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  1. 5. Josh Winder, SP/RP Winder looked like he had an inside track for a spot in the team’s rotation during spring training. Minnesota’s signing of Chris Archer pushed Winder out of the rotation, but the team decided they couldn’t leave him in the minors. So far this season, Winder has provided the team value, whether as a reliever or starter. Last Saturday, he was placed on the IL with a right shoulder impingement. Winder was placed on the Triple-A injured list on August 7th last year with a similar injury, and he did not pitch the rest of the minor league season. Minnesota hopes he won’t need that much time to recover this season. 4. Royce Lewis, SS Lewis made quite the impression in his first taste of the big leagues, even though he only played 11 games. In 39 at-bats, he went 12-for-29 (.308 BA) with four doubles and two home runs. Even in such a small sample size, he ranks among the team’s best rookies in WAR. Since being demoted, he has played multiple defensive positions, and he has continued to hit well at Triple-A. Now, only a few questions remain. When will he be back in the big leagues, and will he stay at that level for the remainder of his career? 3. Gilberto Celestino, OF Celestino has been a blessing in disguise for the Twins as Byron Buxton has needed time off or days at designated hitter. During May, FanGraphs has him ranked as one of the team’s most valuable hitters, ahead of Luis Arraez, Carlos Correa, and Byron Buxton. He’s also providing tremendous defensive value as he ranks in the 90th percentile for Outs Above Average. Many might be surprised at how good Celestino has been this season, but his Triple-A performance in 2021 pointed to him breaking out. 2. Jhoan Duran, RP Minnesota’s bullpen picture would look significantly different without Duran’s emergence as a dominant late-inning option. His appearances have turned into must-see moments, with him constantly breaking the team’s record for the fastest pitch. Duran’s splinker also keeps batters off-balance as they have to speed up their swing for triple-digit heat. There’s no question that Duran is one of the reasons behind Minnesota’s success in close games, and by the season’s end, he should establish himself as one of baseball’s most dominant relievers. 1. Joe Ryan, SP Ryan has a legitimate case to be in the running for AL Rookie of the Year as he’d likely be a top-3 finalist among all candidates. Currently, he’d be competing against players like Houston’s Tony Pena and Seattle’s Julio Rodriguez. Ryan has posted a 2.28 ERA with a 0.99 WHIP in eight starts this season. He has a 159 ERA+ with a 42-to-14 strikeout to walk ratio over 43 1/3 innings. If the playoffs started today, Ryan should get the nod as the team’s Game 1 starter. Ryan will need to continue to pitch at an unbelievably high level to win the AL ROY. How would you rank these players? How will these rankings change as the season progresses? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  2. Box Score SP: Devin Smeltzer: 7.0 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K (80 pitches, 52 strikes (65.0%)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Tyler Duffey (-0.590), Max Kepler (-0.208), Nick Gordon (-0.197) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Despite a ninth-inning rally and a stellar outing from Devin Smeltzer, the Twins fell short to Kansas City by a score of 3-2 on Thursday night. The Twins outhit the Royals 12 to 6 and left 12 runners on base but ultimately fell short thanks to a three-run eighth inning from Kansas City. And while the loss was a tough one, starting pitcher Devin Smeltzer was an incredible icing on the cake for the Twins on the night. Called up from St. Paul to start for Joe Ryan (who was placed on the Covid IL), Smeltzer wasn’t just a replacement; he provided one of the strongest pitching outings the Twins have seen all year. After a quarter of the season spent flirting between Triple-A St. Paul and the Twins, Thursday evening proved that Smeltzer deserves a permanent spot on the Major League Roster. Smeltzer pitched seven innings of shutout ball while only allowing two hits and one walk, striking out six. The crafty lefty has started three games for the parent club this season and has passed the test with flying colors. Through those three games, Smeltzer has a 1.74 ERA in 17 ⅓ innings while only allowing two runs. Keep the man up. The Twins plated their first run in the second inning when Ryan Jeffers laced an RBI single to left field that scored Luis Arraez from second base. Originally perceived as a downgrade from Mitch Garver, Jeffers has been absolutely rock-solid all season. Thursday’s RBI was his fourth in his last three games and the Raleigh, NC native sits in the 95th percentile for pitch framing behind the plate. Not too shabby. The Twins struck again in the fourth inning. Jose Miranda put his recent slump in the rearview with a leadoff double (5) and was later scored by a Gilberto Celestino line-drive single to right field to put the Twins up 2-0. As highly-touted a prospect there is, Miranda’s woes at the plate drew attention from Twins Territory. Yet the 23-year-old rookie has excelled recently. Miranda notched a second-inning single in addition to his double on Thursday and has recorded two multi-hit games in the past week. There’s still a ways to go, but it’s relieving to see the young slugger find his footing. Following Smeltzer’s stellar outing, Tyler Duffey struggled in the bullpen, allowing three runs on four hits in the top of the eighth inning to give Kansas City the lead. The Twins mounted a rally in the bottom of the eighth thanks to a string of singles from Gary Sanchez, Gio Urshela, and Arraez. Yet with the bases loaded, the Twins were unable to plate a run. Rookie Yennier Cano had his first solid outing of the season, pitching the top of the ninth inning. After giving up a leadoff walk, Cano retired the next three batters to keep the Twins within a run going into the ninth inning. After a ninth-inning infield single from Byron Buxton, the Twins fell just short due to a pair of Fielders Choices and a sharply hit ball by Gary Sanchez that found the glove of Kansas City shortstop Bobby Witt Jr. Gio with the Glove Despite the loss, Gio Urshela made one of the finest plays the league has seen all season in the second inning. Web gem! What’s Next? The Twins continue their Memorial Day weekend series against the Royals tomorrow night at 6:40 p.m. CST at Target Field. Young talent Bailey Ober (1-1, 2.85 ERA) will face off against Brad Kelly (1-4, 3.40 ERA) on what is supposed to be a gorgeous night in Minneapolis. You can buy tickets to tomorrow night's game here. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  3. It became clear following a Saturday night game against the Cleveland Guardians, in which Byron Buxton should’ve been called upon to pinch-hit, that rest and caution remain paramount for the organization. Rocco Baldelli has consistently rested players with the hopes of keeping them fresh, and while the current state of Minnesota’s Injured List would suggest that as not bearing fruit, it also doesn’t appear as something the organization will move off of. Relating to Buxton specifically, he’s dealing with the same right knee soreness that immediately looked like a season-ending injury. Sliding into second base, he punched the ground in anguish and a question as to whether his knee was torn up immediately came into question. Returning to the lineup less than a week later, he’s still dealing with the after-effects, even if an MRI revealed no serious damage. It’s not as though Buxton hasn’t been productive. Quite the opposite actually, as he’s been a monster through the 23 games he has been on the field. Buxton owns a .259/.330/.706 slash line and is just one homer shy of the American League lead with 11. He’s yet to triple but does have five doubles to his credit, and a few recent walks make the 28/6 K/BB ratio more workable. Through 134 innings in the outfield, Buxton has been worth 1 Defensive Run Saved and 2 Outs Above Average. Following Sunday’s game against the Guardians, one in which Buxton was back in centerfield and Minnesota won, he said, "We've got a process, process of me staying on the field, trying to play 100 games. So however that looks, who knows? But that's what we have, a plan here, and it's what we're going to stick to." As unfortunate or disappointing as that may be, it’s clear that Buxton is in lockstep with manager Rocco Baldelli regarding that plan. After the loss to the Guardians on Saturday night, Minnesota’s manager said in regards to the decision against pinch-hitting Buxton, “"It wasn't going to be an option. Ultimately, we discussed that as a group, but ultimately I make that decision. When we make the decision before the game, we don't change what we're going to do when the game gets going." Those notes in conjunction with one another suggest the Twins are firmly set in a plan to have Buxton play right around 60% of their games this season. The good news is that even through that few contests, extrapolating his numbers gets a gaudy amount of production. You’d be looking at something like 21 doubles, 47 homers, and 7.4 fWAR. Putting up those statistics in 162 games would be generous for most. If Buxton was able to continue that pace over just 100, it would be nothing short of unfathomable. On the defensive side of things, it may be hard to find the same rhythm. Buxton has been worth just one DRS thus far and contributed only 2 OAA. Gilberto Celestino has done an amazing job filling in, so maybe it matters less, but Buxton’s Gold Glove prowess is always going to be missed. When looking at this decision by Minnesota, there are a couple of things to consider. First and foremost is that not all players can operate as a designated hitter, or without being constantly involved in the game flow. Buxton has suffered without playing the field, and missing over one-third of the games will certainly threaten any attempt to create consistency. The other problem is the assumption that disjointed time off will prevent further injury or advance healing. After all, Buxton was injured on a play where he slid into second base, and also suffered an injury running to first base following a dropped third strike. It’s not as if he’s being threatened in instances that won’t routinely present themselves. His body may simply be less durable than others, and that leaves him susceptible in all capacities. Maybe most interesting here is who the Twins have as a manager. Baldelli himself was on a path to being one of baseball's best players and constant injuries derailed his career. Buxton certainly is involved throughout this planning process, as is Baldelli, but the front office must be clued in too. The Twins training staff is probably weighing in with their expertise, and we don't completely know what the injury was given the designation simply being soreness. Maybe this is something Baldelli himself has implored Buxton to consider knowing what consistent injury and health issues can do to the overall length of a playing career. What do you think? Are the Twins actually able to prevent further injury by trying to avoid consistent games played? Does Buxton benefit from time down to heal completely? What should happen here?
