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  1. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, A Big Takeaway from the Twins 2021   
    If there’s a takeaway for 2021, it’s that nothing is won in the offseason. Take it from a guy that hung a banner over the winter, and it will be worth taking a significant lap when the dust settles on spending before Opening Day 2022.
    Going into this season, the Twins needed to do little more than hold serve. This team was no longer the Bomba Squad, but they didn’t need to be. Rocco Baldelli had to have a well-rounded group and one that took a step forward with a well-established core. There was plenty of promise after adding more pitching options, a defensive wizard at shortstop, and bringing back the Boomstick. Depth looked to be in a great place, and the talent at the top should’ve been comparable to anyone.
    After getting out to a 5-2 start, the Twins went on a 1-9 run. They never recovered and didn’t see a .500 record the rest of the way. That depth was depleted through injury, but it was also worn down through ineffectiveness. Miguel Sano looked lost to start, and Max Kepler may never have been found. The free-agent signings, save for the returning Cruz, all flopped. Kenta Maeda wasn’t the arm that dominated in 2020. The bullpen imploded all over the place. 
    "Unfortunate" would be selling the situation short. Minnesota didn’t perform for any consistent stretch, at any consistent level, and it cost them well beyond the injury concerns they dealt with. Following his extension, Jorge Polanco took the reigns on his career, but Kepler and Sano floundered when expected to contribute. No matter how the offseason acquisitions turned out, the core failed to uphold their end of the bargain.
    In the future, especially when heading into a season of uncertainty, being reminded the season isn’t won in the offseason is a must. Being able to celebrate moves made is a fair practice. How they gel together and ultimately perform on the field is immeasurable until the games get played. As Derek Falvey reconstructs the future for a Twins team with a drastically different outlook, evaluating the offseason will need to be done individually. How players and contracts fit and money is spent should be a focus. Where the results will end up isn’t worth tying to specific pacts.
    In the year ahead, Minnesota won’t be able to claim an opportunity for a three-peat, and more than anything else, they’ll be looking to distance from the year that was. As the front office embarks on their first opportunity for significant year-over-year growth, the idea that they had a “freaking offseason” will need some pause in hopes that a well-designed process drives more acceptable results.
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  2. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, What’s Gotten Into Caleb Thielbar?   
    Caleb Thielbar thought his days as a baseball pitcher were over. Following the 2019 minor league season, he accepted a coaching job at Augustana University in Sioux Falls as he finished up pitching for Team USA in the 2019 Premier12. Baseball had a different plan for him. Multiple teams invited him to spring training in 2020, including the Minnesota Twins. He decided to give pitching one more chance, and the decision has paid off. 

    Before the 2020 season, Thielbar hadn’t pitched in the big leagues since 2015, but this was a much different pitcher taking the mound. He cut his pitch selection down from five in 2015 to three for his big-league return. Gone were his sinker and changeup while he focused more on his fastball, slider, and curveball. 

    After being called up in 2020, Thielbar made 17 appearances (20 innings) with a 2.25 ERA and a 1.15 WHIP with a 22-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Opponents didn’t get a hit against his curveball in over 90 pitches. Against his fastball, he limited batters a .213 batting average and a .234 slugging percentage. It was a small sample size, but he seemed to be trending in the right direction. 

    Thielbar changed his approach again for the 2021 season, and he has continued to evolve in the season’s second half. His fastball usage has dropped by four percent this year, but the change in his breaking pitches is even more drastic. He’s more than doubled his slider usage from 16.4% in 2020 to nearly 35% in 2021. His curveball usage has dropped by over 10%. 
    Thielbar’s fastball is averaging 91 mph for the season, but he seems to have found another level over the last couple of months. During August, he held batters to a .167 batting average and a .292 slugging percentage when facing his fastball. His slider also caused some difficulties for batters as they went 2-for-15 (.133 BA) against the pitch for the entire month. But August wasn’t his only strong month in the second half. 
    In 19 second-half appearances, Thielbar has a 2.66 ERA with a 1.03 WHIP while posting a 23-to-7 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Batters are hitting .197/.275/.394 (.669) against him since the All-Star break. Rocco Baldelli has also shown confidence in using him at various times during games, with the bulk of his innings coming in the sixth, seventh, and eighth innings. He’s moved from college coach to effective set-up man in less than two years. 
     Thielbar will turn 35-years-old in January, and relief pitching can be fickle. It certainly seems like something has changed with Thielbar this season, but there’s no telling what the future might hold. The Twins need to rebuild their bullpen for 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly want to keep Thielbar from focusing too much on his college coaching career. 

    What are your thoughts on Thielbar so far this season? What changes have you noticed? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.

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  3. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Envisioning a Good Twins Rotation in 2022 (For Real!)   
    Below I will outline a plausible path to a good Twins rotation in 2022. Not an elite rotation – that's probably a bridge too far at this point – but a good one with five solid-or-better starters, capable of competing for a postseason spot and maybe more.
    There is inherently some optimistic thinking involved here, but I don't think any of these scenarios are out of question. 
    1. Bailey Ober proves to be the real deal
    Among starting pitchers currently controlled by the Twins, Ober is the only stable fixture looking ahead to 2022. But he's establishing himself as a pretty viable building block.
    How did the big right-hander go from relative unknown to indispensable rotation cornerstone in one year's time? By adding 3-4 MPH to his fastball and shedding his label as a "soft-tosser." A few extra ticks of velocity have made a world of difference for the rookie, who is now sneaking heaters past MLB hitters and playing up his lesser offspeed stuff. Toss in excellent command, and you've got a good recipe for success. As we've seen.
    Ober's overall numbers with the Twins this year are good – 3.98 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 77-to-17 K/BB ratio in 74 ⅔ innings – but even better when you break them down to parse out his progression. 
    His K/BB ratio in the latter sample is legitimately elite (only two qualified MLB starters are averaging more than six strikeouts per walk, and they are Cy Young candidates Corbin Burnes and Gerrit Cole). When you're missing bats, limiting walks, and keeping the hits in check, you're in line for good outcomes. Ober has shown the ability to do all these things, and he's only getting better at each of them. 
    Home runs will be something to monitor, and could sidetrack him if they re-emerge as a weakness, but at this point there's no reason to think a healthy Ober won't be at least a quality #3 or 4 starter in 2022.
    2. Twins sign a #2/3 starter in free agency
    No, they're not going to sign Clayton Kershaw or Max Scherzer. Probably not Noah Syndergaard either. Even someone like Marcus Stroman or Justin Verlander may be a tad too ambitious. But with ample flexibility (should they choose to keep payroll steady or raise it slightly), there are several names in the next tier that should be within range, and it's not that hard to see one of them settling in as a mid-rotation caliber starter or better. 
    Names in this category include Corey Kluber, Charlie Morton, Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney, and others.
    3. Acquire a #2/3 starter via trade
    Last year, the Twins acquired Maeda and watched him blossom into a Cy Young caliber performer. This year, their division rivals have done the same with Lance Lynn. 
    We don't need to set our sights that high, though it'd be nice. Jameson Taillon is a less idealistic example. He wasn't a star for Pittsburgh, and the Yankees didn't have to part with top-tier prospect talent to acquire him. But he has served as a very solid mid-rotation arm for New York, at a low price and with multiple years of control remaining.
    The Twins didn't trade away any of their system's depth last winter, and have only added to it this year by selling at the deadline. Additionally, they have a few semi-redundant pieces at the major-league level that could have value to other clubs (Max Kepler, Mitch Garver ... Luis Arraez?) The front office will have assets to deal for pitching if they are so inclined. 
    4. Re-sign Michael Pineda
    The door definitely seems wide open for a reunion, as each side has openly expressed affinity for the other, and with Pineda's challenges this year, he should be pretty affordable – maybe $4-5 million. 
    Given those challenges, I'm sure most Twins fans aren't enthused about the idea of bringing back Pineda. But let's look at the big picture here: the 32-year-old has posted a 3.98 ERA, 3.94 FIP, 1.19 WHIP, 8.3 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9 during his time with the Twins. That includes his recent struggles, which can likely be attributed somewhat to health. In his first 36 starts with Minnesota, the team went 24-12. 
    His circumstances, and a theoretical desire to return here, could enable the Twins to score Pineda at the cost of a back-end starter, while hoping an offseason of rest and strengthening returns him to his previous state or close to it. 
    5. Get Randy Dobnak back on track
    As with Pineda, it's easy to get caught up in Dobnak's recent struggles while losing sight of his previous success. In fact, it's a lot easier, because Dobnak does not have nearly the track record of Pineda. But through the first 14 outings of his MLB career, the Dobber was simply phenomenal, posting a 1.69 ERA with four home runs allowed over 58 ⅔ innings. This after a tremendous minor-league career that saw him perform well at every level. Dobnak's effectiveness was no accident – the bottom simply fell out on his pitches, making them excruciatingly difficult to lift, and he consistently threw them in the zone.
    Things went south late in the 2020 season, but Dobnak rebounded with a dominant spring that compelled the Twins to invest with a modest long-term contract. And then the bottom fell out on Dobnak. We all know this season has been a complete and total disaster for the right-hander, but it's unclear to what it extent that owes to injury issues. 
    When you're a slider-reliant sinkerballer who goes from allowing four homers in your first two seasons to allowing 11 in your third, before going on IL for multiple months with a strain in the middle finger that is so crucial in creating that sink ... Well, it points to a natural explanation.
    There's no guarantee that time off will correct this issue, but we'll at least start to get an idea when Dobnak returns to the rotation on Friday. Regardless of how things go for the rest of this season, he'll most likely get a crack at the 2022 rotation given that he's under guaranteed contract. If he gets back on track and is anywhere close to the version we saw early on in his big-league career, well that's a hell of a good fifth starter.
    6. The minors provide depth and jolts
    Above, we've accounted for all five season-opening rotation spots. And we haven't yet tapped into the impressive minor-league pipeline this front office has built up. Between Joe Ryan, Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino and Josh Winder, you have a bevy of high-upside arms that are all verging on MLB-ready, if not already there. 
    Granted, it's tough to depend on any of these prospects short-term, given that none have yet appeared in the majors (save Ryan, who debuted impressively on Wednesday) and the group is riddled with significant injury concerns. But that's why I'm not penciling them into any of the top five spots. We can account for those otherwise and keep these exciting arms in reserve, while knowing that just about any one of them has the potential to be a game-changing force for the Twins pitching staff if things break right.
    Look, I get that it's hard to envision multiple positive scenarios playing out in this fashion, especially with the way faith has been understandably eroded in the this front office over the past year. But one thing I find myself frequently reminding others – and myself – is that things change fast in this game. In 2016 and 2018, nobody was foreseeing good things on the near horizon. 
    The Twins made some mistakes last offseason, but have also been the victims of absolutely horrible luck. This front office and coaching staff have proven their mettle in the past. If they can learn from those mistakes and the pendulum of fortune swings in the other direction, it's not all that difficult to envision a pitching staff capable of supporting what could be a very strong offense to push Minnesota back into contender status. 
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  4. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Finding the Next Bailey Ober   
    There appear to be plenty of innings to go around in 2022. While we hope to see prospects such as Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran debut, Bailey Ober is proof that it isn’t always the shiny top prospect that storms into the Major Leagues. The Twins have a few arms in the minors who could be a pleasant surprise to the MLB club next season.
    Drew Strotman - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 17
    The less-hyped player in the Nelson Cruz return this summer, Strotman went straight to St. Paul upon his arrival where it appears he’ll finish his season. Once a strong control pitcher, Strotman has had a walk rate over 12% this year. The Twins may be able to attribute this to his 2018 Tommy John surgery and inability to knock off the last of the rust with the lack of a 2020 season.
    Still, Strotman has plenty to like. He can hit the mid-90s as a starter with his best offering being a cutter with a decent curveball to pair with it. He was striking out nearly 25% of his hitters faced  with a mid-3s ERA with Tampa’s AAA team in Durham before struggling across the board with the Saints, possibly a result of him hitting an innings wall in his first full season back.
    Strotman will be 25 next season and already possesses a 40-man roster spot. He’s in the most convenient spot of all three of these pitchers to get one of the first calls next season, especially if he comes out on fire to open the season.
    Cole Sands - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 19
    Sands has spent 2021 exclusively at AA after a brief debut there in 2019. Despite his 10.4% walk rate this year, he’s long had the reputation as a strike-thrower, never before walking more than 6.3% of hitters. It’s a safe bet on Sands regaining that control which would bode well for his future considering he’s maintained a strikeout rate of 30% in 2021.
    Sands has also limited the long ball in his minor league career. 2021 is his career-worst with a still-respectable 0.93 HR/9. With a 2.93 ERA at AA this year, Sands will get the call to the next level sooner rather than later. At that point, his high floor for strikeouts, low walk totals and limiting homers puts him in a great spot to get an opportunity when the Twins need innings filled in 2022. It’s the same baseline of skills that Bailey Ober used to get to the big leagues.
    Chris Vallimont - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 21
    In some ways, 2021 has been a disappointment for Chris Vallimont who’s sporting a 6.00 ERA at the AA level through 78 innings. He hadn’t shown a huge control problem prior to this year but has walked 14.4% of batters faced. He used to limit homers but has allowed a 1.27 per 9 innings this year. Still, that 6.00 ERA indicates a bit of bad luck according to his 4.40 FIP and 4.62 xFIP.
    Vallimont still shows a strong ability to strike out opponents, and has done so at a 32.1% rate. If he can return to his career norms in terms of walks and homers allowed, he could move aggressively to the MLB level as he’ll be 25 to begin 2022. He seems to have the raw stuff to dominate hitters if he can manage to iron out some kinks.
    If there’s one thing we can expect from the pitching staff next season, it’s that there will be plenty of opportunities. Bailey Ober appears to be a diamond in the rough, thrown into a trial by fire due to a pitching staff that completely turned over by season’s end. Could one of these three be the next development arm to take this route to success? Could it be one not listed here?
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  5. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins to Promote Olympic Medalist Joe Ryan, Slated to Start Wednesday   
    When the Twins take on the Cubs on Wednesday night against the Cubs, we will be able to watch the major-league debut of Joe Ryan. Darren Wolfson reports that Ryan is being promoted tomorrow, with rosters expanding on September 1st, and the expectation is that he'll take the hill at Target Field in Kenta Maeda's place on Wednesday.
    It's been a pretty crazy travel schedule for the former Rays prospect the past two months. In late June, he headed to the Olympics in Tokyo. Upon his return to the States, he went to North Carolina to pack up and move to the Twin Cities. He has spent the past couple of weeks with the Saints, making starts at CHS Field, and in Toledo. He was in Columbus, Ohio, when he learned that he got The Call. And now he will be back in Minneapolis, excited for his debut.  
    Scouting Report
    Joe Ryan is a fastball pitcher. He throws, literally, at least 70% fastballs. But it’s not because he has huge velocity; his fastball sits between 90 and 93 mph. Like another Twins pitcher, it has proved more effective than the radar gun readings.
    Bailey Ober sits 91-93 mph with his fastball, his length allows him to release the ball closer to home plate. In essence, he can make 91 look like 94 just because of that release point. 
    Joe Ryan is only 6-2, but he still has some deception in his delivery. He throws from a lower release point. While the average pitcher’s release point is 5.9 feet, Ryan’s average release point is just 4.8 feet from the ground. Not one starting pitcher in the big leagues throws from that low. He also gets Ober-like extension in front of the mound. It’s something that he credits his water polo background with helping him. He told Verducci in a Sports Illustrated article: 
    Here's a breakdown of Joe Ryan by Twins Daily's own Nash Walker:
    “"In water polo you learn how to skip the ball,” he says. “I spent 10 years trying to skip the ball in water polo, and it’s the same concept as throwing a fastball: Get the shoulder in position and then let the hand work and get it out front. Throwing a baseball feels the same way. You get that zip right at the end.”
    He has always had supreme confidence in his fastball, even though he doesn’t throw it real hard. He has a swagger. He believes that his movement and location will make it difficult for the hitter to square up. When he gets ahead, he - again like Ober - can get a lot of swings-and-missed up in or just above the strike zone. In fact, in his two starts with the Saints, he struck out 17 batters in just nine innings. 
    In 2019, Ryan was pitching in High-A Charlotte. His pitching coach was Doc Watson. In a 2019 Baseball America article, he shared a story about facing then-Miracle outfielder Trevor Larnach, who was the Florida State League MVP that season: 
    “Several guys kept saying ‘I’ve not seen a fastball like that in my career, “High Class A Charlotte pitching coach Doc Watson said. “Even when we were playing Fort Myers, (Trevor) Larnach, who’s their best hitter, in my opinion, he made a comment … he said ‘Doc, I’m gonna tell you what, that arm is electric. It comes through and you do not see the baseball until it’s on top of you.’ so I’ll take it from them and just say that it is an electric arm.””
    But Ryan has also shown a solid slider. In his two starts since joining the Saints, he has been able to locate it at the knees and near the outside corner very consistently. It will obviously be an important second pitch for him to keep hitters off balance. Even within that, he throws a couple different sliders. Sometimes it acts like a cutter, and just moves enough to stay off a barrel. Other times, he’ll throw the slider with a bigger break. He will also throw a slower, more 12-to-6 curveball. 
    Joe Ryan turned 25 years old in June, and he sits on the precipice of a lifelong dream and goal, the big leagues. It’s been a somewhat unusual path to get here, and to land with the Twins. 
    Joe Ryan grew up in Northern California, miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge. He led a unique early life. From a Tom Verducci article in Sports Illustrated, Ryan “grew up without travel ball, video games or cable while living an old-fashioned Tom Sawyer life in the shadow of Mount Tamalpais and Muir Woods in Marin County, California”
    His father, Kurtis, was “an extreme athlete and runner.” The family didn’t have cable TV. He didn’t play video games until middle school. At age 8, he entered a 7.2 mile cross-country race with his dad. He and his dad went into the mountains to camp, fish and hunt. He played water polo competitively, even during the baseball season. 
    He attended Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, California. As a senior, he went 12-1 with a 0.76 ERA. He was drafted in the 39th round by his hometown San Francisco Giants. 
    Instead of signing, Ryan headed to Los Angeles to attend Cal State - Northridge. As a freshman, he pitched in 13 games (9 out of the bullpen) and posted a 1.48 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. As a sophomore, seven of his 11 appearances were starts. He went 1-2 with a 3.35 ERA in 40 1/3 innings. As a junior in 2017, he posted a 12.79 ERA in just 6 1/3 innings due to lat injury. 
    At the end of that season, he decided to transfer. If he had gone to another Division I school, he would have had to sit out a year. The Twins and other teams tried to sign him as a non-drafted free agent that summer. Instead, he headed back to northern California and went to Division II Cal State - Stanislaus. It proved to be a great decision for him. In 14 starts - and with health - Ryan went 8-1 with a 1.65 ERA in 98 1/3 innings. He had 127 strikeouts with just 13 walks. 
    In June of 2018, the Tampa Bay Rays selected him with their seventh-round draft pick. Because he had received a medical redshirt that junior season, he had some leverage and signed for just shy of $150,000, about $60,000 under slot value.
    He spent that summer in the New York-Penn League, but in 2019 he raced through three levels of the minors, making it to AA. He also led the entire minor leagues in strikeouts (183) in just 123 2/3 innings, while walking only 27 batters. 
    He didn’t pitch officially in 2020 due to the pandemic, but he did work out at the Rays alternate site and continued to progress under the Rays’ strong pitcher development program. 
    He began the 2021 season at Triple-A Durham. He pitched in 12 games (11 starts) and went 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA. In 57 innings, he walked just ten and struck out 75 batters. 
    He then was named to the Team USA Olympic team and had a fantastic run. He started the team’s first game in the tournament. He then was the starting pitcher against Korea in the semi-finals, a win that put USA into the Gold Medal game. The team won the silver medal, but Ryan really impressed. 
    While in Japan, he learned that he had been traded (along with RHP Drew Strotman) and has made two starts for the St. Paul Saints. In the first start, he struck out the first six batters he faced and nine batters over four innings of work. 
    In his second start, last Thursday, he struck out nine batters in five innings. In his two starts, he only gave up five hits and two runs over nine innings, to go with seventeen strikeouts. Turns out that was enough to prove to the Twins brass that it was time to call him up. 
    On Wednesday, Joe Ryan will make his long-anticipated Twins debut (long-awaited in this case being since the July 31st trade) at Target Field against the Chicago Cubs. It's always fun to watch an MLB debut, but Twins fans should be excited about seeing Ryan for the season's final month. 
  6. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Why Get a Second Opinion For an Elbow Injury?   
    Let's begin with a brief anatomy and biomechanics lesson. 
    The ulnar collateral ligament — more frequently referred to as the UCL — is a robust and triangular sheet of tissue that helps support the inner elbow against valgus stress. The elbow experiences the most valgus stress during a baseball game when the arm is driven forward at high rates of speed while throwing a ball.

