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  1. There is a small chance the Twins will consider a reunion with Nelson Cruz, but a few factors will impact his return. First of all, his performance significantly declined after being traded to the Rays. Secondly, there is a good chance the National League adds the DH for 2022, which opens the possibility of Cruz signing with many other teams. Cruz was outstanding during his time in Minnesota, but it seems likely for the Twins to move on for next season. After the Cruz trade, the Twins started using a rotational system at DH for various reasons. "We saw the benefit play through the season, whether it was [Donaldson] -- he was dealing with a couple of things along the way, and if he wasn't feeling the best, he could go DH for a day," Derek Falvey said. "[Jorge] Polanco, right? As well as anybody, maybe go get him a day. Get him off his feet. Maybe not play second today, but go DH. So the benefits are the ability to rotate through." There are obvious benefits to playing Josh Donaldson at DH. In recent years, Donaldson's health has been a concern, but playing him at DH can give his legs a break while still keeping his bat in the line-up. However, in 2021, Donaldson's OPS was nearly 170 points lower when serving as the team's DH. Donaldson isn't the team's only option at DH, especially if they will use a rotational system. Out of players on the Twins, Miguel Sanó best fits the mold of a traditional DH as he is a power-hitting slugger who struggles on the ball's defensive side. Sanó was the second-worst defensive first baseman in 2021, and the Twins have a natural replacement at the position. Alex Kirilloff can see defensive time at first base or in the outfield, with him having a chance to be an above-average defensive first baseman. Throughout his career, Sanó has over 645 plate appearances as a DH, and he has hit .230/.336/.417 (.753). Another potential option is to get Mitch Garver more regular at-bats by using him as a DH. Manager Rocco Baldelli likes to give his catchers regular rest, and that's one of the reasons Garver has only started 18 games at DH throughout his career. Falvey knows it is essential to keep Garver's bat in the line-up, and he said that he could get more time at DH and first base next season. There are plenty of other options for the Twins at DH. Jorge Polanco is coming off his best big-league season, but he has struggled with ankle issues in the past. Brent Rooker has little left to prove in the minor leagues, and there have been questions about his defensive skills in the past. Luis Arraez slid into the utility role last season, and his bat is tough to keep out of the line-up if he is healthy. Because of the players listed above, Minnesota seems destined to use a rotational system at DH next season. There is also a chance the team adds other offensive options in free agency, which would add another bat to the DH equation. How do you think the Twins approach the DH spot next season? 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.
  2. Fall/Halloween Roundup Baseball players, they’re just like us, posing in pumpkin patches and dressing up in adorable Halloween costumes. Here’s is a roundup of all of our fall favorites: Cody Stashak is Enjoying the Offseason with his Family and the Cutest Little Pumpkin Kyle Gibson and the Chocolate Factory Josh Donaldson has the Cutest Unicorn Family The Twins’ Uniform is Looking Different Nowadays Byron Buxton watched the Braves in the World Series And spoiler alert, they won! Brent Rooker shared our Daylight Savings woes. Baseball players, they’re just like us And same…. Welcome to Minnesota, Jayce Tingler and David Popkins Jayce Tingler and David Popkins will bring their impressive resumes to Minnesota next season as the Twins’ new bench coach and hitting coach, respectively. They will be replacing the late Mike Bell and Edgar Varela. Tingler comes to Minnesota from the San Diego Padres, where he spent two seasons as their manager. Prior to San Diego, he spent some time as a coach for the Texas Rangers. Popkins comes from the Dodgers organization, where two years coaching for the Arizona Dodgers and the Great Lakes Loons. Check out Aaron & John’s reaction on their latest episode of Gleeman & the Geek. Cody Laweryson is a Fall Star This 22-year-old has had a great Fall League thus far, and he was the sole Twin named on the Fall Star game roster today. In his 13 innings pitched this fall, he has struck out 17 while allowing just one home run. Congrats Cody! Check out the remaining Fall Star game roster below:
  3. Left field was one of the Twins’ most noteworthy question marks entering the 2021 season and to say that they experienced a merry-go-round of talent in the left corner would be a bit of an understatement. Unfortunately, the performance of said talent was rather lackluster, to put it lightly. In total, 10 athletes made at least one appearance in left — led by Trevor Larnach’s 60 games — and compiled an fWAR of -0.1, which ranked 28th overall in baseball. Luis Arraez (1.8 fWAR) began the season as the primary position holder — one that he had never played before — driven by the desire to keep his bat in the lineup but lacking a home after Jorge Polanco was transitioned from shortstop to second base. However, myriad injuries — including a Josh Donaldson calf strain prior to the first game of the season -- projected him from the outfield and into more consistent roles at second and third base. Larnach (0.2 fWAR), who took up the mantle left following an Alex Kirilloff injury and subsequent move to first base, displayed great promise during the early portions of his premature rookie campaign before an inability to meet ball with wood reared its ugly head. Brent Rooker (-0.2 fWAR) and Jake Cave (-0.3 fWAR) struggled mightily both at the plate and in the field, leaving their future roles on the team — particularly Cave’s, who is a prime candidate to be cut from the 40-man roster — in question. The Grand Left Field Experiment failed to such a degree that it gave rise to one of the most unproductive positions in all of baseball. The following are a select few statistics that put the Twins’ ineptitude on full display: 32.2% K rate (30th) 23.9% K%-BB% (30th) .658 OPS (28th) 82 wRC+ (t28th) .361 SLG% (27th) Minnesota enters the current offseason in virtually the same position as they did the last: With a big ol’ question mark in left field. Chances are that the position remains Larnach’s to lose, at least in the long-term, despite his continued struggles (33.9% K rate; .696 OPS) in Triple-A following his demotion. Few players in the Twins’ system possess as much raw power as the former Oregon State Beaver, who absolutely mashed fastballs as a rookie (.667 SLG and .362 BA) However, Larnach floundered mightily against any and all pitches with movement. Still, Larnach figures to be a key member of the future and is by all accounts a hard worker who is dedicated to his craft and willing to make adjustments to his approach. The Twins will likely have new hitting coach David Popkins work extensively with Larnach in an effort to cut down on his strikeouts and tap into his full power potential. The Twins could also seek to address their left field woes in either free agency or the trade market. Oakland’s Mark Canha (2.6 fWAR) and New York Mets’ Michael Conforto (0.8 fWAR) are both coming off relatively disappointing seasons and may be open to a change of scenery. Coupled with a trade of Max Kepler — one of the Twins’ most valuable trade pieces, according to FanGraphs — signing either Canha or Conforto would cover for the need in left while maintaining room for Larnach in right (or in the case of Conforto, he could take over in right while Larnach stays in left). Regardless of the path they ultimately take, the Twins need to address their lack of productivity from their left fielders this offseason. Doing so should be right up there with upgrading their production from shortstop, first base, and the starting rotation MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email — Read more from Lucas here
  4. 10. April 6th: Byron Buxton off Jose Cisnero Distance: 451 feet, Exit Velocity: 114.1 mph, Launch Angle: 38° On the sixth day of the Twins’ young and (at the time) hopeful season, Byron Buxton came up in the eighth with the Twins trailing the Tigers by a run. He did his thing. This 451-foot blast tied the game, only to set the stage for the Twins’ second of many early season extra-inning losses. Interestingly, this homer has the highest launch angle of this list by far, and was the fifth-highest lofted homer of the Twins season. 9. June 30th: Nelson Cruz off Dylan Cease Distance: 453 feet, Exit Velocity: 110.9 mph Launch Angle: 25° This homer would be a lot cooler if the Twins weren’t getting throttled 11-1 by their division rivals at the time it was hit, but 453 feet is 453 feet. That eventual 13-3 loss was also the middle game of a three-game sweep for the White Sox that was played out over the backdrop of drama surrounding Josh Donaldson accusing Lucas Giolito of cheating. So, yeah, it’s safe to say that this is one of the most forgotten long homers of the year. But 453 feet is 453 feet. 8. April 1st: Byron Buxton off Eric Yardley Distance: 456 feet, Exit Velocity: 111.4 mph Launch Angle: 24° Man, early-season Buxton was a sight to see. Five days before hitting the first homer on this list, he hit this behemoth on Opening Day against the Brewers. The two-run shot came in the seventh with the Twins already leading by one, so it looked like the club was going to start the year on the right foot. Unfortunately, early-season Alex Colome was a sight to see for the opposite reason and blew a three-run lead, leading the Twins to their first extra-inning loss of the young campaign. T-6. June 10th: Nelson Cruz off Aroldis Chapman Distance: 457 feet, Exit Velocity: 112.4 mph Launch Angle: 23° This bomb carries a lot more cachet than Cruz’s first entry on this list. It wasn’t only against the hated Yankees, but it was a walk-off against the hated Yankees. And, Cruz turned around a 98-mph Aroldis Chapman fastball to do it. It did go to potentially the ugliest part of Target—landing somewhere in the vertical waste area between the bullpen and the batter’s eye—but who actually cares. It was a monster shot that made sure the good guys came out on top, at least for that night. (Nash named it the Best Moment for the 2021 season.) T-6. September 10th: Byron Buxton off Daniel Lynch Distance: 457 feet, Exit Velocity: 111.9 mph Launch Angle: 29° So, it turns out that Byron Buxton only hits massive homers in extra-inning losses. In this particular instance, Buxton’s 457-foot poke led off the game for the Twins and this was the first of four first-inning runs that only gave the Twins a one-run lead thanks to three Royals’ runs in the first. Kansas City got that run back and two more in the 11th to seal the Twins’ fate. For Buxton, this homer came amidst his coldest stretch of the season, but of course he got hot again, spawning hundreds of “please pay Buxton” takes from the contributors to this website. 5. July 26th: Brent Rooker off Matt Manning Distance: 460 feet, Exit Velocity: 111.1 mph Launch Angle: 29° As Ted tweeted, Brent Rooker murdered this baseball, and he chose the third deck in left field for its burial site. That’s super interesting and all, but the best part about this is Michael Pineda’s reaction. His extended grimace at watching Matt Manning’s hanger get demolished showed admirable loyalty to his fellow pitcher out there laboring on the mound. 4. May 24th: Trevor Larnach off John Means Distance: 461 feet, Exit Velocity: 112.2 mph Launch Angle: 24° Okay, so balls don’t land here. Larnach’s beautifully struck, 461-foot whopper landed perfectly in the Delta 360 Suite above the batter’s eye. That’s not a part of the park where you’re expecting a home run ball. Anyway, this was only Larnach’s second homer of his MLB career and launched him towards a pretty productive June and early July. Larnach later struggled as pitchers adjusted to him, but he remains a big part of the club’s future, and his 460+ foot power is a big reason why. 3. July 28th: Miguel Sanó off Joe Jimenez Distance: 473 feet, Exit Velocity: 114.8 mph Launch Angle: 30° Welcome to the Miguel Sanó portion of this list. Our favorite three-outcome hitter (only) hit three homers over 450 feet, but they were all over 470 feet. This particular bludgeoning (I’m running out of homer words) traveled 473 feet and was a part of a ridiculous, pitching-optional 17-14 loss to the Tigers. This was also Sanó’s second homer of the game and 17th of the year, reminding us all why we just can’t quit him. 2. August 18th: Miguel Sanó off Zach Plesac Distance: 475 feet, Exit Velocity: 113.9 mph Launch Angle: 27° This ball landed in Section 237, which is interesting for two reasons. First, there’s absolutely no way those green-shirted kids packed into the very cheap group-rate seats were expecting a home run ball, which is kind of cool. And secondly, the ball was hit (just barely) to the opposite field, and a 475-foot Oppo Taco is very cool. Sanó is nothing if not a very strong man. 1. August 25th: Miguel Sanó off Nick Pivetta Distance: 495 feet, Exit Velocity: 116.7 mph Launch Angle: 24° Speaking of balls landing where they’re not supposed to… what even happened here? Balls leave Fenway Park and spill onto Lansdowne Street all the time, but they don’t go to that part of Lansdowne Street. Balls will carry those Green Monster billboards every now and then, but they don’t carry that billboard and certainly not by that much. I mean, this ball might’ve put that famous Citgo sign in danger. Sanó’s nuke travelled 20 feet further than the next-longest Twins homer and was the longest in the majors by nine feet. Ted Williams famously hit a 502-foot blast in Fenway, but you’d be hard pressed to find another ball hit harder in that place's history than Sanó’s moonshot. Which homer from this year was your favorite? Let us know in the comments! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. The Twins have not been afraid of change. They have not been afraid to move guys up and down from Triple-A St. Paul with regularity. There were copious amounts of injuries and other ailments. There were also a couple of trades. Following the trade deadline trade of Nelson Cruz, Brent Rooker was recalled. The Twins have depth in the outfield still. Kyle Garlick did what he was asked to do, which his produce against left-handed pitching. Rooker provided some power. It was a question last year at spring training, and again it doesn't make sense for both to be on the roster in 2022. There will be some tough decisions and this may be another one. Kyle Garlick came into the season securing a spot on the 26-man roster. He made the Opening Day roster. In April, he landed on the COVID-IL. That was just the start of the issues for the outfielder and pinch hitter. At the beginning of June, Garlick left with a groin injury and eventually needing surgery to repair a hernia and left him out for the remainder of the season. It is unfortunate for him because in his 99 at-bats with the Twins in 2021, he had eight doubles and five home runs. In 63 plate appearances against southpaws in 2021, he hit .271/.302/.576 (.878) with six doubles and four homers. By spring training, Garlick’s injury will presumably be better, but will he still be on the 40-man roster? He will turn 30 in January, but still can provide strong offense against left-handed pitching. That may be important with lefties like Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach and Max Kepler in the outfield rotation. Garlick still has one option year remaining since he did not use one in 2021, so he could be stashed in St. Paul for additional depth. Brent Rooker's value to the team comes in the form of power and production and the plate. He has shown the power. Now he just needs an opportunity for regular playing time. At each minor league level, he initially struggled and within a couple of months he becomes incredibly productive. Can he do that at the big-league level? Rooker will be 27-years-old in 2022, not young, but certainly with room to continue growing. While Rooker is not a good defensive outfielder, his ability to play in the corners, and some first base, does give him value to the team. That said, Rooker has never had the typical lefty-righty splits. However, in 189 at-bats in 2021, he had 10 doubles and nine home runs. That is after he hit 20 homers in 62 games for the Saints. Versatility In March, Do-Hyoung Park wrote an article showing that Rooker may have already been preferred by management. While the two players have similar offensive productivity, Rooker stood out as the younger, more potentially dominant player: Indeed, one option, and the option I think would make sense, would be to try to trade Garlick, if there is any market for him. From a business standpoint (and yes, personal standpoint as a fan), there are better options with younger players who are ready for the big leagues. Rooker is more than able and prepared to remain on the 26-man roster. What do you think? Is Rooker ready, and should he remain on the big-league roster? What should the team do with Kyle Garlick? Could he have a role going forward? Leave a comment. 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. Rooker has had an unbelievably up and down season. In March and April the right handed slugger posted a putrid -5 wRC+. After being sent down to AAA for a good while, he came back up in July and posted a 164 wRC+, only to dip back down to an 82 mark in August. Rooker appears to be finishing strong however, as he’s been 44% above league average in September. Rooker has essentially switched off every other month between looking like an unusable player and being a pitcher’s worst nightmare. His final line of .206/.294/.413 is good for a wRC+ of 114, 14% above league average. The nature of how he got there however isn’t so straightforward and leaves the Twins with a few options to choose from. Business as Usual Rooker has cycled in and out of the lineup all season and at no point has really had a starting position. The Twins could continue to pick their spots to get him in the lineup as they have to try to put him in favorable matchups. This issue with this however is Rooker has historically had reverse splits when it comes to hitting lefties and righties. 7 of his 8 home runs in 2021 have come off of right handed pitching and it’s a bit difficult to slot him into a lineup over someone like Kepler, Kirilloff or at some point Larnach against a right handed pitcher when these other bats have such a stark advantage. Furthermore, it’s fair to wonder whether the inconsistent playing time is partially to blame for Brent Rooker’s hot and cold streaks. For a player who has so much swing and miss with such little plate discipline, consistent reps may be keeping him from unlocking his full potential. Hand him the Keys To combat any kind of concerns with splits or reps, the Twins could simply play Rooker nearly everyday. Larnach will likely begin 2021 in the minors and it could create an opening for him to really get a fair shake at showing what he can do between the DH spot and the corner outfield. The down side of this idea has been well documented, as Rooker is far from an even league average defender. In his brief time in the outfield he’s been worth -2 Outs Above Average in left field and -1 in right. The bat would simply have to be unbelievable to make up for the troubles such a defensive downgrade would create. It’s also difficult to envision anything close to a full time DH role. With Kirilloff back and Sano showing little improvement at first base, it’s easy to see the former filling nearly all of the time at first base, leaving Sano to more often than not fill the DH spot. For as frustrated as the fan base is with Sano, Rooker has a long way to go to prove that he deserves those at bats over him. Find a Trade Partner It’s a strong possibility that the National League will be adopting the designated hitter this winter which would create 15 more suitors for a defensively-challenged slugger such as Rooker. While he likely wouldn’t draw much of a return on his own, it’s easy to see him being a nice peripheral piece to a bigger deal with a team that has no immediate options at their newly opened DH spot. While it’s always nerve-racking to part with a prospect who once had such shine, the Twins need to be realistic this winter. At 27 years old headed into 2022, Brent Rooker still has more questions than answers about his future in Major League Baseball. Those answers won’t be found while playing every 3rd or 4th day, and unless the Twins are prepared to provide a real opportunity, it’s really not even fair to him. So which road should the Twins take? Does Brent Rooker need a fair chance at a full time job or has his window with the Twins closed? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  7. Box Score Pineda: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (71.9% strikes) Home Runs: Polanco (31), Donaldson (23), Sanó (29), Rooker (8) Top 3 WPA: Rooker .141, Buxton .117, Donaldson .095 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Minnesota’s first trip to Rogers Centre in almost two and a half years became fun very early. Both starters, Michael Pineda for the Twins and Hyun Jin Ryu for the Blue Jays, pitched economical, scoreless first innings. But then both teams combined for nine runs in the following two innings. Miguel Sanó drew a leadoff walk in the top of the second and scored a couple of at-bats later on a Brent Rooker double, putting the Twins ahead. But an awful defensive mistake in the bottom half of that same inning gave Toronto a couple of runs that put them ahead. With two outs, Pineda induced a weak ground ball that would have ended the inning. However, Jorge Polanco overthrew Sanó, allowing Corey Dickerson to score from second and Danny Jansen to reach first. Then, Jake Lamb doubled to score Jansen, making it 2-1 Toronto. Minnesota makes it ugly for Ryu In a quick “Bomba Squad” flashback, the Twins exploded for five runs on five hits in their half of the third, including three home runs, before Toronto could record a single out! The game was suddenly tied after Ryan Jeffers hit a leadoff single and Byron Buxton pushed him across with a double. Then, Polanco redeemed himself from his previous error and regained the lead for Minnesota with a two-run shot. The party wasn’t over. Josh Donaldson, who got a warm welcome from the Jays fans earlier, made it back-to-back with a bomb to right field, giving the Twins a three-run lead, prompting some Donaldson-jersey-wearing Toronto fans to boo him. That was fun. Not so much for Ryu, who was immediately pulled from the game by Jays’ manager Charlie Montoyo. That was Donaldson’s 64th home run at Rogers Centre, the most by any active player in the majors. Miggy Smalls didn’t want to feel left out, so he followed Donaldson’s homer with a dinger of his own, his 29th of the season. That was also the 160th long ball of his career, putting him even closer to the Twins’ all-time top 10 in total home runs. He needs four more on the year to drop Tom Brunansky from 10th place. In the bottom half of the inning, Vladimir Guerrero Jr. got one run back to Toronto, hitting a rocket (111 MPH exit velocity) to left field, his 46th home run of the season. Pineda, bullpen finish off strong Big Mike got in the zone after that Guerrero Jr. home run in the third. Pineda retired eight in a row from that moment on, with a couple of 1-2-3 innings. After throwing 45 pitches to complete 2 1/3 innings, he needed only 30 to complete the next 2 2/3 innings. Rooker gave Pineda even more run support hitting a solo home run in the top of the sixth, making it 7-3 Minnesota. Pineda came back and retired the first two batters of the sixth on only four pitches, making it ten batters in a row retired. But he lost Teoscar Hernández on a ten-pitch walk, causing Rocco Baldelli to take him out of the game. Jorge Alcalá took care of the inherited runner for him, concluding Pineda’s solid line for the evening. Is it possible that tonight’s outing from Big Mike might have changed Twins Daily’s Cody Pirkl’s mind about a possible reunion in 2022? Alcalá came back for the seventh, and he continued his amazing second-half run. By pitching a clean, seven-pitch inning, the Dominican flamethrower has now posted a 1.42 ERA since the start of August. He needed only 13 pitches to get four outs, 10 of which were strikes. He also maxed out at 99.8 MPH. Tyler Duffey was equally brilliant, striking out the side for a 1-2-3 eighth. Alexander Colomé closed out the game with a scoreless inning of his own, securing the win. A fun stat from the Twins bullpen: according to Fangraphs, before tonight's game, the Twins bullpen has ranked 8th in ERA (3.64) since the start of August. Could we be seeing some encouraging signs for 2022? Bailey Ober will try to keep the winning streak in Toronto tomorrow against Steven Matz. With Friday's win, the Twins haven't lost a game at Rogers Centre since Aug 26, 2017. Saturday's first pitch is scheduled for 2:07 CDT. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Duffey 38 0 0 0 16 54 Colomé 27 11 0 0 14 52 Barraclough 23 16 0 0 0 39 Farrell 34 0 0 0 0 34 Moran 0 0 34 0 0 34 Coulombe 0 27 0 0 0 27 Vincent 0 0 21 0 0 21 Alcalá 0 8 0 0 13 21 Minaya 0 13 0 0 0 13 Thielbar 11 0 0 0 0 11 Garza Jr. 6 0 0 0 0 6