  4. In June 2021, Minnesota’s outfield was in shambles, and the team needed another outfielder on the roster. Gilberto Celestino was on the 40-man roster, but he was 22-years-old and had yet to appear in a game above the Double-A level. All minor leaguers were coming off a non-existent 2020 season, which made it even harder to predict how players would perform. Celestino was not being put into a position to succeed, and the results were disastrous. During his first 23 games, Celestino went 8-for-59 (.136 BA) with 14 strikeouts and three walks. Five of his eight hits went for extra bases, so there were signs of the power he had shown throughout his professional career. Minnesota’s outfielders got healthy, and the Twins sent Celestino back to Triple-A, where he had yet to play a game. From that point forward, Celestino put himself back on the prospect map. He wound up playing 49 games with the Saints, where he was 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. Celestino hit .290/.384/.443 (.827) with 13 doubles, five home runs, and a 43-to-24 strikeout to walk ratio. He only faced a younger pitcher in one game for the season, which accounted for three of his plate appearances. He also showcased his defensive versatility as he played all three outfield positions. Celestino was part of the front office’s long-term plans, even if it wasn’t evident as the offseason began. As the front office made a plan for the 2022 roster, it was clear that pitching and shortstop needed to be a focus. Another area to consider was which players would contend for the fourth outfielder spot. Players like Jake Cave, Brent Rooker, and Kyle Garlick joined Celestino as potential bench players, but there were other things to consider with Celestino. He is still only 23-years-old with development ahead of him, while the other players are not viewed as prospects. Did it make sense to have him on the roster if he wasn’t guaranteed to play regularly? Celestino has answered that question with a resounding, “YES!” Minnesota’s injury issues have played a role in getting him more regular playing time, but he has taken advantage of every opportunity. He went 1-for-12 (.083 BA) through his first ten games with a walk and four strikeouts. Over his last nine games, he has gone 12-for-27 (.444 BA) with three doubles and two walks. His hot hitting has helped his offensive value, but his defensive skills have also been on display. MLB Statcast data has him among baseball’s best in various defensive metrics. Celestino currently ranks in the 92nd percentile for Outs Above Average (OAA), and he is also in the 60th percentile or higher when it comes to Outfielder Jump and Sprint Speed. Last season, his OAA was negative for his time in centerfield, and this season he has posted a positive OAA at both outfield positions he has played. Moving forward, it seems likely for the Twins to continue to give Celestino regular time at multiple outfield positions. He may not get 500 plate appearances this year, but he can provide value while getting 300-350 plate appearances. His prospect stock isn’t necessarily on the rise, but Celestino is the type of player that can be a role player for multiple years. What do you think Celestino’s role will be for the remainder of 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ryan 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K Homeruns: None Bottom 3 WPA: Ryan -.209, Urshela -.069, Kepler -.068 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Tuesday’s game was billed as one of the best pitching matchups of the season, as Joe Ryan took on Justin Verlander. Entering the contest, the pitchers had remarkably similar statistics on the year, while the Twins and Astros had identical 18-11 records. The Astros made Joe Ryan work in the first inning. Despite this, he pitched around a walk of Alex Bregman to manage a scoreless frame. Justin Verlander, despite Gary Sanchez's scalding a line drive to left field, managed a hitless first inning of his own. Ryan struggled in the top of the second, surrendering a leadoff hit before walking Kyle Tucker for his second free pass in as many innings. After a fly ball moved Yuli Gurriel to third, a Jeremy Pena groundout gave the Astros a 1-0 lead. Verlander, meanwhile, continued to cruise, retiring the side in order to sit at just 23 pitches after two hitless innings. In the fourth inning, Ryan walked Kyle Tucker with one out. Tucker stole second and came around to score on a bloop single from Pena with two outs. Ryan struck out Martin Maldonado to end the fourth inning trailing 2-0. Ryan had poor command and did not look sharp on Tuesday. It’s perhaps a testament to him that he managed to keep the game close, despite walking four and throwing 83 pitches through four innings. Verlander sat at just 43 pitches through four hitless innings. The Twins produced poor at-bats against the future Hall-of-Famer, but he also threw 81% strikes. A Jose Altuve bloop single and Joe Ryan’s fifth walk of the game led off the fifth inning for Houston. An Alex Bregman double increased the lead to 3-0 with runners of second and third and none out and ended Ryan’s night, undoubtedly his most disappointing outing of the season. Danny Coulombe entered the game and managed to limit the damage to just one more run. The Twins entered the bottom of the fifth inning trailing 4-0. Verlander allowed his first base runner in the fifth inning when Jorge Polanco walked. Gio Urshela promptly grounded into a double play to immediately end any inkling of Twins resistance. In the sixth inning, Coulombe exited the game, the latest in a litany of injured players. He was replaced by Jharel Cotton. The Astros tacked on another run, pushing the score to 5-0. Gilberto Celestino took the Twins' second walk of the game in the sixth inning but he was thrown out trying to take second base on an errant pitch from Verlander, who faced the minimum through six innings. Jharel Cotton continued to pitch admirably for the Twins as he was asked to eat as many innings as possible to preserve the bullpen through the rest of the series. He pitched scoreless seventh and eight innings. Verlander finally lost his no-hit bid with one out in the eighth inning. Gio Urshela punched an opposite field single to give the Twins just their third base runner of the game. The crowd sounded their appreciation, both for Urshela, and Verlander's masterful performance. Tuesday's game was the second time this season the Twins were at risk of being no-hit by a future Hall of Fame pitcher. Royce Lewis grounded into a double play to erase the runner, and get Verlander through eight one-hit innings, striking out five. The Twins managed to get two runners aboard in the bottom of the ninth, advancing a runner to second base for the first time in the game! Jose Miranda flew out to centerfield to complete the shutout for the Astros. the loss dropped the Twins to 18-12 on the season. If nothing else, the Astros effortless swatting of the Twins on Tuesday emphasized the easy ride Minnesota has had with their recent schedule. A lineup without Buxton, Arraez, and Correa looked toothless. The Astros provided the first stern test for a severely undermanned Twins team. Verlander was brilliant. The Twins failed comprehensively. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Cotton 0 0 0 0 58 58 Pagán 28 0 28 0 0 56 Coulombe 0 12 0 0 29 41 Stashak 0 0 34 0 0 34 Duran 0 31 0 0 0 31 Thielbar 0 0 20 0 3 23 Duffey 11 0 9 0 0 20 Jax 0 19 0 0 0 19 Smith 6 0 12 0 0 18 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series against the Astros. Chris Archer will start for Minnesota while José Urquidy starts for Houston. The first pitch is at 6:40 CT Postgame Interviews - Coming Soon
  6. Box Score SP: Chris Paddack: 2 1/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K (55 pitches, 41 strikes (74.5%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Emilio Pagan (0.150), Jorge Polanco (0.146), Gilberto Celestino (0.124) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes Injuries and ‘day-to-day’ nagging injuries are adding up, and that continued on Sunday. In the morning, the team announced that outfielder Trevor Larnach was being placed on the Injured List with a right adductor strain. To take his place, the Twins recalled catcher Jose Godoy. In 22 games this year, Larnach has hit .313/.365/.448 (.813) with nine doubles. He has been hitting most everything hard. Hopefully it’s just a 10-day injury and he can get back into the lineup shortly. It’s also fair to ask why Godoy would be brought up? Sure. However, he is the only hitter on the 40-man roster, and it would make no sense to take someone off the 40-man roster, add someone else, when it's likely a couple of hitters will be playing again on Tuesday. Paddack Leaves with Injury Chris Paddack started the game strong. He struck out the first two batters, but after a couple of soft singles, Chad Pinder lined a single that gave the A’s a 1-0 lead. In the second inning, he had a strikeout, a weak line out, and a ground out. He started the third inning with a strikeout as well. But after Sheldon Neuse hit a single and Sean Murphy doubled, trainer Michael Salazar was summoned to the mound. After a couple of questions, Paddack was removed from the game without even attempting a practice throw off the mound. With two runners on, Cody Stashak came into the game. He gave up a single that scored both inherited runners before getting out of the inning. Obviously, we can hope for the best. Paddack has looked really good so far this season. On Sunday, he was sitting 93-95 mph and had a pitch hit 95.8 mph. His breaking ball has been much improved and his changeup remains a really good pitch. In the middle innings, we learned that he was removed from the game with “right elbow inflammation.” That’s pretty vague, and with his history of elbow issues, they will certainly continue to evaluate and do all the needed imaging. Twins starting pitching has been good to this point in the season, much better than expected. They really have had seven starting pitchers on their roster. Sonny Gray just returned from a hamstring injury. Bailey Ober is on the IL with a groin injury. Dylan Bundy is on the Covid-IL. The Twins have good starting pitching depth, but that’s only true until it isn’t. Get ‘em Back The best way to respond after a tough top of the third inning, not only falling behind 3-1 but also losing their starting pitcher is to put up some runs. The Twins did just that in the bottom of the third inning. With runners on first and third and one out, Jose Miranda doubled down the left-field line to score one run. Then came Jorge Polanco, and he dropped a 72.5 mph single in front of the left fielder. Miranda read it well and scored from second to give the Twins a 4-3 lead. Polanco now has a nine-game hitting streak. Celebrating Celestino A year ago, Gilberto Celestino had barely played above Low-A ball when the Twins were desperate in the outfield and called him up because he was on the 40-man roster. Celestino had ended the 2019 season with eight games in High-A Ft. Myers. He missed the entire 2020 season, though he was at the alternate site. Then he began the 2021 season with 21 games at Double-A Wichita before being