    Damage to the UCL occurs when the torque produced as the arm is thrust forward — the technical term is internal rotation — is more significant than what the structure can compensate. Injury can occur chronically as well as acutely and is generally described as a sprain. The degree of damage is graded on a scale of 1-3. Grade 1 sprains are usually minor injuries that heal within a week or two. Grade 2 sprains — also referred to as partial tears — cause instability in the joint as some 50% of the ligament fibers have been damaged; the most frequently reported symptoms are pain and swelling. The recovery timeline for grade 2 sprains generally extends into months. Grade 3 sprains — or ruptures — result in significant instability and require Tommy John surgery to address. 
    Grade 2 sprains are where the best route of treatment is murkiest. As the UCL is technically an extension of the joint capsule — a larger sheet of tissue that envelops a joint and provides stability and nourishment — it has a relatively good blood supply, meaning it is technically capable of healing on its own without surgery. (Side note: This is why ACL injuries require surgery in most instances. Although the ACL is inside the knee, it is technically separate from the joint capsule, and, thus, has almost no blood supply.)
    However, the UCL does not have the same blood supply throughout its structure. A recent study found evidence to suggest that the blood supply is best nearer where it connects to the upper arm bone — proximal — and decreases as the ligament extends to the forearm — distal. This finding may suggest that grade 2 sprains of the UCL that occur proximally are more likely to heal without surgery than those that are distal (or, read another way, Tommy John surgeries that treat proximal tears are more likely to be "successful" than their distal counterparts.) (Another side note: Interestingly, a study conducted in 2020 found data to suggest the opposite, though it should be noted that the study had a small sample size and was retrospective; both factors limit the findings' strength.)
    Rest and anti-inflammatory medication are most often the first two steps in treating a grade 2 UCL sprains followed by physical therapy to improve range of motion and increase the strength of the surrounding muscles. While the UCL provides static stability for the inner elbow (i.e., its fibers don't contract and act as a brace), the forearm musculature provides dynamic stability (i.e., its fibers do contract and pull the inner elbow together). Having strong forearm muscles is vital for protecting the healing UCL.
    Another treatment often reported after an athlete is diagnosed with a UCL sprain is platelet-rich plasma (PRP). 
    The theory behind PRP is sound. The process involves drawing blood into a test tube, spinning it around rapidly in a centrifuge to separate the blood into plasma and red blood cells, sucking the plasma into a syringe, and injecting the plasma into the injured tissue. Plasma contains a variety of cells and other substances, one of which are platelets. Platelets help form the foundation on which new tissue grows and secret substances that help aid the healing process.
    Again, theoretically.
    The results surrounding PRP injections and return to play in baseball are … inconclusive, at best. Read one study, and you may come away believing that they work exceptionally well. Read another, and you may think they're just a bunch of hocus pocus. The fact of the matter is this: Despite being relatively well studied, there is little evidence, at this point, to suggest that PRP injections are the medical savior they were once considered to be.
    So, back to the original question. Why should Maeda and the Twins even pursue a second opinion?
    Well, the short answer is "Why not?" If the injury Maeda suffered is a UCL sprain, and if he ultimately undergoes surgery, he'll miss the entirety of the 2022 season anyway. Waiting another week or two to gather more information won't prevent him from playing next year.
    The longer answer is that the most appropriate course of treatment may or may not be surgery, depending on various factors, including grade, location, and, frankly, a specific doctor's training and treatment philosophy. Again, if Maeda is dealing with UCL damage and if it is partial and proximal, it may have a chance to heal on its own. 
    Also, and this bears repeating, what's the harm in trying conservative rehabilitation and waiting on surgery? Best case scenario: Maeda can pitch again in relatively short order and definitely be next season. Worst case scenario: Maeda has to undergo surgery, which, again, would keep him out of 2022 anyway. 
    At this stage, there is minimal downside for the Twins and Maeda in gathering as much information as possible. The team isn't going to the playoffs, he's under contract next year, and he's one of the more critical pitching pieces in the Twins' system.
    I'll pose the question again. Why should Maeda and the Twins seek a second opinion? Because it's the right thing to do.
  7. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Predicting Minnesota’s Next 4 Top Prospects to Debut   
    Joe Ryan, RH SP
    Ryan was one of the key pieces as part of the Nelson Cruz trade and he made his organizational debut last week after returning from the Olympics. His Saints debut was ridiculous as he struck out nine batters in four innings. Ryan, a former water polo player, is known for the life on his fastball and his command of the strike zone. He led the minor-league baseball in strikeout rate in 2019 by fanning 183 batters in 123 2/3 innings. As a 25-year-old, he has already found success in the high minors, and the Twins may want to give him a September audition for the 2022 rotation. 
    Jose Miranda, INF
    Miranda is having one of the best offensive seasons in team history among players in the high minors, and he is a lock to be the team’s Minor League Player of the Year. There are multiple ways to get him to Minneapolis before the season’s end. Entering 2021, he had struggled with working counts in his favor, which led to a lot of weak contact. Minnesota worked on his approach last season, and the results speak for themselves. St. Paul has been a remarkably better team with Miranda in the line-up, and the team has taken over first place in the division.  
    Jovani Moran, LHRP
    Moran was left unprotected during this past season’s Rule 5 Draft (and the year before), but he went unselected, which looks like a mistake by MLB’s other organizations. Moran’s stock rose significantly this season as he has compiled strong numbers at Double- and Triple-A. He’s held opponents to hitting .115/.213/.230 (.443) as he has collected 97 strikeouts in 60 innings. His dominant change-up is how he misses bats, as MLB Pipeline calls it a double-plus pitch. Moran is big-league ready, but the Saints are fighting for a division title so the Twins may want to keep him in St. Paul. 
    Austin Martin, SS/CF
    Martin, one of the pieces of the Jose Berrios trade, is the only player on this list not at Triple-A. He has been playing well at Double-A, and the argument can be made for him as the organization’s top prospect. He is an on-base machine, but there have been some questions raised this year about his power. Defensively, he can play multiple infield positions and centerfield, so this flexibility can allow him to reach the big leagues more quickly. Minnesota has two series against the Blue Jays near the end of September, and that might make for an intriguing big-league debut for Martin.
    There are a few things to consider when looking at the names above. Three of the players are currently at Triple-A, and St. Paul is in the playoff hunt. Also, none of the players are currently on the 40-man roster, but all but Martin will need to be added this winter. There will be plenty of 40-man roster clean-up to do during the off-season, so the team might not want to add another wrinkle to that equation. 
    All four of these players look more than ready to help the big-league squad. Now the question remains, who will be the first to make it to the show?

