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  1. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/25): Blowouts and Bombs   
    RHP Brock Stewart had his contract selected from the St. Paul Saints and joined the Minnesota Twins bullpen. (As a guy who has watched each of his appearances with St. Paul so far on the year, this is a move that could have some good upside. He’s been 96-98 MPH on a big-running fastball, a bottom-dropping changeup at 90, and a frisbee-sweeper in the high-80s all missing bats. His 17.7 K-rate is not a mirage to my eyes) IF/OF Michael Helman was activated from the injured list for the St. Paul Saints, and he had a grand return from his rehab assignment. SAINTS SENTINEL
    St. Paul 14, Rochester 1
    Box Score

    Led by manager Toby Gardenhire, ten former Red Wings players made the trip to Rochester, New York, this time now part of the St. Paul Saints, for this week's International League series. They obviously felt at home in the confines of Frontier Field, as they decimated their current parent club’s former affiliate 14-1.
    As a team, they pounded out 17 hits, with catcher Tony Wolters their only player not to record a base hit, though he did draw two walks and score a run. Kyle Garlick led off the scoring in the fourth with a solo home run, and Chris Williams followed later with a two-run double to make it 3-0.
    Starter Aaron Sanchez kept the Red Wings off the board through five innings, though he battled with his control. In his five innings, he allowed just one hit, walked five, and struck out four to pick up his first win of the season.
    The Saint's big barrage came in the sixth inning, thanks mostly to a grand slam from Michael Helman, freshly returned to Triple-A from a rehab assignment. He added a two-run bomb in the eighth and finished 3-for-6 with six RBI. Alex Kirilloff joined the homer party with a solo blast in the seventh.
    The bullpen trio of Cole Sands (1 IP, H), Jordan Balazovic (2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K), and Cody Laweryson (1 IP, BB, 2 K) held the Red Wings in check for the final four innings.
    Joining Kirilloff (2-for-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI), Garlick (3-for-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB, K, SB), and Helman with multiple hits in the game were Edouard Julien (2-for-6, R, 3 K) and Mark Contreras (4-for-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI).
    Helman now leads the International League with a 2.400 OPS, with Kirilloff in 2nd, less than 1.000 points behind.
    Springfield 3, Wichita 12
    Box Score

    I always love to see the Springfield Cardinals facing off against Twins affiliates, as I’ve had the privilege of enjoying several minor league games at their home park, Hammons Field, in the heart of Springfield, Missouri. While tonight's game was in Wichita, where I've yet to visit, it was especially noteworthy for Wind Surge fans as they packed Riverfront Stadium to see the rehabbing Adam Wainwright pitching with the Cardinals.
    Facing off against him for Wichita in the series opener was rising Twins prospect David Festa.
    While both pitchers were probably disappointed with their outings, matching each other by allowing three earned runs on seven hits and one walk in 4 1/3 innings apiece, Festa can remember the night fondly as he out-K’d the legendary Cardinals pitcher 7-to-1.
    While it was a close game while both starters were still on the mound, Wainwright’s exit after Brooks Lee’s second double of the game against him in the fifth was the harbinger of doom for the visiting team.
    Yunior Severino drilled his first home run of the game two batters later, putting the Wind Surge in front for good 4-3. Severino would add a 438-foot bomb to dead center in the seventh inning, which left his bat at 108 MPH.
    Wichita tallied seven total runs in that frame, turning it into a blowout. 
    Like the St. Paul Saints, the Wind Surge had 17 hits in the game, getting multi-hit efforts from DaShawn Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5, 3B), Lee (3-for-5, 3 R, 2 2B, RBI), Yoyner Fajardo (3-for-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI), Severino (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 4 RBI, BB, K), Alex Isola (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, BB), Will Holland (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, K), and David Banuelos (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI).
    Jose Bravo picked up the win with 2 1/3 scoreless innings, allowing four hits and striking out four. Jordan Brink (1 1/3 IP, K) and Osiris German (1 IP, K) added scoreless outings to close it out.
    West Michigan 0, Cedar Rapids 2
    Box Score
    It was a good old-fashioned pitcher's duel in Cedar Rapids on Tuesday night, with the Kernel’s Kyle Jones facing off against the WhiteCap’s Carlos Pena. 
    Jones bested his counterpart with five scoreless frames compared to four, allowing three hits and one walk while striking out five. Malik Barrington got them through the seventh with two hitless innings, walking one and striking out two. Regi Grace finished the final two innings, also allowing no hits with one walk, picking up two K’s of his own for his second win.
    The Cedar Rapids lineup was finally able to strike in the bottom of the eighth, after Noah Miller led off the inning with a single. A walk from Noah Cardenas put him in scoring position before Kala’i Rosario drove him in with a single of his own. Tanner Schobel added a run with a sac fly two batters later and the Kernels had a 2-0 lead that was insurmountable in the top of the ninth.
    Both teams combined for just eight hits, with the edge going to the Kernels 5-3. Schobel had the only extra-base hit for Cedar Rapids, with a double to lead off the second inning. The home team’s pitching staff allowed the visitors just two at-bats with runners in scoring position, and induced three double-play balls.
    Fort Myers 5, Daytona 4
    Box Score
    Left-hander Develson Aria had a rough start to this one, walking the first two hitters of the game and allowing an RBI double and two-run single before he could get out of the first.
    His lineup got one back for him in the top of the second when reigning Florida State League Player of the Week Andrew Cossetti led off the inning with a double and was driven in by a sac fly from Dalton Shuffield.
    The game was quiet for the most part in the middle innings, with Daytona extending their lead to 4-1 heading into the eighth. Aria finished 3 2/3 innings, allowing all four runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out five. Ricky Mineo went the next three innings, allowing just one hit, walking one, and striking out four.
    In the top of the eighth, the Mighty Mussels manufactured a run thanks to Jorel Ortega, who singled, stole second base, and came home on Ricardo Olivar’s base knock a batter later. That set the stage for the final inning.
    Carlos Aguiar led off the ninth with a double followed by a Shuffield walk to bring the winning run to the plate in Rubel Cespedes. He started a train of RBI singles that included Dylan Neuse and Danny De Andrade that put them out front 5-4.
    Reliever Gabriel Yanez finished the final 2 1/3 innings for Fort Myers, striking out the side in the eighth, and ending the contest with his fifth strikeout on the game to pick up the win.
    Pitcher of the Day - Kyle Jones, Cedar Rapids Kernels (5 IP, 3 H, 1 BB, 5 K)
    Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman, St. Paul Saints (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 HR, 6 RBI)
    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 3-for-5, 3 R, 2 2B, RBI
    #5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 2-for-6, R, 3 K
    #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) -
    #8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-2, BB, K
    #11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, R, BB, 3 K
    #13 - David Festa (Wichita) - 4 1/3 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 7 K
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, R
    #16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 4 K
    #18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-2, RB, BB, K
    #20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K
    St. Paul @ Rochester (5:05 PM CDT) - RHP Jose De Leon (0-0, 3.14 ERA)
    Springfield @ Wichita  (12:05 PM CDT) - RHP Travis Adams (1-2, 9.31 ERA)
    West Michigan @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CDT) - LHP Jordan Carr (0-0, 2.16 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Daytona (5:35 PM CDT) - RHP Cory Lewis (2-1, 3.77 ERA)
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  2. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Twins 6, Yankees 1: Gray Freezes Yankees Lineup   
    Box Score
    SP: Sonny Gray  7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (107 pitches, 66 strikes (61.6% strikes))
    Home Runs: Joey Gallo (6)
    Top 3 WPA:  Sonny Gray .267, Jorge Polanco .165, Michael A. Taylor .078

    Win Probability Chart  

    It was the top of the eighth. Griffin Jax versus Anthony Rizzo, bases loaded with two outs. The Twins were in crisis mode. Sonny Gray had dominated through seven innings shutting the Yankees down 5-0, but it could be an entirely new ball game with one swing from Rizzo. What would happen?
    Pitch one; 96 mph fastball, called strike one. Pitch two; 86 mph sweeper, fouled off. Pitch three; 87 mph sweeper; swing and a miss by Rizzo. Crisis averted for the Twins, a 5-0 lead maintained as the Twins went to bat once more in the bottom of the eighth.
    Unfortunately, it wouldn't be the last Yankees rally of the game. 
    The ninth inning went to Jovani Moran with a 6-0 lead. His struggles showed before an out was made. A walk, a single, then another walk. The nightmares caused Twins fans by the Yankees were awakening once more. However, the baseball gods felt a need to show grace to the Twins just as the nightmare came alive. 
    First a force out to Jose Miranda at third. One out, but a run scored, 6-1, Twins lead. Then a fly out to Trevor Larnach in foul territory, out number two. Finally, Moran would have a moment of redemption on the mound by striking out former Twins outfielder Aaron Hicks to end the game. 

    Gray improves his MLB-best ERA 
    Sonny Gray looked as sharp as ever Monday night against the Yankees. With his command of the strike zone and strong defense behind him, the Yankees couldn’t get any momentum against him. 

    Gray wasn’t striking hitters out constantly, but averaging a strikeout per inning had him keeping the Yankees hitters in check. His biggest strikeout of the game came against Aaron Judge with two out and a runner on in the bottom of the sixth. Gray retired him on a nasty 83 MPH slider Judge chased outside the zone, and kept the Yankees from chipping at the Twins' 4-0 lead at a pivotal moment.
    Even with a low strikeout total, Gray still had a good number of swings-and-misses which showed his sharpness. The Yankees swung and missed on his pitches 18 times missing on his curveball eight times and cutter seven times. Gray’s seven shutout innings brought his ERA on the season down to 0.62. 