called up. No surprise that he struggled. In 23 games last year with the Twins, he hit just .136/.177/.288 (.466). He was set to begin the 2022 season in St. Paul, but he ended up on the Opening Day roster, playing little. He was sent to the Saints, but after just two games, he was needed at Target Field again. And he has been a major contributor. On Sunday, he had three more hits and ended the day hitting .324/.390/.405 (.796) with three doubles. He has at least one hit in eight of his past nine games. Over that time, he is 11-for-27 (.407). With the Twins being cautious with Byron Buxton, Celestino has been given opportunities in center field, and he has done well out there too. Bullpen Big Again While Stashak allowed his inherited runners to score, he was very good. He gave up just one hit over 2 2/3 innings. Caleb Thielbar came in for the sixth inning. He walked the leadoff batter but then struck out the next three hitters. Joe Smith faced three batters in a scoreless seventh frame. Tyler Duffey needed nine pitches to close out the eighth inning. And, Emilio Pagan came in for the ninth inning. Of course, runners got to second and third, but he did not allow a run and recorded the save. When you sweep a series by scores of 2-1, 1-0, and 4-3, the bullpen has to perform under stress, and they have certainly done that! The Defense of Lewis Royce Lewis made all the plays this weekend at shortstop. On Sunday, he made a play early in the game, deep in the hole, and threw a perfect, one-hop throw across the diamond to Alex Kirilloff for an out. It's such a smart play, and one we have seen Carlos Correa make a couple of times already this season. In the eighth inning, the leadoff batter hit a slow roller toward short. Lewis charged, bare-handed it, and uncoiled a perfect throw to first for a big out. From what we have seen, both this weekend and in the first month at St. Paul, Royce Lewis can play shortstop in the big leagues. He won't always be perfect. There will be errors, but it's good to know that he can stick there. Lewis had one hit in all three games this weekend. He went 3-for-10 (.300). Do you know when the last time that a Twins' hitter had a hit in each of his first three games? In May of 2019, Luis Arraez did it. What’s Next? The Twins will enjoy a day off at home on Monday. The Twins have been playing well, but the aches and pains are catching up so a day off is really needed. On Tuesday, the Astros will come to town for a three-game series. Tuesday: Joe Ryan (3-1, 1.63 ERA) vs TBA Wednesday: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.26 ERA) vs TBA Thursday: Josh Winder (2-0, 1.61 ERA) vs TBA Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Pagán 0 0 28 0 28 56 Coulombe 26 0 0 12 0 38 Thielbar 0 18 0 0 20 38 Jax 0 15 0 19 0 34 Stashak 0 0 0 0 34 34 Duran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Duffey 0 0 11 0 9 20 Smith 0 0 6 0 12 18
  7. Box Score SP Bailey Ober: 3.2 IP,6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (73 pitches, 49 strikes (67.1%) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Trevor Larnach (.150), Gilberto Celestino (.141), Cody Stashak (.096) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Pregame Notes/Lineup Decisions (with Results) #1: Facing left-hander Tarik Skubal, Rocco Baldelli started Luis Arraez, Trevor Larnach and Max Kepler. How it went? Against Skubal, Arraez and Kepler each went 0-for-3. Larnach, however, went 2-for-2. #2: After DHing on Tuesday and playing center field on Wednesday, Byron Buxton was not in the starting lineup on Thursday afternoon. Gilberto Celestino, who is certainly a candidate to be sent back to St. Paul when rosters are reduced after Sunday’s games, is making his second start in center field in the past three games. How it went? Celestino reached base in each of his first three plate appearances. He had an RBI infield single in his first at-bat. He laid down a nice bunt in his second plate appearance and reached on a throwing error. In his third at-bat, he hit a 100 mph line drive down the right-field line for a double. With Celestino, the defense is always solid. In addition, he ranged to the gap to make a very nice sliding catch in the 8th inning. #3: There were hopes that Gary Sanchez could start behind the plate on Thursday. He was not quite ready so Ryan Jeffers started his third straight game behind the plate, including the day game after the night game. How it went? Well, Jeffers was 0-for-4 with four strikeouts, but he did a nice job behind the plate. Miguel Sano has a minor knee strain. That is why he is not starting against the left-hander and Arraez is back at first base. Ober Labors, Leaves with Injury Bailey Ober clearly didn’t have his best stuff on Thursday afternoon. It’s not that he was bad. He wasn’t. He threw strikes at a good rate (67%). He missed 12 bats. But he really had to work to strand base runners. He gave up six hits and two walks and somehow worked his way out of those situations and gave up just one run. Unfortunately, Ober left the game early. With two outs in the top of the fourth inning, right after a balk, he gave up a single that gave the Tigers their first (and only) run. After the pitch, Ober hobbled off the mound, grabbed his upper right leg, and bent at the waist. Clearly, he was not going to proceed. Cody Stashak came in and stranded another Tigers runner. Tyler Duffey worked a scoreless inning. Griffin Jax ended the game with three strong innings to record the save. The team, a couple of innings later, confirmed that it was right groin tightness for Ober. Correa’s Biggest Hit… So far. Yeah, I know that his home run was crushed and immensely impressive, but Carlos Correa came through with the biggest hit of his short Twins career. Leading 2-1 in the bottom of the fifth inning, Correa came up with the bases loaded. In his two previous at-bats, he had exit velocities of 95 and 106 mph. On a 3-2 count, Correa hit a ball 108 mph toward the gap in left-center field, over Willi Castro’s head. With the Tigers’ fourth error of the game tacked on, the bases were emptied and the Twins led 5-1. Gio Urshela followed with a single to left field for a 6-1 Twins lead. To this point, Correa is hitting the ball really hard, as you can see from the top row in the chart below. However, it appears that he is hitting a lot of ground balls. He also came into Thursday’s game having struck out 32.8% of the time. For his career, Correa has struck out just under 21% of his plate appearances. In 2021, he struck out just over 18% of the time. In other words, he's going to be just fine. Three hits and four balls hit over 100 mph on this day should help him relax and start putting up the numbers that he has over his career. In addition, despite his offensive woes early in the season, Correa's defense has been consistently terrific. What’s Next? The Twins will travel to Tampa to take on the Rays this weekend. Pitching matchups for the series include: Friday 6:10: Dylan Bundy (3-0, 0.59 ERA) vs RHP Corey Kluber (0-1, 3.68 ERA) Saturday 3:10: Chris Archer (0-0, 3.18 ERA) vs LHP Shane McClanahan (1-1, 2.45 ERA) Sunday 12:10: Chris Paddack (0-2, 3.68 ERA) vs TBD Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage SUN MON TUE WED THUR TOT Winder 61 0 0 0 0 61 Jax 0 0 10 0 46 56 Thielbar 0 0 27 0 0 27 Duffey 0 0 19 0 8 27 Pagán 0 0 23 0 0 23 Smith 13 0 0 10 0 23 Coulombe 0 0 0 20 0 20 Duran 18 0 0 0 0 18 Stashak 0 0 0 0 18 18
  8. The Twins lineup is stacked on paper. Their performance is off to a cold start in April. Even with the slow start from hitters such as Miguel Sano and Jorge Polanco, their performances will not cost them a roster spot. The Twins hitters most likely to be sent down are the outfielders on the active roster not named Byron Buxton or Max Kepler. With Alex Kirilloff also entering a rehab assignment with the Saints this week, his return to the Twins roster will also cause the clearance of a roster spot. If one outfielder on the Twins' current roster would benefit from being a 'victim' of the roster downsizing next week, it's Gilberto Celestino. The 23-year-old has been used primarily as a pinch runner and defensive replacement in his ten games with the Twins this season. He has made just three starts, including last night's game against the Tigers. Celestino has only managed one hit in 12 at-bats and one walk. During his time with the Twins last season, Celestino has been on the Twins roster for his running and defensive skills but has struggled to adjust to hitting against major-league arms. Celestino certainly has the talent to be an everyday outfielder or even fourth outfielder for the Twins someday. He is showing he still needs regular playing time at St. Paul to adjust to Major League pitching, and Celestino would be the Twins hitter who would benefit the most from these upcoming roster cuts. In addition to Celestino, Trevor Larnach could benefit from the roster downsizing, especially if Kirilloff returns to the Twins by May 2nd. Larnach has shown signs of improvement at the plate in the 12 games he has played for the Twins this year. Larnach and Kirilloff are still far from playing their 100th career game, and the Twins front office seems to lean toward Kirilloff being the everyday left fielder for the time being. Kyle Garlick is the last outfielder on the Twins roster that could be sent back down to St. Paul following next Monday. The Twins' 30-year-old backup outfielder has only managed two hits in 15 at-bats this season but has been a pinch hitter in crucial spots against left-handed pitching. Garlick certainly looks to be the safest in keeping a roster spot with the Twins when the rosters shrink, but if he continues a cold streak at the plate, will that cost him a trip back down to St. Paul? Jose Godoy is the last hitter on this list, likely sent down when the roster size goes down from 28 to 26. Godoy does not have many of the same questions as Celestino, Larnach, or Garlick. Yes, he would benefit from more consistent playing time with the Saints. However, the main question that hangs over Godoy staying with the Twins after May 2nd is if the front office wants to have three catchers on the roster and not two. With Gary Sanchez day-to-day and emergency catcher Jhon Romero on the ten-day injured list, Godoy's spot on the Twins roster looks to remain for the time being. Before the Twins called him up for his season debut on Sunday, Godoy had caught four games for the Saints, hitting .133 with the team. The Twins are currently carrying 14 pitchers and will likely keep it that way until they need to bring the number of pitchers on their roster down to 13. That date changed on Monday when it was announced that teams will be able to keep 14 pitchers on their 26-man roster until May 29th when they can only have 13 pitchers on the 26-man roster. Celestino is the hitter that makes the most sense to be sent back down out of these four. Celestino has talent that still needs to see consistent playing time, and with how the Twins' everyday lineup currently pans out, he won't be seeing that playing time. Check back later when we look at which pitchers might be candidates to head to St. Paul. Let us know which hitters you would send down and why in the COMMENTS below.
