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  1. Minnesota already decided to move Griffin Jax and Lewis Thorpe to bullpen roles, which makes sense when looking at their pitching flaws. Last season, Jax was excellent the first time through the order, and he may be a strong candidate to serve in an opener role. Thorpe is out of minor league options, and the team needs to see if he can find success as a reliever. Either pitcher may shift to starting games as part of bullpen games in Dobnak’s absence. Signing a different back-end starting pitcher is also on the table. Rumors surrounding Johnny Cueto coming to the Twins circulated earlier in the week, and he’d be a natural Dobnak replacement. Cueto is coming off a 2021 season where he posted a 4.08 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 114 2/3 innings, but he hadn’t pitched more than 65 innings in three prior seasons. Cueto doesn’t seem to offer a ton of upside, and maybe the Twins are rethinking their back of the rotation options. Another option is to allow other young pitchers to start. Many of the team’s top pitching prospects missed time last season due to injury. Pitchers will be on an innings limit, so when and where do the Twins want those innings? If players start in the minors, those are innings that don’t help the 2022 Twins. Someone like Jhoan Duran can help bolster the team’s bullpen, but Minnesota may not be ready to shift him from starting. Jordan Balazovic is on the 40-man roster, and he pitched nearly 100 innings at Double-A last season. As a 23-year-old, would the Twins start him in the big-league rotation? Nothing stops the team from moving him up and down from Triple-A throughout the 2022 season. Other prospects on the 40-man roster include Josh Winder and Drew Strotman. Winder, like Balazovic, is projected to debut in 2022, but he dealt with a right shoulder impingement that limited him to 72 innings. Winder may be ahead of Balazovic on the depth chart because he made multiple Triple-A starts and is a couple of years older. Last summer, Strotman was acquired as part of the Nelson Cruz trade, and scouts view him as big-league ready. This year, he will start games for the Twins, and Dobnak’s injury may push him into the team’s Opening Day plans. Veteran players like Jharel Cotton, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Dereck Rodriguez have been brought in this winter to provide organizational depth. Cotton projects to be part of the bullpen, but he can bounce back in 2022, including shifting back to being a starter. Gonzalez started 18 games for the Rockies last season but posted a 6.46 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. There’s a chance that leaving Coors Field will help some of his numbers. Rodriguez also provides rotational depth as he looks to get back to the pitcher he was in 2018. After signing his extension last winter, Dobnak’s career has undoubtedly followed a challenging path. Minnesota tried him as a reliever last season, and it didn’t work. From there, his finger injury started bothering him, and he is still dealing with the issue. Over the next three seasons, he is guaranteed $7.75 million, so Minnesota wants him to solve his finger issue and get back on the field. What path do you think the Twins will follow because of Dobnak’s injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. The Twins have optioned pitchers Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Drew Strotman to Triple-A St. Paul. Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow were also optioned, but he was optioned to Double-A Wichita. It is the second options for Balazovic and Strotman. It is the first options for the others. The spring training roster currently has 53 players on it, including 19 non-roster players. There are still 24 pitchers (7 non-roster), five catchers (2 non-roster), 15 infielders (7 non-roster), and nine outfielders (3 non-roster). The regular-season big-league roster will include 26 players, although it is likely that there will be expanded rosters for a little while when the season begins due to the shortened spring training. It is normal for players on the 40-man roster who will not start the season in the big leagues to be optioned with the first cuts. There are several reasons for that. One might be that if a player gets hurt in big-league spring training, they would go on the big-league Injured List. In this case, these pitchers are likely to be starters in the minor leagues, and they need to be stretched out. They simply won't get the innings in big-league camp to do that. Enlow will start the season on the Wind Surge Injured List, but don't be surprised if he's back to pitching in games by May. He had Tommy John surgery last May. Josh Winder is on the mound today for the Twins in their spring game against the Red Sox. It is possible he is optioned either after the game or in the coming days. If he is not, that tells us he is being considered for an Opening Day job. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY Latest Twins coverage from our writers Recent Twins discussion in our forums Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  3. Looking beyond the top 20 illustrates the depth of the organization. These Twins Daily rankings are comprised of the votes of 11 Twins Daily writers who covered the Twins farm system in 2021. The voters followed the system nearly daily over the past season. Many watched a lot of video. Some attended some games at the Twins affiliates. In 2019, Luis Arraez and Jordan Balazovic appeared in this list. Two years ago, names such as Randy Dobnak, LaMonte Wade, Jorge Alcala, Bailey Ober were outside the Top 20. (maybe I shouldn’t mention that Akil Baddoo was a 2020 Honorable Mention.) Last year’s Honorable Mention group contains several players who have moved up the rankings Many of the prospects you’ll read about today could be, and maybe should be, in the Top 20 in one year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of these players are Top 10 prospects one year from now. Before we start, the following players are no longer “prospects” according to Baseball-Reference: Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Ben Rortvedt, Nick Gordon, Bailey Ober, and Ralph Garza, Jr. FIRST-ROUND FEATURES If anyone in the top 20 is unable to fulfill their duties, well, the #21 prospect is 2020 first-round pick Aaron Sabato. The first baseman struggled in his professional debut. We have reviewed and replayed his statistics, the low batting average, lots of strikeouts. But, he also has a very good eye at the plate, and his final couple weeks in Ft. Myers and during his time in Cedar Rapids, Sabato reminded us of the power potential that he possesses. Likewise, 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco falls out of the top 20. While he still has immense tools, speed, power, and arm strength, he continued to struggle at the plate in Ft. Myers, especially as the season went along. He also fought some injuries including a concussion. Cavaco was one of the Twins prospects who was most hurt by the lost 2020 season. He remained young for the Low-A level and certainly had less pro experience than most. But often, talent and athleticism work out and Cavaco remains very intriguing. ALREADY DEBUTED Jovani Moran was drafted in 2015 and in 2021, he finally made his MLB debut in September. The lefty has put up huge strikeout numbers throughout his minor league career. He dominated at Double-A and then Triple-A before spending the final month with the Twins. He could be a big part of the Twins bullpen for years to come. ON THE 40 ALREADY A couple of very hard-throwing right-handers on the 40-man roster fell just outside the Top 20. Drew Strotman came to the Twins from Tampa in the Nelson Cruz trade. He’s got a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that can touch 98 mph. He struggled in his time with the Saints, but he should help the Twins in 2022. Even after Tommy John surgery, the Rays had added Strotman to the 40-man roster. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins from the Marlins in the Lewin Diaz trade in 2019. Another starter with a big fastball, Vallimont sits 94 to 96 and touched 97. He was very inconsistent in 2021, especially with his control. Too many walks. However, he was a strikeout machine and his stuff is so good the Twins put him on their 40-man roster after the season. ARM STRENGTH The 2019 Twins draft included a lot of college pitchers, and several of them have made an impression already, even with the lost 2020 season. Casey Legumina didn’t pitch after that 2019 draft as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, so 2021 was his professional debut. Sawyer Gipson-Long began the season with a rough start, but he proved durable and unlike many, he became an innings eater. At the same time, he too recorded a lot of strikeouts. WE HARDLY KNOW YE We already mentioned Aaron Sabato above, but all four of the Twins 2020 draft picks received votes, but not enough to get into the Top 20. Frankly, we just haven’t seen enough of them yet for various reasons. Alerick Soularie put up big offensive numbers at Tennessee before the Twins made him their second round pick. Unfortunately in spring training, he had a foot injury, so he didn’t get into games until the second half of the season. Marco Raya was the team’s 4th round pick in 2020, and with a minor injury, he did not pitch at all in 2021 either, so he is yet to make his professional debut. Yet, reports out of instructional league mentioned that he was hitting 97 mph with his fastball. When he was drafted, it was for things like control, a strong pitch mix. To add velocity to that is really exciting. Kala’i Rosario was their fifth and final pick of the 2020 draft. He was one of the most powerful prep bats in that draft. His pro debut came in the FCL and he was named the Twins Daily Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year. Of course, we also didn’t see a lot of the 2021 draft picks, but a few of them have already made an impression. No 2021 draft pick made a bigger impression than fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He hit in 21 of 22 games played and posted a .391/.424/.598 (1.022) with four homers. Third-round pick Cade Povich also was impressive. The southpaw from Nebraska pitched in just 10 innings in his pro debut, but he had 19 strikeouts in that time. And again, reports from the instructional league noted that he was hitting 97 mph fairly consistently. Yasser Mercedes received a $1.7 million signing bonus from the Twins just a month ago. An athletic outfielder, Mercedes is just 16-years-old but obviously an intriguing talent. In 2018, Misael Urbina received a $2.75 million signing bonus from the Twins as a 16-year-old international free agent. A week into the 2021 season, Urbina moved up to the Mighty Mussels. He was one of the younger players in the league and struggled, hitting under-.200 and yet he held his own and showed a good plate approach. Yunior Severino came on strong after he was promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. After hitting .245 in 63 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .321 in 35 games for the Kernels. Combined, he was second in the organization with 29 doubles. As I look at this group of Honorable Mentions, it is incredibly exciting. There are five or six pitchers that are very intriguing in this list with big velocity and the ability to get strikeouts. There are a few hitters that have big power potential. As I said in the beginning, many of these players could move up the rankings in 2022. That is a lot of talent, and those are guys who rank outside of the Twins Daily Top 20 prospects. Check back over the next two weeks to see who our 2021 Top 20 Twins Prospects are.