    Exiting after the seventh, he had the Major League lead for ERA, passing Shohei Ohtani who held the lead going into the night at 0.64. 
    A Different Approach Against Brito
    Last time the Twins faced Yankees starter Jhony Brito he didn't make it out of the first inning. This time Brito went deeper, but the Twins' offense took a different approach against him; working his pitch count up early in the game.
    Brito faced the minimum in his first inning and only walked one batter in the second, but with Twins hitters working the count in each at-bat, he had thrown 42 pitches through two innings. 
    Working a high pitch count through two innings paid off for the Twins' offense as they mustered a bases-loaded threat with no outs in the bottom of the third. With one out and the bases loaded, Jorge Polanco drove in the first two runs of the game with a single to right field. 
    Yankees manager Aaron Boone had enough of Brito before the third inning was over. Seven of the Twins almost doubled his pitch count at 80 for the evening which resulted in two walks, three singles, a strikeout, and an RBI ground out by Byron Buxton. 
    No Brito, no problem
    Brito’s early exit from the game made no difference for the Twins hitters as the Yankees bullpen would be dealt further implosion from their offense. It began with another Joey Gallo home run, perhaps his most satisfying of the season so-far, which put the Twins up 4-0 in the bottom of the fourth. 
    The Twins knocked out the Yankees' first reliever, Greg Weissert, in the next inning with a career-high pitch count at 39 following a two-out single to  Larnach. Albert Abreu was next out of the Yankees bullpen. He walked the first two hitters he faced but got out of his jam with a lineout by Christian Vazquez. 
    The Twins still managed to get Abreu’s pitch count to 15 with just three batters. Only one Yankees pitcher managed to throw fewer than 20 pitches against Twins hitters. Wandy Peralta had a nine pitch, one, two, three, seventh inning. Otherwise, the Twins hitters were cooking Yankee arms all game on the mound.
    Other notes
    The Twins last run of the game came from an impressive RBI triple by Carlos Correa. With some luck and a bad read by Yankee right fielder Franchy Cordero, Correa got the big break he needed at the plate in the game to put the Twins up 6-0. His triple made him the last Twin to reach base in the 6-0 victory. 
    What’s Next? 
    The Twins play their second game of the series against the Yankees on Tuesday night with Joe Ryan facing off against All Star lefty Nestor Cortes. First pitch is scheduled for 6:40 p.m. 
    Postgame Interview 
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  3. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (4/17-4/23)   
    If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor leagues.
    Michael Helman's rehab with Fort Myers is over and he'll be re-joining the Saints. RESULTS
    Tuesday (4/18): Ober Leads Shutout, Wind Surge Blasts Off Wednesday (4/19): Little Offense, but Aria and Cossetti Showed their Mussels Thursday (4/20): Cossetti Continues to Clobber Friday (4/21): Wallner, Garlick Power Extra-Inning Walkoff for Saints Saturday (4/22): Rucker and Shuffield Lead With Late-Inning Homers Sunday (4/23): Rehab Talents Providing Fireworks on the Farm MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT 
    Bailey Ober Inching Towards Twins TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    St. Paul @ Rochester (5:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez (0-1, 3.12 ERA) Springfield @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP David Festa (1-1, 3.07 ERA) West Michigan @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Kyle Jones (0-2, 5.65 ERA) Fort Myers @ Daytona (5:35PM CST) - LHP Develson Aria (0-0, 2.25 ERA) WEEK IN REVIEW 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints (Week: 5-1)
    Overall: 13-7, 1.5 games back in the International League West.  Overview: The Saints had an excellent week, but didn't make up any ground on Memphis who lost yesterday to snap a 12-game winning streak.  🔥: Jordan Balazovic has been good in his short appearances so far this year. He allowed one hit and struck out three in two innings this week. Could he eventually represent himself as a bullpen option for the Twins? 🔥: It's going to be Alex Kirilloff time sooner or later. Kirilloff played in only four games, but had six hits including a double and two home runs. He drove in nine and also walked more times (3) than he struck out (2). Hard not to like a .462/.588/1.000 (1.588) slashline for the week. Kirilloff will begin the week with the Saints, but if he ends the week there remains to be seen.  🔥: It wasn't a great cameo for the Twins, but Matt Wallner is hitting (1.126 OPS for the week) for the Saints. He also took 9 walks compared to 5 strikeouts.  🥶: After a spot start with the Twins, Louie Varland was back with the Saints and struggled in his only start. He allowed five runs on seven hits and a walk. He did strike out eight over his 4 2/3 innings. 🥶: Trevor Megill was a nice contributor for the Twins down the stretch last year, but failed to make the team after a rough spring training. In two appearances this week, Megill allowed five runs on three hits, including two home runs, and walked three.   What's Next: The Saints will head to Rochester to face the former Twins affiliate. The Red Wings (6-14) are currently in last place in the IL East and have the worst winning percentage in the whole league. It should be a good week for the Saints to continue to their hot play. Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge (Week: 2-4)
    Overall: 7-8, 3.0 games back in the Texas League North.  Overview: Wichita's two wins ended two- three-game losing streaks.  The bats just weren't up to the task getting shut out in consecutive games. But after allowing 27 runs in the last two games against NW Arkansas, the pitching staff performed better.  🔥: Blayne Enlow completed six innings in his start this week. He allowed two runs on four hits and two walks. He struck out five and held opponents to a .100 batting average. 🔥: Michael Boyle had a clunker last week, but put together two hitless outings this week. In three innings total, Boyle struck out four and only allowed one baserunner via walk. 🤔: Carlos Luna gets the same emoji for the second straight week. He doesn't put runners on base (0.64 WHIP)... but both hits he allowed were home runs. He remains a curious case.  🥶: Yunior Severino struggled to make contact this week, striking out a team-high (and tied for organizational-high) 10 times.  What's Next: Wichita will be hosting last-place Springfield (5-10) as they look to make up ground on Arkansas and Tulsa. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Week: 1-5)
    Overall: 6-8, 3.5 games back and in last place in the Midwest League West.  Overview: Only able to avoid a sweep against Beloit by winning Sunday, the Kernels found themselves in an eight-game losing streak. Luckily, the bats finally came alive and produced 11 runs. 🥶: Most of the Kernels. Of the many names that could be listed, no lowlights will be highlighted... cause it's not pretty. 🔥: Aside from Pierson Ohl, the starting rotation really struggled. Ohl struck out five in five innings and allowed only one run on four hits.  🔥: Charlie Neuweiler was a starting pitcher in the Royals system for part of last season, but struggled in his brief glimpses out of the AA and AAA bullpen. It's possible he's found a home in the bullpen with the Twins organization. He got eight outs this week and all the other team had to show for it was a walk and three strikeouts. 🔥: Kala'i Rosario broke out of his cold streak by getting six hits in 19 at-bats. He had three doubles and a triple, drove in three runs and walked three times.  🔥: Noah Miller and Noah Cardenas also had six-hit weeks. What's Next: A home series against West Michigan (9-6) who sits in a half game out of first place in the East Division. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (Week: 3-3)
    Overall: 8-7, 2.0 games behind Bradenton in the Florida State League West.  Overview: Lots of runs scored by both teams over the course of the last week, but a .500 week dropped the Mighty Mussels from a first-place tie into third place. 🔥: Cory Lewis is doing it. He's throwing the knuckleball (among his other pitches) and low-A hitters don't know what to do with it. He struck out six and walked two in five innings of one-hit, one-run (it was a home run) ball 🔥: Develson Aria is an intriguing left-hander who is getting results. The runner-up for pitcher of the week, Aria struck out four in five innings of near-perfect ball (he walked two).  🔥: Jose Olivares is the youngest pitcher on the roster and the 20-year-old is impressive. He threw 5 2/3 innings of one-run, one-walk, three-hit ball and struck out four. The strikeout numbers (7 in 10 2/3 innings) aren't overly impressive, but the lack of walks and hits (0.66 WHIP) are.  🔥: The trio of Michael Helman, Dalton Shuffield and Jorel Ortega was overshadowed by Andrew Cossetti, but they all had excellent weeks. Helmen (.421/.542/.684 (1.226 OPS)) is headed back to the Saints. Shuffield (.375/.412/.750 (1.162 OPS))) shouldn't be in Fort Myers to begin with. Ortega's pro debut was derailed by an injury but his 8:1 BB:K ratio was quite impressive. 🥶: Rubel Cespedes didn't offer much power, but batted nearly .290 in low-A in 2022. It hasn't been a great encore for the young infielder. This week, Cespedes went 2-18 with a double, two RBIs, a run, two walks and six strikeouts. His current .584 OPS is significantly lower than last year's .737. What's Next: Heading to Daytona (6-9) in hopes of making up some ground on Bradenton. PROSPECT SUMMARY
    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. (Season-long stats will be in parenthesis.)
    20. Misael Urbina, OF, Cedar Rapids: 1-17, 2B, 3 BB, 5 K, SB, CS. (.114/.235/.205. .440 OPS)  19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Extended Spring Training 18. Tanner Schobel, 2B, Cedar Rapids: 2-20, 3 RBI, R, 2 BB, 10 K, SB. (.200/.245/.320. .565 OPS), played four games at second base (eight total) and committed no errors in 9 chances (one in 32 chances total); has not committed any errors (four chances) at third base this season (three games).  17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: On Minnesota’s injured list with elbow inflammation. 16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0 (0.00 ERA), 2 IP, H, 3 K. (1.41 WHIP, .167 BAA) 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 14. Noah Miller, SS, Cedar Rapids: 6-21, 4 RBI, 2B, HR, 6 R, 2 BB, 5 K, SB. (.306/.397/.408. .805 OPS), played shortstop in four games (ten total) and committed one error in 13 chances (one error in 38 total chances); played one game (two total) at second base and committed no errors in six chances (nine total). 13. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 0-1, 4.15 ERA, 4.1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 6 K. (0.89 WHIP, .180 BAA) 12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Extended Spring Training 11. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 5-17, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, 9 BB, 5 K, 5 R. (.295/.466/.591. 1.057 OPS); Minnesota: (.000/.273/.000. .273 OPS) 10. Austin Martin, SS: Martin is still recovering from an arm injury. 9. Louie Varland, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0, 9.64 ERA, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, HR, BB, 8 K. (1.34 WHIP, .297 BAA); Minnesota: (1.17 WHIP, .250 BAA) 8. Jose Salas, INF: 2-17, 2 R, 2 BB, 5 K, 2 SB, CS (.122/.200/.122. .322 OPS), played two games at shortstop and had one error in 11 chances (one error in 15 chances in four games total) and two games (four total) at third base with no errors (one total) in two chances (nine total). He played two games (three total) at second base with no errors in five chances (no errors in nine total chances). 7. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: Prielipp was placed on the injured list last week. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: (2.43 WHIP, .412 BAA); Minnesota: 0-0, 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, HR, 3 BB. (2.14 WHIP, .350 BAA) 5. Edouard Julien, 2B, St. Paul: 1-10, 2B, 3 R, 5 BB 3 K, HBP. (.244/.426/.463. .889 OPS); Minnesota: 4-13, HR, 3 RBI, R, 6 K (.222/.276/.444. .720 OPS) 4. Marco Raya, RHP, Cedar Rapids: 0-0, 6.75 ERA, 2.2 IP, H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K. (1.50 WHIP, .125 BAA) 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: Rodriguez was placed on the injured list with an abdomen strain. 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Lewis is still recovering from his second ACL surgery.  1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 5-26, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 8 K, SB. (.263/.323/.439. .762 OPS), played all six games (14 total) at shortstop and committed two errors in 27 chances (64 total).  PLAYERS OF THE WEEK (as voted on by fans on Twitter)
    PITCHER - Randy Dobnak, St. Paul. Dobnak gets a 4.99 out of 5 rating for his performance in St. Paul this week. In a six-inning start, Dobnak struck out four and allowed only one run on three hits and a walk. It's been a long and windy road for Dobnak since bursting onto the big-league scene in 2019, but hopefully the next twists and turns will lead back to Target Field.
    (Dobnak 56%, Aria 28%, Ohl 11%, Luna 5%)
    HITTER - Andrew Cossetti, Fort Myers.  There wasn't a lot of competition for this award, but even if there was Cossetti would have won. Cossetti had organizational-highs in hits (10), total bases (21), home runs (3), average (.556), sluggling (1.167) and OPS (1.792) and tied in runs (7) and OBP (.625). Coming into this week, Cossetti was batting .200 with a .696 OPS but if he hits even half as well as he did this past week, the 11th round pick from last year can put himself on the prospect radar.
    (Cossetti 75%, Wallner 13%, Rosario 10%, Jake Rucker 2%)
    Who would have been your picks? Any early season surprises or disappointments? Ask questions and discuss the Twins prospects in the COMMENTS below. 
  4. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/20): Cossetti Continues to Clobber   
    C Charles Mack activated from IL for Cedar Rapids C Wilfri Castro transferred to FCL SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 5, Scranton/WB 3
    Box Score
    Toby Gardenhire turned to Jose De Leon for the start tonight, and he was nothing short of spectacular. Working four scoreless innings, De Leon allowed just two hits and two walks while punching out five. He once was dangled as a trade chip for Brian Dozier, and is now pushing for a debut with the Twins.
    The scoring started and ended in the third inning for the Saints. Rehabbing Twins first baseman Alex Kirilloff doubled to score both Elliot Soto and Matt Wallner. It was Soto's double that set up the additional runs. Mark Contreras continued his hot hitting with a double of his own to plate Kirilloff and Kyle Garlick. St. Paul had put up a four spot in the third inning and jumped out ahead.
    Scranton clawed back with runs in the fifth inning, seventh inning, and eighth inning, but ultimately they fell just short. Hernan Perez clubbed his second hit of the night, a solo shot in the eighth inning, to give St. Paul a bit of breathing room.
    Kirilloff finished his night going 2-for-3 while also being hit by a pitch.
    Tulsa 3, Wichita 0
    Box Score
    Making the start for Wichita was Travis Adams. He lasted four innings and allowed just a pair of runs on four hits. Adams walked a pair, but also struck out four batters. The pair of runs came on a solo homer and a wild pitch.
    Jonny DeLuca led off the game for the Drillers with a solo blast in the bottom of the first inning. Adams buckled down, and while he did allow Diego Cartaya to score on a second inning wild pitch, no other damage mounted.
    DaShawn Keirsey Jr. made an amazing catch in centerfield to rob additional runs, but that didn't spark a Wichita comeback. The Wind Surge tallied just three hits on the evening, and Brooks Lee finally went without a hit (ending his 10-game hitting streak), though he did reach on a walk. With the lineup stalling out, a comeback was never in the works.
    Beloit 3, Cedar Rapids 2
    Box Score
    The Kernels turned to Jordan Carr for the start on Thursday, and he worked around six hits during his 4 1/3 innings of work. While two runs came across, only one was earned. Carr allowed a walk and struck out three.
    Cedar Rapids scored first when Kala’i Rosario tripled to drive in Noah Miller as the third batter of the game. It was the start of what would wind up being an impressive night for the outfielder.
    After giving the run back in the bottom of the second inning, and seeing another tacked on in the fifth inning, the sixth inning saw Cedar Rapids get even. Third baseman Ben Ross smacked his second home run of the season, and his blistering start to his 2023 season continued.
    Unfortunately, the Sky Carp’s Yiddi Cappe singled for the second time on the night in the seventh inning, and his RBI was the difference in this one. Adding a run, the Kernels never rallied and that hit was the difference. Rosario was the lone Kernels batter to post multiple hits, but he was a perfect 4-for-4 with a double and triple.
    Fort Myers 11, Jupiter 1
    Box Score
    Cory Lewis was on the bump for Fort Myers on Thursday, and he continued to rack up strikeouts. Working five innings, he allowed just a single run on a solo shot. It was the only hit against him, and while he walked a pair, Lewis also racked up six strikeouts.
    Although Lewis kept Jupiter down in the game, he was also given immediate breathing room. Andrew Cossetti stepped in with Michael Helman, Jorel Ortega, and Ricardo Olivar all on base. He drilled his fourth homer of the year, a grand slam, and put the Mighty Mussels up early. It’s been an impressive week for the slugger.
    After the solo blast against Lewis, Fort Myers immediately answered. Cossetti came through again, this time with a bases-clearing double. Ortega, Danny De Andrade, and Olivar all came across the plate. Maddux Houghton followed up with a fielder’s choice to score Cossetti, and it was an 8-1 lead when the bottom of the fifth inning concluded.
    Looking for more insurance runs, Houghton hit a sacrifice fly in the seventh inning to bring Carlos Aguiar home. The Mighty Mussels plated nine runs on just six hits. Both Cossetti and De Andrade recorded a pair of hits on the evening. Helman played shortstop and led off as he is rehabbing before returning to St. Paul. He did draw a pair of walks.
    Capping off the scoring, Dalton Shuffield tripled in the eighth inning to score Mikey Perez and Dylan Neuse. A 10-run rule could have been enforced, but the ninth inning didn’t change the score either. Fort Myers did a great job continuing to add runs all night long.
    Pitcher of the Day – Cory Lewis (Fort Myers) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K
    Hitter of the Day – Andrew Cossetti (Fort Myers) - 2-4, 2 R, 2B, HR(4), 7 RBI
    We will again keep tabs on the Twins top 20 prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed:

