons. He made a considerable jump in 2023 after seeing the Pac-12 competition for a second time, and he positioned himself well to be selected within the first 10 rounds.
    Minnesota is not a stranger to Oregon having recently drafted players such as Jake Reed and Spencer Steer. Obviously the latter was eventually moved for Tyler Mahle, but Minnesota would love to see Stoffal develop into a top starter as the Reds pitcher was when they coveted him.
    I had a chance to talk with him following the selection, here’s what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: Obviously Oregon is a very good college baseball program. How have the last couple of years there set you up for pro ball and readied you to make this jump?
    Jace Stoffal: We are a very good program, and I was very blessed to be able to spend two years there. Coach Wosikowski is unbelievable at what he does. He gets you very mentally ready. I feel like a lot of college programs don’t run as tight of a ship as he does. He gets you prepared for every game, and we go over every single detail. I think that’s what allows us to be so good, and I think you see the same type of preparation and mentality from all of the other teams succeeding at this level while getting ready for pro ball life.
    TD: You saw a big jump in success over the past two seasons. Where did that come from? Did you make big development or physical changes?
    JS: All of the above honestly. It makes it a lot easier when you’ve done it for a year. I did gain about 10 pounds during the offseason that helped to give a velocity jump. I got stronger and that gives you confidence, and knowing I can play at that level and be very successful helps.
    TD: There have been a few players taken by the Twins out of Oregon over the years, what do you know about Minnesota and the organization?
    JS: To be completely honest, I don’t really have a lot of knowledge. I don’t follow a lot of baseball to be honest with you. Kyle Blackwell is the area scout, and I know him through one of my old coaches. I have known him for a couple of years now.
    TD: Tell us about your repertoire, how you look to attack on the mound, and some pitches you feel comfortable with.
    JS: I throw a four-seam fastball, a changeup, curveball, and a slider. I’m fastball heavy to get ahead in the count. I like to throw them early and pound the zone with all four of my pitches. I don’t like to dance around the zone, I like to move barrels. If strikeouts come, they come. I like to throw strikes and not waste a lot of pitches.
    TD: What are you looking most forward to at the next level with regards to working with professional development, trainers, nutritionists, etc.?
    JS: The development of me and my skills is going to be awesome to see, to see where I’m able to go. I feel like I have a lot more in the tank. I personally feel like I have a very high ceiling, so I’d love to see where they can take me. The nutritionist side of it, I’m not sure what that entails, but learning more about my body and what it needs to do to prepare and be at its best is super cool.
    TD: What was draft day like for you yesterday? Did you expect the Twins may be a team to call?
    JS: I knew Kyle Blackwell, and he’s been really heavily talking to me throughout the college season. I had an idea that the Twins would be one of the top teams. The whole process was super cool, talking to all the teams beforehand. Yesterday (Monday), I had my family come, and we just kind of sat and watched. To hear my name called was a dream come true. Super exciting, I couldn’t be more happy.
    TD: Away from the field and looking to de-stress, what hobbies do you have off the field?
    JS: I hunt. I’m always hunting. I’m always in the mountains. I’m from Oregon. I’m big into hunting and fishing. That’s all I do if I’m not playing baseball. I’m somewhere in the mountains. That’s something I do to decompress and get away from baseball a little bit.
    Welcome to Twins Territory, Jace!
  6. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get To Know Twins Draft Pick Luke Keaschall   
    Luke Keaschall joins the Twins organization as a 20-year-old from Arizona State. He played his first two collegiate seasons for San Francisco before transferring to the Sun Devils this past season. He is a second baseman with some power potential, and that's a profile Twins fans have seen in Brian Dozier, Jorge Polanco, and most recently Edouard Julien.
    Having played in the Cape Cod League, Keaschall joined the Pac-12, having experienced high competition. He has played shortstop and outfield but should be a bat-first second baseman in pro ball.
    I recently caught up with him following his selection, and here's what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: As a California kid that spent two seasons at San Francisco before transferring to the powerhouse that is Arizona State, what would you say has most changed, grown, and developed with your game through college?
    Luke Keaschall: I loved my time at San Francisco. It was my only Division I offer out of high school and a great experience. I was fortunate enough to have an amazing head coach that really helped shape me into the ball player and person I am today. I have nothing but great things to say about him, but when he was asked to leave, I decided I was going to transfer. ASU was an amazing place to go! I am very grateful for the opportunity Willie Bloomquist and Arizona State gave me. I'd say everything in my game has grown, changed, and improved from high school throughout college. The biggest thing for me was maturing and growing into my body. In my senior year of high school, I was five-ten, 160 pounds. I've put on around 30 pounds since then and grown two or three inches. College gave me an opportunity to grow my game in every way possible.
    TD: There have been a handful of great players to be drafted and come out of California. Who are some of the guys you grew up watching, and what about their game do you try to emulate?
    LK: California is a huge state with a ton of talent, but the players I watched the most growing up vary a lot depending on which state they're from. The three players I grew up watching the most were Derek Jeter, Mike Trout, and Dustin Pedroia. Derek Jeter was my favorite player growing up, Mike Trout is a special talent that is extremely fun to watch, and I've always loved the way Pedroia plays the game.
    TD: This past year at Arizona State, you really came on from a power perspective with the 18 homers. The contact skills and plate discipline have always been great, but how did you add the power without sacrificing that part of your game?
    LK: The power was just a part of the process. Putting together quality at-bats and consistently putting the ball in play with hard contact led to more home runs. Each year I've gotten a little bit stronger and more refined in my swing and approach. Every year, I am always striving to improve in every way, so the power showed a little more this year for a bunch of reasons. I think I've always been the type of guy to do damage. This year, the home run numbers showed up a little more. I've always hit a lot of extra-base hits.
    TD: Second base is sometimes an overlooked position from an offensive perspective, but guys that hit for power there really shine. What do you take pride in about your game, and what can you tell us about your glove in the field?
    LK: I take a lot of pride in my game defensively. I really make a strong effort to make all of the routine plays. The most important part of becoming the best defender possible is to make the routine plays as often as possible. I played second base at ASU, but I've mostly played shortstop my whole life. I've also played a little bit in the outfield and third base. I can really play whatever position my team needs and do whatever the game asks of me.
    TD: Moving to the Pac-12 was probably a step up in competition. How did you handle that change, and what do you think has most prepared you for pro ball?
    LK: The Pac-12 was a great experience! I played two summers in the Cape Cod Baseball Summer League, and the WCC was a decent conference. So when I made the switch to the Pac-12, I wasn't too alarmed. I was just excited for the challenge and ready to do whatever it took to be successful. What has most prepared me for pro ball is going through a lot of ups and downs through my collegiate career. Being able to understand that there are going to be times when you're on top of the world, and times when things aren't going your way is important. It's important to be the same guy everyday and never get too high or too low.
    TD: Your coach, Willie Bloomquist, played in the majors for 14 years. What about learning from him has helped set you up for success at the next level?
    LK: Willie Bloomquist is awesome! I am super grateful to have played for him at ASU. He's given me a ton of wisdom about the game and how to go about the game. Ever since I met Bloomquist, we got along great, and it's been great to learn from someone as professional and experienced as he is. The biggest thing he's helped instill into me that'll help me at the next level is to stay confident, and always play the game the right way. Each day is another opportunity, so play each game with a ton of energy and never lose sight of the big picture.
    TD: On the west coast, there is only a little exposure to Target Field or Minnesota. What do you know about the Twins? Have you been to the stadium before?
    LK: I haven't been to Target Field or Minnesota before. I know that the Twins are a fantastic organization with a bright future. The Twins are big on homegrown talent, meaning the players they draft and develop are the players they want performing for them in the show. This is awesome because they take pride in the people they pick. They see potential and want to build on it. I am super excited that I am a part of the Twins organization and cannot wait to get started.
    TD: End it on a fun one. What is something about you that Twins fans should know? What do you like to do off the field to keep things light?
    LK: Twins fans should know that I wrestled in high school and loved it! Off the field, I have a girlfriend that I enjoy spending time with, and I like to spend time with my family.
    Welcome to Twins Territory, Luke!
  7. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get to Know Twins Draft Pick RHP Tanner Hall   
    Not long after selecting Minnesota native Matt Wallner (2019), and then pitcher Ben Ethridge (2022), the Twins made Tanner Hall their fourth-round selection at 114th overall in the 2023 draft. Another arm that could win up being a strong contributor throughout the organization in years to come, Hall leaves school as decorated as they come.
    Southern Miss is no stranger to strong college baseball teams, and this year Hall led Division 1 baseball with 12 wins. He posted a career-best 2.48 ERA and earned himself Sun Belt Pitcher of the Year honors having just moved to the new conference. Looking forward to a new challenge at the pro level, it’s clear he’s ready to get going.
    Recently, I had the privilege of catching up with the Southern Miss star. Here’s what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: What about 2023 and the steps you took in what was a very impressive final season with the Golden Eagles set you up for professional baseball success?
    Tanner Hall: I had a pretty good year, and Southern Miss was a school I was passionate about. It meant a lot to me throughout the whole season. I knew I wanted to work hard and have wanted to play professional baseball my whole life. It wasn’t hard to convince myself to want to work for it. The level we played at, the competition we played, making regionals and hosting super regionals, it got me very prepared for that next level.
    TD: Do you feel like there was a change going from Conference USA to the Sun Belt?
    TH: I think the competition got a little bit better in the Sun Belt. I think there were a few better teams, but I didn’t treat it any different. I was excited because I was facing a bunch of lineups that had never seen me before. The Sun Belt did have more talent, and it was tougher to get wins out of that conference. We did end up dominating and showing who we were.
    TD: You’ve put up gaudy strikeout numbers and avoided walks. How do you attack hitters and what does your arsenal look like?
    TH: Whenever I’m on the mound, I think to myself if I’m going to get beat, I’m going to make them beat me with their bats. I throw a sinker, a changeup, a slider, and I want to develop a cutter here soon. I want to add that to my arsenal as well. My go-to pitches have been my sinker and changeup. I use the sinker to get ahead and the changeup to finish them off.
    TD: The changeup is a pitch the Twins have been notable in focusing on. Obviously Johan Santana was one of the best to ever use it. How do you feel like that pitch is such a strong out pitch for you in a game where velocity has been the focal point?
    TH: I try to simplify the game itself, I’m just trying to get each guy out. It doesn’t matter if you’re getting them out with a 99 mph pitch or a 90 mph pitch. The changeup is a pitch I’ve had to use my whole life because I’ve never really thrown that hard. It’s been a differentiator for me because I’ve been able to plus and minus. I always have that pitch in the back of a hitter’s mind. You have guys getting late on fastballs, and I’m not throwing it hard enough to make them late, but it’s because of the changeup that makes it tough on them.
    TD: Stepping up to the next level of professional baseball, what are you most excited about developing both as a pitcher and an individual?