  4. If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically.
  6. Drew Strotman is truly a renaissance man; professional baseball player, cinema enthusiast, and Friends connoisseur are just a few phrases to describe the 6'3 righty that joined the Twins as a part of the midseason Nelson Cruz trade last year. Strotman spent the back end of the summer with the St. Paul Saints where he started 12 games and compiled a 3-3 record through 54 innings. Prior to the trade, the Sunnyville, California native dominated for the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of Tampa Bay), posting a 7-2 record and 3.39 ERA on the season. WATCH TWINS SPOTLIGHT WITH DREW STROTMAN Raised in The Bay on McCovey Cove homers and Barry Zito's curveball, Strotman is certain to be an asset for the Twins organization in 2022. It's no secret that the team's rotation and pitching duties are blanketed with uncertainty given the absence of José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, and company. Yet if there's anyone who has learned to embrace uncertainty and adversity, it's Strotman. Unlike many top prospects, he wasn't a childhood prodigy; he only played two years of varsity baseball in high school and didn't get looks from typical 'blue blood' college baseball programs. He ended up at St. Mary's (CA), the school that plays Gonzaga in basketball as he describes it. Yet clout and rankings don't determine success; hard work and the willingness to learn do. Whether it's with the Saints or the parent club, Strotman will have a prime opportunity to showcase his talents to Twins Territory in 2022. A well-versed young man who gives off the 'I'd like to have a beer with this guy' vibe, spending an hour to watch Seth's conversation with Drew is well worth your time. And while the uncertainty of the 2022 season looms, here are four takeaways from Drew's conversation that will spur your offseason itch for baseball and hopefully prompt some excitement about the talented prospect. 1. Flying under the Radar As mentioned, Strotman wasn't a a top-tier high school prospect. He would watch Barry Zito in high school and chat with his father about how he'll never be able to throw that fast (and Zito was NOT a flamethrower). Needless to say, things have changed. Never the 'top' player on his team, Strotman was surrounded by a strong pitching fraternity at St. Mary's, including names like Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin. And while scouts often came to watch bigger names, Strotman's dominance out of the bullpen began to draw eyes; enough eyes to earn him a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft. 2. The Nelson Cruz Trade Being part of a trade that involves a potential hall of famer is a unique situation to be in. Strotman goes in depth about the experience and the emotions while chatting with Seth. "I wasn't pitching that day so I was at the end of the dugout rail talking to some people. It was the first inning and one of my coaches came up and just said, 'Hey, you've been traded.'" Described as an out-of-body experience, Strotman does appreciate the circumstances of the trade given the caliber the Twins have played at in recent years. "I remember thinking, this is a contending team, they're going to return to a high level in the next couple of years and I hope to be a part of that. It's a land of opportunity with a team that has a solid base. (The trade) wasn't just a player dump." 3. Similarities between the Twins and Rays While the trade presented it's challenges, Strotman was surprised and impressed with the overlap between the Twins and Rays. Both organizations have strong developmental programs and prioritize cutting-edge analytics and data analysis. That gave Strotman a boost of confidence in terms of learning and moving forward in a new organization. An accounting major at St. Mary's, Drew appreciates the attention to detail when it comes to analytics in the Twins organization. The fact that so much overlaps with what he learned in Tampa gave him faith in the systems and practices being used by the Twins staff. That's something that can't be taken for granted when switching organizations. While the Twins and Rays are known for being on the front end, many teams still hone on the 'art of the game' much more than modern analytics. Strotman appreciates the balance that he's found in both organizations. Strotman's Arsenal From a kid who never thought he'd throw harder than Barry Zito, Strotman has come a long way. His fastball was clocked in the high 90's last year at CHS Field and has become a weapon for the emerging star. In addition to the heater, Strotman relies on his 'dip sinker,' comparing it to the pitch that Twins staple Tyler Duffey utilizes. Strotman also uses his curveball but is really honing in on improving his changeup in the offseason. The pitch had moments of brilliance last year but was inconsistent at times. Drew hopes to make this pitch a constant as he aims for a 'true mix' of pitches in 2022. Extra Innings Strotman was teammates with Royce Lewis, Jovani Moran, Ben Rortvedt and other Twins in the Arizona Fall League in 2019. Amidst the pandemic and shutdown, Drew took to Zoom to complete his college degree in Accounting! Despite having Tommy John Surgery between the 2018-19 seasons, Strotman feels healthy as ever and is thankful to overcome the mental hump following the surgery in addition to the physical side. Strotman started his own TV series review blog during the 2020 shutdown in order to stay out of the Florida heat. You can find it at BingeWorthy. A lifelong learner, Drew has become near fluent in Spanish and is currently working on learning Japanese. Tune in TONIGHT at 6pm CST for a new episode of Twins Spotlight featuring Twins Minor League Picher of the Year Louie Varland and his brother Gus who pitches in the Dodgers organization!