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  8. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nash Walker for an article, Miranda Mania: 3 Ways To Get Him To Minneapolis   
    The results speak for themselves. Miranda is having a monstrous season in the minors. He’s taken his advanced approach, one of the reasons he was selected 73rd overall as a 17-year-old in the 2016 Draft, and combined it with newly-developed patience and power. 
    The most encouraging aspect of Miranda’s toolbox is that he isn’t selling out for pop. He’s maintained a 13% strikeout rate while consistently making hard contact. Miranda has gone from a .252/.302/.369 slash, empty batting average low-minors hitter to a true damage bat at the highest levels. 
    There are many reasons to be excited. Miranda has power to all fields, makes consistent contact, barely strikes out, and hits the ball with authority.  
    Entering Sunday, Miranda is hitting an insane .343/.405/.593 with 25 homers and 23 doubles in 94 games. He’s split time at Wichita and St.Paul, crushing equally at both stops. 
    Let’s look at three ways the Twins could get Miranda into a full-time role for the final 35 or so games:
    1. DFA Andrelton Simmons, move Jorge Polanco to SS, slot in Miranda at 2B/3B
    I’m confident in saying this is the crowd favorite. Simmons has been abysmal offensively and offers no future value. Even so, the Twins have expressed a desire to keep his glove behind their young pitchers and keep Polanco at second base. At this point, I’d call this unlikely. 
    2. DH Josh Donaldson, move Luis Arraez to LF, slot in Miranda at 3B
    This one makes the most sense. The problem: what happens to Brent Rooker? With Byron Buxton on the mend and Max Kepler in right, Rooker would be the odd man out in this scenario. Plus, the Twins would have to stop playing Jake Cave against righties. Unlikely. 
    3. DH Miguel Sanó, slot in Miranda at 1B
    Miranda has started at first base in 22 games this season. To avoid a part-time DH role, the Twins could give the reigns to Sanó, who will probably fill that spot in 2022. Again, how is Rooker getting at-bats? 
    Ultimately, there is no simple way to promote Miranda. He shouldn’t play in anything but a full-time role. Without an injury, we may not see him in a Twins uniform until next spring.
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  9. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Hard Lessons Learned in Trevor Larnach’s Rookie Campaign   
    When the season began, Larnach wasn't expected to be a significant contributor during the 2021 campaign. There was certainly a hope that he would make his big-league debut in the season's second half, but like many parts of the Twins season, things didn't go exactly to plan. Minnesota's mounting names on the IL meant Larnach made his debut in May.

    Larnach certainly looked like he would hold his own during his first taste of the big leagues. Through his first 32 games, he hit .273/.390/.434 (.824) with 10 extra-base hits in 99 at-bats. There may have been some luck associated with his numbers as he had a .387 BAbip, and he was striking out more than once per game.

    His powerful swing was certainly legitimate as he hit some of the team’s longest home runs of the year, but the league figured him out, and he struggled to adjust.
    Larnach got stuck in an offensive rut in the middle of June, and he has yet to recover. He slashed .193/.279/.298 (.577) with 70 strikeouts in 47 games while also accumulating a -1.83 WPA. Also, he has the fifth-lowest SDI total among AL left fielders. Bad defense can be made up at the plate, but he struggled in both areas, which makes a demotion nearly inevitable.
    If opposing pitchers could avoid throwing Larnach fastballs, there was a good chance he would get himself out. When facing fastballs this year, he has a .294 BA and a .508 SLG, which resulted in him having a maximum exit velocity in the 97th percentile. He posted a slugging percentage of .218 when facing breaking pitches and a .179 slugging percentage versus offspeed pitches. According to Baseball Savant, he has a K% and Whiff% in the 1st percentile.

    Like all minor leaguers, Larnach didn't get a single inning of competitive action in 2020. He had limited high minors experience because of the pandemic. Back in 2019, he played 43 games at Double-A to end the season. This year, he essentially skipped Triple-A (three games) because the Twins needed him.

    "There is that added anxiety that comes along with trying to compete at this level, and going through ups and downs," manager Rocco Baldelli said. "I think that's clearly something that everyone has, even if it's not becoming an overwhelming-type thing. So, yeah. Being able to breathe, being able to relax and not have that added burden, I think, can help."

    There is no doubt that Larnach is part of the Twins' future, and this demotion is part of the learning process. He can rediscover his swing in St. Paul in at-bats that may have a little less pressure. Ups and downs are part of many players' careers, so hopefully, Larnach can look back on this as a great learning opportunity at the end of his rookie campaign.