  8. Box Score Bailey Ober: 4.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 6 K (65.3-percent strikes) Homeruns: none Bottom 3 WPA: Sano (-.409), Alcala (-.184), Astudillo (-.154) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Another Strong Start from Bailey Ober Take out the first six batters that Ober faced today and you would remove three of the five hits he gave up and both earned runs. Whit Merrifield and Nicky Lopez got things going early for the Royals offense with a double and single, respectively, followed by a Salvador Perez sacrifice fly giving the Royals an early 1-0 lead. Ober got out of the jam with back-to-back flyouts before giving up a 403 foot homerun to Adalberto Mondesi to begin the 2nd inning. He settled in quickly after the homerun, striking out six of the next seven batters he faced and retiring nine consecutive batters total, before giving up a single to Ryan O’Hearn to start the fifth. The O’Hearn single, coupled with a single from Sebastian Rivero in the nine hole, would mark the end Ober’s day as he was slated to face Merrifield with one out and runners on 1st and 2nd. Despite being at just 75 pitches, he was pulled in favor of recent call-up and fellow rookie reliever, Jovani Moran rather than being asked to face the top of the Royals lineup for a third time. Sometimes there is more to strong starts than innings pitched and strikeouts, especially when you’re looking for positives in an otherwise awful year. Ober has been a nice surprise for the Twins rotation as today marks his ninth consecutive starts of three earned runs or less. The naysayers will bring up the lack of the innings, many of those starts are five innings or less, but lest not forget he’s supposed to be in St. Paul right now. Instead, he’s pitching in Minneapolis and generated 16 whiffs today, which is elite when he only threw 75 pitches. Moreover, he’s quietly putting together one of the better rookie campaigns that people outside of Twins Territory have never heard of. Offense Can't Survive on Buxton's Multi-Hit Day Despite being a rookie, this was already Kris Bubic’s fifth appearance (fourth start) against the Minnesota Twins, who he has a 4.76 ERA against, but today would be different. After giving up a lead off double to Byron Buxton and a sacrifice fly to Luis Arraez two batters later, he would shut down the Twins giving up just two additional hits (Buxton again, then Simmons) over the next five innings. The Twins would chase him out in the sixth with a Buxton leadoff single, followed by a Rob Refsnyder single, Luis Arraez lineout, and Josh Donaldson walk to load the bases. Righty reliever Domingo Tapia would come on to strikeout Miguel Sano on just three pitches but wouldn’t come away unscathed after a clutch two-out double from Brent Rooker to knot the game at three runs apiece. Aside from Luis Arraez reaching on a Mondesi error in the eighth and a Kepler single in the ninth, the Twins offense went down quietly in the final three innings of the game. Bullpen Usage Chart Moran came on and immediately christened himself as a Twins reliever by allowing an inherited run to score off of a Whit Merrifield double. He settled in to finish the 5th but couldn’t finish the sixth after loading the bases with a lead off single and back-to-back walks with two outs. Ralph Garza Jr., who’s another rookie putting together a solid season, would need just one pitch to get out of the jam and pitched a clean seventh inning. Jorge Alcala pitched the eighth allowing the first two hitters to reach base and ended up allowing one of those runners to score on a Kyle Isbel single. Juan Minaya did more of the same in the ninth which resulted in the Twins chasing two runs entering the last half inning of the game. Despite the rough finish, it was a decent day overall for the bullpen who pitched 4 2/3 innings giving up just two earned runs. WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Minaya 0 0 40 0 17 57 Thielbar 8 0 0 26 0 34 Farrell 0 32 0 12 0 44 Colomé 0 0 12 0 0 12 Coulombe 0 15 0 23 0 38 Duffey 17 0 11 0 0 28 Alcalá 0 0 9 0 18 27 Garza Jr. 0 19 0 0 11 30 Moran 0 0 0 0 37 37
  9. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Gant 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 4 BB, 7 K Homeruns: Rooker (11) Top 3 WPA: Gant .300, Simmons .135, Thielbar .098 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Twins looked to build on their Labor Day win over Cleveland on Tuesday. They sent John Gant to the mound to face Aaron Civale, who returned from the IL to provide a boost to a beleaguered Cleveland rotation. Here’s how the Twins lined up for the game. Gant, fighting for 2022 rotation consideration, got off to a solid start. He threw two clean innings, working particularly effectively with his changeup and generating extra ride on his fastball, before running into trouble in the third inning. After getting a double play, Gant surrendered two singles and a walk to load the bases. Franmil Reyes missed a grand slam by five feet to keep the game tied, flying out to deep center field. Meanwhile through three innings, Civale showed no signs of rust. Other than giving up singles to Josh Donaldson and Miguel Sano, he looked highly effective. Civale worked consistently up in the strike zone, throwing a wide variety of breaking balls keeping Twins hitters off balance, and off the bases. Gant returned for a more efficient and effective fourth inning. Despite walking three through four innings, Gant generated nine swings and misses and four strikeouts in as many innings. Is Gant working himself into consideration for a job with the Twins in 2022? The deadlock was finally broken in the sixth inning. After Max Kepler drew a walk to lead off the inning, Andrelton Simmons singled up the middle to drive home Kepler, give the Twins a one to nothing lead, and force Civale from the game. A walk to Luis Arraez put runners on first and second with two out, but Byron Buxton flew out to shallow center field to end the inning one to nothing in favor of the Twins. After walking the leadoff hitter in the fifth inning, Gant returned to strike out the side. He completed five inning, struck out seven batters, and generated twelve swings and misses. Despite walking four Cleveland hitters, Gant has improved noticeably in each of his starts with the Twins. Gant will be an interesting sub-plot to monitor in the remaining four weeks of the season. Jorge Alcala relieved Gant in the sixth inning. He got Franmil Reyes swinging on a beautiful sinking fastball at 97mph. He followed up with back to back ground-outs, preserving the Twins one run lead heading to the seventh inning. In the seventh inning, Brent Rooker crushed a home run to right center field to increase the lead to two. Juan Minaya pitched a scoreless bottom of the seventh, striking out two, to preserve the Twins lead. An infield single and an Oscar Mercado double high off the left-field wall created a threat for Cleveland in the eighth inning. With runners on second and third and two out, Yu Chang struck out swinging to take the game to the ninth inning. Luis Arraez tripled home Andrelton Simmons to extend the lead to three to nothing in the ninth. Alexander Colome entered to close the game for the Twins. Owen Miller grounded out, before Amed Rosario singled on a fly ball to center field. A Miles Straw flyout and a Bobby Bradley strikeout brought the Twins their third consecutive win. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Colomé 0 0 11 23 9 17 60 Thielbar 0 0 0 28 0 25 53 Minaya 0 0 21 0 0 21 42 Alcalá 0 0 0 15 0 19 34 Garza Jr. 0 8 23 0 0 0 31 Duffey 0 0 0 10 8 0 18 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins continue their series with Cleveland. Joe Ryan will take on Triston McKenzie. First pitch is at 5:10 CST. Postgame Interviews
  10. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (89 pitches, 60 strikes (67.4%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Willians Astudillo (-0.143), Ryan Jeffers (-0.143), Joe Ryan (-0.097) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Joe Ryan Experience Be honest. Before the Twins acquired Joe Ryan (and Drew Strotman) from the Rays for Nelson Cruz, had you heard of him? However, it didn't take long for Twins fans to get excited. First, he made two strong starts for Team USA in the Olympics. Then after winning a silver medal, he returned and struck out 17 batters over nine innings in his two starts with the Saints. That's all it took for Twins fans to get excited about the right-hander with the great flow. That's all the Twins needed to deem him ready for the big leagues. On Wednesday night at Target Field, we were able to enjoy the Joe Ryan Experience in the big leagues. He became the 34th pitchers to throw for the Twins this year. He was the fourth pitcher to make his MLB debut this season (comment below who the other three were). Things started out very well. Ryan needed just eight pitches to work a 1-2-3 first inning. That included a strikeout of Ian Happ for his first career K. His second inning required a few more pitches, but ended with the same results, a perfect inning. In fact, Ryan was perfect in the fourth and fifth innings too. Unfortunately, the third inning provided Ryan with some stress. The inning started with a walk. After a strikeout, 2021 Twins spring training participant Andrew Romine doubled Alfonso Rivas to third base. Ryan got a fly out to short center field to record the second out. However, Frank Schwindel hit a home run for the third straight game, his eighth of the season. Ryan responded well by getting the final seven batters he faced. All-in-all, it was a good showing for the rookie, a nice debut and something to build on. Bullpen Performs Again The Twins bullpen has been pretty solid of late, and on Wednesday night, Ian Gibaut, Danny Coulombe and Juan Minaya combined to give up just one hit over four scoreless innings, and that runner was erased by a double play ball. Over the past six games, the Twins bullpen has a 0.38 ERA, just one earned run allowed over 23 2/3 innings. Rooker's a Hit The Twins had just two hits in the game. Brent Rooker had both of them. He had a 98 mph single, and then he had a game-high exit velocity of 110.3 mph on a seventh-inning single. Unfortunately, the rest of the Twins bats went silent. In this two-game series, Rooker went 3-for-4. Also tonight, Rooker was hit by a pitch. It is the seventh time he has been hit by a pitch this season. Only fellow rookie Trevor Larnach has been plunked more (8). This is the first time in Twins history that multiple rookies were hit by at least seven pitches. Of course, Rooker's seven HBP have come in 153 plate appearances this season. Larnach's been hit by eight pitches in 260 pitches. We may have to investigate the pitchers who have hit Rooker this year to see how many pitched in the SEC in 2017. What's Next? The Twins have Thursday off before traveling to Tampa Bay to take on Nelson Cruz,.. and JT Chargois... and Dietrich Enns... and Chris Mazza... and Nick Anderson is getting close to returning as well... and the Rays in a three-game series. Friday night, Randy Dobnak will make his first start in months after his finger injury. He'll face Michael Wacha. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Colomé 13 0 23 0 0 36 Thielbar 23 0 0 26 0 49 Minaya 17 0 0 24 11 52 Alcalá 0 0 25 0 0 25 Gibaut 0 33 0 0 24 57 Garza Jr. 0 11 0 17 0 28 Duffey 0 0 0 16 0 16 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 10 10
  11. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 8/9 thru Sun, 8/15 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 52-66) Run Differential Last Week: -1 (Overall: -74) Standing: 4th Place in AL Central (16.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 113 | CWS 11, MIN 1: Sox Build Huge Early Lead in Laugher Game 114 | MIN 4, CWS 3: Jax Fans 10 as Twins Eke Out Tight Win Game 115 | MIN 1, CWS 0: Ober and Bullpen Combine for Shutout Game 116 | TB 10, MIN 4: Cruz Homers in Return, Rays Roll Game 117 | MIN 12, TB 0: Maeda and Arraez Lead Charge in Blowout Game 118 | MIN 5, TB 4: Twins Walk Off Tampa, Take 3rd Straight Series NEWS & NOTES The Twins lost two-fifths of their rotation via trade on deadline day, and lost another piece to injury on Friday when Michael Pineda exited with an oblique strain amidst an underwhelming outing against Tampa Bay. He was quickly placed on the Injured List and replaced on the active roster by reliever Ralph Garza Jr., a recent waiver acquisition. Garza Jr. shined in his Twins debut, tossing two perfect innings in Saturday night's blowout win. No timeline was announced for Pineda but he is in all likelihood done for the season. It's been a tough go for the big right-hander in 2021 following a strong start; since the beginning of June, he's been able to make only nine starts while going 1-6 with a 5.80 ERA. The silver lining for the Twins, I suppose, is that re-signing Pineda to solidify the back end of the '22 rotation shouldn't take a whole lot at this point. Pineda's absence will require the Twins to lean even harder on their young pitching depth. Logically the next in line will be Lewis Thorpe, who put up 5 ⅔ innings of one-run ball for the Saints on Friday while building up to 65 pitches. Thorpe lines up perfectly for Pineda's next turn in the rotation, on Wednesday against Cleveland. Other roster moves for the week saw Beau Burrows and his 12.54 ERA optioned to Triple-A, replaced by veteran journeyman Nick Vincent (Alex Kirilloff moved to 60-day IL to make room on the 40-man), while Jorge Alcala landed on IL and was replaced in the bullpen by another waiver pickup, Edgar García. HIGHLIGHTS With Pineda sidelined, it's now Kenta and the Kids in the Minnesota Twins rotation. Kenta Maeda looked the part of an exemplary veteran leader on Saturday, firing six shutout innings against the Rays, while the rookies joined the fun with strong performances of their own against first-place teams. Griffin Jax was flat-out dominant against the White Sox on Tuesday night, striking out 10 over six innings. Chicago managed to score three runs on a couple of homers, but Jax was otherwise excellent, pounding the zone with sliders and fastballs to keep a potent lineup in check. Interestingly, Jax has piled up 16 strikeouts over 10 innings with a 20% swinging strike rate in two starts against the White Sox this year, compared to 16 strikeouts in 28 innings and a 6% swinging strike rate against all other opponents. The following day, Bailey Ober helped lift the Twins to a series victory over the division leaders, contributing 5 ⅓ scoreless innings to an eventual shutout. Ober struck out six and walked one, pushing his K/BB ratio to 62-to-16 in 57 ⅔ innings this season. Like with Jax, keeping the ball in the park is the biggest challenge for Ober and on days like this where he's able to do so, he looks quite legit. Ober owns a 3.55 ERA in seven starts dating back to the end of June, and Minnesota has gone 5-2 in those games. Even Charlie Barnes joined in on the rookie revitalization of the rotation. While he wasn't particularly effective in his first outing on Monday, yielding three runs in 4 ⅔ innings as bulk guy behind the opener Burrows, Barnes rebounded on Sunday, holding the White Sox to one run over five frames. The lefty was in line for his first MLB win, leaving with a three-run lead, but the bullpen and defense let him down in the late innings. García was among the culprits, surrendering a