  7. In today’s list of five Twins pitching prospects, you’ve got five pitchers that have big potential, high ceilings, but also may have a question mark or two. That may be the need to add a third (or fourth) pitch, gain better control or command, or return from injury and continue to improve. #15 - RHP Drew Strotman 2021 STATS: 3-3, 7.33 ERA, 12/12 G/GS, 1.76 WHIP, 42/30 K/BB, 54.0 IP Drew Strotman was the Rays fourth-round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary’s College (California). He had Tommy John surgery in June 2018. He returned to the mound with nine games and 24 innings. He got some extra time playing with Twins prospects in the Arizona Fall League after the season. The Rays added him to the 40-man roster after the season, but he didn’t pitch in a game in 2020. In 2021, he had been 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA for Triple-A Durham. Then in late July, he came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in the trade for Nelson Cruz. He struggled with the Saints. Overall on the season, he threw 112 1/3 innings> He struck out 104 but walked 63 batters. Obviously after Tommy John, he will need to regain control and command, but the velocity is certainly back. He was sitting in the mid-90s with the Saints and touched 99 mph with the fastball. He has secondary pitches that can be really good at times. He will be 25 throughout the 2022 season. If he can find control, he has a chance to be a big-league starter. But with his fastball and a good slider, he could be a big bullpen arm for a long time. #14 - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long 2021 STATS: 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 20/19 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 134/27 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins drafted Sawyer Gipson-Long in the 6th round of the 2019 draft out of Mercer University in his home state of Georgia.He made six starts that summer in Elizabethton. After the missed 2020 season, the Twins had him start with the Mighty Mussels. He made 13 starts and went 5-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. He ended the season with six starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. And went 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA. Overall, he worked 97 innings. He walked just 27 and struck out 134 batters (12.4 K/9). Gipson-Long looks the part of a big-league pitcher, standing tall and strong. He’s got a really good fastball and as you can see, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. Like all pitchers, there are areas he can keep improving upon and the big thing may be consistency with his secondary pitches. But if you’re looking for a breakout pitcher in the Twins system for 2022, just-turned-24-year-old Gipson-Long just might be it. #13 - RHP Cole Sands 2021 STATS: 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 19/18 G/GS, 1.17 WHIP, 96/35 K/BB, 80.1 IP In November, Cole Sands was added to the Twins 40-man roster, and it was likely an easy decision. In 19 games (18 starts) for Double-A Wichita, Sands was really good when he was on the mound. He has arguably the best curveball in the organization and his fastball is in the low-90s, touching 94-95 mph. Unfortunately, he missed time a couple of times on the Injured List for short stints. The 24-year-old spent three seasons playing in his hometown, for Florida State, before the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He made his professional debut in 2019 and pitched at Ft. Myers, Cedar Rapids and Double-A Pensacola. He didn’t pitch in 2020. #12 - RHP Louie Varland 2021 STATS: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 20/18 G/GS, 1.09 WHIP, 142/30 K/BB, 103.0 IP Louie Varland, a North St. Paul High School grad, chose to join his older brother Gus at Concordia University in St. Paul. The two were on the team for two seasons before Gus was drafted by the A’s in 2018. A year later, Louie was the 15th round pick of the Twins. He made three appearances for Elizabethton that season and then did not pitch in 2020. So while most Twins that don’t follow Twins Daily didn’t know about him before the season, he had a monster breakout season in 2021. He pitched in ten games for the Mighty Mussels and went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. He moved up to Cedar Rapids in the second half and was 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 103 innings, he struck out 142 batters (12.4 K/9) and walked just 30. He was the easy choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Varland made a name for himself last offseason when video of him hitting 100 mph on the radar gun surfaced on Twitter. In games, he generally sat between 94 and 96 mph with the fastball. He also has a slider that at times can be really, really sharp. The pitch that will determine his future is the changeup. At times this year, it was really good. I mean, look at his numbers. He was on all year, but that is his third pitch and one he will continue to develop. The next challenge for Varland will be Double-A in 2022. He will be 24-years-old throughout the season. #11 - RHP Blayne Enlow 2021 STATS: 1-1, 1.84 ERA, 3/3 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 23/6 K/BB, 14.2 IP Blayne Enlow has been in the Twins organization for a long-time already. He was the Twins third-round draft pick in 2017 out of high school in Louisiana. The Twins were able to meet his signing bonus request, and he gave up his scholarship to LSU. He slowly worked up the system, ending the 2019 season at High-A Ft. Myers. That is where he began the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. He made three starts for the Kernels and was throwing hard and missing a lot of bats. In those games, he worked 14 2/3 innings and struck out 23 batters. Unfortunately, in a between-starts bullpen session, he didn’t feel right. In June, he had Tommy John surgery. After some time off, he has been rehabbing in Ft. Myers. The Twins had a tough decision, but chose to add him to the 40-man roster because of his upside. Unfortunately, when the lockdown started, he was no longer able to work at the Twins complex or talk with people with the Twins. He has been working in Arizona and hopes to be ready for the start of the season. The Twins will be patient with such a talent. When healthy, Enlow was pitching in the mid-90s, having added velocity in the lost-2020 season. He’s always been known for his spin and throws both a curveball and a slider. He also had a much-improved changeup. Just as important, he is in a good frame of mind and has full confidence. In summary, this is a really exciting group of pitchers. They fit into the mold of this front office. These guys can spin the ball. Four of the five were drafted out of college. Each of them has had a big increase in velocity. And, each of them has a real chance to pitch in the big leagues. Feel free to discuss these pitchers and ask questions below. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15
  8. The Twins need some bullpen help in 2022 in addition to significant rotation help. Unfortunately, there’s only so much money to go around. Transitioning some younger arms into bullpen pieces could benefit the players and team alike and get them into the majors that much quicker. The Twins have some great young arms who could be primed to make this switch. Matt Canterino Canterino was a 2nd round pick and has been a starting pitcher for much of his minor league career. His highest ERA in a single season was 1.80 as he’s dominated every stop of the minors to this point. He sports a devastating slider and a solid complementary changeup. His fastball took a big step forward during the pandemic forced break in minor league action. He can now run it up to the high 90s consistently. With such a deep pitch mix, why shouldn’t Canterino be a starting pitcher? Canterino is already 24 years old and has only made it as high as A+ ball in his three years with the Twins. He’s thrown 48 total innings in his professional career thus far. This is partially due to the lost 2020 season, but Canterino also dealt with multiple forearm injuries which eventually ended his 2021 season. Headed into 2022, Canterino has a long way to go in developing as a starter. Staying the course not only would likely keep him out of the majors for another year or two at least, but more innings also make a recurrence of the recent arm troubles more likely. Canterino has the raw stuff to debut very soon and be an effective reliever. It’s an option the Twins could very well consider at this point. Chris Vallimont Recently added to the 40 man roster, Vallimont had too much raw talent for the Twins to risk letting him go. His 6.06 ERA across 91 innings in AA aren’t impressive, but his raw skills were. Vallimont struck out 31.1% of his hitters faced, but walked a crippling 14.6% while allowing a 1.48 HR/9. He has a decent mix of pitches featuring