    What have you thought about Larnach’s rookie season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to David Youngs for an article, TD Top Twins Prospect Rankings (Post Draft and Trade Deadline): 6-10   
    10. SS Keoni Cavaco (20-years-old)
    Season Stats (Low-A): .242/.314/.332, 49 G, 7 2B, 2 3B, 2 HR, 21 RBI, 6 SB, 63/18 K:BB
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #6
    It's been a rough year for the Fort Myers offense. Cavaco's .242 batting average is something that will need to improve. Yet before we double down on the guy, let's remember, he's 20-years-old! While he played 25 games in 2019, this is Cavaco's first 'true' season. The guy is an incredible athlete and has shown moments of brilliance in the field and at the plate. 
    Plagued by injuries this season, Cavaco's 2022 season will be a big indicator of his future with the Twins. There's a lot of potential if he can stay healthy. Check out his interview with Seth Stohs from earlier this year!
    9. RHP Chase Petty (18-years-old)
    Season Stats: No Stats
    Previous Rankings: Not ranked, Minnesota Twins 2021 Top Draft Pick
    Chase Petty may have been the most electrifying pick in the 2021 MLB Draft. The New Jersey-native can hit triple digits, has good off-speed, and name dropped Mike Trout in post-draft interview. 
    Petty was named Gatorade Player of the Year for the state of New Jersey this past year. His fastball speaks volumes but he's also got an excellent slider in his arsenal. 
    Yes, Petty is only 18. Yet he has the confidence of an MLB ballplayer and that is going to work miracles for him as he navigates professional baseball. Expect the Jersey boy to climb the ladder quickly. 
    8. RHP Matt Canterino (23-years-old)
    Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): 5 GS, 20 IP, 0.90 ERA, 0.65 ERA, 16.7 K/9, 1.4 BB/9
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #4
    Matt Canterino didn't drop on our rankings because of poor performance. The Twins' 2019 second-round draft pick was sidelined by an elbow injury for a majority of the summer and just recently hit the bump again. Canterino recently began rehabbing at Low-A Fort Myers. In his August 8th return he was perfect, striking out two and giving up zero hits or walks in two innings. 
    Prior to his injury Canterino was electric, giving up only two earned runs in 10 innings. In that span, hitters racked up a meager .154 batting average against him. In his young professional career Canterino has a 1.20 ERA and 0.64 WHIP. At 23, the young man has an unbelievable upside and a healthy 2022 season will benefit him as much as anyone on this list.
    7. RHP Joe Ryan (25-years-old)
    Season Stats (Triple-A): 57 IP, 3.63 ERA, 0.79 WHIP, 11.8/1.6 K:BB
    Previous Rankings: N/A (previously in Rays organization)
    A product of the Nelson Cruz trade with Tampa Bay, Joe Ryan was previously unknown to most Twins fans. That changed when Ryan grabbed the attention of the nation when he helped guide the United States Olympic team to a Silver Medal in Tokyo. Ryan started two games for Team USA, tossing 10 1/3 innings of nine-hit, two-run baseball, while striking out eight and only surrendering one walk.
    It's clear that Ryan can deal. The 2018 seventh-round draft pick has touted a sub-four ERA in each season since his professional debut. Before being traded to the Twins the San Francisco native was 4-3 with a 3.63 ERA on the Durham Bulls staff. Ryan has started 11 games this season with opposing batters hitting .175 against him. With the Olympics serving as a confidence booster, it will be exciting to see what Ryan can do with the Saints for the remainder of the season. 
    6. 3B Jose Miranda (23-years-old)
    Season Stats (Double-A + Triple-A): .342/.406/.596, 21 2B, 23 HR, 4 SB, 65 RBI
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: #5
    Don't be fooled that Miranda is a spot lower than he was a few months back. In fact, Miranda has been as good as he's been all season in the past few days. Miranda recorded a multi-hit game on Thursday night and knocked the go-ahead homer to push the Saints to a win in extra-innings on Wednesday. 
    Miranda has slashed an impressive .338/.402/.606 in just 38 games at Triple-A this season. His numbers were just as strong (if not better) at Double-A Wichita. The best part? Miranda is improving as he increases levels of play. Don't be surprised if the best story of the 2021 Twins organization gets a shot at the MLB level before the 2021 season ends. 
  11. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Trio Hinting at Twins Pitching Pipeline   
    Royce Lewis didn’t get off the ground this year after missing a traditional minor league season in 2020. We haven’t seen (and likely won’t) Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic to this point. Although Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach have both made their debuts, it’s been pitching where Minnesota has missed most often in 2021. Despite the poor performance, we have seen a trio of potentially overlooked arms brandish their stuff.
    Bailey Ober
    Realistically the arm with the highest upside of this group, Ober was a 12th round pick in 2017. He’s 26-years-old and owns a 4.53 ERA through his first 13 big league starts. That number drops to 4.19 if you throw out the clunker in his debut, and it’s an even better 3.55 across his last seven starts. He recently beat both the Houston Astros and Chicago White Sox, and has tallied a 9.7 K/9 while owning just a 2.7 BB/9.
    The fastball velocity has averaged 92.6 mph, but when it’s coming from a guy standing 6’9” it’s going to get on you with incredible quickness. While Ober is getting ground balls just 33% of the time, he’s allowing hard hit balls only 37.8% of the time. He has generated a respectable 10.5% whiff rate, and owns a 28.3% CSW (called and swinging strike percentage).
    This wasn’t a guy ever destined to be a top prospect, and he’s hardly cracked an upper half of any organizational prospect list. That said, it’s never been a concern that the stuff hasn’t played. Ober dominated during his time in the minors with a 2.41 ERA and 11.1 K/9. The caveat is that it came in under 200 innings across four seasons. Injuries remain his chief bugaboo and he’s quickly approaching a new career high in innings pitched. For a team needing rotation help though, Ober’s emergence in 2021 should garner him serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot next spring.
    Griffin Jax
    Taken in the 3rd round of the 2016 draft, Jax made his debut this season at 26-years-old. He went through a gambit of hoops to get here, first and foremost working around his commitment to the Air Force. Another guy that has never been considered highly when it comes to prospect status, Jax has succeeded at each level and always seemed “safe.”
    I opined that it seemed shocking no big league team wanted to take a chance on him as a Rule 5 option, but it’s great that he’s still with the Twins. Although the current 5.45 ERA is hardly anything to write home about, his 38 innings of work have been punctuated by the last four starts. Across those 20 1/3 innings he owns a 2.66 ERA and .153 batting average against. Those outings feature two tilts with the White Sox, and one against Houston; both of which are high-powered offenses. Jax isn’t a fireballer or big strikeout pitcher, but there’s also nothing he does particularly poorly.
    It’d be a long-shot to assume that Minnesota has a top half of the rotation arm here, but they’ve once again produced something of substance when it comes to rotation help and pitching depth. Jax hasn’t had the run needed to cement the belief that he’ll stick, but the track record and recent results suggest that he’s more than just a fleeting name during an otherwise lost season.
    Charlie Barnes
    Minnesota took Barnes out of Clemson in the 4th round of the 2017 draft. He’s the youngest of this group, not yet having reached his 26th birthday. He’s also seen the least amount of opportunity at the big league level, but it seems more could be in front of him down the stretch.
    Posting strong ERA numbers during his first two seasons of professional baseball, Barnes made it to Triple-A in year three at 23-years-old. In 2021 he forced his opportunity with the Twins by turning into a solid string of performances with the St. Paul Saints. Barnes doesn’t strike a ton of batters out, with just a 7.7 K/9 in the minors, but he’s done a decent job of limiting free passes and has been stingy with the home run ball. More of a soft-tosser, the lefty will need to miss additional bats as he looks for a lengthened opportunity to stick.
    Easily the most suspect arm in terms of both tools and production from this trio, Barnes has earned the role he’s currently in. There will need to be further advancement, but Minnesota pushing another fringe prospect to the big leagues is a win. His big-league debut against the Detroit Tigers went well, and despite the blow up against Cincinnati, he rebounded somewhat against a much tougher White Sox club. There’s more work to be done here, but this is a good foundation.
    The real takeaway here is that you can never have enough arms, and development isn't solely put in place for the top prospects. Minnesota has stockpiled pitching talent, and while it has taken time to bear fruit, the infrastructure implemented by Derek Falvey is beginning to pay off. We can only hope to see that in the coming years with more success stories like these, and realization of top tier talent as well.
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  12. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Twins Daily Interview: Mike McCarthy, St. Paul Saints Pitching Coach   
    Twins Daily (TD): Thanks for taking the time to chat, Mike. I’m interested in illuminating for folks what coaching looks like in baseball and the Twins organization. Let’s start by hearing about your journey to becoming a pitching coach. Is that always something you wanted to do?
    Mike McCarthy (MM): I played six-and-a-half years with the Red Sox and made it to AAA. I learned how to throw really good batting practice starting at around 7:05 pm for three of four innings until they got me out of there. I was always interested in scouting reports and analytics. I was also always interested in teaching and helping others, and I’m always brought back to ‘how do I leave the world better than I found it’? So I always enjoy the opportunity to connect with people and help them get better at what they’re passionate about. One day I got a call from Gabe Kapler asking if I was interested in interviewing for a job and that’s how I met Jeremy Zoll. I did my interview for the Twins from Argentina working for a non-profit via Whats-App. This has led me to coach at a level I never thought I would be at.
    TD: What has your experience been with the Twins so far? What have you appreciated about the approach of this organization and front office?
    MM: The biggest thing is it’s an authentic organization which treats people the right way. We want to win baseball games, that’s a priority, but we want to do it the right way and I try to live my life that way as well. To be part of an organization that operates that way is a great feeling, and that’s something we work to replicate within our pitching department. We’re always looking outside the box to answer the question ‘how can we be a little bit better tomorrow than we were today’? We approach the work with humility and healthy criticism. That dynamic is really exciting for me.
    TD: What is the process when you get access to a pitcher for the first time? Let’s say a guy is claimed off waivers or promoted. What kind of process do you go through in beginning a working relationship with that player?
    MM: Two very different processes. If a guy is claimed, the first thing we do is look at where he’s been at, how has been throwing, what are his trends? We’ll look at K:BB ratio, pitch usage, movement plots, how were his last few outings? Most importantly is connecting with the player, letting him know we are excited to work with him, we’re here for him and want to help him get better. We gather as an organization to determine how he best fits and what’s the best direction to go with a new player. Number one thing, I’m going to meet the player where he’s at. He’s going through a challenging time and I want him to feel comfortable.
    If a guy is promoted, the first thing is connecting with our AA pitching coaches, seeing where he's at and what he has been working on, his player plan and how we can help him move forward. We also want to know what does he respond well to, or not well to, is he analytically minded or do we want to keep things more simple?
    TD: How have y’all managed to balance pitcher workload this year? After an unprecedented lost season, how have you balanced giving guys the necessary innings while protecting arms?
    MM: It’s been a challenge. We’re taking on an obstacle we’ve never seen in baseball. We have to be really diligent. We’re talking to players regularly, we’re looking at velocities to see if they are tapering off and really just monitoring work loads as best we can. We are trying to balance and ensure guys continue to get their workload so they can develop and get better. It’s a fine line, we collaborate as a group and make the best action plan we possibly can for each individual guy.
    TD: What does the interplay look like between St. Paul and the MLB organization and front office as far as player development goes? How do you arrive at what guys need to work on?
    MM: It’s definitely collaborative. It’s about what our data analysts see, our pitching coordinators see, what our coaches see who are with guys more than anyone else. All of those things come together with what the major league staff sees as well. We also get the input of the player and try and put that all together and make the best game plan possible. We ask ‘what is the next step forward for this guy to be an impact MLB arm?’ Sometimes that’s a mechanical goal, a pitch development goal, it could be an execution goal, but we want to make clear and defined goals to help guys with their development.
    TD: What are some of the nastiest pitches at AAA right now that Twins fans should be excited about for 2022 and beyond?
    MM: You look at a guy like Jovani Moran and see his changeup and say ‘good lord, that’s going to play for a while’. Cano, the sinker. His changeup has also really developed well this season. Drew Strotman is another. You have a big carry fastball there, a changeup with some good fade to it, and a slider which has performed well, but we think there is room for it to get even better. He’s got some big upside. Also Joe Ryan, the invisible fastball which he demonstrated over the last few weeks with the Olympic team. There’s a lot of guys we’re excited over the next few weeks, next few months, and next few years.
    TD: Speaking of Joe Ryan, has he joined up with the team yet? What is the plan for incorporating him into the rotation?
    MM: He’s in transit. He’ll be jumping into the team in the next two weeks.
    TD: Last question. It’s also noticeable from your presence on social media that servant leadership is important to you. Is there any work or organization you are involved with that Twins Daily readers can learn about and support?
    MM: I appreciate that. Baseball Miracles is an awesome group. It’s an organization I’ve worked with for eight years now. I think the most important thing is finding ways to go out and serve your community. It’s been a challenging year for people, whether through COVID or anything else. Seeing how we can be servants to the world around us, making the world a little bit better whether that’s signing an autograph for a kid or holding doors for people. These simple acts of random kindness go a long way in our lives, seek to serve and make the world a better place. Thank you for asking that question.
    TD: Mike, thank you so much for your generosity, time, and insight, keep up the great work in Saint Paul.
    If Twins Daily readers want to learn more about, or donate to Baseball Miracles, you can find their website here. You can follow Mike on Twitter at @mmccarthy35. 
  13. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for an article, TD Top Twins Prospect Rankings (Post Draft and Trade Deadline): 15-11   
    15. Noah Miller - INF
    Age: 18
    ETA: 2025
    2021 Stats: n/a
    2021 Mid-Season Ranking: n/a
    There is little to say about Noah Miller considering the fact that he is just 18, and has not played a game of professional baseball yet. The Twins decided to select Miller with the final pick in the 1st round of the 2021 MLB Draft as they believe in his immense potential as a switch-hitting, athletic shortstop. Oh, and also because he hit .608 as a high school senior. No, that is not a typo. Miller will certainly require a significant amount of time to develop, but the end result could be a truly dynamic middle-infielder who could anchor the top of a lineup for years. Just make sure to keep his name tucked away for future reference.
    14. Drew Strotman - RHSP
    Age: 24
    ETA: 2021
    2021 Stats: 67 ⅔ IP, 3.59 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 4.14 FIP, 22.8 K%, 13.1 BB%
    2021 Mid-Season Ranking: n/a
    Drew Strotman is perhaps the most polarizing prospect the Twins received at the trade deadline. Fangraphs has him placed optimistically as the team’s 7th best prospect (and on the edge of the top 100 prospect list), while MLB.com ranked him as the franchise's 15th best prospect-a number much closer to what we decided. At any rate, Strotman is an exciting combination of talent and seasoning. A brand new cutter has deepened what was already an intriguing repertoire of major league quality. He has already been added to the 40-man roster so his promotion to the major league club is simply a formality at this point. The walks are high, but Eric Longenhagen wrote that Strotman is “likely a big league starter”. Lord knows that the Twins need as many of those as they can get.
    13. Gilberto Celestino - OF
    Age: 22
    ETA: 2021
    2021 Stats: (MLB): .136 AVG, .177 OBP, .288 SLG, 23 wRC+ (AA/AAA): .259 AVG, .338 OBP, .431 SLG, 107 WRC+
    2021 Mid-Season Ranking: 7
    Gilberto Celestino is the only player from this part of the list to play at the major league level and, well, he certainly seemed overwhelmed. The young outfielder was acquired by the Twins in the Ryan Pressly trade three years ago (holy bleep, it’s been three years already?), and it is quite clear that, while Celestino possesses quality tools, he needs more seasoning before he can succeed in the show. But fear not. Celestino is still just 22 years old and, as we all have seen over the past few years, toolsy center fielders often require an extended amount of time to realize their full potential. Celestino will play out the rest of 2021 at AAA (where he owns a 130 wRC+ in a small sample) and will be better prepared to potentially etch out a role on the 2022 Twins. 
    12. Matt Wallner - OF
    Age: 23
    ETA: 2022
    2021 Stats (A+): .281 AVG, .338 OBP, .548 SLG, 135 wRC+
    2021 Mid-Season Ranking: 10
    Matt Wallner was plucked from the backwoods of Minnesota by the Twins with the 39th overall pick of the 2019 draft. Well, that is not entirely accurate as the Twins neither physically plucked him, like one would with an apple, nor was he taken directly from the state (he played college ball at the University of Southern Mississippi), but the sentence sounds cool so it shall stay. (Editor's Note: Ummmm....) Anyways, Wallner was drafted as a high-strikeout guy with “light tower power,” and so far in his minor league career he has played… like a high strikeout guy with light tower power. He has been frustratingly limited to just over 30 games in 2021 due to a pesky wrist injury that proved to be more serious than previously believed. He had surgery on his hamate bone. But in the time he has played, Wallner has mashed. His nine homers over 148 plate appearances gives him about a 36 home run pace over 600 plate appearances (a typical full season), while his .548 slugging percentage would make him the 11th best qualified major leaguer by that stat. Simply put, a healthy Wallner can absolutely crush. 
    11. Josh Winder - RHSP
    Age: 24
    ETA: 2022
    2021 Stats (AA/AAA): 72 IP, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 3.41 FIP, 29.1 K%, 4.7 BB%
    2021 Mid-Season Ranking: 8
    Perhaps no prospect throughout the Twins’ system has seen his stock rise higher in 2021 than Josh Winder. Even the noted, uh, “strong opinion-holder”, Keith Law, admitted that he was anticipating watching Winder pitch in 2021. So far, Winder has not disappointed. He saw a tangible uptick in velocity while working out in 2020, and the upgrade has rippled throughout his entire pitch mix. The result was an utterly dominant stint at AA Wichita that saw him strike out more than 30% of the hitters he faced, walk less than 5% of them, and earn a trip to the MLB Futures Game. Batters hit a paltry .207 against him, and I can only imagine that hitters in the AA-Central North division threw an absolute rager of a party to celebrate his promotion to AAA. A shoulder injury has cut Winder’s playtime in AAA to just four meager starts, and it appears that the team is in no rush to bring Winder back in 2021; a mix of injuries and a desire to limit his innings total is the culprit here. In any case, Winder should be on everyone's radar as a starter who will make an impact in 2022. 
  14. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Andrew Thares for an article, Game Score: Twins 1, White Sox 0   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Ober 5.1 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    Homeruns: Polanco (21)
    Top 3 WPA: Ober (0.284), Minaya (0.188), Polanco (0.154)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Bailey Ober’s Excellent Start
    After a shaky first month or so of his MLB career, Bailey Ober has settled in nicely since the start of July, as he has posted a respectable 4.23 ERA with solid strikeout and walk numbers in his last six starts coming into today. Those number’s got even better after Ober put up what may have been his best start of the season.
    Ober had a strong first inning, as he got Cesar Hernandez to strikeout to leadoff the ball game. Then, after an Andrew Vaughn strikeout, he struck out Jose Abreu to end the first. In the second, Eloy Jimenez got a leadoff single to begin the inning, before Brian Goodwin flew out to center field for the first out of the inning. Ober then made a great play on a weak comebacker off the bat of Adam Engel that set up the 1-4-3 double play to end the inning.
    After two smooth innings to start the game, Bailey Ober found himself in a big spot facing Andrew Vaughn with runners on the corners and two outs. Ober was up for the challenge, however, and got Vaughn to swing and miss on three straight 94 MPH fastballs to get out of the jam.
    After another strong inning in the fourth, where he gave up just a lone single, Ober found himself in another dicey spot in the fifth. After a leadoff single, followed by one out walk, the White Sox were threatening with the top of their order due up. Pitching coach Wes Johnson came out to settle down his young right-hander. Like many times before it, whatever Johnson said must have worked, as Ober came back with two more strikeouts to get out of the jam once again.
    Jorge Polanco Goes Deep Again
    One of the few bright spots for Twins fans this season has been the play of Jorge Polanco, who has returned to his early 2019 form over the past three plus months of this season. Entering play today, Polanco had an OPS of .885 since the start of May. 
    Polanco has taken that to a whole new level so far in August, as he already had five home runs in just nine games entering play today. That hot streak continued again today, as Polanco went deep to the opposite field in the bottom of the sixth to give the Twins the 1-0 lead.
    He almost followed that up with another home run in the bottom of the eighth, that would have given the Twins a potentially huge insurance run. However, the ball hit right off of the top of the wall in right, and Polanco had to settle for a two out triple. Luis Arraez made a strong bid to drive him in, but his line drive held up just enough to be caught by White Sox center fielder Adam Engel.
    Twins Bats Were Cold
    Outside of the Jorge Polanco home run and triple, it was a rough day for Twins hitters at the plate. The other eight hitters in the Twins lineup went just 2-for-23 with 12 strikeouts and four walks. 
    Luis Arraez got one of those two hits, drilled a leadoff double to the left-center field gap to leadoff the second. However, the Twins failed to cash in on the early opportunity. 
    The other hit came from Trevor Larnach who got a two-out threat started with a single in the fifth. Andrelton Simmons followed that with a walk, before a wild pickoff attempt from White Sox pitcher Garrett Crochet allowed both Larnach and Simmons to advance. Unfortunately, that opportunity would not be taken advantage of as Max Kepler struck out to end the inning.
    The Bullpen Shuts the Door
    After Bailey Ober’s strong start, it was the bullpen’s job to seal the deal for the Twins win and that is exactly what they did today. Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya and Alex Colome all deserve some credit, as they each pitched exceptionally well. Collectively, they combined to go 3 and ⅔ innings, allowing zero runs on zero hits while striking out four and walking two.
    Bullpen Usage Chart

