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  1. The Scottsdale Scorpions team contains seven players from the Twins, Giants, “Guardians,” Rays, and Red Sox. As was announced just last week, the Twins are sending four pitchers and three position players. Right-hander Cody Laweryson and lefties Kody Funderburk, Zach Featherstone, and Evan Sisk will get some extra innings on the mound. Outfielder Matt Wallner, infielder Andrew Bechtold, and utility man Michael Helman will get more opportunities at the plate and in the field. For the Twins representatives, it is their first time playing in the league. Most of them hadn’t even been to Arizona for the Fall League as a fan. The lone exception is Kody Funderburk, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and frequented the ballparks in the Fall. The southpaw was a two-way player at Dallas Baptist, but he has been solely a pitcher since joining the Twins as their 15th round draft pick in 2018. He began this season at High-A Cedar Rapids, where he made ten starts and was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings, he had 59 strikeouts. He moved up to Double-A Wichita, and all seven of his appearances came out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.25 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Ryan Smith has earned praise for his terrific work as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wind Surge, the same role he will have for Scottsdale. Smith noted, “Prior to last week, I had never been in Arizona!” The Twins prospects finished the season in either Cedar Rapids or Wichita. Both teams made the playoffs. They got a couple of weeks off before heading to Arizona for a week of practice. Each player has things they want to work on during their time in the Fall League. Likewise, Smith intends to continue to improve himself during his time there. He said, “ I’d like to continue to sharpen my communication (and Spanish-speaking) skills with this new group of players.” For Evan Sisk, the Fall League provides him with an opportunity to work on pitches and such. He came to the Twins at the trade deadline from the Cardinals in the J.A. Happ trade and spent the final two months working in the Wind Surge bullpen. He will also get to know these Twins teammates better. Minnesota native Matt Wallner missed about two months of the 2021 season because of a broken hamate bone. This time will allow him to get some of those missed at-bats back. He noted, “Working on seeing and being more comfortable against the better arms in this league.” Kernels starter Cody Laweryson missed time early in the season. His season began in June, and he made 14 starts. In 58 2/3 innings, he had 73 strikeouts. For him, it is mainly about working on his confidence. “My biggest thing to work on is keeping my confidence high no matter how my outings are going.” Like Funderburk, Zach Featherstone was a two-way player in college. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft as a first baseman/outfielder. He spent that first year in the organization as a hitter. However, he quickly moved to the mound. Unfortunately, after just a handful of innings in 2017, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was ready for a rehab appearance when a hurricane shut down the GCL season. Like others, he did not pitch in 2020. So you can imagine what it meant for him to get back on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021. And he was terrific. By season’s end, he was the Kernels closer, and his pitches were much sharper. He noted, “I’m going to be working on getting ahead of hitters more often, attacking the strike zone with all three of my pitches.” Featherstone throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider that can be devastating at times. Michael Helman was drafted as a middle infielder in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. His power arrived in 2021. In 121 pro games between 2018 and 2019, he had 19 doubles and seven homers. In 111 games for the Kernels in 2021, he hit 21 doubles and 19 home runs. Helman did so while spending time playing all over the diamond. Having played one pro game in the outfield over his first two pro seasons, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, and 26 games in center field. He played 20 games in the middle infield. He pointed out, “I would like to become more of a complete player all around both on the offensive and defensive sides. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing more outfield or infield. I guess it just depends on where they want to work me in.” In the season’s first half, he split his time between first base and third base. After the Twins promoted Jose Miranda to St. Paul, Bechtold played more third base. In 99 games, he hit 23 doubles and 18 home runs. The day after the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, Bechtold played his first game as a catcher. It is something he had been working on for about a month. “I’m definitely going to be continuing to work on my catching. Catching for me was a project the last month or so of the season, and we put in a lot of work. I was able to catch in a game in Double-A this year because of how well the progression we were working on worked. I know catching is a valuable tool for me to have. I’m excited to continue to work on it and continue to get more experience. Along with catching, I want to continue to develop as much range as possible at third base and continue to fine-tune my approach at the plate.” The Arizona Fall League is something that baseball fans should include on their bucket list. And for players, the opportunity to play in the league is tremendous. The players should be excited about this opportunity, and they all are. Bechtold said, “I’m most looking forward to playing against guys you may not normally see, whether that’s because of the league they are in or level. I think the AFL is a great opportunity to see guys first-hand and see how you compare to some of the other organizations’ top talents. I think playing with high-caliber players for an extended period of time pushes you and forces you to play your best baseball, so I’m looking forward to that.” It is about testing yourself against prospects from around baseball. Featherstone said, “I’m looking forward to getting to compete against some of the best minor league competition from this year.” Laweryson explained, “I would say I’m most looking forward to the competition I’m going to face and the great players I’m going to be playing with.” Wallner echoed the sentiment, “ Looking forward to competing against upper-level competition that’s out here.” And so did Helman, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against some great competition.” One of the great things about the Fall League and playing with coaches and players from other organizations is the chance to learn from others. Maybe try something that will click for them and help them achieve another level of success. Smith is undoubtedly looking forward to that. “I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with coaches and players from other organizations, as well as enjoying the great fall weather out in AZ. ” To summarize, Bechtold said, “I’ve heard a lot about it just being a baseball fan growing up, and I always knew it was something I would want to play in one day if given the opportunity. I think the Twins have a good group of guys here, so I’m excited to experience it with them and really take it all in and enjoy my time here.” In the past, I have chatted with players after the AFL season is complete to hear their experiences. Most are just thrilled to have had the opportunity to have met such great players and people from other organizations. It’s fun to see if they were able to accomplish some of the things they wanted to. Each week throughout the AFL season, Twins Daily will update how the Twins prospects have performed.
  2. The Arizona Fall League started in 1992 as an off-season league where some of baseball’s best up-and-coming prospects can take the field together. Six teams make up the AFL, and each club plays a 30-game schedule. According to MLB.com, “Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with the league boasting 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, eight World Series MVPs, 103 Silver Sluggers, 96 Gold Gloves and 32 Rookies of the Year.” Will any of the names mentioned below be able to add to the accolades mentioned above? Here are the top five Twins prospects heading to the 2021 Arizona Fall League: 5. Michael Helman, 2B/OF 2021 Stats: .246/.336/.462 (.798), 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B, 87 K, 51 BB (111 G) Helman ended the 2019 season at High-A, and he spent all of 2021 at the same level. He was over 2.5 years older than the average age of the competition at that level. During the 2021 season, he was among the organization leaders in homers. He is listed as a second baseman on the AFL rosters, even though he primarily played in the outfield this season. This might be an opportunity to get him more reps in the infield. 4. Kody Funderburk, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 82 K, 28 BB (67.0 IP) Minnesota selected Funderburk with their 15th round pick back in 2018. During the 2019 season, he struggled at Low-A as he posted a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 13 appearances (10 starts). Funderburk posted strong numbers between High- and Double-A this season while being used as a starter and a reliever. He has only pitched 155 innings as a professional, so this is likely an opportunity for him to get more innings under his belt. 3. Zach Featherstone, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K, 42 BB (55.0 IP) Entering 2021, Featherstone was limited to 18 1/3 innings since the Twins drafted him as a position player in 2016. None of those innings came above the rookie leagues. Minnesota pushed him to High-A this season, where the 25-year old was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. Featherstone posted an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 out of the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, he also walked nearly seven batters per nine. This is likely an opportunity to get Featherstone some more innings so he can work on his control. 2. Andrew Bechtold, 3B 2021 Stats: .239/.328/.459 (.786), 18 HR, 23 2B, 131 K, 45 BB (99 Games) Originally, Bechtold was a fifth-round pick by the Twins back in 2017. His college experience at Maryland helped him post an .829 OPS at Elizabethton. He struggled in 2018 at Low-A as his OPS dropped by 236 points. The Twins sent him back to Low-A in 2019, and he split time between Low- and High-A with a .738 OPS. Like Helman, he was among the organization leaders in homers this season. Defensively, he continues to play at third base with some time at first. 1. Matt Wallner, OF 2021 Stats: .265/.350/.504 (.854), 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 100 K, 28 BB (68 Games) Wallner strikes out a bunch, but he has light-tower power, which puts him at the top of this list. He came in as the organization’s 12th best prospect in the most recent Twins Daily prospect rankings. A broken hamate bone limited him to 68 games, so sending him to the AFL to recoup some last at-bats makes sense. In a third of his plate appearances this season, he struck out, so that will be something to watch in Arizona. How would you rank these players? What will you be looking for in the AFL? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. TRANSACTIONS Charlie Barnes was returned to the Saints after being the 29th man on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 2 Box Score Playing an afternoon matinee in Indianapolis, the Saints sent Beau Burrows to the bump. He tossed 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball allowing just a single run. Burrows walked two and punched out six in what was among his best outings this season. St. Paul scored first as Sherman Johnson singled home Damek Tomscha in the 2nd inning. After allowing an equalizer in the bottom half, St. Paul added again in the 3rd inning. Jimmy Kerrigan drove in Jose Miranda on a single to center. Putting some distance between the clubs, Caleb Hamilton singled in the 4th inning to score Tomscha and make it a 3-1 game. Things got a bit dicey in the 9th inning when Yennier Cano allowed some traffic to turn into a run. He loaded the bases with a walk on a 3-2 pitch but generated a ground ball to end the game. Miranda continued his amazing season with a 3-for-4 effort and Tomscha had a multi-hit game as well tallying two doubles. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 10, Wichita 5 (Game 1) Box Score Suspended yesterday, here’s what Steve had to say about the action that did get played: Unfortunately for the Wind Surge, they played much of this game through some drizzle before the conditions became too much for them to continue. They had not yet completed five innings, so the game was suspended in the top of the fifth and will resume tomorrow. It had been a mixed bag before the game was paused, as Simeon Woods Richardson delivered a fantastic performance for the first three innings of the game, but upon his exit the Travelers struck to take the 4-1 lead against Ben Gross. In his outing, Woods Richardson allowed just two hits while striking out five in his three innings. He definitely looked like a top prospect in this one as compared to his prior outings. Of his 47 pitches in the game, 32 went for strikes (68%), including a whopping 12 swinging strikes. He got those swings and misses on all of his pitches as well, with his changeup especially (to my eyes) looking like it was fooling everyone. Wichita got their lone run in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI infield single from Aaron Whitefield. Picking up in the 5th inning, Trey Cabbage made his presence felt launching his 18th homer of the year, a two-run shot that drew Wichita within one at 4-3. A 6th inning grand slam for Arkansas allowed a five-run inning to provide plenty of distance. Wichita attempted to make things interesting in the 8th inning when Andrew Bechtold singled in Cabbage and Aaron Whitefield drove in Spencer Steer. That 9-5 deficit was the closest things would get, and with Arkansas adding another run in the 9th inning, this one stayed out of reach. Wichita 6, Arkansas 4 (F/7 Game 2) Box Score Jordan Balazovic was on the bump for game two of this non-traditional doubleheader. It wasn’t his sharpest outing and the Twins top pitching prospect went just 3 2/3 innings allowing four runs on four hits and four walks while striking out five batters. Down 2-0 after the first inning, Wichita answered with two runs of their own in the 2nd inning. Jermaine Palacios singled driving in Leobaldo Cabrera, and Andrew Bechtold plated Palacios on a single of his own. Again trailing after the 4th inning, the Wind Surge answered with Spencer Steer ripping a bases loaded double to bring everyone home. Grabbing their first lead of the contest, Cedar Rapids was now on top 5-4. During a 6th inning Bechtold walk, Whitefield swiped third base and scored on an error by the Travelers backstop. 6-4 is where this on would end, and Roy Morales was the lone player to record a multi-hit effort going 3-for-4 on the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS Peoria 2, Cedar Rapids 1 Box Score Louie Varland has been dominant at the two levels of Class A ball this season, and he turned in another great start tonight for the Kernels. Working six innings, Varland allowed two runs (just one earned) on four hits and no walks. He punched out 11 batters on the evening and dropped his ERA to 2.10. Derek Molina struck out four batters over the final two innings. Jair Camargo drove in Aaron Sabato with a 5th inning single knotting the game at one, but that was the only run production the Kernels could muster and they fell just short. Camargo had a two-hit night and accounted for half of Cedar Rapids total. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 5, Tampa 2 Box Score Needing just seven total strikeouts to set a new team record, the Mighty Mussels eclipsed the team total set by the Miracle back in 2019. Starter John Stankiewicz picked up six of the necessary punch outs and worked six innings allowing just a single run on five hits and a walk. After getting behind in the first, Charles Mack recorded his second triple of the season plating both Misael Urbina and Will Holland to take the lead. Mack then drew a bases-loaded walk in the third to drive in Alerick Soularie before Jake Rucker was hit and allowed Christian Encarnacion-Strand to score. Kyle Fedko was hit by a pitch and allowed Holland to score. Three runs came across in the inning, and none were generated by a ball put in play. Tampa drew closers with a solo shot in the 9th inning, but the left the bases loaded and wound up on the short side of the scoreboard. Despite being scheduled for a twin bill, rain again impacted tonight’s plans and turned this into a one game, nine-inning affair. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Scheduled Day Off TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland (Cedar Rapids) - 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K Hitter of the Day - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-4, R PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-2, R, BB, K #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 4 H 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-4, R #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - No game #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Temporarily Inactive List #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, BB #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - Did not play #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - No game #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play (Paternity List) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-3, R, BB #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-3, 3 RBI THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 3.20 ERA) Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Chris Vallimont (5-7, 6.33 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 9.00 ERA) Tampa @ Fort Myers, Game 1 (6:00 PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