two-run homer in the sixth, but it was his only blemish in a strong stretch overall. The right-hander stepped up in a pair of earlier long-relief appearances, allowing just one hit over 4 ⅓ scoreless innings versus Chicago and Tampa. In total he struck out five with only one walk, inducing 12 swinging strikes on 80 pitches (15%) while finding the zone with 68% of his offerings. Combined with Garza Jr.'s outstanding debut on Saturday, it was an encouraging week for the club's latest bullpen waiver adds. It might fairly be described as "too little, too late," but Alex Colomé has quietly become the steady rock of this relief corps, looking very much like the reliable closer he's been in years past following an unbelievably ugly April. Since May 1st, he's got a 3.00 ERA and is 5-for-6 in save opportunities. The past week saw him rattle off a pair of saves, both in one-run games against the Sox, and he also worked a scoreless ninth on Sunday to set up Minnesota's win in the bottom half. Offensively, Jorge Polanco continues to be the star of the show – his 21st homer on Wednesday proved decisive in a 1-0 win, and he walked off the Rays with sac fly on Sunday – but Miguel Sanó's re-emergence should not be ignored. His bat, and more generally his offensive approach, have been resuscitated. The past week saw Sanó collect five hits, including a double and homer, but most importantly, he drew as many walks (4) as strikeouts. After leading the league in Ks last year, and fanning in 39% of his plate appearances through May of this year, Sanó has cut that rate down to 31% since the start of June. During that span he is slashing .249/.321/.477 in 56 games. Spectacular? No. But very serviceable and suggestive that the big slugger still has something left in the tank. LOWLIGHTS The Tampa series was a high point for Brent Rooker, who went 6-for-9 with two homers and four RBIs in his two starts. The Chicago series was anything but. In three games against the White Sox, Rooker went 0-for-11 with nine strikeouts, extending a brutal slump at a time where the rookie slugger desperately needs to rake. Prior to his four-hit game against the Rays on Friday night, Rooker was slashing just .098/.159/.171 in the month of August, while regularly slotting in as the Twins' No. 2 hitter. His big weekend was not enough to offset the larger struggles this month, and that's sort of been the story of his season. Rooker shows flashes, but has a .198 average and .676 OPS through 119 plate appearances. His power is not in doubt, but a .252 on-base percentage ain't gonna cut it, especially when you factor in the total absence of defensive value. Unless and until he can find some semblance of strike zone control, it's difficult to project any real value for Rooker as a big-leaguer. In a sense, it feels too soon to rush to judgment on Rooker. But then again, he'll turn 27 this offseason and the Twins are staring down a potential 40-man roster crunch. With the redundant and superior Sanó already in the plans for 2022, where does Rooker fit in? Weeks like these present a crucial opportunity to make his case. Rooker needs more than a random blow-up game here and there to maximize it. Trevor Larnach isn't so much fighting to prove he's got an MLB future – that's not really in doubt – but he too is battling to carve out an immediate spot on the 2022 team. With the way things have been going for him of late, it'll be tough for the Twins to pencil him in. It was another lackluster week for Larnach, who went 1-for-11 with a single and five strikeouts in his four starts. The outfielder's last home run came on July 7th; since then he's batting .156 with a .188 slugging percentage in in 110 plate appearances, while striking out 43% of the time. Larnach doesn't really appear to be benefiting from getting repeatedly beaten by major-league pitching. The signs of growth and adjustment aren't there. With the Triple-A schedule extending through September this year, there's still time to get him back in the minors so he can find his swing and rebuild some confidence. Will the Twins go that route, or are they committed to seeing it through in the majors? TRENDING STORYLINE For those of us keeping a close eye on the Twins' pitching pipeline, Sunday was a big day. Matt Canterino, who ranked 8th in TD's recently-updated prospect rankings, made his first official appearance at Cedar Rapids since May, following a lengthy rest-and-rehab program to address elbow soreness. Canterino picked up right where he left off, overpowering High-A hitters to an absurd degree. After striking out eight of the 10 he faced over three hitless innings on Sunday, he now has a 0.86 ERA with 43 strikeouts in 21 innings for the Kernels. Yes, that is an 18.4 K/9 rate. This isn't even fair. Time to get him up to the next level and see how Double-A fares against him. I'm eager to find out. Even though he has yet to pitch above A-ball, the 23-year-old is going to be fast-tracked and has the ability to factor as a pivotal difference-maker for the Twins next year if he can stay healthy. LOOKING AHEAD Minnesota's run against solid competition rolls on as they welcome Cleveland to Target Field, wrapping up a long homestand before heading to the East Coast for a four-game set against the dreaded Yankees. Can Kenta and the Kids keep it clicking? MONDAY, 8/16: CLEVELAND @ TWINS – RHP Cal Quantrill v. RHP Griffin Jax TUESDAY, 8/17: CLEVELAND @ TWINS – RHP Eli Morgan v. RHP Bailey Ober WEDNESDAY, 8/18: CLEVELAND @ TWINS – RHP Zach Plesac v. TBD THURSDAY, 8/19: TWINS @ YANKEES – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Jameson Taillon FRIDAY, 8/20: TWINS @ YANKEES – LHP Charlie Barnes v. LHP Nestor Cortes SATURDAY, 8/21: TWINS @ YANKEES – RHP Griffin Jax v. RHP Gerrit Cole SUNDAY, 8/22: TWINS @ YANKEES – RHP Bailey Ober v. LHP Jordan Montgomery MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Box Score Kenta Maeda: 6 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (76 pitches) Home Runs: Max Kepler (15), Luis Arraez (2), Rooker (6), Ryan Jeffers (10) Top 3 WPA: Maeda .153, Luis Arraez .108, Mitch Garver .097 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Saturday's win for the Twins was one of those games where seemingly everything went according to plan, an exceedingly rare occurrence in the lost season that is Minnesota's 2021 campaign. Kenta Maeda started on the hill and gave the Twins six shutout innings more akin to his 2020 self than what he has put on display for the majority of the season. That said, Maeda has been dominant over his last eight starts, putting up All-Star caliber numbers. Minnesota's bats were hot from the jump as Max Kepler led off the charge with his 15th home run of the season on the game's second pitch. Luis Arraez, Brent Rooker, and Ryan Jeffers would later launch no-doubters of their own to add to the team's score. In all, the Twins registered an exit velocity of at least 100 mph on 12 balls that were put in play, which went for a combined 9-for-12 with four home runs and three doubles. Every member of the Twins lineup picked up at least one hit, save for Jorge Polanco — though he did reach base on a hit-by-pitch in the bottom of the seventh inning — and Willians Astudillo, who entered the game in the eighth inning as a pinch hitter. Since the trade deadline, the Twins have logged an 8-5 record against the St. Louis Cardinals, Cincinnati Reds, Houston Astros, Chicago White Sox, and Tampa Bay Rays. While it means little in the grander scheme of the season, it's encouraging to see the Twins perform as well as they have lately against quality opponents. In some ways, this stretch puts on display what the Twins could look like in 2022 if they're able to secure quality pitching to supplement their offense during the offseason. Remembering 1991 Prior to the start of the game, the Twins held a ceremony to honor the 1991 World Series champion team. It was a moving presentation that brought back great memories for Twins fans (and probably some not so great ones for Ron Gant). Below are some videos from the ceremony courtesy Bally Sports North. Postgame Interviews Coming soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Barnes 68 0 0 0 0 0 68 García 32 0 0 0 27 0 59 Gant 0 11 0 0 41 0 52 Vincent 0 0 0 0 37 0 37 Colomé 0 10 14 0 0 0 24 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 0 0 16 16 Duffey 0 15 0 0 0 0 15 Minaya 0 0 15 0 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 10 10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Box Score Pineda: 2.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 3 K (82.9% strikes) Home Runs: Rooker (5) Bottom 3 WPA: Pineda -.237, Gant -.138, Larnach -.133 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Friday night was an emotional affair for the Twins at Target Field even before the first pitch. For starters, the organization kicked off the “1991 Reunion Weekend” celebrations, with fans being able to take pictures with some World Series champions. Then, Gophers football head coach P.J. Fleck threw the ceremonial first pitch. But none of that seemed to be as big as the return of an old friend. Nelson Cruz played his first game as an opponent of the Twins since May 27, 2018, and the first one at Target Field since May 14 from that same year. Batting third for the Rays, he received a standing ovation from Twins fans, to whom he tipped his helmet. He also got shown some love from his old teammates, like Miguel Sanó, who crashed Nelly’s Zoom call with the media, asking “Papá Cruz” to go easy on the Twins. Cruz may have done what his friend and mentee asked him to do in his first at-bat – he struck out on three pitches. But his new teammates sure weren’t going to do the same. Brandon Lowe had hit a leadoff single to open the game before Cruz’s at-bat. Then, after it, Randy Arozarena hit a long double off the wall at center field, driving in Lowe. During the second inning, the Rays scored a couple more runs. Yandy Diaz hit a leadoff home run, and Mike Zunino scored after Pineda gave up back-to-back singles, followed by a wild pitch. Something seemed off with “Big Mike.” He faced Cruz for the second time in the game to open the third inning, and, this time, Nelson didn’t go easy. He crushed a hanging changeup to the left corner for a line-drive home run that left his bat at nearly 111 MPH. The Rays took an early 4-0 lead. After that, Pineda induced a couple of ground ball outs, but before he could finish the inning, he departed the game with an apparent injury. Pineda didn’t have a lot of problems throwing strikes (39 out of 47 pitches), but his velocity was slightly below his season average, perhaps making it easy for Tampa Bay hitting to get six hits off him. Twins try to rally multiple times, Rays always respond Making his Twins debut, veteran Nick Vincent came in relief of Pineda to get the last out of the third. Then, he gave up a solo home run to Zunino in the fourth, making it 5-0 Rays. But other than that, the 35-year old managed to limit the damage to the one run for the remainder of his outing. During the bottom of the fourth, the Twins offense finally posed its first threat to Rays’ starter, Shane McClanahan, putting two men on. Sanó singled to the gap to score Brent Rooker from third, putting the Twins on the board, before stranding both runners left. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard, trying to spark a rally. After Vincent pitched a scoreless fifth, Ryan Jeffers led off the home half of the inning with a single. Then, Rooker, with his third hit of the night, pushed him across. Josh Donaldson had the chance to cut the Rays’ lead to only one run, but he ended up striking out, ending the threat. In the following inning, Tampa Bay responded right back, with an inside-the-park home run by Kevin Kiermaier, making it 6-2. He hit a flyball to deep right, which looked like a triple, but Jorge Polanco juggled the ball before being able to get Kiermaier at home plate. Mitch Garver and Rob Refsnyder opened the bottom half of the sixth with back-to-back singles, and Sanó made it three consecutive hits with an RBI single to score Garver. Suddenly, the Twins had two men on with no outs, down by only three runs. That was Miggy’s second RBI of the night. But once again, Tampa’s pitching frustrated Minnesota’s offense and spoiled their rally, ending the inning with a ground ball double play. Rays explode for a four-run seventh John Gant gave up that inside-the-park home run in the sixth, but he settled in and retired the following three batters. With the bullpen needing to eat up innings, he was brought back to pitch the seventh, and that’s where things went sour. Tampa produced four runs on three hits and a sac-fly off him, putting this game well out of reach, 10-3. Even with such a large deficit, Minnesota didn’t give up. Rooker got his fourth hit of the night with a two-out solo home run in the home half, cutting Tampa’s lead to six. Donaldson and Garver hit back-to-back singles after him, and once again, the Twins were one swing away from getting right back in the game. But they couldn’t capitalize again. Making his second appearance as a Twin, Edgar García pitched a couple of scoreless frames to close up the game, providing yet another very effective outing. The offense fell in order in the bottom of the ninth, and Tampa ran away with the win. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Barnes 68 0 0 0 0 68 García 32 0 0 0 27 59 Gant 0 11 0 0 41 52 Vincent 0 0 0 0 37 37 Colomé 0 10 14 0 0 24 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 0 20 Duffey 0 15 0 0 0 15 Minaya 0 0 15 0 0 15 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0