    TH: I’m really excited to develop into a true professional and perfect my pitches. I want to gain a little velocity, and being with the Twins, that’s something that is easily possible as they have a track record of doing so. I’m excited to get it started. I want all of my pitches to be elite pitches, and I want to make a name for myself with the Twins.
    TD: Being from Louisiana, what do you know about the Twins, the organization, Minnesota, Target Field, that sort of thing?
    TH: Honestly, I don’t know that much. I didn’t know much about any teams except for a couple around here like the Marlins or the Braves. At the end of the day, this is a dream come true for me. This is everything I have been working for my whole life. With the Twins wanting to give me a call, I’m going to show there’s a reason they wanted me to go play. I feel like I’ve been kind of an underdog since I was young. It’s going to be fun to go out and play for a team I don’t know too much about. They have history of Southern Miss guys with Wallner and Ethridge. I’ll have support behind me while I’m there, and I’ll be supporting them as well. It’s going to be fun, and it’s going to be exciting to get to know what Minnesota is like and what the Twins are all about.
    TD: Outside of baseball, off the diamond, what are you doing to get away or keep loose?
    TH: I like to play golf. I like to watch movies, go to the mall, and play frisbee golf. Anything active outside I’ll go do. Golf is probably the number one thing for me, that’s something I really enjoy.
    Welcome to Twins Territory, Tanner!
  8. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get to Know Twins Draft Pick OF Brandon Winokur   
    Despite the assumption that Minnesota would again lean towards college bats, they opted to take three prep players with their first four picks. Brandon Winokur was the second outfielder they grabbed, and despite playing plenty of shortstop in high school, the assumption is that he fits best in one of the corners at the next level.
    Finding five-tool talents isn’t necessarily the most difficult thing, but being able to refine and develop them is what separates the best players. Winokur absolutely falls into the category of a player that has it all, and his big 6’6” frame will be fun to watch grow through professional ball.
    I had the opportunity to talk with him prior to his celebratory Dairy Queen S’mores Blizzard, and here’s what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: Tell me a little bit about your game, takeaways from the senior year of high school, and how you’d describe yourself at the plate and in the field?
    Brandon Winokur: My senior season was pretty successful. I ended up with nine jacks, batted .365, a couple stolen bases, and defensive runs saved. It was a great year overall. I couldn’t have asked for anything better, and I’ve loved Edison High School for four years. I like to find balance in my game. I’m a really competitive guy, but I like to play loose and have a lot of fun when I play baseball. It stems from my love of the game from when I was little. I never take myself too seriously. I have tried to model my game after different players across MLB. Growing up watching Mike Trout, Angels Stadium is like a 20 minute drive, being a five-tool player made me want to hone in on all five skills. Once I got to 6’6” it’s been a little more difficult to keep my speed, but I’ve done a lot of hill runs and things like that to stay in that shape.
    TD: There were a lot of notes regarding you being a five-tool player with all of the raw tools. What would you say from a development standpoint are the things you’re most excited about honing your game as far as those tools?
    BW: You know what, I am looking forward to every single new day that I go out to the field, there will be a new challenge for me. I feel like that’s the beauty of baseball. There are always new challenges for me to adapt to and overcome. Now matter if I go 0-for-5 or 5-for-5, I’m up for the challenge. I’m excited to expand in all areas of my game.
    TD: The Twins took three high schoolers in the first four picks this year, which hasn’t been customary for them. All three of you exude maturity and come across as well put together individuals and ballplayers. Where does that come from for you?
    BW: I had the opportunity to play with Walker (Jenkins) and Charlee (Soto) in the PDP League last year and that was an absolute blast. Those were two of the guys that I felt like I connected with the most, which is funny since we all got drafted by the same team. I feel like my family has 99% to do with my maturity. I’ve grown up in a household where my dad is a fire captain at Newport Beach and my mom is a stay at home mom, they run a tight ship. That was the best thing for me. I told them what my dream was when I was little, and they kept me on this path. I’ve grown up with good morals that have come from my family My aunt and uncle, granny and papa, I feel like I’ve grown up in a great environment with a lot of role models at my side. I just want to be like them. My dad gets to go out and make a difference every day in his job, that’s a big deal to me. My mom has been great to me and my brother. It has everything to do with family. I’ve grown up in a great environment.
    TD: What do you know about the Twins organization. Have you been to Target Field or Minnesota?
    BW: I have not been to Minnesota, but I am looking forward to the first day I get to take batting practice out there. I have actually seen that stadium a lot because I usually put the HitTrax on Target Field because it’s absolutely beautiful. I don’t know much about Minnesota, Royce Lewis was a draft pick a couple of years ago around here. There’s a lot of history there. Kirby Puckett, Rod Carew, as of recently Byron Buxton, it’s a great organization. I’m absolutely blessed to have this opportunity to go play for a team like them.
    TD: What does it look like having been excited to play for UCLA and then shift into being excited for an opportunity to play professional ball? What does that thought process look like?
    BW: For me since day one, the dream has been to play professional baseball. UCLA has had an amazing history for everything. I love coach Savage, I love those assistant coaches. Since day one though, professional baseball was the goal. I want to go out and go win a championship. I don’t go into things without wanting to win. I’m ready to go prove myself and I’m ready to work.
    TD: Outside of baseball, or when you’re not at the field, how do you get away from the game?
    BW: I’ve always had a close circle of friends that I hang out with. Phil, Josh, Emerson, Ben, my brother, I usually like hanging out with them. Annelise too. I play a lot of basketball, the beach is five minutes from here, that’s a great outlet. We hang out playing video games, chopping it up at the field, it’s always a good time.
    Welcome to Twins Territory, Brandon!
  9. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Folding Dallas Keuchel into 6-Man Rotation Would Be Wise Choice for Twins   
    When the Twins signed Dallas Keuchel to a minor-league contract last month, it caught many of us off-guard. Once known as one of the best left-handed starters in the game, Keuchel had faded in recent years as his already modest velocity dropped to untenable levels. 
    Last year, three different teams gave him chances. Keuchel pitched poorly for the White Sox, Diamondbacks and Rangers, finishing the season with a 9.20 ERA in 14 starts. In 2022, he posted a 5.28 ERA in 162 innings for Chicago.
    Turning 35 in January and unsigned during the offseason, it appeared as though the southpaw might hang 'em up. Instead, he committed himself to a comeback, working out at the esteemed Driveline facilities in hopes of regaining a few ticks on his fastball and attracting a curious team's attention. 
    That it turned out to be the Twins he attracted – or, the team that most attracted him, if had multiple suitors – is interesting. They have an amazingly strong rotation featuring stable, rock-solid, healthy options from front to back. Even after losing Tyler Mahle.
    But within the scope of this high-quality quintet – now lacking contingencies, with Mahle down and Louie Varland struggling in Triple-A – we find the possible underlying driver of Keuchel's acquisition.
    Minnesota's rotation has been the class of the league in the first half, but there's an elephant in the room: these pitchers are at major risk for running out of gas down the stretch. Among all Twins starters, only Pablo López threw more than 150 innings last year, at 180. 
    Joe Ryan set a new professional workload high last year with 147 innings – he'd never thrown even 125 in a season before. Sonny Gray was limited to 120 innings due to multiple injured list stints, and hasn't thrown 150 in a season since 2019. (For what it's worth, both have seen their results falter somewhat in recent weeks as they've approached the 100-IP mark.)
    Kenta Maeda missed all of last season while recovering from elbow surgery, after throwing 106 innings in 2021 and 67 in 2020. Bailey Ober threw only 77 innings for the Twins in a 2022 campaign tanked by injuries, and he's never surpassed 100 innings in a season as a pro.
    While we should all be enjoying the epic greatness of this Twins rotation, we should also recognize its precariousness heading into uncharted waters for the stretch run. Or, more pertinently: the front office needs to recognize it. And the Keuchel signing seems like a sign that they do.
    This front office, and Rocco Baldelli, are evidently keen to the idea of a six-man rotation. They opened the season with one in 2022, and assembled the personnel for one again this year by acquiring López. They instead opted to stick with five starters out of the gates, and have kept it that way mostly due to circumstance. But as workloads mount and depth options thin out, the Twins saw a need for another semi-reliable pitcher to potentially groom for that arm-preserving sixth starter role.
    Enter: Dallas Keuchel.
    The five current Twins starters have set an incredibly high bar with their performance that Keuchel, in his present form, has almost no hope of reaching. But the Twins aren't realistically asking for that – merely a capable arm that can give them some innings at a league average-ish level while giving the team's other starters (not to mention their beleaguered bullpen) a break. 
    Minnesota is no lock to make the playoffs as is, but they have zero hope if their starters or top relievers start breaking down. Keuchel strikes me as a strategic reinforcement intended to increase the chances of key fixtures like Gray, Ober, and Jhoan Duran staying healthy and effective into September and (hopefully) October.
    The question becomes: is Keuchel up to the task? The Twins cannot afford to be throwing away games with replacement-level starters, and needless to say, their offense doesn't provide much margin for error. If you're getting the 2021-22 version of Keuchel, then you might as well just give the nod to Varland and let him take the lumps.
    The Twins are hoping Keuchel can prove to be a better option for this utility on multiple levels. First, performance – whereas Varland has an 8.28 ERA in three starts since returning to the Saints, Keuchel comparatively has a 0.64 ERA in three starts since coming aboard. 
    There's also this, though: Varland himself is a young developing arm whose usage needs to be managed carefully. The same is even more true for Simeon Woods Richardson, another (underperforming) option in Triple-A, who might soon be in line for a move to the bullpen.
    Therein lies the hidden appeal of Keuchel: He is a historically durable and resilient veteran arm whose longevity the Twins need not worry about one iota. To the extent his on-field results make it feasible, Baldelli could ride Keuchel a little bit and squeeze some innings for the benefit of his other starters and relievers. Already Keuchel has pushed to almost 90 pitches in his minor-league build-up, which seems a promising sign.
    Again, this whole concept is contingent on Keuchel pitching to an acceptable level, which is perhaps a reach. That said, the Twins have reason to be heartened by some of the other success stories they've seen out of Driveline, and the southpaw's initial results for St. Paul – albeit against Triple-A hitters – are encouraging. The 11-to-8 K/BB ratio, maybe not so much, but Keuchel is keeping his pitches off the barrels of opposing hitters and that's something he made his name on. 
    With an opt-out reportedly upcoming in his contract later this month, a decision point is not far off for the Twins. Surely Keuchel did not sign here with an intention of pitching at Triple-A for two months. 
    If my (speculative!) suspicion is correct, and the rotation is able to keep avoiding injures, we will likely see Keuchel up in the majors as an additive piece to the rotation, ideally helping the Twins navigate the second half – including a stretch coming out of the break where they play 29 games in 31 days – without need to fret as much over the compounding workloads for the starting pitching corps that their fate depends on.