  4. TRANSACTIONS RHP Miguel Rodriguez reinstated from 7-day IL at A Fort Myers RHP Ramon Pineda transferred from FCL Twins to A Fort Myers Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Toledo 9 (Paused game) Box Score Drew Strotman: 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Well, I had a write-up here, but apparently the game ran so late that it was paused due to a curfew. I'll leave the box score link so that people can check it out as they please, but know that the game is not technically finished. Also know that this is the first time I have ever seen something like this happen in a minor league game. Weird stuff. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 13, Tulsa 4 Box Score Cole Sands: 3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K HR: Leobaldo Cabrera (8), Andrew Bechtold (16), Austin Martin (2), Spencer Steer (13) Multi-hit games: Spencer Steer (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, BB), Austin Martin (3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI), Wichita gave Tulsa the business on Saturday. ...Oh, I need to say more? (Editor's Note: Yes, please.) Here are a few questions: Is it a good thing when eight out of nine of your batters get a hit? Is it a good thing when six different hitters earn an RBI? Is it a good thing when your 1-2 hitters combine for six runs? I’m not a baseball expert, but I tend to think that the answer to all of those questions is yes. Tulsa actually had the first lead of the game but a homer by Leobaldo Cabrera put the lead firmly in Wichita’s grasp. They would not let go. With five runs already on the board, Andrew Bechtold demolished a three-run homerun to make it a cruel seven-run lead. With a nine-run lead, Austin Martin clobbered a homer to make it an evil 11-run lead. Finally, with 12 runs on the board, Spencer Steer obliterated a solo shot to add a cherry on top of this battered cake. Tulsa actually out-hit the Wind Surge on Saturday which is objectively hilarious. Cabrera: Bechtold: Martin: Steer: Cole Sands allowed only one run over three innings but was inefficient as he tossed 80 pitches in order to do so. From there the combination of Kody Funderburk, Zach Neff, and Hector Lujan took Wichita to the finish line on Saturday. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 1, Beloit 6 Box Score Ben Gross: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 8 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Daniel Ozoria (2-for-3, RBI) Cedar Rapids had the lone offensive dud on Saturday. Ben Gross brought the strikeouts, but the Snappers proved resilient, and dropped 10 hits on the starter. It was an all-or-nothing approach that netted Beloit six extra-base hits off of Gross en route to a lead that would never really be challenged. The lone Kernels run came thanks to a Daniel Ozoria infield single in the 5th inning. The team put together just six hits on the night, but oddly enough, three of those hits were doubles. In another odd turn, both teams had matching one walk, 14 strikeout performances by their respective pitching staffs (and lineups, technically). But, Beloit bunching their extra-base hits proved to be a wise strategy as they easily beat Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 8 Box Score Miguel Rodriguez: 1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K HR: Jesus Feliz (7) Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (2-for-5, 3 R), Will Holland (3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI) Fort Myers was unable to recover from a 4-0 deficit on Saturday. Starter Miguel Rodriguez had one to forget. The righty was activated just before the game and more than a bit rusty on Saturday. Allowing three walks over just a single inning more or less speaks for itself. Let’s hope that Rodriguez can get back on the horse the next time he’s called upon. To their credit, the Mighty Mussels did not lie down and let the Marauders win this game without a fight. They were down by a score of 7-1 before a burning offensive spirit took hold across the dugout. Jesus Feliz kicked off the rebuttal with a solo homer in the 7th while Will Holland doubled home a run later in the inning. This would be just the first attack. Kyler Fedko unloaded the bases in the 8th with a double that was followed by the classic double error on the part of the Marauders. Unfortunately, the fight would end there. Bradenton plated one more run in the 9th, and Fort Myers fell narrowly short of a victory. Casey Legumina provided a strong effort in the loss. He was able to siphon off the bleeding over five strong innings of one-run ball in relief of Rodriguez. Complex Chronicles The FCL Twins game was suspended in the 8th inning on Saturday. Nash will have the update for you on this game when it is completed on Sunday. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Casey Legumina Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 – Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - Suspended game #7 – Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #9 – Chase Petty (Complex) - #10 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Did not play #11 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - Suspended game #14 – Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 2 K #15 – Noah Miller (FCL Twins) - 1-3, RBI, BB, 2 K #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-1, R, BB, K #17 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #18 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-3, 2 BB #19 – Cole Sands (Wichita) - 3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K #20 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-4, HR, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, BB SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Bradenton @ Fort Myers (10:00 AM) RHP Landon Leach St. Paul @ Toledo (12:05 PM) RHP Beau Burrows Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05 PM) RHP Austin Schulfer Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (1:05 PM) TBD
  5. Yesterday we looked at how the Minnesota Twins can shuffle their pitching in order to figure out what's left for 2022 and beyond. Today we turn to Rocco Baldelli's lineups and question where at bats can be doled out amongst the organization, and what players should be in line for a look. On the hitting side, here are some names to consider: Before doing individual deep dives here, it should be all but guaranteed Brent Rooker is on his way to take over Nelson Cruz’s at-bats when the veteran is ultimately traded. Rooker has to prove it at the big league level, but it’s clear he’s mastered Triple-A. Teammate Jose Miranda should also be heavily considered to be a lock for a big-league promotion at some point down the stretch as the jump to St. Paul has done nothing to slow down his torrid 2021. This is in conjunction with a continued run for players like Nick Gordon and Gilberto Celestino. Drew Maggi If there’s an organizational type of guy you want to reward in 2021, then Maggi might define that. He joined the Twins system in 2019 and has played over 1,000 minor league games without a big-league debut. At 32, he’s having a career year with an .806 OPS for the Saints. A true utility man who can play all over the diamond, this would be a hat tip type of move more than anything. Mark Contreras Selected in the 9th round of the 2017 MLB draft, Contreras is now 27 and at Triple-A. In 36 games for St. Paul, he owns an .852 OPS while playing a solid defensive outfield. There’s not much in the form of on-base skills here, but the bat has plenty of pop, and there’s some modest stolen base ability. Contreras probably isn’t the first choice for a fourth outfield spot, but he could certainly factor into the mix and is worth getting a look at. Andrew Bechtold Minnesota took Bechtold in the 5th round of the 2017 draft from Chipola College. His calling card was the bat, and it’s taken some time to get going. At Double-A now as a 25-year-old, Bechtold owns a .781 OPS in 55 games this season. He’s got the first double-digit homer tally of his pro career, and there are some solid walk skills for a power guy. Across his last 34 games since June 1, Bechtold owns a .906 OPS. Bumping him up a level makes sense from a progression and age standpoint. There’s not an immediate reason to make a big-league debut, but finding out what the bat can do may bring enough intrigue. Jermaine Palacios A light-hitting infield prospect, Palacios was flipped to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jake Odorizzi. After re-signing with the Twins this offseason, he’s having a breakout season at Double-A to the tune of a career-best .802 OPS. His 10 homers this year account for nearly one-third of his career total across more than 550 pro games. Palacios is just 24, and if this season is to be believed, a late-blooming guy up the middle is never a bad development. Aaron Whitefield Playing in three games for the Twins a season ago after spending time at the Alternate Site, Whitefield has spent all of 2021 at Double-A. His .761 OPS is a career-high, and it comes bolstered by average and on-base skills. Capable of playing a good center field, his bat-to-ball skills make him an ideal bench outfielder type. Given how many bodies the Twins have gone through in center alone, it’s somewhat surprising we haven’t seen his name called yet. Ernie De La Trinidad The other piece of the Eduardo Escobar trade, De La Trinidad is having a career year. The 25-year-old is at Double-A, and his .905 OPS will play just fine. In 40 games and 167 plate appearances, De La Trinidad has struck out just 29 times while batting .319. Power isn’t his forte, but this is another guy that could factor into an additional outfielder situation. With what Minnesota has run through this season, there’s little harm in getting him a step closer and seeing what translates. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Donaldson’s first season in a Twins uniform didn’t go exactly as planned as he was limited to 28 games. When he was on the field, he hit .222/.373/.469 with eight extra-base hits in 81 at-bats. Injuries have been the story of the second half of Donaldson’s career. Outside of his 2019 season in Atlanta, he missed time in 2017, 2018, and 2020. Minnesota was well aware of Donaldson’s injury history and now he is under contract for at least the next three seasons. For all players, the 2020 season came with unique challenges and this can impact players in different ways. Minnesota can hope that a more normal 2021 season will allow Donaldson to get back being close to the player he was in Atlanta a few seasons ago. On the other hand, Minnesota is going to need to have some back-up options if Donaldson’s calf issues continue to plague him. 40-Man Options Besides Donaldson, the Twins have other 40-man roster options to play third base even with the possible departures of Marwin Gonzalez and Ehire Adrianza as free agents. Travis Blankenhorn got a brief call-up last year as he appeared in one game and went 1-for-3 with a double. There is a chance he is given the opportunity to serve in the team’s utility role during the 2021 campaign. Another option for the Twins is to sign or trade for a shortstop and this allows Jorge Polanco to move into a utility role. Polanco has undergone off-season ankle surgery in each of the last two off-seasons and the Twins might want to add some infield insurance On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other third base options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Miranda, a 2016 second round pick, was available to be selected in last week’s Rule 5 Draft, but no other organizations selected him. He showed a good balance of power and plate discipline in 2019, and he can play multiple infield positions. Bechtold, a 2017 fifth round pick, split time between Low- and High-A back in 2019. Both players will see time at Double or Triple-A next season. Mack, Steer and Gray all spent some of the 2019 season in Elizabethton with Gray and Steer making appearances at Low-A before season’s end. Mack was taken out of high school while Gray and Steer have multiple years of collegiate experience. All three players have a chance to reach Double-A by the end of the 2021 season. What do you think about the future of third base in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POST IN THE SERIES - SHORTSTOP MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. I can’t speak for everybody, but a lot of my thought process into these final picks was about seeing where I could shuffle anybody else around if I had a personal cheeseball I wanted on my team. As these picks complete our rosters, let us know who you think did the best in the comments, and be on the lookout tomorrow for a full summary! If you missed the rest of the draft, you can view rounds 1-4 here, 5-8 here, and 9-12 here. A brief reminder: We're taking 16 players who still hold "prospect" or "rookie" status in the Twins organization. Positions on each team included: Catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, three outfielders, a bench player/hitter, three starting pitchers, three relief pitchers, and an extra pitcher. (Please note that comments under each pick were made by the person making the selection.) Round 13 Seth Stohs - Taylor Grzelakowski, C “Gelly” had a tough 2019 season in Pensacola after a great 2018 in Ft. Myers. A lot of the issue was an ankle injury that he had previous surgery on. It wasn’t recovering well. There was a lot of pain which actually kept him from catching much. But that was taken care of and this spring he said he was feeling great. I’ll take this bat behind the plate. (Get to Know Taylor Grzelakowski) Steve Lein - Andrew Bechtold DH Hoped Gelly would slide to my next pick for the reasons Seth mentions, oh well! I'll take a similar potential bat with Bechtold. Gets on base at a good clip, finishing 2nd in the organization in walks in 2019 with a .359 OBP across Cedar Rapids and Fort Myers. (Get to Know Andrew Bechtold) Ted Schwerzler - Jake Reed RH RP Jake Reed had an awful 2019, no way around it. He’s got a new arm slot and the walk rate is ugly. Beyond that though, he’s got an electric fastball and can sit batters down in bunches. He keeps the ball in the yard and owned a sub 2.00 ERA in 2018. (Twins Prospect Spotlight: Jake Reed, 2019 Killebrew Award Winner – Jake Reed) Cody Christie - Steven Cruz, RH RP Cruz posted some big strikeout numbers last season with the E-Twins (13.9 K/9) and I need a strikeout arm to put in my bullpen. His walk rate could improve, but he’s only pitched a little over 86 professional innings so far. Hopefully, he can continue to strike out batters as he climbs the ladder. (Get to Know: Osiris German, Steve Cruz, and Frandy Torres) Jeremy Nygaard - Jared Akins DH Akins provides me a lefty bat (which I’m short in) with a little bit of pop (11 home runs last year). Akins also put up over 10 steals last year, which fits my theme to have a team that is active on the basepaths. Getting on base can be an issue for Akins, though, who had an OBP of .265 last year. (MiLB Hitter of the Month – May 2019: Jared Akins #5) Matt Braun - Tyler Webb, OF Considering the fact that Webb was a 40th round pick, the fact that he has already hit Cedar Rapids is kind of amazing. He brings a solid OBP to the lineup and can afford to pass on the power as there are other boppers who will make up for it. (Get to Know Tyler Webb) Round 14 Matt Braun - Cody Laweryson, Pitcher I saw that Cody wanted Laweryson so I took him instead. Laweryson was dominant with Elizabethton as he struck out nearly 40% of batters faced in his short time there. I’m banking on that immense strikeout potential to continue developing as he moves through the minors. (2019 MiLB Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Cody Laweryson) Jeremy Nygaard - Benjamin Dum RP Despite going undrafted and being signed out of the Indy League - hey, we’ve seen this before - Dum put up a stupid 20:0 K:BB ratio in 14 innings of affiliated ball. You may argue that a few of my picks may have “been dumb”; this one literally is, but I like his numbers albeit only in rookie ball. Cody Christie - Tyler Watson, LHP Watson came to the Twins in the Brandon Kintzler deal back at the 2017 deadline. He spent all of last season in Fort Myers and he’s still only 23-years old. I needed a left-handed arm for my pitching staff and he has posted some good numbers in his time with the Nationals and Twins. Ted Schwerzler - Ryan Mason RHP A 13th round pick in 2016, Ryan Mason took a big step forwards last season. He has consistently produced low ERA’s and avoided free passes since entering pro ball. In his first taste of Double-A action though, he posted a 2.35 ERA with an 11.0 K/9. If those numbers are substantiated in 2020 and beyond, he’ll be a legitimate contender for a big league bullpen spot. (MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Month – April 2019: Ryan Mason #1, 5 Prospects Who Could Be the Next Cody Stashak) Steve Lein - Andrew Vasquez RP I need a lefty in my bullpen, and despite his struggles in 2019 in part due to a shoulder injury, it's hard to ignore Vasquez's potential. He shot up the system in 2018 from Single-A to make his MLB debut while striking out nearly everybody along the way with his slider heavy approach. I like getting him here as a big time bounce back candidate. (Get to Know Andrew Vasquez, 2018 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year: Andrew Vasquez) Seth Stohs - Parker Phillips, 1B He was the Twins 27th round pick a year ago out of Austin Peay where he hit 56 homers over his three seasons (including 25 in 2019). He added six more home runs as a pro last year. Round 15 Seth Stohs - Charlie Barnes, LHP The Twins drafted Barnes in the 4th round of the 2017 draft out of Clemson. In 2019, he split time between Ft. Myers and Pensacola, and he also made four starts for Rochester. The Twins invited him to big league camp this spring. (Seth’s Twins On Deck Podcast – Episode 5) Steve Lein - Albee Weiss 1B At this point I'm looking for any big tools that are left, and Weiss has one with his power. He was fourth in the Appy League last year with a .604 slugging percentage. Lots of K's so far, but when he connects there's a good chance the ball is leaving the yard. This pick will slide Kirilloff into the outfield and complete my lineup. (2019 MiLB Short Season Hitter of the Year: Albee Weiss #5) Ted Schwerzler - Trevor Casanova C Taking my bench bat here and using it on a left-handed hitting catcher. Casanova hasn’t hit for power yet in pro ball, and he put up an ugly average last year as well. However, he showed a strong ability to draw walks and if he can better the bat to ball skills, this could be a key guy to work a good plate appearance. (Get to Know Trevor Casanova) (Seth Note - Back-to-Back Cal State-Northridge teammates in Weiss and Casanova) Cody Christie - Evan Gillespie, LH RP Gillespie was old for the GCL last season, but it’s hard to ignore the numbers he put up in his professional debut. My bullpen was lacking a lefty and he finished as an honorable mention in the Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year. Sign me up. Jeremy Nygaard - Austin Schulfer RHRP Went with a Wisconsin guy with my second-to-last pick. Schulfer strikes a lot of guys out, but he also issues a fair amount of walks as well. (Prospect Spotlight Series: Austin Schulfur, Get to Know Podcast: Austin Schulfur, Caleb Hamilton, Nick Anderson) Matt Braun - Adam Bray, RHRP Bray was great at AA last season but his peripherals dropped when he made the move to AAA. I’m banking on the major league ball being the problem there. Bray rounds out a relief corps that has no lefties but I’m banking on the three batter minimum making that shortcoming less impactful. (Spring Trade Brings Bray Back Home) Round 16 Matt Braun - Luis Baez, Hitter Did you know that Luis Baez had the 6th highest wRC+ among all hitters in the Twins system with at least 50 plate appearances? Yeah, I didn’t either until I did some research and I had to pick up that kind of offensive upside with my very last pick. Jeremy Nygaard - Kidany Salva C Switch-hitter who threw out over 30% of potential base stealers in 2019. Has a ways to go offensively. Cody Christie - Ricky De La Torre, UTL De La Torre had an OPS of 700+ in his first two professional seasons when he was over two year younger than the average age of the competition in the GCL and the Appy League. The Twins pushed him to Cedar Rapids last year and he had some offensive struggles for the first time in his career. He can play multiple defensive positions and I like how he completes my roster. Ted Schwerzler - Ben Gross RHP Gross was drafted in the 10th round of the 2019 draft. His college track record isn’t long and he was a senior sign out of Duke. Working as a starter in his pro debut, Gross could eventually transition to the pen. It looks like there’s strikeout stuff here, and that could help to accelerate his path to the majors. Steve Lein - Alex Phillips RP Phillips absolutely dominated the Florida State League (0.79 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 11.6 K/9) while being shuffled to and from Pensacola during last season, where he had some adjustments to make. But for his efforts overall he was an honorable mention in our Relief Pitcher of the Year voting. (MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Month – April 2019: Alex Phillips #2) Seth Stohs - Carlos Aguiar, Hitter Last pick, frankly, I am just going with my highest ranked prospect. Like Wander Valdez, Aguiar is incredibly impressive in person. He’s huge, strong, massive power potential, and incredibly young and has a long ways to go. I’ll take the upside. (Seth’s Spring Training Standouts: 2020 Edition) MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. To find out everything that happened with your favorite prospects on Tuesday, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS Recent international signing, Yennier Cano out of Cuba, was assigned to the Fort Myers Miracle from the Gulf Coast League. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 10, Buffalo 8 Box Score Nick Gordon opened this game for Rochester with his 28th double of the year and would score on a single from Jake Cave to draw first blood early. A two-out single from Tomas Telis brought in Cave for a 2-0 lead before Devin Smeltzer took the mound. The first inning wasn’t kind to him however, as he hit his first batter with a pitch, then three singles and a double later the Red Wings found themselves down 4-2. Smeltzer’s offense got those runs right back in the second however, as Caleb Hamilton clubbed his first triple-A home run, a two-run shot, and was later followed with an RBI triple from Jake Cave to go back up 5-4. They extended the lead to 6-4 in the fourth thanks to RBI single from Gordon. After his rough first inning, Smeltzer was only able to finish three total, allowing those four runs on four hits and three walks while striking out just one. He ran his pitch count up to 69 (40 for strikes) in his abbreviated start. D.J. Baxendale came on for the fourth and went the next 1 1/3 innings. He was charged with two runs on three hits and two walks. Fernando Romero got them through the sixth, allowing a run on two hits and two walks in 1 2/3. Newly acquired Jeremy Bleich came on for the seventh and finished two innings. He was charged with a blown save but also got the win by allowing a run on three hits and a walk, striking out three. The Red Wings finally got a scoreless outing from Ian Krol, who picked up his ninth save by walking one and striking out one. The Rochester lineup got single runs in the sixth and seventh inning thanks to a Wynston Sawyer home run and RBI single from Telis, before Alejandro De Aza accounted for the difference on the scoreboard with a two-run homer in the ninth. Gordon (3-for-5, R, 2B, RBI), Cave (4-for-5, 2B, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI), and Telis (3-for-5, 2 RBI) collected multiple hits. BLUE WAHOOS BITES Pensacola 1, Jacksonville 0 Box Score Hard throwing righthander Edwar Colina took the mound for the Blue Wahoos and was brilliant again for the first 5 2/3 innings of the game. He allowed just three hits and a walk on the day, while punching out seven Jumbo Shrimp. He was pulled at 80 pitches in the bottom of the sixth, as the tying runner was on third base and former teammate Lewin Diaz was stepping into the batter’s box. Using some likely self-scouting, manager Ramon Borrego went to lefty Gabriel Moya, who got Diaz swinging on a changeup to end the only threat of the game for Jacksonville, who finished just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left only three men on base for the game. While the Blue Wahoos offense wasn’t much better, collecting only four hits and four walks and finishing 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, they got the big hit in the form of a solo homer from Ryan Costello in the fifth inning. Costello also just missed another blast in the sixth, with the centerfielder catching the ball against the wall and the announcers on the broadcast remarking that anywhere else in the Southern League, it was a goner. Colina picked up his second win in double-A, while Moya finished 2 1/3 hitless innings and struck out three. Alex Phillips notched his third save with a one-two-three ninth, striking out Diaz to end the game. MIRACLE MATTERS Dunedin 6, Fort Myers 11 Box Score Fort Myers found themselves down 5-0 after the top of the second but went on to outhit Dunedin 13-5 on the game, countering the Blue Jays initial haymaker with two of their own to make the decision unanimous on the scorecards in the end. Dakota Chalmers was making his first career high-A start in this one, and came out throwing gas: https://twitter.com/AndrewBern12/status/1156340322101858308 The second inning didn’t go so well. Two walks to start it, then two singles scored two runs before weather came into play. When play resumed Chalmers was responsible for the two runners on base and Johan Quezada was on the mound with nobody out. Two singles later and both those runners had scored, leaving Chalmers with four runs allowed on two hits and two walks in his one-plus innings. Quezada allowed a run of his own in the second as the Jays delivered the first big blow, but settled in after that to finish three total innings. He allowed the one run on two hits and a walk while striking out three and while he was on the mound his teammates connected with their first counter. The Miracle landed a jab in the second inning with a David Banuelos RBI single, then connected with a big straight-left & right-hook combo in the third in the form of a Trey Cabbage RBI single and Andrew Bechtold three-run blast. The teams remained even on the cards until the sixth, when Fort Myers came out swinging and landed a flurry of punches with a Michael Davis RBI single, Gabriel Maciel sac fly, and Aaron Whitefield RBI single before staggering Dunedin at the bell with a devastating uppercut from Jose Miranda, a three-run bomb that put the game out of reach 11-5. Zach Neff picked up his second win with the Miracle with three scoreless innings after Quezada, dodging blows to wear out the opposition as the Blue Jays connected for just one hit and one walk while he struck out three. Moises Gomez danced around everything the visitors had left to close out the nine-round bout with three strikeouts, allowing one run on two walks, a hit batter, and two-wild pitches in the final two innings. Aaron Whitefield finished the game 4-for-5 with two runs scored, his 15th double, RBI, and two stolen bases. Bechtold was 3-for-3 with three runs scored, his second home run, a walk, and three RBI. Trey Cabbage also added multiple hits with a 2-for-4 night, scoring two runs, drawing a walk, and stealing a base. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 5, Beloit 2 Box Score Cedar Rapids struck early with two runs in each of the first and third innings to put this one out of reach despite their pitchers walking nine hitters and striking out only six. With all their opportunities, Beloit was unable to take advantage as they collected only four hits and finished 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position. Brian Rapp made the start in a bullpen game for Cedar Rapids and finished the first three scoreless innings. He walked two and struck out three. Jose Martinez went the next three frames to pick up his seventh win, allowing one hit and walking three. Nate Hadley went the next 1 2/3, allowing one run on two hits and three walks while striking out two. J.T. Perez picked up his first career save by finishing the final 1 1/3, he allowed a run on one hit and a walk, striking out one. Gilberto Celestino led off the game with his seventh home run of the year, and Gabe Snyder decided to go back-to-back with him for his twelfth and the early 2-0 lead. For their encore in the third inning, Celestino led off with a single and moved to third on Snyder’s 19th double before Trevor Casanova drove them both in with a single. Celestino tacked on an insurance run in the sixth with an RBI single and finished his day 4-for-4. Joining him and Snyder with multiple hits on the game were Jared Akins (2-for-4, BB) and Casanova (2-for-4, 2 RBI, BB). E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 8, Burlington 9 (10 innings) Box Score The Twins and Royals went back and forth throughout this one, leading to extra innings in the Appalachian League. Elizabethton starter Ben Gross was roughed up in the third, allowing five runs on six hits and two walks in his 2 2/3 innings. He struck out four. Osiris German got the next nine outs, allowing two runs on three hits and a walk, striking out five. Steven Cruz got them through the seventh inning, giving up two hits and a walk along with striking out two in a scoreless outing. Frandy Torres came on for the eighth and got them into extra innings before allowing the runner starting on second to score the walk off for the Royals. He allowed two runs (one earned) on four hits while striking out two. Matt Wallner (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI), Charles Mack (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI), and Will Holland (1-for-5, R, HR, 3 RBI), and Kyle Schmidt (2-for-4, RBI, BB) did most of the damage for the E-Twins. Max Smith added his sixth double, drew two walks, stole a base, and scored a run. They scored four runs in the eighth thanks to one of Mack’s doubles and Hollands three-run blast, then tied it at eight to send it to extras in the top of the ninth when Anthony Prato drove in Wallner, who led off with a double. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 6, GCL Rays 5 Box Score The Twins scored two in the first and three in the ninth to bookend a 6-5 victory on Tuesday afternoon. Yunior Severino led off the game for the Twins with a home run, his first of the year, and would think he could find himself back on his way to Cedar Rapids soon. Three walks and a single later and the Twins were up 2-0. Starter Miguel Rodriguez went the first four innings, keeping the Rays scoreless on four hits while striking out three. Niall Windeler got the fifth frame and allowed three runs (two earned) on three hits, striking out one and the Twins were down 3-2. Matthew Swain went the next three innings, allowing an unearned run on two hits and a walk. He struck out two to pick up his first career win. Evan Gillespie picked up his first career save by finishing the ninth, allowing a run on two singles and a wild pitch, but working around any further damage with two K’s. With the score 4-3 Rays going into the top of the ninth, the Twins used three singles and a walk to score three runs, including a two-out, two-RBI single from Jeferson Morales that scored the final two. Severino (2-for-5) and Victor Heredia (2-for-5) each had two hits to lead the way, with Taylor Grzelakowski and Alec Craig each drawing two walks and scoring a run. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Edwar Colina, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (W, 5.2 IP, 3 H, BB, 7 K) Hitter of the Day – You Pick: Jake Cave, Rochester Red Wings (4-for-5, 2B, 3B, 3 R, 2 RBI) Gilberto Celestino, Cedar Rapids Kernels (4-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI) Andrew Bechtold, Fort Myers Miracle (3-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, BB) Aaron Whitefield, Fort Myers Miracle (4-for-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI, 2 SB, K) https://twitter.com/HangingSL/status/1156419912509927425 PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 0-for-4, 2 K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 0-for-4, K #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Rehab assignment with GCL #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 1-for-3, BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-5, 3 K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL) - Did not play #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Injured List (groin) #9 - Jhoan Duran (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - 3-for-5, R, 2B, RBI #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - Did not play #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 0-for-4, 2 K #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - 0-for-3, BB, K #17 - Akil Baddoo (Fort Myers) - Injured List (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL) - Did not play #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - Injured list WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Scranton/Wilkes-Barre @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) - RHP Adam Bray (1-0, 4.00 ERA) Pensacola @ Jacksonville (6:05PM CST) - TBD Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands (4-2, 2.41 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:30PM CST) - LHP Kody Funderbunk (0-1, 3.18 ERA) Elizabethton @ Burlington (5:30PM CST) - RHP Andriu Marin (1-2, 4.91 ERA) GCL Twins @ GCL Braves (11:00AM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  9. TRANSACTIONS Yunior Severino was placed on the injured list with a left thumb fracture. Taking his spot on the Cedar Rapids roster is infielder Yeltsin Encarnacion. Also, Tanner English was activated from the Pensacola Injured List and RHP Jeff Ames was placed on the IL. RED WINGS REPORT Lehigh Valley 3, Rochester 0 Box Score Zack Littell: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 61.6% strikes (53 of 86 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: None I put Littell’s line above, but it was actually Mike Morin who was the opener tonight. He pitched a clean inning before Littell took over. Tyler Duffey struck out five batters in his two innings of relief and Jake Reed also pitched a shutout inning, but none of that matters much when you can’t score any runs. The Red Wings mustered just two hits, a John Andreoli double and a single from LaMonte Wade. Their best scoring chance came in the seventh inning. After Wade’s single, Luke Raley drew a walk, putting a runner in scoring position with one out. Unfortunately, Wynston Sawyer grounded into an inning-ending double play. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 2, Jacksonville 0 Box Score Devin Smeltzer: 8.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K, 76.5% strikes (65 of 85 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: None Wow. Devin Smeltzer carried a shutout into the ninth inning tonight in an outing that followed an impressive 2019 season debut for Smeltzer. He’s now pitched 14 scoreless innings, has 17 strikeouts and has allowed just five hits and two walks. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1116906793584812037 Smeltzer was absolutely pounding the strike zone tonight, and needed just 85 pitches to complete 8 1/3 innings. Tanner English put a fun finish on Smeltzer’s night, making an outstanding diving catch to open the eighth inning. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1116877290892296192 It would have been fun to see Smeltzer try for the complete game shutout, but it is still very early in the season. He only threw 95 2/3 innings last season, as he was moved into the bullpen prior to being traded to the Twins in the deal that sent Brian Dozier to the Dodgers, so it makes sense that there would be a limit on how far he’d be allowed to go in just his second start. Cody Stashak came out of the bullpen for Pensacola and retired the only two batters he faced to secure the shutout. The Blue Wahoos scratched across runs in the first and second innings. Taylor Grzelakoski drove in a run on a groundout and English plated another on a single. There were a grand total of just seven hits in this game, all of them singles, and it took just under two hours to complete. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 5, Clearwater 4 (12 innings) Box Score Tyler Watson: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 1 ER 1 BB, 5 K, 65.5% strikes (57 of 87 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Aaron Whitefield (2-for-5, 2B) Fort Myers trailed 1-0 heading into the top of the ninth inning, but Aaron Whitefield got things going with a lead off single, which was just Fort Myers’ second hit of the game. He advanced all the way to third base on a ground out to the second baseman, then scored on a Royce Lewis sacrifice fly. These two teams went blow-for-blow in extras. Fort Myers scratched across a run in the top of the 10th but Clearwater answered in the bottom of the inning. The Miracle took advantage of some sloppy play by the Threshers in the top of the 11th, scoring a pair of runs without the benefit of a hit. With the bonus runner on second base, the Miracle leadoff man struck out, but reached safely due to a wild pitch on strike 3. The next two batters also struck out, but then Lewis walked to load the bases and both Travis Blankenhorn and Jose Miranda walked to force in runs. At that point, Fort Myers had four runs on just two hits. So that’s gotta be it, right? Nope. Clearwater hit a leadoff two-run homer (yes, that’s right, minor league extra innings are weird) to tie the game. The Miracle managed to score another run in the top of the 12th, as Whitefield drove in Ryan Costello from third on a single. They stranded another runner at third base after two consecutive strikeouts ended the inning, setting up what seemed destined to be another answer inning. Alex Phillips took over on the mound for the Miracle and slammed the door. He snagged a comebacker and turned it into a leadoff double play (again, minor league extra innings are really weird). Phillips then induced a game-ended pop out. Tyler Watson gave up just one run over six innings and Tom Hackimer threw two more scoreless innings tonight, bringing him up to 4 2/3 clean innings so far. Hackimer has given up just one hit and has nine strikeouts. Great to see after 2018 was essentially a lost season for him. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, Burlington 3 Box Score Cole Sands: 4.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 4 BB, 4 K, 53.2% strikes (48 of 74 pitches) HR: Jean Carlos Arias (1), Andrew Bechtold (1), Gabe Snyder (1) Multi-hit games: None Cole Sands followed up an impressive professional debut with a rough outing in which he struggled with his command. Austin Schulfer came in and did an excellent job at stabilizing this game. He gave up just one hit over four scoreless innings and struck out five batters. Cedar Rapids took the lead in the sixth inning by drawing four (!) bases-loaded walks. They scored another run in the eighth on a three-base error followed by a sac fly. At that point, the Kernels had seven runs on just three hits. What a weird day of offense across the system. Gilberto Celestino reached base safely three times and stole a pair of bases. Jean Carlos Arias and Andrew Bechtold hit their first home runs of the season while Gabe Snyder tallied his first Midwest League home run. Arias also drove in a run on a walk and hit a sacrifice fly. https://twitter.com/natejrazz/status/1116893749643231233 DaShawn Keirsey was removed from this game after the second inning. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Devin Smeltzer, Pensacola Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Jean Carlos Arias, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 0-for-3, 2 BB, RBI, SB (5), 2 K 6. Brent Rooker (ROC): 0-for-4, 2 K 10. Akil Baddoo (FM):0-for-6, 4 K 14. Ben Rortvedt (FM): 1-for-5, 2B, R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 1-for-3, 2 BB, R, 2 SB (3), 2 K 17. Zack Littell (ROC): 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 8 K, 61.6% strikes (53 of 86 pitches) 18. LaMonte Wade (ROC): 1-for-3, BB 20. Jose Miranda (FM): 0-for-4, BB, RBI, K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs. Lehigh Valley, 12:05 pm CT (Chase De Jong) Pensacola vs. Jacksonville, 6:05 pm CT (Griffin Jax) Fort Myers at Clearwater, 5:30 pm CT (Bailey Ober) Cedar Rapids vs. Burlington, 5:05 pm CT (Josh Winder) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.
