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  1. So far - and understandably so - there has been very little information released on the future mystery player aside from one tweet from Darren “Doogie” Wolfson. Anything beyond that is complete speculation. But speculation can be fun, so let’s take a closer look at who the Twins might be adding in the next few weeks. To give me an idea of players who might be included, I plugged the trade into Baseball Trade Values. Obviously, this isn't an exact science, but it’s probably the least biased way to come up with a list of names. Plugging in the trade as it happened, the simulator had the Twins giving up 4.9 more value points than it received. The potential inclusion of any of the Padres top prospects would tip the scale heavily in the Twins favor, but there are a number of prospects in the next tier who could make sense as this “player to be named later.” Typically, when a trade like this occurs, the teams agree to a list of players and conditions. It could be as simple as having six names on a list and the Twins get to pick one name off of that list on May 1. It could be something more complex. It could be - and this case might be - something that makes a whole lot of sense. Let’s take a look at some names that may be on that list. And why the Twins may want them. Ranked from least likely to most likely to be a Twin, in my opinion. Joshua Mears, Outfield. Ranked in the system’s Top 10 by both MLB.com and Baseball America, Mears was drafted in 2019. His power is his calling card. He already has two home runs in three games this season in high-A, but has struck out in eight of his twelve at bats. As the top-rated prospect on my list and - in my opinion - the likelihood that the Twins prefer pitching, I think the chances of Mears being the player is small. Samuel Zavana, Outfield. Zavana checks in on BA’s list at #12, but missed MLB.com’s. Zavala fits the profile of what the Twins like with a scouting report that includes things like “regarded as one of the best pure hitters” in his signing class and having “long possessed a knack for finding the barrel.” The 17-year-old would make a ton of sense. But in trying to sleuth this out, Zavala will be playing in the complex league this year, so the Twins won't even get a chance to scout him between now and then. So if it were to be him, why not just include him in the original deal? Victor Acosta, Shortstop. Acosta, like Zavana, will be playing in a complex league this summer. Ranked #11 by MLB and #12 by BA, I put Acosta a notch above Zavana because he has more defensive value. But, again, if you can’t see him in the next month, wouldn’t you have wanted to get him into your complex as soon as possible? Robert Gasser, Pitcher. Gasser is ranked #9 on both sites after being selected in the Competitive Balance, B Round in the 2021 draft. After getting 15 innings of pro ball under his belt last year, Gasser, a lefty, made his High-A debut last week. It was brutal. Four walks, four hits, seven outs. I don’t think a single game is a reason the Twins wouldn’t trade for him though, I think it’s because the Padres would be less likely to include him on the list. The next guy is a complete wild-card who technically fits Doogie’s profile. Adrian Morejon, Pitcher. Morejan, 23, is a highly-regarded Cuban left-hander who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s a “non-roster” guy because he’s on the 60-day Injured List, so he wouldn’t require a 40-man move. Morejan has 16 games of MLB experience under his belt and spent the last five seasons ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100. While not expected to return to the mound until later this season, it’s been a year since his surgery. Being a PTBNL could just be a way of giving the Twins a chance to get a greater feel of how his recovery is going. Remember, this trade all came together very quickly. For what it's worth, even though there are over 100 potential players for this to be, I’d bet on it being one of these three over the field. Full disclosure: I like taking long odds. It’s not often successful. Victor Lizarraga, Pitcher. Signed out of Mexico last year and ranked #13 by MLB and #15 by BA, Lizarraga is pitching in Low-A ball at 18 this year. He would make a ton of sense as a lottery ticket in a trade such as this. He’s a fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher with shaky command. Kevin Kopps, Pitcher. Kopps, currently in AA, ranks #14 on BA’s list and #16 on MLB’s list. Drafted in the 3rd round last year, Kopps spread his 14 ⅔ innings over three levels, striking out 22 and notching three saves. Kopps is serving as a closer using one big weapon: a breaking ball that has been nearly unhittable. Some call it a cutter, some call it a slider. Baseball America calls it the best slider in the system. The Twins, if I had to guess, would deploy whatever it is in the same way they used Sergio Romo’s and Tyler Clippard’s sliders. Kopps, who turns 25 soon, has Tommy John in his rearview and could soon be a bullpen option for whatever team he is on. Jarlin Susana, Pitcher. Susana is ranked #18 by MLB.com and the just-turned-18-year-old has an impressive and imposing 6’ 6”, 235-pound frame. Signed in January by the Padres for $1.7 million, Susana has a big-time fastball that can touch 100 and a slider that is next best pitch (among the four he throws). So what separates him from the other complex league pitchers? Because of when he signed, he can’t be traded until later this month. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe Susana is the player to be named later. (The Padres also added many other international free agents in mid-January who become eligible to be traded later this month. Among them are two 16-year-old infielders, Yendry Rojas and Rosman Verdugo. Neither are as highly regarded as Susana, though. Rojas, from Cuba, is a very good hitter with decent size (6' 1", 190) and speed and Verdugo, from Mexico, was considered the top prospect from Mexico.) What do you think? Who do you prefer?