  9. Last Week's Game Results: Game 10 | MIN 8, BOS 3: Garlick, Polanco Homer as Twins Split in Boston Game 11 | KC 4, MIN 3: Duffey Implodes as Twins Waste Winnable Game Game 12 | KC 2, MIN 0: Another Solid Pitching Performance Gets Wasted Game 13 | MIN 1, KC 0: Joe Cool Dazzles, Slough of Singles Game 14 | MIN 2, CWS 1: Twins Catch Break, Win Thriller Game 15 | MIN 9, CWS 2: Buxton, Bundy Lead in Comfortable Win Game 16 | MIN 6, CWS 4: Twins End White Sox Sweep with a Bang Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 4/18 through Sun, 4/24 *** Record Last Week: 5-2 (Overall: 8-8) Run Differential Last Week: +13 (Overall: +2) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (0.5 GA) NEWS & NOTES Thankfully it was a week filled with more good news than bad news on the injury front. First, the bad news: Jorge Alcalá was moved to the 60-day injured list with his elbow inflammation showing no signs of improvement. He'll be out until at least June, dealing a serious blow to the Twins' bullpen outlook. Replacing him on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, who joined the team as a third catcher. The additional depth was needed with Minnesota's top two backstops experiencing some (hopefully minor) issues. Gary Sánchez was scratched on Saturday due to abdominal tightness and Ryan Jeffers was scratched on Sunday due to a knee contusion. Neither player was placed on IL, although seemingly neither was available on Sunday. With a cortisone injection improving the condition of his ailing right wrist, Alex Kirilloff is set to start a brief rehab stint in St. Paul on Tuesday. He may rejoin the Twins next weekend. Meanwhile, Byron Buxton is already back and making a HUGE impact. We'll get to that shortly. HIGHLIGHTS The refreshingly impressive Twins rotation kept on rolling in Boston, Kansas City, and back home into Minneapolis. Check out the yeoman’s work in each successive game Monday through Saturday: Dylan Bundy @ BOS: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Chris Archer @ KC: 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K Chris Paddack @ KC: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Joe Ryan @ KC: 6 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K Bailey Ober vs. CWS: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Dylan Bundy vs. CWS: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Add in Chris Archer's so-so effort on Sunday (3 IP, 2 ER) and the rotation posted a 2.21 ERA in seven games last week. Starting pitching is carrying this team in April. Joe Ryan's outing was perhaps the most critical of the bunch last week – he was masterful Thursday in a 1-0 victory where the Twins needed every bit of his greatness. With a marked increase in his slider usage (up to 31.2% in his first three starts, from 16.0% in 2021) Ryan continued to relentlessly attack the zone while inducing whiffs and weak contact. Dylan Bundy lowered his ERA for the season to 0.59 (third-lowest in baseball) with a pair of excellent starts. His early success owes to a few factors, but a big one is that he's pounding the strike zone at one of the highest rates in the league. His fastball has been extremely effective, despite ranking in the 9th percentile for velocity (averaging just 89.0 MPH). Hitters are batting .133 against it with zero extra-base hits through three starts. The offense's breakout on Saturday, which saw them score more runs (9) than they had in the previous four games (6) was keyed in part by Luis Arraez, who went 4-for-5 in the contest and is now slashing .354/.426/.458 after a 9-for-21 run. But the true star of the week – and stop me if you've heard this before – was Buxton. He only started three games, taking a few games off to make sure all was well with his sore knee, but the team's best player wasted no time making his presence felt. After a 1-for-4 game as DH against Kansas City on Thursday, Buxton started in center at Target Field on Saturday night and went 4-for-4 with a home run, HBP, and three runs scored. On Sunday, he came through with a clutch game-tying two-run homer in the seventh and then walked it off with an epic three-run blast in the 10th. It was a really special moment. There really aren't words to describe what Buxton is doing right now. He's single-handedly winning ballgames. He has hilariously accumulated 1.4 fWAR in a span of 10 games. His WPA in Sunday's game alone (0.761) was higher than all but seven MLB players had accumulated ALL season. This is amazingly fun to watch. I continue to believe Buxton's contract extension will go down as the most important move this franchise has ever made. LOWLIGHTS Up and down the lineup, hitters continue to generally struggle. Carlos Correa finally notched some hits, going 6-for-22, but they were all singles and he also mixed in three GIDPs. Trevor Larnach, who went 2-for-22 with eight strikeouts, looks like he belongs in Triple-A (and will likely soon head back). Max Kepler failed to register an extra-base hit or RBI; his slugging percentage sits at .300 yet he's still batting fourth or fifth every time he's in the lineup. But make no mistake: Miguel Sanó continues to be the biggest laggard on offense for the Twins. Following a 2-for-22 week, his slash line sits at an embarrassing .083/.224/.146, and the supposed slugger has produced just one home run and three RBIs in 15 games. It's a weird deal with Sanó. The process isn't bad. He's taking good at-bats and making hard contact, with barrel and chase rates that rank among the best in the league. But there's constantly no payoff and it's hard to view it all as just bad luck. On Sunday, in a key spot with the tying run on second in the 10th, he got the green light on a 3-0 count and popped out to the catcher. I mean come on dude. On the bullpen front, Tyler Duffey coughed up another close lead and saw it turn into a loss on his ledger. While his meltdown Tuesday in Kansas City was less damaging than the blown save against Seattle – this time the offense had three chances to tie or take a lead, although of course they failed – it was substantively much uglier. Rather than getting dinked and dunked on a string of hits like in his first blown save, Duffey gave up a pair of long home runs in KC on absolute meatballs left out over the plate. He left that outing with the worst Win Probability Added (-0.88) of any pitcher or hitter in the big leagues. With his season starting to feel like an Alex Colomé redux, Duffey bounced back on Friday night. Rocco Baldelli gave a strong vote of confidence to his embattled veteran, handing Duffey the ball with a one-run deficit in the eighth against the top of the Chicago order, and Duff delivered: a 1-2-3 inning with two strikeouts. Hopefully it's a sign of stabilization to come, because the Twins really need Duffey to be a Dude in that bullpen – especially in light of the unfortunate Alcalá news. TRENDING STORYLINE What is the plan with Gilberto Celestino? That is the big looming question in my mind right now. He's 23 years old, and still very much a developing prospect – he's played a total of 75 games above Single-A in the minors – yet for some reason Celestino is relegated to stagnation on the big-league bench. He's been with the Twins since Opening Day, accruing just 10 at-bats (with one hit) in three weeks. I get that the 40-man roster situation is a bit challenging, but this is getting ridiculous. Not only does Celestino offer very little as a bench player for the Twins, but more importantly, this is terrible for his development. He needs regular at-bats. I understood carrying him as a short-term patch while the Twins pursued Justin Upton, but if that's not happening ... what are we doing here exactly? LOOKING AHEAD Having passed their first test against an AL Central contender in flying colors, the Twins will now welcome another one to Target Field as Detroit visits for a three-game series. We're slated to see old friend Michael Pineda on Wednesday night. Then it's off to a Tampa for three games against the always-tough Rays. It feels like the Twins have faced an inordinate number of left-handed starters early on this year, and that trend continues with (at least) four southpaws on the upcoming docket. The health situations of Sánchez and Jeffers will be worth closely monitoring. TUESDAY, 4/26: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Eduardo Rodriguez v. RHP Chris Paddack WEDNESDAY, 4/27: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Joe Ryan THURSDAY, 4/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Bailey Ober FRIDAY, 4/29: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Dylan Bundy v. TBD SATURDAY, 4/30: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Shane McClanahan SUNDAY, 5/1: TWINS @ RAYS – RHP Chris Paddack v. LHP Josh Fleming
  10. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 5.1 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K (71 pitches, 51 strikes (71.8%)) Home Runs: Kyle Garlick (1), Jorge Polanco (2) Top 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy (.162), Kyle Garlick (.160), Jorge Polanco (.126) Game Score: Twins 8, Red Sox 3 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The city of Boston was buzzing with excitement on Monday, also known as Patriots Day. It was the first Patriots Day to feel normal since COVID-19 entered our vocabulary. Just outside of Fenway Park was the running of the Boston Marathon. While Bostonians were looking for a good day, it did not start that way for Red Sox fans as COVID would rear its ugly head. Before game time, Kevin Plawecki was spotted leaving the stadium in street clothes. Later it would be reported that he and two other Red Sox staffers had tested positive for COVID. It will certainly be a development we, as Twins fans, will want to keep an eye on as it could have a ripple effect if any Twins players or staff would also end up testing positive. A Cleanup Spot Garlick Tater Monday morning, as the starting lineup was posted on Twitter, there was plenty of angst surrounding the selection of Kyle Garlick to hit cleanup. Garlick proved his doubters wrong with Carlos Correa on base by placing a Rich Hill pitch right on top of the Green Monster in left field. At first look, there is reason to be initially frustrated that an offensively struggling Twins team would bat a player who wasn’t even on the Opening Day roster cleanup. Garlick also flexed one of the big reasons the Twins front office preferred him over the recently traded Brent Rooker. Garlick rakes against lefties. Entering the day, Garlick, over his career, had slashed .258/.298/.567 with a .865 OPS against southpaws. Bundy Finally Gives Up a Run Even though his velocity seemed to be down, Dylan Bundy pitched very well and was nearly flawless through four innings. That included a stretch in which Bundy sent down ten batters in a row. Bundy ran into trouble in the fifth inning, allowing his first run as a Twin. When the Twins tried to stretch Bundy into the sixth and save the bullpen another inning, everything really went south for Bundy. After getting Hernandez out to start the inning on a strikeout, the next two hits were struck hard and resulted in runners on second and third base with one out. If the Twins did not have a three-run lead, Baldelli might have gone to his bullpen right away to begin the inning. It seemed like a measured gamble worth taking with the lead and how efficient Bundy had been. While the results may have been very similar to Bundy’s first Twins start last Monday, there is one thing to keep an eye on. Last week Bundy kept hard-hit balls to a minimum. Monday morning, the hard-hit rate was up considerably. He gave up ten hard hits and boasted a hard hit % of 66.7%. Where Smith Big in Relief Joe Smith was tasked with cleaning up the mess that was left after Bundy was pulled from the game. He was able to get Martinez to hit an infield grounder that Sano fielded and froze Devers leading to an eventually tag placed on the Red Sox third baseman. Then after an intentional walk to Verdugo, Smith got Arroyo to hit a loud F8 to end the inning. The sixth inning could have turned into an ugly inning, but the veteran Smith was able to come in and save the Twins three-run lead. Polanco Comes Up Big While Garlick got things going on the offensive side of the ball, Jorge Polanco put a big exclamation point on the morning and afternoon. Polanco followed up Garlick’s two-run home run over the Green Monster with one of his own with Gilberto Celestino on base. Then in the eighth inning, with the bases loaded, Polanco came through with a two-RBI single. Polanco’s eight-inning single gave the Twins second baseman a 2-for-5 day and four RBIs, which helped give his team some much-appreciated breathing room. Polanco’s single was part of an excellent eighth inning for the Twins. An inning where they scored four runs on only one hit! Griffin Jax even pitched a scoreless eighth, helping the Twins get past an inning that has not been friendly to them this season. What’s Next? The Twins will move on to Kansas City for their first look at the fellow AL central Royals. Tuesday's game will feature Chris Archer's second start of the season. While the Royals look to send Carlos Hernandez to the mound. Because of the Wild and Wolves, the Twins game will be on the CW. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Winder 28 0 66 0 0 94 Jax 0 22 0 0 47 69 Duran 0 34 0 0 23 57 Romero 34 0 11 0 0 45 Thielbar 18 0 0 17 0 35 Pagán 20 11 0 0 0 31 Duffey 0 0 0 18 0 18 Stashak 0 0 0 17 0 17 Coulombe 14 0 0 0 0 14 Smith 3 0 0 0 6 9
  11. Breaking Down the Opening Day Roster On Thursday, the Twins finalized their Opening Day roster, with a few surprises rounding out the fringes. The most noteworthy names on the official 28-man squad heading into the season are rookie Josh Winder (serving as a long man in relief), Gilberto Celestino serving as the fourth outfielder (very temporarily, I suspect), and newcomer Jhon Romero edging Griffin Jax for a final bullpen spot. Matthew Taylor wrote a great article posing one pivotal question for each player on the 28-man roster. Oh, and the shakeup we'll cover next also added a very surprising twist to the season-opening mix. Catch Up on the Last-Minute Trade Between Minnesota and San Diego You can never count this front office out. Just when it looked like they were going to roll into the regular season with a conspicuously thin starting rotation, the Twins pulled the trigger on a big trade on the morning of MLB Opening Day. In a last-minute stunner, the team traded its longtime closer and best reliever Taylor Rogers, along with Brent Rooker, to San Diego for starter Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagán. Seth Stohs offered some immediate reaction when the move was announced on Thursday morning, and Ted Schwerzler followed up with analysis of the trade's impact. Joe Ryan vs. Robbie Ray: How Big is Seattle's Matchup Edge? It has the makings of a serious mismatch on paper: the reigning Cy Young winner going up against a rookie with five MLB starts under his belt. JD Cameron has you covered with a full breakdown of the Ryan vs. Ray tilt. As he notes, "Ray could not contrast more markedly with Ryan in experience, build, or arsenal." Elsewhere, Andrew Mahlke wrote about how the Twins are showing major confidence in Ryan by giving him the Opening Day nod. Theo Tollefson pointed out that Ryan is in rare air as a rookie. Our Official Season Preview Guide The Twins experienced a lot of change over the past offseason. Your best bet for getting fully up to speed is by grabbing a copy of Twins Daily 2022 Season Preview. Featuring contributions from JD, Lucas, Nash, Rena, David, Seth, and myself, this PDF breaks down each of the club's biggest offseason moves – the Correa signing, the Buxton extension, the Gray trade, and much more – while also highlighting rookies who are likely to debut and laying out 22 crucial things to know before the first pitch. The guide is free to all caretakers. Buy in for a minimum of one month at six bucks, and it's yours. Stick with us if you're so inclined. But make sure you grab the guide. Position by Position Roster Analysis Over the past few weeks, I've been running through in-depth breakdowns of every position on the team as the season gets underway – from catchers to relievers. The questions we seek to answer in these pieces: What's the outlook? How's the depth? What's the plan going forward? Read up on the 2022 Minnesota Twins roster: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop Position Analysis: Left Field Position Analysis: Center Field Position Analysis: Right Field Position Analysis: Designated Hitter Position Analysis: Starting Pitcher Position Analysis: Relief Pitcher Get Acquainted with the Top Prospects We recently unveiled our Twins top prospects tracker. I highly recommend bookmarking it and checking back often. It'll be updated throughout the season as stocks rise and fall. If you're looking for a detailed analysis of the organization's best upcoming talent heading into this 2022 season, you can read my overview of the system or click through to profiles on each of the top 20 Twins prospects (spoiler alert: MANY of them are going to debut this year): 20. Steve Hajjar, LHP: Big 6-foot-5 southpaw drafted in the 2nd round last year, touted for his changeup. 19. Edouard Julien, INF: Versatile fielder drew 101 BB in 112 G last year at Single-A, good for a .434 OBP. 18. Spencer Steer, INF: Mashed 24 homers in a breakthrough power season, playing mostly 2B and 3B. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Looked to be clicking last year before TJ surgery, which will cost him '22 season. 16. Emmanuel Rodríguez, OF: Extreme contact woes marred otherwise highly encouraging rookie-ball debut. 15. Louie Varland, RHP: Honored as the org's top minor-league pitcher in '21 thanks to dazzling A-ball performance. 14. Cole Sands, RHP: Polished righty has posted a 2.53 ERA, 10.3 K/9 in two seasons since joining Twins system. 13. Matt Wallner, OF: Huge raw power will play if he can shore up his plate discipline and whiffing tendency. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Was overwhelmed during rushed MLB debut, but the skills are undeniable. 11. Noah Miller, SS: 38th pick in '21 draft out of HS swings from both sides with legit chance to stick at short. 10. Josh Winder, RHP: Absurdly dominant between AA/AAA last year, and is basically ready to go at 25. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: Team's top draft pick from last summer was a high-school phenom with 100-MPH heat. Traded to Reds for Sonny Gray. 8. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP: Mechanics and control hold back premium arsenal, but he's still young. 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Imposing flamethrower has makeup to dominate but must get past scary elbow issues. 6. Matt Canterino, RHP: His 1.13 ERA and 76 Ks in 48 IP since being drafted in 2019 say it all, good and bad. 5. Joe Ryan, RHP: Amazing numbers in minors were made to look legit during 5-start run with Twins. 4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Safest combination of ceiling, floor, and proven durability among arms in the system. 3. José Miranda, 2B/3B: Perennial breakthrough candidate broke through with minor-league season for the ages. 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Missed 2 straight years, but has the elite skills, athleticism, and drive to catch up fast. 1. Austin Martin, SS/OF: Headliner of 2022 deadline sell-off is a worthy top prize, with evident star qualities. Finally, a Word to Our Community I originally published this stream of thoughts on Twitter, but figured I would do so here as well, because you all are the people I was really addressing: It's almost Opening Day. An Opening Day some of us (legitimately) thought would never come. I'm feeling really excited and just gonna gush a little bit. In February we celebrated the 10th birthday of Twins Daily. It's been a wild and amazing ride. I feel both proud and humbled to have played a small role in it. John Bonnes, Parker Hagemen, Seth Stohs and Brock Beauchamp are the best partners and friends a guy could ask for. We've developed something so special that we're hoping to extend it into new markets. We joined forces with a Brewers site, Brewer Fanatic, with the goal of bringing our same model of community-based independent coverage to fans in Milwaukee. It's a movement! We also just launched a "Caretaker" program at TD which gives members a way to financially support our operation, mainly because they want to see it sustain and grow while supporting our creators. The response has been unbelievable. Seriously. Twins Daily is, and always has been, driven by the talented and dedicated people that contribute their time and energy to its cause. We have assembled so many that I can't even try to fit them all in a series of tweets. Y'all are amazing. You are the future. Baseball is ultimately a small part of life. Following it closely is a hobby and diversion. But it matters, a lot, to so many of us. That's become clearer than ever over the past few years as fans have repeatedly grappled with the prospect of losing their beloved summer pastime. Personally, this sport has connected me to John, and Seth, and Parker, and Brock. And basically everyone I know on through this community. I never would've guessed when I started a blogspot in 2005 that this obsessive side hustle would turn into something so integral to who I am. Our site's success instills in me a deep faith that this model can keep carrying fandom and online coverage forward. I'm stoked. The internet, for all its imperfections, is perfect for bringing together all sorts of random folks around a shared passion and pursuit. We're not competing with mainstream media or traditional journalism. We're adding to them. Twins fans have never had access to more awesome content and diverse perspectives. That was the entire goal of this endeavor from the start. THANK YOU. See you at the ballpark.