  10. If you would like to see other toolsy prospects (along with articles from each Twins affiliate, full articles on the Twins Daily Minor League Award winners, over 160 Twins minor league player profiles, prospect rankings and much more), you have a couple of purchase options. If you want the paperbook copy of the book, it is $17.99. The electronic, PDF version is available for immediate download for $12.99. (Be sure to go to Lulu.com to see if there are any promo codes to provide a better price.) Best Hit Tool: Alex Kirilloff Alex Kirilloff might have the best hit tool of any prospect in the minor leagues not named Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a 20-year old, Kirilloff was almost two and a half years younger than the competition in the Florida State League. He led the minor leagues with 71 extra-base hits and had a .970 OPS. MiLB named Kirilloff the Breakout Prospect of the Year because of his offensive explosion. The only question remaining might be if Kirilloff can turn his hit tool into making his big-league debut in 2019. Honorable Mention: Luis Arraez, Royce Lewis Best Power Tool: Brent Rooker Rooker burst onto the scene after being drafted by the Twins in 2017. In 62 games between E-Town and Fort Myers, he cracked 18 home runs and posted a .930 OPS. Rooker spent all of 2018 at Double-A, where he combined for 22 home runs and 32 doubles. His powerful swing resulted in some swing and miss tendencies as he compiled 150 strikeouts in 130 games played. Minnesota needs a new first baseman, but the team has already added CJ Cron and Nelson Cruz so far this off-season. This likely means Rooker starts the year in the minors but his powerful bat should get him to Minnesota. Honorable Mention: Trevor Larnach, Luke Raley, Jaylin Davis, Travis Blankenhorn, Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Trey Cabbage Best Run Tool: Royce Lewis Lewis is widely considered the best prospect in the Twins system and his five-tool skills make him standout above the crowd. His 28 steals were the most in the organization last season and he was only thrown out eight times. As a 19-year old, Lewis was almost three and a half years younger than the competition in the FSL. He and Kirilloff helped the Miracle to the FSL Championship. At this time next year, Lewis could be considered baseball’s top prospect. It’s scary to think how much better he could get over the next year. Honorable Mention: Akil Baddoo, Aaron Whitefield, Zack Granite, Tanner English Best Arm Tool: Andrew Bechtold Bechtold was taken out of college in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. He spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids while making most of his defensive starts at third base (670.1 innings). Bechtold did play roughly 200 innings at second base but his strong arm is probably wasted at the position. If he wants to make it to the big leagues as a third baseman, Bechtold is going to need get closer to his offensive numbers from his professional debut. His OPS dropped from .829 in 2017 to .593 in 2018. He will move up to the FSL this year, where he will try and make some offensive adjustments. Honorable Mention: Tanner English, Brian Navarreto, Ben Rortvedt Best Field Tool: Tanner English English has spent the last five seasons in the Twins system and played all last year in Chattanooga. In his age-25 season, he was over a year older than the competition in the Southern League. During his time in the organization, he has accumulated 26 outfield assists and a .992 fielding percentage. His career .239/.335/.387 batting line probably won’t make him a starter at the big-league level. However, his defensive skills could make him a useful fourth outfielder. His speed has also been evident on the base paths as he has accumulated 35 steals or more in any season he’s played over 100 games. Honorable Mention: Brian Navarreto, Zack Granite, Aaron Whitefield, David Banuelos, Royce Lewis Best Athlete: Royce Lewis Lewis is extremely athletic on both sides of the ball. On the offensive side, he can power the ball to all fields and he’s shown patience to draw walks. As mentioned above, any time he can get on base is a good thing because he has the best run tool of any player in the organization. Defensively, he will be given every opportunity to stick at shortstop. His athleticism helps him to have strong range and good hands. Right now, all Twins fans are familiar with Lewis, but the 2019 season could be his coming out party at the national level. Honorable Mention: Akil Baddoo, Travis Blankenhorn, Wander Javier, Tanner English, Gilberto Celestino, DaShawn Keirsey How does the list look? Who would you rank at the top of each tool? To read more about the tools of over 160 prospects and much more about the Twins minor leagues, grab your copy (or copies) of the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Paperback version PDF version
  11. 35. Tyler Watson – LHP Age: 21 ETA: 2021 2018 Stats (A-/A+): 56.1 IP, 4.47 ERA, 1.54 WHIP, 7.3 K/9, 3.4 BB/9, 2.33 K:BB 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 36 | Tom: 28 | Cody: 44 When a late-July swoon caused them to pivot into seller mode last year, the Twins flipped All-Star closer Brandon Kintzler to the Washington Nationals for Tyler Watson, a former 34th-round draft with a tall frame and a short track record. The 6'5", 200 lb southpaw has a physique any scout can love, and the Nats lured him away from college in 2015 with a $400K signing bonus. Watson blew hitters away in rookie leagues, but was struggling a bit in A-ball when the Twins acquired last summer. That hasn't changed, as the numbers above illustrate, but Derek Falvey views the burly left-hander as a long-term project. "Tyler is a young left-handed starter we feel is just scratching the surface of who he can be," Minnesota's chief baseball officer said at the time. "Taller pitchers can take a little longer to develop, but we feel there's more in the tank." Right now he's a fairly hittable starter with a low-90s fastball and a developing curve, neither of which he commands all that consistently. But Watson is still only 21, with an almost ideal build and an 8.9 K/9 rate through his 250 innings as a pro. I'm definitely curious to see what else is in the tank. 34. DaShawn Keirsey Jr. – OF Age: 21 ETA: 2021 2018 Stats (Rk): .258/.303/.419 (.722 OPS), 1 2B, 2 3B, 0 HR, 3 K, 2 BB 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 43 | Tom: 30 | Cody: 29 Bill Kinneberg, head baseball coach at the University of Utah, knew DaShawn Keirsey Jr. was destined to be an early-round MLB draft pick from the first time he watched him play. "I remember him running faster than anyone we've ever had, and you add that to his 6-foot-2 frame — yeah, it was evident right away." Last June, he was the 124th player to come off the board when Minnesota took him in the fourth round, and it's possible he would've gone earlier if not for a major injury in 2017 where the aggressive and speedy center fielder collided with an outfield wall (sound familiar?) and came off the field in an ambulance, his hip dislocated and the socket fractured. "Nobody could give us a timetable. That was a scary deal,” said Coach Kinneberg. It was a very tough break for a player whose game was built around speed, but Keirsey rehabbed hard and bounced back this spring with an outstanding junior season, batting .386 with a 1.049 OPS while leading the PAC-12 in doubles and reaching base in 45 of 50 games. He's a speedy gamer with good contact skills from the left side and an excellent defensive rep (he was three-time PAC-12 All Defense in center), so comparisons to Zack Granite or even Ben Revere are apt, but some foresee more power in Keirsey's future. 33. Gabriel Moya – LHP Age: 23 ETA: 2018 2018 Stats (AAA): 33.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 4.22 K/BB 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 40 | Tom: 35 | Cody: 22 Whereas Tyler Watson, profiled above, was clearly more of an acquisition guided by scouting, the Twins were pretty clearly going by the numbers when they picked up Gabriel Moya from Arizona in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy around the same time. The rare example of a lefty reliever whose changeup is his best pitch, Moya won't wow you with his high-80s fastball and modest breaking stuff. He'll more likely confuse you with his unique and twitchy mechanics. But his stats? Those'll wow you. Moya had a 0.82 ERA and 14.0 K/9 rate in Double-A last summer when the Twins acquired him, and he has kept the magic going in Minnesota's system with a 1.32 ERA and 57-to-12 K/BB ratio in 48 innings between Chattanooga (last year) and Rochester (this year). He has only received limited chances in the majors so far, amounting to 11 1/3 total innings with less than wow-worthy results, but is clearly deserving of an extended opportunity. Maybe it will come if the Twins open a spot by trading Zach Duke before the deadline. 32. Andrew Bechtold – 3B Age: 22 ETA: 2021 2018 Stats (A): .217/.320/.281 (.601 OPS), 11 2B, 0 3B, 0 HR, 67 K, 32 BB 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 27 | Tom: 41 | Cody: 42 A righty-swinging infielder who grew in the Philly suburbs, Bechtold has followed a winding path to reach this point. He was selected by the Rangers in the 37th round of the 2014 draft following a strong senior year in high school, but elected not to sign, heading instead to the University of Maryland where he'd join fellow current Twins prospects LaMonte Wade and Alex Robinson. Due to injuries and other factors, things just didn't work out for Bechtold at Maryland. After two years, he transferred to Chipola, a junior college, where he got his baseball career back on track. He hit .419 with 12 home runs and 24 steals in 60 games, impressing the Twins enough that they drafted him in the fifth round and went well above slot to sign him at $600K. Bechtold's power hasn't shown up yet, as he's managed just three homers and a .337 slugging percentage in 107 games between Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids, but he has shown a solid plate approach and an ability to get on base (he posted a .426 OBP for the Kernels in June). Ultimately the third baseman's development will hinge on his adding muscle and turning it into game power, but as a skilled defender with a good idea of what he's doing at the plate, Bechtold has the right foundation. 31. Jordan Balazovic – RHP Age: 19 ETA: 2022 2018 Stats (A): 26.2 IP, 2.36 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 13.8 K/9, 2.4 BB/9, 5.86 K/BB 2018 Ranking: NR | 2017 Ranking: NR Seth: 20 | Tom: 40 | Cody: 34 One year before taking Bechtold in the fifth round, the Twins used that selection on Jordan Balazovic, a Canadian right-hander who was catching some eyes north of the border. Like Bechtold, the Twins went over-slot to sign Balazovic, coaxing him out of a commitment to Auburn. The organization has taken it slow with Balazovic, who was only 17 when drafted in 2016. He spent two seasons in the rookie Gulf Coast League, with decidedly mixed results. This year he's made the move to Cedar Rapids, and things have really come together. He has struck out 41 in 26 2/3 innings of work, and in his most recent outing on Saturday, hurled six innings of one-hit ball with 10 strikeouts. Balazovic is a teenager who's thrown less than 100 official innings since being drafted, so all standard caveats apply, but he's a very live arm, and his arrow is pointing directly upward and flashing at this moment. PREVIOUS INSTALLMENTS: 2018 Twins Midseason Top Prospects: 36-40
  12. Since then, however, Miranda has not only been hitting at a respectable .262 rate, but has six doubles, a triple and four home runs among his 40 post-April hits. Being younger than almost all of the pitchers he was facing would be enough of a factor to explain the slow start with the bat, but Miranda had one more thing going against him that many of his teammates didn’t. Unlike some players who spent their high school and/or college days playing ball in the northern areas of the United States, playing baseball in the cold was a new experience for Miranda. He’s reluctant to blame his slow start on the weather, but facts are facts. “I don’t want to say it was the weather, but maybe in part, yeah, because the first month it was pretty cold,” Miranda conceded recently. “I’m not used to the cold weather because Puerto Rico is always hot.” As the temperatures have been rising in Iowa and the surrounding area, so has Miranda’s stat line. “I’m just making adjustments day-by-day, taking it step by step,” he said, explaining his turnaround. “I don’t want to get too anxious or too frustrated by what happens, I’m just in the moment and making adjustments every day.” Kernels hitting coach Brian Dinkelman thinks the weather had something to do with the infielder’s sluggish start to the season, as well. “Over the first month, tough weather conditions, first time experiencing cold weather, so I’m sure that had a little to do with it,” Dinkelman reflected. “He’s got some confidence now. He’s been hitting the ball better the last few weeks. He’s swinging at more strikes.” http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/Miranda060618b-600x400.jpg Jose Miranda (Photo by SD Buhr) Dinkelman is seeing better pitch selection from Miranda. “Especially with guys in scoring position. Not getting himself out on the first or second pitch by chasing or getting in a hole 0-1, 0-2. Been better the last month about getting good pitches to hit. When they’re in the strike zone, he does OK.” Miranda, himself, admits he has an affinity for taking a good whack at the first pitch. Even so, his aggressive approach hasn’t led to a ton of strikeouts. Through his first 213 at-bats, he’s K’d only 31 times. “Yeah, I like to battle,” Miranda explained. “Sometimes when I see a first pitch is right down the middle, I just like to swing. Take advantage of it, because sometimes it’s the best pitch you’re going to see. Maybe the first pitch is right down the middle, a fastball, then they’re going to work you with different pitches, so I like to jump at that first pitch. But if I don’t get it, then I’m going to keep battling. “And no, I don’t like striking out,” he added, emphatically. “I hate it. Since I was little, I’ve tried to battle.” Miranda has had plenty of talented hitters to watch and learn from in Cedar Rapids this season. “We’ve got a first overall here, Royce (Lewis), and other guys that are first-rounders, second-rounders,” Miranda pointed out. “It doesn’t matter if they’re like first 10 rounds, all the guys are super important for me, too. It’s pretty cool to play with these guys. “I like to watch every other player here. I like to watch what they do. What type of at-bats they take. What type of pitches they swing on. I admire everyone here. I admire what they do. I like everyone here. Everyone here battles. They play hard and that’s what it’s all about.” Miranda says he’s also feeling stronger as the season progresses. “I feel like the power is coming on,” he said. “I feel like I’m barreling the ball more. I’m have better swings and it’s summertime, so I think the ball is going to keep flying out.” Miranda said he’s been playing baseball since he was four years old. “When I was little I used to play in my back yard. Everybody came to my house,” he recalled. http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/06/MirandaLewis060618-600x400.jpg Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis, either attempting to take flight or going through pre-game warm-up drills. You decide. (Photo: SD Buhr) He was a shortstop through his high school playing days, but at the time he was drafted, scouts reportedly projected him to end up filling out and moving to third base. He played almost exclusively at second base in Elizabethton a season ago, however, and seemed to be set there through most of the first couple months of the Kernels season, while 2017 fifth-round selection Andrew Bechtold was manning third base. In recent weeks, however, manager Toby Gardenhire has often swapped the two, giving Miranda time at third base, with Bechtold at second, while Lewis continues to hold down shortstop and Jordan Gore gets a lot of work in a utility role, filling in at all three positions. Dinkelman acknowledged the change in pattern, but cautioned about reading too much into it. “Just a little versatility,” he explained. “We like them both at second and third and Gore can play all three. Just to get the experience at each position, because you never know, the higher you go up the ladder and to the big leagues, what position you’re going to play. So, if you can get a little experience at each and figure out maybe what is your best position, it’ll be good for all of them.” http://knuckleballsblog.com/blog/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Miranda052018-400x600.jpg Jose Miranda catches a throw from Ben Rortvedt before tagging out a Lumber Kings runner attempting to steal second base (Photo by SD Buhr) As for Miranda, he’s open to playing wherever the team and it’s leadership need him to play. “I kind of play wherever they want me, he said. “I do like both (second base and third base). Since I was young, I used to play shortstop, but now I’m playing more second and third and I don’t have a preference. I just want to be in the lineup!” With the 2018 draft taking place early this month, Miranda was recalling what it felt like to go through the draft process two years ago, as a 17-year-old in Puerto Rico. “It’s been one of my biggest moments in my life,” he recollected. “I was at my house with my dad and my grandma and I was watching it because I wasn’t sure if I was going to go in the second round or third round. The first two rounds are the first day, so I was kind of unsure if I was going to go in the second round. I was just watching it and hoping to get the call from my agent. And then it was like the 59th pick or something like that when my agent called me and told me, ‘you’re going to go in the 73rd pick to the Twins.’ “So I was kind of nervous and anxious. I was getting a lot of messages and calls and I just wanted to watch it on TV and enjoy the moment. I got a call from the scout for the Twins in Puerto Rico, (saying) ‘Hey, good luck, I know you’re going to do well.’ I said, ‘Hey, they haven’t called me yet, let me watch it first and I will call you back.’ “So, yeah, it was one of my biggest moments in my life and I enjoyed it.”