    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 0-3, BB, K
    #8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K
    #11 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-2, R, 2 BB, K
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, R, BB, K
    #20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, BB, 2 K
    Scranton/WB @ St. Paul (6:37PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
    Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - LHP Aaron Rozek 
    Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35PM CST) - RHP Alejandro Hidalgo
    Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Jose Olivares 
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games!
  5. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Pirkl for an article, Reinforcements Are Coming, Who Loses Out?   
    The Twins are cautiously optimistic that a few injured players continue to grow closer to returning to action. Beginning with Joey Gallo, Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff have to return in the next couple of weeks according to the 20-day limit on minor-league rehab assignments for hitters. Royce Lewis should also be arriving in the first half of the season. The Twins' offense is in need of a shakeup in the early going. Who could lose out as some of these bats return?
    Donovan Solano
    The Twins likely didn’t have “everyday first baseman” in mind when they inked Solano to a modest $2m deal late this spring. He’s done a fine job on both sides of the ball, and his play doesn’t warrant a demotion.
    Still, Solano is a fantastic player to have as a matchups play. His OPS over .800 to begin the season has been much appreciated, but his best bet to maintain his early production is for the Twins to match him up against left-handed pitching as much as possible. With how many left-handed bats are returning, the Twins' offense would likely be better off reverting Solano to a platoon role despite his hot start.
    Nick Gordon
    Gordon is off to a confusing start. Whiffs have been a big part of his career, but he’s only struck out once so far. It would be a good sign, but he also only has four hits in 40 at-bats, and his ability to impact the ball as we saw last season, especially against right-handed pitching, has yet to show up in 2023.
    Gordon’s utility remains his best skill and should continue to get him playing time as a left-handed platoon around the diamond. We’ve already seen the Twins pull back on his playing time at second when Edouard Julien got the call. This will continue with Polanco’s return, as he’ll soak up all of the playing time at second against right-handed pitching. 2022 looked like something of a breakout for Gordon. He could lose playing time or even his roster spot if things continue to go poorly. He’ll have to start hitting very soon if an encore is in order for 2023.
    Max Kepler
    There’s not much of an indicator that the Twins are willing to treat Kepler in a way that reflects his performance. Despite being a below-league-average hitter since the juiced ball 2019 season, the Twins reportedly declined offers to trade Kepler this offseason and opened the year leading him off yet again. He has not rewarded their faith in him.
    Joey Gallo’s brief power flash to begin 2023 should automatically afford him playing time over Kepler, whose offense hasn’t matched the defense in years. Taking things a step further, not only could Kirilloff taking over first base push Gallo to right field, but he’s been starting in the outfield himself on his rehab assignment. That’s bad news for any corner outfielder that’s struggling if Kirilloff can make it through his assignment healthy. 
    Kepler has a team option for $10.5m for 2024 remaining on his contract, and it’s difficult to imagine him raising his game to the level of justifying that number. If the slow start continues and declining that option becomes a certainty, there’s no reason for Kepler to serve as more than a bench player/defensive replacement. Right-field defense is too replaceable, especially in Target Field, and it’s time to stop accepting below-average offense at an offensive premium position after all of these years.
    It seems like whenever debates begin regarding a roster crunch, these things work themselves out. With 3+ possible regulars on the horizon, it’s worth exploring who could lose out. Are there any other Twins in line for reduced playing time or even a lost roster spot? Let us know below!
  6. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (4/10-4/16)   
    If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor leagues.
    On Monday afternoon, the Kernels activated RHPs Marco Raya and Mike Paredes. They made no other corresponding moves. RESULTS
    Tuesday (4/11): E-Rod Walks it Off in Grand Fashion Wednesday (4/12): Ober Dominates, Lee and Rodriguez Homer Thursday (4/13): A Surprise Promotion and Olivar Goes Off Friday (4/14): Wichita Power Surge Leads to Win Saturday (4/15): Ben Ross and Emmanuel Rodriguez Rake in a Dismal Minor-League Day Sunday (4/16): Fort Myers Shines Brightest MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT 
    Prospect Retrospective: Brent Headrick The Twins Most and Least Aggressive Prospect Assignments Prospect Retrospective: Edouard Julien TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    Scranton/WB @ St. Paul (6:37PM CST) - TBD Wichita @ Tulsa (6:05PM CST) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35PM CST) - RHP Jaylen Nowlin (0-0, 4-91 ERA) Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - TBD WEEK IN REVIEW 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints (Week: 4-2)
    Overall: 8-6, 1.5 games back in the International League West.  Overview: Despite losing Louie Varland, Edouard Julien and Matt Wallner to the Twins, the Saints put together a winning week. They started off by winning the first four games against Indianapolis before dropping the final two.  🔥: Andrew Stevenson led the offensive charge with 10 hits, three stolen bases and a home run while playing in all six games. 🔥: Andrew Bechtold also played in every game and totaled six hits which included three doubles and a home run.  🔥: Brent Headrick shoved in his one start before promotion. He struck out eight in five innings, allowing a single run on four hits and a walk. 🔥: Mark Contreras stuff the stat sheet to the tune of eight hits in 25 at-bats, eight hits, five runs, two doubles, five walks and three stolen bases for a slash line of .421/.560/.526 (1.086). 🥶: Kyle Garlick was brought back to the Twins after striking out three times and failing to get a hit in 10 at-bats He didn't earn it with his recent performance, but the Twins needed an outfielder.  What's Next: Home cooking against Scranton/WB (7-8). While the forecast may not be great, there are plenty of fun ballpark activities including fireworks on Friday night. Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge (Week: 3-3)
    Overall: 5-4, 2.0 games back in the Texas League North.  Overview: Yoyner Fajardo continues to be an early-season surprise as he leads the team with 12 hits, four stolen bases and a .333 batting average while playing solid left field. Brooks Lee will be the draw (as long as he is on the team), you can see his week below. David Festa wasn't as great as his debut, but there's no reason to believe the Twins won't be able to use him in their future.  🔥: Yunior Severino only played three games, but got four hits in 12 at-bats and hit two home runs. He struck out in six of the at-bats he didn't get a hit, so there's still improvement needed, but you appreciate the at-bats that turn out well. 🤔: Carlos Luna is new to the organization, so when you strike out 10 in 5 2/3 innings in your organizational debut, you need to be recognized. But when you turn around and allow four hits and two runs while only recording two outs in your next outing, you don't get the fire emoji. 🥶: Will Holland got his first hit of the season but went 0-for-12 for the week (and is 1-for-20 on the season). He has game-changing speed... but it's really tough to use on the bath paths if you can't get on base. Holland was the college teammate of Edouard Julien (and Holland was the higher-regarded prospect.) What's Next: A trip to Tulsa (6-3). Only one game separates the two teams. Arkansas is currently in first place at 7-2. High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Week: 2-3)
    Overall: 5-3, 0.5 games back in the Midwest League West.  Overview: This is going to be the easiest team to follow because it has so many prospects. If you don't see their names here, it's because you can see how they did for the week down in the Prospect Summary. 🔥: Kyle Jones might have taken the loss, but that's why "pitcher wins" are a silly stat. More on Jones below... way below. 🔥: Ben Ross was drafted with a reputation as a hitter. And that's what he's done. Nine hits in 20 at-bats this past week including two doubles and a home run. He strikes out too much, but you'll take the bad with the good, if the good is a 1.155 OPS. Drafted as a shortstop, his time there is going to be limited on this team as he's already been pushed to the infield corners. (Three times at third base; once at first base.) 🥶: The Twins acquired Alejandro Hidalgo for Gio Urshela and aggressively assigned the 19-year-old to High-A where he is the youngest pitcher on the staff. Hidalgo struggled in his start this week. He walked six and hit a batter while only recording five outs. He's always struggled with walks, but not that much. Maybe it was just too cold... yeah, that's what we're going with. 🥶: Kala'i Rosario was impressive in his changes with the Twins this spring training, but this week was not good. Only one hit in 17 at-bats. No walks, four strikeouts. The hit went for a double, so it wasn't a complete waste of a week. There are better days ahead for the young outfielder. 😭: Connor Prielipp didn't pitch this week. It's been reported that he's seeking a doctor's opinion on his surgically repaired left elbow after feeling discomfort during his debut. He will have more testing and evaluation over the next few weeks.  What's Next: A home series against West Michigan (6-3) who sits in a tie atop the East Division. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (Week: 3-3)
    Overall: 5-4, three-way tie for first in the Florida State League West.  Overview: There will likely always be a storyline here because even though the Mighty Mussels don't have top prospects, they have the newest guys in the organization and some are sure to impress. Oh, and rehab guys. There was plenty going on this week.  🔥: After struggling his debut, Cory Lewis got back on track with a eight-strikeout performance. A home run and a walk were blemishes, but a huge improvement over the week before. 🔥: Zebby Matthews has been a dude so far. It's not often you can outperform a five-inning, three-hit, seven-strikeout scoreless debut, but Zebby outdid himself by missing working five perfect innings with only a walk. Definitely a candidate for Pitcher of the Week, Matthews probably will move from Florida to hea.. er, Iowa if he keeps this up. 🔥: Carlos Aguiar has been lost in the mix of big-name international prospects over the last handful of years, but maybe this can be his breakout year. The all-around numbers aren't great, but he's already hit two home runs. You'd like to see him improve his eye and selectivity at the plate (he struck out 66 times versus only nine walks in low-A last year), so the ten strikeouts so far this year aren't great, but the three walks has his OBP over .300. 🥶: After Dalton Shuffield was drafted in the 10th round last year, he was aggressively moved from Fort Myers to Cedar Rapids to St. Paul and performed admirably, posting a .917 OPS. He hasn't been bad by any means, but a 2-for-12 stretch with six strikeouts in his first full week in low-A this year isn't going to get him quickly promoted. He's been pounding the ball into the ground, which is unlike him... so things should straighten out with him eventually. 😏: Jorge Polanco has been a giant question mark, but now he's finally getting back around to playing in full games. Three hits in 13 at-bats isn't great for a big-leaguer at low-A, but it's about getting reps and being healthy. The offense in Minnesota needs a jolt... and Polanco may be able to provide that eventually... 😏: ...and if he can't, maybe Alex Kirilloff can. Kirilloff also has only three hits in 12 at-bats. But he's hit a home run and has drawn three walks to go with his three strikeouts.  😏: I've long felt that Josh Winder and Jhoan Duran would make a nasty back of the bullpen. Is that the path the Twins will go with the rehabbing Winder, who pitched 2 2/3 innings over two appearances? He struck out four and allowed three hits. What's Next: A home series against Jupiter (5-4) might help alleviate the logjam that is the FSL. Six of the 10 teams are currently 5-4. PROSPECT SUMMARY
    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. (Season-long stats will be in parenthesis.)
    20. Misael Urbina, OF, Cedar Rapids: 2-16, 3B, RBI, R, BB, 7 K, CS. (.148/.258/.259. .517 OPS)  19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Extended Spring Training 18. Tanner Schobel, 2B, Cedar Rapids: 5-16, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R, BB, 5 K. (.313/.353/.500. .853 OPS), played four games at second base and committed no errors in 12 chances (one in 23 chances total).  17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: On Minnesota’s injured list with elbow inflammation. 16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0 (0.00 ERA), 2.1 IP, H, 3 BB, 4 K. (1.91 WHIP, .182 BAA) 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 14. Noah Miller, SS, Cedar Rapids: 4-13, RBI, 5 R, 6 BB, K, SB. (.321/.441/.357. .798 OPS), played shortstop in three games (six total) and committed no errors in 8 chances (25 total); played one game at second base and committed no errors in three chances. 13. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 0-0 (5.06 ERA), 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB, 6 K. (0.68 WHIP, .167 BAA) 12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Extended Spring Training 11. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 2-7, 2B, 2 BB, 3 K. (.286/.500/.429. .929 OPS); Minnesota: 0-8, BB, 4K, CS (.000/.273/.000. .273 OPS) 10. Austin Martin, SS: Martin is still recovering from an arm injury. 9. Louie Varland, RHP, St. Paul: DNP. (1.00 WHIP, .222 BAA); Minnesota: 0-0 (.450 ERA), 6.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 3 HR, BB, 8 K (1.17 WHIP, .250 BAA) 8. Jose Salas, INF: 2-16, R, RBI, BB, 4 K, 3 SB, CS (.125/.160/.125. .285 OPS), played two games shortstop (no errors in six chances) and two games at third base (one error in two chances (seven total)). He previously played one game at second base (no errors in four chances) 7. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: Did not pitch. Was placed on IL with some elbow soreness. Hopefully, the next news will be good news. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: 0-1 (13.50 ERA), 3.1 IP, 10 H, 5 ER, HR, BB, 3 K. (2.43 WHIP, .412 BAA) 5. Edouard Julien, 2B, St. Paul: 1-2, 2B, RBI. (.290/.421/.548. .969 OPS); Minnesota: 2-17, HR, RBI, 2 R, BB, 5 K (.118/.167/.294. .461 OPS) 4. Marco Raya, RHP: Getting a late start to the season after some arm soreness. 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: 4-16, 2B, 3 HR, 10 RBI, 3 R, 3 BB, 11 K. (.185/.324/.630. .954 OPS)  2. Royce Lewis, SS: Lewis is still recovering from his second ACL surgery.  1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 6-18, 2 2B, HR, 2 RBI, 5 R, 1 BB, 4 K. (.323/.382/.516. .898 OPS), played all five games (eight total) at shortstop and committed no errors in 25 chances (37 total).  PLAYERS OF THE WEEK 
    PITCHER - Kyle Jones, Cedar Rapids. Last year's 7th-round pick has had a great start to the season for the Kernels. With an aggressive placement at High-A. Jones has answered the bell. In his start against Quad Cities this week, Jones allowed only a single run on three hits and a walk in six innings. He struck out four. He was saddled with the loss, but the 23-year-old gets bonus points for being assigned to a harder environment than many of the other 2022 pitchers.
    HITTER - Emmanuel Rodriguez, Cedar Rapids. There is so much not going right for the 20-year-old - he's walking back to the dugout after striking out almost two and a half times per game - and he's not walking nearly as much as he did last year. But when E-Rod is touching the ball... well, touching is the wrong word. Because he's assaulting it. In four games, he hit three home runs (including a monster walk-off) and drove in ten runs. By the time teams see him for a second time, they're going to wish they didn't have to.
    Who would have been your picks? Any early season surprises or disappointments? Ask questions and discuss the Twins prospects in the COMMENTS below. 
  7. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, BREAKING: Twins Finalizing an Extension with Star Pitcher Pablo Lopez   
    When trading Luis Arraez to the Miami Marlins this winter there was never going to be a situation where his departure would sit well with fans. However, getting an arm like Pablo Lopez in return could certainly soften the blow, and his performance thus far has been nothing short of exceptional.
    According to Marlins beat writer Craig Mish, the sides are closing in on a four-year deal worth $73.5 million. That would have Lopez paid just over $18.3 million annually. That seems like a bargain given the $27 million annual amount the New York Yankees handed Carlos Rodon this winter. Although they may not be the same level of pitcher, Lopez has displayed a substantially longer track record of health. Rodon did get his money on the open market with multiple suitors whereas Lopez would not have hit free agency until after the 2024 season. Lopez has come out of the gates strong for the Twins posting a 1.73 ERA across his first four starts. He leads Major League Baseball in strikeouts having tallied 33 across 26 innings pitched. His 11.4 K/9 is a new career high, and it’s clear his sweeper addition has been nothing short of a powerful new weapon for him.
    It remains to be seen if Lopez can continue this level of production throughout the entirety of 2023, but for a guy many questioned as the ace of a staff, he’s looked every bit the part. Lopez has been a breath of fresh air for Twins fans looking to Rocco Baldelli for length from starters, and he’s allowed teammates like Sonny Gray and Joey Ryan to benefit as well.
    Set to be a free agent in 2025, the contract extension will buy out the 2024 arbitration year, and begin at the end of this season. Lopez is currently making $5.45 million through arbitration in 2023 for the Twins, and a four-year extension will have him with the club through his age-31 season. Minnesota should be happy with both the length and valuation of the contract. It’s a hefty sum, but not one unheard of for a top pitcher. Lopez can re-enter the market at 32 and look for another substantial payday as well.
    The move provides the Twins some rotation certainty in the year ahead. Gray is set to be a free agent as is Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda. That would leave just Ryan and Chris Paddack as big league starters currently with guaranteed contracts. Lopez is a definite horse that can anchor a group soon to more regularly include Simeon Woods Richardson, Louie Varland, Bailey Ober, and others.
    What are your thoughts on the Twins locking up Lopez for the next few years? Does this change the outlook of the Arraez trade at all? Given that he has been so good to start 2023, did they get a bargain?
  8. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Hans Birkeland for an article, Flipping the Curse Narrative   
    First of all, splitting a series at Yankee stadium has to be seen as a W for any American League team that operates in a city with normal zoning laws. Factor in the Twins .250 win percentage against the Yankees in the past quarter decade and you have yourself something resembling a miracle. The Twins’ unique struggles against the Yankees have been well documented, a tragic comedy for the East Coast to enjoy as they prepare to face “real teams” like the Red Sox and Blue Jays. Observe this pitious tweet from Jon Heyman last September:
    The Minnesota sports media market isn’t the poster child market for “acting like you’ve been there before.” Maybe that’s part of their issue against the Yankees and in the playoffs. 
    I’ve had a few theories myself about those struggles, but the one I’ve settled on is that the Twins have historically forced a certain aesthetic involving hitting singles, going the other way, and pitching to contact. For decades starting in the 80s under Tom Kelly, they adhered to this philosophy, but as time went on it became less a commitment to “fundamentals” and more an excuse to spend less on payroll. We called it “The Twins Way™,” and it sucked. However, it can and has worked in the AL Central, where being above-average can win you a division; the Guardians proved that last year. 
    Teams like the Yankees, however, who will always supplement their roster with in-their-prime free agents and big-ticket trade acquisitions, can exploit this. Accustomed to pitching against lineups that run eight to nine deep in the AL East, they are happy to pitch around the one or two stars the Twins employ and attack the Jason Tyners and Mark Contrerases of the world. 
    Meanwhile, Twins pitchers, used to throwing in the zone and letting Detroit Tigers hitters get themselves out, are vexed when every pitch means something and just throwing strikes isn’t good enough. The other teams in the AL Central had various reasons for not experiencing the same fate against New York, but they mainly involve developing the kind of pitching (Mark Buehrle, Corey Kluber, C.C. Sabathia, Justin Verlander, Max Scherzer, Zack Greinke, Shane Bieber, Chris Sale) that the Twins just haven’t (outside of one exception we all know and love):

    © Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports
    Chicago and Detroit have also spent significant money when their teams are in contention, while Cleveland has had the smartest front office in the division for decades.
    As for the Royals, they haven’t been great against the Yankees, either, but not remarkably so. That didn’t use to be the case, as they were getting bounced in the ALCS by New York three straight years in the late 70s, before sweeping New York in the 1980 ALCS. Confidence and lack thereof, is a thing, and it stacks when things don’t go well. 
    In other words, there is a fine line between the psychological feeling of playing with house money, and feeling like “here we go again” as soon as anything goes wrong. All the Royals had to do, to go from the Yankees owning them, to just losing an appropriate amount owing to actually existing talent disparities, was win that one playoff series. Or maybe it was just one home run:
    Could it be that Carlos Correa’s double in the eighth on Friday will have the same effect? Maybe, but the Yankees are a good team, and will continue to be a good team. Rebuilds are unnecessary for them given their resources, so over time they will likely maintain winning records against most teams. The only other team in the American League to operate that way, the Red Sox, also have a strong record against the Twins the past few decades. 
    The difference between winning 45% of the time against these big-spending teams, and 25% of the time, is simply turning the tables a bit, getting lucky, or making a statement. Put the pressure on them, and don’t fall into narratives. The Yankees play in a high pressure media market and when things go south, the heat gets turned up quickly. Heck they booed their beloved Aaron Judge in the playoffs last year as he delivered his worst nine-game stretch of the season. 
    They have also built rosters pretty shoddily since their last World Series appearance and win in 2009, often being forced into portioning huge amounts of their payroll or prospect capital into players they “have to” keep, or that they “have to” trade for. Think of 31 year-old Judge signing for nine years and trading real prospects for the black hole that has become Frankie Montas. Carlos Rodon already feels like an albatross, similar to Jacoby Ellsbury. That leads to less spending elsewhere, resulting in roster spots for folks like Willie Calhoun, Franchy Cordero and Aaron Hicks. The first two could have been signed by any team, and Hicks might be out of baseball if not for that unfortunate extension he signed five years ago.
    Last year the Twins were still less than serious, particularly after Chris Paddack and Bailey Ober went down with injuries. Relying on Chris Archer and Dylan Bundy to provide stability to a rotation was an act of an unserious team, the sort of team that could get lucky and win the AL Central, only to get exposed in the playoffs, or to act as a willing victim for a Yankees team that loves to beat up on overmatched/over-the-hill pitching. 
    Without the avalanche of injuries, it could have been different, and we saw signs that a seriousness was forming. Now, with the current hitting prospects they have in the upper minors, an elite closer, two lineup superstars, and their deepest, if not best, rotation since 1991, this Twins team is for real. Plus, it has the heliumized prospect capital (David Festa, Brooks Lee, Emmanuel Rodriguez) to make a huge move if needed at the deadline. If Pablo Lopez has truly taken his game to the next level, their ceiling goes even higher. That has been evident in this series, regardless of the Twins’ lack of hitting in the last two games. The Yankees averaged 3.25 runs per game; that’s beatable for a lineup that expects a functional Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco to return shortly.
    Now, winning the first game in this series in lopsided fashion was pretty fluky. Currently injured center-fielder Harrison Bader may have caught a few of the Twins doubles and ended the first inning before it spiraled, and the Yankees’ rookie starter was throwing high sinkers right into the Twins’ swing planes. He was also due for a clunker.
    The second game was more significant. The Yankees thought they had the game won, put in their “best” reliever and saw him give it up in the eighth. Yankees fans were already worried about Clay Holmes and his 5.81 ERA since last summer, and the Twins validated those concerns. This was also the game the Twins were punting; fill-in Louis Varland was starting against All-Star Nestor Cortes Jr. 
    That’s how you end a narrative in baseball. Yankees fans were horrified on Sunday that if Gerrit Cole gave up a baserunner in the ninth, that Holmes would be brought in with the tying run on. Putting the fear on the other side is new.
    I’m not saying the Twins are a better team, or that the second two games of the series weren’t convincing wins for New York. As currently constructed, the Yankees have serious flaws in their lineup and pitching depth, but they’ll get healthier in their rotation, trade for a bat at the deadline, and almost certainly make the playoffs. They’ll be a real team come August. 
    Real teams don’t always win playoff series, or even make the playoffs in some instances. There is a good chance one of the Rays, Blue Jays, Mariners or Yankees are on the outside looking in come October, despite the wealth of talent on their teams, but it doesn’t mean they aren’t good. It is without question that they each pose a real test to other good teams and stand a chance to win almost any game they play. 
    Not only can the Twins now say the same, but they know when the Yankees come to town next week, nothing is assured. That may not end this curse, streak, or whatever you call it, but it’s certainly an improvement.
  9. Love
    MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Twins 4, Yankees 3: Carlos Correa Comes Up Clutch In Yankee Stadium   
    Box Score
    Louie Varland: 6 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K
    Home Runs: Carlos Correa (2), Kyle Garlick (1)
    Top 3 WPA: Carlos Correa (.433), Jhoan Duran (.190), Jorge López (.136)