  10. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Get to Know Twins Draft Pick, RHP Charlee Soto   
    Charlee Soto is a right-handed pitcher from Florida who made his way to the Sunshine State after spending time in Philadelphia. He was a notable name through the PDP (Player Development Pipeline) Program. He consistently sat in the upper-90’s with his fastball and touched triple-digits. Somewhat familiar with the Twins, having been coached by LaTroy Hawkins and played at the Fort Myers complex, Soto is beamed on stage in Seattle when talking about the next step of his baseball journey.
    I caught up with Soto after he got a good night’s rest from draft night, and by that time, he had already checked in with Minnesota all-star Pablo Lopez. Here’s what he had to say:
    Twins Daily: You have one of the best fastballs in this draft. With arms like Paul Skenes and Rhett Lowder, that’s pretty impressive. What about your heater has made it such a reliable pitch beyond just the velocity?
    Charlee Soto: Aside from just the velocity of my fastball, the shape and the movement of the pitch set it apart. It’s not a flat, high-90. It has a lot of sink to it, and it’s heavy. I try to break bats and generate weak contact. I think it plays really, really well.
    TD: What does the rest of your arsenal look like outside of the fastball? What do you feel most comfortable throwing?
    CS: I throw a four-seam fastball, a circle-changeup, and a slider which has a little spike to it. Those three pitches I feel comfortable throwing equally, and can use them in any count to get ahead or if I’m behind and need a strike. I feel comfortable with each the whole way.
    TD: You’ve faced high-level competition against elite talent in the PDP program. What do you feel has most prepared you for pro ball?
    CS: The PDP program helped me a lot, not only in facing the best competition in the country which is what pro ball is going to look like, but just the way everything was run. We were at the field four hours before the game, we were up at 6:30 am. LaTroy Hawkins was one of my coaches, and having him there with so much professional experience it helped me get to learn what the pro side was like.
    TS: Getting into professional baseball, where do you see the greatest area for you to grow or develop as both a pitcher and an individual?
    CS: As a pitcher, I want to add one or two pitches to my arsenal. I think it would be good to have a fourth or fifth pitch. I want to go out there and dominate. As an individual, I want to grow. I want to meet new people and new coaches. I want to get better every day and be a leader.
    TD: You alluded to the high character of fellow Twins draft pick Walker Jenkins. It’s clear that you possess a very similar trait. How do you attribute your maturity and how you carry yourself on and off the field too?
    CS: I think the way I was raised helped a lot. My parents were hard on me, and being the younger sibling, my siblings guided my maturation at an early age. I’ve tried to think ahead of my years, and my brother going through the college experience has helped me to be an example.
    TD: Obviously, you’ve dealt with cold before having been in Philadelphia, and you’ve seen the Twins facilities in Fort Myers, but what do you know about the organization, and have you been to Target Field or Minnesota?
    CS: I have two buddies in the organization, Jose Salas and Omari Daniel. I talked to Pablo Lopez here at the hotel. They have all told me positive things and that the Twins do a very good job developing their players as both athletes and individuals. Pablo told me how quickly he fell in love with the organization. I’m just ready for it!
    TD: Last one, when you’re not playing baseball, what are some hobbies or things you like to do to stay loose and disconnect from the game?
    CS: I like doing a lot of community service work. I’m always around the game. My travel coach has a young team, and I always go support them. I feel like that’s huge because they always tell me I inspire them to be great so it’s great going out there and seeing a smile on their face. They have a special place in my heart. I like spending time with my family as well. We’re not always going to be together, so cherishing those special moments is important too.
    Welcome to Twins Territory, Charlee!
  11. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, 2023 MLB Draft Day 2 Thread   
    Today's portion of the draft, which will include rounds 3 through 10, will begin at 1 p.m. CT.
    Keep up to date with the Twins Draft Tracker.
    A quick recap from yesterday:
    1 (4) - Walker Jenkins, OF, South Brunswick HS (NC)
    18 years old. 6-3, 210.
    Draft Article / Draft Tracker / Rapid Reaction Video
    1C (34) - Charlee Soto, RHP, Reborn Christian Academy (FL)
    17 years old. 6-5, 200.
    Draft Article / Draft Tracker / Rapid Reaction Video
    2 (49) - Luke Keaschall, 2B, Arizona State
    20 years old. 6-1, 190.
    Draft Article / Draft Tracker 
    3 (82) - Brandon Winokur, OF, Edison HS (CA)
    18 years old. 6-5, 210.
    Draft Tracker  
    Every Draft class has its fair share of high school outfielders who fall in the five-tool potential bucket. Winokur, a product of an Edison High School (Huntington Beach, Calif.) program that has produced big leaguers like Kyle Higashioka and Tim Lopes, has the chance to be one of the best in the class of 2023 after showcasing his tools at summer showcase events like the PDP League, the Area Code Games and the Perfect Game All-American Classic. Winokur certainly looks the part at 6-foot-5 and has the chance to have multiple plus tools in the future. The right-handed hitter will have easily plus raw power and has shown he can tap into it at times against good competition. For a young player with such long levers, he's also shown he can be pretty short to the ball, with a more compact swing than you'd expect. He's a plus runner with a strong arm. While his ability to use his raw tools consistently in games is one question, another is where he plays defensively long-term. The UCLA recruit plays a lot of shortstop for his high school team, but most see a better fit in an outfield corner, where his power and speed could profile very well. - MLB.com
    Draft slot: $859,700
    4 (114) - Tanner Hall, RHP, Southern Mississippi
    21 years old. 6-1, 185.
    Draft Tracker  
    Hall has been one of the most consistent starting pitchers in college baseball in the last two seasons. He doesn't have dominating stuff, but he uses what he has incredibly well. A fastball that sits 89-92 mph but can grab 95 mph is back up by a plus changeup, maybe even better. He hides it well and it has been incredibly effective for him with good tumble. Hall also has an at least average slider and plus control. In 2022, he walked just 14 batters in 109 innings of work. In 2023, the production is still there. Through the end of the season, Hall pitched 112.1 innings, with a 2.48 ERA, 124 strikeouts and 33 walks. At worst, Hall is a good long-man, could be more if he can add to the fastball. - JD Cameron
    Draft slot: $586,000
    5 (150) - Dylan Questad, RHP, Waterford HS (WI)
    18 years old. 6-1, 200.
    Draft Tracker
    Questad turned in a series of strong performances on the showcase circuit last summer, including three perfect innings while sitting in the mid-90s with his fastball at the Area Code Games in August. His stuff wasn't as sharp during his Wisconsin high school senior season, though he did earn Gatorade's state player of the year award. He still has a chance to become the first Badger State high school pitcher taken in the top five rounds since 2006 third-rounder Tony Butler. Questad leans heavily on his fastball, which sat at 92-94 mph and peaked at 97 last summer before dropping a tick or two this spring, albeit still with plenty of run and downhill plane coming out of his high arm slot. He gets good depth on his upper-70s curveball and low-80s slider, though he's still learning to land them for strikes. He can impart some nasty late fade on his low-80s changeup but struggles to control it as well. Questad is strong and athletic, but he may be physically maxed out at 6 feet and 200 pounds. His arm works well but to succeed as a starter at higher levels, he'll need to improve the quality of his secondary pitches and his ability to locate them where he wants. He has had more of a reliever look in 2023, which could land him in college as part of Arkansas' top-rated recruiting class. - MLB.com
    Draft slot: $557,900
    6 (177) - Jay Harry, SS, Penn State
    20 years old. 6-0, 190.
    Draft Tracker  
    Harry is one of the more difficult hitters in the country to strike out. He hit .299/.376/.463 in 229 plate appearances with 20 walks and just 20 strikeouts for a 9% strikeout rate this spring. Harry also doesn’t turn 21 until just after the draft, putting him on the younger side for a college junior. A hard-nosed player who generally eschews batting gloves, Harry has minimal movement to get his swing started. He lifts his front foot up, stays relatively still with little rhythm in his swing before punching his hands at the ball. The result is one of the lower swing-and-miss rates in college baseball, trusting his hands to produce a contact-oriented swing with the ability to serve breaking balls into play. Harry can occasionally turn on a ball for power, but it’s a contact-oriented, spray approach with well below-average power that will be tested against better pitching. He has a solid sense of the strike zone, though he’s not an especially patient hitter for a hitter whose offensive value will have to come from his ability to get on base. Harry played shortstop at Penn State, but his range and arm strength will likely shift him elsewhere in pro ball, possibly to second base. - Baseball America
    Draft slot: $322,900
    7 (207) - Nolan Santos, RHP, Bethune-Cookman
    22 years old. 6-1, 205.
    Draft Tracker
    Santos isn't a Top 500 draft prospect, which likely means he's going to sign for $10-25K to help the Twins sign their other picks. Low 90's fastball. 
    Draft slot: $252,500
    8 (237) - Jace Stoffal, RHP, Oregon
    20 years old. 6-3, 218.
    Draft Tracker  
    Draft slot: $202,200
    9 (267) - Jack Dougherty, RHP, Ole Miss
    21 years old. 6-4, 215.
    Draft Tracker 
    Miscast as a starter, but has a chance to be a quick-moving reliever with a mid-90s fastball. 
    Draft slot: $179,000
    10 (297) - Ross Dunn, LHP, Arizona State
    21 years old. 6-5, 210.
    Draft Tracker
    Dunn began his college career at Florida State, pitching in relief sparingly as a freshman in 2021. He ended up spending much of 2022 as part of an all-lefty weekend rotation with the Seminoles, joining 2022 draftees Parker Messick and Bryce Hubbart. Dunn struck out 14.4 per nine over 48 innings of work before pitching well for the U.S. Collegiate National Team. The Utah native also entered the transfer portal and moved back west to be a part of Arizona State's rotation in 2023, where he's continued to miss bats but have mixed results overall. While none of Dunn's individual offerings jump off the page, he has a very strong three-pitch mix and knows what to do with it. His fastball sits in the 90-93 mph range and it's a sneaky fastball that hitters don't see thanks to some deception in his delivery. His low-80s slider continues to miss bats at a very high rate, according to Synergy, and he's used his mid-80s changeup very effectively as well. The one thing that could hold Dunn back in terms of his Draft stock is his command, especially with his fastball. While he misses a ton of bats, he's also given up too many free passes, with his walk rate spiking this year. Even with that, a college lefty with a legitimate three-pitch mix still has the chance to land in the first five rounds. - MLB.com
    Draft slot: $168,100
    In the meantime, what did you think about what happened Sunday night? What are you looking forward to on Monday?
  12. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Select Walker Jenkins, Charlee Soto, Luke Keaschall in Enjoyable Day 1 of the MLB Draft   
    "It's been a long wait to be able to acquire and draft a player like Walker (Jenkins). It was a thrilling night, and we're super excited to be able to select him," Twins Director of Scouting Sean Johnson said at the end of a long first day of the draft. 