  13. Well, on the fifth day, all four Twins affiliates and the big league club played their games. The Red Wings, after having their first three games weathered out, finally played their opener. I’m sure they’re looking forward to a southern road trip starting on Thursday. The Lookouts finished out a five-game series against Birmingham. The Miracle took on Florida, and a hitter stayed hot. The Kernels made their first road trip and found a way to win a close ball game. After reading tonight’s report, be sure to add your comments and questions in the forum. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 1, Syracuse 2 Box Score Before the games began, the Red Wings announced that their three weathered-out games against Buffalo will be made up as parts of doubleheaders on May 25, May 27 and August 28. Aaron Slegers woke up Friday, Saturday and Sunday thinking he might be making his first start of the season. It wasn’t until Monday that it actually happened. However, Slegers proved ready for the Opening Day challenge. The right-hander went the first six innings. He gave up just one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out just one. 49 of his 66 pitches were strikes. Veteran Edwin Jackson got the start for Syracuse. In 3+ innings, the Red Wings worked him for six walks, but they managed just one run. Tyler Duffey came on in relief of Slegers. He was perfect in the seventh and eighth innings. He got the first out of the ninth inning, but a three-base error and a sacrifice fly meant that the Red Wings were down 2-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. They got two runners on base but were unable to push a run across the plate. Kennys Vargas went 1-for-2 with three walks in the game. Gregorio Petit went 2-for-4 in the game. Petit also played some impressive defense at shortstop. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/983524796406419457 CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 5, Birmingham 2 Box Score The Lookouts finished out their five-game series against Birmingham on Monday night. Kohl Stewart took the mound against former Twins minor leaguer Matthew Tomshaw. The left-hander was charged with five runs (three earned) on nine hits over just 3.1 innings before exiting the game. Stewart, on the other hand, was fantastic. The former #1 draft pick worked the first five innings for the Lookouts. He gave up one run on three hits. He walked none and struck out nine batters. He got five ground ball outs, all of which could be described as slow rollers. The lone run came on a single, a slow roller that advanced the runner to second base. Stewart then threw two wild pitches to allow the run to score. Ryan Eades came on and gave up one run over the next two innings. He gave up two hits, but he walked none and struck out three. Williams Ramirez came on and in 1.2 scoreless innings, walked three and struck out three. Ryne Harper had to come on for the final out. He recorded a strikeout to end the game and record his second save. He’s faced four batters and struck out all four this season. The Lookouts got their runs early. Brent Rooker came into the game 1-for-14, but he had singles in his first three at-bats. Like Rooker, LaMonte Wade went 3-for-4 in the game. Zander Wiel and TJ White each went 2-for-4. White hit his first double and stole his first base. The team improved to 3-2 on the season. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 6, Florida 4 Box Score It always sounds strange to say that Ft. Myers is playing against Florida, but we’ll have to get used to that over the next few days as the Twins affiliate takes on the Florida State League affiliate of the Atlanta Braves. On this night, the Twins minor leaguers faced Ian Anderson, one of the talented young Braves starting pitcher prospects. Travis Blankenhorn is off to a fantastic start this season. On this night, he had a single, his fifth double and his first triple. On the season, he now has nine hits. He’s got five doubles, a triple, a homer and two singles. Jimmy Kerrigan was a nice signing out of the independent leagues a year ago. He went 2-for-3 with a walk and his first home run of the year. Clark Beeker made the start. He was the Twins Daily all-star right-handed pitcher in 2017. In his first Miracle start of the season, he went five innings. He gave up two runs on four hits. He walked one and struck out five. Cody Stashak came on in relief. In his two innings, he gave up two runs on just one hit. He walked two and struck out three. With the lead back, Alex Robinson came on for the final two innings. He walked one, hit one and struck out four batters to record his second save of the season. The Miracle moved back over .500 at 3-2 with the win. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Peoria 1 Box Score The weather was still cold in Peoria, but the Kernels made their first road trip of the year and came out of it with a win. Blayne Enlow made his first start of the year. The right-hander got off to an interesting start. He got the first two batters that he faced out. But the next three hitters had singles to load the bases. Enlow was helped by a diving catch by right fielder Mark Contreras who caught a sinking liner to end that threat. In the second inning, Contreras made a leaping catch at the wall to save at least one run. But Enlow started with four scoreless innings. In the fifth inning, he left the game with one out and runners on first and third. Tall left-hander Kevin Marnon came on and gave up a sacrifice fly to give Peoria a 1-0 lead (run charged to Enlow). But Marnon finished the fifth inning, as well as the sixth and seventh frames and gave up just one hit and one walk. Side-winding Jared Finkel came on for the final two innings. He gave up three hits, but no runs, to record his first save of the season. The Kernels responded to the fifth inning run allowed by scoring a couple in the top of the sixth inning. With runners on second and third, Ben Rortvedt singled through the left side of the infield to drive in two runs and give the Kernels the lead. Rortvedt went 2-for-4 in the game. Mark Contreras did more than make great plays on defense. He went 2-for-4 with his first double of the season. He drove in an insurance run in the ninth inning as well. Third baseman Andrew Bechtold is now hitting .600 on the season after going 3-for-4 in this game. Ben Rodriguez also added his first double of the year. The Kernels remain undefeated at 3-0. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Travis Blankenhorn, Ft. Myers Miracle Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Kohl Stewart, Chattanooga Lookouts TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, 1 K #3 - Nick Gordon (Chattanooga) - 0-5, RBI, K #5 - Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4 #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - 3-4, RBI #8 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - 4.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K #10 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, BB, 3 K #13 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, K #14 - LaMonte Wade (Chattanooga) - 3-4, #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, 2 RBI #17 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - 3-4, 2B (5), 3B (1), K TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Syracuse @ Rochester (4:35 CST) - LHP Adalberto Mejia Chattanooga - Travel Day Florida @ Ft. Myers (6:00) - RHP Sean Poppen Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (11:00 am CST) - LHP Tyler Watson Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s games, or ask any questions you may have.
  14. Projected Starter: Brian Dozier Likely Backup: Ehire Adrianza Depth: Eduardo Escobar, Nick Gordon, Gregorio Petit Prospects: Gordon, Travis Blankenhorn, Yunior Severino THE GOOD It's one of the most obnoxious clichés in sports, but in this case it's too accurate not to acknowledge: Dozier has made a habit out of proving doubters wrong. He wasn't in great demand as a draft prospect out of the University of Southern Mississippi back in 2009, slipping to the eighth round despite batting .355 during a four-year collegiate career. In the Twins system, Dozier never graced the top end of prospect lists like the players who now follow him in the lineup. When drafted he was mostly viewed as a future utility player – a tweener in the middle infield without enough power to project as an impact hitter – and his early years in the minors followed suit. But Dozier just kept on improving. He broke out with a monster year at Double-A, reached the big leagues by age 25, and slowly blossomed into a premier power hitter in the game. His 2016 season seemed flukish, absurd, unrepeatable. Forty-two home runs? From a guy who previously hit 32 in eight years of college and minor-league ball combined?? How silly to doubt him. He brought it again in 2017, with arguably an even better overall performance. Dozier is the embodiment of a self-made star, and the definition of a leader by example. His production last year solidifies his status as a 5-WAR player, placing him comfortably in the top 15 percent of all qualified MLBers. Turning 31 in May, he's still in his physical prime. And beyond his natural competitive drive, Dozier has added incentive this year: the highest personal stakes of his life. For all his accomplishment, his career earnings amount to a relative pittance in the spectrum of Major League Baseball's upper echelon. Dozier is not only trying to lead an improving young team back to the playoffs this year; he's also showcasing himself for the league in hopes of earning a nine-digit paycheck he most certainly deserves, at a time where those are getting awfully hard to come by. If Dozier should stumble for some reason this year, we'll know for certain it wasn't due to a lack of effort, focus, or urgency. THE BAD Of course, the huge buzzkill of this whole deal is that Dozier's days in Minnesota appear to be numbered. He obviously has gotten the hint, and expressed his disappointment candidly earlier this week: "It's pretty much black and white from what I've been hearing, which is upsetting, but you turn the page and play to win." Dozier's got a spectacular record of durability. Were he to uncharacteristically miss time, Ehire Adrianza or Eduardo Escobar would figure to primarily fill in early on. Potentially Nick Gordon could emerge as an option somewhere along the way. Gordon's presence, in part, has contributed to the front office holding off on extension negotiations with Dozier. The 22-year-old ranks as Twins Daily's No. 3 prospect and will probably be playing short in Rochester by midsummer, if not from the outset. The tentative plan right now has him lining up with Jorge Polanco in the 2019 middle infield – assignments TBD. Neither has the makings of a stellar MLB shortstop and both currently are more ideally suited for second. Here's the rub: Polanco and Gordon both are more likely than Dozier to be manning second base beyond 2018, and neither is at all likely to ever reach Dozier's current level of top-tier production. THE BOTTOM LINE The short-term outlook at second base is blindingly bright. Dozier is a legit star player with more experience and motivation than ever before. Every sign points to another year as one of MLB's more impactful assets. After that, all bets are off. Gordon and Polanco seem almost equally likely to land at second as semi-permanent solutions. Travis Blankenhorn and Yunior Severino lurk in the lower levels. This will very likely be the last year we're able to watch Dozier dig in to lead off each game for the club that drafted him nearly a decade ago. Enjoy it while you can, Twins fans. But throughout the summer, keep an eye on movement behind him on the depth chart and in the system, because it may foretell the future of second base for the franchise. ~~~ Catch up on the rest of the series: Twins Position Analysis: Catcher Twins Position Analysis: First Base
  15. Projected Starter: Miguel Sano Likely Backup: Eduardo Escobar Depth: Ehire Adrianza, Erick Aybar, Taylor Featherston Prospects: Travis Blankenhorn, Andrew Bechtold, Jose Miranda THE GOOD It's all too easy to forget now, but just eight short months ago, Sano was the lone All Star rep from Minnesota's lineup. By the break, he already had 21 home runs with an OPS over 900, solidifying his status as long-term cog in the Twins infield. Though clearly playing above his listed weight of 260 pounds, he still respectably held his own at third base, making the majority of routine plays and occasionally flashing excellence with his cannon arm. Sano is an incredible talent. Let's not lose sight of that. He launched a pair of leisurely home runs on Friday in his sixth game of the spring, and that kind of thing should still be the expectation. If he's in the lineup, he's going to be a major threat. Even with his downslide after the All-Star break last year, the 24-year-old was on pace for 37 home runs before going down with a shin injury in August. With 71 career dingers in the books before age 25, he's on a rare pace. There are forces working against Sano – some of his own making, others not. But he is young enough to overcome them and put them in the rear view mirror. If it's always darkest before the dawn, then perhaps we're on the verge of a true breakthrough, which in Sano's case would simply mean a full season's worth of games (he's yet to play more than 116 in an MLB campaign) while realizing his 40 HR, 100+ RBI potential. In the event that Sano needs to miss time due to a suspension, setback with his leg, or some other affliction, the Twins are blessed with a pretty strong fallback option. Eduardo Escobar filled in brilliantly at the hot corner last year after the starter went down, slugging .529 with 10 bombs to basically mirror Sano's prodigious power output. Escobar finished with a .758 OPS overall, and has slashed .257/.304/.413 over the past four seasons. He's a better contingency than most teams have behind their best hitter, and his presence has been a big factor in mitigating the sense of alarm around Sano's ambiguity. THE BAD Optimism aside, the alarm is well warranted. Sano has an assault investigation floating over his head, a steel rod in his shin, and plenty of skeptics surrounding him in the organization. Those might include his manager. Always measured in his words, Paul Molitor conveyed some leeriness when talking to Brian Murphy of the Pioneer Press last month: “I think the trend has been [sano's] figuring some things out; some things have been a little harder to get through to him,” Molitor said. “At times I’ve tried to involve people that might be able to provide a voice that will penetrate. We’re just trying to get him to see the bigger picture. “He loves to play. It’s all in front of him. He, as much as anyone in that clubhouse, wants what’s in front of him, but I’m not sure he understands what is required to reap those rewards — of competing, winning, financial security, taking care of his family. We’re trying." Such sentiments toward Sano are nothing new, but it was easier to be sympathetic when he was a 22-year-old rookie. Today he's a 25-year-old who's shown up at camp with – in the kindest possible phrasing of his general manager – a "generous carriage." According to Pat Reusse, Sano is rumored to have weighed in this spring at 293 lbs. Where would that heft rank among all major-league players? It's almost impossible to say, given the sweeping inaccuracy of official listings (again, MLB's site still has Sano at 260), but I think we can safely say he's among the top handful of players. There's not likely a larger fielder outside of first base in the game. This isn't a knock against his all-around outlook as a big-leaguer, because I happen to believe that Sano can be a monster hitter even at three bucks, but the reality is that he's on the verge of becoming untenable at third base. A certain spryness requisite to the position becomes elusive for a man so large. Barring a reversal in physical development, which might be unrealistic given his genetic makeup, Sano appears destined for DH. The question is when. Minnesota's front office is hoping he can hold out as long as possible, because right now the system is thin on replacements. Yes, Escobar can fill in short-term. But he's eligible for free agency after this season. And the next in line behind him as a legit starting option at the position is... well, completely unclear. A trio of recent high draft picks stand out as the brightest long-term hopes: 2015 third-rounder Travis Blankenhorn (21), 2016 second-rounder Jose Miranda (19) and 2017 fifth-rounder Andrew Bechtold (21). But none will be arriving anytime soon. So suffice to say it would be really nice if Sano could hold it down at third for at least a couple more years. Which might help explain why the Twins haven't really entertained the idea of moving him off the position, and in fact delayed any possibility of such an outcome by signing Logan Morrison. THE BOTTOM LINE It's all about Sano. If he can make a statement by proving himself healthy and at least serviceable defensively, the Twins will be more than happy to stick with him at third indefinitely. Sano's agility has always been better than you'd expect for his size, so maybe he'll surprise us even at this weight. More likely, he'll need to put in work and slim down a bit to remain viable at the hot corner, but that's a perfectly feasible scenario. It's important to keep in mind that he was extremely limited in his ability to condition this past offseason. To pin the lack of weight loss on disinterest would be ignorant. If things go amiss for the star slugger this season, Escobar provides a solid security valve, for now. After 2018, the front office may need to look at building out some better long-term depth at the position. Hopefully someone like Blankenhorn or Bechtold can take a big step forward.