  12. Catchers Ryan Jeffers: Will more at-bats against LHP take Jeffers to a new level? Over the last two seasons, Ryan Jeffers had ceded at-bats against left-handed pitchers to Mitch Garver. With Garver no longer on the team, Jeffers figures to get more opportunities against southpaws which should aid his performance at the plate. Gary Sánchez: Will a change of scenery bring back the old Gary? After bursting onto the scene as a prospect and in his early years with the Yankees, Sánchez has struggled mightily, to the tune of a .698 OPS over the last two seasons. Potentially getting out of the highly-intense New York market and moving to Minnesota will be the change that he needs to get back to his past production. Infielders: Luis Arraez: Will he stay on the team all year? Arraez has been a prime trade candidate all offseason, however he is on the Opening Day roster. As needs continue to appear and the Twins make moves during the season, will Arraez be a guy they look to move? With Polanco taking second base and Urshela at third, with Miranda on the way, Arraez could prove to be moveable. Carlos Correa: Can Correa’s clutchness (finally) bring the Twins a playoff victory? Among many areas in which Carlos Correa has excelled in his young career, his clutchness might be the most exciting. At 27-years-old, Correa has already appeared in 79 postseason games and might finally be the guy to end the Twins’ playoff drought. Nick Gordon: How long can he fend off the prospects? While Nick Gordon was a surprise in the 2021 season, he still only managed to post an OPS of .647. With prospects like Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis waiting for their opportunity, how long can Nick be the utilityman before he gets overtaken for someone with more upside? Jorge Polanco: Can he provide Gold Glove-level defense this year? After a bumpy start at second base to start the year, Polanco finished strong at second base, providing excellent defense. In his second full season at the position, Polanco could turn into Gold Glover at second base, paired up the middle with Carlos Correa, who himself is a Gold Glover. Miguel Sanó: Can he avoid prolonged slumps this year? The problem with Miguel Sanó has never been a question of talent, as he can get scorching hot at the plate and single-handedly win games by himself. The problem with the first baseman has always been his propensity to go into prolonged slumps. Avoid long slumps, and he could be in for a big year. Gio Urshela: Was 2019 the outlier season or was 2021 the outlier season? In 2019, Urshela posted a .889 OPS in 132 games with the Yankees. Last season, Urshela posted a mediocre .720 OPS in 116 games with the Yankees. Which is the norm and which is the outlier? We’ll soon find out. Outfielders Byron Buxton: Will he win the MVP this year? Having already received his big payday, and coming into the season fully healthy, this looks like it could be the year that Byron puts it all together. With upside higher than almost anyone else in the Majors, an MVP looks in the realm of possibilities for Buck. Gilberto Celestino: How much upside is there? A surprise addition to the Opening Day roster, Celestino was named fourth outfielder over Kyle Garlick. Celestino has been on top-prospect lists for the Twins since coming over via the Ryan Pressly trade in 2018. Is Celestino just a fourth outfielder type, or is there more? Could he use this opportunity to really burst onto the scene? Max Kepler: Can he hit left handed pitching again? Max Kepler had the best season of his career in 2019, largely because of the success that he had against left-handed pitching, posting a .880 OPS against southpaws that year. Every other year of his career, Kepler has struggled mightily against lefties, shown by his .509 OPS against them last season. Can he hit left handers again? Alex Kirilloff: Can he burst onto the scene with a now-healthy wrist? After a strong start to the year in 2022, Alex Kirilloff sustained a wrist injury which hampered his play immensely. Following the injury, Kirilloff lost almost all of his power, managing a slugging percentage of just .387. Now healthy, what can he do? Starting Pitchers Chris Archer: How long of a leash will he have? Check out Cody’s article linked above! Dylan Bundy: Can he ride his slider to a nice season? The Twins love sliders and Dylan Bundy has a good one. Even though he had a 36% whiff rate on his slider last year, Bundy only threw it 21.1% of the time. If the Twins have Bundy throw the slider more, he could surprise some people. Sonny Gray: Can he work through his declining velocity? Sonny Gray’s fastball velocity has declined in each of the past two years and now it is sitting at 92 MPH. Gray has never been a power pitcher, but if that trend continues, things could get worrisome. Bailey Ober: Has he already hit his ceiling? Bailey Ober’s 2021 season was a big surprise as he was never high on people’s prospect lists. The question with Ober, though, is if he can continue improving. Was his 2021 season the best that we’ll see of him, or is he on a trajectory to get even better? Chris Paddack: Should we be worried about his elbow? The newly-acquired Chris Paddack certainly has upside, as he showed in his rookie year in 2019. His elbow is a bit of a concern, though. Paddack previously had Tommy John surgery in 2016, and last year got an elbow injection after a UCL strain. Something to monitor, for sure, as an elbow injury would change the outlook of the Rogers trade, tremendously. Joe Ryan: Can he become a frontline starter? Joe Ryan is good, but is he a third or fourth starter type of good? Or is he a number two pitcher, potential ace type of good? He was named the Opening Day starter and will get plenty of opportunity, and the answer to this question could mean a lot for the Twins’ roster-building plans moving forward. Relief Pitchers Jorge Alcala: Will he become the Twins closer? With Taylor Rogers gone, Alcala looks like one of the prime candidates to be the 9th inning closer for the Twins in 2022. After a strong finish to the 2022 season in which he posted a 0.82 ERA in his last 19 appearances, Alcala might be the best man for the job. Jharel Cotton: Will he be the next big Falvine waiver claim? In 2019 it was Matt Wisler. Last year it was Danny Coulombe. This year, Jharel Cotton has the makeup to be the next big waiver claim reliever. Danny Coulombe: Can he reliably get out lefties? Following the Rogers trade, Coulombe is now one of two left handed relievers on the Opening Day roster. The Twins will need to look to Coulombe throughout the season to get out left-handed hitters. Tyler Duffey: Is he now a pitch-to-contact pitcher? After huge strikeout rates in 2019 and 2020, Duffey managed to strikeout less than one batter per inning last year. Is that who Duffey is now, or can he get back to his strikeout ways? Jhoan Duran: Will he be the hardest-throwing pitcher in Twins history? Duran has always thrown gas as a prospect for the Twins. After now having been moved to a full-time reliever role, Duran can let it rip even further. He has already been touching triple digits this spring with ease. Emilio Pagán: Will he be a high-leverage reliever? The other piece in the Taylor Rogers trade, the Twins will be bringing back another reliever to fill Rogers’ place in the bullpen. Pagán was excellent in 2019 with Tampa Bay, tossing a 2.31 ERA with a K/9 of 12.3. The right-hander has struggled each of the last two seasons, but has the upside to be a high leverage guy with some tweaks. Jhon Romero: Can he be a piece? Another sneaky waiver claim by the front office this offseason, Romero is just 27-years-old and coming off of a season in which he posted a 2.62 ERA with an 11.3 K/9 across double and triple-A. The numbers certainly point to him being a piece, but it remains to be scene if it will translate to the big leagues. Joe Smith: Does he have anything left in the tank? An under the radar signing this offseason, Joe Smith doesn’t possess velocity, but has been successful throughout his career. At 38-years-old, though, it’s only a matter of time before the wheels fall off. Caleb Thielbar: Can he get back to dominating with his curveball? Caleb Thielbar has one of the best curveballs in all of baseball. In 2020, Thielbar didn’t allow a single hit against his curveball. Last season, opponents hit .348 against the pitch. Josh Winder: What will his role look like? There was some thought that Winder might have gotten the fifth starter spot prior to the Twins signing Chris Archer. Still making the Opening Day roster, it’s fair to wonder how the Twins will use him. The Twins will still want to keep Winder stretched out, so I would expect to see him in a piggyback type role with Archer in April. Which of the above questions is the biggest one for the Twins in 2022? Leave a comment and start the conversation!
  13. In 2021, the Saints joined the Twins family of affiliates and had a really strong, veteran roster. With so many Twins injuries, the Saints roster often was loaded with minor-league veterans. In 2022, there should be several of the organization’s top prospects including the return of Royce Lewis after not playing for the past two years. Jose Miranda also returns after his incredible 2021 campaign. Several return to Toby Gardenhire’s roster from last year, but there will also be many new faces, including on his coaching staff. Pitching coach Cibney Bello and Defensive Coach Tyler Smarslok return. Hitting Coach Matt Borgschulte got a big-league job with the Orioles. He was replaced by Ryan Smith who moves up to the Saints after spending last season in Wichita. Michael McCarthy left the organization to be the Triple-A pitching coach for the Padres. Virgil Vasquez moves up from the Wind Surge to take his place. . Here we will introduce you to the 2021 Saints Opening Day roster with a tweet-length bio. For much more on each player, click the hyperlink with the name and see all of the Twins Daily stories in which each player is tagged. There are some terrific prospects on this roster to go with all the veterans and there are some great stories as well. COACHES Manager: Toby Gardenhire Hitting Coach: Ryan Smith Pitching Coaches: Cibney Bello, Virgil Vasquez Defensive Coach: Tyler Smarslok PITCHERS RHP Yennier Cano (28) - The 28-year-old signed with the Twins in the summer of 2019. He began 2021 in Wichita for 12 games before joining the Saints for 30 games. Combined, he went 5-3 with five saves, a 3.23 ERA. In 69 2/3 innings, he struck out 86 batters. Strong pitch-mix and always willing to take the ball. RHP Jake Faria (28) - One of the final cuts in spring training, Faria has played in the big leagues for parts of four of the past five seasons. He debuted with the Rays in 207 and has pitched for the Brewers and Diamondbacks as well. He can work multiple innings out of the bullpen. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (30) - Gonzalez pitched for the Rangers in 2015 and 2016. He missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to injury, but he has spent time with the Rockies each of the past three seasons and posted ERAs well over five each year. Hopefully will eat innings for the Saints. RHP Jordan Gore (27) - The shortstop-turned-reliever started last season in Cedar Rapids before moving up to Wichita where he became the closer and performed even better. Combined, he went 8-2 with seven saves. In 67 2/3 innings, he struck out 88 batters. Mid-90s fastball is combined with a good slider and a good changeup. RHP Daniel Gossett (29) - After pitching at Clemson, he was drafted by the A’s in 2014 and pitched in their system through the 2019 season. He debuted with the A’s in 2017 and then made five more starts in 2018. He pitched in Triple-A with the Red Sox last year. He signed a minor-league deal with the Twins and provides depth to the organization. RHP Ian Hamilton (26) - Drafted by the White Sox in 2016, Hamilton pitched for that organization through the 2020 season. He pitched 10 games for the Sox in 2018 and four more games in 2020 before spending time on the waiver wire. The Twins claimed him and DFAd him in spring training. He cleared and he spent the full season with the Saints. RHP Ryan Mason (27) - Drafted in the 13th round in 2016 out of California, Mason has slowly but steadily risen through the Twins farm system. He ended last year with 13 games with the Saints. Combined, he had 63 strikeouts in 54 innings. RHP Trevor Megill (28) - Big (6-8), burly (250 pounds) right-hander debuted with 28 games with the Cubs in 2021. In 23 2/3 innings with the Cubs, he had 30 strikeouts. Megill throws hard and just might have some potential out of the bullpen. RHP Juan Minaya (31) - Minaya has pitched in 154 big league games including 29 games with the Twins in 2021. In 40 innings last year, he struck out 43 batters and posted a 2.48 ERA. It was somewhat surprising when he was DFAd after the season, but fortunately, they were able to bring him back on a minor-league deal. LHP Jovani Moran (24) - Moran was drafted by the Twins in 2015. When healthy, he has been dominant. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, a good slider, and a tremendous changeup, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. He debuted with the Twins with five games in September 2021. One of the last players optioned to St. Paul, he should spend a lot of time with the Twins. RHP Wladimir Pinto (24) - Signed by the Tigers in 2015, he reached Triple-A in 2021 but became a free agent following the season. The Twins picked him up on a minor league deal. Last year, in 50 2/3 innings, he walked 35 and struck out 60 batters. He throws hard. He’s got good stuff, but clearly, control is the issue. Just 24, this is the kind of upside minor-league signings that are fun! RHP JC Ramirez (33) - Signed just last week, the Nicaraguan debuted with the Phillies in 2013. Since, he has pitched in the big leagues for the Diamondbacks, Mariners, Reds, and from 2016 to 2019 with the Angels. He pitched in Mexico and China in 2021. RHP Dereck Rodriguez (29) - Drafted in 2011 by the Twins, he spent the first three pro seasons as an outfielder before moving to the moun in 2014. He reached Double-A with the Twins before signing with the Giants as a free agent in 2018. That year, he debuted with 21 games (19 starts) in the big leagues for San Francisco. He pitched for the Giants into the 2020 season. Pitched at Triple-A with the Rockies in 2021 and came back to the Twins this offseason. RHP Mario Sanchez (27) - The Venezuelan signed with the Nationals in 2011. He spent two seasons in the Phillies system, but then he was back in the Nationals system from 2019-21. Last year, he went 4-8 with a 4.16 ERA. In 114 2/3 innings, he struck out 115 and walked just 23 batters. RHP Cole Sands (24) - Sands is the #13 ranked prospect in the system. The team’s fifth-round pick in 2018 from Florida State, Sands went 4-2 with a 2.46 ERA at Wichita. In 80 1/3 innings, he walked 35 and struck out 96 batters. He was added to the 40-man roster in November. LHP Devin Smeltzer (26) - The southpaw debuted with seven games for the Twins in 2019 and then pitched in seven games for them in 2020. Last year, he made one appearance (4 2/3 scoreless innings) before his season came to an end because of a herniated disc in his neck. He was removed from the 40-man roster, but this spring, he gave up just five hits over 11 scoreless innings. I’d expect him to pitch for the Twins in 2022. RHP Drew Strotman (25) - A former fourth-round pick of the Rays, Strotman came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in last July’s Nelson Cruz trade. He struggled in adjusting to the Twins, but even so, he was hitting 97-99 mph with a fastball. He’s developed as a starter because he has a four-pitch