    What's Next?
    After back-to-back series wins against American League division leaders, the Twins will have an off day on Thursday before welcoming another American League division leader in the Tampa Bay Rays to town on Friday. Michael Pineda is scheduled to get the start for the Twins, while the Rays starter is still TBD.
  15. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, TD Top Twins Prospect Rankings (Post Draft and Trade Deadline): 16-20   
    20. IF Spencer Steer (23 years old)
    Season Stats (A+/AA): 79 G, .255/.363/.497 (.860), 19 HR, 11 2B, 2 3B, 18.9 K%, 12.7 BB%
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 16, 2021 Preseason: NA
    Steer was a 2019 third-round pick out of the University of Oregon. Steer’s drop in the rankings is more about the new players in the organization than about him having a poor performance. He started the year in Cedar Rapids, where he slashed .274/.409/.506 (915) in 45 games. The transition to Double-A has seen his OBP drop by 110 points, but he is still slugging .485. In his professional career, this is the first time he has been a year younger than the average age of the competition. At Cedar Rapids, he made nearly all his defensive starts at second base, and now he has been splitting time between second and third in Wichita.
    19. RHP Cole Sands (24 years old)
    Season Stats (AA): 48.1 IP (12 G), 2.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 13, 2021 Preseason: 15
    Sands immediately impacted the Twins organization after being taken in the fifth round back in 2018. While pitching at three different levels, he posted a sub-2.70 ERA with a 10.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. Sands missed over a month earlier in the season, and the team has slowly been increasing his workload in recent weeks. Since coming off the IL (5 G), he has posted a 2.70 ERA while holding batters to a .190/.262/.379 slash line. His strikeout totals are up this year which is a positive since he faces older batters in over 60% of his plate appearances.

    18. OF Misael Urbina (19 years old)
    Season Stats (A): 73 G, .193/.295/.294 (.589), 4 HR, 7 2B, 4 3B, 18.6 K%, 11.4 BB%
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 15, 2021 Preseason: 14
    Urbina was signed out of Venezuela during the 2018 International Signing Period for $2.75 million. As a 19-year old, he is making his stateside debut this season, and he has only faced younger pitchers in four out of his 323 plate appearances. Even facing older competition, he has shown an advanced eye at the plate and the ability to draw walks. Defensively, he has split time between center field and left field. Urbina has some of the best tools in the Twins system, and he is a player that should move up this list in the years to come.
    17. RHP Blayne Enlow (22 years old)
    Season Stats (A+): 14.2 IP (3 G), 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 14.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 11, 2021 Preseason: 10
    Enlow, a 2017 third-round pick, made quick work of High-A to start the season as he mowed down batters with career-high strikeout rate. Unfortunately, he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and will be out until the second half of 2022. Minnesota added pitching depth that will be ranked ahead of Enlow, but that doesn’t take anything away from his long-term potential.
    16. OF Brent Rooker (26 years old)
    Season Stats (AAA): 61 G, .239/.362/.546 (.908), 19 HR, 8 2B, 1 3B, 30.2 K%, 14.3 BB%
    Season Stats (MLB): 24 G, .168/.225/.358 (.583), 4 HR, 6 2B, 30.3 K%, 5.9 BB%
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 14, 2021 Preseason: 12
    Rooker was the 35th overall pick by Minnesota back in the 2017 MLB Draft, and now he’s found himself in a unique spot with the Twins. He has little left to prove at Triple-A as he has posted an OPS north of .900 in 2019 and 2021. His power might be the best in the entire Twins system, but questions remain about how regularly he can make contact. Minnesota is also concerned about him being a defensive liability, but the team has been using him in both corner outfield spots since his call-up. Following the Nelson Cruz trade, Rooker should stick in the Twins lineup for the rest of the season, so that the club can evaluate him for the long term.

    Check back this week for the rest of the Twins post-draft and post-trade deadline top-30 rankings. Feel free to discuss this group of prospects and ask questions.

    -Prospects 21-25
    -Prospects 26-30
  16. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jamie Cameron for an article, Game Score: Twins 4, White Sox 3   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Jax 6.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 10 K
    Homeruns: Astudillo (6)
    Top 3 WPA: Astudillo .283, Colome .169, Duffey .124

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    There was positive injury news for the Twins on Tuesday. Josh Donaldson returned to the lineup in the DH rule after hamstring tightness. Here’s how the Twins lined up against the White Sox.
    Additionally, there was a Byron Buxton sighting on the field during batting practice.
    The imminent return of Buxton will be a huge boon to a team looking to build on second-half of the season success stories.
    It was Griffin Jax who was the story for the Twins on Tuesday. The rookie set a career-high with ten strikeouts in six innings of work, including 14 swings and misses, both career highs.
    It was the Twins who jumped out to an early lead. Dallas Keuchel walk-loaded the bases in the first inning. A Luis Arraez single and Miguel Sano groundout gave the Twins a 2-0 lead after an inning. Arraez single raised his season average to .320. Combined with a wOBA of .344 and wRC+ of 119, the diminutive hitter has established himself as a premier contact hitter since his return from injury issues earlier in the season.