    The general thought heading into the MLB Draft was that there were five elite talents. At that point, there were still a lot of excellent players, but those five were clearly at the top. Rumors, or even conversations, hinting that the Twins might draft a college bat if only a high school player remained from that top five. The strategy is logical. Pick a guy a few spots above where he would likely be picked and sign him for under the slot value. Then, use the saved money to go well above the slot on a player or two in the second or third rounds. 
    A source I trust told me that was never really considered. Of course, it's always necessary to have contingency plans and think through what could happen.  
    Michael Cuddyer has been very active with USA Baseball since his retirement, giving back to an organization that helped his development as a young player. Cuddyer coached the North Carolina native when he was 15 years old and in years since then. 
    Denny Hocking was the manager of Team USA a year ago and coached Jenkins as well. He tweeted, "Twins got a great one in Walker. The fan base is going to fall in love with him."
    Doug Mientkiewicz tweeted, "Congrats Twins! You just got an ABSOLUTE STUD! Walker Jenkins is the best kid you will ever be around!! Plays with heart and he gets it! You just got a number one pick overall in any other draft!!"
    The Twins area scout for North Carolina is Ty Dawson. 
    Of Jenkins, Sean Johnson said, "He's a five-tool player. We love his swing. We think he's got a chance for real power. He's a big kid, but he moves pretty well. He can really throw, and we think that he can really defend. You can't ask for much more than that when you're looking for a high school prospect. He's just a well-rounded player and a phenomenal person off the field. We asked a lot of people, and really no one had anything negative to say about Walker, his personality, his character, and his family. Just a great group of people and an awesome kid." 
    Johnson added, "Just to have the opportunity to select a player like that who can do it all and impact the game on both sides is rare and something our group didn't want to pass up on. 
    Another person who is incredibly impressed after spending time with Walker Jenkins is the Twins second draft pick of the night, Charlee Soto. Both players were participating in a Team USA event. 
    Soto said, "I met him last summer at PDP (Player Development Pipeline). Unfortunately, he got injured there and couldn't finish it. He got injured and went to the hospital, but the next day he was at the field to support us. He was always supportive. He was always a leader. He was always getting us stuff in the dugout. He was a very, very humble kid, and I can't wait to get to work with him because I know we're going to bring a lot to Minnesota."
    In addition to Jenkins, Soto will have another friend in the Twins organization. He knows 2022 draft pick Omari Daniel. "I talk to him every now and then. He loves the process. He's developing every single day. He's told me a lot. Having someone inside the organization helps me a lot." 
    Several players received invitations to attend the draft in Seattle. Asked why it was important for him to be in Seattle, he noted, "Last year, I played in a high school all-star game, and I actually attended the draft in LA. So, seeing all of those guys walk up on the stage after they got drafted, it just showed me that I want to be there one day. I want to be at the draft in person. I saw all the fans that were there cheering. That's a once-in-a-lifetime experience. When I got that email invite, I instantly said 'Yes.'" 
    Charlee Soto stands 6-5. He's already got a big fastball in the mid-90s and has even touched triple-digits. He's worked on a slider and a circle changeup as well. 
    Hocking mentioned to me after Day 1 of the draft was complete that Soto just missed making the National Team last summer. He "didn't feel he threw enough strikes at the time." (Hocking's added comment to me on the Twins first pick, "Walker Jenkins is amazing.”)
    Johnson said they saw Jenkins a lot in 2022 at events such as the East Coast Pro Challenge, Team USA, etc. "Really sound delivery. He's got three nice pitches now. Obviously, the velocity's there. He's been up to the upper-90s already. He's got a fantastic slider. He's got a really good feel for a changeup, and he throws strikes. Put all those things together, and we think he's got a chance to be a major-league starter. (He's an) awesome kid. (I) Got a chance to spend some time with him at the Combine. He came to a workout we had in Ft. Myers before the Combine. So we've had a lot of different punch points with Charlee. We were super excited that he made it down to our pick, and we're really glad to select him." 
    "I look a lot at Gerrit Cole. Just the way he pitches, the way he does things. I feel like he pitches so calmly, so (passionately). And also, being born in Philly, I looked a lot at Roy Halladay. He was a great arm as well. I was always watching him on YouTube. Anywhere I could, I watched him and learned a lot from those two guys."
    Born in Philadelphia, the Soto family moved to Kissimmee, Florida, when he was young. He has been to the Twins facilities in Ft. Myers. That's where some of the Team USA trials took place. He said he was impressed by the weight rooms, the facilities, and the cafeteria. 
    He graduated recently from Reborn Christian Academy, and faith is something he says has helped him along the way, particularly in recent days. "Today, I was leaving everything in God's hands because I knew he was going to choose the best route for me, and He did. Being a part of the Twins organization, He put that for me. He was the man in control. I was stressing a little bit, but I wasn't stressing a whole lot because I knew he had big plans for me."
    A friend of his recently moved to Minnesota. On Saturday, he sent Soto a photo of him in a boat in the middle of the lake and asked him when he was going to join him. "I think it was a sign that I just didn't see." 
    The Twins area scout for central Florida is Brett Dowdy. He and other Twins evaluators saw a lot of Soto over the past couple of years, but he took significant steps forward this spring. Johnson noted, "Early in the spring, our guys were buzzing about how good he was and just how much they loved his pitches, his mound presence, and his ability to manage the game. That was all really positive signals for a group. He was a guy we kind of had circled with our second pick. We didn't know if he would make it, obviously, but we were certainly hopeful going into the night."
    After drafting two high-ceiling high school players with their first two picks, the Twins went to the college ranks for their second-round pick. Luke Keaschall was the 49th overall pick. He spent two seasons at the University of San Francisco, hitting over .300 in both years and developing his game. He then transferred to Arizona State this past year. In 55 games, he hit .353/.443/.725 (1.168) with 25 doubles and 18 home runs. He also was 18-for-20 in stolen base attempts. 
    Johnson on Keaschall "A wrestling background in high school. A guy who did really well at the University of San Francisco, and then we got to see him a lot more this spring at Arizona State. We were really drawn to him. He's just a dynamic athlete. I think he's got a chance to play a lot of different positions. Offensively, he controls the strike zone. I think he had 18 home runs this spring. He takes good at-bats and has a chance to play all over the diamond. We'll figure out where he fits in eventually. And a terrific kid. One of our favorites that we connected with at the Combine. We think the makeup is a separator. It's special, which is rare. Most guys are more in the middle. We really fell in love with Luke." 
    The "Four Corners" area scout for the Twins is Chandler Wagoner. 
    Arguably, the night's best moment came after the Twins third pick. Television cameras finally showed the Twins draft room. In it, there was a jersey with the name Radcliff on it. All of the scouts were wearing a white visor, just like the one Mike Radcliff wore to ballparks all over the country, all over the globe. It was a really nice, emotional moment and was important to many in the organization. 
    Johnson said they were hoping it would happen earlier in the night, but they were thrilled it happened.
    "We wanted to have the jersey in the shot, and we all came up with the idea. It was for our scouting brethren. The scouts that knew Mike well, they always saw him in a visor. That was his look pretty much every game he went to. That was our way of paying tribute to him so that other people in the industry would understand right away. We finally got the shot. It was a beautiful moment." 
    Johnson tried to recall his thoughts on Jenkins and the other picks. "The last time we saw him together was at the Perfect Game All-American Game in Phoenix in late August. That's when he put the highest 'follow' he could on Walker. I remember reading that report when it came in. Maybe this is Mike saying this is who he wants if he's not here when the draft gets here. He was a big Walker Jenkins fan; I'll say that. And he saw Charlee Soto as well. He was right in line with how we thought about him. He thought he was a first-day talent. I know he's smiling. We thought about him a lot after we took Walker Jenkins." 
    The scouts headed to their hotel rooms after the draft was complete. Hopefully, they can all get some good rest. But more work will be done on Monday afternoon when the draft resumes. Starting at 1:00 central time, teams will make their Rounds 3 through 10 picks. 
    "We'll resume in the morning before we get going. We'll just kind of stare at the board and kind of map out a plan for the next few rounds. (Day 2) is seemingly always the most hectic day because you're constantly pivoting, as your board falls apart, to different scenarios and ideas. Signabilities change overnight and into tomorrow. We collect as much information as we can on where agents are with players and how to proceed after that. We'll get going a few hours before the draft starts and try to prepare as best we can." 
    There is reason for excitement about the Twins first day of the draft. All three players are exciting, as you would hope from Top 50 picks. Be sure to stop by Twins Daily all afternoon to find out who the next seven players will become members of the Twins organization.
    Discuss in the comments below what you think of the Twins choices, what you might have done differently and more. 
  13. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Twins Select Charlee Soto at #34 in the 2023 MLB Draft   
    Charlee Soto is a 17 year old pitcher out of Reborn Academy, Florida. He is ranked 36th overall on the Twins Daily Consensus Board with rankings between 28 and 55 in the boards I use at inputs.
    On the mound, Soto is a physical, impressive presence at 6'5, 210 pounds. Soto converted to pitching full time relatively recently, after playing as a shortstop for most of his early baseball career.
    On the mound, Soto's arsenal is headlined by a lively fastball, that sits between 94-96 mph but can grab 97-98 mph with regularity with good life at the top of the zone. He has a little noise in his operation on the mound, but that's hardly surprising for a player relatively new to pitching.
    Soto has a pair of exciting secondaries. He features a sharp biting slider that sits in the mid 80s with plenty of bite and good spin rates (2300-2500 rpm). Additionally, he has a feel for a split change with a ton of good tumble and fade.
    Soto has just average control currently, hardly surprising for a pitching prospect so young. He has one of the quickest arms in the entire draft class, and the Twins have shown a proclivity for adding velocity to their pitchers. Soto has the size, projectability, and emerging arsenal to be a force on the mound. The Twins will likely bring him along slowly (think Marco Raya). The clay is there to mold. The ingredients are incredibly exciting.
    What do you think of the Charlee Soto pick? Join the conversation in the comments below.
  14. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Daily Draft Preview: Paul Skenes   
    Who is He?
    Paul Skenes is a generational talent who just completed his junior year leading the LSU Tigers to the National Championship. He spent his first two years pitching for Air Force Academy (the former home of current Twins reliever Griffin Jax). Skenes transferred before he would be required to put his baseball career on pause as Jax had to do before committing to baseball full-time.
    And Wes Johnson unlocked a pitcher rarely seen in the college ranks. Skenes has an 80-grade fastball that routinely hits triple-digits, a plus-slider that will give hitters fits and a usable change-up that he will continue to develop. He's also actually a very good hitter as well and jokes that he wants to hit too. He might not give Shohei Ohtani a run for best two-way player in the MLB, but there's no doubt that he's a different type.
    At 6' 6" and over 230 pounds, Skenes checks every box that you'd look for in a future MLB ace.