mix, but he is now shifting to the bullpen. He will debut in 2022. CATCHERS David Banuelos (25) - After being drafted by the Mariners, the Twins acquired him for international signing dollars that offseason. In 2021, he played in 15 games for Wichita and 30 games with the Saints. Overall, he hit .201/.245/.340 (.586) with seven doubles, two triples and three homers. All but two doubles came with the Saints. But Banuelos is a plus defensive catcher who works really well with pitchers. Stevie Berman (27) - Came to the Twins very late last year from the Dodgers in the Andrew Vasquez trade. Definitely a defense first veteran backstop. Caleb Hamilton (27) - Drafted from Oregon State in 2016, Hamilton was moved behind the plate. However, he has played all over the diamond. He played 78 games in 2021 between Wichita and St. Paul and hit a combined .181/.308/.341 (.649) with eight doubles and nine home runs. Chance Sisco (27) - Not officially on the roster yet, but he was signed by the Twins on Monday to a minor-league deal, Sisco will be joining the team in Louisville soon. The former top prospect of the Orioles, he spent part of each of the past five seasons in the big leagues. In 191 games, he has hit .297/.317/.337 (.654). INFIELDERS Royce Lewis (22) - The Twins' top pick in the 2017 draft is a Top 100 prospect and remains the #2 Twins prospect. Unfortunately, he missed 2021 with a torn ACL. He’s excited to be back and will be playing shortstop most every day. He was added to the 40-man roster in November and could debut in 2022. Jose Miranda (23) - Miranda has always had the tools, and in 2021, he busted out in a big way. Between Wichita and St. Paul, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 homers in 127 games. He was added to the 40-man roster in November. Able to play first base, second base, and third base, Miranda is just waiting for an opportunity, and for some, he will have to prove that 2021 was the real deal. Jermaine Palacios (25) - While fans may not get excited, the idea of Palacios getting to the big leagues with the Twins would be pretty neat. He became a good prospect with the Twins and then was traded to the Rays for Jake Odorizzi. After struggling mightily, Palacios returned to the Twins as a free agent last year. In 110 games at Wichita, he hit .259/.341/.439 (.780) with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. In addition, he is a really good defensive shortstop. That said, he’s likely to play all over the infield in 2022. Daniel Robertson (28) - The veteran utility infielder played in the big leagues with the Rays from 2017 to 2019, the Giants in 2020, and the Brewers in 2021. Overall, he has hit .227/.338/.345 (.683) with 34 doubles and 18 home runs in 299 games. He can play all of the infield positions pretty well and has minimal time spent in the outfield. Elliot Soto (32) - The Twins drafted Soto in 2007 out of high school He didn’t sign, went to Creighton, and was drafted by the Cubs in 2010. Beyond the Cubs, he has also played in the Marlins, Rockies, Angels, and Dodgers organizations. In 2020, he played in three big league games for the Angels and hit .333 (2-for-6) with a double. Curtis Terry (25) - Terry was drafted out of high school in Georgia in 2015 by the Rangers. He slowly worked up the Texas system, and finally got an opportunity in the big leagues in 2021. He had four hits including two doubles, in 13 games. He became a free agent after the seasons and very quickly joined the Twins on a minor league deal in November. OUTFIELDERS Jake Cave (29) - Cave has spent most of the past four seasons with the Twins. He has played in 281 games and hit .240/.305/.417 (.722) with 36 doubles, seven triples, and 28 home runs. For the first two seasons, he was a quality fourth outfielder who did well in limited duty. In the last couple of years, he has been a bit over-exposed and struggled. He was removed from the 40-man roster before spring training. Gilberto Celestino (23) - If you only watch the big league games, you saw Celestino really struggle in his debut in 2021. He hit just .136 over 62 plate appearances, though he had three doubles and two homers. In reality, he made that MLB debut with only 21 games played above A-ball and 29 games above Low-A. Excessive injuries forced him to The Show. But with the Saints, he hit .290/.384/.443 (.827) with 13 doubles and five homers in 49 games. Mark Contreras (27) - After four years at UC-Riverside, Contreras was the Twins' ninth-round pick in 2017. After a tough 2019 season (in which he still won a minor-league Gold Glove) and a lost 2020, Contreras broke out in 2021. In 114 games (95 in St. Paul), he hit .251/.338/.485 (.824) with 30 doubles, 20 homers and 15 RBI. Derek Fisher (28) - Over the past five seasons, Fisher has spent time in the big leaguers with the Astros, Blue Jays, and Brewers. In 172 big-league games, he’s hit. 195/.285/.378 (.663) with eight doubles and ten homers. Trevor Larnach (25) - Twin's top pick in 2018 from Oregon State, Larnach was the minor league hitter of the year in 2019. He was at the alternate site in 2020. After just one game in Triple-A last year, he was called up having had just a half-season at Double-A two years earlier. He started well but struggled late. Still, he will make adjustments and get back to the big leagues where in time he can hit for average and power. Should still be considered a big part of the Twins' future. There are likely to be several changes coming soon. For instance, will Kyle Garlick or Brent Rooker be on the Saints roster? Will Jose Godoy clear waivers and join the Saints? The Injured List includes Tim Beckham (quad), Jordan Balazovic (knee), and Ariel Jurado (Tommy John) to start the season. Like I said at the top, this roster has a solid mix of prospects and minor-league veterans. As you would expect, there are certain to be many transactions, but the depth is strong.
  14. Drafted out of the University of California-Riverside, Contreras scuffled through his first three professional seasons. In more than 1,000 plate appearances the outfielder had never posted a single-season OPS better than .740, and it had declined each year. Throw in that he was impacted by a lost minor league season in 2020 and things begin to look ominous. Fortunately for both the Twins and Contreras, the organization continued to buy in and show faith. Last season starting at Double-A Wichita a corner began to be turned. Playing 19 games for the Wind Surge, Contreras got out to a strong start with an .803 OPS. As Minnesota needed outfield depth and the ripple effects were felt throughout the system, Contreras found an opportunity with the Triple-A St. Paul Saints. In St. Paul, Contreras drew regular starts and played in 95 games. His .248/.335/.493 (.828) slash line was a career-high, and the power production came seemingly out of nowhere. Having previously hit 23 total homers in his pro career, Contreras launched 20, 18 of which came for the Saints, and he did so while maintaining a strong on-base percentage. Now ticketed to begin 2022 in St. Paul alongside outfielders like Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino, Minnesota’s crosstown affiliate may have one of the most talented trios in the minors. For Contreras though, there was always a belief that this could happen, and a clubhouse mix that made him feel comfortable may be to credit. “Tuning in to my approach at the plate made a big impact. Talking to Smars (Tyler Smarslok) and our old hitting coach Borgs (Matt Borgschulte), they really helped dial me in there. The clubhouse was good to me. We had a lot of vet guys, you know J.T. Riddle, Drew Maggi, and my roommate Sherman Johnson. They really helped me understand myself a little bit more and playing the game within the game.” Getting comfortable both at the plate and while handling success is part of the developmental process. It was clear Contreras had somewhat of a new approach, but it wasn’t necessarily intentional to bring the power along the way. “I’ve always known I could (hit for power) I just was making better contact and the ball was doing what it was doing. I showed myself I can do that, and I’m excited for this year. Again, a lot of respect and thanks to those guys last year because they really helped me dial that in.” When going through it at the dish, Contreras has always remained a strong defender and taken pride in that part of his game. “My dad always told me to separate the two. If you’re not having a good day at the plate, you can’t take that out to the field. You can’t take a bad play in the field to the plate, bounce back either way. Going good at the plate really helped me to relax out there as well.” As Minnesota struggled down the stretch at the Major League level last season it was worth wondering if Contreras would get the call. Now starting at the highest level of the minors, he’s as close as ever, and a repeat of 2021 could have him in contention for a big league debut sooner rather than later.
  15. The Twins announced this morning that outfielder Gilberto Celestino has been optioned to Triple-A St. Paul. In addition, utility man Tim Beckham was reassigned to minor-league spring training. The roster is now down to 36 players, eight above the 28-man Opening Day roster. There are still 20 pitchers (3 non-roster), three catchers (no non-roster), seven infielders (1 non-roster), and six outfielders (2 non-roster). With Celestino the day after Trevor Larnach, the team's Opening Day outfield appears to be coming into focus. The starters are likely to be Alex Kirilloff, Byron Buxton and Max Kepler with Brent Rooker and Nick Gordon coming off the bench. The two non-roster outfielders remaining on the spring roster are Jake Cave and Kyle Garlick. It's hard to imagine the team adding non-roster players for the 27th and 28th roster spots. Those will only be available for the first three weeks of the season. With Beckham sent down, the infield comes closer to the Opening Day roster. Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Carlos Correa, Gio Urshela, Luis Arraez, with Nick Gordon being able to play around field too. The one non-roster infielder is Daniel Robertson. The Twins will have to drop five or six pitchers to get down to their 28-man Opening Day roster (depending on if they use 14 or 15 pitchers). PICK YOUR ROSTER OK, just as a fun exercise, here are the 36 players remaining on the Twins spring roster. Which 28 will you send down? (My prediction is in the comments below.) Catchers: Ryan Jeffers, Jose Godoy, Gary Sanchez Infielders: Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Carlos Correa, Gio Urshela, Luis Arraez, Nick Gordon, Daniel Roberton (NRI) Outfielders: Brent Rooker, Alex Kirilloff, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave (NRI), Kyle Garlick (NRI) Pitchers: Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan, Dylan Bundy, Chris Archer, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Alcala, Jharel Cotton, Jhoan Duran, Griffin Jax, Joe Smith, Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jhon Romero,,Josh Winder, Danny Coulombe (NRI), Jake Faria (NRI), Devin Smeltzer (NRI) You can go 13 hitters and 15 pitchers or 14 hitters and 14 pitchers. Leave your thoughts, rosters or final cuts in the COMMENTS below.
  16. Projected Starter: Byron Buxton Likely Backup: Nick Gordon Depth: Max Kepler, Gilberto Celestino Prospects: Austin Martin, Royce Lewis THE GOOD Outside of Mike Trout, Byron Buxton is the best center fielder in baseball when he's on the field. Since 2019, he's been worth 8.1 fWAR, ranking seventh among all players at the position in this cumulative stat despite playing only 187 games. No player other than Trout delivers more value on a rate basis. That's because Buxton is an elite difference-maker in all phases of the game. He provides top-tier defense at one of the most crucial positions on the field. He's among the fastest players in the majors, a threat to steal or take extra bases any time he's aboard. I mean, this Statcast snapshot from last year says it all. Buxton tops the measurable charts in terms of power, speed, and defensive range. And the 28-year-old is trending up across the board. Buxton's new contract provides him with life-changing guaranteed money, but hardly diminishes his financial motivation to stay healthy and perform. His base salary for 2022 is $9 million, but he can more than double that total by meeting plate appearance thresholds and earning MVP votes. Buck is not the type of person who needs extra incentive to push him, but it's there, and will be throughout the life of his historically unprecedented contract. THE BAD There's no sugarcoating the fact that Buxton's injury history has defined his career up to this point as much as his superlative play. Last year was just another link in the broken chain, as a hip strain and broken hand cost him well over half the season. In both 2019 and 2020, Buxton was unavailable for the playoffs. I've said it before and I'll say it again: a player is only injury-prone until he isn't. There's no reason that, with some (long overdue) better luck, Buxton can't play 140-plus games like he did in 2017. But the reality is that Minnesota would be irresponsible not to plan for his absence, making it all the more strange there wasn't (or at least hasn't been) better depth built in behind him. Sure, the Twins have Nick Gordon, who proved surprisingly adept in center last year despite having no prior experience. You probably don't want him as your regular in the event of a prolonged Buxton absence, but he's a handy backup. For the purposes of injury contingencies, Gilberto Celestino might be an ideal fit. He's young, inexpensive, and very much a legitimate center fielder. But he was blatantly overmatched in his MLB debut last year (.466 OPS, -0.7 fWAR), and that impression will take some work to distance himself from. Austin Martin and Royce Lewis could be eventual options, but need seasoning in the minors. Max Kepler apparently has a strong aversion to playing center, with the Twins inclined to accommodate his preference. Jake Cave is around still but ... no thanks. In light of all this, the Twins would seemingly benefit from bringing in another veteran outfielder who is capable in center (especially with Alex Kirilloff likely to be spending ample time at first). To this point, they haven't. I don't think Derek Fisher qualifies. THE BOTTOM LINE The Twins hope to have Buxton manning center field for the next seven years. Realistically, they have to be persistently prepared for life without him. Their interim depth is a bit questionable, but long-term the outlook is bright with prospects like Celestino, Martin, Lewis, Emmanuel Rodriguez and Misael Urbina all projecting as possible options down the line. That said, their immediate depth behind Buxton is questionable, which is quite troubling all things considered. 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 Position Analysis: Left Field