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    The craftiest lefty this side of Jamie Moyer, Nestor Cortes, employs variations of a Tiant-ian theme in order to acquire his outs. At whim he’ll devolve into jazz creativity, halting and re-tracing; dipping and gliding to offer hitters an uncomfortable dance they cannot deny. The hijinks—in concert with a rising fastball and a driving cutter—turned Cortes from comedy to drama, making him an All-Star for the first time in 2022 after a few seasons of anonymity. 
    Louie Varland is a little different: a righty with a jumpy fastball and an anxious nature to his delivery—emphasized by a glove tap in anticipation of his drive—he’s already beaten the odds by evolving from hometown story to legitimate major-league performer. These Yankees know it; they just watched him hurl on their own turf last season, turning in an outstanding seven-strikeout start to begin his MLB career. It was a match between the overlooked. 
    Just as a typical game enters its quiet phase, with both teams working to figure out their competition, the Yankees bombarded Varland. 
    Anthony Volpe caught a chest-high fastball flush, launching the pitch into a grateful third row of Yankees fans in left field. It was the first home run of Volpe’s career, and it was as bad a start a pitcher could have. No rest was to be had for the weary. With lamentations still fresh in the air, Aaron Judge—always the regal slugger—twisted a middle-middle heater into right-center, increasing the New York fans’ ecstasy and extending the lead to two runs over just as many batters. 
    Early action begat calmer winds, though, and the game soon turned cold. Minnesota’s batters found no such luck against Cortes, occasionally placing men on base but never mustering the effort needed to bring them home; the Twins did not score until the 6th.
    To his credit, Varland never wavered from his fastball, choosing to forget the prior damage on his way to four consecutive scoreless frames following his disastrous opening inning.
    The 6th is when the game entered a baseball Twilight Zone, quickly morphing from tepid duel to home-run battle. Carlos Correa’s solo home run—a Yankee Stadium cheapy, no other ballpark would allow such a batted ball to leave—brought the match within one run; but Giancarlo Stanton’s laser beam in the bottom of the frame re-established the two-run advantage. It wasn’t until Kyle Garlick jumped on a Cortes breaker when it became apparent that this game had no intention of acting normally. 
    Aaron Boone felt the pressure of the situation. Yankees closer Clay Holmes entered the game in the eighth, an inning prior to his typical home ending the game in the ninth. Michael A. Taylor poked a single to right and Byron Buxton worked a walk; Correa now stood at the plate as the man who could alter the match. A back-door 98 MPH sinker—Holmes’ bread and butter—was precisely what the shortstop anticipated, and he shot a liner down the right field line, beckoning Taylor and Buxton to fly around the bases and score the tying and go-ahead runs. 
    Jorge López navigated around a Stanton dribbling single to pass the baton to Jhoan Duran—the final boss. Franchy Cordero roped a single into left; Oswaldo Cabrera chopped a splinker directly to Correa. The double play was inevitable. Willie Calhoun pinch-hit for Jose Trevino, but Duran cared not for managerial efforts and magic; a heat-seeking fastball found the top of Calhoun’s bat, then soon nestled safely into Correa’s glove to end the game.
    Holy ****.
    The Twins have now won multiple games in Yankee Stadium in one season for the first time since 2014.
    Louie Varland set a MLB-career-high record with his eight strikeouts; he previously earned seven in his first major-league start against the Yankees on September 7th, 2022.
    Carlos Correa earned his second multi-hit game in a row.
    Jorge López extends his scoreless streak to 6 ⅔ innings to start the season.
    Post-Game Interview:
    What’s Next?
    The Twins will remain in New York for game three of the series Saturday morning; Tyler Mahle will face off against Domingo Germán.
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet

  10. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Lou Hennessy for an article, Something New or Déjà Vu? Another Hot Start for the Twins' Rotation   
    Going into the 2023 campaign, there was optimism that the Twins’ starting rotation would take a major step forward. Top to bottom, the group represented a breath of fresh air despite some health questions on the back end. The addition of Pablo Lopez at the top, along with the returns of Sonny Gray and Joe Ryan, had fans feeling optimistic that the club would find some consistency. There was also the added upside that Tyler Mahle and Kenta Maeda would return from their injuries of yesteryear and perform much closer to what the team expected when they acquired them.
    So far in this young season, that plan is coming together about as good as the club could have hoped. We’ve now seen a few trips through the rotation, and the starting staff has propelled the club to a competitive, hot start to the season. If that storyline sounds familiar to you, it’s for good reason. Just last year, the rotation was a major bright spot in April before coming apart at the seams as the season wore on.
    Does that mean fans should temper their excitement for this year’s class of starting pitchers? Or is there bound to be substantial regression to the mean? The answer is probably somewhere in between, but it’s interesting to look at the numbers from the first two times through the rotation in each year. 
    There are a few key differences between the 2022 rotation and this year’s staff, namely the contrast in expectations surrounding the members of each group. For example, it’s not hard to expect better production from Lopez compared to Chris Archer. A healthy Mahle will surely outperform Dylan Bundy. Even this year’s version of Ryan has bigger expectations than he had a year ago.   Expectations aside, the 2022 rotation looked strong through their first 10 games, igniting a spark of excitement for fans that have been begging for stronger pitching ever since baseball bloggers were buying Beanie Babies. In that short span, last year’s rotation had the second-best ERA in the league (2.96 ERA), the third-best walk rate (5.9%) and the fifth-highest rank when it came to runners left on base (75%).
    This year’s five starters also excelled in these areas through their first 10 games. They once again had the second-best ERA (2.62 ERA) and only trailed the Tampa Bay Rays, who are undefeated through their first 13 games. This year’s Twins rotation also ranked third-best in walk rate in their first two trips through the staff (6.2%) and they led the league in runners stranded on base (82.3%). Much of this improvement had to do with a massive increase in strikeouts. This increase has come from a better selection of put-away pitches, meaning a pitch selection once the count gets to two strikes. When the count gets to that point, the Twins have by far the best strikeout rate in all of baseball at 58% (league average is 42%). Maybe it's better execution, or the fact that each member of this year's staff seemingly came into the season with new pitches in their repertoire, but the fact remains that they have been far more lethal in put-away situations. 
    Even in their hot start, last year’s rotation never showed that high-punch out power that the current group has displayed. In 2022, they started the season with a 20% strikeout percentage in the first 10 games (8th in the league), and stayed around that mark through the end of the year. This year’s club came out of the gate ready to rumble, mowing down opponents with a dazzling 31.4% strikeout rate in their first 10 games. That mark led the league.
    In hindsight, last year’s rotation success in the first 10 games ended up being a mirage. By the end of the season, their ERA dropped to ninth in the American League (4.11 ERA), their walk rate ballooned to tenth (6.9%) and they stopped leaving as many runners stranded (72 %, seventh in the league). The only rate that stayed relatively consistent was the mediocre strikeout totals, where they finished tenth in the league at 20.2%.  Obviously there are a few different paths that this rotation can go down as the season progresses. If their strikeout numbers regress to the mean, it’s reasonable to expect the strand rate to start to balloon, and the staff ERA would likely follow suit. But if this group stays healthy and effective, especially when it comes to their high-punch out tendencies, they could remain at or close to the top of the leaderboard when it comes to these figures. And that would be a major breath of fresh air.
    What do you think? Is this year’s rotation bound for considerable regression? Or have they finally found a staff that can lead a contending team? 
  11. Haha
    MN_ExPat reacted to RandBalls Stu for an article, The Twins...Won?   
    Trust nothing you see on the internet. Deep fakes and AI and unreliable sources are as common as water, as the air we breathe. Cable TV, if anything, is worse.
    I’m telling you this because you’ve no doubt already read stories and seen video about how the Minnesota Twins jumped all over the New York Yankees with a nine-run first inning and didn’t look back, flattening the Bronx Bombers 11-2 at Yankees Stadium. But are those accounts real? Think about it. Take a deep breath and think about it. Who stands to gain? Why would they do this? Why are we falling for it?
    First, confirmation bias. We all want to believe the Twins can beat the Yankees. Nothing would give a Minnesota baseball fan more satisfaction than finally breaking New York’s historic dominance over the hometown nine. The good guys won! The bad guys ground to dust under our Red Wing boots! Wouldn’t it be lovely if it was true? Like when they finally contract the godless Chicago White Sox and send their sausage-fingered fans into the ice-choked waters of Lake Michigan? But we know that hasn’t happened. Why would we think this alleged triumph happened?
    Second, the media loves a new storyline. “Yankees Stomp Twins for the Millionth Time” doesn’t drive traffic. “Twins Batter Yankees, Sun Shines On America, the World” does. It’s the clickbait-iest clickbait that ever clickbaited. No one cares if a beat writer catches a foul ball. But if he makes a three-course meal out of it with all the fixings? Fire up the emergency servers, nerds. This “win” is just another can of corn headed directly at Dan Hayes.
    Third, we’re Minnesota sports fans. God has abandoned us. The world is a vampire. We are Sisyphus. This is our rock. Our enemies delight in our futility. Our basketball team fights each other. Our hockey teams innovate in the exciting field of grievous playoff exits. Our football team is the MINNESOTA [EXPLETIVE] VIKINGS. Honestly, the Minnesota Aurora should move to Rapid City, just to have a puncher's chance. Nothing about a decisive Twins victory over the actual, real New York Yankees makes sense. Because it didn’t happen. We all know this. We need to accept it and move on. Misery loves company, yet we are alone, here. 'Twas ever thus. 
    That said, if they did actually win, it would be pretty cool, right? Go Twins.
  12. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/13): A Surprise Promotion and Olivar Goes Off   
    Twins selected the contract of St. Paul OF Kyle Garlick Twins acquire INF Alex De Goti from Marlins for cash considerations and assign him to St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 2
    Box Score

    Minnesota native Louie Varland was set to pitch for the St. Paul Saints on Thursday night but was scratched roughly an hour before the game due to non-injury related reasons. It seems he’ll head to New York and join the Twins. Dereck Rodriguez made the start in his place and worked four innings. He allowed two runs on four hits while striking out five and walking just one.
    The Saints took the game’s first lead when Mark Contreras drove in both Tony Walters and Elliot Soto with a single to right field. The 3rd inning runs were quickly answered by Indianapolis when they plated one of their own in the bottom half. Former Yankees infielder Miguel Andujar then knotted the game with a 4th inning single.
    Minnesota pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic put up 2 1/3 innings of relief work tonight as he allowed no runs on just one hit. While he did walk three, the former top 100 prospect punched out four.
    Needing a go-ahead run, Ryan LaMarre came through for the Saints in the 8th inning. His third double of the season scored Contreras and that was enough to grab the victory on the evening. Austin Schulfer, who worked 1 2/3 of scoreless relief work, got the win. Jose De Leon finished the 9th inning and got his first save of the season.
    NW Arkansas 10, Wichita 3
    Box Score

    It was another David Festa start for the Wind Surge and the blossoming prospect continues to look sharp this season. Working 5 1/3 innings tonight, he allowed three runs on five hits but struck out six and allowed just a single walk. On the season his ERA stands at a shiny 2.61.
    Wichita pushed Alex Isola to third base in the 2nd inning before he scored on a wild pitch by Northwest Arkansas’ Anthony Veneziano. The game’s scoreless tie had been broken early. After giving a run back in the top of the 5th inning, Seth Gray put Wichita back on top with his first dinger of the year. Yoyner Fajardo then singled to right field allowing Armani Smith to score and make it a 3-1 game.
    From there, the wheels fell off. In the 6th inning Northwest Arkansas scored seven runs and added another in the 7th inning. What was a close lead had turned into a 9-3 deficit. Another run being added in the 9th inning made it 10-3 and that's where this one would wind up. DaShawn Keirsey Jr. was the long Wind Surge hitter to record multiple hits. Gray's solo b last was the only extra-base hit of the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS
    Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 1
    Box Score

    Kyle Jones took the ball for Cedar Rapids and tonight and was sharp over six innings of work. He allowed just three hits, and while one run did score, Jones recorded four punch outs while walking only a single batter. Unfortunately, the Kernels lineup wasn’t there to answer the opposition this evening.
    Down 3-0 in the bottom of the 7th inning, 2022 Twins draft pick Tanner Schobel stepped in and blasted his second homer of the young season. It was a nice shot to left center field, but it was just a solo homer, and the Kernels still trailed by two. Allowing another run in the 8th inning, Cedar Rapids went down 4-1 on the night.
    No one recorded multiple hits for Cedar Rapids, but Noah Cardenas kept up his strong start with another base hit raising his OPS to 1.045.
    Fort Myers 10, Clearwater 6
    Box Score

    Making his 2023 debut Develson Aria went tonight for the Mighty Mussels but lasted just three innings. Allowing a pair of runs on four hits, it was the four walks that did him in. Despite punching out seven, his pitch count got to 70 and he threw just 39 strikes.
    Aria was handed a lead early when Ricardo Olivar singled in a rehabbing Alex Kirilloff, and Carlos Aguiar doubled to drive home Jorel Ortega. Danny De Andrade then added a single of his own to score both Olivar and Aguiar making it 4-0 before Clearwater even stepped into the box.
    Fort Myers gave one back in the bottom of the 1st inning, but Olivar answered with his second hit of the game, doubling in Jorge Polanco. Although Clearwater answered again with a run of their own, the Minnesota first basemen sent one over the left field fence to make it 6-2. As Kirilloff works back from his wrist injury, seeing his power play is a big deal.
    It was an ugly 5th inning for the Mighty Mussels as a single and three-run blast tied things up. Rather than allowing it to change the game for them, they responded in the 7th inning. Rubel Cespedes hit his first home run of the season, and with Olivar on, the two-run blast made it an 8-6 game.

    The Mighty Mussels weren’t done flexing and continued to add in both the 8th and 9th inning. Maddux Hougton hit his first home run of the season before Dylan Neuse used a sacrifice fly to play Cespedes. In a game that had plenty of offense, Fort Myers emerged victorious.
    Despite the 12 hits, only Olivar and Cespedes had multi-hit games. Olivar’s four hits represented a new career-high. Samuel Perez worked 2 1/3 scoreless innings, punching out three, to pick up his second win. Jonathan Lavallee grabbed the two inning save.
    Pitcher of the Day – David Festa - 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    Hitter of the Day – Ricardo Olivar - 4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2B, K
    We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. 
    Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed:
    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-4
    #5 - Edouard Julien (Minnesota) - 2-5, 2 R, RBI, HR(1)
    #13 - David Festa (Wichita) - 5.1 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4
    #16 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2.1 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
    #18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, R, RBI, HR(2), 3 K
    #20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, 3 K
    St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez
    NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - LHP Connor Prielipp
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater (5:30PM CST) - RHP Cory Lewis
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday's games!
  13. Love
    MN_ExPat reacted to Seth Stohs for an article, Twins 11, Yankees 2: Julien Leads Twins to 9-Run First; Twins, Ryan Cruise   
    Box Score
    SP: Joe Ryan: 7.0 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 10 K (92 pitches, 69 strikes (75.0%)
    Home Runs: Michael A. Taylor 2 (3), Edouard Julien (1), Carlos Correa (1) 
    Top 3 WPA: Jose Miranda (0.124), Byron Buxton (0.076), Carlos Correa (0.068) 

    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Pregame Notes 
    There were a few interesting notes before the game even started. With Kyle Farmer being placed on the 10-day Injured List after undergoing surgery on Wednesday night, the Twins have added outfielder Kyle Garlick to the roster and moved Gilberto Celestino to the 60-Day Injured List. 
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Gleeman’s tweet got us all thinking. What could it mean? Why was Louie Varland scratched so late? Was there an injury?  
    All indications are that Dan Hayes was correct. It sounds like Varland will start for the Twins one of the next couple of days with the rest of the starters getting an extra day of rest. 
    Julien Leads Off and has Memorable First Inning 
    In just his second big-league game, Rocco Baldelli placed Edouard Julien at the top of the Twins lineup. In his debut on Wednesday afternoon, he went 0-for-2, but he did coax a walk. 
    In his first at-bat of the night, Julien drove a ball that one-hopped the right field wall at 104 mph. Played well by the outfielder, Julien was held to a single. 
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== I’ll tell you more about what happened in between shortly, but the Quebec native, whose family was in Yankees Stadium for this game, came to the plate again in the first inning, this time against reliever Colten Brewer. In patented Julien style, he hit an opposite-field homer into the left field bleachers for his first career home run.
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== That is just the fourth time since 1974 that a player has recorded his first hit and his first home run in the same inning (separate hits, of course). 
    Huge, 9-Run First Inning 
    It was a huge first inning for Edouard Julien, but it was a huge first inning for the whole Twins team. Julien got things going. Then he hustled to second on a Carlos Correa ground ball to the 5.5 hole. Anthony Volpe fielded it and threw to second, but after replay, Julien was safe at second. I included the article story photo that I did because you have to credit Rocco Baldelli for challenging the call in the first innings. You wonder, if they hadn’t challenged it or if Julien hadn’t been hustling, the rest of the inning and the game could have played out much differently than it ultimately did. 
    Honestly, I’m just going to bullet point the inning for you. Scoring nine runs before your team even plays defense is always a good thing. 
    Edouard Julien Single 104.4 mph.  Carlos Correa Single 87.6 mph.  Byron Buxton walk.  Trevor Larnach sacrifice fly. 97.8 mph. (Julien scored) Jose Miranda double. 98.6 mph. (Correa, Buxton scored) Donovan Solano double. 96.8 mph. (Miranda scored) Nick Gordon ground out. 86.5 mph.  Christian Vazquez double. 99.8 mph. (Solano scored) Michael A. Taylor home run. 104.0 mph. (Vazquez, Taylor scored) Pitching Change. (Colten Brewer replaced Jhony Brito) Edouard Julien home run. 96.7 mph (Julien scored) Carlos Correa home run. 99.8 mph (Correa scored) Byron Buxton walk.  Trevor Larnach flew out. 84.7 mph.  Nine runs. Eight hits. And to follow that, Joe Ryan needed just eight pitches to get through the Yankees top three in the bottom of the inning. 
    25-year-old Jhony Brito had made two MLB starts in his career before Thursday night. In his first two starts this season, he was 2-0 with a 0.90 ERA. Over 10 innings, he gave up just one run on five hits and three walks. My amateur scouting eye thinks that he has some really good stuff. His fastball sat between 96 and 98 mph, and he threw a few changeups that looked very good. Who knows where his career will go from here, but he certainly should get many more opportunities. 
    Michael A. Taylor Power 
    As you saw above, Taylor ended Brito’s night with a two-run homer in the first inning. 
    After the Twins went scoreless in the second, Taylor followed a second Christian Vazquez double with his second home run of the night and third home run of the season. 
    data:image/gif;base64,R0lGODlhAQABAPABAP///wAAACH5BAEKAAAALAAAAAABAAEAAAICRAEAOw== Known for his defense, the 32-year-old is in his tenth big-league season. In his career, he has hit .241/.295/.381 (.676) with 115 doubles and 75 home runs (before this game). So no, he isn’t a great hitter, but when you couple in his Gold Glove-caliber defense with the occasional extra base hit, he does provide value to a team. In his career, he has a 19-homer season, a 14-homer season, and a 12-homer season.  
    Joe Ryan Impresses
    If you only looked at his face, the focus that Joe Ryan showed in his Thursday night outing was tremendous. Even as he was running out to the mound with a 10-run lead in the 7th inning, he looked as if he was pitching in a one-run game. 
    Given the 9-0 lead before he took the mound, he responded with strikes and a very quick inning, exactly what the team needed. He was perfect through the Yankees lineup. Nine up. Nine down. In the fourth inning, he allowed a solo homer to Anthony Rizzo but shook that off to strike out Giancarlo Stanton to end that inning. He then struck out two more batters in a perfect fifth frame. 
    He gave up a bloop single to Anthony Volpe with one out in the sixth inning, but he got Gleyber Torres to fly out and then struck out Aaron Judge for a second time. Judge was replaced by Aaron Hicks in the eighth inning which ended his streak of 45 consecutive games of reaching base. 
    His night was complete after seven innings. Cole Sands made an appearance for the first time in well over a week. He had an 10-pitch eighth inning. With two outs in the ninth inning, Anthony Rizzo hit his second homer. 
    Of his 92 pitches, Joe Ryan threw 58 four-seam fastballs, with a range of 90.3 to 95.8 mph and an average of 93.2 mph. He also threw 23 splitters and 11 sweepers. 