    Why the Twins Will Draft Him
    It should be as simple as "if, by act of divine intervention, the teams drafting in the first four spots forget about Paul Skenes, the Twins need to rush to the podium to draft him." Skenes would cost a king's ransom on the open market, so getting six years of service for pennies on the dollar is one of the greatest heists in sports. He'd be an organizational asset that could, potentially, net more than any other signal player in all of baseball (when you factor in cost in terms of prospects and what a team would have to pay him contractually). It would be a no-brainer. If he's available: Draft the man. Pay the man. And, probably, consider pitching him during the stretch run if you need to.
    (Many of these same things can be said about Dylan Crews, too, who we didn't profile. The likelihood of either player falling to the Twins is relatively slim.)
    Why the Twins Won’t Draft Him
    Well, because Skenes will be gone. The Nationals, according to rumors, can't wait to draft him at #2 and the only thing that would make them reconsider is if Dylan Crews is available. In that event, it would be hard to imagine that the Tigers would pass on him at #3 (and wouldn't that be lovely in the American League Central). 
    A Skenes-tumble would, for all intents and purposes, have to do with excessive salary demands and, though the Twins are one of the most well-equipped teams to meet anyone's demands, it's possible that they would balk at punting the rest of the draft to draft him. Personally, I don't think it would be outrageous to sacrifice other picks to pay Skenes more, but I'm not running a draft room or signing the checks.
    Unless a catastrophic injury gets in the way, Paul Skenes will be a multi-time All-Star, a perennial Cy Young contender and will make hundreds of millions of dollars for being really, really good at throwing a baseball.
    What do you think of Paul Skenes as a prospect? How would you feel about the Twins taking him fifth overall in the Draft? Join the discussion in the comments.
    Previous Draft Articles and Profiles
    Walker Jenkins
    Max Clark
    Noble Meyer
    Rhett Lowder
    Jacob Gonzalez
    Jacob Wilson
    Wyatt Langford
    Kyle Teel
    Chase Dollander
    Nygaard Mock Draft v.2
    Consensus Big Board Profiles: 26-50
    Consensus Big Board Profiles: 1-25
  15. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Twins 5, Royals 0: López Looks Phenomenal, Twins Complete the Sweep   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Pablo Lopez, 9.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 12 K (100 pitches, 76 strikes, 76.0%)
    Home Runs: Edouard Julien (6), Ryan Jeffers (4)
    Top 3 WPA: Pablo López (.357), Alex Kirilloff (.160), Édouard Julien (.056)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Pablo López has been a significant source of controversy among Twins fans this season, as Minnesota traded away an absolute fan-favorite to get him during the offseason – and as said fan-favorite went on to evolve into perhaps the best hitter in the majors this season. But it wasn’t always like that: López had four absolutely solid starts to open the season before beginning to struggle and having more than a handful of rough outings since.
    The Royals are on both sides of those versions of López this season. On Opening Day, the Venezuelan ace pitched into the sixth, allowing no runs and only a pair of hits. However, roughly a month later, he faced that same Kansas City lineup and ended up allowing six runs on eight hits, causing his ERA to increase by a full run. June has been a tough month for López, one in which he finished with a 4.46 ERA, so facing a last-placed Royals team could be a good opportunity for López to get a fresh start going into the second half of the season – as it was on Opening Day.
    López tossed a scoreless first despite giving up a two-out double, and he got some immediate run support. Édouard Julien smacked a solo home run to right for his sixth of the year to put the Twins on the board. After a scoreless second, two more runs scored in the third: Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single, and Carlos Correa drew a walk next. Kansas City’s starter Alec Marsh struck out the next two batters, but then things got weird for the visitors. Alex Kirilloff lined a long single to left, and outfielder MJ Melendez made a throwing error trying to get Jeffers at home. The ball hit Jeffers on the neck and got away from Salvador Pérez, allowing Correa to score as well and Kirilloff to reach third.
    López gave up two-out hits in each of the first three innings of this game, but he settled down nicely after that by throwing three consecutive 1-2-3 innings, which included six consecutive strikeouts between the fifth and the sixth. Granted, his final strikeout of the sixth was a massive mistake by Phil Cuzzi, but that didn’t stain López’s brilliance. At the end of six, his pitch count hadn’t even reached 75 yet, and he had struck out opponents a season-high 11 times. He came back to the seventh and delivered yet another 1-2-3 inning, striking out Nick Pratto on a full count to end it and establish a new career-high of 12 punch outs in a game. This was the fifth time López has completed seven in a start, the first one since June 7, and the first time he did so in shutout fashion.
    With only 87 pitches thrown after seven, many wondered if López would be brought back to the eighth. If he were going to return to the mound, some more run support would go a long way for him. However, the offense went ice cold after that RBI single from Kirilloff in the third, going 0-for-10 with three walks afterward. Willi Castro and Joey Gallo got retired quickly in the bottom of the seventh, making it look like no more runs were coming. But Jeffers had other plans, and he crushed a 426-feet bomb to deep center to make it 4-0 Minnesota.
    López came back to pitch the eighth, and he got two quick outs on only two pitches, inducing two flyball outs. Kyle Isbel doubled off him to get the Royals’ first hit since the third. Matt Duffy hit the ball hard next, but Max Kepler made a fantastic diving catch to rob him of a hit and finish the inning. At only 94 pitches, López would have the chance to come back and try to complete the game. So the offense decided to give him even more run support in the bottom of the eighth. Byron Buxton drew a leadoff walk, and with two outs, Donovan Solano doubled to bring him home, making it 5-0 Minnesota. Even though he’s struggled several times this season, López has enjoyed a ton of run support overall.
    Back out for the ninth, López’s command was a little off in the first two pitches, but all it took next was four pitches for him to retire the side, shut down the Royals for the night, and secure his first career complete-game shutout. The Twins are back to two games above .500 (45-43), a game and a half ahead of the Cleveland Guardians.
    Postgame interview
    What’s Next?
    The Twins have a day off on Thursday before resuming their homestand on Friday (7/7). The Baltimore Orioles come to town, and the two teams face off in a three-game series over the weekend. Game one, scheduled for 7:10 pm CDT on Friday, features Bailey Ober (5-4, 2.70 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota, while Cole Irvin (1-3, 6.32 ERA) starts for Baltimore.
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
      SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Durán 8 34 0 0 0 42 Sands 37 0 0 0 0 37 Pagán 0 6 25 0 0 31 Jax 11 14 0 0 0 25 Morán 0 0 17 0 0 17 Ortega 0 0 0 13 0 13 J. López 0 0 0 8 0 8 Balazovic 0 0 6 0 0 6  
  16. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Emmanuel Rodriguez is Reestablishing Himself as One of Baseball’s Top Prospects   
    The Twins signed Emmanuel Rodriguez during the 2019 international signing period for $2.5 million. At the time, MLB.com called him the “next Eddie Rosario,” which may have conjured up some mixed feelings for Minnesota fans. As a 16-year-old, Rodriguez showcased many skills that were comparable to Eddie Rosario . His powerful swing could spray the ball around the field, and he had a strong outfield arm. He was considered one of the top international players during his signing period, and the Twins hoped his advanced approach would help him during his professional debut. 
    Unfortunately, the pandemic meant he didn’t debut until the 2021 season in the FCL. In 37 games, he hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with five doubles, two triples, and ten home runs. His 23 walks helped improve his overall on-base percentage, and he went 9-for-13 in stolen base opportunities. His biggest issue was that he struck out 56 times in 126 at-bats, which was more swing-and-miss than an organization wants from a young player. It was a decent debut, but he hadn’t placed himself among the team’s top prospects. 
    Minnesota sent Rodriguez to the Florida State League in 2022, where he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition. In 47 games, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs. He continued to show an advanced approach at the plate and drew more walks (57) than strikeouts (52). His numbers are even more impressive because he only faced younger pitchers in four plate appearances for the season. His season was cut short when he tore the meniscus in his right knee while sliding into a base. It was a disappointing end to a season that put him in the conversation as a top prospect. 
    Entering the 2023 season, Emmanuel Rodriguez was among baseball’s Top-100 prospects, according to the three major national outlets. Baseball Prospectus (42nd) and Baseball America (46th) had him among the Top 50, while MLB.com ranked him 88th overall. At Twins Daily, Rodriguez ranked as the third-best prospect in the Twins organization behind Brooks Lee and Royce Lewis. Different outlets value certain traits when it comes to ranking minor league players. Some prefer a player who has proven himself in the upper levels of the minors, and others prefer to consider a player’s overall ceiling. Clearly, Rodriguez was a player that evaluators would watch closely throughout the 2023 campaign. 
    Rodriguez had an interesting start to the season with Cedar Rapids. In his first seven games, he went 5-for-27 (.185 BA) with 17 strikeouts in 34 plate appearances. All five of his hits went for extra bases, including three home runs which resulted in a .953 OPS. He was placed on the Injured List (IL) with a strained left abdomen and didn’t appear in a game from April 15th to May 6th. There were struggles at the plate when he returned from the IL. In 20 games during May, he posted a .572 OPS with three extra-base hits and a 30-to-17 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Core muscle injuries can linger, which might have been one reason for Rodriguez’s struggles. 
    Rodriguez began to find his offensive stroke as the calendar flipped to June. In the month's first 20 games, he hit .315/.452/.589 (1.041) with three doubles, one triple, and five home runs. He posted a significantly improved 19-to-19 strikeout-to-walk ratio while being a perfect six-for-six in stolen base attempts. The Kernels continue to use him in center field regularly, but he has also made four starts in right field for the first time in his professional career. Even with time on the IL, he has played in more games than any other professional season, and he’s started to showcase all five tools. 
    Royce Lewis recently graduatd from prospect eligibility, putting Rodriguez in the conversation as the organization’s top prospect. Rodriguez must prove that his hot hitting in June is not a fluke and that he can continue to thrive while facing older pitching. By season’s end, he has an opportunity to be among baseball’s Top 25 prospects, but there is still work to be done in 2023. 
    What impressions do you have regarding Emmanuel Rodriguez over the last two seasons? Would you rank him as the organization’s top overall prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
  17. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Twins Daily Draft Preview: Wyatt Langford   
    Over the next two weeks, we will provide you with profiles of 10 players the Twins could take with the 5th overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft.
    Who is He?
    Wyatt Langford is a right-handed hitting outfielder from the University of Florida who just finished playing in the College World Series at the time of writing. 
    The 21-year-old is ranked number two or number three overall on every board that serves as an input for the Consensus Board, which ranks him as the number two overall player in a loaded class, and a loaded demographic of college hitters. Jeremy has posited that Langford is the number two player on the Twins board, behind Crews, and I agree. If he's available at five, the Twins will likely sprint to the podium to draft him. 
    Why the Twins Will Draft Him
    Langford is a complete player, already possessing a plus-hit tool and plus-power. 