  14. 20. IF Spencer Steer (23 years old) Season Stats (A+/AA): 79 G, .255/.363/.497 (.860), 19 HR, 11 2B, 2 3B, 18.9 K%, 12.7 BB% Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 16, 2021 Preseason: NA Steer was a 2019 third-round pick out of the University of Oregon. Steer’s drop in the rankings is more about the new players in the organization than about him having a poor performance. He started the year in Cedar Rapids, where he slashed .274/.409/.506 (915) in 45 games. The transition to Double-A has seen his OBP drop by 110 points, but he is still slugging .485. In his professional career, this is the first time he has been a year younger than the average age of the competition. At Cedar Rapids, he made nearly all his defensive starts at second base, and now he has been splitting time between second and third in Wichita. 19. RHP Cole Sands (24 years old) Season Stats (AA): 48.1 IP (12 G), 2.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 11.9 K/9, 3.9 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 13, 2021 Preseason: 15 Sands immediately impacted the Twins organization after being taken in the fifth round back in 2018. While pitching at three different levels, he posted a sub-2.70 ERA with a 10.0 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. Sands missed over a month earlier in the season, and the team has slowly been increasing his workload in recent weeks. Since coming off the IL (5 G), he has posted a 2.70 ERA while holding batters to a .190/.262/.379 slash line. His strikeout totals are up this year which is a positive since he faces older batters in over 60% of his plate appearances. 18. OF Misael Urbina (19 years old) Season Stats (A): 73 G, .193/.295/.294 (.589), 4 HR, 7 2B, 4 3B, 18.6 K%, 11.4 BB% Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 15, 2021 Preseason: 14 Urbina was signed out of Venezuela during the 2018 International Signing Period for $2.75 million. As a 19-year old, he is making his stateside debut this season, and he has only faced younger pitchers in four out of his 323 plate appearances. Even facing older competition, he has shown an advanced eye at the plate and the ability to draw walks. Defensively, he has split time between center field and left field. Urbina has some of the best tools in the Twins system, and he is a player that should move up this list in the years to come. 17. RHP Blayne Enlow (22 years old) Season Stats (A+): 14.2 IP (3 G), 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 14.1 K/9, 3.7 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 11, 2021 Preseason: 10 Enlow, a 2017 third-round pick, made quick work of High-A to start the season as he mowed down batters with career-high strikeout rate. Unfortunately, he was forced to undergo Tommy John surgery and will be out until the second half of 2022. Minnesota added pitching depth that will be ranked ahead of Enlow, but that doesn’t take anything away from his long-term potential. 16. OF Brent Rooker (26 years old) Season Stats (AAA): 61 G, .239/.362/.546 (.908), 19 HR, 8 2B, 1 3B, 30.2 K%, 14.3 BB% Season Stats (MLB): 24 G, .168/.225/.358 (.583), 4 HR, 6 2B, 30.3 K%, 5.9 BB% Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 14, 2021 Preseason: 12 Rooker was the 35th overall pick by Minnesota back in the 2017 MLB Draft, and now he’s found himself in a unique spot with the Twins. He has little left to prove at Triple-A as he has posted an OPS north of .900 in 2019 and 2021. His power might be the best in the entire Twins system, but questions remain about how regularly he can make contact. Minnesota is also concerned about him being a defensive liability, but the team has been using him in both corner outfield spots since his call-up. Following the Nelson Cruz trade, Rooker should stick in the Twins lineup for the rest of the season, so that the club can evaluate him for the long term. Check back this week for the rest of the Twins post-draft and post-trade deadline top-30 rankings. Feel free to discuss this group of prospects and ask questions. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Prospects 21-25 -Prospects 26-30
  15. Organization’s prospect depth helps to keep team’s competitive window open as long as possible. Minnesota has built up a strong farm system but that means the team hasn’t been able to hang on to some of their depth in recent years. Players like Akil Baddoo and LaMonte Wade have gone on to find success with other organizations because the Twins didn’t project them as part of the long-term plan. Brent Rooker seems like another player that doesn’t fit into the team’s long-term plan. During the 2020 season, he impressed during his big- league debut although it was limited to seven games and 21 plate appearances. During that time, he hit .316/.381/.579 with three extra-base hits and five strikeouts. His season was cut short due to a fractured forearm, but it wasn’t hard to envision him fitting on the team’s roster moving forward. Entering the 2021 season, Rooker was fighting for a roster spot. However, it became clear that the team wasn’t keen to use him as a defensive outfielder, because he is below average in a corner outfield spot. First base is a position where he is not as much of a defensive liability, but the team has other options at that position. Minnesota was forced to make a choice and Kyle Garlick earned the final roster spot. Rooker was going to have to slug his way back to the Twins. Rooker has certainly been making his presence known in the Saints roster this season. His season started on a slow note as he was limited to a .375 OPS during the team’s eight April games. He posted an .836 OPS in May, but June was when he really turned it on as he hit .275/.420/.675 (1.095) with nine home runs. He was one of the best hitters in the minors and the Twins didn’t have a roster spot for him even though they were struggling. One of the biggest reasons the Twins didn’t give Rooker the call was because two other outfield prospects have passed him up on the depth chart. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach are considered better prospects than Rooker, but he has always been playing at a higher level in Minnesota’s farm system. Losing the 2020 minor league season likely cost Rooker a chance to play his way into the team’s long-term plans. Kirilloff went on the IL earlier this week, but Rooker still wasn’t called up to take his spot. Now Nelson Cruz has been traded, so Rooker might get an opportunity to slide into a DH role with the Twins. However, trading him to another organization might be his best chance at finding a permanent big-league role. Because of his college experience, he is already 26-years old. He has dominated Triple-A pitching in parts of two different seasons and the Twins don’t seem to have a spot for him. Like Badoo and Wade, he may find success in another organization, but he at least deserves to have a chance to prove he belongs at the MLB level. Do you think the Twins should trade Rooker? 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
  16. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Happ 3.0 IP, 10 H, 9 R, 9 ER, 4 BB, 2 K Homeruns: Sano 2 (17), Jeffers 2 (8), Kepler (14), Rooker (4), Polanco (15) Bottom 3 WPA: Happ -0.321, Minaya -0.158, Kepler -0.154 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) J.A. Happ’s Horrendous Start It has been far from a good season for offseason signing J.A. Happ, who put together arguably his worst outing of the season, yes even as bad as his start against the White Sox back in May. By the time the plug was finally pulled on Happ, the game was seemingly well out of reach. After giving up a couple of baserunners, but no runs in the first, Happ surrendered four singles and a walk in the second that gave the Tigers the early two run lead. Happ then had a strong three-up-three-down third and appeared to get his start back on the right track. That was before all hell broke loose in the fourth. To start the top of the fourth, the Tigers offense started the inning by going single, walk, double, single, single, walk, double before Rocco Baldelli finally came out and ended J.A. Happ’s outing. Former Tigers first round pick Beau Burrows came in to relieve Happ, and got out of the inning, but not before allowing two sac-flies and an RBI triple, giving the Tigers an early 10-0 lead. Burrows would stay in the game and pitch a scoreless fifth, after the Twins bats somehow got them back in the game, but then let the Tigers build on their lead again in the sixth. He gave up two walks to begin the inning, before Zack Short hit an RBI double. Burrows then got the next two guys on flyouts, the former being a sac-fly, before Grayson Greiner ripped another double off Burrows giving the Tigers what was at the time a 13-6 lead. Twins Monster 4th Inning After the Tigers appeared the bust the game completely wide open in the top of the fourth, the Twins bats made the game interesting after a big inning of their own. Miguel Sano got the scoring started with a leadoff solo home run to center field. After the Sano home run, which was nice to see, the game still felt very much not in the balance. That, however, would all change just four batters later. After the Sano home run, Trevor Larnach, Willians Astudillo and Nick Gordon all hit singles to set the table for this Ryan Jeffers grand slam! The Twins bats were not done after that, as they continued to pile on the hits. After Andrelton Simmons lined out to right, Max Kepler was hit by a pitch and that was the end of the road for Tigers pitcher Wily Peralta, who was replaced by Kyle Funkhouser (great name). Funkhouser did not find any more success, as Rooker, Polano and Sano all proceeded to get singles off of him to begin his outing, cutting the Tigers lead to four and giving the Twins bases loaded and just one out. They failed to capitalize on this, however, as Trevor Larnach struck out and Willians Astudillo grounded out to end the inning. Twins Coming Roaring Back in the 8th Yes, I know that was a bad Tigers pun, but it was a long game. With the Twins still down 13-6 entering the bottom of the eighth, the Twins bats exploded for a second time in today’s ballgame. Max Kepler, who has been swinging the bat a lot better in July, got the inning started with his fourteenth home run of the season, and that would not be even close to the last home run the Twins would hit this inning. Then it was Brent Rooker’s turn to stay hot, after he’s been tearing it up in St. Paul this year to the tune of 19 home runs and an OPS of .908 in 61 ball games for the Saints. In total, Rooker has hit 23 home runs in just 75 games played between the Saints and the Twins this season. Now down 13-8, it felt like the Twins were still in the ball game, and that feeling became even stronger once Jorge Polanco drew a walk to get on base for what was the most no-boudt of all no-doubters that has ever come off the bat of Miguel Sano, and that is saying something. According to Statcast, that home run left Miguel Sano’s bat with an exit velocity of 114.8 MPH and a launch angle of 30 degrees, traveling an estimated 473 feet into the third deck in left-center. Truly a mammoth home run, even by his standards. The Twins bats did not slow down after that, as they continued to use the long ball to get back into this ballgame. After a Willians Astudillo double, sandwiched between a Tevor Larnach fly out and a Nick Gordon strike out, Ryan Jeffers blasted his second home run of the game, bringing the Twins back within one. Juan Minaya Shines Until Things Fall Apart in the Ninth After the struggles of J.A. Happ and Beau Burrows, Juan Minaya was a refreshing change of pace for the Twins on the mound, when he entered the game to start the seventh. He began his outing by retiring all six batters that he faced in the seventh and eighth innings, and came back out to pitch the ninth, after the Twins had just made it a one-run ball game. He got the inning started off strong by striking out Harold Castro, before walking Grayson Greiner. After a quick mound visit, Minaya seemed to get back on track as he struck out Akil Baddoo for the second out of the inning. That is when things fell apart on Minaya, who was arguably left in the game a bit too long, especially with the Twins back in it. With two outs, the Tigers proceeded to get a single and a walk to load the bases for Eric Haase, who promptly delivered with a bases clearing double to bust the game back open for the Tigers. He would then come around to score on the next batter, when Jeimer Candelario hit a double of his own, giving the Tigers a 17-12 lead. It is worth noting that none of the Tigers 17 runs in today’s ballgame were scored on a home run. Jorge Polanco Gives Twins a Glimmer of Hope in the Ninth Given all that had happened today, a five run lead in the ninth did not seem insurmountable for the Twins. After all, they already had two six run innings, so why not a third and the way the inning started it appeared as though that was possible. Brent Rooker leadoff the inning with a hard fought walk and was immediately followed by a home run off the bat of Jorge Polanco, the Twins seventh of the ballgame. That comeback effort would not come to fruition, as Miguel Sano and Trevor Larnach would both strike out and Willians Astudillo would ground out to end what was not only an incredible game, but an incredible series. Bullpen Usage Chart What's Next The Twins are off on Thursday before traveling to St. Louis to begin a three-game series with the Cardinals. Jose Berrios is scheduled to be on the mound for the Twins, though that is still very much up in the air depending on what happens with the trade deadline fast approaching.