    Christian Vazquez deserves a lot of credit for Ryan's performance as well. Along with calling a great game, he went 3-for-4 with two doubles. He's hitting .379 on the young season. 
    Postgame Notes
    (coming soon) 
    What’s Next? 
    On Friday night in The Bronx, the Twins will send RHP Louie Varland  to the mound for his first start of 2023 to face 2022 All Star LHP Nestor Cortes (2-0, 2.61 ERA) in Game 2 of 4 in this series. Game time will again be 6:05 central time. 
    Postgame Interviews

    Bullpen Usage 
      SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Alcalá 45 0 0 15 0 60 Durán 0 0 24 15 0 39 Morán 0 35 0 0 0 35 Pagán 23 0 0 0 0 23 Sands 0 0 0 0 23 23 Jax 0 0 8 12 0 20 Thielbar 0 10 4 0 0 14 López 0 0 0 12 0 12
  14. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Hunter McCall for an article, Should We be Concerned About Carlos Correa's Early Struggles?   
    In January, the Twins re-signed Carlos Correa to a $200M contract. A couple of weeks in, Correa has yet to exactly live up to the lofty expectations of signing such a lucrative deal. Through ten games, Correa is hitting just .182 with a .492 OPS. On top of that, Correa has missed several games with mid-back spasms. Many Twins fans have expressed their displeasure with Correa's early performance. He was even booed by home fans in the home opener following his third strikeout of the game in the top of the tenth inning. Should we be concerned about the star shortstop?
    The short answer? No.
    On April 27th, 2022, 16 games into the season, Correa was hitting just .167. He came up in many big spots and failed early in the season. Much was made of Correa's slow start at that time too, but he worked through his struggles, put together an excellent season, and earned every dollar (and one could argue more) given to him on his contract.
    So, what's the reason for Correa's early struggles?
    For starters, Correa is chasing out of the zone far too often. According to Baseball Savant, Correa is in the 22nd % in chase rate, which has resulted in him also being in the bottom fourth of the league in strikeout percentage.
    Correa is aware of the analytics and has often raved about his teammates' performances by referencing their Baseball Savant page. He knows he's struggling, and he knows the reason for it. As a player constantly looking for ways to perfect his craft, Correa will take every opportunity to fix this area and return to his usual superstar self.
    Another reason for his early struggle may have been the tightness in his back. Correa has been affected by back pain in the past, and while he stated this was a different part of his back than he has dealt with in the past, it is likely just as bothersome. When manager Rocco Baldelli announced Correa had been scratched from the starting lineup on Monday, he noted that Correa had been dealing with this minor injury for a few days, meaning it could've been hindering his play.
    How about the reasons for optimism?
    Going back to Correa's Baseball Savant page, there are some promising numbers to offset the negative numbers. Correa is in the 93rd percentile in max exit velocity, meaning when he hits the ball, he hits it harder than most players in the league. He is also above league average in average exit velocity and barrel percentage, inferring that he has been hitting the ball hard when he doesn't chase out of the zone and strike out.
    On top of hitting the ball hard, Correa has also shown improvement in the field in the small early-season sample size. Last year, Correa ranked in just the 18th percentile in outs above average, accounting for -3 OAA on the season. In the young 2023 season, Correa is in the 85th percentile in OAA and has accounted for +1 OAA. The sample size is small, but it is an encouraging sign that Correa could return to form as an elite defensive shortstop.
    To summarize, Twins' fans need to relax with the criticism of Carlos Correa. I understand the high expectations, but the guy gets booed enough on the road. He doesn't need to hear it at home too. He has been a slow starter at times, but as someone dedicated to studying the game and analytics, I am confident he will turn it around and produce at a high level.
    What are your thoughts? Let me know in the comments! Go, Twins!
  15. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Draft Preview: Midwest #PersonalCheeseballs   
    The term “personal cheeseball” (better represented by #personalcheeseball) originated over twenty years ago in the Baseball America offices when former writer and current Twins scout John Manuel started using it as “shorthand for a personal favorite that does not reflect the popular consensus.” 
    And that’s what you’ll see here. The first installment will cover players from the Midwest. These aren’t necessarily the best draft prospects from the area, but players that are more solidly on my radar for one reason or another. My radar isn’t reflective of any single team’s preferences or draft board. 
    Zion Rose, Catcher, IMG Academy (committed to Louisville): If you’re wondering how someone finishing his prep career in Florida counts as a local, it’s because Rose spent his first three years of high school at Brother Rice in Chicago. Catching prospects often seem like the hardest to find and Rose rises to the top with his athleticism and speed. Louisville has had three catchers drafted in the top five rounds over the last three years (including Henry Davis going first overall in 2021), so it’s entirely possible that Rose will make it to campus next fall but all it takes is one team to have enough conviction to draft Rose high enough to get him to turn pro.
    Mac Horvath, 3B, North Carolina: Horvath was a Minnesota prep before spending a year at IMG Academy en route to Chapel Hill. Horvath followed up a good sophomore campaign with a solid showing in the Cape Cod League and has been tearing the cover off the ball as a junior. Averaging a home run every 10 at-bats, Horvath has posted an OPS of nearly 1100 through 33 games and is quieting those who questioned his hitting ability. He’s definitely working his way in to top 100 draft prospect status.
    George Klassen, RHP, Minnesota: There are a few traits that work in your favor if you’re looking to achieve #personalcheeseball status. Being a pitcher that throws over 100 mph is one of those traits. There’s still work to do (23 walks in 30 ⅔ innings) with that fastball and Klassen has a delivery that portends a move to the bullpen, but who doesn’t love it when a manager turns to his bullpen and calls for the flamethrower? Exactly. Oh, and Klassen is a Wisconsin prep who hails from the same hometown (Port Washington) as the late Dustin Diamond aka Screech. Klassen may be an interesting case as he took a redshirt year after Tommy John surgery and has more leverage to return to school as he can reenter the draft two more times.
    Myles Naylor, SS, Canada prep (committed to Texas Tech): Ok, this might be a stretch because Ontario is far from local, but there’s a couple things to really like here and I didn’t want to wait until covering the shortstops. Naylor is the younger brother of Josh and Bo, so he’s got a built-in advantage of how to “become a pro baseball player.” And he’s young too, turning 18 this month. Analytically-driven teams love the “yeah, but he’s young” model. The other thing that is easy to like - and the most important - is that he’s going to hit and that even if he grows off shortstop, he should hit well enough to find a home in a corner.
    Dylan Questad, RHP, Wisconsin prep (committed to Arkansas): Always a fan of midwest kids, who sometimes lack exposure, potentially heading to the SEC and that’s Questad. Not big at only 6’0”, Questand probably isn’t going to get much bigger, but has a big fastball and a solid mix of pitches. 
    George Wolkow, OF, Illinois prep (committed to South Carolina): Wolkow is a big dude (6’7”, 220) and because of reclassifying from the 2024 class is likely to be one of the youngest players drafted. His profile is going to be all about his left-handed power. The ceiling is very high, and the floor is very low. But if you’re going to dream, dream big.
    Easton Breyfogle, OF, Minnesota prep (comitted to Arizona): Breyfogle is arguably the best prep prospect in the state of Minnesota and the left-handed hitting outfielder should have the opportunity to go pro if he chooses. 
    Next week, we will take a closer look at catchers.
    There are plenty of others that could have been listed here. This isn’t to say anyone is or isn’t going to be a good draft or baseball prospect. If you have your own local #personalcheeseball, leave in the comments!
  16. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Theo Tollefson for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/12): Ober Dominates, Lee and Rodriguez Homer   
    Edouard Julien was officially called up from the Saints to the Twins.  Ernie Yake was promoted from Cedar Rapids to take Julien’s on the Saints roster. Wichita activated catcher Frank Nigro from the Development List and placed Aaron Sabato on the 7-day injured list SAINTS SENTINEL 
    St. Paul 5, Indianapolis 1 
    Box Score
    Bailey Ober was on the mound for the third time this season and had his best start so far. The 6’9" righty dominated Indianapolis hitters striking out six while only allowing two runners to reach base through six innings pitched. Ober threw only 67 pitches with only 20 of those missing the strike zone, a great improvement from his previous start when he walked four batters through 3 2/3 innings. 
    The offense was carried by a couple of two-run home runs by two Andrews; Bechtold and Stevenson. Stevenson had the first home run following the Saints' first run of the game, which came courtesy of a throwing error by Indianapolis catcher Grant Koch in the top of the fourth. 
    The Saints only needed two relievers out of the bullpen Wednesday afternoon, Randy Dobnak and Trevor Megill. Dobnak threw two innings and allowed two hits, a walk, and Indianapolis’s only run in the game. Megill had his best inning of the spring in the ninth. He struck out the side on just 13 pitches. 
    Mark Contreras led the offense. He went 2-for-3 and walked twice. He also stole his third base. Stevenson went 2-for-5
    Wichita 8, Naturals 2 
    Box Score 
    The Wind Surge had a fantastic day on offense led by Twins Daily top prospect Brooks Lee. Lee hit his first Double-A home run in the bottom of the fourth inning, extending his team’s lead to 6-0 over the Naturals. The home run may have been Lee’s only hit but was enough to extend his hitting streak to five games. 
    Jake Rucker went 2-for-4 with a walk. Alex Isola was 2-5 and hit his first home run of the season. Pat Winkel and Anthony Prato each walked twice. 
    Blayne Enlow made his second start of the season for Wichita. He threw 4 2/3 innings and struck out eight batters. However, he walked three batters and gave up four hits. 
    The bullpen remained consistent keeping the Naturals bats quiet. Tyler Beck threw three scoreless innings out of the bullpen, allowing just one hit and two walks. He also struck out five batters. Jordan Brink recorded the final four outs for the Wind Surge, but not without giving up one run. 
    Cedar Rapids 10, Quad Cities 5
    Box Score
    Twins Daily’s #3 prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez followed up his walk-off grand slam from Tuesday night by crushing a three-run home run in his second at-bat on Wednesday. He struck out three times and is hitting just .167, but he has a .971 OPS and seven of his nine RBI came in those two at-bats. 
    Noah Miller continued his hot start and has more than validated his spot at the top of the lineup. In this game, he went 2-for-2 with three walks. 2022 fifth-round pick Ben Ross went 2-for-5 including his first home run of the season. Jeferson Morales went 2-for-2 with two walks and his first double and home run of the season.
    Jaylen Nowlin made his second start of the year and struggled. In just 3 1/3 innings, he was charged with four runs on five hits and three walks. Orlando Rodriguez came in and recorded four walks, but no hits, over 1 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings. John Stankiewicz was next out of the ‘pen. He struck out four over two innings. He gave up only a solo homer. Regi Grace finished by getting all six batters he faced out, two on strikeouts. 
    Clearwater 5, Ft. Myers 3
    Box Score
    The main news with the Mighty Mussels on Wednesday may have been who was not playing in their game, rather than who was. Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff, who began rehab assignments with the team in the last week, were both on a scheduled rest day on Wednesday. They are expected to be in the lineup on Thursday. 
    Starting on the mound for the Mighty Mussels was C.J. Culpepper, making his first-ever professional start. Culpepper tossed a strong four innings, but his command of the strike zone was inconsistent.  He walked three batters and gave up two hits. 
    Culpepper was replaced by fellow 2022 draft pick Ben Ethridge. He gave up one run on two hits over two innings. Hard-throwing Juan Mendez took the loss. He gave up two runs on two hits and two walks in the seventh inning. Lefty Zach Veen needed just six pitches to work a perfect inning. 
    The Mussels lineup had a great game getting on base eight times via the walk, but their hitting game did not translate into as great a performance. The Mussels five hits came at the wrong times (they were 0-for-12 with Runners in Scoring Position). 
    2022 sixth-round draft pick Jorel Ortega went 0-for-2, but he walked three times. He also stole his third base of the season.
    Pitcher of the Day – Bailey Ober (St. Paul) - 6 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K
    Hitter of the Day – Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-2, 2 R, 2 H, RBI (2), 3 BB
    Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 prospects performed today:
    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - (1-3, HR(1), 2 R, 2 RBI, K)
    #3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - (1-for-4, HR(2), R, 3 RBI, BB, 3 K) 
    #5 - Edouard Julien (Minnesota) - (0-for-2, BB) 
    #8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - (0-for-4, R, K)
    #11 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - (0-1, pinch hit for Julien)
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - (2-for-2, 2 R, 2 H, RBI, 3 BB)
    #20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - (1-for-5, R, 3B, RBI)
    The Saints will play their third game in Indianapolis with Louie Varland on the mound. The game starts at 6:37 p.m. CT The Wind Surge will have their third game of the homestand against Northwest Arkansas. David Festa will pitch against Jonathan Bowlan with first pitch set for 7:05 p.m. CT The Kernels will play another game at home against the Quad Cities River Bandits. First pitch (from Kyle Jones) is set for 6:35 p.m. CT.  Develson Aria is set to make his season debut for the Mussels on Thursday night against the Threshers with first pitch set for 5:15 p.m. CT>  Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games. 
  17. Love
    MN_ExPat reacted to Melissa Berman for an article, I Went to the First Two Home Series of the Season, Here's What I Noticed   
    Opening Day was a blast, and it was the right call to push it to Friday. For the second year in a row, the Twins moved their Home Opener to Friday, and this seemed to be the right call. It was less windy and about 12 degrees warmer, and by the end of the game, it felt plenty chilly enough in the shade with that breeze. Other fans cooled off during the game, too, because many crowded under the concourse heaters warming themselves like iguanas by the end of the game. From the fans I talked to, the consensus was that mostly everyone was happy with the Twins' decision to move the game to Friday. The Twins handed out navy blue baseball hats with the new TC logo on Friday and Saturday of the series. In past years, the team set the bar high with Opening Weekend giveaways like vests, hooded sweatshirts, and zip up jackets, so I was a little underwhelmed, but it is a nice quality hat. Everyone who stuck the game's chilliness out was rewarded: nothing like ending the game with a walk-off win vs. the defending World Series Champs! Eighty-degree games in early April? When they unveiled the Twins’ 2023 schedule, I immediately noticed that there were 16 home games in April, the most of any month, and figured we’d have a lot of bundling up and hand warmers in our future. I never expected we’d have games with temperatures in the 70s and 80s! “False Summer,” anyone? The Twins are leaving town just in time to cool down again, so time will tell what it will be like when the Twins return to play the Nationals on April 21. Attendance was strong over the weekend for the Astros series, but was been noticeably light for the White Sox series (12,078 on Monday, 16,153 on Tuesday, and 17,658 on Wednesday) despite the warm temperatures. Nearly everyone at at the ballpark was in shorts. Light attendance is pretty typical of April weekday games though, especially day games, and no doubt attendance will rebound on weekends and once school gets out; Target Field is packed with youth day camps during the summer.  The revamped Target Field looks impressive. Target Field was refreshed with a number of upgrades during the offseason, as you've heard by now. The new scoreboard looks even bigger in person, and I’ve been pleasantly surprised that it is not cluttered with ads. The scoreboard operators had a field day on Opening Day of scoreboard errors and mistakes, but since then it has been smooth sailing. The new, bright Minnie and Paul sign is a fun touch, though their handshake is slight, so you might miss it if you’re not looking closely! The "disco ball" in right field is cool, though I have not noticed it too much (it's pretty high up there). I also really enjoy the enhancements the Twins have added on the right field concourse, like mini golf and a new video board so that the parents chasing their kids around out there can keep up with the game action. After 13 years, it was time to bring Target Field into the future. One other change fans at the ballpark will notice is how quickly the building in left field is going up. I asked a friend who works in the urban planning industry, and he said that the tall tower has 352 long-term rentals, 98 short term rentals. The shorter building (not visible from inside Target Field) has about 350k square footage of office space and is already about a quarter leased. There will also be and 17k square footage of retail space in the base. Fan reactions to this giant building, and its crane, appear to be mixed; it's the only building visible on that side of the ballpark, so for now, it sticks out.
    But I’m not a fan of replacing the out-of-town scoreboard in the right field with rotating advertisements. The scores are now on a new light-up scoreboard down the third baseline. The scores and details on this screen are small and hard to read, and you can’t see the screen at all if you sit near home plate or anywhere down the first baseline. And, of course, no one wants to look at a giant ad the whole game, either. I know money makes the world go-’round, but I thought the out-of-town outfield scoreboard was a useful, unique feature of Target Field. Now the scoreboard is effectively unusable to a majority of the stadium. Somewhat related, it’s not a change the Twins made this year, but I miss the flags in right field displaying the order of the central division standings.  The new security system is a game-changer. I covered it in my story about Opening Day, but the new scanners have all but eliminated lines to get into Target Field. Even on Opening Day, which traditionally has lines that can span blocks, people could walk in as if entering during the middle of the game. I’ve still triggered the scanner a few times because I often bring a portable charger to the games (I asked a security employee, and he said the scanner is still a metal detector. He recommended I carry my portable charger in my hand so that security can see on the screen exactly what set off alarm- I took a peek at the security screen and saw a pitcher of me with a square over my bag. If I had been carrying the charger in my hand, I would've had a square over my hand), but it’s been no problem to hand my bag to the security staff and walk through the body scanner again. The new scanners will make everyone's lives a lot easier, especially those who bring purses are bags to games, because usually the bag lines were the longest.  He’s baaaack! Everyone’s favorite local realtor is back as the sponsor of the 7th Inning Stretch this year. Talk about an advertising budget. Just don’t mention him by name on Twitter unless you want him (or someone from his team) to swoop in and like every single tweet he’s mentioned in. Saturday Strikeouts and Ski-U-Mah! I am a proud University of Minnesota alum. It's not every day that your team plays in a National Championship, so I wore a Gopher hockey jersey to the game on Saturday. I was extra excited when the Twins used the big video board to wish the Gophers good luck, and they played the Gopher Rouser, which I loudly and passionately (annoyingly) sang along to. A side note is that the main video board looks even bigger when they use the entire display to show an image, and it's not sectioned into different parts like batting lineup, player picture, and stats. The Twins only handed out 5,000 of the magnet schedules a night on Monday and Tuesday of the White Sox series. I make it a point to get the magnet schedule yearly because I heavily reference it throughout the season. I got to the stadium early on both Monday and Tuesday, but I did not get a magnet either night. For reference, they're handing out 5,000 presumably-expensive wood bats for Carlos Correa bat day? Come on; it’s a magnet! Everyone in attendance should get one, which is what they do for the Timberwolves and Wild. It's a bummer for people who like to collect these, but of course they have already appeared on eBay. No more TC on his ATV. Last year after every win, TC Bear drove his ATV around the perimeter of the outfield carrying a giant Twins flag. It doesn't appear he's doing that again this year, apparently because it was a sponsored bit and that sponsor is out, which I'm a bit bummed about (I had no idea it was a sponsorship honestly). Anyone know of any Segway companies looking for a sponsorship? More Family Value Sections. This year, the Twins added a third Family Value section. I usually sit on the lower level, so if I wanted to meander over and get a discount lemonade or bag of popcorn, I'd have to walk over halfway around the park to the location in center field. With the speed of games and the pitch clock, I simply would not do that anymore; I would miss too much game. Now there is a second, prominently-located stand on the 100 level- outside section 120. I sat in 120 for the Opener and was surprised and excited the stand was located right outside my section. The other two stands are located outside 133  311. Here are some of the prices.  Dollar Dog Night returns. Dollar dog night is every Tuesday this season. The Twins say there is a limit of two hotdogs at a time, but I saw others buying way more than that. I don't plan on missing many of these nights. I noticed the Twins added way more condiments like BBQ sauce and mayo to their concourse tables, too. The Buck Truck is back! This year, after Buxton gets a home run or a big hit, the Twins have played a loud truck horn as Buck rounds the bases. Buxton also has brought back his pull-the-truck-horn celebration. In past years the Twins have sounded the Bomba siren as other players do their home run trot, but the siren has yet to appear.  Fans are fully taking advantage of the expanded beer sales. The Twins announced that this year, they would be continuing their alcohol sales into the 8th inning due to the shorter game times caused by the pitch clock. From what I have seen at the games, fans are taking advantage of this extra time. In the bottom of the 8th inning on Tuesday, a guy sat down a couple of seats from me with two fancy cocktail drinks. You have to wash down those dollar dogs with something, right? The intent of stopping the sales in the 7th was so that fans sober up a little before the game ends, but was that enough time to begin with? It is a good move to let vendors recoup a bit of the money they otherwise would have earned before MLB implemented the pitch clock. Speaking of.. The games feel MUCH faster in person. But it's kind of nice. Tuesday night’s game was a blazing fast 2:23 despite ten innings. That was partly because Pablo López retired 23 consecutive batters and struck out 10, but also because of the pitch clock. Everything feels faster now. It was the bottom of the 7th inning, and I looked up at the clock and saw it was only an hour and a half into the game. I am hestitant to get up at all during the game, because I might feasibly miss an entire half or full inning. It is a significant mindset change for me walking to my car at 9 p.m., getting home, and not having to go to bed immediately. It will be nice, especially on weekdays, for kids attending games or those who have to wake up early for work the next day. I used to consider watching a Twins game my entire afternoon or evening's activity, but now I almost equate it to the same amount of time spent watching a Timberwolves or Wild game. Target Field has a pitch clock in the outfield so that fans can monitor it, as well as two located behind home plate. Once the pitcher starts his windup, I've noticed the timer immediately turns off- probably so that the pitcher doesn't see the flashing numbers in his peripheral. On Saturday, we saw our first strikeout due to a pitch clock violation when Joe Ryan struck out José Abreu, and fans in the stands really hooted & hollered/ laughed. Great walkup song choices (even though I don't know many of them). Most of the returning Twins, outside of pitchers, changed things up this year and are using new walkup songs. Maybe my favorite is Kyle Farmer, who is using "A Sky Full of Stars" from the kids movie Sing 2 as his walkup this year because his son likes it. I was thankful they ditched the somewhat-cringy horror movie theme entrance for Jorge López (last year it included a scary little girl laughing and also the famous "Thriller" laugh). Best of all, it was incredible seeing Duran's entrance on Tuesday night- the first of the season under the lights. His entrance is an entire show in itself. The video board prompted fans to take out to turn their phone lights on, and the Twins flickered the stadium lights as Duran ran out. We don't need to mention what happened on the first pitch Duran threw, but the theatrics were incredible. Full list of Twins walkup songs here.  We'll see you back at Target Field next week for the Nationals Series!
    _ _
    Have you made it out to Target Field yet? What have you noticed during your time spent at the ballpark? Let us know in a COMMENT below. 
  18. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Thiéres Rabelo for an article, Twins 3, White Sox 1: Gray, Bullpen Finish off the White Sox for a Series Win   
    Box Score
    Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (78 pitches, 45 strikes, 57.7%)
    Home Runs: none
    Top 3 WPA: Sonny Gray (.275), Griffin Jax (.116), Ryan Jeffers (.095)
    Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs)