    There's plenty to like in Langford's swing, with a simple and direct swing that produces effortless power to all fields. After barely playing his freshman year, Langford exploded onto the scene as a sophomore, slugging .719 with 26 home runs in 66 games in 2022. Langford has managed similar production in 2023, a .365/.495/.763 line with 19 home runs, 19 K%, and 24 BB%. Langford's underlying number back up this gaudy production. His Contact% is north of 80%, and his 90th percentile exit velocity of 110.6 mph, which is higher than Dylan Crews. 
    Defensively, Langford has plus speed. He's at least an average defender with an average arm. He'll likely get a chance to prove he can play in center field to start his professional career, although he may eventually move to right field. 
    Langford is among an incredibly strong draft class's most polished, productive, tooled-up players.
    Why the Twins Won’t Draft Him
    The Twins would only pass on Langford if Crews or Skenes were available when they picked. Langford will likely be off the board by the time the Twins pick, possibly to Detroit at #3 overall. There are few holes to pick in his game except a tendency to expand the outer half of the plate against breaking balls and some improvements to make on outfield routes and jumps. The fifth pick of the 2023 Draft is the floor for Wyatt Langford.
    What do you think of Wyatt Langford as a prospect? How would you feel about him being the Twins' pick at #5 overall? Join the discussion in the comments.
  18. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Top Twins Minor League Performers in Season's First Half   
    The All-Star festivities are still over a week from now. David Festa will represent the Twins organization in Seattle for the Futures Game. Three of four Twins affiliates are over .500 at this point. Cedar Rapids won the Midwest League West Division first half title and earned a playoff berth.
    Several prospects have taken a step back, due to performance or injury. Others have had a breakout seasons so far. There have been MLB debuts. The Twins have signed several players to minor league deals, and there have been a lot of releases. The Florida State League and Dominican Summer League Twins have introduced us to more prospects to get to know.
    The 2023 draft is about 10 days away, and we will get to know another 15-21 players.
    But what we want to do here today is acknowledge some of the top performers through half of the season (full-season affiliates). At the end of the year, we will again announce our Minor League Hitter, Starting Pitcher, Relief Pitcher of the Year and name our Twins minor league All Stars. The players written about below are halfway there, but will they be the same candidates for the year-end awards? It certainly is possible, or more players may emerge in the second half. Let’s get to it.
    Seven Twins Daily minor-league writers voted on these first half awards. Each ranked their top 5 hitters, top 4 starting pitchers, and top 3 relief pitchers. Votes were tallied and below are the results.
    Top First Half Relief Pitcher
    Regi Grace, RP, 23
    Cedar Rapids Kernels/Wichita Wind Surge
    23 G, 32 2/3 IP, 2-2, 6 Saves, 1.38 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 3.3 BB/9, 11.0 K/9

    The Twins drafted Regi Grace in the 10th round of the 2018 draft out of high school in Mississippi. Grace has become a reminder to all of us that players and people develop at different paces. He spent 2018, 2019 and began 2021 in the Florida Complex League before ending that season with the Mussels. He was moved to the bullpen in 2022. He pitched in 56 2/3 innings over 33 games and posted a 4.45 ERA. He ended the season with three games in Cedar Rapids.
    In the first half of 2023, Grace has been the top minor league reliever. He began the season in Cedar Rapids and in 17 games and 23 1/3 innings. He had 2-2 went five saves. He had a 1.16 ERA and a 0.73 WHIP. He walked five and struck out 30 batters. After a slow rise in his first five professional seasons, Grace was promoted to Double-A Wichita by mid-May. He has made six appearances and has a 1.93 ERA. He didn’t give up a run in his first five outings.
    #2: RHP Patrick Murphy, 28, St. Paul Saints: 24 G, 33 1/3 IP, 5-0, 1.62 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 5.7 BB/9, 11.1 K/9
    #3: LHP Kody Funderburk, 26, Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints: 25 G, 34 2/3 IP, 1-0, 1.00 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 4.4 BB/9, 13.5 K/9.
    Top First Half Starting Pitcher
    Cory Lewis, SP, 22
    Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels
    12 GS, 54 1/3 IP, 7-3, 2.15 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 3.1 BB/9, 12.4 K/9

    Just under a year ago, the Minnesota Twins made Cory Lewis their ninth-round draft pick out of UC-Santa Barbara. Over his two seasons in the Big West, he went 16-5 with ERAs of 3.38 ERA and 3.57. He became a popular draft prospect because of the fact that he throws a knuckleball as part of his regular pitch mix. After signing, he didn’t pitch in 2022.
    He began the 2023 season in Ft. Myers. He went 4-3 with a 2.75 ERA and a 1.04 WHIP over nine starts. In 39 1/3 innings, he gave up 26 hits, walked 15 and struck out 55 batters. He earned his promotion to Cedar Rapids where he has made three starts. He is 3-0 with a 0.60 ERA and a 0.80 WHIP over 15 innings. He has walked four and struck out 20 batters.
    #2: RHP Marco Raya, 20, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 10 GS, 31 IP, 0-1, 3.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 1.7 BB/9, 10.2 K/9.
    #3: RHP C.J. Culpepper , 21, Fort Myers Mussels: 11 GS, 46 1/3 IP, 4-3, 2.33 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 10.3 K/9.
    #4: RHP Blayne Enlow, 24, Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints: 13 G, 11 GS, 61 1/3 IP, 4-2, 4.11 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2.5 BB/9, 10.9 K/9
    #5: RHP Zebby Matthews, 23, Fort Myers Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels: 12 G, 10 GS, 55 IP, 4-2, 3.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 1.0 BB/9, 10.6 K/9
    Top First Half Hitter
    Chris Williams, 1B, 26
    St. Paul Saints
    49 G, 200 PA, 48-for-168, .286/.392/.607 (.999) with seven doubles, a triple, 15 homers, 45 RBI. 29 BB, 65 K.
    When the Twins drafted Chris Williams out of Clemson in the eighth round of the 2018 draft, it was because 1.) he was a senior sign, and 2.) he had shown massive power in college, and 3.) despite shoulder issues, there was some thought that he could become a catcher. At Clemson, he hit 40 home runs n three seasons, including 32 homers over his final two seasons.
    After signing, he was sent to Elizabethton and was named the Twins Daily Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year. He split 2019 between Low-A Cedar Rapids and High-A Fort Myers. After the missed 2020 season, he began the 2021 season at High-A Cedar Rapids where he hit .100 over 17 games. He was moved up to Double-A Wichita where he started making much better contact because he was playing more. Williams really broke out last year. In 75 games at Wichita, he hit .277 with 16 doubles and 18 homers. He ended the season with 42 games at St. Paul and added five doubles and 10 home runs. In 117 total games, he hit .246/.343/.500 (.843) with 21 doubles, 28 homers, and 89 RBI.
    In April, he hit .229 with one homer. In May, he hit .241 with four homers. However, since the start of June, he has been amazing. He has played in 18 games and has at least one hit in 16 of them. He is hitting .364/.469/833 (1.302) with 10 homers. He hit three homers in a game on a Tuesday, then hit two more on Wednesday, and then another on that Thursday. He’s been on fire, and our voters have made him the top Twins minor league hitter in the first half.
    #2: OF Matt Wallner, 25, St. Paul Saints: 55 G, 247 PA, 60-for-203, .296/.413/.537 (.950) with 18 doubles, two triples, nine home runs, and 38 RBI. 32 BB, 75 K.
    #3: C/1B Andrew Cossetti, 23, Ft. Myers Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels: 53 G, 216 PA, 51-for-173, .295/.421/.555 (.976) with 16 doubles, one triple, nine home runs, and 40 RBI. 30 BB. 37 K.
    #4: OF Kala’i Rosario, 20, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 62 G, 273 PA, 64-for-229, .280/.396/.515 (.911) with 14 doubles, two triples, 12 home runs, and 46 RBI. 41 BB. 71 K.
    #5: 2B Jorel Ortega, 22, Ft. Myers Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels: 65 G, 294 PA, 72-for-294, .289/.398/.494 (.892), with 24 doubles, three triples, seven home runs, 44 RBI. 42 BB. 64 K. 17 SB.
  19. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Twins Daily Draft Preview: Kyle Teel   
    Over the next two weeks, we're going to be providing you with profiles of 10 players the Twins could take with the 5th overall pick in the 2023 MLB Draft.
    Who is He?
    Kyle Teel is a left-handed hitting catcher out of the University of Virginia. His stellar 2023 season propelled the Cavaliers to a College World Series berth. Teel’s athleticism, production, and the positional scarcity at catcher in the 2023 MLB Draft class have cemented Teel as one of the leaders of the pack for ‘best of the rest’ outside the consensus top five. Teel currently sits at number ten overall on the Consensus Board but is one of just three top 20 players to have moved up at least five spots on the board since the beginning of the college season.
    Why the Twins Will Draft Him
    Before discussing Teel’s tools, it’s at least worth noting that while teams should never draft for positional need (and the Twins won’t), the organization isn’t exactly resplendent with catching talent. Teel has plenty of intriguing tools and has put it all together offensively for Virginia in 2023, hitting .407/.475/.655 with 13 home runs while holding an almost identical 13 K% and 12 BB%. At the plate Teel has good bat speed, with a little bit of a noisy swing, including a big leg kick as he loads. The results have been impressive, though, with Teel generating plenty of power to all fields in 2023. Defensively, Teel is an exceptional athlete, and should stick at the position, although his athleticism means he could easily carry an outfield position. He has an easy plus arm, throwing out 15 of 24 base stealers in 2023, with pop times around 1.90 seconds. 
    Why the Twins Won’t Draft Him
    As with many catching prospects, there’s still work to do and polish to add defensively. Teel can improve his framing and footwork. Offensively, a team might try and tamp down some of the noise at the plate, particularly if his aggressive tendencies are taken advantage of at the pro level. It remains more likely that the Twins take a player in the consensus top five with the fifth pick. Teel has, however, cemented himself in the next cluster of names off the board and should be a top 10 pick on July 9th and remains one of a handful of college bats the Twins have been explicitly lined with in recent weeks.
    What do you think of Kyle Teel as a prospect? How would you feel about him being the Twins pick at 5 overall? Join the discussion in the comments.
  20. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, DaShawn Keirsey: Twins Most Underrated Prospect   
    Toward the end of his sophomore season at the University of Utah, DaShawn Keirsey, Jr., was standing in center field in a game against Arizona State. The batter crushed a ball to dead center. Keirsey turned and sprinted, eye on the ball trying to outrun it. He was so intent on catching the ball that he ran full speed into the wall.
    He went down, writhing in pain. An ambulance came onto the field. Keirsey was places on the stretcher and gave the crowd the thumbs up.
    He had dislocated his hip and needed surgery and a lot of rehab. Almost inexplicably, he was able to return in time for his junior season, and he hadn’t missed a beat. In 50 games, he hit .386/.440/.609 (1.049) with 23 doubles, five triples, and four home runs.