a low to mid 90s fastball and a decent slider, curve and change. Pitchers like Vallimont move to the bullpen all the time. Jorge Alcala was the Twins' latest iteration. Moving into a short burst role actually helped iron out the walks and allowing his stuff to play up in 1-2 inning stints helped him work around the walks he was still issuing. Unlike Alcala however, Vallimont already has a steady pitch mix to immediately have a third option. The Twins protected him in the rule 5 draft because even with his walks and homer issues, Vallimont may have the floor to join a team’s bullpen and contribute in some fashion immediately. With his 40 man spot secured, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Twins make this move and fast track him to Minneapolis sometime in 2022. Drew Strotman Acquired with Joe Ryan from the Rays, Strotman also already has a 40 man spot. He also has already reached AAA, although he struggled mightily in St. Paul, posting a 7.33 ERA in 54 innings down the stretch after posting a 3.86 mark with the Rays affiliate in his 58 innings prior. It’s very possible he faded down the stretch as 2021 was his first full season coming off Tommy John. He has an impressive 60 grade fastball which he mostly pairs with the strong duo that is his cutter and slider. He also has impressive control. The Twins may be tempted to see if Strotman can hold out his performance in a rotation role again in 2022. It’s possible however, especially if they’re trying to compete, that they acclimate him to the bullpen to start the season and quickly bring him up. His big fastball and command of his pitches give him a solid floor in the bullpen and he lacks a strong changeup which could have him bullpen bound eventually anyways. Strotman also was a reliever for much of his college career. It would be far from a failure given what we’ve already gotten from Joe Ryan if Drew Strotman simply turns out to be a reliable reliever. Are there any other pitchers in the Twins system that are bullpen bound? Would you like to see any of these three stay the course? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forum — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  9. All three of these players currently don't rank in the team's top-10 prospects. Selecting them as a breakout prospect means they have a shot at being ranked in the team's top-10 by the end of next season. Drew Strotman, RHP Current TD Prospect Rank: 14 Minnesota acquired Strotman along with Joe Ryan from Tampa in exchange for two months of Nelson Cruz. Fans saw Ryan's impact in 2021, and now they can hope for Strotman to impact the rotation in 2022. As a 24-year-old, he pitched all of 2021 at the Triple-A level, where he was three years younger than the average age of the competition. After being traded to the Twins, his ERA rose over four runs, but he pitched more than double the number of innings he had thrown in any other professional season as he returned from Tommy John surgery. Scouting reports have him with three-four pitches ready for the big leagues, which is one of the biggest reasons the Twins targeted him. Spencer Steer, INF Current TD Prospect Rank: 20 Minnesota drafted Steer in the third round back in 2019 out of the University of Oregon. During the 2019 season, he hit .280/.385/.424 (.809) with 25 extra-base hits in 64 games. As a 23-year old, he spent time at High- and Double-A this season and a hit combined .254/.348/.484 (.833) with 45 extra-base hits in 110 games. The Twins' front office has focused on college bats in previous drafts. During the 2022 season, projections have him playing at Double- and Triple-A, putting him on the doorstep to the big leagues. Both of those levels are where Miranda found success this season, and Steer will look for a similar jump next season. Aaron Sabato, 1B Current TD Prospect Rank: 22 Sabato, a 2020 first-round pick, struggled at the beginning of 2021 as he got his first taste of professional baseball. In 85 games at Low-A, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with 26 extra-base hits. Also, he was over half a year older than the average age of the competition in his league. Based on his college experience, Minnesota wasn't afraid to be aggressive with him in the second half. After being promoted to High-A Cedar Rapids, he posted a 1.015 OPS with 11 extra-base hits in 22 games. Minnesota drafted him because he was known for his powerful swing, and there were signs he was starting to put it together at the end of 2021. Can he carry those changes over to 2022? Which of these prospects stands out the most to you? Who do you think will have a breakout 2022 campaign? 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. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARD WINNERS 2021 was a wild year across the Twins organization. Yet through the ups, downs, and everything in between there were a few individuals that stood out. Congrats to all of our award winners! Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Twins Daily 2021 Starting Pitching of the Year: Louie Varland Twins Daily 2021 Relief Pitcher of the Year: Jovani Moran Short Season Awards Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Samuel Perez TRANSACTIONS Twins recall LHP Charlie Barnes from Triple-A St. Paul. Barnes will start Sunday's season finale for the Minnesota Twins. John Gant was placed on the Injured List. SAINTS SENTINEL Toledo 8, St. Paul 5 Box Score A leadoff homer from Jose Miranda and a ninth-inning rally weren't enough to light a flame for the Saints to overcome the Mud Hen bats on Saturday. On the very first pitch of the game Miranda launched a high fastball over the left-center field wall to give the Saints an early 1-0 lead. Miranda's shot was his 30th on the season. He's now one of only 12 players across Minor League Baseball with 30 or more homers this season. Despite the early momentum, Miranda's blast would be one of only the five runs plated for St. Paul. The other four runs came in a ninth inning two-out rally with the Saints trailing 8-1. Miranda led off the inning with a double (24) and eventually scored thanks to a bases-loaded walk from Drew Maggi. B.J Boyd followed that up with a two-run RBI single that scored Mark Contreras and Gilberto Celestino. Sherman Johnson kept the magic alive by following Boyd's lead with an RBI single that scored Maggi from third. Yet some happy endings are just too good to be true. In the next at-bat Drew Stankiewicz grounded out to end the valiant comeback effort. The Saints out hit Toledo drastically (11 to 5) but were plagued by runners left in scoring position (4-for-15) and a decade of walks from the pitching staff St. Paul starter Drew Strotman lasted only one inning, giving up four walks, three runs, and two hits while striking out one. The performance was Strotman's shortest outing since June 3rd when he was still pitching for the Durham Bulls. The eye sore shouldn't be dwelled on too much as Strotman is 3-1 in five starts in September minus today's outing. Strotman wasn't the only St. Paul pitcher that struggled against an electric Toledo offense. Relievers Edgar Garcia and Chris Nunn gave up a combined five runs on two hits and three walks in five innings. Yet despite the struggle reliever Vinny Nittoli provided a bright spot for the Saints pitching staff. Nittoli pitched the final two innings and was perfect, not allowing a single run or hit and striking out four batters. Saturday was Nittoli's best outing for the Saints in his young tenure with the Twins organization. The 30-year-old RHP was signed by the organization on August 31st after a year-long stint with the Mariners organization. While it may not have shown in the final score the Saints saw three players record multi-hit games. Miranda and Drew Stankiewicz both recorded two-hit games, with Stankiewicz roping his first triple of the year in addition to a single. Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect Gilberto Celestino tagged two singles and a double on the night, his seventh three-hit game of the 2021 season. Despite already being eliminated from playoff contention the Saints look to end their historic season on a high note in tomorrow's season finale. TWINS DAILY SAINTS PLAYERS OF THE GAME Hitter of the Game: Jose Miranda- 2-for-5, 2B, HR (30), 2 R, RBI Pitcher of the Game: Vinny Nittoli- 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #6 Jose Miranda (St. Paul)- 2-for-5, 2B, HR (30), 2 R, RBI #13 Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul)- 3-for-4, 2B, R, BB, K #16 Brent Rooker (Minnesota)- 0-for-3, K SUNDAY'S STARTING PITCHER St. Paul @ Toledo (12:05PM CST) LHP Andrew Albers (7-4, 3.75 ERA)