    Julien makes his big-league debut
    The biggest story before this game was second baseman Édouard Julien being called up to the majors earlier today. With Joey Gallo being placed on the 10-day injury list, the Canadian infielder was hurried back to the Twin Cities from Indianapolis to join the Twins roster and make his big-league debut. His first at-bat came only in the third inning, as Lucas Giolito cruised through the first two innings. The at-bat was rather quick, with Julien grounding out after only two pitches.
    But it wasn’t his first trip to the bat that caused some concern. In the top of the third, Andrew Benintendi hit a ground ball to right, towards Julien. The rookie infielder managed to get to the ball in time, but the ball just skidded under his glove to reach right field. It wasn’t ruled an error for him, but it was certainly a playable hit. Then, in the fifth inning, he made an awful throw to first base trying to pick off the runner, but fortunately, there were no repercussions. First-day jitters? We sure hope so.
    Twins take the lead after a scary moment for Farmer
    It was exactly after Julien’s first at-bat that things started to slip away from Giolito’s control. He gave up back-to-back singles, then loaded the bases by giving up a two-out walk to José Miranda. Nick Gordon flied out to center, and the Twins couldn’t capitalize on their first big threat, but some command problems by Giolito, combined with a few defensive mishaps by the White Sox defense, were about to give Minnesota its first lead shortly.
    In the fourth inning’s first at-bat, Ryan Jeffers hit a bullet to deep right field, which possibly was playable for Gavin Sheets. However, the White Sox outfielder fell down and couldn’t make the play, allowing Jeffers to reach third. Then, with Kyle Farmer batting, Giolito badly misplaced a fastball and ended up hitting the Twins infielder right in the face. He left the game with what the Twins initially called a jaw injury.
    Following that play, Julien made his second trip to the plate and took advantage of Giolito apparently still feeling shaken for hitting Farmer. The Chicago starter was all over the place during the at-bat, and Julien drew a five-pitch walk to load the bases again. Michael A. Taylor grounded out to first base, and the White Sox defense once again failed to field cleanly and, instead of turning a double play, allowed Jeffers to score from third.
    Gray tosses five scoreless but doesn’t look sharp in the end
    Making his third start of the season, Sonny Gray delivered another scoreless outing. However, he didn’t look as sharp as he did in his last time around when he pitched seven brilliant innings of one-run ball against the Astros on Friday. The White Sox put some pressure on him right out of the gate, with Luis Robert Jr. (double) and Andrew Vaughn (walk) both reaching in the first inning. He responded by retiring the next six batters he faced.
    After giving up two more singles in the third, then throwing a 1-2-3 fourth, he seemed to have command issues during the fifth. He simply couldn't find the strike zone against Seby Zavala, giving up a leadoff walk. He did manage to retire the next three batters, but he struggled to throw strikes. At the end of the day, what matters the most is the fact that he kept Chicago scoreless, but it’s worth wondering why he was a bit off target during that inning. He was pulled after the fifth with only 78 pitches thrown, but also throwing less than 58% strikes.
    Offense adds on, and the bullpen holds on tight
    Coming into this game, the White Sox bullpen had the third-worst ERA in the majors, at 6.91. When Giolito departed the game after the sixth inning, the Twins' offense managed their first multi-hit inning since the third but failed to capitalize in the seventh. Byron Buxton was involved in a collision with infielder Lenyn Sosa and landed awkwardly in the inning’s final out.
    But things were different in the bottom of the eighth. Jeffers hit a leadoff single and, a couple of at-bats later, was brought home by a Willi Castro double to right. Castro himself moved up to third on a Matt Wallner sac-fly, then scored on a Taylor bloop single to shallow center, making it 3-0 Twins.
    Upon the departure of Gray, the Twins’ bullpen absolutely dominated Chicago’s lineup. Jorge Alcalá, Jorge López, and Griffin Jax tossed three scoreless innings on 39 pitches, allowing only one hit and one walk. With the run support provided in the eighth, Jhoan Durán came in to get the save. He did give up a leadoff single, taken care of by a double play, and then a two-out solo home run to Sosa, but eventually finished off the game with a groundout to earn his third save of the season.
    Postgame interview
    What’s Next?
    Minnesota gets back on the road starting tomorrow for a four-game set against the New York Yankees in the Bronx. The first game of the series is scheduled for this Thursday (4/13) at 6:05 pm CDT, with Joe Ryan (2-0, 3.75 ERA) set to start the game for the Twins and Jhony Brito (2-0, 0.90 ERA) taking the mound for New York.
    Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
      SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Alcalá 0 45 0 0 15 60 Morán 20 0 35 0 0 55 Durán 3 0 0 24 15 42 Jax 12 0 0 8 12 32 López 14 0 0 0 12 26 Pagán 0 23 0 0 0 23 Thielbar 0 0 10 4 0 14 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0  
  19. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, The Twins Nailed Lineup Flexibility   
    All offseason the two largest storylines surrounding the Twins needs, aside from the general notion for pitching, included a desire to retain Carlos Correa and a push for a right-handed bat that can play the outfield. Max Kepler wasn't traded, Trevor Larnach has been among the best hitters on the team, and Joey Gallo looks like a great bounce back candidate. None of those players are right-handed, but Kyle Farmer, Donovan Solano, and Willi Castro have fit the bill.
    Originally, Farmer was tabbed as a baseline option to fill the starting shortstop role. The Twins sent minor leaguer Casey Legumina to the Cincinnati Reds after it was clear they were set to move on from Farmer. He provided a security blanket had Correa not returned which seemed likely since he agreed to deals with both the San Francisco Giants and New York Mets.
    No longer the starting shortstop, Farmer settled into a utility role but is not a guy that should be overlooked. He has already been responsible for a walkoff win during the home opener, and followed up that performance with a multi-hit day against the Astros that featured both a home run and a double. 
    Playing time was cleared for Farmer because Rocco Baldelli is without starting second baseman Jorge Polanco. Dealing with knee issues, he has just started rehabbing with the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. That has led to plenty of starts for Farmer, but Baldelli has an immediate pairing because of Nick Gordon. Splitting handedness, Farmer and Gordon are each continually put in advantageous situations because of how the Twins built the fringes of their roster.
    After posting a 113 OPS+ last season, Gordon established himself as a high-level utility option a season ago. Playing on the infield and in the outfield last year, maybe no one on the Minnesota roster has provided the coaching staff more flexibility. He is off to a slow start this season, but there is no reason to believe he won’t bounce back.
    When the Twins signed Solano during spring training, it was seen as an interesting move. Maybe Polanco wasn’t on track (he wasn’t) or maybe Alex Kirilloff wasn’t going to be ready (he wasn’t), but Solano as a righty made even more sense. He’s not an offensive juggernaut, but in three years for the Giants, he constantly was above league average. Being able to play multiple infield positions and first base, he has already proven his value to his new organization.
    Rounding out the group was what could arguably be considered the final player to make the 26-man roster. Former Detroit Tigers utility man Willi Castro is an ideal end-of-the-bench option. He is a switch hitter, and while he’s traditionally been an infielder, last season saw him play a whopping six different positions. Castro has been a regular in the past, and while his 80 OPS+ the past two seasons leaves plenty to be desired, he can be utilized in advantageous scenarios.
    By being flexible at the end of their bench and the fringes of the roster, Minnesota has afforded Baldelli a perfect mix-and-match spot. Farmer and Gordon are able to spell each other, while Solano brings more focus to the corner infield. Castro can be sparingly used and is never in a position where he has to be utilized, but also gives higher-level prospects time to develop on the farm.
    Knowing how much injury that they dealt with last year, it was clear Minnesota sought to find depth. In doing so, they had a plan to incorporate flexibility, and the completeness of this roster is something we haven’t seen for quite some time. Platoons have become a much larger focus in baseball, and although the Twins don’t need to rely on them, they’re constantly available at their disposal.
  20. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Cody Christie for an article, Prospect Retrospective: Edouard Julien   
    The Twins drafted Edouard Julien in the 18th round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Auburn University. In two collegiate seasons, he hit .266/.393/.501 (.894) with 21 doubles, one triple, and 27 home runs in 127 games. His college career exemplified many skills he has shown as a professional, with high on-base totals and a powerful swing. He spoke French and Spanish, but very little English when he got to Auburn as an 18-year-old, so he dealt with a language barrier early in his college career.
    He was draft-eligible as a sophomore because MLB ruled that his secondary school year in Canada counted as a collegiate season. Minnesota signed him for $493,000, which is well over slot for that late in the draft. Shortly after signing, Julien hurt his elbow in the Pan Am Games, which forced him to have Tommy John surgery. He recovered for the 2020 season, but there were no minor-league games during the pandemic, so his professional debut was pushed back to 2021. 
    During his first season, he split time between Low-A and High-A while playing four different defensive positions. In 112 games, he hit .267/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles, one triple, 18 home runs, and led all minor leaguers with 110 walks. He was the first Twins prospect with 100 walks in a season since Bobby Kielty two decades earlier. It was a solid pro debut, but his 2022 season pushed him into the conversation as a global top-100 prospect. 
    Julien spent the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita and posted some impressive numbers. He hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs in 113 games. He added 98 walks to his resume and has walked more than any other minor-league hitter over the last two seasons combined. Minnesota wanted him to build off his breakout year, so they sent him to the Arizona Fall League, and he continued to blossom. 
    The AFL can be a league that favors hitters more than pitchers, but Julien put up video game numbers. In 21 games, he hit .400/.563/.686 (1.248) with five doubles and five home runs. He went a perfect 6-for-6 in stolen base attempts and had more walks (23) than strikeouts (22). For his performance, Julien was named the 2022 AFL Breakout Player of the Year. According to the award criteria, it is given to the player that took the Fall League opportunity to propel himself into serious prospect status.
    Entering the 2023 season, Julien moved into Twins Daily’s top five prospects, a jump of five places from earlier in the year. The Twins also gave him opportunities this spring in his first year on the 40-man roster. In eight games, he went 8-for-23 (.348 BA) with three home runs and six runs. He might have gotten more opportunities with the Twins, but he was given the opportunity to play for Team Canada in the World Baseball Classic. Even without any big-league experience, he was thrust into the lead-off spots and responded in a big way. In four games, he went 7-for-13 (.538 BA) with two doubles, two home runs, and five walks. It looked like he was more than ready for the big leagues. 
    Minnesota optioned Julien to Triple-A while he was away from the club during the WBC. He had never played a game above Double-A, and the Twins had plenty of veteran options ahead of him on the depth chart. He continued his strong hitting in St. Paul by going 9-for-31 with two doubles, two home runs, and seven walks across nine games. He was pulled early from Tuesday night's game in Indianapolis because he got called up to the Twins. 
    So, what does Julien bring to the Twins? He has been an on-base machine at every professional level, and he will bring that patient approach to the Twins line-up. It will be interesting to see how big-league pitchers approach him early in his career because some scouting reports say he can be too passive sometimes in his desire to see pitches. His hit tool is among the best in the Twins system, and the Twins hope he can add something to an offense that has struggled to start the year. 
    He also doesn’t have a clear defensive home, with the Twins using him primarily at second base over the last two seasons. Julien is replacing Joey Gallo on the roster, but it isn’t a perfect one-for-one swap regarding their defensive abilities. Julien has fewer than 200 defensive innings at first base, third base, and outfield in his professional career. Also, Jorge Polanco and Alex Kirilloff have started their rehab assignments, so seeing how long Julien can stick on the roster will be interesting. 
    Hopefully, Julien’s performance is strong enough that the Twins will have a tough time ever sending him back to Triple-A. What do you think Julien can bring to the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. 
    For much more on Edouard Julien, click here for all Twins Daily articles and videos in which Julien was tagged. 