  2. By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete. The Pursuit of Value By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from. In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless. When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him Relievers are Unpredictable Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle. Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade. In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt. That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run. Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below!
  3. First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers. Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there. Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him. Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move. Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks. Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal. Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year. The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around. A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around. Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys. When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance. Time to play ball.
  4. There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP). But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. What are your thoughts on this deal?
  5. The Twins open their season on Thursday, and their Opening Day roster is becoming more clear today after three players were sent to minor-league camp. After throwing 11 scoreless innings this spring, Devin Smeltzer was sent to minor-league camp. He missed most of the 2021 season with a herniated disk in his neck. Now healthy, he was very impressive this spring and it is likely he will pitch for the Twins during the 2022 season. Jovani Moran is the Twins' top relief pitcher prospect. He made his MLB debut in September 2021, but he will begin his 2022 season in St. Paul with the Saints. And Jake Cave was outrighted to minor league camp as well. He will travel to Louisville where the Saints season begins on Tuesday. The Twins spring training roster now stands at 33. They will need to get down to 28 on the active roster before Thursday's opener. There are four non-roster players. Right-hander Jake Faria and lefty Danny Coulombe remain. Infielder Daniel Robertson and outfielder Kyle Garlick are also still in big-league camp. Will any of those four players make the Opening Day roster? Garlick and his ability to mash left-handed pitching would seem to be competing with Brent Rooker for one spot. With the 28-man roster only available to teams through May 1, it is a huge decision to add a non-roster player to the 40-man roster. Will they risk losing a couple of depth pieces by adding them to the 40-man roster for three to four weeks? Will they risk losing a player or two on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster. We may know the answer to those questions by the end of today, certainly within the next 36 hours. UPDATE Following Sunday's game, the Twins announced that Jake Faria was being sent to minor-league camp and will join the Saints in Louisville for the Triple-A opener. Also, Cody Stashak will remain in Ft. Myers to work through some biceps tendinitis. How do you think the Opening Day roster will shape up? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
  6. The Twins are down to just six non-roster players remaining on their spring roster. Several players were sent to minor-league camp so that they can head up to Minnesota this weekend. The Saints season starts on Tuesday in Louisville. The six non-roster players remaining in the big-league camp include left-handed pitchers Devin Smeltzer and Danny Coulombe, right-handed pitcher Jake Faria, infielder Daniel Robertson, and outfielders Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave. While there are certainly several good reasons to not add non-roster players to the 40-man roster knowing that the active roster will drop back to 26 players by May 1st. However, here are three players that I think do have a realistic opportunity to make the Twins Opening Day roster. Jake Faria Jake Faria had limited success in Tampa Bay’s rotation all the way back in 2017 when he posted a 3.43 ERA across just under 90 innings in his debut. After bouncing around for a while and not pitching in 2020, the right-hander finds himself as a realistic bullpen option for the Twins on Opening Day. With the lockout leading up to a short Spring Training ramp-up, the Twins are likely to employ some sort of “piggyback” method to start the season to allow the rotation to ramp up and remain healthy. Faria has been used in a multi-inning role this spring which could be a hint that the Twins may be taking a look at him to fill such a piggybacking role. He’s allowed just one run in his five spring innings and his mix of a split-finger and breaking ball could make him more prepared to navigate the entirety of a lineup than a traditional right-handed pitcher with just a fastball and slider. While no sure thing, Faria is a name to watch in the waning days of Spring Training. Kyle Garlick Kyle Garlick could make the 2022 roster again in the same role as 2021 as the backup right-handed masher in the outfield. Ideally the Twins would give him all of Max Kepler’s at bats against left-handers, against whom Garlick posted an incredible .878 OPS in 2021 before being shut down with a core muscle injury. The counter argument is it would come at the expense of Brent Rooker’s roster spot, who is a home--grown talent and some feel still has a ceiling higher than a platoon bat such as Garlick. That said, Rooker hasn't played in a game for a week with a shoulder soreness, so an IL stint is possible. Since the two right-handers are fairly equal on defense, the Twins could easily see Garlick as the obvious option. In addition to his 2021, Garlick has absolutely punished southpaws during his entire career, posting an incredible .865 OPS against them thus far. It may take giving up on Brent Rooker, but the immediate payoff of Garlick being the matchup role player in the outfield seems like a sure bet to provide some value. Jake Cave The Twins just can’t seem to quit Jake Cave. Thus far he’s outlasted Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino in camp with only a few more cuts to make. It’s hard to imagine the squad heading north with the 29-year-old Cave who owns a paltry .202/.263/.332 (.595) slash line since the start of 2020, especially since Nick Gordon’s ability to fill in at center field from the left side of the plate makes him redundant. That being said, the fact that he’s still with the team is worth wondering whether Cave may just stick around. In Cave’s favor, he has logged 144 games in center field in his career, a resume that the Twins may value given Byron Buxton’s injury history. He’s also improved defensively over the years, performing around league average on defense in 2020 and 2021 at the position. Another left handed bat in the outfield may not make much sense on paper, especially one you would expect absolutely nothing from offensively. That being said, Cave’s ability to man center field may be seen as a worthy trade off compared to someone like Kyle Garlick who only fills a very specific role offensively and is confined to the corners. The cuts are likely coming in short order with only a few decisions left to be made. Are there any other remaining non roster invitees that could sneak their way into Target Field on Opening Day? Let us know below!