  17. All three of these players made their debuts in 2021 after taking different routes to the big-league level. Now entering their sophomore seasons, will they be able to avoid a slump? Gilberto Celestino, CF Twins fans will remember Celestino floundering during his big-league debut last season, but that is only part of his 2021 campaign. Injuries forced the Twins to call him up with no experience above the Double-A level, and this was on the heels of a non-existent 2020 minor-league season. Transitioning to the big-league level can be challenging, but Celestino is a better player than his debut performance. After his struggles at the MLB level, he settled in nicely for the Saints and hit .290/.384/.443 (.827) while playing above-average defense in center. The chances are that Byron Buxton will be injured in 2022. When that happens, Celestino can rely on his success in the high minors to start transitioning that success to the big-league level. He has the tools to settle into an above-average fourth outfielder role with the Twins. Ben Rortvedt, C Rortvedt made his MLB debut last season after Minnesota's two-catcher rotation was unsuccessful. Entering 2022, the Twins have the same three catchers on the roster, so what has changed? Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are penciled in to be the starters, but Rortvedt has some solid defensive skills that make him a more than capable backup. Scouting reports praise his work behind the plate and his ability to manage the running game. If one of the primary catchers is hurt, he is more than capable of handling the backup duties. His hit tool will never make him an everyday catcher, but he has some pop in his bat when he makes contact. At Triple-A, he hit .254/.324/.426 (.750) with 11 extra-base hits in 34 games. There's still a chance the Twins trade one of their catchers for starting pitching, and then Rortvedt takes on an even more critical role. Nick Gordon, UTL Twins fans know Gordon's name well because he was a first-round draft pick and considered a top prospect for multiple seasons. In 2021, he made his big-league debut at age-25 and hit .240/.292/.355 (.647) in 200 at-bats. Gordon was great in June. He got on base one-third of the time and posted a .765 OPS. Fans wanted to see more of Gordon, especially at the club's end of a terrible season. The Twins had little desire to play him at shortstop, his defensive position for his entire pro career. Instead, Minnesota used him at all three outfield positions and second base. Gordon's future value is tied to his ability to play multiple defensive positions while finding a way to get on base regularly. Other Twins prospects have developed power later in their career, but Gordon's ceiling seems more likely to be limited to a utility role. Which player do you think has the most significant impact on the 2022 Twins? 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
  18. This is an exciting group with high-risk, high-reward prospects mixed with established minor league hitters. Let's break it down. 13. SS Noah Miller The Twins picked Miller, 19, in the first round of the 2021 draft. JD Cameron recently broke down Millers’ all-around skills, if not his lack of a transparent standout tool. Miller could see Low-A in 2022, but a slow progression is a good bet. 12. OF Emmanuel Rodríguez The Twins may have a budding top prospect in Rodríguez. At 18 years old, Rodríguez posted an .870 OPS in 153 plate appearances for the FCL Twins in 2021. That’s quite impressive for someone listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds. 11. OF Misael Urbina Urbina, 19, is still a ways away from the high-minors. He hit just .191/.299/.286 for Fort Myers in 2021. He was over two years younger than the average Low-A position player, but Urbina has work to do before 2022. 10. SS Keoni Cavaco Cavaco, 20, has had a rough two years in the minors. He’s played only 88 games, but Cavaco has hit just .217/.276/.289 while striking out in 35% of his plate appearances. 2022 is a big year for the former first-round pick. 9. UTIL Alerick Soularie There is a noticeable gap between Soularie and the four above him on this list. Soularie is an advanced college hitter who has yet to settle into the minors. Soularie, 22, was a monster at Tennessee and is a sleeper breakout candidate for 2022. 8. UTIL Edouard Julien Julien, 22, hit .267/.434/.480 across both A-levels in 2021, showing off impressive speed with 34 steals and power with 47 extra-base hits. One should expect Julien to hit in the heart of Wichita’s order for much of 2022. 7. 1B Aaron Sabato The Twins’ first-round pick in 2020 didn’t exactly turn heads during his pro debut. Sabato, 22, hit .202/.373/.410 across two levels, but that included a monstrous showing at High-A. Sabato could move up rapidly if he carries that late-season production into 2022. 6. OF Matt Wallner Twins fans have paid closer attention to Wallner, 24, because of his roots. A Forest Lake native, his performance should draw just as many eyes. Wallner hit .264/.350/.508 at Cedar Rapids despite working through a broken hamate bone in 2021. 5. SS Royce Lewis Many are anxiously awaiting the return of Lewis, 22, who has lost two full minor league seasons of development. He’s the type of talent who could move up quickly if everything clicks. Lewis’ progression is one of the biggest storylines for the Twins in 2022. 4. UTIL Spencer Steer Steer, 24, quietly broke out with a powerful 2021 campaign. Steer hit ten homers in 45 games for Cedar Rapids and earned a promotion to Wichita. His overall line there wasn’t great, but he had a 35-game stretch where he hit .272/.336/.544 with 18 extra-base hits. 3. UTIL Austin Martin Martin, 22, shouldn’t spend too much longer in the minors if things go as planned. Martin posted a .414 On-Base Percentage at Double-A last year and could spend most of his time in St. Paul in 2022. He’s a prime September call-up candidate. 2. OF Gilberto Celestino Arguably the Twins’ best defensive replacement for Byron Buxton in centerfield, Celestino, 22, is primed for another look in 2022. He hit .290/.384/.443 in 49 games for the Saints following a less-than-stellar debut with the Twins. 1. INF José Miranda A lock for a prominent role if he’s healthy, Miranda is far and away the closest Twins prospect to the majors. Miranda, 23, was spotless at the plate in 2021. His adjustment to major league pitching is a story to watch in 2022. The takeaway: prepare for Miranda Mania at Target Field. The breakout prospect is guaranteed to debut if healthy. Sleeper contributors include Lewis, Celestino, and Steer, with Martin likely joining the team later in the summer. The lefty-righty combo of Wallner and Sabato is intriguing for the future, as is Rodríguez. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! FOR THE PITCHER LIST, CLICK HERE -> Ranking the Twins Top Pitching Prospects by ETA 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
  19. There was never any question that losing Pressly would hurt the Twins in the short term. He went on to post a 0.77 ERA with Houston over the final half of 2018. In 139 1/3 innings since Pressly has tallied a 2.45 ERA to go with an 11.8 K/9. He had become one of baseball’s best relievers with the Twins and has only ratcheted that up with the Astros. After making 60 appearances in 2021, Pressly’s team option vested into a fully guaranteed $10 million deal for 2022. He’ll hit the open market again before 2023 for his age 34 season. On the Twins side of things, they’ve seen a bit of what both Jorge Alcala and Gilberto Celestino can do, but 2022 should represent an opportunity for both to establish themselves completely. Let’s start in the bullpen with Alcala, as he’s a much more integral piece of the immediate puzzle. Pitching 59 2/3 innings last year for the Twins, Alcala owned a 3.92 ERA to go with a 9.2 K/9. Despite the 0.97 WHIP, his bugaboo was a 1.5 HR/9, pushing his FIP to 4.06. However, what’s worth noting is that it was a tale of two seasons for the Minnesota reliever. Through 40 appearances, he posted a 5.73 ERA and had allowed nine home runs in just 37 2/3 innings. A stretch of 22 innings pitched from that point forward, Alcala owned a 0.82 ERA, keeping opposing batters to a .420 OPS. His 27/3 K/BB was incredible, and only one ball left the yard. That’s what we must hope for coming into 2022. Derek Falvey didn’t flip Ryan Pressly for what Jorge Alcala was at the time, but he did make that move for what he could be now. At just 26-years-old, Alcala is still pre-arbitration and won’t hit free agency until 2026. Getting an elite level of production out of him for pennies on the dollar over the next four seasons would be a massive victory. He looks the part of a late-inning arm and could undoubtedly eat up closer opportunities should they present themselves. That alone would make the deal worth it, and we’ve yet to discuss Celestino. Forced into action early from Double-A after a run on outfield injuries last season, Celestino appeared in 23 games for the Twins. It went as to be expected, and he posted just a .466 OPS. Defensively the skills looked very close, but the bat needed more time to mature. Going to Triple-A St. Paul the rest of the way, Celestino made his case. Over 49 games with the Saints, he slashed .290/.384/.443 with 18 extra-base hits included five home runs. It was unquestionably his best offensive showing in the minors and should help re-establish his confidence in the future. Minnesota is always going to need a solid fourth outfielder behind Byron Buxton. I have some feelings about who they should look at outside of the organization, but Celestino could easily play himself into a better option for that role. Without needing to be an impact player immediately on Opening Day, it’s more than fair to suggest Celestino could parlay his strong finish at Triple-A into a forced promotion early on in 2022. Hitting on both inclusions in the Ryan Pressly trade would be the type of result Falvey had undoubtedly envisioned. It’s never easy to evaluate a baseball trade when it is made with an indication of how it will pan out. You can draw conclusions based on the level of prospect returned, but the real evaluation always takes place once players have had an opportunity to develop. Minnesota has pushed both talents through their system and is now ready to cash them in. It could soon become time to call this swap a victory.
  20. In today’s rankings, there are some interesting names. There are a few college draft picks that had some ups and downs throughout the season, but their tool set remains quality and clear. There is a former highly ranked international free agent who came to the team in a trade and made his unexpected debut in 2021. And there is a young player that hasn’t spent a lot of time in the organization yet but who is really exciting. Here are my choices for the 6-10 hitting prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization. #10 1B Aaron Sabato 2021 STATS: .202/.373/.410, 18 2B, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 32.1 K%, 19.8 BB%, 1/1 SB Aaron Sabato was the Twins first-round draft pick (27th overall) out of the University of North Carolina in 2020. Over 83 college games, he hit .332/.459/.698 (1.158) with 31 doubles and 25 homers. He was added to the Twins depth camp at 2021 spring training and then began the season with Low-A Ft. Myers. It was certainly a struggle for him, especially in the first half of the season. Only one player in all of minor league baseball had more walks than Sabato, but he also struck out a lot more than was expected. However, late in the summer he started showing a little more power. In 85 games with the Mussels, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with 15 doubles and 11 homers. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids and played in 22 games. He hit .253/.402/.613 (1.015) with eight homers. He had 92 walks and 149 strikeouts on the season, certainly more than was expected from a strong college bat. But, getting out of the former Florida State League and experiencing the success in Iowa reminds us of the immense power potential that he does have. #9 IF Edouard Julien 2021 STATS: .266/.434/.480, 28 2B, 1 3B, 18 HR, 72 RBI, 28.0 K%, 21.4 BB%, 34/39 SB Edouard Julien grew up in Quebec. Out of high school, the Phillies drafted him in the 37th round in 2017. He declined and went to Auburn where he (and teammate Will Holland) led Auburn to the 2019 College World Series. The Twins took him in the 18th round of the 2019 draft. While he really wanted to go back to Auburn, the Twins gave up fourth-round money and he decided to sign. Unfortunately, he went to Peru for the Can-Am Games but hurt his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. He likely would have missed at least half of a 2020 season either way. So, his professional debut came in May in Ft. Myers. He played 47 games and hit .299/490/.456 (.946) with 12 doubles, three homers and 21 steals (in 23 attempts). Yes, a .490 on-base percentage. He moved up to Cedar Rapids for 65 more games. He hit .247/.397/.494 (.891) with 16 doubles, 15 home runs and 13 more stolen bases. On the season, he struck out 144 times, but he led minor league baseball with 110 walks. In college, he was a power hitter and upon joining the Kernels, he showed that again. But he added the speed dimension back to his game. He’s got a great eye and with those things combined, he becomes a very intriguing prospect. We just don’t know where he is going to play. #8 IF Spencer Steer 2021 STATS: .254/.348/.484, 18 2B, 3 3B, 24 HR, 66 RBI, 21.5 K%, 11.3 BB%, 8/12 SB A southern California native, Spencer Steer headed north to the University of Oregon despite being drafted by Cleveland in the 29th round of the 2016 draft. He was a starter all three years in Eugene. He hit .349/.456/.502 (.958) with 20 extra base hits as a junior, and the Twins selected him with their third round pick. He played 20 games in Elizabethton before ending with 44 games in Cedar Rapids. Following the lost 2020 season, Steer was a late addition to the Twins depth camp during spring training in 2021. He homered in a game against the Atlanta Braves. It was a sign of things to come. In an interview with Twins Daily following the 2019 season, Steer said, “I’m not the most powerful guy, but I think I can be a guy who drives in runs. For that reason you can stick me at the top of the order and I’ll find ways on base and draw a lot of walks. I think at this level, I’m more of a top of the order guy, but that can always change as I get older and put on more weight.” He began the season with High-A Cedar Rapids and hit .274/.409/.506 (.915) with seven doubles and ten home runs in 45 games. He was promoted to Wichita where he hit .241/.304/.470 (.773) with 11 doubles and 14 more homers. As Torii Hunter would have said, his man-muscles arrived. Defensively, he played 46 games at second base, 38 games at third base and 15 games at shortstop. Asked early in the year if Steer was a future utility player, Kernels manager Brian Dinkelman said no. He thinks he can be an everyday second baseman, but they will continue playing him around the infield. Steer should start 2022 with the Wind Surge, but he could get a chance to play in St. Paul in the season’s second half. He just turned 24 in December. #7 OF Gilberto Celestino 2021 STATS: .277/.371/.423, 18 2B, 7 HR, 31 RBI, 21.8 K%, 11.4 BB%, 4/5 SB 2021 MLB STATS: .136/.177/.288, 3 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, 22.2 K%, 4.8 BB%, 0/0 SB First and foremost, Twins fans need to realize that what they saw from Gilberto Celestino isn’t necessarily the player that he is or certainly will become. Frankly, the 22-year-old looked like a guy who had only played eight games of High-A baseball in 2019, missed all of 2020 and had just 21 games in Double-A before being called up to the big leagues. What we saw late in the year in St. Paul. We saw a guy who takes good plate appearances and is willing to walk. He can hit for some average, and he does have a little pop in his bat. Defensively, despite some nervous issues in his first stint with the Twins, he is a plus defensive outfielder, fully capable of play centerfield well. He has good (though not great) speed. He typically takes good routes, and he has a strong and generally accurate arm. Expect that he will spend most of the 2022 season at age 23 and in St. Paul. He should mostly play in centerfield, but with Byron Buxton locked in, he really should play all three outfield spots and be ready when needed. #6 OF Kala’i Rosario 2021 STATS: .277/.341/.452, 10 