  11. SAINTS SENTINEL Saints 4, Cubs 3 Box Score Drew Strotman: 6 IP, 8 H, 3 R/ER, BB, 3 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None The Saints willed their way to victory Friday after being out-hit by the Iowa Cubs. St. Paul scored twice via hit-by-pitch, sandwiched between a Jimmy Kerrigan RBI single. The Saints recorded zero extra-base hits but walked four times and went 7-for-30 at the dish. Drew Strotman started and worked around eight hits and a walk en route to a quality start and win. It was Strotman’s second quality starts in his last three outings. Jason García, Chris Nunn and Vinny Nittoli combined for three scoreless innings and three strikeouts. St. Paul has a chance to take four-of-five from Iowa with a win Sunday. Andrew Albers will make the start. KERNELS NUGGETS River Bandits 2, Kernels 1 Box Score Sawyer Gipson-Long: 4 2/3 IP, 3 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 9 K HR: Aaron Sabato (1) Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-5), Jair Camargo (2-for-4) This outstanding Championship Series continued with another tight ballgame Friday. The Kernels led this series 2-1 and had plenty of opportunities to pull away and win it all in Game Four. Sawyer Gipson-Long was absolutely fantastic, striking out nine and allowing just one run on an double in the fifth. Osiris German followed that up with five strikeouts in three innings of scoreless relief. The staff gave the Kernels every chance to win. Aaron Sabato blasted a solo homer to take a 1-0 lead, but the Kernels left 23 runners on base, failing to score more than the lone run. In the bottom of the ninth, Logan Porter hit a walk-off homer to left off Zach Featherstone to force a decisive game five Sunday. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Sawyer Gipson-Long (4 2/3 IP, 3 H, R/ER, 2 BB, 9 K) Hitter of the Day - Aaron Sabato (1-for-5, HR) PROSPECT SUMMARY #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, R, BB #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, BB #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, R, BB #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - IN PROGRESS (0-for-2) SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St.Paul (12:05 p.m.) - LHP Andrew Albers Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 p.m.) - TBD
  12. TRANSACTIONS LHP Charlie Barnes and RHP Andrew Albers were recalled from St. Paul in advance of the Twins doubleheader with Cleveland. In double-A, RHP Tyler Beck was placed on the 7-day injured list with a right forearm strain. RHP Jackson Hicks was officially promoted from the FCL Twins to the Mighty Mussels. RHP Hunter McMahon joined the FCL Twins on a rehab assignment. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 13, Indianapolis 4 Box Score Three days after bludgeoning their opponent 21-4 at CHS Field, the Saints did more of the same to a new opponent on the road in Indianapolis on Tuesday night. A six-run second inning got the party started and included home runs from Mark Contreras and Jose Miranda, along with an RBI double from Damek Tomscha. They extended their lead to 8-0 in the top of the fourth thanks to an error and an RBI groundout from Tomas Telis. Tomscha added a solo home run in the sixth that made it 9-1 before a four-run seventh capped off the evening and was powered by yet another Saints home run off the bat of Sherman Johnson. In all the Saints lineup pounded out 14 hits with eight of them going for extra bases. Though they were only 5-for-19 with runners in scoring position, those hits were big ones with the home runs and doubles. Miranda (2-for-6, R, HR, 4 RBI), Contreras (2-for-5, R, 2B, HR, RBI, K), Jimmy Kerrigan (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 K), and Tomscha (4-for-5, 4 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) had multiple hits. Right-hander Drew Strotman made the start and delivered a quality outing. Over six innings he scattered five hits and three walks, allowing two runs (on two homers) while punching out four batters. Ryan Mason pitched two perfect innings of relief, striking out one. Ian Hamilton pitched the ninth and was charged with two earned runs thanks to three walks and one hit, but it was far from enough for Indianapolis. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 4, Wichita 1 (Game Suspended, to be resumed tomorrow at 4:30 PM) Box Score Unfortunately for the Wind Surge, they played much of this game through some drizzle before the conditions became too much for them to continue. They had not yet completed five innings, so the game was suspended in the top of the fifth and will resume tomorrow. It had been a mixed bag before the game was paused, as Simeon Woods Richardson delivered a fantastic performance for the first three innings of the game, but upon his exit the Travelers struck to take the 4-1 lead against Ben Gross. In his outing, Woods Richardson allowed just two hits while striking out five in his three innings. He definitely looked like a top prospect in this one as compared to his prior outings. Of his 47 pitches in the game, 32 went for strikes (68%), including a whopping 12 swinging strikes. He got those swings and misses on all of his pitches as well, with his changeup especially (to my eyes) looking like it was fooling everyone. Wichita got their lone run in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI infield single from Aaron Whitefield. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 1, Peoria 6 Box Score Cedar Rapids was unable to solve the Peoria pitching staff on Tuesday, resulting in a 6-1 loss that dropped them to 63-52 and just one game ahead of the teams chasing them in the High-A Central playoff race. The lineup was only able to manage four hits on the night, with two of those coming off the bat of Matt Wallner. Their lone run came in the fifth inning thanks to a solo home run from DeShawn Keirsey. As a team they struck out 11 times and drew just one walk, while having only two at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game. Cody Laweryson was on the mound to start and went the first 5 1/3 innings. He allowed all six of the Chiefs runs, on eight hits and one walk, while striking out five. Zach Featherston got the Kernels through the seventh inning without allowing a hit, walking one, and striking out two in his 1 2/3 innings. Tyler Palm finished the game with a scoreless eighth, giving up one hit and striking out two batters. MUSSEL MATTERS Tampa @ Fort Myers, Postponed: Inclement Weather The Mighty Mussels game with the Tarpons was postponed on Tuesday as rain was moving into the area. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 6, FCL Rays 3 Box Score The Twins used a five-run second inning to pull away early, and the pitching staff held the Rays at bay the rest of the way to pick up the win. In that second inning, the Twins took advantage of a pair of errors and got RBI singles from Argenis Jiminez, Noah Cardenas, and Ernie Yake before a sac fly from Endy Rodriguez plated the fifth run. They got an insurance run in the top of the ninth thanks to an RBI single from Wilfri Castro to drive in Gregory Duran who had led off the inning with a triple. Yake (2-for-4, 2B, RBI K) had multiple hits in the contest. Hunter McMahon got the start in his first game with the FCL Twins and went the first two innings, allowing one hit and striking out four batters. Ryan Shreve allowed two runs (one earned) on two hits in his lone inning, though he did strike out three. Wilker Reyes was credited with his first hold by going the next three scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out two Rays. Juan Mendez picked up his first save by finishing the final three innings. He gave up one run on three hits and struck out three hitters. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Simeon Woods Richardson, Wichita Wind Surge (3 IP, 2 H, 5 K) Hitter of the Day - Damek Tomscha, St. Paul Saints (4-for-5, 4 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - Game suspended #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 3 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 5 K #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-6, R, HR, 4 RBI #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 5 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 5 K (left game in sixth after being struck in hand with line drive) #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Temporarily Inactive List #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4 #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, K #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - W, 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 4 K #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 0-for-5, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play (Paternity List) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - Game postponed #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - Game suspended WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (11:05 AM CST) - RHP Beau Burrows (2-5, 6.16 ERA) Arkansas @ Wichita (30 min after completion of suspended game) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (5-4, 3.38 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Louie