    There were likely still question marks, but in the fourth round of the 2018 draft, the Twins selected Keirsey (rhymes with jersey) and gave him an opportunity. That summer, he hit .301 at Elizabethton. In 2019, he got hurt a couple of times in Cedar Rapids and was limited to just 36 games. It was impossible to get any sort of routine going.
    After the lost 2020 season, Keirsey returned to the Kernels, though they were now the High-A affiliate. Again, injuries limited him to just 45 games.
    The Twins kept pushing the toolsy, athletic outfielder anyway. In 2022, he moved up another level, to the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. He was able to stay healthy for most of the season, and he performed much better. In 121 games, he hit .271/.329/395 (.724) with 26 doubles, three triples, and seven home runs. Just as impressive, he stole 42 bases in 49 attempts.
    With so many outfielders, and specifically left-handed hitting outfielders between the Twins and the Triple-A St. Paul Saints, Keirsey returned to the Wind Surge in 2023. He could have been disappointed, or even moped. Instead, he continued the process and has really shown a lot of progress.
    Through 63 games this season, he is hitting .312/.367/.494 (.861) with 12 doubles, three triples, and he’s already got nine home runs. He has been successful in 24 of 28 stolen base attempts.
    All the while, he has played great centerfield defense. He has made some spectacular diving plays but often catching balls that others might have to dive for look easy.
    In our conversation (see the video above), we spent time discussing each of his five tools In a way, I kind of ranked them to get his thoughts.
    Speed: Keirsey can fly, and that can be seen on the base paths and in the outfield. It can also be seen on the base paths where he’s obviously been given the green light.
    Defense: I lumped #2 and #3 together in my rankings, but here I’ll put his defense as the next strong tool. Again, not everyone can play defense well in centerfield, and Keirsey is very good. And, as you can hear from the interview, he’s working on a few things that can help him improve his first step.
    Hit: Fully healthy and finally getting consistent at-bats has really helped him improve upon his offensive statistics. While he may not hit .327 or .386 like he did in his final two seasons at Utah, he could hit for a batting average in the upper .200s.
    Hit for Power: Listed at 6-0 and 195 pounds, Keirsey doesn’t necessarily look the part of power hitter. However, he has nine homers in a half of a season this year and is just figuring some things out with the bat. He likely won’t be a 30-homer hitter, but with his other skills, if he can provide double-digit homers, he can be quite valuable.
    Arm: In honesty, it’s the most difficult tool to evaluate from a fans’ perspective. I’ve seen him show off a strong and accurate throw at times, but he also acknowledges that it may be his fifth tool at this stage, but it’s something he continues to work on.
    Sixth Tool? Plate Discipline: Keirsey tends to be an aggressive hitter, and he will strike out. This is also an area he’s working on. Recently, Wind Surge manager Ramon Borrego has been hitting Keirsey leadoff with Brooks Lee behind him. Keirsey says that as a leadoff man, at least in the first plate appearance, he usually is pretty patient knowing he can help his teammates that way.
    The Mental Game: Keirsey has been through a lot in life and with all of the injuries, but he has become quite strong mentally and isn’t afraid to discuss and acknowledge how he’s doing. This is such an important thing for, well, everyone, but certainly for athletes as well.
    While I have ranked Keirsey in my personal Top 30 Twins prospects, he is yet to appear among Twins Daily’s top prospects. Already 26, that may continue to be the case, but with his tools and ability to play centerfield, he just might get an opportunity at some point. And I would say that’s all he’s asking for.
    For much more Twins Daily content on DaShawn Keirsey, Jr., click here.
    To watch DaShawn’s Twins Spotlight episode from March 2021, click here.
  21. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Daily Draft Preview: Chase Dollander   
    Over the next two weeks, we're going to be providing you with profiles of 10 players the Twins could take with the fifth pick in the 2023 MLB Draft. 
    Who is He?
    Chase Dollander is currently ranked as the 7th overall prospect on the latest edition of the Consensus Big Board. 
    Dollander is a 6' 3", 195-pound right-handed pitcher from Tennessee. After spending his freshman season at Georgia Southern (and striking out nearly 12 per nine innings), Dollander transferred to Tennessee and went 10-0. He struck out 108 in 79 innings (12.3 K/9) and only walked 13 batters. He entered the off-season as the top pitching prospect and possibly the top overall prospect.
    But in 2023 Dollander looked much more human. He was 7-6 and his ERA increased from 2.39 to 4.96. His strikeout numbers were similar (12.1 K/9), but he walked twice as many batters (from 1.5 to 3.0 BB/9). He was much more hittable (WHIP increased from 0.797 to 1.270) and gave up twice as many home runs. If he didn't have the near-perfect 2022 to lean on, Dollander's "stuff" still probably gets him drafted on Day 1 in 2023. But who Dollander was in 2023 was not the best pitcher in college baseball.
    According to JD Cameron:
    Why the Twins Will Draft Him
    It's extremely difficult to acquire a top-of-the-line starting pitcher. 
    If the Twins were dead-set on adding a pitcher - and nothing indicates they are - Dollander would be a top-four option after Paul Skenes is selected. The upside on Dollander is significant. He's got an overpowering fastball, multiple breaking balls, and a change-up; all of which project to be usable in the big leagues.
    Dollander would likely become the club's highest-ranked starting pitching prospect when you consider risk and proximity to the major leagues. He also would likely appear on the back half of some Top 100 lists. You could do worse than giving yourself a top pitching prospect, right?
    Why the Twins Won't Draft Him
    Dollander's stock has dropped since the Twins' stroke of lottery luck.
    The Twins are suckers for sliders and Dollander's has regressed. It's totally within the realm of possibilities that the Twins could tinker with his mechanics and get the 2022 version of Dollander back, but in the world of "what have you done for me lately?" there are other college pitchers, specifically, that have done a lot more than Dollander has. 
    And as the saying goes, "there's no such thing as a pitching prospect."
    What do you think? Would you take Dollander if you were making the call?
  22. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (6/25): Keuchel Debuts, Mussels Flex   
    RHP Josh Winder recalled by Twins from Triple-A St. Paul OF Kyle Garlick cleared waivers and accepted assignment to Triple-A St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL 
    Toledo 7, St. Paul 3
    Box Score
    After signing with the Twins on a minor league deal recently, Dallas Keuchel made his 2023 professional debut. He worked four innings and allowed just a single run. The lefty gave up four hits, and the lone run came on a solo blast. He struck out four batters. Keuchel got 11 whiffs on 54 pitches and his velocity topped out at 88.1 mph. He worked predominantly with his sinker, changeup, and cutter.
    St. Paul gave Keuchel some run support in the second inning when Elliot Soto and Andrew Stevenson both singled in runs. Mark Contreras and Anthony Prato came around to score making it a 2-0 game.
    After an Andrew Knapp home run put the Mud Hens on the board, Anthony Prato took a bases loaded walk to push Chris Williams across the plate. That’s when the Saints scoring ended, and a six-run inning for Toledo in the sixth did them in. With the rain coming, and it being getaway day, this one ended after the inning.
    Arkansas 3, Wichita 1
    Box Score
    The Wind Surge went with Travis Adams to start this game, and he worked 4 1/3 innings. Adams allowed three runs, two earned, on four hits and a walk. He struck out four batters during his outing.
    With Arkansas scoring single runs in the first and second innings, Wichita answered during the bottom of the second. Ernie Yake hit his first Double-A double of 2023 and drove in Alerick Soularie in the process.
    Down by one until the fifth inning, the Wind Surge continued to keep things close. Arkansas added another tally in the fifth inning and a comeback was going to be necessary. Unfortunately for Wichita, the hits never came and the one run on seven hits were all the could muster for the day.
    Soularie and Yake led the club with a pair of hits each.
    Cedar Rapids 6, Beloit 0
    Box Score
    These two teams got together for some extended action on Sunday afternoon. Picking up their suspended game from Saturday, Cedar Rapids was able to reel off a 10-6 victory. With some brief downtime in between, Mike Paredes was ready to go for the regularly scheduled tilt.
    Orlando Rodriguez started the shortened second game and worked five scoreless innings. He allowed only two hits with no walks while striking out a pair.
    Neither side got on the board in the first two frames, but Tanner Schobel changed that in the third inning. His single brought home Kyler Fedko before Jorel Ortega doubled to drive in Emmanuel Rodriguez and Schobel. Ortega later came around to score on a Misael Urbina single and the Kernels had a 4-0 lead.
    Continuing to make his mark on this one, Schobel blasted his 10th home run of the season, a two-run shot scoring Fedko, and Cedar Rapids led 6-0.
    In the sixth inning, Urbina reached on a throwing error which allowed both Ben Ross and Ortega to come home. Up 8-0, the three runs Beloit pushed across in the seventh inning wound up being inconsequential.
    Schobel, Ortega, and Fedko all recorded two hits.
    Fort Myers 9, Tampa 1
    Box Score
    C.J. Culpepper was on the bump for the Mighty Mussels on Sunday afternoon, and he did not disappoint. Allowing just a single hit across six innings, Culpepper didn’t give up a walk and was nearly perfect. He struck out five batters and dropped his ERA to 2.33 on the season.
    Ricardo Olivar scored the game’s first run on a wild pitch from Baron Stuart in the third inning. With the bases loaded, Dylan Neuse drew a walk to bring Danny De Andrade home and make it a 2-0 lead early. In the fifth inning Neuse found a pitch he liked and clubbed his third homer of the season. A two-run shot, Rubel Cespedes also came home on the big fly.
    Adding again in the sixth inning it was De Andrade recording his eighth double of the year. Coming through with the bases loaded, his big hit brought Gregory Duran, Luis Baez, and Olivar all across the plate. Now up 7-0, this one had been blown open. With the inning still going, Cespedes hit his ninth home run of the year and scored De Andrade to make it a 9-0 lead.
    Tampa added a single run in the ninth, but it was nothing close to threatening an actual comeback. Cespedes put up a three-hit day while Olivar, De Andrade, and Duran all had two hits of their own.
    Pitcher of the Day – C.J. Culpepper (Fort Myers) - 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K
    Hitter of the Day – Rubel Cespedes (Fort Myers) - 3-4, 2B(13), HR(8), 2 R, 2 RBI, K
    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:
    #2 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 3-4, 2 R, RBI, BB
    #3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 0-2, 2 BB, K
    #4 - Edouard Julien (Minnesota) - 2-4, 2B(8), BB, K
    #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-3
    #12 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-2, 2 BB
    #13 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, 2 K
    #14 - Jordan Balazovic (Minnesota) - 0.2 IP, H, BB, K
    #15 - Brent Headrick (Minnesota) - 0.1 IP, K
    Each full season affiliate is off until Wednesday this week. Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games! 