  17. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Pineda 6 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Homeruns: Rooker (3), Donaldson (16) Top 3 WPA: Thielbar .485, Kepler .265, Rooker .198 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With a bevy of scouts in attendance on Monday, Michael Pineda delivered. He proved he can be a solid stretch contributor for a contending team. Pineda’s recent spate of injuries has obscured the inalienable truth, that, behind Nelson Cruz, he has been the best free-agent signing of Falvey era in Minnesota, and one of the Twins better free-agent starting pitching acquisitions ever. Pineda struck out the first four batters he faced, working his fastball up to 92 mph, throwing strikes with consistency, and mastering his slider and changeup to great effect. Pineda’s outing was reminiscent of Pineda at his best for Minnesota; quick, efficient, and pounding the strike zone. Through the fifth inning, Pineda gave up three hits, just two singles after a leadoff double by Akil Baddoo. Taking the rubber for Detroit was one of their top prospects Matt Manning, who worked consistently with his mid 90s fastball and showed flashes of his tremendous hammer of a curveball. Offense was hard to come by in the first half of the game. The Twins took the lead in the second inning. Mitch Garver barely missed a home run to right field, doubling home Josh Donaldson from first. Garver’s return to something like his 2019 form has been one of the least talked about positive stories for the Twins in a miserable 2021. Garver came home to score the Twins’ second run in the bottom of the fourth, after getting on base by punching a double to left field. Miguel Sano ripped a single down the third-base line to score Garver, whose lack of sleep after the birth of his first child clearly isn’t impacting his approach at the plate. Pineda’s lone egregious mistake came in the sixth inning, leaving a 91 mph fastball over the heart of the plate to Miguel Cabrera, who clubbed it into the flower beds in right field. Still, Pineda showed enough to convince watching scouts and teams he can contribute meaningfully down the stretch to contending teams in need of solid innings. He’ll likely be gone by Friday afternoon. Brent Rooker restored the Twins lead in the bottom of the sixth inning, obliterating a hanging Matt Manning curveball 460 feet into the third deck in left field. Rooker has earned 200 MLB at-bats with his consistency in St. Paul, and the early returns are promising. Manning was pulled after he walked Jorge Polanco, being replaced by Jose Cisnero. Josh Donaldson greeted Cisnero with a two-run blast to left-center field increasing the Twins lead to 5-2 Eric Haase pulled a run back for Detroit in the seventh inning, with a solo shot off Tyler Duffey, but The Doof quickly recovered to retire the side. Hansel Robles relieved Duffey in the eighth inning. He retired the side despite a walk to preserve the Twins lead at 5-3 heading to the bottom of the eighth. After an uneventful bottom of the eighth in which the Twins threatened but failed to score, Taylor Rogers entered to close the game for the Twins in the ninth. Rogers outing began harmlessly, before he lost control of what appeared to be a breaking pitch to Jeimer Candelario which spun and looped puzzlingly away from the Detroit hitter, ending up nowhere near the strike zone. Rogers appeared to be in discomfort after the pitch, clutching and examining a finger on his pitching hand. Twins fans will hope Rogers merely cracked a nail or was suffering from a blister, anything more serious is a major cloud over one of the most appealing relief pitching options for Friday’s trade deadline. The Twins broadcast booth later reported that Rogers left the game with a left middle finger sprain. Next steps for Rogers and a timetable are to be determined. Alexander Colomé relieved Rogers and did what he does, surrendering a single to Candelario before Robbie Grossman clubbed a two-ruin home run to right field to tie the game at 5-5. Gregory Soto walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the ninth, but Willians Astudillo struck out swinging to send the game to extra innings. Caleb Thielbar took the top of the tenth for the Twins. He made short work of the Tigers, retiring the side in order to give the Twins a golden opportunity to win the game in the bottom of the tenth. Kenta Maeda started on second base in the bottom of the tenth (the fourth pinch running appearance of his career). Soto managed a much cleaner tenth until Max Kepler dumped a single into right center field to score Maeda from second base and make the Twins 6-5 winners. Bullpen Usage Chart WED THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Colomé 22 0 11 0 10 16 59 Coulombe 0 32 0 0 18 0 50 Duffey 38 0 0 0 0 11 49 Thielbar 16 0 0 16 0 13 45 Alcala 0 0 0 10 24 0 34 Rogers 0 0 18 0 0 5 23 Minaya 0 0 20 0 0 0 20 Robles 0 0 0 0 0 13 13 Postgame Interviews Next Up The Twins send Kenta Maeda to the mound on Tuesday to face Tyler Alexander. First pitch is at 7:10 CT.
  18. Box Score Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes) HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2) Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Early Offense Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start. A Familiar Face Returns Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL. Ober The Hills And Far Away The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize. Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can! Where Did The Momentum Go? Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday. It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69 Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58 Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38 Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49 Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55 Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18 Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. José Berríos: 7 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Miguel Sano -.150, Ryan Jeffers -.126, Gilberto Celestino -.117 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) It was Patrick Sandoval’s world on Saturday night and the Twins were just living in it. Sandoval, who entered the game with a 3.86 ERA and 4.36 FIP in 63 innings, was spectacular all evening, striking out 13 and taking a no-hitter into the bottom of the ninth inning before the recently promoted Brent Rooker lobbed a double just inside the line in right field. Josh Donaldson followed with a double of his own two batters later to pull the Twins within 2-1 before Miguel Sanó struck out to end the game. (The Twins were limited to a paltry 29.4% hard hit percentage and struck out 14 times as a team.) Sandoval’s performance outshone that of Twins’ pitcher José Berríos, who possibly made his final start in a Twins uniform. Though his numbers won't pop off the page, Berríos was largely in control from the jump. The Twins' ace allowed two unearned runs in the top of the first inning before settling into a groove. At one point, Berríos retired 15 straight Angels before being pulled after throwing 101 pitches. He finished the night with four strikeouts in seven innings. Berríos’ name will continue to appear in copious rumors until the trade deadline passes at 3 p.m. CT this coming Friday. Though the team is asking for a monster haul in return for their two-time All-Star, Berríos will likely be the only young starting pitcher on the market who still has one year of control remaining on his contract. Because of this, rival teams will likely turn up their aggressiveness and improve their offers as the deadline approaches, which may well leave the Twins staring at an offer they can’t refuse. If they do choose to move on, Berríos will be remembered as perhaps the Twins’ best starting pitcher since Johan Santana, who was dealt to the New York Mets in the early spring of 2008. He has lived up to all expectations and then some since being selected out of Puerto Rico with the No. 32 pick in the 2012 MLB Draft. Unfortunately, all we can do now is sit on our hands and wait to see what unfolds in the coming days. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Colomé 0 26 22 0 11 0 59 Alcala 23 24 0 0 0 10 57 Duffey 16 0 38 0 0 0 54 Thielbar 0 17 16 0 0 16 49 Coulombe 0 5 0 32 0 0 37 Rogers 19 0 0 0 18 0 37 Robles 19 7 0 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 0 0 0 20 0 20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. To find out who hit all those home runs in St. Paul, how the big innings all went down, and who was responsible for that no-hitter in the FCL, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS Catcher Mitch Garver was sent on a rehab assignment to the St. Paul Saints. Good to see him back on the field after his freaky injury. Jake Cave was also activated for a rehab assignment with the Saints. LHP Kody Funderburk and RHP Jordan Gore were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. LHP Aaron Rozek was assigned to the Mighty Mussels from the Wind Surge, and RHP Jason Garcia was placed on the 7-day injured list. Taking the place of the departing pitchers from Cedar Rapids were RHP Osiris German and RHP Louie Varland from Fort Myers. In addition to Rozek the Mighty Mussels also were assigned RHP Orlando Rodriguez. SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 1, St. Paul 19 Box Score With Jake Cave, Mitch Garver, Brent Rooker, and Willians Astudillo in the lineup for the Saints on Tuesday, this one played out just like you might expect when putting a lineup of major leaguers out against one of minor leaguers. St. Paul bludgeoned Columbus pitching early with three runs in the first then four more in the third before exploding for 10 runs in the fourth. When they needed a hit, they got them, and big ones in bunches too. Cave led off the game with a homer and Rooker hit another blast in the first. Rooker and Mark Contreras each went yard in the third. Then Rooker again, and Jose Miranda took one out of the park in the big fourth inning. The lineup got multiple hits from Miranda (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K), Rooker (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K), Contreras (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K), and JT Riddle (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI). Cave and Rooker each scored four runs. As a team St. Paul was 9-for-13 (.692) with runners in scoring position and left only five men on base. In addition to their 14 hits and six walks, five hitters were hit by pitches leading to their runs outpacing hits for the game. Righthander Griffin Jax took the mound for the Saints and went the first five innings, working efficiently. He allowed one run (solo homer) on three hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter, and threw just 63 pitches with 40 going for strikes (63.5%). Reliever Juan Minaya came on for the sixth inning and finished the next three scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, one walk, and struck out four. Joe Harvey finished off the game with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and punching out two. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 7, Wichita 2 Box Score Wichita got on the board first in this one when Trey Cabbage clubbed his third home run of the season, a two run-shot in the second inning. But that was all the offense they would muster on the night as the lineup managed just two other hits on the game. They had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position and left only two men on base for the game. There is not much you can if you never have the opportunities. Righthander Austin Schulfer got the start for the Wind Surge and went five solid innings. He allowed three earned runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out six. Jovani Moran went the next 1 2/3 and was not his usual knife through butter self, being charged with one run on one hit and three walks, though he still did strike out four. Zach Neff came on gave up three runs of his own in 1+ innings. He allowed four hits and struck out one. Jhonleider Salinas finished the game off for the Wind Surge with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 5 Box Score The Kernels too, got on the board early and then often in a single inning on Tuesday as they put up three runs in the first then a five-spot in the fourth that put them ahead 8-1 at the time. The three runs in the first came courtesy of Seth Gray’s seventh home run of the season. The lineup got multiple hits from Gray (3-for-6, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K), Wander Javier (2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K), and Edouard Julien (2-for-5, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K). Julien’s 2-RBI single in the fourth inning capped the scoring for Cedar Rapids and he continues to lead the minors in walks while sporting a .475 on-base percentage across two levels. The eight runs were more than enough to pick up the win as the pitching staff held strong enough as South Bend attempted a comeback. Starter Cody Laweryson went the first four innings for the Kernels, allowing a single earned run on three hits and two walks while punching out six. Tyler Palm allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in his single inning. Ryan Shreve was credited the win after his two innings where he allowed one run on two hits and struck out two. Zach Featherstone pitched the final two innings, allowing a run of his own on one hit and two walks while striking out three. The Kernels improved to 35-26 on the year and are firmly in second place of the Midwest League West Division. MUSSEL MATTERS Jupiter 10, Fort Myers 12 Box Score Fort Myers jumped out to a beg early lead after an eight run second inning, but struggled to keep that lead for the rest of the game and it turned into a back-and-forth contest late. Willie Joe Garry Jr. got the scoring started in the second with a two-RBI single. Misael Urbina followed two batters later with a grand slam that made it 6-1. A Jeferson Morales double and Jesus Feliz single would plate the other two runs in the frame. Starter Brent Headrick went four innings in total, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks, while striking out six. Matthew Swain came out for the fifth inning but was not able to get out of it before being charged with four runs on three walks. He struck out one. With two in the fifth Carlos Suniaga was summoned and went the next 2 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping the Mighty Mussels within one going into the bottom of the seventh. They were able to tie it at nine thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Ruben Santana, but gave it right back in the top of the eighth. Righthander Bradley Hanner came into the game and gave up consecutive single to start the inning, that resulted in a run as the first hitter stole second and reached third on a throwing error. Now down 10-9, Fort Myers would not give up. Yunior Severino delivered an RBI sac fly in the bottom of the eighth after Aaron Sabato reached base on an error and moved to third on a double from Morales. Feliz then put them up by one with an RBI single and executed a double steal with Justin Washington for another run to make it 12-10 in favor of the home team. Back out front for the top of the ninth, the Mighty Mussels brought on Denny Bentley to close out the win. A one out walk and single made it a little interesting, but Bentley buckled down and struck out the final two hitters (and all three outs in the inning) to end the game and pick up his fifth save. In addition to Morales and Feliz, Washington (2-for-4, R, 3B, K, SB) and Santana (2-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB, SB) also multiple hits on the game. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Game 1: FCL Braves 5, FCL Twins 1 Box Score The FCL Twins played a doubleheader with their Atlanta Braves counterpart on Tuesday afternoon, and they each picked up a victory. In game one the Twins were outhit 8-5 and were not able to mount any rallies in losing 5-1. Alexander Pena led the way with a 2-for-3 effort including a double. Kala’I Rosario picked up the only RBI. Starter John Stankiewicz went the first two innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while recording all of his outs via the strikeout (six total). Wilker Reyes went the next four innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks. Cole Bellair finished the game with an unearned run on two walks in the seventh, striking out one. Game 2: FCL Twins 8, FCL Braves 0 Box Score The Twins got back at the Braves in game two behind a no-hitter from their starting pitcher. The caveat here is even in the normally shortened 7-inning game of a doubleheader, only 5+ innings were completed in this one as lightning moved into the area. The Twins scored two in the first and six in the second to account for all their runs. Rosario had two more RBI in this one thanks to a double. Catcher LaRon Smith had three RBI and his second home run of the season. Pena (2-for-4, R, RBI) and Miguel Vallejo (2-for-2, R, 2 2B) had multiple hits. As a team they were 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left just six on base for the game. Pitcher Giovahniey German went five innings and walked just two while striking out four. Quite a performance for the 20-year-old in just his third game pitching in the states! Goes down as a no-hitter in the scorebook no matter who is reading it, congratulations! (Reliever Zach Goree was meant to start the sixth inning before the game was called) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Giovahniey German, FCL Twins (5 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day – Brent Rooker, St. Paul Saints (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 1-for-2, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – All Star Break #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, R, BB #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (wrist sprain) #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – All Star Break #13 – Cole Sands Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 1-for-5, R, GS HR, 4 RBI, BB, K #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-4, 3 K #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury) #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Columbus @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – TBD Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05PM CST) – TBD Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beck (1-1, 1.93 ERA) Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (4-2, 5.89 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  21. It is worth noting that prospect graduations have and will happen throughout 2021. Names like Kirilloff, Larnach, Jeffers, Gordon, and Rortvedt are no longer eligible for consideration. With that said, let’s get into who’s next. 15. Misael Urbina OF Age: 19 ETA: 2024 2021 Stats (A): 42 G .191/.298/.268 3 2B 3 3B HR 24 RBI 23 BB 39 K 2021 Ranking: 14th Minnesota signed Urbina out of Venezuela back in 2018 during the International Signing Period. Jesse Sanchez called him, “one of the most coveted prospects from Venezuela in this year's international class” at the time. The bonus came in at $2.75 million, and that’s indicative of how the Twins see his tools developing. Urbina is playing in his first stateside season this year, and while the numbers aren’t gaudy by any means, controlling the strike zone is something he’s shown a strong ability to do as a young player. 14. Brent Rooker OF/1B Age: 26 2021 Stats (AAA): 43 G .243/.386/.547 6 2B 13 HR 28 RBI 31 BB 54 K 2021 Ranking: 12th Rooker was the 35th overall pick by Minnesota back in the 2017 draft. He made his MLB debut in 2020 before injury ended his season with just seven games played. Rooker has appeared in just eight games for the Twins this year going 3-for-29. Despite crushing Triple-A, his opportunities have been limited with the outfield capabilities being stretched, and him not being a true fit at first base. Should the Twins deal Nelson Cruz, Brent would appear to be in line for substantial big league at bats as the DH. 13. Cole Sands RHSP Age: 23 2021 Stats (AA): 31 2/3 IP, 2.84 ERA, 1.263 WHIP, 3.10 FIP, 30.7 K%, 13.1 BB% 2021 Ranking: 15th Sands was a 5th round selection in the 2018 draft and it didn’t take long to see that Minnesota had something special here. There’s velocity, there’s command, there’s a real starting pitcher. Sands dominated three separate levels in 2019, and has picked up where he left off in 2021. The 11.9 K/9 is a strong number at Double-A, and while the command has slipped some, there’s no long term worry there. Currently injured, Minnesota hopes to have Cole back on the bump sooner rather than later. 12. Bailey Ober RHSP Age: 25 2021 Stats (AAA): 16 IP, 2.81 ERA, 1.125 WHIP, 1.67 FIP, 32.3 K%, 7.7 BB% 2021 Ranking: 20th Now in the big leagues taking regular turns with the Twins, Ober parlayed his quick Triple-A success into six turns in the big league rotation. He owns a 5.84 ERA there but has been bit most by the home run. Strikeouts and command continue to play, while his velocity has seen an uptick and is, in part, what has elevated his prospect status. There’s a good back-end rotation piece here, and it’d be a good bet he gets plenty of leash to showcase that the rest of 2021. 11. Blayne Enlow RHSP Age: 22 2021 Stats (A+): 14 2/3 IP, 1.84 ERA, 1.295 WHIP, 2.80 FIP, 39.0 K%, 10.2 BB% 2021 Ranking: 10th Arguably one of the most exciting prospects to see showcased following the 2020 minor league hiatus, Enlow came out as expected. He below the doors of High-A hitters and looked the part of a prospect that could put together an amazing season. Unfortunately, it ended quickly as he’s now recovering from Tommy John surgery, but look for him to be back stronger on the back half of 2022, and still with a ceiling that could be among the highest in the system as far as pitchers go.