Varland (6-1, 2.17 ERA) Tampa @ Fort Myers, Game 1 (3:30 PM CST) - RHP John Stankiewicz (0-0, 3.12 ERA) Tampa @ Fort Myers, Game 2 (30 min after Game 1) - RHP Jackson Hicks (Low-A debut) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  13. There appear to be plenty of innings to go around in 2022. While we hope to see prospects such as Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran debut, Bailey Ober is proof that it isn’t always the shiny top prospect that storms into the Major Leagues. The Twins have a few arms in the minors who could be a pleasant surprise to the MLB club next season. Drew Strotman - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 17 The less-hyped player in the Nelson Cruz return this summer, Strotman went straight to St. Paul upon his arrival where it appears he’ll finish his season. Once a strong control pitcher, Strotman has had a walk rate over 12% this year. The Twins may be able to attribute this to his 2018 Tommy John surgery and inability to knock off the last of the rust with the lack of a 2020 season. Still, Strotman has plenty to like. He can hit the mid-90s as a starter with his best offering being a cutter with a decent curveball to pair with it. He was striking out nearly 25% of his hitters faced with a mid-3s ERA with Tampa’s AAA team in Durham before struggling across the board with the Saints, possibly a result of him hitting an innings wall in his first full season back. Strotman will be 25 next season and already possesses a 40-man roster spot. He’s in the most convenient spot of all three of these pitchers to get one of the first calls next season, especially if he comes out on fire to open the season. Cole Sands - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 19 Sands has spent 2021 exclusively at AA after a brief debut there in 2019. Despite his 10.4% walk rate this year, he’s long had the reputation as a strike-thrower, never before walking more than 6.3% of hitters. It’s a safe bet on Sands regaining that control which would bode well for his future considering he’s maintained a strikeout rate of 30% in 2021. Sands has also limited the long ball in his minor league career. 2021 is his career-worst with a still-respectable 0.93 HR/9. With a 2.93 ERA at AA this year, Sands will get the call to the next level sooner rather than later. At that point, his high floor for strikeouts, low walk totals and limiting homers puts him in a great spot to get an opportunity when the Twins need innings filled in 2022. It’s the same baseline of skills that Bailey Ober used to get to the big leagues. Chris Vallimont - Twins MLB.com Ranking: 21 In some ways, 2021 has been a disappointment for Chris Vallimont who’s sporting a 6.00 ERA at the AA level through 78 innings. He hadn’t shown a huge control problem prior to this year but has walked 14.4% of batters faced. He used to limit homers but has allowed a 1.27 per 9 innings this year. Still, that 6.00 ERA indicates a bit of bad luck according to his 4.40 FIP and 4.62 xFIP. Vallimont still shows a strong ability to strike out opponents, and has done so at a 32.1% rate. If he can return to his career norms in terms of walks and homers allowed, he could move aggressively to the MLB level as he’ll be 25 to begin 2022. He seems to have the raw stuff to dominate hitters if he can manage to iron out some kinks. If there’s one thing we can expect from the pitching staff next season, it’s that there will be plenty of opportunities. Bailey Ober appears to be a diamond in the rough, thrown into a trial by fire due to a pitching staff that completely turned over by season’s end. Could one of these three be the next development arm to take this route to success? Could it be one not listed here? — 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
  14. 15. Noah Miller - INF Age: 18 ETA: 2025 2021 Stats: n/a 2021 Mid-Season Ranking: n/a There is little to say about Noah Miller considering the fact that he is just 18, and has not played a game of professional baseball yet. The Twins decided to select Miller with the final pick in the 1st round of the 2021 MLB Draft as they believe in his immense potential as a switch-hitting, athletic shortstop. Oh, and also because he hit .608 as a high school senior. No, that is not a typo. Miller will certainly require a significant amount of time to develop, but the end result could be a truly dynamic middle-infielder who could anchor the top of a lineup for years. Just make sure to keep his name tucked away for future reference. 14. Drew Strotman - RHSP Age: 24 ETA: 2021 2021 Stats: 67 ⅔ IP, 3.59 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 4.14 FIP, 22.8 K%, 13.1 BB% 2021 Mid-Season Ranking: n/a Drew Strotman is perhaps the most polarizing prospect the Twins received at the trade deadline. Fangraphs has him placed optimistically as the team’s 7th best prospect (and on the edge of the top 100 prospect list), while MLB.com ranked him as the franchise's 15th best prospect-a number much closer to what we decided. At any rate, Strotman is an exciting combination of talent and seasoning. A brand new cutter has deepened what was already an intriguing repertoire of major league quality. He has already been added to the 40-man roster so his promotion to the major league club is simply a formality at this point. The walks are high, but Eric Longenhagen wrote that Strotman is “likely a big league starter”. Lord knows that the Twins need as many of those as they can get. 13. Gilberto Celestino - OF Age: 22 ETA: 2021 2021 Stats: (MLB): .136 AVG, .177 OBP, .288 SLG, 23 wRC+ (AA/AAA): .259 AVG, .338 OBP, .431 SLG, 107 WRC+ 2021 Mid-Season Ranking: 7 Gilberto Celestino is the only player from this part of the list to play at the major league level and, well, he certainly seemed overwhelmed. The young outfielder was acquired by the Twins in the Ryan Pressly trade three years ago (holy bleep, it’s been three years already?), and it is quite clear that, while Celestino possesses quality tools, he needs more seasoning before he can succeed in the show. But fear not. Celestino is still just 22 years old and, as we all have seen over the past few years, toolsy center fielders often require an extended amount of time to realize their full potential. Celestino will play out the rest of 2021 at AAA (where he owns a 130 wRC+ in a small sample) and will be better prepared to potentially etch out a role on the 2022 Twins. 12. Matt Wallner - OF Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A+): .281 AVG, .338 OBP, .548 SLG, 135 wRC+ 2021 Mid-Season Ranking: 10 Matt Wallner was plucked from the backwoods of Minnesota by the Twins with the 39th overall pick of the 2019 draft. Well, that is not entirely accurate as the Twins neither physically plucked him, like one would with an apple, nor was he taken directly from the state (he played college ball at the University of Southern Mississippi), but the sentence sounds cool so it shall stay. (Editor's Note: Ummmm....) Anyways, Wallner was drafted as a high-strikeout guy with “light tower power,” and so far in his minor league career he has played… like a high strikeout guy with light tower power. He has been frustratingly limited to just over 30 games in 2021 due to a pesky wrist injury that proved to be more serious than previously believed. He had surgery on his hamate bone. But in the time he has played, Wallner has mashed. His nine homers over 148 plate appearances gives him about a 36 home run pace over 600 plate appearances (a typical full season), while his .548 slugging percentage would make him the 11th best qualified major leaguer by that stat. Simply put, a healthy Wallner can absolutely crush. 11. Josh Winder - RHSP Age: 24 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA/AAA): 72 IP, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 3.41 FIP, 29.1 K%, 4.7 BB% 2021 Mid-Season Ranking: 8 Perhaps no prospect throughout the Twins’ system has seen his stock rise higher in 2021 than Josh Winder. Even the noted, uh, “strong opinion-holder”, Keith Law, admitted that he was anticipating watching Winder pitch in 2021. So far, Winder has not disappointed. He saw a tangible uptick in velocity while working out in 2020, and the upgrade has rippled throughout his entire pitch mix. The result was an utterly dominant stint at AA Wichita that saw him strike out more than 30% of the hitters he faced, walk less than 5% of them, and earn a trip to the MLB Futures Game. Batters hit a paltry .207 against him, and I can only imagine that hitters in the AA-Central North division threw an absolute rager of a party to celebrate his promotion to AAA. A shoulder injury has cut Winder’s playtime in AAA to just four meager starts, and it appears that the team is in no rush to bring Winder back in 2021; a mix of injuries and a desire to limit his innings total is the culprit here. In any case, Winder should be on everyone's radar as a starter who will make an impact in 2022.