    The Twins lead quickly evaporated in the third inning. Griffin Jax made two mistakes in his six excellent innings, both were quickly dispatched for home runs by Adam Engel and Jose Abreu, giving the White Sox a 3-2 lead.
    Dallas Keuchel held the Twins in check after his early control issues, until the sixth inning. Keuchel made Willians Astudillo ‘bend the knee’, but not before La Tortuga deposited an inside pitch into the left-field bleachers, to restore the Twins lead at 4-3.
    The Twins bullpen continued its improved form, with scoreless innings from Jon Gant, Tyler Duffey, and Alexander Colome. The real story of the night, however, was Jax. Between Jax and Bailey Ober, the Twins have two effective starting pitchers who will battle for spots at the back of the 2022 starting rotation. Now that the Twins have given up the ghost of a playoff appearance in 2021, it’s time to look for reasons for optimism for 2022. One doesn’t have to look far.
    Bullpen Usage Chart
      FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT   Barnes 0 0 0 68 0 68   Duffey 20 0 15 0 15 50   Gant 17 13 0 0 11 41   Colomé 17 0 18 0 10 35   Garcia 0 0 0 32 0 32   Minaya 17 0 12 0 0 29   Coulombe 14 0 7 0 0 21   Thielbar 0 20 0 0 0 20   Vincent 0 0 0 0 0 0                 Postgame Interviews
    Next Up
    The Twins send Bailey Ober to the mound to face Lance Lynn on Wednesday. First pitch is at 12:10 CST.
  17. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, TD Top Twins Prospect Rankings (Post Draft and Trade Deadline): 25-21   
    25. RHP Chris Vallimont (24-years-old)
    Season Stats (High-A + Double-A): 4-4, 4.76 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 102 K, 40 BB, 6 HR
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 20, 2021 Preseason: NR
    Chris Vallimont has the physical profile of a modern day pitcher. He stands nearly 6-foot-6-inches tall with an athletic 220 pound frame that he uses to generate fastballs in the mid-90s to go along with a hammer curve (as well as the occasional slider and changeup). When he's on, there's a strong argument to be made that he has some of the most dynamic stuff in the Twins' system. However, he is a bit of an enigma. His peripheral numbers suggest that he is a better pitcher than what the surface-level stats say, the main anchor dragging him down being his walks. If he hones his command, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he develops into, say, a No. 3 starter. If he doesn't, he may wind up in the bullpen long-term. There are few prospects in the Twins' system with more future outcome variance than Vallimont. 
    24: RHP Louie Varland (23-years-old)
    Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): 6-2, 1.70 ERA, 69 IP, 98 K, 25 BB, 2 HR
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NR
    Louie Varland is one of those Twins prospects who has shot up the rankings this season due to sustained dominance. Varland was an unknown prospect when the Twins selected him in the 15th round of the 2019 draft out of Concordia-St. Paul. He started out the 2021 season with the Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels before earning a promotion to the High-A Cedar Rapids Kernels where he rattled off nearly 20 straight innings of scoreless ball to begin his run at that level. Varland primarily relies on a fastball-curveball pitch mix. His fastball plays well both up and low in the zone; it presents with decent rise when elevated and greater sinking action when down. His most likely future role is as a reliever, but he has the raw stuff — and performance, to this point — to suggest he'll be effective in the high minors and, possibly, the big leagues.
    23: UTIL Nick Gordon (25-years-old)
    Season Stats (MLB): .250/.301/.333, 37 G, 3 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB, 26/5 K:BB
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: NR, 2021 Preseason: NR
    To say that Nick Gordon was an after thought on the minds of Twins' fans entering the 2021 season would be an understatement. However, a strong showing at Triple-A combined with a fast start when promoted to the parent squad quickly got him back into people's minds. Gordon primarily played shortstop in the minors; however, the rash of injuries suffered by Twins' outfielders thrust Gordon into some minutes in centerfield. While he didn't provide Gold Glove caliber defense, he did show enough to suggest that he may have a brighter future as a true utility man than most thought. Gordon doesn't do anything great, but also doesn't do anything well-below average. He may not be an everyday-type of player, but he should find himself with a role in the majors — though perhaps ultimately not with the Twins — for years to come.
    22: 1B/DH Aaron Sabato (22-years-old)
    Season Stats (Low-A): .181/.365/.309, 75 G, 13 2B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 101/67 K:BB
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 9, 2021 Preseason: 8
    The tale of Aaron Sabato is virtually the opposite of that of Varland and Gordon. Sabato was known as a bopper with a good eye at the plate when the Twins selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 draft but so far only his peepers have translated. Sabato has struggled to keep pace with Low-A pitching. His strikeout numbers are through the roof and his power has evaporated compared to what he displayed while with the Tar Heels. To put it bluntly, not many minor leaguers have struggled as much as he has to date and proceeded to carve out a productive major league career. Sabato's walk totals are encouraging, but he needs to show more the rest of the way.
    21: INF Edouard Julien (22-years-old)
    Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): .251/.423/.449, 78 G, 21 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 25 SB, 98/73 K:BB
    Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NR
    Alright, back to being positive. Edouard Julien is an on-base machine with some pop who has displayed the ability to play multiple positions defensively, though he is probably best at second base. He's also stolen far more bases this year than many thought possible when he came out of Auburn University. Julien's overall productivity has declined some since his promotion to Cedar Rapids — and, thus, the removal of Robo-umps — however, he has done more than enough to justify his placement on this list. Not bad for a former 18th round pick.
    What do you think of this set of five prospects? Future big-leaguers? 
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  18. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, In Defense of the Twins Front Office   
    The Twins hired Derek Falvey (who hired Thad Levine) in the wake of a disastrous 103-loss season in 2016. By that point, the Twins had gone six straight years without making the playoffs, and during that span they lost more games than any team in baseball. 
    The following year, Minnesota stunningly reached the postseason as a wild-card team. Then they missed out in 2018, still finishing second, before rebounding in 2019 with one of the greatest seasons in franchise history. The Twins followed in 2020 with another division title. 
    To run all that back: this front office took over a team that had gone 407-565 (.419) with zero playoff appearances in its previous six years, and went 300-246 (.549) with three playoff appearances in the next four. 
    Does their success owe somewhat to the foundation built before they arrived? Of course. No one would deny that Terry Ryan and Co. had cultivated an impressive nucleus before being ousted. But during those years, the Twins repeatedly failed in the draft, failed in acquisitions, and failed in player development. The results bore that out.
    Let's be clear about something here: This current regime was so successful and so impressive through four years that they were repeatedly poached of talent, both in the front office and the coaching staffs they assembled. Not only that, but Falvey and Levine themselves have been courted by big-name franchises like the Red Sox and Phillies. 
    What did they say, according to publicized reports on the matter? 
    "No thanks, we're going to see through what we're building here."
    And so, to see flocks of fans calling for their heads because of one bad season, which is no worse than the ones we saw repeatedly before they arrived ... it's a little hard to take. 
    Falvey became the youngest head exec in the league when he took Minnesota's top job. Currently he is 38 years old, which is three years younger than the DH he traded to Tampa Bay last month. Up until now he never experienced serious adversity during his tenure, which speaks to how smoothly things have gone in the first four years. 
    The same could be said, by the way, for his managerial choice Rocco Baldelli, who was named Manager of the Year in 2019 (as the youngest skipper in baseball, with no experience in the role) and then won a second straight division title in his second season.
    These people have shown their mettle. They've won. A lot. I realize they haven't won in the playoffs, and that sucks, but they haven't had nearly the opportunity of their predecessors. 
    Are we not going to give them a chance to learn from failure?
    Obviously the free agent pitching additions from the past winter have failed at every level. But this front office has made plenty of good and savvy pickups in the past, which helped fuel the success of high-quality staffs the last two years. And in any case, Falvey wasn't really hired to sign pitchers. He was hired to develop them.
    On that front, the jury is still out. This operation was four years in when a pandemic came along and wiped out an entire minor-league season. The fact that Minnesota's upper minors are currently loaded with intriguing high-upside arms would suggest the mission was on track, and is just now getting back on the rails. 
    Soon we'll start seeing those arms (along with the ones acquired at the deadline this year) ushered into majors, and at that point we'll be able to make real assessments. But until then, you're judging an incomplete project. 
    This reassembled baseball ops department has been working ahead of schedule basically since they took over a moribund franchise in despair. They hit a setback this year, and it's been painful. Let's give them a chance to get back on track in the wake of a major disruptive event and humbling follow-up season.
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    MN_ExPat reacted to Lucas Seehafer PT for an article, Minor League Report (8/8): (Gonna Make You Sweat) EVERYBODY PITCH NOW   
    RHP Matt Canterino assigned to Low-A Fort Myers on rehab assignment LHP Lewis Thorpe activated from IL, assigned to Triple-A St. Paul Saints Sentinel
    Louisville 4, St. Paul 3
    Box Score
    SP: Lewis Thorpe: 2 ⅔ IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Mark Contreras: 2-for-3, 2B, BB
    Jose Miranda’s incredible streak has come to an end. The highly-touted Twins prospect went 0-for-5 on the day and did not reach base, marking the first time this has happened during his 35 games at Triple-A. Mark Contreras contributed the team’s only multi-hit game while Gilberto Celestino, Ben Rortvedt, and Drew Stankiewicz all drove in an RBI.
    Lewis Thorpe got the start after being activated from the IL. He looked every bit as much as the Lewis Thorpe we saw earlier in the season; fastball in the upper-80s, touching 90, with decent secondary stuff. Jovani Moran, Yennier Cano, and Kyle Barraclough combined for 5 ⅔ innings of scoreless ball and struck out five. 
    Wind Surge Wisdom
    Wichita 5, Midland 2 
    Box Score
    SP: Cole Sands: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Austin Martin: 3-for-4; Roy Morales: 2-for-4, 2B; Jermaine Palacios: 2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI
    Cole Sands started his second game of the week and quickly settled into a groove after allowing a solo home run in the first inning. He surrendered only two more hits the rest of the way and struck out five en route to picking up the win. Zach Neff and Chris Nunn combined to throw the final four innings, striking out four and allowing one run.
    Austin Martin continued his hot streak since joining the Twins by picking up three hits in four at-bats as the DH. Martin is slashing .400/.571/.500 with two doubles, six walks, and only a single strikeout since being traded. Jermaine Palacios picked up his 12th double of the season and improved his OPS to .818, further cementing his argument for a promotion.
    Kernels Nuggets
    Quad Cities 7, Cedar Rapids 5
    Box Score
    SP: Cody Lawyerson: 2 ⅔ IP, 6 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 3 K
    HR: Wander Javier (10)
    Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino: 4-for-5, RBI
    Seven of the nine Kernels that came to the plate on Sunday afternoon picked up hits, but only Yunior Severino grabbed more than one. The 21-year-old formerly-hyped prospect has been en fuego since being called up to High-A, having accumulated a .375 batting average and .944 OPS in 11 games. Fellow formerly-hyped prospect Wander Javier contributed his 10th home run of the season.
    On the mound, it was yet another group effort. Cody Lawyerson started, but was removed in the third inning after being roughed up. Ryan Shreve, Osiris German, Erik Manoah, Jr., and Derek Molina finished the game, but served up three more runs. As a group, the Kernels struckout seven and walked three.
    Mussel Matters
    Dunedin 3, Fort Myers 0
    Box Score
    SP: Matt Canterino: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: None
    The Mighty Mussels must have had tomorrow’s off-day on their mind as they managed only a single hit — a single by Jesus Feliz — and struck out 13 times collectively during their loss to the Blue Jays.
    On the bright side, pitching prospect Matt Canterino made his first appearance since being shut down with an elbow injury in late May and tossed two perfect innings. Sawyer Gipson-Long came on in relief for Canterino and pitched the next four innings, striking out six while allowing two earned runs; he was ultimately tagged with the loss.
    Complex Chronicles
    FCL Twins No Game Scheduled.
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cole Sands: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
    Twins Daily Co-Minor League Hitters of the Day – Austin Martin: 3-for-4; Yunior Severino: 4-for-5, RBI
    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL)
    #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain)
    #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch
    #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K (Fort Myers)
    #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) — 0-for-5
    #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 0-for-4
    #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 0-for-4, RBI
    #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement)
    #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 0-for-3, BB
    #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5
    #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery)
    #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – Did not pitch
    #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K
    #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 0-for-4, BB
    #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-for-4
    #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 1-for-4
    #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5, HR (10)
    #18 – Alerick Soularie (FCL Twins) – Did not play
    #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow)
    #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch
    FCL Twins vs. FCL Braves — TBD
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  20. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, Week in Review: New-Look Rotation   
    Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/2 thru Sun, 8/8
    Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 48-64)
    Run Differential Last Week: +2 (Overall: -73)
    Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (17.5 GB)
    Last Week's Game Recaps:
    Game 107 | MIN 7, CIN 5: Garver, Polanco Power Exciting Win
    Game 108 | CIN 6, MIN 5: Twins Comeback Falls Short
    Game 109 | MIN 5, HOU 3: Jax Earns First MLB Win as Starter
    Game 110 | MIN 5, HOU 4: Twins Rally from Early Deficit
    Game 111 | HOU 4, MIN 0: Lineup Has No Answers for Houston Pitching
    Game 112 | MIN 7, HOU 5: Polanco's 2 Homers Lift Twins to Series Win
    Sidelined since early June by a bad hammy strain, Rob Refsnyder finally returned from the Injured List on Thursday, and has since resumed his role as semi-regular center fielder in Byron Buxton's absence. Refsnyder's activation led to Nick Gordon being optioned to Triple-A, which caused some consternation among fans who wished to see Gordon get a real shot.
    I get it. I like Gordon as a person and would love to see him succeed. It can feel hard to understand what's holding him back from more playing time on a bad team that's going nowhere. But this move makes it all the clearer how the Twins view him, and ... can you really blame them? 
    While the speed is nice, Gordon has simply shown no signs that he can be an impactful contributor on a major-league team. He's a capable defender at several spots, but nowhere is he a standout, and the Twins seem to have zero interest in playing him at short. When you combine that defensive profile with a completely punchless bat, there isn't much value to be found. During his time in the majors, Gordon put 70 balls in play and recorded one barrel. He slashed .176/.263/.235 in his final 20 games. He lacks any discipline at the plate, offering at 45.8% pitches outside the zone, which is second on the team behind (of course) Willians Astudillo.
    It's not happening for Gordon this year. Now that doesn't preclude the possibility that he works his ass off during the winter, bulks up, and comes out next spring with a significantly bolstered skill set. We'll see if the Twins hold him on the 40-man roster and pursue that avenue. For now, the sad fact is that Refsnyder has a better chance of being a valuable contributor on the 2022 Twins.
    In other roster news of the week: Another right-handed reliever picked up off waivers. Just days after snagging Edgar Garcia following his DFA from Cincinnati, the Twins claimed former Astro Ralph Garza Jr., who was immediately optioned to Triple-A to join Garcia on the Saints.
    Garza, like many pitchers the Twins have added of late, has intriguing attributes and big strikeout rates in the minors, but also some clear flaws. There's no particular reason to think he or Garcia – discarded cast-offs from other organizations – will turn to anything useful. 
    But then again, the same thing applies in the bullpen as in the rotation: the Twins are going to need help from the minors and every lottery ticket helps. It's a numbers game and the team is improving its odds.
    With veterans José Berríos and J.A. Happ departing at the deadline, Minnesota plugged in Griffin Jax and Charlie Barnes, who join incumbent rookie Bailey Ober in a suddenly very inexperienced rotation. It's quite the departure from Opening Day, when Berríos was their youngest starter.
    While veteran holdovers Kenta Maeda and Michael Pineda are interesting to track for their own reasons, the youth movement is now the central focus for the starting corps. None of the three rookies currently in the rotation are top prospects, but in the numbers game, it's all about letting them run and seeing if one emerges. 
    This past week, the numbers showed some things to like from Jax and Ober:
    Jax spun 5 ⅓ innings of one-run ball in Houston on Thursday against the highest-scoring offense in the majors. (Albeit one missing several key bats.) He allowed only three hits and one walk in an efficient and impressive performance. Jax recorded zero strikeouts and only three swinging strikes in the outing, which is concerning, but he did pile up six strikeouts on 16 whiffs against the White Sox two starts prior, so he has at least shown the capability to miss bats. In his past three starts dating back to that one, Jax has a 1.88 ERA with six hits allowed in 14 ⅓ frames. Ober's start on Saturday was a mixed bag. On the one hand, we saw his strengths on display, with five strikeouts and one walk pushing his outstanding seasonal ratio to 56-to-15 ratio in 52 ⅓ innings. Ober's 3.7 K/BB ranks second among Twins starters behind Pineda. Ober also gave up two home runs in his five innings of work, surfacing his biggest weakness, but in general he too has been on a good track. In his past three starts, Ober has a 3.77 ERA and 15-to-3 K/BB ratio in 14 ⅓ frames. Several relievers also had strong showings as the bullpen rebounded from a very ugly run the previous week. Jorge Alcala allowed one hit (a home run) in three innings of work, striking out six of the 11 batters he faced. Alex Colomé worked four scoreless appearances and picked up three saves. Juan Minaya struck out eight over 4 ⅓ shutout innings between three appearances, allowing just two hits.
    On the offensive side, it was a relatively quiet week with a few standout performances. In spite of his barking knees, Luis Arraez continues to rake; he notched hits in every game he played and went 10-for-17 overall to raise his average to .318, which would rank sixth in baseball if qualified. Jorge Polanco drilled three more homers, and leads the American League in long balls over the past month. It's a remarkable turnaround from a player whose power had been totally sapped.
    Miguel Sanó did not have a particularly strong week overall, but he did make a game-saving defensive play at third on Friday night, and did this to a baseball on Sunday:
    While Jax and Ober came through with encouraging performances, Barnes was less inspiring. Facing Cincinnati on Wednesday, the left-hander was knocked around for five earned runs on seven hits and two walks in four innings of work. Through two major-league starts he has a 6.23 ERA with three strikeouts and three walks in 8 ⅔ innings. He has induced only seven swinging strikes on 148 pitches between the two outings (5%).
    Barnes isn't embarrassing as a spot-starter type but it'd be nice to get someone in that fifth rotation slot with a little more upside. The Twins are slowly starting to get healthier in their starting pitching ranks, so maybe a few options will emerge in the coming weeks. Lewis Thorpe was activated from a lengthy IL stint and started Sunday for the Saints. Randy Dobnak was reportedly doing some "light throwing at Target Field" on Sunday morning, suggesting he's on the comeback trail.
    I realize these names aren't going to have folks leaping with excitement but they both have a better chance of factoring significantly into the 2022 rotation than Barnes.
    Brent Rooker cooled off following a red-hot start to his second stint with the Twins this year, going just 3-for-22, although he continued to flash power with all three hits going for doubles. Selectiveness at the plate will be the key thing to watch from Rooker, and he's leaving much to be desired in that area. He's not working into enough favorable counts and when at-bats end with pitchers ahead, he's just 1-for-29 this season. 
    Alas, Rooker looks like an unstoppable offensive force in comparison to Andrelton Simmons. Anyone does. Simmons just continues sinking to new depths, with a 2-for-18 week dropping his slash line to a pitiful .216/.280/.275. His last extra-base hit came on July 2nd, 30 games ago, and since then he has a .355 OPS. 
    There's no point in continuing to run him out there. Remaining money owed is unfortunately a sunk cost. The Twins would be better off sliding Polanco back over to short for the rest of the season and giving the reps at second base to someone like Arraez or Gordon or even Jose Miranda.
    When they acquired him as the headliner in the Berríos trade, I wrote about why Austin Martin is a prospect very much worth getting excited about. Since the trade, he's been doing plenty to fuel the hype.
    Following a three-hit game for the Wichita Wind Surge on Sunday, Martin is now batting .400 with a .571 on-base percentage since coming over to the Twins organization. His eye at the plate is outrageously good, as illustrated by a 1-to-6 K/BB ratio in six games with Wichita. He has proven already to be a playmaker in the outfield and on the basepaths.  
    Since the start of July, Martin has reached base in 52% of his plate appearances. That's no tiny sample. The idea of him complementing Arraez at the top of order, in front of a proven pack of power hitters, is beyond tantalizing. How far is it from becoming a reality? Next year seems likely, and maybe even from the start. But in order to make Martin a viable candidate for Opening Day, the Twins will need to take some preparatory steps. I'll be quite curious to see if he joins the club as a September call-up, or at least gets a late-season look in Triple-A. 
    His defensive profile makes Martin an especially intriguing piece in the team's planning. Could he take over in center field if Buxton is traded this offseason? Maybe Martin steps in at second with Polanco pivoting back to short. Or perhaps, as I posited in my theoretical 2022 lineup on Twitter, left field is Martin's best initial entry point into the majors.
    It bums me out to look ahead at the schedule right now. If things had gone as planned, this would've been an absolutely crucial and thrilling stretch: The Twins, returning home from their longest road trip of the year, face off against the White Sox, Rays, and Cleveland, in consecutive series at Target Field. Could you imagine the stakes and intensity if Minnesota was in contention?!
    Alas, they are not. So all we can really look forward to is the return of Nelson Cruz to Target Field in another uniform. Hooray.
    MONDAY, 8/9: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lucas Giolito v. LHP Charlie Barnes
    TUESDAY, 8/10: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – LHP Dallas Keuchel v. RHP Griffin Jax
    WEDNESDAY, 8/11: WHITE SOX @ TWINS – RHP Lance Lynn v. RHP Bailey Ober
    FRIDAY, 8/13: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Shane McClanahan v. RHP Michael Pineda
    SATURDAY, 8/14: RAYS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Wacha v. RHP Kenta Maeda
    SUNDAY, 8/15: RAYS @ TWINS – LHP Josh Fleming v. LHP Charlie Barnes
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  21. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - July 2021   
    Following a non-existent 2020 minor league season, the line between reliever and starter continues to be blurred for prospects. That being said, a few pitchers were used more regularly out of the bullpen and were able to separate themselves statistically. 
    Before exploring the top four relievers, here are three Honorable Mentions:
    Jordan Gore, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 8 walks, 21 strikeouts Osiris German, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 6 walks, 23 strikeouts Ryan Mason, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 0.82 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 10 H, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts.  THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS
    #4 - RHP Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 22 K
    Molina was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round back in 2017. He ended the 2019 season at High-A and that’s where he’s spent all of 2021. Things didn’t start off great for him during the 2021 campaign as he entered the month of July with a 5.46 ERA with opponents getting on base over 33% of the time against him. There were some positive signs as his strikeout totals were high (40 K in 29 2/3 innings). He seemed to put it all together in July as was asked to pitch two innings or more in every appearance. Opponents were only able to hit .190/.257/.286 (.543), and his five walks were the fewest he’s had in any month. Righties really struggle against Molina as he has held them to a .190 average with 35 strikeouts in 100 at-bats this season. His numbers could have looked even better if he hadn’t allowed two earned runs on the last day of the month.
    #3 - LHP Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints - 8 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 34 K
    Moran joined the Twins in 2015 as a 7th round pick from Puerto Rico, and the development of his dominant changeup have made him a reliever to keep an eye on. He made his first five appearances at Triple-A during July, where he is over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He posted some dominant numbers during the month as he faced a total of 71 batters and compiled 34 strikeouts. Yes, he struck out nearly 50% of the batters he faced during the month. Also, he was asked to pitch more than one inning in every appearance during July. Batters struggled to do anything against him as he held them to a .094/.183/.203 slash line. With him now in St. Paul, it is not hard to imagine him making his big league debut before season’s end. 
    #2 - LHP Denny Bentley - Fort Myers Mighty Mussels - 11 G, 1.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 8 H, 8 BB, 21 K
    Bentley, a 33rd round pick back in 2018, was the June Relief Pitcher of the Month, so it’s no surprise to see his name back near the top of the list. For the second straight month, batters hit under .145 against him and got on base only 25% of the time. All three of his earned runs this month came in one appearance as he was asked to make a spot start back on July 6. That means he ended the month with eight straight scoreless appearances. Even as a lefty, Bentley allows a .705 OPS against left-handed hitters, which is nearly 240 points higher than his OPS versus righties. Since he’s pitched at Low-A for the entire season, one has to wonder if he will make the jump to High-A during the season’s second half. 
    And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is:
    RHP Erik Manoah Jr. - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 20 K
    Manoah might not be a familiar name to Twins fans because he wasn’t even in the organization at season’s start. He began the year pitching in independent baseball as part of the Atlantic League, but he impressed enough to catch the eye of the Twins organization. Originally, he was a 13th round pick of the Mets and he pitched parts of three seasons for that organization before joining the Angels organization. He topped out at High-A with Los Angeles and ended 2019 pitching in the American Association. 
    As the calendar turned to July, Manoah was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he made an immediate impact. Across nine appearances, he only allowed one run and he held batters to hitting .140/.241/.180 (.421). Lefties have only been able to combine for a .313 OPS when facing Manoah. Also, he seems to buckle down in pressure situations as he has 24 strikeouts in 43 at-bats with runners on base. Because of his stints in independent leagues, all but one of his at-bats this season has come against younger batters. Other players might have quit after multiple years in independent leagues, but now he is back on the professional map. And yes, his younger brother Alek pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays.
    As the Twins have seen this year, an organization can never have too much relief pitching. All of these players had strong month and some may be worthy of promotions in the weeks ahead. 
    Congratulations to Erik Manoah Jr., the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2021.
  22. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (8/4): Sabato Blasts, Martin’s Heroics   
    St. Paul 12, Louisville 2
    Box Score
    Andrew Albers took the ball for the Saints, and he twirled an absolute gem. Working seven strong, he allowed eight hits but limited the damage to just a single run on a solo shot. Albers also punched out five and walked just one batter.
    Trailing after the top half of the first, the Saints quickly erased the deficit on a Mark Contreras two-run blast, his 11th of the year. In the third, Damek Tomscha doubled with the bases loaded and brought everyone home, pushing the St. Paul lead to 5-1.
    Contreras wasn’t done adding for St. Paul as his sac fly in the 5th inning allowed Tomas Telis to scamper home. Jose Miranda then continued his hot hitting and contributed an RBI single to score Roberto Pena.
    Up 7-1 in the 7th inning, Jimmy Kerrigan blasted his 13th home run of the season and was followed by a Tomscha dinger making it back-to-back jacks. After a Louisville run scored in the 8th inning, the Saints added further distance. Gilberto Celestino crushed his second dinger for St. Paul, a three-run shot, and the final tally sat at 12-2.