  21. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Steve Lein for an article, Twins Minor League Report (4/11): E-Rod Walks it Off in Grand Fashion   
    The Cedar Rapids Kernels placed C Charles Mack on the 7-day injured list (concussion) and C Wilfri Castro was assigned from the FCL Twins in a corresponding move. OF/1B Alex Kirilloff was sent on a rehab assignment with the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. He would bat third in the lineup and play first base in their game.  SAINTS SENTINEL
    St. Paul 10, Indianapolis 6 (12 innings)
    Box Score
    Brent Headrick made his second appearance of the young season for the Saints in this one, and it was much better than his first. He finished five innings, allowing just one run on four hits and one walk, while punching out eight. 50 of his 72 pitches went for strikes (69%), including thirteen swinging strikes.
    St. Paul got on the scoreboard first, when Edouard Julien clubbed an RBI double in the third inning to score Tony Wolters. Of note, is Julien was removed from the game after just two at-bats, as he’s been booked a flight to Minneapolis!
    Julien will be the first prospect from my preseason list to make his MLB debut for the Twins in 2023, and that will be especially fun for me since I’ll be at the game tomorrow. The Saints extended their lead to 3-1 thanks to a wild pitch in the sixth and Julien’s replacement, Hernan Perez's RBI single in the seventh. The score remained that way until the bottom of the ninth when Indianapolis finally got to the St. Paul bullpen.
    Patrick Murphy was summoned for the save opportunity and promptly loaded the bases. He managed to keep the game tied after allowing a two-run single, getting a strikeout and double-play ball to send it to extra innings.
    St. Paul and Indianapolis traded runs in each of the 10th (one each) and eleventh (two each) before the Saints broke it open with four in the 12th inning. Jose De Leon then closed the game out by picking up a pair of strikeouts.
    The Saints got multiple hits from Perez (2-for-3, 2 R, RBI, BB, K), Andrew Stevenson (3-for-6, 2 K, SB), and Wolters (3-for-4, 3 R, 2 2B), RBI, BB, K).
    In relief of Headrick, Brock Stewart continued his promising start to the 2023 season, going three innings and allowing just one hit and one walk, while striking out four (he had struck out all seven hitters he had faced before this outing). 
    NW Arkansas 1, Wichita 3
    Box Score
    The Wind Surge grabbed an early 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first, after Brooks Lee led off the game for the home team with a double, and was driven in by a sac fly from Jake Rucker. 
    They remained in the lead until the top of the fifth when the Naturals finally got a hit off starter Carlos Luna. He retired the first thirteen hitters of the game before allowing a solo home run to tie it at one in the fifth, and went on to finish 5 2/3 innings. Luna needed just 66 pitches (48 for strikes) while racking up 10 strikeouts in the outing. Kody Funderburk got the last out of the sixth and worked the next two innings, giving up two hits and one walk while striking out three. Alex Scherff finished off the game to pick up the win, walking one and striking out two in 1 1/3 innings pitched.
    Wichita took back the lead in the bottom of the eighth inning as they loaded the bases with one out. A wild pitch allowed Lee to scamper home before a bases-loaded walk to Pat Winkel made the final score of 3-1. Of note during that sequence, is Aaron Sabato was hit by a pitch and left the game.
    The teams combined for just five hits in the game with Wichita only collecting two. But they were able to take advantage of five walks and a pair of errors from the NW Arkansas defense late to steal the win in their home opener.
    Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 8
    Box Score
    Making the start for the Kernels was 2022 Fort Myers standout, Pierson Ohl. The right-hander finished five innings, allowing three runs (two earned) on five hits and a walk, while punching out six. Malik Barrington was the first man on in relief and went the next two innings, allowing just one hit and one walk while striking out five. 
    At that point in the game, the River Bandits were up 3-2, with the Kernel's runs coming on a wild pitch in the third inning and an RBI groundout from Willie Joe Garry Jr. in the fifth. They would take a 4-3 lead in the bottom of the eighth on RBI singles from Tanner Schobel and Ben Ross.
    Iowa native Matt Mullenbach delivered a scoreless eighth inning and was back out for the ninth, and if not for the solo home run he allowed, we would not have seen what happened in the bottom of the ninth.
    Tied at four, the Kernels' Noah Cardenas, Garry Jr., and Noah Miller all drew walks to load the bases for top outfield prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez with no outs. He jumped on the first pitch he saw and, well, enjoy:
    The walk-off grand slam was Rodriguez’s first home run of the season, the Kernels only extra-base hit on the game (they were outhit 10-to-5 as a team), and he finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored, two walks, and four RBI. Joining him with two runs scored were Miller (0-for-3, 2 BB, K), Cardenas (0-for-2, BB, 2 K), and Garry Jr. (1-for-3, RBI, BB, K, SB). Tanner Schobel chipped in two hits and an RBI.
    Fort Myers 0, Clearwater 6
    Box Score
    The Mighty Mussels were blanked by the Threshers on Tuesday, as they managed just three hits and three walks in the game. Jorel Ortega provided their only extra-base hit with a double. They were just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position as a team, leaving only four men on base.
    The biggest story among the hitters in this one was the rehabbing major leaguers, including the beginning of a rehab assignment for Alex Kirilloff. He picked up one of their three hits, finishing 1-for-3 with a strikeout. Fellow rehabber Jorge Polanco also was 1-for-3 playing second base, struck out twice, and both major leaguers were substituted to begin the eighth inning.
    Righthander Tomas Cleto made the start for Fort Myers and went the first four innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits while striking out two. Josh Winder made his second rehab appearance for the Mighty Mussels, pitching the fifth inning and setting the Threshers down in order, including a strikeout to end his inning. Wilker Reyes then went multiple innings but allowed runs in each before being lifted for Jackson Hicks with two outs in the eighth. Reyes was charged with four earned runs on six hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings while striking out two.
    Pitcher of the Day - Carlos Luna, Wichita Wind Surge (5 2/3 IP, H, ER, 10 K)
    Hitter of the Day - Emmanuel Rodriguez, Cedar Rapids Kernels (1-for-3, 2 R, GS, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K)
    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-for-3, 2 R, 2B, BB
    #3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-3, 2 R, GS, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K
    #5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 1-for-2, 2B, RBI
    #8 - Jose Salas (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K
    #11 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 0-for-4, 3 K
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, K
    #18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, RBI
    #20 - Misael Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, BB, 2 K
    St. Paul @ Indianapolis (10:05 AM CDT) - RHP Bailey Ober (0-1, 6.75 ERA)
    NW Arkansas @ Wichita  (7:05 PM CDT) - RHP Blayne Enlow (0-0, 1.80 ERA)
    Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CDT) - LHP Jaylen Nowlin (0-0, 0.00 ERA)
    Fort Myers @ Clearwater (5:30 PM CDT) - RHP C.J. Culpepper (2023 debut)
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  22. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Steven Trefz for an article, Twins 4, White Sox 3: Lopez Dominates in another Wild Walk-Off Win!   
    Minneapolis - On the heels of their second two-game losing streak in 2023, the Twins sought to take a positive step toward winning another series in Game 2 at Target Field against an old teammate, Lance Lynn. Pablo Lopez started the game off shaky, committing an error, allowing three hits, and surrendering two runs. However, Lopez and the Twins battled right back with two runs of their own in the 1st inning, and took the lead in the second. Pitchers dominated the middle of the game, but a usually dominant Jhoan Duran served up a ninth-inning homer and the teams headed into the second extra inning game on this home stand.
    The Twins didn't give up, and thanks to some classic White Sox defense, a Michael A. Taylor bunt and a wild throw brought home the walk-off run in the bottom of the tenth!
    Here's how it all went down.
    Box Score
    SP: Pablo Lopez: 7.2IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K (98 pitches, 70 strikes (71%)
    Home Runs: Buxton (2), Taylor (1)
    Top 3 WPA: Pablo Lopez (0.331), Griffin Jax (0.130), Byron Buxton (0.124)

    Win Probability Chart

    Welcome to the First Night Game of the Season at Target Field!
    Warm temperatures greeted the batters to Target Field tonight, and both offenses hit the ground running. Lopez came into the game on fire, but struggled early against a White Sox lineup that was missing Tim Anderson (fresh on the IL).
    The Sox Strike First
    Andrew Benintendi led off the game with a single, followed by a Luis Robert swinging bunt. Lopez attempted to make the impossible happen by playing the ball off the mound, but instead skipped the ball like a rock into foul territory, allowing both runners to advance on the play. After a walk to Gavin Sheets loaded the bases with no one out, Andrew Vaughn made Lopez pay with a booming double off of the wall, scoring Benintendi and Robert.

    The Buck Truck Delivers!
    Lopez was able to settle down, and stranded Sheets and Vaughn on a strikeout and two ground-outs. This brought the Twins up in the bottom of the first, needing a spark. After Donovan Solano singlesd to right field, Byron Buxton came to the plate and made some Twins history, launching his 100th home run to left field, and tying the game 2-2. Not the Only Center-Fielder with some Pop!
    Lopez retired the White Sox 1-2-3 in the second inning, which rushed Lynn back onto the mound. After retiring Matt Wallner and Christian Vazquez, Lynn left a hanging curveball to Michael Taylor, and he did not miss! Taylor lashed a home run to the left field bullpen to put the Twins up 3-2.
    Lopez Locked In
    The story of the middle innings was Lopez's dominance, as he finished the first inning and blazed through the next six innings 21 up, and 21 down. After needing 31 pitches to complete the first inning, Lopez only needed 58 to complete the next six innings! Vazquez's role in this gem can't be overlooked, as the Twins pitching staff carried a 1.86 team ERA into this night, and he righted the ship early to call a great game. Lynn fared similarly through the middle of the game, however, scattering two hits across innings three through six, keeping the game tight at 3-2.
    Bullpen Time
    Recently recalled reliever Keynan Middleton took the mound in the seventh for the White Sox, and struck out the side. Lopez returned in the top of the eighth to strike out the first two batters, and much to the dismay of the Twins Twitter faithful, Rocco Baldelli came out to pull the man who had just retired 23 men in a row. Enter Caleb Thielbar and he did not disappoint, striking out Benintendi to end the inning. After lefty Jake Diekman pitched a scoreless eighth for the White Sox, the stage was set for a Jhoan Duran ninth inning save.
    Uh Oh...
    Someone forgot to tell Luis Robert that Duran has been un-hittable so far this season, as he smashed a game-tying first pitch homerun off of Duran's curveball.
    Duran channeled his anger into three straight strike outs after that bomb, but the damage was done. The Twins hoped for another walk-off winner in the bottom of the ninth. Reynaldo Lopez came in for the White Sox, and struck out Farmer and Wallner before Vazquez sent one deep into the right field gap. His eyes were faster than his legs, however, and he was thrown out trying to stretch the double into a triple with two outs.    Let's Play Extra! The Twins sent Griffin Jax in for the top of the tenth inning, and he induced pinch-hitting Hanser Alberto into a ground out, advancing pinch runner Lenyn Sosa to third. Oscar Colas flied out to shallow left field, and Romy Gonzalez grounded out to Jax to end the threat.    Willi Castro pinch ran for the Twins as the "ghost runner" in the bottom of the tenth, and Taylor started the inning with a surprise attempt to simply move the runner over with a bunt. After Alberto (now in at third base) tossed the ball off of Taylor's helmet at first base, Castro cruised on home to send the fans home happy with a 4-3 victory!   Final Thoughts
    Twins fans hoped that Lopez would lead the team back into their winning ways, and he did not disappoint. The Twins once again found just enough offense to win the game, and reclaimed first place in the Central for the time being. The news of Edouard Julien's impending MLB debut will be story "A" in the morning, but the consistent ace-level pitching from Lopez will be a story that Twins fans pray continues far into 2023. On a night where Luis Arraez became the first Marlin to ever hit for the cycle, Twins fans can rest assured that this looks like one trade where both squads won. On a night in which the Twins needed a win, they got one. What’s Next? 
    The Twins will attempt to win the series against their Central Division rivals by sending to the mound right-hander Sonny Gray (1-0, 0.75 ERA) in Game 3 of the series on Wednesday afternoon. Right-hander Lucas Giolito (0-0, 9.00 ERA) will counter for the White Sox. The game is scheduled for 12:10 pm CDT.  
    Postgame Interviews
    Bullpen Usage
      FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Morán 0 20 0 35 0 55 Durán 19 3 0 0 24 46 Alcala 0 0 45 0 0 45 Jax 13 12 0 0 8 33 Pagán 0 0 23 0 0 23 López 8 14 0 0 0 22 Thielbar 0 0 0 10 4 10 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0  
  23. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Ted Schwerzler for an article, Pablo Lopez Has a New Weapon   
    It was never going to be well received when the Twins front office decided to ship Luis Arraez down to Miami. What could soften the blow was a level of production from the incoming Pablo Lopez. Arraez is off to a hot start for the Marlins, but Lopez who started on Opening Day, has equally been on fire.
    Lopez came to the Twins with two years left under team control. Since 2022, the former Miami righty owned a 3.52 ERA and was as consistent as you could hope on a nightly basis. Although he has never garnered Cy Young attention like former teammate Sandy Alcantara, Lopez has flashed elite stuff with an ERA just above 3.00 in 2021.
    Looking to push him towards an even higher level, Minnesota saw some opportunity to introduce another weapon into his repertoire. Having never before thrown any iteration of a slider, the Twins worked with Lopez on the new sweeper offering. He has thrown it just over one-quarter of the time across his 173 pitches in two starts. There is no denying that the usage has been significant, but that is not at all surprising given the results.
    Of the 48 sweepers he has flipped this season, 17 of them have resulted in a whiff. For a pitcher that got just over 12% swinging strikes last year, his 35.4% whiff rate on the sweeper offering alone is otherworldly. Thanks to the dominance of that pitch, other offerings have paired wonderfully resulting in a 16.8% overall whiff rate.
    Although Wes Johnson is no longer in the Minnesota organization, it’s hard not to be impressed with the velocity explosion that Pete Maki and the pitching staff has continued to exploit. That rings true with Lopez as well, and it’s even more impressive given the early juncture we are at during the regular season. Lopez sat 93.5 mph with his fastball last year, and has never averaged more than 94.1 mph on the pitch. This season, Lopez has jumped the fastball velocity to 95.3 mph, nearly two mph faster than his career average.