  15. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins optioned SS Nick Gordon to St. Paul Saints and activated Rob Refsnyder. SAINTS SENTINEL Louisville 1, St. Paul 0 Box Score After a rough first outing in a Saints uniform, new Twins organization pitcher Drew Strotman was excellent on Wednesday night. In fact, the entire pitching staff was. Unfortunately, on Thursday night, Louisville was the only team to squeak out a run in a tightly contested pitchers duel at CHS Field. Despite getting the loss, Strotman (7-3) was as good as one could ask for, pitching five innings of one-run ball while striking out three. His lone run allowed came in the second inning from a walked batter scored on an RBI double. The Saints bullpen was just as efficient after Strotman left the game. Jovani Moran and recent addition Edgar Garcia combined for four innings of perfect ball to complete the game, striking out five and walking none. Moran now has a 2.16 ERA on the year and Garcia a 2.96 ERA. The Saints' lone hits came from Nick Gordon and Mark Contreras. Gordon has a .275 average with the Saints this year, and Contreras has a .254 batting average. Joe Ryan at the Olympics New Twin/Saint Joe Ryan made his second starting pitching appearance in the 2020 Tokyo Games and was nothing short of brilliant. Ryan tossed 4 1/3 innings of one-run, four-hit baseball while striking out three en route to a 7-2 victory over South Korea. The win advances Team USA to the Gold Medal game against Japan. Ryan has been rock-solid in his two starting pitching endeavors with Team USA. He's pitched 11 innings and only given up two earned runs on nine hits and eight strikeouts. While it's unlikely that Ryan will pitch in the Gold Medal game, the Twins can't wait to have him back in St. Paul. Well done, Joe! WIND SURGE WISDOM Midland 13, Wichita 12 Box Score A dozen runs would typically win a baseball game for the Wichita Wind Sure. Unfortunately for the Twins’ AA affiliate, however, they were outscored in a slugfest on Thursday night at Riverfront Stadium. The Surge saw seven of nine batters reach base, with six of nine gaining hits on the night. Roy Morales, Trey Cabbage, Jermaine Palacios, and Ernie De La Trinidad all tallied multi-hit games. That run was just a precursor to what Wichita would do in the third. Cabbage led off the third with a solo shot to left-center (7) to pull the Surge within two. Palacios then doubled, stole third base, and scored on an RBI single from Palacios to cut the lead to one. Facing a four-run deficit after the first inning, the Surge began to chip away at the lead. With the bases loaded in the second, Spencer Steer was hit by a pitch, scoring De La Trinidad. That was followed by a pair of walks and a fielder's choice courtesy of Aaron Whitefield. Spencer Steer took advantage of the bases-loaded situation, bringing in DJ Burt from third on an RBI sac fly. Morales followed suit with a two-out, two-run RBI double, scoring Whitefield and Austin Martin to give the Surge a 7-4 lead. Wichita would tack on two more runs in the fourth, thanks to a two-run RBI single from Austin Martin. Martin has now hit safely in his first three games with the Wind Surge and as a member of the Twins organization. Midland added four runs in the eighth, but thanks to solo shots from Andrew Bechtold and Palacios, the Surge were able to keep a 12-10 lead going into the ninth. Yet, with the lead in hand, Midland was able to scrap across two runs to tie the game in the ninth and force the contest into extra innings. They tacked on the go-ahead run in the 10th inning that would secure them the win. Highly touted pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic didn’t have his best night on the mound. Balazovic went 4 2/3 innings on the night, giving up six runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out four batters. The Surge bullpen ended up surrendering seven runs of their own to Midland. Yet, there was one excellent pitching performance on the night for Wichita. Jhoanleider Salinas was the first of four Wichita relief pitchers to take the bump and was excellent, pitching 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball on three walks and three strikeouts. The loss puts the Wind Surge at 46-35, still three games ahead of Arkansas for the second playoff spot in the Double-A Central Division. KERNELS NUGGETS Quad Cities 8, Cedar Rapids 2 Box Score Strong offensive performances from Deshaun Kiersey and Seth Gray weren’t enough to propel the Kernels to a win against league-leading Quad Cities on Thursday night at Perfect Game Field. Gray punched his second triple of the season in the second inning along with a single in the ninth to give the Kernels some action at the plate. Kiersey added to the action with a two-run homer (3) in the fifth to put the Kernels on the board. Yet despite moments of brilliance, the River Bandits were just too good at the plate and on the bump throughout the night. Jair Camargo also had a strong night at the plate for Cedar Rapids, hitting his fifth double of the year in addition to a single. Those two hits bumped his batting average up from .234 to .239. Starting pitcher Ben Gross, who has been dominant all season, didn’t have his best night, giving up seven runs on eight hits in 4 ⅓ innings. Gross (L, 4-1), still has a 3.27 ERA and will surely rebound after a night where he just didn’t have his stuff. Twins Daily Minor League Reliever of the Month Erik Manoah Jr. entered the game following Gross and put up solid numbers. The Miami native tossed 1 ⅔ innings of one-run, three-hit ball while striking out four. RHP Tyler Palm had the strongest pitching performance of the night, throwing three scoreless innings while only giving up one hit and striking out two. As always, a loss to a division rival is unfortunate. The good news? The Kernels will have the chance to gain ground on the River Bandits. The two teams play each other nine more times before the end of the season, all at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids. MUSSEL MATTERS Dunedin 8, Fort Myers 0 Box Score Despite a pair of nail-biters on Wednesday night, the Mussels were trounced by the Dunedin Blue Jays by a score of 8-0 on Thursday night at Hammond Stadium. Jefferson Morales and Jesus Feliz tallied the only two hits for Fort Myers on a night that was dominated by Blue Jay bats and pitching. Ironically, Morales’ hit came in the first at-bat of the game for the Mussels, punching a 1-1 pitch into right field for a single. Fort Myers would fail to see a hit again until the eighth when Feliz laced his third double of the year to center field. Starting pitcher Landon Leach had a rocky night on the hill, giving up four earned runs on six hits with two walks in five innings pitched. Leach did strike out five batters. Reliever Juan Pichardo didn’t have his best day at the office either, pitching 1 ⅔ innings of three run, three hit ball with two walks and two strikeouts. Yet despite the rocky outing for their first two pitchers, the Mussels saw excellent outings from their back two pitchers on the night. Bradley Hanner followed Pichardo and pitched 1 ⅓ innings of scoreless ball, striking out four. Zaquiel Puentes finished the game with an inning of one-hit ball, surrendering only one run that wasn’t credited to him. The loss puts Fort Myers at 41-37 on the year. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Game Postponed- Rain The FCL Twins were unable to take the field on Thursday due to another rainout in the Sunshine State. The team will make up the game against the FCL Orioles Orange on August 18. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day- Drew Strotman (St. Paul), 5 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 3 BB, 3 K Hitter of the Day- Ernie De La Trinidad (Wichita)- 3-for-5, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI, SO PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) –4.2 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 2 BB, 4 K #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 0-for-3, K #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 0-for-4, K #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – Did not play #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 0-for-3 #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 0-for-3, BB, K #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – All-Star Break #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) –Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 1-for-4, K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-for-3 #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 1-for-4, 2 RBI #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury) #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – RHP Chandler Shepherd (5-5, 6.41 ERA) Midland @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) – RHP Chris Vallimont (3-4, 5.11 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:05PM CST) – RHP Louie Varland (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Dunedin @ Ft. Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Bobby Milacki (0-2, 4.09 ERA)