  16. Andrew Bechtold grew up in a city just outside of Philadelphia. Each year, he went to a couple of Phillies games. He enjoyed following that team and had a favorite player that personifies those teams. “Growing up, I was a big Chase Utley guy because of the way he played, and he was a good guy on and off the field. He really played for the love of the game. I always looked up to Chase Utley as a player when he was with the Phillies.” Bechtold has some great memories of that 2008 Phillies World Series winning team. “I still remember when they won the World Series, staying up late that night and all my friends going to the parade. That was my fondest memory of Phillies baseball, their World Series team with Utley and (Jimmy) Rollins and Ryan Howard, and that pitching staff that they had. It was an exciting time, and I was at an age where I could really appreciate what went on.” Bechtold grew up playing multiple sports, including basketball. He went to Garnet Valley High School, a traditional northeastern high school known for its football and lacrosse, but Bechtold notes, “You don’t hear too much about our baseball program, but we’re always solid across the board in all athletics.” He played basketball through his freshman year in high school when baseball became his focus. “Transitioning from middle school to high school and playing on the varsity baseball team, it was one of those jumps that I was really excited for. We had 6 am workouts in the winter, and seeing the physical maturity of everyone around me really made me realize how hard I had to work to play in college after high school.” He got to practice with the varsity as a freshman and even played in some games. “That’s when I really knew that baseball was what I wanted to do and wanted to put a lot of time and effort into to hopefully play in college and one day play professionally. I knew it was going to take a lot of work in the weight room and off the field doing other things to get better at my craft.” He put in that work and after a strong high school career, and after his senior season, he was drafted in the 37th round by the Texas Rangers. While the idea of signing crossed his mind, Bechtold knew the right decision for him was to go to college. “It was creeping into my head. I was talking to my adviser and some other people and said that if the pick is right and the team is right and I feel good about it, it could be good for my development. To say I didn’t consider it would be lying, because I did. I also knew the value of college and the value of an education. Those three years to mature physically and mentally as a baseball player and as a person would greatly outweigh going pro out of high school. I was confident to know that I would have another shot at the draft after college, and I just felt like college was the best thing for me physically.” He took his talents to the University of Maryland where he teamed with fellow Twins prospects Lamonte Wade and Alex Robinson. He started at shortstop right away as a freshman, but then he got hurt. “Things didn’t really fall into place the way that I wanted them to at Maryland.” After two years (including a redshirt season) with the Terrapins, he made the decision to transfer to Chipola College. “I tell everybody, Chipola wasn’t my first thought. My first thought was to contact all the other Division I schools that offered me in high school. Then I started to think about it, and I didn’t want to sit out a whole year with the NCAA transfer rule. I started talking to some local people and others I knew through baseball, and Chipola kept coming up. I didn’t know anything about it. I had never visited. So me and my dad drove down to Marianna, Florida. When we got there, it was my first time seeing the campus and the baseball field. It’s a small town in Florida, and there’s not much to it. There’s a couple of places to eat, but the people are very nice and the coaches and the tradition… it was the perfect fit for me.” He enrolled and it was a decision that worked out exactly as Andrew Bechtold would have hoped. He credits the coaching staff led by head coach Jeff Johnson with helping him develop. “I owe so much to those coaches for really revamping my career. Those guys worked with me day in and day out to get me back to where I needed to be, back to my comfort zone. It’s nothing flashy, but it’s what you need to be successful. The core group of guys there were pushing you day in and day out. The way that I performed there, and I had great stats, but on top of everything, I had a blast playing there.I loved going to the field every day. I loved staying late every day. I loved lifting with those guys. I really enjoyed every minute that I was at Chipola, and I think that’s what college should be about.” He gives Jeff Johnson a lot of credit for his success. “He’s worked with Jose Bautista, Patrick Corbin, Russell Martin. All those guys, he’s worked with them. He’s had the biggest influence just because he’s made things simpler for me and helped me career as a whole, so he’s probably been one of the most influential coaches I’ve ever had.” As the draft was approaching, scouts were abundant at Chipola games. “The main focus is the draft and the coaches don’t deny that. The coaches know that you’re coming there to get drafted, you want to be seen by the right eyes. I had a lot of contact with some scouts. Jack Powell was the Twins scout that drafted me, and he was involved so much. He was at every game. He even came to some practices. He made a conscious effort to come out and see us all the time. Throughout the year, I felt I built up a pretty good relationship with Jack to the point where he calls me in the offseason to see how I’m doing and how I’m feeling. He was really involved with the Chipola team as a whole and coming out to see us a whole bunch.” The Minnesota Twins used their fifth round pick on Bechtold. In my return to podcasting last week, MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo said of Bechtold, “Their draft… Andrew Bechtold, I like a lot. They got him out of Chipola. You’ve got to see how those skills translate, but I think he can play. To get that kind of performer. He had a solid debut in the Appy League. That could be a steal for them from the fifth round.” As for Bechtold, “You never know. I tried to stay out of it as much as possible. I let my adviser take care of that stuff because we had a really good team and were in the midst of trying to get to the Junior College World Series and eventually win the Junior College World Series. For me to think about the draft would have been too much. When the season was over, we talked about stuff. I knew I was going to go on Day 2, but I didn’t know to who. I was patient with the whole thing. I looked back at my season and I felt like I really showed what I can do. So whoever picks me and whatever dollar figure they give me, I know I had a great year. I’ll be really happy with whatever decision a team makes.” He was happy to hear that the Twins were going to take him in the fifth round. “I was really happy that the Twins picked me because they were one of the teams that I had my eye on. I know some guys in the organization already. So when I heard that the Twins were going to pick me in the fifth round, I was really excited about that.” Bechtold had committed to play in 2018 at LSU, but generally, the choice to sign was fairly easy for him. After signing, he was sent to Elizabethton where he won a second championship in 2017, an Appalachian League title. He also put together a strong season. He hit .299/.406/.424 (.830) with ten doubles, a triple and two home runs in 43 games. “E-Town was nice. For me, coming from a junior college and a small town in Marianna, I felt like I adapted really well to being there. It took me a couple of days, but within two or three days, I felt like I was right into everything and feeling good.” With the E-Twins, he was managed by former big leaguer Ray Smith who has been coaching or managing in Elizabethton for over 30 years. And Jeff Reed has been the hitting coach there for nearly 20 years after playing 17 seasons in the big leagues. Bechtold was able to learn a lot from both of them. “The coaches were great, and they made sure that before they started putting me in the lineup that I was good to go. I got to work throughout the season with Jeff (Reed) on my hitting and my approach and pick at his brain for what worked for him. That’s what I always try to do. Guys that have played in the big leagues and are now coaching, I try to pick their brains and try to figure out what worked for them. You have to try as many things that you can until you find something that really works for you and that you really like and you can be successful. Ray (Smith) knows his stuff. He’s a good manager. He likes to teach the game. I mean, we worked on fundamentals almost every day. Even if it was just 15 minutes, he tried to get a little teaching aspect in there, which is good. We need to gather as much information as we can to become the best we can. I think Ray does a really good job of instilling that in us and helping us continue to learn and develop.” While he put up terrific offensive numbers, has a good approach, takes walks,and has some power, when asked about his strengths on the field, Bechtold spoke to his defense. “Ever since I was little, defense has been a big part of my game. I always know that hitting is streaky. Sometimes you’re going to be hot. Sometimes you’re going to be cold. But the one thing you can always control is your defense. Even if I’m having a bad game, 0-3 or 0-4, I’m still going to play rock-solid defense because that can make an impact and help our team win.” Recently, Baseball America noted that Andrew Bechtold has the strongest infield arm in the system. “I really take pride in my defense, and especially showing off my arm and using my arm strength to my advantage.” Offensively, he thinks he has taken some strides since high school. “I understand my approach a little more. I understand how to use my body more to get into the ball. If you look at my numbers, my power has slowly increased each year since high school. That’s a big key for me.” In addition, he’s got good speed. During his college season, he stole 24 bases in 28 chances. It’s also a key area that he is focusing on during the offseason. “Stealing bases is something that I think is really important. I’ve worked on that this offseason. I plan on taking a more aggressive approach on the base paths wherever I am next year because I know that I can be a stolen base threat and every base helps to keep my team in the ball game or help us get an extra run. I’m not scared to go first to third. I want to put pressure on the defense to make plays. That’s the fun aspect of the game, putting pressure on the defense and running everything out because you never know over the course of a season how much of an impact that is going to make.” Bechtold played shortstop in high school and at Maryland, but he’s transitioned to third base the last couple of years. “It’s definitely not as easy as people think. I realized that I struggled to get to certain balls. When I transferred to Chipola, they really taught me about the angles of third base, taking drop steps or getting your feet in better positions. Toward the end of the year, I really had a good feel for what I was doing. Then when I went to Elizabethton, it was almost second nature. Now I’m to the point where I’m 100% comfortable there. And I know the things to work on.” He’ll head to Ft. Myers in February, a little bit before the official start of minor league camp. He’s got some goals as he looks to 2018. “For me, I’m just going to go out there and play. I know what I need to do, and I know what I’m capable of. Personally, I hold myself to a certain standard on the field, whether it’s defensively or offensively. I”m just trying to have a good year. I want to put the bat on the ball. I want to be aggressive. Being aggressive this year is a big thing for me this year. And then I want to play good defense. As opposed to what level I want to end up at, or I want to hit .300, or I want to hit .350, or I want to hit this number of home runs. That kind of stuff will all fall into place. If I’m doing what I’ve been working on all offseason, and I’m staying within myself and being aggressive, all that stuff will take care of itself.” If you’re looking for a name to watch in 2018, Andrew Bechtold would be a good one. He’s shown the ability to hit for average, take a great approach into each plate appearance and get on base, has power potential, has good speed, wants to be more aggressive, and will play good defense at the hot corner. Most likely, Bechtold will begin 2018 in Cedar Rapids, and there is a chance that he could end the year in Ft. Myers. As you can see from his responses, he’s thought-filled and has a strong grasp on what he is and where he wants to get. Thank you to Andrew Bechtold for taking time to talk to me and let the Twins Daily readers get to know him.