  22. The 2020 season was unique in more ways than one. For rookies making their big-league debut, this certainly had to be true as they stepped into a strange environment with no fans and a multitude of COVID protocols. In spite of these barriers, Brent Rooker was able to make his debut and find success at the plate, but have other prospects passed him by in 2021? Last year, Rooker was called up after Max Kepler was sent to the IL. He played in seven games and hit .316/.381/.579 with a home run and two doubles. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and fractured his forearm which ended his season. His strong performance wasn’t limited to the big-league level either. He had posted a .928 OPS during the 2019 season and the majority of his games that year were at Triple-A. Spring training had to be an exciting time for Rooker. For the first time in his career, he had a good chance at making the big-league roster and those odds only increased after Alex Kirilloff’s rough spring saw him sent to the minor league side. However, Rocco Baldelli stressed the importance of defense and Rooker has little defensive value, so he was optioned to the alternate site. The team quickly needed Rooker at the big-league level after Josh Donaldson injured his hamstring. He played in three games and went 1-for-11 without an extra-base hit. He suffered a neck injury and didn’t hit much better after he returned from the IL. For the year, he has gone 3-for-29 with two extra-base hits and a 13-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. His time in St. Paul has seen some good and some bad as he has hit .227/.366/.470 with five home runs and a double in 66 at-bats. What might be most encouraging is the fact that he has drawn 15 walks. Recently, he missed a few games with an injury, but it didn’t seem to bother him in the team’s weekend series. He finished the four-game set going 6-for-19 with two homers and a double. It’s a good to see some life in his bat, but he has plenty left to prove. Rooker and the Twins might have missed out on an opportunity to see what he can do with a regular role at the big-league level. Trevor Larnach and Kirilloff have been getting regular at-bats while Rooker continues to play at Triple-A. Those two players have always been seen as better prospects, but Rooker is already 26-years old, and he has been limited to less than 50 at-bats at baseball’s highest level. Entering the season, he was considered one of the top, if not the best, power hitting prospects in the Twins organization. His college experience and success in the minor leagues certainly prove his power hitting prowess. Now, he needs to find his swing again at Triple-A before more prospects continue to pass him by for opportunities with the Twins. Do you think the Rooker has become a forgotten prospect? 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
  23. So keep reading to find out just how crazy the night was for your favorite Twins prospects! TRANSACTIONS Minor League Gold Glove OF Mark Contreras was promoted to St. Paul from Wichita In Fort Myers recent free agent signing OF Justin Washington was assigned from the GCL Twins, 3B Wander Valdez was sent back to the GCL Twins roster, and SS Ruben Santana was activated from the disabled list. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 17, Iowa 6 Box Score The Saints took advantage of some wildness from double-A’s 2019 strikeout king, Corey Abbott to jump out to an early lead. They got to the Cubs prospect for six runs in the first two innings, with a three-run Tomas Telis homer doing the bulk of that damage. They would tack on four more in the fourth after an RBI double from Ben Rortvedt was followed by another three-run blast, this one off the bat of JT Riddle, his first with the Saints. In all St. Paul hitters mashed seven hits (five for extra bases) and drew five walks against Abbott, taking full advantage of the extra baserunners and opportunities they were given. As far as the Saints starting pitcher went, it was Bailey Ober’s first appearance since making his MLB debut, and he dazzled. In five innings he allowed just one earned run on four hits, striking out five. It was good for his first win of the 2021 season. While watching the game the opposing broadcast’s announcer was excited to see Abbott on the mound, but Ober was the one who left a mark on him. “I’m very impressed so far with Bailey Ober. You understand why he posts zeroes so often [and] can see why he is tough to pick up. Six-foot-nine, long reach, and hides the ball very well.” With the big lead Ober’s day was done after just seventy pitches, with Ian Hamilton coming on for the sixth. Hamilton was hitting high 90’s with his fastball in his inning and struck out two. Robinson Leyer delivered two scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out one. Another RBI double from Ben Rortvedt and RBI single from Jimmy Kerrigan added a few more runs in the sixth, then Ryan Jeffers and Brent Rooker added insult to injury with home runs in the seventh and ninth innings, respectively. Jeffers was a three-run no-doubter, and Rooker’s a two-run blast to dead center that made the score 17-1. They were the fourth home run of the season for each player. Tom Hackimer would come on for the ninth but made the game last quite a bit longer than it should have. The bases were loaded before he recorded an out, then he was not able to finish it off. In all, Hackimer allowed 5 runs on three hits, four walks, and a hit batter. St. Paul was forced to go to Andrew Vasquez for the final out, and he made sure it went as quick as possible, getting a strikeout to end the game. WIND SURGE WISDOM Springfield 7, Wichita 2 Box Score Unlike the rest of their affiliate brethren, the Wind Surge were unable to pile on the runs on Tuesday, falling to the Cardinals in Wichita. Starter Bryan Sammons went the first four innings and surrendered all the damage Springfield would need as their pitchers allowed just six hits and three walks to Wichita’s lineup. In total he allowed four earned runs on five hits and a pair of walks in his time. While he struck out six, three of his hits allowed were home runs. Dakota Chalmers came on for the fifth and went two innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits (including a homer of his own) while striking out two. Jonathan Cheshire was the only Wind Surge pitcher without a blemish, pitching a scoreless seventh, though he did walk two. Hector Lujan finished the final two frames, allowing a solo home run and striking out one. Jermaine Palacios led the way hitting for Wichita with a 2-for-4 night. Andrew Bechtold hit his first home run of the season, a solo shot in the fourth. Jose Miranda contributed an RBI single in the third. As a team the Wind Surge had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position and left only five men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Wisconsin 2, Cedar Rapids 9 Box Score Cedar Rapids slugger Seth Gray put the Kernels on the board early with a two-run blast in the first. He and Michael Helman would add to that lead in the third with a pair of RBI doubles, Helman’s of the 2-run variety for a 5-0 lead after three. Starter Tyler Beck ran into some trouble in the top of the fourth, allowing a run to score after three singles and a walk, and exiting with the bases loaded. In all he went 3 1/3, allowing two runs on five hits and two walks. He struck out four. Jordan Gore came on and allowed one inherited runner to score on a groundout but would stop the bleeding there by picking up a strikeout. He would add a scoreless fifth inning and add another K to his ledger. Lefty Tyler Watson would keep Cedar Rapids out front three scoreless innings. He scattered one hit and two walks while striking out three. The Kernels bats went pretty silent for the middle innings, but in the seventh Spencer Steer woke them up again with a leadoff double. Wander Javier drove him in with a single that was misplayed by the center fielder and allowed another runner to score that made it 7-2. Leobaldo Cabrera’s first home as a Twins prospect would make it 9-2 after eight. Lefty Zach Featherstone would finish the game for Cedar Rapids with three strikeouts in the ninth around a walk. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 13, Lakeland 0 Box Score After losing four in a row to the Tampa Tarpons by a combined score of 53-13, the Mighty Mussels have unleashed some frustration the past two games. In the final game of their series with the Tarpons they won 9-3 and were even more impressive in the opening tilt with the Flying Tigers. Fort Myers also got the scoring started early in this one courtesy of a slugger, in their case Aaron Sabato. His first inning home run was his second of the season and gave them the early 2-0 lead. They added another run in the second after loading the bases on a Misael Urbina sac fly but were just getting started. Starter Brent Headrick went the first five innings and was dominant. He threw just 67 pitches (43 for strikes), allowing only two singles and one walk while striking out five to pick up his second win of the season. Juan Pichardo went the next two scoreless innings, walking one and striking out two. Matthew Swain would finish the shutout for the Saints going the final two innings. He allowed one hit, a walk, and struck out two. The Mighty Mussels broke the game open in the top of the sixth with quite a bit of help from Lakeland pitchers. Consecutive singles were followed by two four-pitch walks to score the first run of the inning. After a strikeout of Sabato another four-pitch walk scored another run before the bullpen was summoned for the Flying Tigers. It was greeted by a Kyle Schmidt double on their first pitch, scoring two more. Then two more walks, an RBI single from Anthony Prato, and a 2-run double from Edouard Julien would push Fort Myers’ lead to 11-0 before the inning was over. They would add a few more in the top of the ninth on a Yunior Severino two-run single for the final of 13-0. In all the Mighty Mussels racked up fourteen (!) walks and twelve hits against Flying Tigers pitching. Julien (2-for-3, 3 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K), Schmidt (3-for-4, R, 2 2B, 2 RBI), and Prato (2-for-4, 2 R, RBI) had multiple hits. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Brent Headrick, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (W, 5.0 IP, 2 H, BB, 5 K) Hitter of the Day – Tomas Telis, St. Paul Saints (4-for-6, 3 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – 2-for-4, 2 2B, RBI, K #2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #3 - Trevor Larnach (Minnesota) – 0-for-3, 2 K #4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 3 R, HR, BB, 2 K #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back) #7 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – Did not play #8 - Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K #9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – 0-for-3, BB #12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 2-for-6, R, HR, 3 RBI, K #13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play #14 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-for-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K #15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow) #17 - Ben Rortvedt (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 RBI, BB #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A #19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 1-for-3, RBI #20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – W, 5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 5 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Iowa (12:08PM CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes (1-0, 3.95 ERA) Springfield @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Cole Sands (0-0, 3.00 ERA) Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – LHP Kody Funderburk (0-0, 1.32 ERA) Fort Myers @ Tampa (5:30PM CST) – RHP Regi Grace (1-0, 4.50 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  24. Things have been complicated from the start with Alex Kirilloff. Under the baseball’s current CBA, it’s in a team’s best interest to keep a young player in the minor leagues so the club can pick up an extra year of service time. As a side note, MLB and the MLBPA will need to work out a new CBA and this issue is likely one that will be addressed and possibly changed. There has been some indication that the Twins were willing to ignore this current practice as they have said that Kirilloff will have every opportunity to make the Opening Day roster, but his performance hasn’t pushed him ahead of others. Entering play on Monday, he has gone 4-for-31 (.129 BA) with two extra-base hits and an eight to one strikeout to walk ratio. His lone home run was a massive 420 foot shot and it came off a left-handed pitcher, so that’s one offensive positive from the spring. https://twitter.com/SlangsOnSports/status/1370079829354237956?s=20 Minnesota has clearly been getting their roster ready for Opening Day including lining up the rotation and using batting orders that will be similar to the regular season. In the last two “Opening Day” line-ups, Brent Rooker has been used as the starting left fielder and he has been having a much stronger spring. He is hitting .381/.391/.667 with three doubles and a home run. Rooker is considered a rookie too, but he is already 26-years old so there is less of an urgency to pick up an extra year of service time. Rooker isn’t the only option in left field as Kyle Garlick has been making his presence known in the Twins line-up. Entering play on Monday, he has gone 9-for-24 with four home runs and a double. This spring he leads the team in home runs, RBI, slugging percentage, and OPS. Garlick and Rooker both have minor league options remaining, so that can play into the team’s decision as well. Another wrinkle in this equation is the fact that the Triple-A season was pushed back a month with Opening Day scheduled for May 4. This means Kirilloff can’t go to Triple-A to get in more work and he already missed a full season of development in 2020. St. Paul will be used as an alternate site before the Triple-A season starts, so he can get into a routine there and be called up whenever the team feels he is ready. Minnesota might be ready to see what Kirilloff can do at the big-league level. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli hasn’t been referring to Kirilloff in future tense anymore, because he has done almost everything he needs to prove he is MLB ready. "It's not exactly potential," Baldelli said. "He just hasn't had the opportunities yet at the Major League level to show what he can do. We think he's already a good offensive player. He's handled himself really well.” Kirilloff’s defensive flexibility might also help his chances of making the Opening Day roster. He is athletic enough to play in a corner outfield spot, but he also has a chance to be very good at first base. His defensive value is higher than Rooker and Garlick, so that might make up for his poor offensive numbers. Spring training offers such a small sample size that the numbers produced by players need to be taken with a grain of salt. Kirilloff has struggled, but he still has an opportunity to come north with the club for Opening Day. Do you think Kirilloff cracks the Opening Day roster? Are you worried about his spring performance? 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
  25. 5. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Current/Future Power: 55/60 Kirilloff has the potential to be on of the best Twins prospects in quite some time. He can power the ball to all fields, and some think he can hit upwards of 30 home runs. He might be the best pure hitter in the Twins system and there will certainly be power with his smooth swinging approach. His power comes from a swing that has a scooping motion that creates line drives and a better launch angle. Twins fans hope Kirilloff is hitting near the top of the line-up for most of the next decade. 4. Matt Wallner, OF Current/Future Power: 55/65 Wallner, a Minnesota native, is a big boy at 6-foot-4 and 220 pounds and he fits the mold of players drafted by the current regime. He hit for power in all three years of college as he posted a .652 SLG and a 1.113 OPS. Because of these numbers, scouts ranked him as one of the best power bats in the 2019 MLB Draft with some giving him 70 or 80 grades. What’s crazy to consider is the fact that he was still being used as a pitcher in college. In 65 games during his pro debut, he collected 31 extra-base hits and posted an ISO of .194. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF Current/Future Power: 55/65 For some fans, Larnach almost feels like a forgotten prospect because of the presence of Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff. Since being draft, Larnach has been a half step behind Kirilloff, but that takes nothing away from what Larnach can mean to the Twins line-up in the up-coming years. He’s the organization’s reigning Minor League Player of the Year. As a left-handed power hitter, Larnach has connected with Justin Morneau to be his hitting mentor. It’s clear that Larnach loves to work on his swing and he’s going to make sure Twins fans don’t forget about him after he makes his big-league debut at some point in 2021. 2. Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Current/Future Power: 60/65 Sabato is trying to buck a trend, because right-handed hitting college players with limited defense haven’t found much professional success. There’s one reason the Twins drafted Aaron Sabato and it was because of his powerful bat. As a college freshman, he won ACC Rookie of the Year after knocking 18 home runs. He has a rare combination of exceptional strength, bat speed, and launch angle that led to off the charts raw power. Scouts were confident in Sabato’s ability to hit throughout the upper-minors especially with his track-record against elite college pitching. 1. Brent Rooker, OF/1B Current/Future Power: 60/65 Rooker spent his college years putting up impressive power numbers in the college baseball’s best conferences, the SEC. In his junior season, he hit .287/.496/.810 with 23 home runs. Scouts saw some him post some of the best exit velocities in the 2017 draft class and his raw power was off the charts. Minnesota has been aggressive with him as he spent his entire second full professional season at Triple-A where he posted a .928 OPS. Since he is already 26-years old, there’s a good chance he breaks camp on the big-league roster, and this should give him the opportunity to prove his powerful swing translates to baseball’s highest level. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? 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
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