  16. TRANSACTIONS RHP Ryan Mason promoted to AAA St. Paul LHP Evan Sisk added to AA Wichita (received from St. Louis in the J.A. Happ trade) RHP Simeon Woods Richardson added to AA Wichita and placed on the Temporary Inactive list (he is pitching for team USA in the Tokyo Olympics) RHP Alex Scherff added to AA Wichita and placed on the IL OF Gilberto Celestino optioned to AAA St. Paul as Luis Arraez was activated from the IL Saints Sentinel St. Paul 5, Indianapolis 6 Box Score Drew Strotman: 4 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Mark Contreras (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI) A much anticipated prospect made his Saints debut on Saturday. RHP Drew Strotman, one of the pitchers received by the Twins in the Nelson Cruz trade, started for St. Paul for the first time. It was not smooth sailing for Strotman who gave up four runs while striking out just a single batter. It was not the best of first impressions, but Strotman will certainly have more opportunities to impress in the future. The Saints offense did its best to back Strotman. The 1-2 punch of Jose Miranda and Mark Contreras combined for two runs and three RBIs as both players bugged Indianapolis’ pitching staff all night. Oh, and Miranda is casually chilling with a AAA batting average in the .350’s. Just FYI. A few notable relievers threw scoreless outings on Saturday. Ian Hamilton tossed 1 ⅔ innings with no earned runs, Jovani Moran threw 1 ⅓ IP with no earned runs, and Yennier Cano, uh, hurled a single inning without any earned runs. At least one (if not all) of those players will certainly be on the Twins sometime soon. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 4, NW Arkansas 8 Box Score Adam Lau: 2 ⅔ IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K HR: B.J. Boyd (7), Jermaine Palacios (13) Multi-hit games: B.J. Boyd (2-for-4, HR, R, RBI), Jermaine Palacios (2-for-3, HR, 2B, 3 RBI) Wichita could not hold on to the lead on Saturday. B.J. Boyd kicked off the scoring quickly by blasting a lead-off homerun before fans could even reach their seats. It was Boyd’s seventh homer of the season and the hit, yet again, has proved Boyd to be a worthy and useful addition to the Twins’ minor league system. Boyd was not the only hitter to get in on the homer fun. Jermaine Palacios continued on his path of destruction by sending his 13th shot of the year over the wall in the 4th inning. Last week, I wrote about Palacios as one of, if not the single most pleasantly surprising player in the minor league system. Today was no exception. Unfortunately, Boyd and Palacios were essentially the entire Wind Surge offense. Trey Cabbage was the only other player to net a hit in the game, and all four RBIs were the result of either Boyd or Palacios. It was no more smooth for Wichita on the pitching side of the equation. All four of their pitchers allowed at least one earned run, with Zach Neff acting as the guiltiest culprit (four earned runs allowed over seven outs). All in all, it was a rather forgettable night for the Wind Surge as they are waiting until the massive prospect reinforcements finally reach Kansas. Evan Sisk, acquired in the J.A. Happ/John Gant trade, made his debut in the Twins organization. He gave up one run over two innings. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 12 Box Score Cody Laweryson: ⅔ IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (2-for-3, 2B, R, BB), DaShawn Kiersey (2-for-3, 3B) Things could have gone better for Cedar Rapids on Saturday. The first sign that today would not end up being the day for the Kernels occurred in the very first inning. Cody Laweryson was unable to finish his first frame of work due to an apparent injury and had to be replaced by Tyler Palm. Wisconsin took advantage of the unpredicted short start by plating seven runs in the first two innings. That more or less stood to be the end of the Kernels’ odds of winning. They were able to plate two runs in an attempt to regain something of a lead, but it was to no avail. For the sake of having some food news, Breckin Williams and Ryan Shreve combined to allow just a single earned run over three innings of relief. In total, they struck out seven batters. Mussel Matters The game between Fort Myers and Clearwater was canceled as Clearwater has been struck by a COVID-19 outbreak. Tomorrow’s match between the two teams has been canceled as well. Complex Chronicles FCL Twins 6, FCL Red Sox 4 Box Score Juan Mendez: 3 ⅔ IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Kala’i Rosario (2-for-3, R, RBI, BB), Yonardy Soto (3-for-4, RBI) The FCL Twins turned around their luck and beat the FCL Red Sox on Saturday. Juan Mendez did his job by holding the Red Sox in check over his 3 2/3 innings of work. Yeah, walking more than you strike out is not generally ideal, but zero earned runs is zero earned runs. You take those. Samuel Perez was even more impressive as he pitched for four innings to finish off the game, and struck out five while allowing just two baserunners. Now that is a well-earned win. The win was actually well within hand for the Red Sox. They had put up a four-spot in the 6th inning while holding the Twins scoreless up until that point. However, the Twins broke out for a pair of runs in the 7th, and followed that up with their own four-spot in the 8th. Somehow, they ended up with six runs off of just one extra-base hit. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Samuel Perez Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jermaine Palacios PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-5, 2 R, 2 K #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – No game #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Did not play #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – No game #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 1-5, 2 R, K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – No game #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-2, 2 BB #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 0-4, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury) #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (12:05 PM) RHP Tyler Beck Indianapolis @ St. Paul (1:05 PM) RHP Chandler Shephard Wichita @ NW Arkansas (1:05 PM) TBD Fort Myers @ Clearwater Canceled
  17. Most publications will herald Joe Ryan as the primary chip returning to the Twins - MLB Pipeline lists him as the team's No. 6 prospect - though he wasn't always a high-level prospect. Ryan was the Rays' seventh-round selection out of Cal State, Stanislaus in 2018, though we could not confirm if Cal State, Stanislaus is an actual university. Ryan boasted a 1.65 ERA in 98 ⅓ innings while posting a ridiculous 127/13 K:BB ratio, which was more than enough to get him on MLB teams' radar. Ryan never posted a FIP higher than 3.24 while in the Rays' system, and his strikeout and walk rates remained near the top in the organization replete with pitching talent. At first glance, Ryan's stuff doesn't appear to be all that electric. His fastball touches the mid-90s but most often sits 91-93 with a good ride. His changeup isn't particularly exciting, and his curveball, while good, is not going to draw out batters' swords over and over again, at least not right now. And yet, he has never posted a K/9 rate lower than 11.84 nor a WHIP higher than 1.13 in his minor league career. What makes Ryan such an exciting prospect is his command, which is instantly the most prolific in the Twins' system. Ryan can place the ball, particularly his fastball, which primarily resides at the top of the zone, with pinpoint accuracy, allowing him to nibble at the corners without issuing free passes. His pitch mix - which also includes a pretty mediocre cutter at the moment when viewed in isolation - plays exceptionally well off of each other, with all his offerings featuring the same arm slot. Essentially, the complete package that is Joe Ryan is greater than the sum of his parts. He doesn't have a glaring weakness like many of the pitching prospects in the Twins' system. Instead, the only question is whether or not his stuff will play at the MLB level, and there isn't a ton of evidence at the moment to suggest it won't. However, while simply securing a pitcher of Ryan's caliber would have been enough to consider the trade of Cruz as a win for the Twins, he wasn't the only pitching prospect the team brought back. Drew Strotman similarly hailed from humble beginnings before rising towards the top of the Rays' farm system. He was the team's fourth-round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary's College, where he owned a career 5.26 ERA in 59 appearances, with only 14 coming as starts. However, unlike with Ryan, it becomes apparent why the Rays' coveted him when looking at film. Strotman's stuff is truly electric. His fastball sits 91-94 mph, and, like Ryan, he likes to keep it up in the zone. His changeup plays well off the fastball and features significant tailing action. He also owns a good curveball and a slider or cutter, depending on which publication you read. Strotman owns a legit four-pitch mix; however, for what he boasts in offerings, he lacks significantly in command and strikeout numbers. If Strotman can figure out how to throw more strikes, he'll find himself in the Twins' starting rotation for years to come. If he can't, he'll likely find a home in the bullpen where he may experience an uptick in fastball velocity and likely rely more heavily on his curveball. All in all, the Twins picked up two athletes in exchange for Nelson Cruz that are similar in prospect pedigree to that of, say, Matt Canterino and Chris Vallimont. That's a haul for a 41-year-old designated hitter who may or may not re-sign following the 2021 season. Regardless of how the trade ultimately plays out, the Twins would have been crazy not to accept the Rays' offer. 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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