  17. With that, let’s take a look at my choices for Twins prospects 26-30. #30 SS Jelfry Marte Marte is one of the more intriguing names on this prospect list. Signed in July out of the Dominican Republic for $3 million, most believe that he has the potential to stay at shortstop. He’s got good speed, range and a strong arm. While he is currently about 5-10 and 140 pounds, it is believed that he will grow. There are mixed opinions about his offensive potential While many believe that he will likely be a bottom of the order hitter, some think that he could grow and eventually add some power. He could begin his pro career in the Dominican Summer League in 2018, though it’s possible he’ll move up to the GCL. #29 RHP Dereck Rodriguez Rodriguez recently became a free agent. He was drafted by the Twins in the sixth round of the 2011 draft out of high school in Florida. He spent the first three seasons of his pro career as an outfielder in the rookie leagues. He started the transition to pitcher in 2014. In 2015, he was the Appy League Pitcher of the Year. He finished the 2016 season with a 2.56 ERA in Ft. Myers. He was an All Star for the Miracle in 2017, going 5-2 with a 2.51 ERA. He moved up to AA where he went 5-4 with a 3.94 ERA. Last offseason, he helped win a championship in the Puerto Rico Winter League and was then named an alternate for the talented Puerto Rico WBC team. He’s 25 but continues to take strides forward. He throws 90-93, touching 94. He’s got a good slider as well and a changeup. He was able to get more ground balls. He even got to attend his father’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony in Cooperstown in August. #28 3B Andrew Bechtold Bechtold was the Twins fifth-round draft pick this year out of junior college powerhouse Chipola College. Coming out of high school, he went to Maryland. He made seven starts before getting hurt and getting a medical redshirt. In 2017, he hit .419/.532/.676 with 12 homers. He had committed to LSU but instead signed with the Twins. At Elizabethton, he hit .299/.406/.424 with ten doubles and two homers. At 6-1 and 195 pounds, Bechtold was moved to third base at Chipola (though he may have played shortstop at LSU). He already has shown his ability to work the count and take walks. He also has a chance to hit for a lot of power. #27 RHP Griffin Jax Jax made a start in Elizabethton this summer before making four starts in Cedar Rapids. That marked his three-week leave from the Air Force. When he left, he headed to Cape Canaveral where he is an acquisitions officer. His duty will be complete next summer, though he may be able to make the trek to Ft. Myers on weekends in the summer. Jax, whose dad played in the NFL for a decade, was the Twins third-round pick in 2016. He’s blessed with a mid-90s fastball and has a good slider and a changeup to go with it. He will turn 23 in two weeks, so his career will be delayed by two years. We’ll have to be patient, but he has the stuff to be good. (Get to know him.) #26 OF Aaron Whitefield The Twins have done well with toolsy hitters in the past. In the Twins minor league system, there are not players more athletic than the outfielder from Australia. He’s only been playing baseball for about three years after spending most of his youth playing softball at a high level. Defensively, he can cover ground in center field with anyone (not named Byron Buxton). Offensively, he’s still working on things, but he hit .268/.318/.414 (.732) with 18 doubles, six triples and 11 home runs. He also stole 33 bases. He’ll need to adjust and put the ball in play more, but he’s definitely a sleeper. (Get to know him.) So there you have Part 3 of my Top 50 Twins Prospect rankings, prospects 26-30. Be sure to check out Part 1 (41-50) and Part 2 (31-40), and feel free to discuss any of these players or ask questions below.
  18. Let’s take a look at the Top 6 hitters for the month of July, but first here are some players deserving of honorable mention. HONORABLE MENTION Akil Baddoo - GCL Twins/Elizabethton - 25 G, 26-94, 277/.398/.447 (.845) with four doubles, three triples, two homers, 16 RBI. Jordan Gore - Elizabethton - 15 G, 20-59, .339/.400/.441 (.841) with three doubles and a homer, 11 RBI. Matt Hague - Rochester - 29 G, 32-106, .302/.375/.453 (.828) with ten doubles, two homers, 16 RBI. Wander Javier - Elizabethton - 15 G, 18-58, .310/.412/.483 (.895) with five doubles, one triple, one homer and seven RBI. Royce Lewis - GCL Twins - 22 G, 27-84, .321/.412/.464 (.877) with four doubles, one triple, two homers and 11 RBI. Levi Michael - Chattanooga - 19 G, 22-73, .301/.370/.548 (.918) with four doubles, one triple, four homers and 12 RBI Sean Miller - Ft. Myers - 25 G, 30-94, .319/.347/.436 (.783) with five doubles, two homers and 15 RBI. Ben Rodriguez - GCL Twins - 20 G, 23-67, .343/.443/.507 (.951) with six doubles, one triple, one home run, and 20 RBI. Alex Robles - GCL Twins - 22 G, 29-88, .330/.348/.432 (.780) with three doubles, two home runs and 16 RBI. LaMonte Wade - Chattanooga - 24 G, 28-103, .272/.359/.417 (.776) with seven doubles, one triple, two home runs and 18 RBI. THE TOP SIX HITTERS Number 6 – Rochester - Byungho Park - 29 G, .292/.333/.538 (.871). 31-106 with six doubles, one triple, six home runs and 19 RBI. Park turned 31 years old in July, and he put together ae solid month. An injury slowed him in the early season, but he’s been hitting well since mid-June. In July, he started to show some of the power that made him legendary in Korea. Signed through 2019, with an option for 2020, the Twins will likely give him another shot at some point. Until then, it’s just good to see him healthy and starting to hit well again in Rochester. Number 5 – Elizabethton – 2B Jose Miranda - 24 G, .317/.360/.515 (.875). 32-101 with two doubles, six home runs and 22 RBI. In 2016, the Twins had four of the first 74 draft picks. With their first of two compensation picks (following the second round), they selected infielder Jose Miranda out of the Leadership Christian Academy in Puerto Rico. Miranda just turned 19 at the end of June. He’s been one (of several) really good hitters in the middle of the E-Town lineup. He’s shown a good approach at the plate, but he hits the ball with authority often. Of his 23 games played in the field so far this season, he’s played second base in 22 of them, with one start at third base. He’s also DHd a bit. Number 4 – Rochester - Mitch Garver - 25 G, .244/.340/.567 (.906). 22-90 with five doubles, eight home runs and 16 RBI. These are things I’ve written several times throughout the season and particularly the last couple of weeks. “It is inexcusable that Mitch Garver is not in the big leagues.” “Mitch Garver is the best all-around catcher in the Twins organization, including the two catchers with the Twins.” Overall this season, he is hitting .267/.370/.509 (.879) with 22 doubles and 15 home runs. He’s also thrown out 30% of would-be base stealers. He turned 26 in January. My assumption is that Chris Gimenez will either be traded or DFAd sometime in August to get Mitch Garver to the big leagues. If not, he should be up on September 1st. It just shouldn’t have taken that long. Number 3 - Elizabethton – 3B Andrew Bechtold - .387/.467/.629 (1.096) 24-62 with seven doubles, one triple, two homers and 11 RBI. He was drafted by the Rangers out of high school in 2014. He went to Maryland where he red-shirted before playing one season there. He transferred to Chipola College where he was part of a tremendous junior college team. The Twins took him in the fifth round. After signing (above slot), he went to Elizabethton. He went 0-7 his first two games. Since then, he has hit .403/.481/.627 (1.108). Number 2 - Elizabethton Twins – OF Shane Carrier - 23 G, .390/.402/.630 (1.032), 39-100 with nine doubles, five homers and 30 RBI. Carrier was the Twins 8th round pick in 2016 out of Fullerton College. He signed, forgoing a scholarship offer at Cal St. Fullerton. He spent last summer in Elizabethton. He began this season in Cedar Rapids, but through 30 games, he was hitting just .215/.243/.299 (.542), so he went down to extended spring training. It’s paid off. He has been destroying the ball in the Appy League to the tune of a .341/.353/.535 (.888) rate with ten doubles and five home runs. Carrier is strong and has a ton of power potential that he is just tapping into. And the Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts – 1B Jonathan Rodriguez - .383/.455/.652 (1.107), 44-115 with 13 doubles, six homers and 22 RBI. The Twins signed Jonathan Rodriguez as a six-year minor league free agent this past offseason. The Puerto Rico native went to the State College of Florida, Manatee-Sarasota and was the 17th round pick of the St. Louis Cardinals in 2009. Rodriguez gradually worked his way up the Cardinals system. He got to AA in 2014, but he stayed there until 2016 when he played in 39 AAA games. The Twins were quick to sign him and he’s been a mainstay in the Chattanooga lineup all season. With the Cardinals organization, he mostly played corner outfield positions. With the Lookouts, he’s only played first base and DH so far. That makes sense for the 27-year-old who stands 6-2 and weighs in at 250 pounds. He will turn 28 in just a couple of weeks. In 94 games with the Lookouts this year, he has hit .317/.413/.516 (.928) with 24 doubles and 15 home runs. His July was tremendous. He had two four-hit games, four three-hit games and eight two-hit games during the month. He was an extra-base hit machine, with 13 doubles and six home runs. He was named the Southern League Player of the Month as well. With Byungho Park and Kennys Vargas, along with Matt Hague, at AAA, Rodriguez is likely to spend the full season with the Lookouts. Congratulations to the July Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month for 2017, Chattanooga Lookouts Jonathan Rodriguez.
  19. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester - OFF DAY The 62-45 Red Wings will host Lehigh Valley in a series that begins tomorrow. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 7, Montgomery 6 Box Score It was going to happen again. Despite having a two-run lead going into the bottom of the ninth inning, the Lookouts were going to play another extra-inning game. A triple followed by a single followed by a sacrifice bunt and it was one out with the tying run at second. And then it happened, a rocket shot towards the hole that was definitely going to score the game-tying run. Only it didn't. A diving Nick Gordon fielded the ball to his right and quickly rifled the ball to first base where the runner was called out. (It was very close.) The next batter popped out and the game was over. In nine innings. Shortly after 10 pm central time. T.J. White, Max Murphy and Carlos Paulino all had two hits. White hit his ninth home run. LaMonte Wade had only one hit, but it was a triple, and he drove in three runs. Nick Gordon, officially, was 0-1, but he drew three walks. Kohl Stewart picked up the win, though it wasn't necessarily pretty. He worked six innings, striking out six, but allowed five runs on seven hits and four walks. He was effective in getting groundball outs (8:1) and improved his record to 5-5. Randy LeBlanc struck out three in two scoreless frames before Nick Anderson picked up the one-inning save... which was an adventure. At 70-37 overall and 27-9 in the second half, the Lookouts have a five-game lead in their division, and have consistently been the best team in the Southern League all season. Let's see how much of this team remains together as the higher levels will surely come looking for help. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Clearwater 6 Box Score All of the Miracle runs came by way of the home run. Brent Rooker hit his second high-A homer (and 9th overall) with a solo shot in the second inning. It gave Fort Myers a 1-0 lead. After allowing the game to be tied in the fourth inning, Mitch Kranson hit a two-run blast in the fifth inning to put the Miracle up 3-1. The Fort Myers bullpen - Glen Perkins and David Fischer - allowed a combined five runs in two innings, negating a good rebound start by Sean Poppen. Poppen went six innings, striking out five, allowing only one run on six hits. Brandon Lopez paced the offense with two hits. At 22-16, the Miracle are two games back in their division. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Clinton 0 Box Score Charlie Barnes struck out four over four innings in his full-season debut. Only five runners - four hits and a walk - reached base, but none scored. Unfortunately, Barnes exited the scoreless tie and took a no decision. Patrick McGuff was credited with the win. He allowed two hits and struck out two in two innings. Ryan Mason struck out three in two innings. Hector Lujan picked up his 11th save of the season. The bats were relatively quiet - only seven hits all game - but new Kernel Jimmy Kerrigan drove in all (two) of the game's runs with a home run in the sixth inning. Gorge Munez, who scored the other run, had two hits including a double. Now 56-51, but only 17-20 in the second half the Kernels are 5.5 games back in their division. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 9, Kingsport 3 Box Score The E-Twins continue to swing very hot bats and that was apparent again on Monday. Every member of the lineup recorded at least one hit. Andrew Bechtold led the offense going 2-4 with two doubles and three RBI. Shane Carrier, Kolton Kendrick, Carson Crites and Akil Baddoo all had two hits. Carrier and Baddoo added doubles as did Jordan Gore and Jose Miranda. Crites and Baddoo each stole a base. Melvi Acosta picked up the win, tossing 5.2 innings. He gave up two runs on five hits. Acosta struck out three. Rickey Ramirez recored the final 10 outs. He gave up a run on two hits and also struck out three. The E-Twins have a five-game winning streak and have pushed their division lead to three games at 25-14. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins vs GCL Rays Postponed - Rain The GCL Twins are 17-13. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Sean Poppen, Fort Myers Hitter of the Day – Andrew Bechtold, Elizabethton TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs Lehigh Valley (6:05 CST) - RHP Dillon Gee (3-1, 2.00 ERA) Chattanooga at Montgomery (7:05 CST) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez (4-2, 4.04 ERA) Fort Myers at Clearwater (6:00 CST) - RHP Eduardo Del Rosario (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs Clinton (6:35 CST) - RHP Tyler Beardsley (3-4, 5.81 ERA) Elizabethton vs Kingsport (6:00 CST) - RHP Nick Brown (0-1, 5.24 ERA) GCL Twins at GCL Orioles (11:00 AM CST) - TBA Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Monday’s games.