  7. Projected Starter: Alex Kirilloff Likely Backup: Nick Gordon Depth: Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker Prospects: Emmanuel Rodriguez, Alerick Soularie THE GOOD Among all positions for the Twins last year (aside from pitcher), left field saw the most different names rotate through: a total of eight players made at least one start there. This speaks to their depth of usable corner outfielders, which remains intact – seven of those players are back in camp this spring. (Minus Rob Refsnyder, who signed with the Red Sox during the offseason.) When Eddie Rosario departed, Alex Kirilloff was lined up as his replacement in left, a natural opening to be filled by the organization's MLB-ready top prospect. And yet, Kirilloff ended up ranking fifth in starts at the position, spending much more of his time (pre-surgery) at first base while Trevor Larnach led the team in left field starts with 51. I would imagine that still represents the front office's long-term vision: Kirilloff at first, Larnach in left. Two former first-round draft picks and impact bats entrenched at the positions for which they are best suited. However, it's probably not a feasible path forward in the immediate future, both because Miguel Sanó is occupying first base and because Larnach's late-season plunge in 2021 cast doubt on his readiness. Hardly the worst thing in the world. Left field might not be Kirilloff's BEST position, but it's certainly one he can play. And the most important thing is getting his bat into the lineup. With his surgically repaired wrist appearing to be in the clear, it's time to once again let loose the purest swing in the organization. I assume the plan is to trot him out regularly in left, because there are no other obvious paths to everyday playing time for him, and no other obvious answers out there. But the Twins have not operated like a team prepping him for such an assignment. THE BAD Do the Twins actually want to use Kirilloff in left field? Unclear. There's no reason to think he can't play a perfectly solid left field, and he's looked fine during his opportunities there. But for whatever reason, those opportunities have been far and few between. Last year, as the Twins sorted through a multitude of different players to fill in, Kirilloff drew only 11 total starts at the position. In a minor-league career that spanned 281 games, he started in left field a total of 10 times. He started more times in center! The team's lack of interest in seeing Kirilloff play left field shows no signs of dissipating. He has started only two games there this spring. It certainly suggests that the Twins aren't planning on using Kirilloff regularly in left field for any extended length of time. Once you move past him, the options at the position become significantly less exciting, at least in the short-term. The club now seems firmly committed to keeping Luis Arraez (who started 24 games in left last year) in the infield. Brent Rooker's glove is not be trusted. Jake Cave and Kyle Garlick are uninspiring non-roster options. Nick Gordon is a pure plug-and-play backup who lacks the bat to be an asset in a corner outfield spot. Larnach is the one who holds the key. While there's plenty of reason to remain bullish on his future, it's hard to imagine the Twins are going to plug him right back into the Opening Day lineup after the way his rookie year concluded. Following a good start with the Twins, Larnach got thoroughly dominated for two months. From June 15th through August 15th, he slashed .193/.279/.298 with a 38.3% K-rate. He was then demoted to Triple-A, where he posted a .611 OPS in 10 games before being shut down. When major-league pitchers spot a weakness, they take advantage, and that's what happened here as they began to unload an endless bevy of breaking balls and changeups on Larnach, who mashed fastballs (.296 BA, .512 SLG) but struggled mightily against offspeed (.143 BA, .179 SLG). THE BOTTOM LINE Assuming Larnach goes back to Triple-A to build confidence and prove he's ready, Kirilloff should be in line for the lion's share of playing time in left field from day one. Unless the Twins have other plans. Which their behavior suggests they might. With only 10 days until the regular season gets underway, they are running short on time to orchestrate their final designs. Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop
  8. Major League Baseball recently announced that teams will be able to carry 28-player rosters until May 1. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of injuries. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Ryan Jeffers, Gary Sanchez One of the biggest remaining questions is whether or not the Twins will carry a third catcher. Jeffers can't start every game behind the plate, and Sanchez is known as one of baseball's worst defenders. Minnesota's only other catcher on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, but it seems more likely for him to stay in St. Paul until there is a need at the big-league level. If Jeffers or Sanchez struggles behind the plate, Godoy is one phone call away from Target Field. Infielders (7): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Gio Urshela, Carlos Correa, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker** Correa's addition undoubtedly changes the face of the infield, including solidifying the team's up-the-middle defense. Minnesota has made it clear that Arraez won't be getting regular playing time in the outfield, leaving him as a backup infield option at multiple positions. Last season, Arraez's defense was significantly improved at third base, so maybe he and Urshella will be fighting for playing time at the hot corner. Barring injury, Gordon and Rooker fill out the bench, but neither has a path to a consistent starting job. Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach** With three corner outfielders, the Twins will need to be strategic about getting at-bats for each player. Larnach isn't a true fourth outfielder, so the team may want him in St. Paul to get regular at-bats. Kirilloff can spend time at first base, which is his best defensive position. Rooker is also on the roster, but the team is hesitant to play him defensively in the outfield. Gilberto Celestino is the lone outfielder on the 40-man roster left off this projected Opening Day roster. He was terrific in St. Paul last year, and he's one injury away from taking over a big-league role. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Archer Randy Dobnak's injury took him out of contention for an Opening Day roster spot. Minnesota signed Archer to serve as Dobnak's replacement at the rotation's backend. Archer's deal is a low-risk option for the Twins as it is highly incentive-based, but he has a chance to prove he is healthy. Also, it's important to consider that the Twins won't need a fifth starter very regularly at the beginning of the season. In some years, off-days and weather delays can push back the need for a fifth starter, but that won't be the case this season. Bullpen (10): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Joe Smith, Cody Stashak, Jharel Cotton, Jovani Moran**, Griffin Jax**, Jhon Romero** This spring, Rogers has looked strong, which is a good sign for the bullpen's backend. Smith was the team's most significant offseason addition to the bullpen. He comes with over 13 years of big-league experience. Minnesota needed another right-handed relief option, and Smith filled that role. Cotton and Stashak have started in the past, so they can pitch multiple innings when needed. If there were a 26-man roster, the last three names would be fighting for a job. All three could enjoy a big-league paycheck for the season's first month with expanded rosters. What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Which on the bubble players will miss the cut? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  9. In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? 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
  10. I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family. The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers. Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there. Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff." "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team." "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us." "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful. While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? Babies. The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving. As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  11. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! 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. Fellow first-round picks Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have been near each other on the Twins prospect lists for years and had similar ETAs to make their debuts at Target Field. It was only natural that when Kirilloff got the call, Larnach made the jump shortly thereafter. Kirilloff showed that a trip back to the minors was unlikely despite his season-ending injury. Larnach’s 2021 however is a bit tougher to piece together. The Good Despite just 13 at-bats in his AAA career, Larnach looked far from overmatched upon his arrival. He posted an .845 OPS through his first month with an incredible eye at the plate. The left-hander was showing off some tremendous power as well with some tape-measure home runs and hit a ball 116 mph, a strong indicator of raw power. In the outfield, Larnach did surprisingly well in some facets. Left field appeared to be a bit of a struggle, but in right field, he played the overhang incredibly well, posting an Outs Above Average of 2 and 4 Defensive Runs Saved. We've heard Larnach isn't the fleetest of foot throughout his minor league career and there's been little in the way of excitement over his defense. That being said, he showed that he not only has the ability to be a difference-maker at the plate, but that he could surprisingly be a plus defender as well. The Bad Despite Larnach’s .845 OPS in his first month, he finished with a final OPS of just .672. It’s not hard to imagine the steep decline it would take for such a drop-off. From June 1 forward, Larnach posted a slash line of .222/.301/.320, a .621 OPS. The issues were completely obvious: Larnach stopped seeing fastballs. He hit .165 and slugged .215 against breaking balls in 2021 as well as .143 and .179 against off-speed pitches. 