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

  23. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, The Twins Bought Low on Austin Martin   
    Austin Martin is a highly-regarded prospect and has been since well before he was drafted 5th overall by Toronto in 2020. Many evaluators even saw Martin as the top hitter of the entire draft. He was arguably the most talented prospect to change jerseys at this year’s deadline as well. Making it all the more incredible is the Twins not only received Martin in their Berrios deal, but also another top 100 prospect in right handed pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson. It seemed too good to be true at the time, and it may be worthwhile to consider how the Twins talked the Blue Jays into parting with a player who was drafted 5th overall just a year ago.
    Contact Concerns
    In his senior season at Vanderbilt, Austin Martin struck out just twice in 69 plate appearances against some of the best collegiate pitching in the country. It set him apart from the typical college masher as a savant when it came to bat-to-ball skills. Such a skillset comes with a high floor which is likely why Toronto was aggressive enough to assign Martin to AA in his professional debut in 2021.
    His 2021 season hasn’t been a complete disaster, but it has raised some eyebrows. Martin has struck out over 20% of the time which was an outcome not many scouts saw coming. Some attribute it to his passive approach which while leading him to a near 15% walk rate, may also get him unnecessarily deep into counts that he can’t battle his way out of. Martin may need to find a happy medium between drawing his walks and being just aggressive enough to take advantage of hittable pitches early in counts.
    Impacting the Baseball:
    You typically hear of prospects “flashing plus power”, whereas Martin has been cited to flash average power. Given his eye at the plate and impressive bat-to-ball skills, the Twins won’t need him to become a 40 home run hitter in order to be a success. That being said, his .383 slugging % in 2021 paired with an 8 mph drop in average exit velocity has been enough to cause worry among some scouts. It’s easier to develop power as a player ages than it is elite contact ability, and the Twins will be counting on Martin to do so to some extent as he continues to inch closer to the Major League level.
    Defensive Future:
    By almost all accounts, Martin is not the Twins shortstop of the future. While athletic and soft handed, his arm may be lacking for the most important position in the infield. While listed as a shortstop, he played third base for much of his senior year before being moved to center field due to throwing issues by year’s end. Scouts have yet to come to much of a conclusion in regards to Austin Martin the center fielder.
    The Twins will surely get a closer look at their new top two prospect at shortstop, but don’t be surprised to see them pivot to trying him as an heir to the center field position in the case of a Buxton departure. A player of such a skillset just doesn’t slot in well to the traditionally power-heavy corner positions in the outfield. Such a lack of clarity on a defensive future is enough to rub some of the prospect shine away on a 22 year old. 
    Austin Martin is certainly an incredibly exciting prospect and one that isn’t too far off from the Majors in all likelihood. There are further questions that have been raised in the last year about his ceiling however that without a doubt contributed to the Twins ability to receive both him and a highly-regarded pitching prospect. 
    The front office admitted they were enormous fans of Martin during the 2020 draft but had no shot at drafting him. While his stock hasn’t crashed, Falvine and company have bought relatively low on a prospect that caught their eye a year ago and now have the opportunity to develop a possible cornerstone of the next great Minnesota Twins team. Can the Twins come out on the winning end of the gamble they made on trading away their home grown ace?
    — Latest Twins coverage from our writers
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  24. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review: Complex Struggles but Success Everywhere Else   
    Be sure to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday, and then jump into the minor league week. 
    Before we get started, let’s check out the FCL Twins game on Monday. There were no transactions announced on Monday. 
    FCL Twins Talk
    FCL Twins 0, FCL Pirates Black 3
    Box Score 
    On Monday, the FCL Twins fell to 6-18 despite a nice start from a rehabbing Lewis Thorpe. The lefty from Australia tossed three scoreless, hitless innings. He walked one and struck out four batters. Danny Moreno came up a run in the fourth on a hit and two walks. Matt Mullenbach gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits in 1 2/3 innings. Cole Bellair got the final four outs, two on strikeouts. The Twins managed just four hits in the game. Yonardy Soto’s double was the lone extra-base hit. 
    With that, let’s look at Week 13 in the Twins minor leagues: 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (3-3, hosting Indianapolis), overall (40-37)
    Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (3-3, @ NW Arkansas), overall (44-34)
    High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (4-2, @ Wisconsin), overall (44-34)
    Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (1-2,@ Clearwater), overall (40-35) 
    Complex League FCL Twins: Week (1-4), overall (6-18)

    Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. 
    Twins Minor League Week in Review: Second Half Success  Scouting Twins Prospects: Jose Miranda  Tuesday: Everybody Hits, Sometimes…  Wednesday: Bombas Across the Board  Thursday: Saints Hold Serve Twins Prospect Joe Ryan Excels in Olympic Debut  Twins Acquire Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson  Twins Acquire Evan Sisk  Twins Claim Edgar Garcia off Waivers  Twins Acquire Alex Scherff  Friday: You Win Some, You Lose Some, Sometimes There’s COVID 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin  The Twins Have Got to Make Their Loaded Farm System Count  5 Things To Know About Twins Pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson  Saturday: A New Prospect Approaches  Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - July 2021  Sunday: Tyler Beck Dazzles for Kernels, Surge Win a Thriller  Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - July 2021 
    We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 13 performances
    Twins Player of the Week: Michael Helman, Cedar Rapids Kernels      
    Helman played in six games last week for the Kernels and hit .435/.500/.652 (1.152) with a triple and a home run in 26 plate appearances. In 71 games this season, he has hit .237/.333/.420 (.754) with 13 doubles and ten home runs. At least twice this season, Helman has ended a game in walk-off fashion. 
    Helman was the Twins 11th round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M. 
    Twins Pitcher of the Week: Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels       
    It has been a breakout year for St. Paul native and Concordia University alum Louie Varland. He began the season dominating in Ft. Myers, and after throwing five shutout innings this week for the Kernels, he has begun his Cedar Rapids tenure with 16 scoreless innings. He was the Twins choice for Pitcher of the Week, and he was Twins Daily’s choice for Starting Pitcher of the Month for July. Click the link for more information on the hard-throwing right-hander. 
    Other Strong Performances this Week
    St. Paul Saints
    Jimmy Kerrigan was named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month, and he ended it with a strong week. In six games, he hit .391/.423/.696 (1.119) with a double and two home runs. Rob Refsnyder played four rehab games. He hit .500/.600/1.063 (1.663) with three doubles and two homers. Keon Broxton played four games and hit .333/.412/.800 (1.212) with a double and two homers. Jose Miranda played five games and hit .409/.480/.636 (1.116) with two doubles and a homer. 
    On the mound, Matt Shoemaker tossed seven shutout innings in his start. He gave up just two hits, walked two and struck out six batters. Rob Whalen returned and tossed two perfect innings over two games. In his start last Tuesday, Chandler Shepherd gave up two hits over seven scoreless innings. 
    Wichita Wind Surge
    Spencer Steer had been struggling in Wichita since his promotion, other than home runs. In five games last week, he hit .444/.565/1.056 (1.621) with three doubles, a triple and two home runs. BJ Boyd played all six games and hit .429/.448/.679 (1.127) with a double and two home runs. DJ Burt played in four games and hit .357/.550/.500 (1.050) with two doubles. Chris Williams hit .357 and had a double and a home run. 
    Chris Nunn made his Twins organizational debut this week. He struck out seven batters in 3 2/3 innings over two games. 
    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Yunior Severino was promoted to the Kernels and in his five games, he hit .412/.524/.647 (1.171) with four doubles and four walks. Matt Wallner played in five games. He hit .304/.304/.783 (1.087) with two doubles and three home runs. Edouard Julien hit just .217, but he posted a .976 OPS because his five hits included two doubles and three home runs. 
    Tyler Beck tossed five scoreless innings in his start. He gave up two hits and two walks, but struck out five. Zach Featherstone continues to dominate. He pitched in three games and had a hold and two saves. In four innings, he struck out seven and didn’t allow a run. Tyler Watson gave up only an unearned run over his five innings in his start. Erik Manoah, Jr., struck out eight batters in 3 2/3 scoreless innings. 
    Ft. Myers Might Mussels
    Obviously when the team played just three games, it’s hard to make too much out of anything. Charlie Mack played in one of the three games, and he went 3-for-4. Keoni Cavaco hit a home run in the game he played. Ruben Santana went 5-for-10 with a double and a walk (1.145 OPS). 
    Sawyer Gipson-Long was the league’s pitcher of the week. In his start, he went seven innings and gave up just an unearned run on three hits and a walk. He struck out nine batters. Bobby Milaci tossed three perfect innings and struck out three batters.   
    FCL Twins 
    Emmanuel Rodriguez had just two hits in nine at bats, but both were home runs. LaRon Smith went 4-for-8 (.500) with his fourth homer of the season. Kala’i Rosario went 6-for-16 (.375) with three walks, a double and a triple. 
    Samuel Perez tossed six innings of one-hit baseball this past week. He struck out eight batters. Ramon Pineda struck out four batters in four scoreless innings… and his brother didn’t get traded. Giovahniey German threw three innings and gave up just one hit while striking out three batters. Juan Mendez gave up just one hit over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. ;
    Weekly Reminder: We are talking about very small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches.  
    St. Paul Saints
    Damek Tomscha went 1-for-12 (.083) over four games. JT Riddle was 2-for-14 (.143). 
    In his start on Sunday, Chandler Shepherd again took one for the team. In four innings, he gave up eight runs on 11 hits. 
    Wichita Wind Surge
    Roy Morales went 3-for-17 (.176). Ernie De La Trinidad went 2-for-13 (.154) over four games. Trey Cabbage went 3-for-16 (.188) with ten strikeouts. 
    Chris Vallimont had a tough two-start week. He gave up 11 runs (10 earned) on 10 hits and eight walks in 8 1/3 innings. Byran Sammons gave up seven earned runs on five hits and four walks in four innings in his start. Jordan Balazovic went 3 1/3 innings in his start and gave up seven runs (6 earned) on six hits and four walks. 
    Cedar Rapids Kernels
    Seth Gray went 4-for-26 (.154) with 12 strikeouts. 
    Tyler Palm gave up five runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. He was replacing Cody Laweryson who gave up three runs in just 2/3 of an inning before leaving with an apparent injury. The good news is that he is on the schedule to make another start this week. 
    Ft. Myers Might Mussels
    The lowlight was simply that the team played just three games up in Clearwater because of a COVID situation by their opponent. Games Friday through Sunday were canceled. 
    For this week, let’s use this section to ask our readers a couple of questions. Leave your responses or comments below. 
    #1a. Who is the Twins top position player prospect? It would appear that it is a choice between Austin Martin and Royce Lewis, but has Jose Miranda done enough to put himself into that conversation?
    #1b. Who is the Twins top pitching prospect? This one is pretty challenging. In our preseason rankings, Jhoan Duran was ahead of Jordan Balazovic. Is it one of them? Does either Simeon Woods-Richardson or Joe Ryan enter the conversation? How about Matt Canterino? Maybe even Josh Winder? 
    We have now updated this Prospect Summary to show our Midseason Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings… 
    #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL)
    #2 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain) 
    #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 11 GS, 52.2 IP, 47 H, 19 BB, 64 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.25 WHIP
    #4 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 4 GS, 18.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 35 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP (went on the IL with right elbow strain)
    #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 76 games, .347/.410/.612 (1.022) with 18 doubles, 22 homers, 62 RBI, 30 BB, 48 K
    #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 43 games, .264/.344/.362 (.706) with 6 doubles, 2 triple, 2 homers, 20 RBI, 18 BB, 52 K, 6 SB
    #7 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (1 game, .400/.400/1.000 (1.400) with 1 homer, 0 BB, 1 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K)
    #8 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP
    #9 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 71 games, .185/.370/.290 (.660) with 13 doubles, 4 homers, 26 RBI, 66 BB, 97 K
    #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 26 games, .330/.381/.680 (1.060) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 9 homers, 20 RBI, 7 BB, 41 K.
    #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th)
    #12 - Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – St. Paul (4 GS, 16.0 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 21 K, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Minnesota (11 GS, 47.1 IP, 46 H, 14 BB, 51 K, 4.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP)
    #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 10 G, 9 GS, 39.2 IP, 27 H, 19 BB, 53 K, 2.72 ERA, 1.16 WHIP
    #14 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (16 games, .197/.258/.443 (700) with 3 doubles, 4 homers, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 20 K)
    #15 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 67 games, .203/.303/.299 (602) with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homer, 43 RBI, 35 BB, 56 K, 11 SB)
    #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 73 games, .257/.371/.504 (.874) with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 18 homers, 44 RBI, 45 BB, 63 K)
    #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 71 games, .226/.279/.420 (.700) with 12 doubles, 8 triples, 9 homers, 38 RBI, 18 BB, 102 K)
    #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (injured)
    #19 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (had surgery on his right elbow to remove bone chips)
    #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - 14 GS, 59.1 IP, 56 H, 36 BB, 94 K, 4.85 ERA, 1.55 WHIP
    Dunedin @ Ft. Myers (Casey Legumina, Sean Mooney, Landon Leach, Bobby Milacki, TBD, Sawyer Gipson-Long):
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids:(Jon Olsen, Tyler Watson, Ben Gross, Louie Varland, Tyler Beck Cody Laweryson)
    Midland @ Wichita: (Cole Sands, Bryan Sammons, Jordan Balazovic, Chris Vallimont, Austin Schulfer, Cole Sands)
    Louisville @ St. Paul: (Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Albers, Drew Strotman, TBD, TBD, Matt Shoemaker): 

    Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  25. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Nick Nelson for an article, 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin   
    1. Some felt Martin was the top player in last year's draft class.
    The Vanderbilt star ended up going to the Jays fifth overall, but plenty of outsiders (and I would imagine some insiders) viewed him as the best player available in the 2020 draft – both before and after it took place. 
    CBS Sports had Martin ranked No. 1 on their board ahead of the draft, one spot ahead of Arizona State's Spencer Torkelson, who ended up going first overall to Detroit. Months later, when The Athletic's Keith Law put together his preseason top prospect rankings for 2021, he remarked: "The best prospect in the 2020 draft class slipped to the Blue Jays, who picked fifth."
    This appears to be a fairly common sentiment, and it's not hard to see why analysts and evaluators would be high on Martin's potential. He had a monster collegiate career, marked by standout athleticism, defensive versatility, steadily increasing power, and ridiculous bat-to-ball skills. (In his COVID-shortened junior year, he struck out twice in 69 plate appearances.)
    "This bat at a skill position is pretty unusual and gives him some MVP upside," said Law in his writeup.
    2. Most prominent prospect publications now view him as the Twins' best prospect. 
    In our recently released midseason top 30 prospects update, we had Royce Lewis ranked as Minnesota's top prospect, which reflects the industry consensus now that Alex Kirilloff has graduated. Some outlets still view it that way – MLB Pipeline has Lewis ahead of Martin, though it's close (No. 13 versus No. 16 in the overall top 100 rankings), and FanGraphs has Lewis ranked No. 32 compared to Martin at No. 59.  
    That's one virtual tie, and one outlier. The rest of the big pubs view Martin more favorably than Lewis, and often by significant margins. Law's preseason rankings for The Athletic had Martin at No. 14, and Lewis at No. 46. (Law's updated midseason top 50 saw Martin move up to 12, with Royce not appearing.) Baseball America has Martin ranked 21st, and Lewis ranked 60th. Baseball Prospectus likes them both, but also gives Martin the edge: their preseason rankings had him at No. 22 with Lewis at No. 31, and the midseason top 50 bumped Martin up to 20 with Lewis sliding off. Said BP in their latest blurb on Martin: "There are too many ways he can provide value to a team for abject failure to be a possibility."
    It's difficult to assess the two in comparison right now. Martin is a 22-year-old getting his first taste of the majors at Double-A, whereas Lewis is out for this whole season and hasn't played since 2019. The bottom line is that they're both really high-caliber prospects and the Twins have a very healthy system with these two at the top.
    3. He could end up filling one of several positions of uncertainty for the Twins.
    One of the most intriguing things about Martin is his defensive fit. Like Lewis, his future in the field is uncertain, but as with Royce, that's not because he's bad with the glove – quite the contrary. Martin can play several different positions well, which is surely something that drew the Twins to him.
    This year at Double-A, he has split time evenly between shortstop and center field. By the end of his career at Vanderbilt, he was playing primarily third base. 
    Hmm... what are the most glaring positions of uncertainty for the Twins going forward?
    Well, there's center field, where Byron Buxton is heading into a walk year, and shaping up as an offseason trade candidate. Then there's shortstop, which is essentially unspoken for after Andrelton Simmons wraps his one-year deal. Oh, and let's not forget third base, where 34-year-old Josh Donaldson is a chronic injury risk and also could be shipped out next winter.
    Perhaps Martin's future is not as a full-timer at any one spot. The Twins love their flexibility, and it's probably not by accident that their top two position prospects embody such a quality. As R.J. Anderson wrote in Martin's pre-draft profile for CBS Sports: "A creative team could maximize his value by having him split time between the infield and the outfield, a la Whit Merrifield and Scott Kingery, among others."
    4. He posted a .500 on-base percentage over 76 plate appearances in July for the Class-AA New Hampshire Fisher Cats.
    Martin's pro career got off to a bit of a slow start, but he's improved with each passing month. 
    May: .265/.378/.353 June: .284/.402/.432 July: .296/.500/.352 Yes, you read that right: Martin reached base in 50% of his plate appearances this past month. Sandwiched in their was an appearance at the 2021 Futures Game, where he batted second and started at shortstop. You'll never guess: he reached base both times up.
    This speaks to Martin's offensive strengths. He's a natural-born lead-off hitter, with tremendous discipline, solid speed, and a knack for finding knocks. In his July slash line we also see Martin's biggest current shortcoming: the .352 slugging percentage – just one double and one triple in those 76 plate appearances. But the 22-year-old is still growing into his body and most scouts agree that power will come, and on-base skills like this are a lot rarer in today's game than slugging prowess.
    5. He's the best minor-league talent the Twins have acquired in decades.
    I mean, time will tell whether this ACTUALLY proves to be true. But if you look at prospect rankings and available evidence when moves were made, it's hard to find a precedent for the Twins making an acquisition like this. 
    The closest example would have to be Delmon Young, who was viewed as one of the best prospects in baseball before the Twins traded Matt Garza for him, but he'd already played a season and change in the big leagues. (Not a great precedent, obviously, but Martin and Young are polar opposites as players.) 
    Outside of that, who would even qualify in this discussion? Carlos Gomez was the centerpiece of the Johan Santana package, and was highly regarded as a prospect but not on the level of Martin. (Gomez ranked No. 52 according to BA and No. 65 according to BP when the Twins acquired him, and also, he'd already played some in the majors.) How far back do you have to go to find a real comp for Martin? Back before the days of prospect rankings really even being a thing, I would think. 
    The bottom line is, this organization has rarely ever brought in a prospect of this caliber because they've rarely been willing to do what it takes to land one. In Martin, the Twins added a true prize with legitimate franchise-altering potential. Now that's how you sell at the deadline.
    It doesn't take away the sting of losing a cherished fixture in Berríos, but makes it a whole lot easier to stomach.
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