  20. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Saturday. On a fun note, Chattanooga starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez told me the other day that he will be in Cooperstown on Sunday when his father officially enters the Baseball Hall of Fame. Let’s start with the transactions of the day: As we mentioned a couple of days ago, the Twins signed outfielder Jimmy Kerrigan, a 23-year-old from the independent Frontier League. At the time, they announced that he would report on Saturday. The corresponding move is that infielder Andre Jernigan, a 2016 draft pick out of Xavier who joined the Kernels about a month ago from extended spring training, was released. Miracle RHP Henry Centeno began a rehab appearance in the GCL on Saturday. Kernels RHP Tyler Wells also began a rehab stint. Expect some more moves on Sunday. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 5, Toledo 6 Box Score The Red Wings jumped out to an early lead. They once led 5-1. However, the bullpen’s most reliable arm was unable to hold the lead. The game went to extra innings, and former (albeit brief) Red Wings hitter John Hicks knocked in the game-winning run for Toledo. Hector Santiago made his second rehab start (on this stint) with the Red Wings. He gave up a run on three walks and a hit in the first inning, but he settled down after that. In three innings, he gave up just the one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out four. David Hurlbut came on. The lefty gave up one run on four hits and a walk over four innings. He struck out five. 40 of his 55 pitches were strikes. Byron Buxton played again. He struck out in his first two at-bats before singling in his final two at bats before being removed from the game. https://twitter.com/DWolfsonKSTP/status/891494379738865664 Byungho Park went 2-6 with his 21st double and eighth home run. Daniel Palka was 2-5 with his second triple. Niko Goodrum and JB Shuck were 2-6. Anthony Recker made his Twins and Red Wings debut. He hit a double. With a three-run lead heading into the bottom of the eighth, Drew Rucinski came on. He gave up three runs on three hits and a walk and got just the first two outs (both strikeouts). Jake Reed came on and allowed the third run to score on a hit before getting the third out. Nik Turley came on and went the next three innings. He gave up the 12th-inning run. He gave up a total of three hits and three walks while striking out just one. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 2, Birmingham 1 (21 innings) Box Score It was a long night in Chattanooga. These two teams essentially played two games though it only counted as one in the overall standings. There were a lot of pitchers, a lot of men left on base, and there were even pitchers hitting, well, getting at-bats. It came down to position players pitching, for both teams. Felix Jorge started and was fantastic. The right-hander went the first nine innings. He gave up just one run on four hits. He struck out eight batters without walking any. Randy Rosario was next. The southpaw gave up three hits, but no runs, over two innings. Ryan Eades was next. He walked two and struck out two over two scoreless innings. Then Raul Fernandez came on and struck out six over three scoreless innings. So, how did pitchers start hitting? Why was that a thing in this game? Well, the Lookouts were down 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning. With two outs, Jonathan Rodriguez, the DH, got on base. Jake Mauer decided to pinch run Alex Perez for him. The move worked as Perez came around to score on an Andy Wilkens hit. The game went to extra innings. Carlos Paulino pinch hit for Randy Rosario, but due to other moves throughout the earlier inning, there were no more hitters on Mauer’s bench. Ryan Eades struck out in his at-bat. Raul Fernandez grounded out in his lone at-bat. Luke Bard came on for the 17th inning. He struck out two in a scoreless inning. He struck out another in a quick, 1-2-3 18th inning. Bard struck out to end the 18th inning. So, in the 19th inning, Jake Mauer put infielder Alex Perez in to pitch. Pitcher Randy LeBlanc went out to right field. Max Murphy moved to centerfield while Levi Michael replaced Perez at second base. Alex Perez was the pinch runner who replaced the DH in the ninth inning. He walked one, but got three outs without allowing a run. But the Lookouts didn’t score in their half of 19th either. Perez pitched a one-two-three 20th inning, including a fly out to LeBlanc in right field. Perez enjoyed his time on the mound. "It was fun to get on the mound again. Been like two years since my senior year of college." In the 21st inning, Alex Perez shifted back to second base, and Max Murphy went to the mound. He walked the first batter. The next guy bunted him to second. A grounder advanced the runner to third, but Murphy got a strikeout to end the threat! Birmingham finally went to a position player in the bottom of the 21st inning. With two outs, he walked the bases loaded before Levi Michael walked to end the marathon!! Along with his first win, Max Murphy went 3-8. Alex Perez was 2-5. Levi Michael was 2-8 with the game-winning walk... It was a long night for several others at the plate. Perez was called up to the Lookouts about a month ago, and Chattanooga has just continued to roll. He notes, "This team just doesn't stop fighting. We never count ourselves out of any game. The atmosphere every time we take the field is unlike any team I've been a part of. I have enjoyed my time here that's for sure." MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 0, Clearwater 3 Box Score JoJo Romero is the #18 ranked prospect of the Philadelphia Phillies. On Saturday, he was terrific. In fact, the only hit he gave up to the Miracle was a single to Jermaine Palacios in the sixth inning. And that remained the only hit the Miracle had for the whole game. Tanner English walked twice. Lewis Thorpe was on the mound to start for the Miracle. The left-hander gave up two runs on four hits over the first six innings. He struck out five without a walk. Glen Perkins came in to start the seventh innings. He gave up one run on two hits in 0.2 innings. Both outs came on strikeouts. Alex Robinson got the final four outs, three on strikeouts. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Clinton 0 Box Score Let’s start with the Kernels offense, and save the best part of this game story for last. There wasn’t a lot of offense. The team had eight hits in the game, but were only able to string together enough for two runs. In the third inning, Joe Cronin singled in Christian Cavaness to give the team a 1-0 lead. Then in the fifth frame, it was Cronin again. He knocked in Gorge Munoz, who went 2-3, with a sacrifice fly. But on this night, that was just an insurance run because Clark Beeker threw a tremendous game. Beeker completed nine shutout innings and needed just 100 pitches. 73 of them were strikes. He gave up just five hits, walked none and struck out seven. A quality changeup and a strategy that has proven successful for Beeker. Beeker told Twins Daily moments after the game’s completion, “I was able to get a good feel for my changeup in the early innings and was able to keep their hitters off balance. That allowed me to use my fastball to put away guys the second and third times through the lineup. His pitching coach agreed. J.P. Martinez said, “The changeup was the difference-maker tonight. (It had) good tumble, and he spotted it low all night. He had them out front and made them late to the fastball.” Beeker now has thrown 17 straight scoreless innings for the Kernels and is 10-3 with a 2.31 ERA for the season. For Beeker, it was just nice to be able to finish what he started. “It was a great feeling to finish the game; I hadn’t done so since college, so it was nice to get deep in the game and save our bullpen. I was fortunate enough to get some early-count outs and keep my pitch count low enough to finish the game.” E-TWINS E-NOTES Game 1 - Elizabethton 6, Princeton 0 Box Score These teams completed two full innings of work on Friday night before rains caused a delay and an eventual suspension of the game. Before that time, the Twins held a 3-0 lead. With two outs in the first inning, Jose Miranda hit his seventh home run, and it was followed by the fifth E-Twins homer of the season by Shane Carrier. Edwar Colina threw two scoreless innings and struck out four. When the game resumed, Bailey Ober was on the mound. The 2017 draft pick struck out three over four scoreless, hitless innings to earn his first pro win. Blair Lakso threw a scoreless seventh inning. Andrew Bechtold went 2-3 with his first triple. Mark Contreras was 2-3, and he had the big hit. His second home run of the season drove in three runs in the sixth inning and put the game out of reach. https://twitter.com/Mike_Gally21/status/891422430635470848 Game 2 - Elizabethton 13, Princeton 3 Box Score Make that 20-2… In fact, in this, the regularly-scheduled game, the E-Twins scored seven runs in the first inning. Obviously there were a few big hits, but the final one was a two-run home run by Carson Crites out of the nine-spot in the lineup. It was his second home. Jordan Gore led off the second inning with his first professional home run. Of the home run, Gore, who went 3-4 in the game, told Twins Daily, “It was a great feeling hitting the first one. I had a pretty good feeling it was going to get out.” Matt Albanese added his second home run as well. Crites went 2-3. Colton Waltner went 3-4. Andrew Bechtold went 2-4 with his fourth double. The E-Twins have a lot of really solid hitters. Gore said, “It's a thrill being a part of the offense. We have a guys that really know how to hit. It's fun being on an offensive team.” Brusdar Graterol made his first start for the E-Twins on Saturday. The hard-throwing right-hander went the first four innings. He gave up two runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out six. Jared Finkel recorded the final nine outs. He was charged with an unearned run on four hits. He struck out six without issuing a walk. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 6, GCL Red Sox 5 Box Score The Twins traveled down Daniels Parkway this morning to take on the GCL Red Sox. It was an early start time, but the Twins got their bats going early, in large part due to Royce Lewis. In his first at bat, he singled in the Twins first run of the day. In the Twins four-run, third inning, Lewis knocked in two runs with another single. Emmanuel Morel led off and went 2-4 with a walk. Jean Carlos Arias went 2-5 with his second triple. Victor Tademo went 2-4 with his second stolen base. A couple of minor leaguers made rehab appearances in the GCL game. Right-hander Henry Centeno, who has been on the Miracle disabled list with an elbow injury since the beginning of the season, went the first inning. He walked a batter, hit a batter and struck out a batter in a scoreless inning. Tyler Wells, who is in his second DL stint with the Kernels due to biceps tendinitis, threw the next two innings. He gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk. He struck out four. Shortly after the game, he told Twins Daily, “It’s been going and feeling really good. Really been working on a few mechanical things, and they’ve been going really well. Now it’s just a matter of getting everything dialed in.” TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Clark Beeker, Cedar Rapids Kernels Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jordan Gore, Elizabethton Twins SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Toledo (5:05 CST) - RHP Aaron Slegers Chattanooga @ Montgomery (5:35 CST) - LHP Stephen Gonsalves Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (DH @ 12:00 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen, LHP Anthony McIver Clinton @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 CST) - LHP Anthony Marzi Kingsport @ Elizabethton (5:00 CST) - TBD GCL Twins - No Game Scheduled Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  21. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Friday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS There were a handful of transactions in the Twins system on Friday. Following the Twins loss in Kansas City, Alan Busenitz was optioned to Rochester. Ryan Pressly will return to the Twins. Felix Jorge, as we learned on Thursday, will be the 26th man and start the night game of the doubleheader. The Kernels need some starters, so on Friday, they announced the signing of lefty Anthony Marzi, a 24-year-old who has spent the last two year with the New Britain Bees of the independent Atlantic League. To make room for him, infielder Ariel Montesino was sent down to Elizabethton. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester , Lehigh Valley Box Score The Red Wings were postponed by rain for the 11th time this season. Which is crazy! These teams will play a doubleheader on Saturday. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 5, Mississippi 3 Box Score Dereck Rodriguez was on the mound, and he was also on his game. Through six innings, he gave up just one run on three hits. The lone run came on a Ronald Acuna homer. He was charged with a couple more runs in the seventh before being replaced by Paul Clemens. Rodriguez’s final line was three earned runs on six hits over 6.2 innings. He walked one and struck out six. He credited pitching backwards as a part of his success on Friday night. “My offspeed was good. I was throwing it behind in the count in hitters counts. A team like this that like to swing a lot.” Clemens gave up two hits and a walk over 2.1 shutout innings. He struck out two and recorded his first save of the season. Jonathan Rodriguez went 1-3 with two walks and his ninth home run. It was his third home run in three games. LaMonte Wade went 2-4 with a walk and two runs driven in. Nick Gordon went 2-4, and he stole his eighth base. Edgar Corcino was 2-5. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 11, St. Lucie 0 Box Score If you were to only look at this score, you would likely believe that this was a blowout. In the end, I guess it was. However, when the Miracle came to bat in the bottom of the eighth inning, it was a 0-0 game. Eleven runs crossed the plate that half inning to give the final score. Justin Haley made the start for the Miracle. After one rehab appearance (Monday) in the GCL, Haley worked two innings for the Miracle. He gave up one hit, walked one and struck out two. Then regularly-scheduled starter Lewis Thorpe came on and threw 4.2 innings of shutout ball. Thorpe hasn’t worked much out of the bullpen in his career. He said, “it was different but I enjoyed the experience.” But Lewis threw the ball real well. He gave up two hits, walked three and struck out five (including a certain former Heisman Trophy winner twice). Regarding his success, he said, “I think spotting my fastball up tonight was really big.” Michael Theofanopoulos got four outs, two of them on strikeouts. His only blemish was a hit batter (a certain former NFL quarterback). Sam Clay got the final three outs. The bottom of the eighth was crazy, as you’ll see in the illustration below, but the Miracle found just about every way to score a run in that inning. Singles, doubles, bases-loaded walks, hit batters and a balk. Baseball is a funny game. But, whether you like it or not, Tim Tebow coming to Hammond Stadium was part of the game’s story. The Tim Tebow Effect is real. The Miracle have averaged 1,748 fans at home games to this point this year. On Friday night, 6,315 fans watched this game. Thorpe mentioned that he really enjoyed the opportunity to compete against Tebow. He said, “It was fun too see what Tebow had. He competes and that's all that matters. Wish him good luck in his career as a pro baseball player.” Tebow came into the game having played just three games in the Florida State League. He was 5-9 (.556) with a homer. He had two walks and struck out once. In this game, he was 0-2 with two strikeouts and was hit by a pitch. He also made this catch to rob Zander Wiel of an extra base hit. https://twitter.com/AMcDevittTV/status/880946472430313472 KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Clinton 2 Box Score The Kernels took an early lead on Friday night in the fourth inning when Lewin Diaz hit his ninth homer and two batters later Hank Morrison added his second of the year. Of his homer, Morrison said, "I was looking for a fastball and he threw a hard slider inside that broke right over the middle and just put a good swing on it." Domenick Carlini was really good through the first five innings. He said after the game, “I think I kept them off balanced for the most part. I got away with some fastballs because they may not have been on time because of the quality offspeed pitches.” He has been working and talking a lot with Kernels’ pitching coach JP Martinez about putting hitters away. “We discussed getting to the kill counts (0-2,1-2) and putting them away when I have the chance. Too many times I can look back on the season and remember times when I didn't put guys away when I had the chance and it came back to bite me. So I tried to take advantage of those situations.” He ran into some trouble in the sixth. He got two outs, but gave up two runs in the inning. His final line was two runs on three hits over 5.2 innings. He walked three and struck out seven. Ryan Mason got the final out of the sixth inning, worked a clean seventh, and struck out two of the four batters he faced. Colton Davis struck out two over the final two innings. Diaz and Morrison were both 2-4 with a homer. Christian Cavaness went 2-5. Travis Blankenhorn’s 13th double drove in two. Caleb Hamilton went 1-3 with a walk. He also stole his first base. It was a nice win for a team that is still learning itself and coming together, according to Morrison. "It was very important just for the team morale. Winning was something the team did a lot of in the first half! Now that we have a bunch of new players. I think we are just as capable to do so, just have to come together as quick as possible!" E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 12, Kingsport 10 (12 innings) Box Score This was about as wild a game as you’ll see. It went back and forth, and needed some extra frames, but the E-Twins came out on top in the end. It looked a little questionable in the ninth. The Twins had a four-run lead, but they gave up four to send it to extra innings. According to Elizabethton left fielder (and third baseman) Trey Cabbage, "Good crowd tonight, so that always makes it fun, but our guys just love to go out and compete." In the top of the 12th, Andrew Bechtold gave the Twins an 11-10 lead, singling home Javier who was hit by a pitch and advanced to second on a sacrifice bunt. Next up was Jose Miranda who had a special night. He came into that at bat 4-6 and needing only a triple for the cycle. He almost got it. He drove in Bechtold and tried to turn it into a triple, but he was thrown out. The Twins were able to hold on to their lead in the bottom of the 12th to win the game. Jose Miranda certainly led the way. He went 5-7 with two doubles (three on season), a home run and four RBI. He was leading off. The Twins second hitter was Trey Cabbage. He also drove in four runs. He went 2-5 with a walk, and a big three-run homer. It was his second homer of the season. They had RBI opportunities because Andrew Bechtold had a breakout game batting ninth. He recorded his first three professional hits in a 3-5 night. He also walked and scored four runs. Rainis Silva had two hits. Wander Javier was 1-3 with two walks, a HBP and his third double. Cabbage takes a pretty simple approach with him to the plate for each plate appearance. "At the plate, I just try to do damage every time up to help us get into the best position to win." Along with his offense, Cabbage also threw out a base runner at the plate. It wasn’t all good news. Brent Rooker returned to the lineup after missing the previous three games. He went 0-6 with four strikeouts, the Golden Sombrero. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 3, GCL Red Sox 0 Box Score In the bottom of the first inning, Akil Baddoo led off with a double. He scored when the next batter, Royce Lewis, knocked him in with a double. It was the second of the season for both of them. Two outs later, 17-year-old Victor Tademo hit his first home run of the season. That gives him the same number that he hit last season in 51 games in the Dominican Summer League. Later, Tademo added his first double of the season as well. That was it for the offense, so it’s a good thing they got some nice pitching performances. Vadim Balan has already thrown six innings over two appearances so far this year. On Friday, his younger brother Petru Balan made his first start as a pro, and it went well. The left-hander went the first four innings without giving up a run. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out five. Jose Bermudez came on and struck out three over the next three scoreless innings. He gave up three hits and walked one. Lefty Matt Jones pitched for the first time this year. The 2016 draft pick recorded the save with two scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked one and struck out three. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Lewis Thorpe, Ft. Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jose Miranda, Elizabethton Twins SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Lehigh Valley (5:35 CST) - LHP David Hurlbut Chattanooga @ Mississippi (6:00 CST) - RHP Fernando Romero St. Lucie @ Ft. Myers (5:05 CST) - RHP Brady Anderson Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (6:30 CST) - RHP Clark Beeker Elizabethton @ Danville (6:00 CST) - TBD GCL Twins @ GCL Red Sox (9:00 am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Friday’s games.
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