72% of his strikeouts came against pitches other than fastballs. Further complicating his struggles was an injury sustained after fouling a ball off of his foot. It’s hard to say whether the nagging foot pain contributed to the hitting woes, but after his demotion to St. Paul Larnach struggled mightily and played in just 10 games before being shut down for the season. What’s Next? With his significant struggles fresh in our minds, it’s understandable that the former top prospect has lost some shine in some fans' eyes. He’s shown a very significant weakness that will surely be abused at the Major League level over and over again until he shows he can overcome it. That being said, Larnach is far from the stereotypical slugger. Comparing him to a similarly tremendous slugger in Brent Rooker, for example, Larnach has a much better plate approach and his eye at the plate has held up at every stop of the minor leagues. He’s also been graded as having a far superior hit tool to Rooker, meaning more contact should be expected moving forward. He still has his issues to fix against the soft stuff, but his advanced offensive approach should prevent him from collapsing into the pool of hitters who can crush the ball on the rare occasion they make contact. These adjustments would likely be easier to make if he’s 100% healthy in 2022 as well. Larnach’s early showing defensively, especially in right field, is extremely encouraging. The Twins have a rash of depth in the corner outfield with more on its way in the minors. If Larnach can be more than just a body to put out there to get his bat in the lineup, he could easily grab that job if the necessary adjustments are made at the plate. These results also have to be encouraging for the front office, who will likely have to part with controllable pieces to get the arms needed to fill out the rotation effectively. Max Kepler has long been a rumored trade asset for example. While he’s had his incredible defensive seasons in right field, Larnach being competent at the position with a step up on offense would make Kepler much easier to part with. Larnach has possibly already shown more of a ceiling against left-handed pitching with 15 hits in 90 plate appearances against southpaws in 2021. Like much of the Twins 2021 season, Larnach’s year had an encouraging start only to collapse down the stretch. That being said, such tendencies are not uncommon when it comes to rookies getting their first taste of Major League pitching. He may not be as highly rated as a possibly generational hitter such as Kirilloff, but Larnach is a pure hitter capable of adjusting. Regardless of the teams’ plans to compete in 2022, he should spend a few months in St. Paul before getting another crack at cementing a roster spot for the next six years. Come this time next offseason, we may just be talking about Trevor Larnach as a staple in the heart of the Twins 2023 lineup. — 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
  13. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember the most? 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
  14. In 2017, the Twins selected Brent Rooker 35th overall out of Mississippi State. He was a stud from a strong SEC conference. Rooker was coming off a ridiculous 1.306 OPS and power that was expected to translate. However, he was immediately tabbed as a bat-only prospect, and his greatest path to the big leagues was in being able to hit. We’ve seen him struggle in the outfield, and reports are that his footwork at first base is worse. Rooker may have a future yet, but he’s now 27 and has just 234 plate appearances to the tune of a .713 OPS under his belt. That’s not going to earn time as a regular. This isn’t a piece to knock Rooker though, Minnesota’s hope undoubtedly is that a guy under team control through 2027 will find it. Instead, the player you may have been expecting could instead come from 2019 39th overall pick Matt Wallner. Wallner is a Minnesota native from Forest Lake. He played his college ball at Southern Mississippi, and his 1.127 OPS out of college was plenty impressive in its own right. Wallner both pitched and hit for the Golden Eagles. He has a cannon from the outfield and an arm on the bump that can run it up in the mid-90s. The .810 OPS was a solid start in his 2019 pro-debut, but the pandemic shelved him. Without an invite to the Twins alternate site in St. Paul, Wallner kept himself ready while 2020 was shelved for Minor League Baseball. In 2021, he played at High-A Cedar Rapids and posted an .858 OPS with 15 dingers in just 68 games. Having been placed on the Injured List with a broken hamate bone which required surgery, Wallner missed nearly half of the season. Participating in the Arizona Fall League, he could have been in contention for league MVP with a 1.011 OPS if a hit-by-pitch in the face didn’t limit him to just 18 games. Even with the time on the shelf, production suggests the recently-turned 24-year-old is putting it together. Wallner is much more of an athlete than Rooker before him, and he’s average at worst in the outfield. Pitching could be a fallback option for him, but that’s probably never going to be part of the story. I’d be pretty surprised if Minnesota isn’t aggressive with the former Southern Miss star in 2022. Starting at Double-A wouldn’t be a shock, and making it to Triple-A or better is potentially in the cards. This time last year, Jose Miranda was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and became the biggest no-brainer addition. Wallner’s status didn’t necessitate a 40-man roster move this winter, but his production certainly could by next year... or sooner. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. 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.
  16. 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:
  17. 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
  18. 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
  19. 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
  20. 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
  21. 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
  22. 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
  23. 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
  24. 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
  25. 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
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