  23. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Sherry Cerny for an article, Twins 6, Red Sox 0: A Shutout for Joe Ryan and a BIG Win for the Twins   
    Box Score
    SP: Joe Ryan: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K (112 pitches, 83 strikes (74.1%))
    Home Runs:  Carlos Correa (10), Byron Buxton 2 (13)
    Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (.197), Byron Buxton (.132), Carlos Correa (.086),
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    The Twins...and Buck...are Back?
    The Twins were still feeling the fire from Wednesday night when Thursday's game against the Red Sox began. The Twins started the first inning mashing baseballs giving the Twins a 2-0 lead. Carlos Correa, who has found his groove again, started out in the first inning getting the Twins on the board with a solo home run, Two batters later another solo home run was hit by Byron Buxton - the second longest home run of his career (466 feet). 
    Red Sox "bulk" pitcher Brandon Walter had a difficult time keeping the Twins from manufacturing runs, something they have desperately needed to do as of late. A single from Ryan Jeffers started out the second inning followed by a double from Willi Castro and another double from Michael A. Taylor brought home both Jeffers and Castro, giving the Twins a 4-0 lead. 
    The second inning was strategically different than anticipated. Donovan Solano pinch hit for Edouard Julien against the lefty, and Kyle Farmer pinch hit for Alex Kirilloff. Julien has a wOBA of .127 against lefties.
    The weirdness of the second inning continued when the Twins had two on. With one out, Michael A. Taylor took off for third base (stolen base attempt). Farmer's fly ball to deep center was caught on the warning track. Taylor was thinking stolen base, so he slid headfirst into third base, looked up to see the fly out, and did not retouch third base before retreating back to second allowing Rafael Devers to force an out, ending the inning. 
    Buxton had a day. Hitting his 12th and 13th home runs of the season, he also hit two of his three longest home runs today (466ft and 465ft). The longest one he ever hit was off of Liam Hendricks for 496 feet. Buxton certainly has struggled through some stretches this season in the DH position, some fans even calling for him to return to the IL until he is “better”. His second home run of the day gave the Twins a 5-0 lead over the Red Sox.
    A Complete Game Shutout for Joe Ryan
    The pitching from the club has kept them afloat much of the season.  Joe Ryan put on a clinic from the mound. After his last appearance, Ryan seemed to have gathered himself. 
    Ryan only threw 33 pitches through the first five innings, didn’t give up a hit until the fourth inning, and didn’t allow a single run, against the Red Sox line-up. Ryan has been working on his splitter with pitching coach, Pete Maki, and he used it often in this one.
    Ryan’s ability to control the lineup gave the manager the confidence to keep him in the game. It was Ryan's first complete game and shut out of his career and the first complete game shutout for the Twins in the past five seasons!
    The most pitches that Ryan has thrown in a game this season was 107. In Thursday’s game he threw 112, struck out nine batters, three of those batters struck out swinging back to back in the fifth inning.  
    Ending on a High Note
    The rest of the game was a cake-walk for the Twins, something that gave the club and the fans a lot to cheer about. The fifth inning started out with a lead off walk from Farmer, who advanced with every at-bat from his teammates keeping the pressure on the Red Sox. He eventually made it to third base. Royce Lewis stepped up to the plate and blooped a ball to centerfield that dropped right in between the three outfielders to drive in Farmer and give the Twins the 6-0 lead. 
    The score stayed at 6-0 throughout the remainder of the game, giving the Twins the win and the series tie. They also returned to .500 before starting their road trip with the Tigers. 
    What’s Next? 
    Tomorrow the Twins start a series in Detroit against the Tigers starting with Kenta Maeda taking the mound. The Twins didn’t fare very well last weekend against the Tigers losing the series (3-1), hopefully the Twins can take a series from the Tigers. 
    Friday 6:40 pm: RHP Kenta Maeda (0-4 9.00 ERA) vs. LHP Joey Wentz (1-7, 6.82 ERA)
    Saturday 7:15 pm: RHP Pablo Lopez (3-4, 3.40 ERA) vs. RHP Reese Olson (0-2, 5.59 ERA)
    Sunday 1:40 pm: RHP Bailey Ober (4-4, 2.83 ERA) vs. RHP Michael Lorenzen (2-5, 4.00 ERA)
    Postgame Interviews

      SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Headrick 0 0 41 0 0 41 Morán 11 13 0 17 0 41 Balazovic 40 0 0 0 0 40 Durán 0 0 0 32 0 32 De León 0 25 0 0 0 25 Jax 0 10 0 8 0 18 Pagán 0 17 0 0 0 17 Ortega 0 0 16 0 0 16 Stewart 0 0 0 15 0 15  
  24. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, 4 Prospects the Twins Might Focus on with the #49 Pick   
    The Twins are in a strong position entering the 2023 MLB Draft. In addition to having the fourth largest bonus pool, north of $14.3 million, they have four top 100 picks, and three in the top 50. The 2023 Draft class is loaded with talent, one of the strongest in years. In the build up to the Draft, we're going to share some names to watch at particular spots that give an indication of the caliber of talent that might be available for a particular pick. Today, we'll dig into the Twins pick at #49 overall.
    Jake Gelof
    Position: 3B, Age: 21, School: Virginia, Height: 6’1, Weight: 195, B/T: R/R, Rank: 38 
    Gelof is a stretch to get to 49, but it’s indicative of the depth of talent in this Draft class that he’s even in the conversation. His brother was drafted in 2021 by the As in the second round. Gelof has been pulverizing baseballs in 2023. At the plate, he has an aggressive approach with plus power, particularly to the pull side. He does chase out of the zone but has good contact rates inside the zone. Gelof has a solid approach at the plate. He’s cut his strikeouts in 2023 and has a 20 BB%, so there’s on base value there. Defensively, Gelof isn’t a great athlete or mover, although he has an at least an above average arm. He’ll likely start out his pro career at third base but there’s a chance he moves to first base eventually. Power is the carrying tool here, but the on-base skills give a solid offensive floor, particularly if he can cut his K%.
    Brice Matthews
    Position: SS, Age: 21, School: Nebraska, Height: 6’0, Weight: 190, B/T: R/R, Rank: 43
    Such is the magnitude of Matthews’ 2023 breakout, he’s been talked about as a late first round or sandwich pick. If you’re interested in targeting an uptick in production on the 2023 season, he’s your guy. Matthews has a compact right handed swing and put up excellent exit velocities for Nebraska in 2023. He can get chase heavy at times, evidenced by his 25 K% which is a concern with his approach. He’s improved his BB% this season from 16% to 23% so there are tangible improvements, to go with a .359/.481/.723 line 20 home runs and 20 stolen bases. Defensively, Matthews has a shot to stick at shortstop given his outstanding athleticism. He’ll be an average defender if he does, but could easily kick over to second base or even move to center field. If the breakout is legit, Matthews could be a huge steal.
    Tanner Witt
    Position: RHP, Age: 21, School: Texas, Height: 6’5, Weight: 215, B/T: R/R, Rank: 46
    Witt’s story will be a familiar one for Minnesota Twins Draft fans. He had TJ surgery and returned to throw for interested teams close to the Draft. Unlike Connor Prielipp however, Witt returned to in-game action for a Longhorns team about to compete in a Super Regional at the time of writing. On the mound, Witt is imposing at 6’5 and has a ton of projection left. Pre-surgery, his fastball sat 93-95 mph but could grab 97 mph, with good run. His best breaker is a big 12-6 curveball that the bottom drops out of. It’s a strikeout weapon and a legit swing and miss pitch. Witt also has a slider and a changeup that are emerging but give him the strong platform a four-pitch mix offers. Unsurprisingly, Witt was a little uneven in his return from injury, looking inconsistent with both control and stuff. His track record at UT is limited, just 68 innings pre-injury, but the stuff, frame, and projectability are undeniably exciting.
    Mac Horvath
    Position: 3B/OF, Age: 21, School: North Carolina, Height: 6’1, Weight: 200, B/T: R/R, Rank: 86
    Horvath is likely to garner plenty of attention from Twins Daily readers as he's a product of Rochester, MN. The North Carolina outfielder has one of the more intriguing power/speed contributions of any college hitter and has improved every year for the Tar Heels. At the plate, it's a power over hit approach and his strikeout rate is a concern, despite strong on base numbers. Horvath has at least above average speed and solid defensive chops. He's played third base and in the outfield for North Carolina, taking advantage of a great throwing arm in either spot. He'd be a great fit in right field long term. In 2023, he put up a .305/.418/.711 line with 24 home runs and 25 steals through the end of the college season. You can add 18 BB% to the appeal, but the 25 K% gives you pause. If he can cut down on the strikeouts, there's a ton of impact there.
    Who are your favorite prospects mentioned? What are other names that intrigue you with this pick? Join our draft speculation in the comments below.
  25. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for an article, What Can We Learn From Jordan Balazovic's Statcast Data?   
    Typically, observing stats from one appearance is a bad idea—what with small samples and all that—but raw data does not require such patience, and we can parse through some of Jordan Balazovic’s Statcast information to understand his game better. Let’s not beat around the bush: here’s what caught my attention from his page.
    The most impressive pitch in Balazovic’s arsenal is his curveball. It’s a yakker, folks. The scouting reports were accurate. It doesn’t get too much extra vertical break; just 1.7 inches above average places him around Marco Gonzales and Lucas Sims—quality veteran arms who typically acquire outs through other means. What’s notable is his lack of horizontal movement; -5.7 inches of horizontal break places him amongst the top 20 of pitchers with vertical downers. You’d think the pitch may help neutralize platoons, but Balazovic has struggled with opposite-handed batters throughout his minor league career (although that could be for separate reasons). He’s death to righties at his peak, though. Here’s Javier Báez learning that Balazovic’s curve has an endless bottom to it:
    It appears that, if Balazovic is to stick at the major-league level, his curve will be the main contributor to his success.
    And that’s because his heater is nothing too special. He gets a little vertical movement on it, but not enough to stand out from the pitching quagmire around him; his outs in the minors have typically been from its location, not its pure bully factor. He does mirror his curveball’s movement perfectly, possibly allowing the offering to play above its raw characteristics—and the Twins have done well in developing vertical specialists in their pitching staff.

    That prior paragraph may sound like damning with faint praise, but having one average MLB selection and a second potentially plus pitch is enough for anyone to accrue outs these days, especially if they’re wise about usage. That’ll be crucial for Balazovic, as his slider doesn’t stand out too much. His changeup is interesting—owning almost no horizontal break, just like his curveball—so if he can command the pitch, he may have the three/two-and-a-half-ish pitch mix that turns him from tweener reliever to legitimate starter.
    And that’s the crucial aspect of talking about pitching: pitches are tools, but they’re only that, and it takes a Pitcher to separate themselves from the pack. The pitching industrial complex spits out a thousand arms scientifically built to miss bats and get outs; beating those hurlers requires something beyond just stuff, and whether Balazovic possesses that nebulous thing will soon be seen. At least he has a great curveball to help guide him.
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