    The totality of the results has given Minnesota a starter that looks the part of an ace. Rocco Baldelli doesn’t have one of the ten best arms in baseball, but he has an entire rotation filled with guys capable of pitching as a number three or better. Given how well Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, and Kenta Maeda each looked out of the gate, you could overlook any one single performance to the credit of the group. If each of the arms continues to one-up the last, the Twins should have every opportunity to be there in the end.
    Any time the Twins struggle to score runs or look lost without a leadoff man, Arraez will be considered. Max Kepler has tried to fill in atop the lineup, and while not healthy now, needed a breakout game to get going. There is nothing wrong with Arraez doing well for Miami, and there isn’t a reason for anyone in Minnesota to have sour grapes when Lopez is shoving like he has.
    We are still very early in the season and Lopez will continue to fine-tune his repertoire as the year goes on. The velocity could jump even to another level as the weather continues to warm up, but so far it’s the sweeper that has gotten and deserved the attention. Generating whiffs on one-third of a pitch usage is probably unsustainable, but it could wind up being among the best offerings across MLB this season.
    When Statcast sought to classify the sweeper they wanted to find a way to describe a pitch more horizontal than the verticality of the slurve. Should things continue along this path maybe Pablo can petition for a name change to the Lopez by year's end.
  24. Love
    MN_ExPat reacted to Jeremy Nygaard for an article, Twins Minor League Week in Review (3/31-4/9)   
    If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week.
    With no Monday Minor League Report, we will include all transactions that we've missed. But with the lack of games on Sunday, there haven't been any moves. RESULTS
    Friday (3/31): Saints Battle, but Fall Short in Season Opener Saturday (4/1): Four Homers Lead St. Paul to First 2023 Victory Sunday (4/2): Saints Take Series One Thursday (4/6): Affiliates Get Underway  Friday (4/7): Everyone Gets a Win!  Saturday (4/8): Connor Prielipp Debuts in Twins' System; Zebby Matthews Silences for Fort Myers Sunday (4/9): Saints Bested on Easter MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT 
    Wind Surge Roster Preview Kernels Roster Preview Mighty Mussels Roster Preview TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS
    St. Paul @ Indianapolis (5:05PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (0-0, 11.25 ERA) NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - TBD Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (season debut) Fort Myers @ Clearwater (5:30PM CST) - RHP Tomas Cleto (season debut) WEEK IN REVIEW 
    Triple-A: St. Paul Saints (Week: 4-4)
    Overall: 4-4, 2.0 games back in the International League West.  Overview: After dropping the season opener, the Saints were able to get back on track with two wins before Minnesota weather pushed the home opener back and forced the team to play five games in four days, alternating between losing and winning. Hitters: The veteran outfield of Mark Contreras, Kyle Garlick and Ryan LaMarre have led the offense. But all eyes will be on newly-minted Top 100 prospect Edouard Julien, who already has two home runs and an OBP of .417. Matt Wallner was recalled to Minnesota to replace the injured Max Kepler. Pitchers: Bailey Ober has not been as sharp as he was this spring, already walking five in 6 2/3 innings. But aside from Louie Varland, pretty much everyone has struggled. We're going to chalk this up to early-season cold weather and just assume that since Varland is "one of us" that weather will never effect him. What's Next: a trip to Indianapolis (5-4), including a 10:05 am start time on Wednesday morning, if you're into that sort of thing. Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge (Week: 2-1)
    Overall: 2-1, 1.0 game back in the Texas League North. Overview: Hard to complain about starting your season with a series win, especially when you don't hit very well (.204/.286/.245), Hitters: Newcomer Yoyner Fajardo has been Wichita's best hitter through the first series. Fajardo joined the Twins after previously being in the Pirates organization. Last season, Fajardo tore up high-A ball (1.059 OPS) while primarily playing second base and right field. He's logged all of his innings for the Wind Surge in left field so far. Having just turned 24, Fajardo is still young enough to catch some prospect-watchers' attention... but we are talking about only three games. Brooks Lee is name to watch for this team and you'll be able to follow his progress in each one of these reports. Pitchers: The Twins traded away so many prospect that would be at this level (or higher), but managed to hold on to David Festa, who was nearly perfect in his debut. Blayne Enlow also had a nice performance (six strikeouts in five innings) in his second go-around at AA. What's Next: The Wind Surge will welcome Northwest Arkansas (1-2) to Wichita for a six-game set that begins on Tuesday.  High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels (Week: 3-0)
    Overall: 3-0, tied for first in the Midwest League West Overview: A sweep on the road over Peoria is a great way to start a season: two one-run wins before finishing it out in a convincing four-run win. Hitters: Slow starts for big names like Emmanuel Rodriguez (.093) and Misael Urbina (.182), but others - like Keoni Cavaco, Noah Cardenas and Noah Miller - stepped up. Despite striking out 41 times in three games, the Kernels put together 16 runs on 25 hits (with only two home runs). A strikeout ended exactly one-third of the team's at-bats, so that's something to keep an eye on. Pitchers: A mixed bag of results for the three starters. Jaylen Nowlin didn't give up any runs, but walked three in four innings. Kyle Jones struck out six and walked none in 5.1 innings. Connor Prielipp was up-and-down in his long-awaited professional debut.  What's Next: Six games of home-cooking against Quad Cities (0-3). Book your trip to Cedar Rapids soon while they have all the prospects. Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels (Week: 2-1)
    Overall: Season: 2-1, tied for first in the Florida State League West Overview: After dropping the opener to Dunedin on Thursday, the Mighty Mussels came back to win the series with victories on Friday and Saturday. The team got help from appearances from Jorge Polanco and Josh Winder.  Hitters: 2022-draftee Dalton Shuffield kept the power going by hitting his first home run - and Fort Myers only home run - this season after swatting four last year in 25 games. Shuffield was one of hit hitters with multiple hits in the opening series. Jorel Ortega had two doubles. The team was also successful in all six of their steal attempts. Pitchers: A trio of last year's draft picks made the starts for the Mighty Mussels. Zebby Matthews (8th round) struck out seven in five scoreless innings. Andrew Morris (4th round) also struck out seven, but allowed three runs on eight hits in 4 1/3 innings. Cory Lewis (9th round) had a rough pro debut. What's Next: A trip north up the coast to Clearwater (2-1) to begin a six-game series on Tuesday. PROSPECT SUMMARY
    This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week. The Prospect Tracker will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. Notice that these pages now include stats and splits, as well as past article links, video and more. (Season-long stats will be in parenthesis.)
    20. Misael Urbina, OF, Cedar Rapids: 2-11, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 3 BB, 3 K. (.182/.357/.273. .630 OPS)  19. Jose Rodriguez, OF: Extended Spring Training 18. Tanner Schobel, 2B, Cedar Rapids: 3-14, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R, 4 K. (.214/.214/.429. .643 OPS), played two games at second base (one error in 11 chances) and one game at third base (no errors in no chances).  17. Ronny Henriquez, RHP: On Minnesota’s injured list with elbow inflammation. 16. Jordan Balazovic, RHP, St. Paul: 0-0 (6.75 ERA), 1.1 IP, H, ER, 2 BB. (2.25 WHIP, .250 BAA) 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Still recovering from Tommy John surgery. 14. Noah Miller, SS: 5-15, 2B, RBI, 2 R, 5 K. (.333/.333.400. .733 OPS), played shortstop in all three games and committed no errors in 17 chances. 13. David Festa, RHP, Wichita: 1-0 (0.00 ERA), 5.0 IP, H, 8 K. (0.20 WHIP, .067 BAA) 12. Yasser Mercedes, OF: Extended Spring Training 11. Matt Wallner, OF, St. Paul: 5-20, 2 2B, 3B, HR, 6 RBI, 4 R, 2 BB, 9 K. (.300/.364/.650. 1.014 OPS) Recalled to Minnesota 10. Austin Martin, SS: Martin is still recovering from an arm injury. 9. Louie Varland, RHP, St. Paul: 1-0 (1.80 ERA), 5.0 IP, 4 H, ER, BB, 9 K. (1.00 WHIP, .222 BAA) 8. Jose Salas, INF: 1-8, R, BB, 3 K (.125/.222/.125. .347 OPS), played one game at second base (no errors in four chances) and one game at third base (no errors in five chances).  7. Connor Prielipp, LHP, Cedar Rapids: 0-0 (6.75 ERA), 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K. (1.75 WHIP, .294 BAA) 6. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP, St. Paul: 0-1 (4.91 ERA), 3.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, HR, 2 BB, 6 K. (1.64 WHIP, .267 BAA) 5. Edouard Julien, 2B, St. Paul: 8-29, 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 9 R, 7 BB, 12 K, 1/1 SB. (.276/.417/.517. .934 OPS), played two of three games at second base and committed one error in 28 chances. (DH in the other game.) 4. Marco Raya, RHP: Getting a late start to the season after some arm soreness. 3. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF, Cedar Rapids: 1-11, 3B, 2 RBI, 2 R, 2 BB, 6 K. (091/.267/.273. .540 OPS)  2. Royce Lewis, SS: Lewis is still recovering from his second ACL surgery.  1. Brooks Lee, SS, Wichita: 4-13, 2B, RBI, 4 R, BB, 2 K. (.308/.357/.385. .742 OPS), played all three games at shortstop and committed no errors in 12 chances.  PLAYERS OF THE WEEK will return next week when all teams have a full week of action.
    Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the players and the teams in the COMMENTS below.
  25. Like
    MN_ExPat reacted to Matt Braun for an article, Minor League Report (4/8): Connor Prielipp Debuts in Twins' System; Zebby Matthews Silences for Fort Myers   
    OF Matt Wallner recalled from Triple-A St. Paul to Minnesota 
    Saints Sentinel
    Game One (7 Innings): St. Paul 7, Iowa 9
    Box Score
    Aaron Sanchez: 4 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 4 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Ryan LaMarre (3-for-3, 2 2B, R, 4 RBI), Andrew Bechtold (3-for-4, 2B, RBI)
    The Saints lost a nasty, brutish, and short opening game of their doubleheader on Saturday.
    It was a match neither side excelled in; both pitching staffs allowed seven walks, finding themselves outside of the strike zone and reliant on poor discipline to earn outs. Success with this strategy wavered.
    The Cubs struck first, ambushing starter Aaron Sanchez in the third for a pair of runs; they could now claim the lead. The Saints responded—immediately softly; eventually prevailing—as a run-scoring wild pitch broke ground for a go-ahead two-run Ryan Lamarre double in the following frame. 
    The fifth was chaos; a trio of Cubs runs were countered by four overwhelming Saints scores, handing St. Paul a two-run cushion heading into the sixth inning. They needed more. 
    Iowa scored twice in the sixth, then ran it back in the seventh, finally burying St. Paul for good with nine runs to their seven; no Saints’ pitcher escaped without damage to their ERA and egos.
    Seiya Suzuki played five innings on a rehab assignment; he collected a single and a walk. Technically old friend, Nick Burdi, struck out the side in the seventh to end the game. 
    Iowa’s best prospect—Brennan Davis—walked once in four trips to the plate.
    Game Two (7 Innings): St. Paul 8, Iowa 5
    Box Score
    Randy Dobnak: 1 2/3 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K
    HR: Andrew Bechtold (1)
    Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (3-for-4, 2B, 2R), Kyle Garlick (2-for-4, R, RBI), Andrew Bechtold (2-for-3, HR, R, 2 RBI)
    Game two was a similarly sloppy pitching performance by St. Paul, but one they were able to overcome. 
    Randy Dobnak struggled. A passable first frame begat a dreadful second filled with walks, hits, and runs—a pitcher’s worst nemesis. Dereck Rodriguez was forced to save his friend early, entering the game with two outs and soaking up 13 outs to save his team from potential disaster.
    Nick Neidert—Iowa’s starter—fared no better. Allowing an astounding 11 hits over 2 1/3 innings, Neidert coughed up eight runs (four earned) and couldn’t escape the third, needing Anthony Kay to graciously relieve him. 
    The game entered a strange quiet stage following the third; neither team scored as a scattered selection of baserunners all found themselves stranded, unable to find their way home. 
    Andrew Stevenson, Hernán Pérez, and Andrew Bechtold all collected two RBIs; Edouard Julien enjoyed a trio of hits.
    Manager Toby Gardenhire spoke highly of Bechtold after the game. “Bech's one of those guys where he's had a lot of success going up the minor leagues at different levels,” he said. “He's got a lot of tools, he's got a lot of power, he can do a lot of things. Him having days like this, I just hope it's a building block toward him consistently being able to do what we all know he can do. Because he's got a lot of tools and I hope he can just build off of this one and keep it rolling a little bit longer.” (Quote via Twins Daily’s resident journalist, Theo Tollefson.)
    Old friend, Tyler Duffey, tossed a scoreless inning with two strikeouts.
    Wind Surge Wisdom
    Wichita 4, Springfield 9
    Box Score
    Travis Adams: 2/3 IP, 5 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 1 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: None
    Wichita lost an uncompetitive match on Saturday.
    Travis Adams… well, the line speaks for itself. After receiving a duo of first innings runs, Adams struggled to collect outs in the first, watching line drives shoot around the field as Springfield put up seven runs before Wichita could find the elusive third out. 
    The game became a slog; the closest the Wind Surge came to threatening the lead came after a fifth-inning Aaron Sabato sacrifice fly moved the game to an 8-4 affair; Springfield tacked on another score the following frame out of spite. 
    DaShawn Kiersey Jr. sparked in the three-hole, reaching base twice, stealing twice, and scoring twice to give him an aesthetically pleasing—and offensively stimulating—box score line. 
    Brooks Lee and Jake Rucker both doubled; Aaron Sabato earned three RBIs. 
    Springfield’s best prospect—Mike Antico—tripled and drove in two runs; he also struck out three times. 
    Kernels Nuggets
    Cedar Rapids 8, Peoria 4
    Box Score
    Connor Prielipp: 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Noah Miller (2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI), Kala’i Rosario (2-for-5, R), Tanner Schobel (2-for-5, R), Keoni Cavaco (2-for-4, 2B, R, 2 RBI)
    Cedar Rapids won comfortably on Saturday.
    Connor Prielipp hadn't seen a competitive game in two years, and he pitched like it. With rust fully set in still, Prielipp got knocked around a bit, unwinding in the fourth as a singles-focused attack proved too much for the lefty, dirtying his line with three earned runs. Still, the relief for Prielipp must be immense; he can continue to find his footing in the coming months; Saturday’s start was simply a way to wet his toes.
    Fortunately, the Kernels were up to the challenge offensively, as their bats totaled 11 hits and eight runs—more than enough to best the Chiefs. It was an all-around effort, with every starter outside of Willie Joe Garry Jr. scoring a run; he offered an RBI, proving that no batter would be left behind.
    Cedar Rapids’ bullpen proved worthy as well; Orlando Rodriguez, John Wilson, Niklas Rimmel, and Charlie Neuweiler combined to toss five scoreless frames, carrying the to its ninth-inning conclusion. 
    Mussel Matters
    Fort Myers 8, Dunedin 5
    Box Score
    Zebby Matthews: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K
    HR: None
    Multi-hit games: Ricardo Olivar (2-for-5, 2 R, RBI), Carlos Aguiar (2-for-4, R, RBI), Jorel Ortega (2-for-5, 2 2B), Rubel Cespedes (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB), Andrew Cossetti (2-for-3, 2B, R, BB), Dalton Shuffield (2-for-3, 2 RBI, BB)
    Fort Myers escaped a ninth-inning nightmare, walking away on Saturday with a closer win than they hoped.
    Zebby Matthews was magnificent. Minnesota’s 8th-round pick in 2022 eviscerated the Blue Jays lineup, punching out seven batters over five tidy innings; three measly singles served as the only blemishes on his line. The Western Carolina product—the college of Greg Holland and current Saint, Tyler White—may make a name for himself this season with more outings like this. 
    And his offense had his back—but it did take a while.
    Four empty innings only proved to be the build-up towards a fifth-frame eruption; the Might Mussels plated five runs off a flurry of knocks, releasing more hit singles than Earth Wind and Fire. 
    With three more runs in their back pocket, Fort Myers nearly ruined the operation; reliever Gabriel Yanez struck out the first batter he faced before allowing four hits—including a stomach-sinking two-run shot to pull the game within four. Fortunately, Zach Veen clogged the bleeding, ending the deathbed rally before it could reverse the roles.
    Jorge Polanco played seven innings, doubling and walking twice in four trips to the plate. 
    Dunedin’s best prospect—Tucker Toman—singled, walked, and struck out twice in four plate appearances. 
    Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Zebby Matthews
    Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Andrew Bechtold
    Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed:
    #1 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 1-5, 2B, R, 2 K
    #3 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, 3B, R, RBI, BB, 3 K
    #5 - Edouard Julien (St. Paul) - 3-8, 2B, 2 R, BB, 4 K
    #7 - Connor Prielipp (Cedar Rapids) - 4 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 3 K
    #14 - Noah Miller (Cedar Rapids) - 2-5, 2B, R, RBI, 3 K
    #18 - Tanner Schobel (Cedar Rapids) - 2-5, R, K
    #20 - Miseal Urbina (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, 2B, R, RBI, 2 K
    Iowa @ St. Paul (2:07 PM) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson
    (Most of MiLB is off for Easter Sunday)
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