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR, 40 RBI, 31.7 K%, 9.1 BB%, 4/4 SB There were just five rounds in the 2020 draft due to the lockout. The Twins drafted Kala’i Rosario from Waiakea High School in Hawaii with their fifth round pick. It was noted that, along with Red Sox early pick Blaze Jordan, Rosario had as much power as any prep player from that draft. He signed, but of course, there was no season for him to report to Ft. Myers. In 2021, he stayed at the complex and then played most everyday for the FCL Twins once their season. With solid all-around offensive numbers, Rosario was named the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Hitter of the Year. He played in 51 games and showed off the extra base power. He also walked at a decent clip. Clearly he will need to keep working and try to reduce that strikeout rate, but the bat is legit and the power is legit. Defensively, he will be a corner outfielder. He spent about 75% of his innings in right field and the rest in left field. He also still has work to do with the glove and arm, but he does have the potential to an average corner outfielder. Obviously he has several levels to work through on his way up the organizational ladder. He’s going to be fun to watch. Presumably, he will spend the majority of the 2022 season in Ft. Myers again, this time with the Mighty Mussels. If he is able to show much power in that league (he’ll turn 20 in July) next year, his prospect status should go up even further. And if he doesn’t, but he shows an improved eye and produces more contact, it will be very exciting to see how he does when he moves up to Cedar Rapids. I think this is another interesting group. The first three listed above are college bats. Sabato certainly had his struggles early, but he came on late and his power is legit. Julien showed off all of his skills, his ability to know the strike zone and get on base, use his speed and also hit for a lot of power. Steer’s power certainly arrived and has moved up quickly. Celestino remains really young, and certainly was not at all ready for the big leagues when he was called up, but he has upside both offensively and defensively. Finally, Rosario is very young, and a long way from the big leagues, but he has a lot of potential with his bat that will be fun to watch. So there are hitting prospects 6-10. What do you think of this group? Please feel free to discuss and ask questions. And also try to guess how the Top 5 will be ranked when that is posted later this week. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10
  21. Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Before we get started, a quick overview of the ground rules: Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally). Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we're using here. But for the purposes of this list, we're analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors. The idea is to assess players' importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this regard, it's not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that's dependent on another team's situation and needs. With that said, the ability to bring back assets in a trade is a major factor. This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2021. Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? Before diving into our latest rankings, feel free to check out the last few years so you can get a baseline: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 With that out of the way, let's get started. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 16 through 20 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR The back end of this list was extremely challenging to put together. Basically all the candidates are high-upside pitching prospects who are nearing major-league readiness: Canterino, Cole Sands, Drew Strotman, Chris Vallimont, Blayne Enlow, Louie Varland, etc. As a group, this collection is absolutely essential to the franchise's future, but individually, they kinda blur together. It's hard to differentiate and rank them. I elevated Canterino because I think he's a slight cut above the pack. His stuff is incredible and has produced absurd results in a limited pro sample – 1.13 ERA, 14.3 K/9, 0.63 WHIP with 18 hits allowed in 48 innings. But injuries restricted him to six starts in 2021, and he's made only 13 total since being drafted in 2019. If he can get healthy there's a little doubt he'll skyrocket in these rankings, but at age 24 the time is now to make it happen. Canterino recently told Nash Walker that it's "all systems go for 2022." 19. Josh Winder, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Winder sits in that stable of intriguing near-ready arms alongside Canterino et al. He's relatively advanced, having reached Triple-A in late 2021, and was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. Like Canterino, this right-hander's velocity has risen dramatically over past couple years, along with his stock. Winder is poised to make a more immediate impact than anyone else in this tier because he's already so close. And if his minor-league track record is suggestive, that impact could be significant. In the most recent season, Winder posted a 2.63 ERA and 80-to-13 K/BB ratio in 72 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Our Lucas Seehafer just wrote up a scouting report on Winder, drawing a loose comparison to former Twin Scott Baker. 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR Another quality pitching prospect who has reached the upper minors but still has much to prove. Comparatively, Woods Richardson has a bit more prestige – he's a former second-round draft pick (#48 overall, in 2018) who appeared in the top 100 overall prospect rankings from both Baseball America and MLB.com in each of the last two years. He was also a costly acquisition for the Twins, comprising half of the package they received for trading José Berríos at the deadline. The team's investment in him raises the stakes on Woods Richardson's development. Despite the fact he's already reached Double-A, the righty is still only 21 years old, so there's ample time left for him to realize his potential. A big, imposing, broad-shouldered presence on the mound, he oozes projectability. 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 2021 Ranking: NR A lot of Twins fans are underrating Celestino. This is understandable, since he was terrible in his major-league debut last year, slashing .136/.177/.288 in 62 PA with a -0.7 fWAR. The 22-year-old was not nearly ready for prime time, and the team knew that, but they had little choice as their CF depth evaporated. I wonder how differently Celestino might be viewed right now if he was never called up out of desperation. He was a good prospect coming into 2021 – ranking 11th in our preseason rankings – and hit .290/.384/.443 in 49 games at Triple-A. As a center fielder who was young for the level, that's quite strong. Celestino shapes up as long-term Byron Buxton insurance at least, or maybe even an impact trade chip. 16. Chase Petty, RHP 2021 Ranking: NR All we know about Petty is that he's a highly-touted teenage pitcher with standout velocity plus a promising slider, and the Twins liked him enough to use their first-round pick on him in July. That seems especially notable for a risk-averse front office that has largely trended toward drafting college players with its high draft picks. Petty offers plenty of promising traits to justify his selection at #26 overall, and he showed well during a very brief pro debut, striking out six of 21 batters faced with one walk at rookie ball. But the data we have to go on is incredibly limited. We should learn a great deal more about him in 2022. Check back later this week when we continue the rankings with Part 2. In the meantime, feel free to share your thoughts on these players and where they're ranked in the comments. 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
  23. Derek Fisher was selected by the Houston Astros with the 37th overall pick during the 2014 MLB Draft out of the University of Virginia. He quickly ascended through the Astros’ farm system — he topped out as the team’s fourth-best prospect according to MLB.com in 2017 — reaching Triple-A in 2016 and eventually the majors the following summer, on the back of strong power numbers. The lefthanded slugger hit 16 home runs in 84 games at High-A in 2015, 21 across 129 games at Double-A and Triple-A in 2016, and 26 in 137 Triple-A and MLB games in 2017. Fisher bounced between the majors and minors in 2018 and 2019 before being traded to the Toronto Blue Jays at the deadline in exchange for RHP Aaron Sanchez, OF Cal Stevenson, and RHP Joe Biagini. He battled a couple of minor leg injuries during the 2020 season which limited him to 16 games and zapped him of his power. He was then traded to the Milwaukee Brewers during the offseason for a player to be named later and cash. Once again, he was bitten by the injury bug — this time a significant hamstring strain — which allowed him to appear in only four games for the Brewers and 25 for the Triple-A Nashville Sounds. Fisher’s various leg injuries and increasing age, he’ll be 29 next August, have largely robbed him of his once above-average speed. Upon making his debut in 2017, Fisher ranked in the 96th percentile in sprint speed, which helped him rack up 111 stolen bases during his minor-league career. However, during limited action this past season, his sprint speed had dropped precipitously to the 37th percentile. Unlike many left-handed batters these days, Fisher is not a dead-pull hitter. He tends to spray the ball all over the field throughout his major league career, with the majority of his batted balls going back up the middle (41.1%). What has kept Fisher from sticking in the majors is his propensity to strike out. He has done so 165 times in 466 MLB plate appearances, which equates to a whopping 35.5% K-rate. He possesses neither the power nor the defense to make up for his greatest weakness. In many respects, Fisher profiles similarly to that of Jake Cave, but with perhaps more power potential. He’s a fourth outfielder-type at best who could slot in at any spot, though he’s probably best in one of the corners. Odds are that he won’t play a significant role on the Twins next season, but could directly slide into Cave’s spot if he leaves the team and/or they don’t believe that someone like Gilberto Celestino is quite ready for the role. 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
  24. Current Center Fielder: Byron Buxton In the days leading into the MLB lock-out, the Twins signed Byron Buxton to a seven-year, $100 million contract extension to keep him tied to Minnesota until his mid-30s. Buxton has played at a superstar level over the last three seasons when he has been healthy. Unfortunately, he has played 87 games or fewer in all but one of his big-league seasons. The Twins were able to sign Buxton for a relatively cheap deal because of these injury concerns, and he expressed a strong desire to stay in the Twin Cities. Now, Minnesota has to make a plan to keep him healthy, so some of the players below aren't relied on in center field. 40-Man Roster Options The Twins have used Max Kepler as a backup option in center field. He has made 127 starts and logged over 1,100 big-league innings at the position. In the past, Kepler preferred playing in a corner outfield spot because of the increased physical demand from playing in center. Kepler might be one of baseball's most valuable trade assets, and this may result in him being dealt this winter for starting pitching depth. Some younger players on the 40-man roster also fit into the team's center field plans. The Twins rushed Gilberto Celestino to the big leagues last season because the team was out of outfield options on the 40-man roster. Entering last season, he had never appeared above the High-A level. In 70-games between Double- and Triple-A last year, he posted a .795 OPS and combined for 25 extra-base hits. If Buxton gets hurt, Celestino should get some opportunities next season. Royce Lewis is another intriguing option on the 40-man roster that may end up playing center field at the big-league level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to prove he can be a shortstop before transitioning him to a new defensive position. However, his knee injury last spring means he hasn't been on the field since the 2019 Arizona Fall League, where he was named MVP. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's center field depth. Minnesota has multiple center field options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. According to FanGraphs, there are seven players scheduled to be outfielders at Triple-A next season, and all of them have some experience in center field. One of the team's top prospects, Austin Martin, is the most intriguing option as he split time between shortstop and center field after being acquired at last year's trade deadline. Few think he will stick at shortstop, so his eventual defensive home is likely in the outfield or at third base, his college position. Jake Cave is off the 40-man roster, but the team has used him in the center field in the past. His increasing age and more athletic options at Triple-A will likely relegate Cave to a corner outfield spot. Mark Contreras played over 180 innings in center field for St. Paul last season, but he profiles more as a corner outfielder. Last season, he posted an .824 OPS in 114 games with 53 extra-base hits. Jimmy Kerrigan played all three outfield positions for the Saints in 2021 while hitting .260/.330/.478 (.808) with 38 extra-base hits. DaShawn Keirsey was a 4th round pick in 2018 and served as one of the primary center fielders in Cedar Rapids last season. He was over a year and a half older than the average age of the competition at that level, and he posted a .733 OPS. Willie Joe Garry made 32 starts in center field for Fort Myers but only compiled a .601 OPS in 95 games. Misael Urbina was Minnesota's top international signee in the class of 2018. Last season, he made his stateside debut, where he was over two years younger than the competition. In 101 games, he batted .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. One year after Urbina, Emmanuel Rodriguez was Minnesota's top international signee. Last season, he hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits in 37 games for the FCL Twins. Overall, Minnesota has one of baseball's best players in center field, but depth is critical with his injury history. What do you think about the organization's center field depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catcher — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop
  25. Twins Territory can finally take a sigh of relief as late Sunday afternoon multiple sources announced Byron Buxton’s seven-year, $100 million extension with the Minnesota Twins. Buxton’s extension ensures that the Twins will not have to worry about pursuing a new starting center fielder for a long time. However, there is still the likelihood Buxton could miss playing time with an injury in 2022. With Buxton’s injury history still a concern for many, even after this contract extension, the Twins will be weighing their options on who will get the most playing time in centerfield when Buxton is not playing. Right now the Twins have three possible internal choices to back up Buxton when he is not playing in centerfield whether due to injury or a day off from the field. The first option is Max Kepler. Kepler has totaled 84 games in centerfield since 2019 and both he and the Twins front office are looking for him to spend less time in center and more time at his primary position, right field. This does not rule out that Kepler won’t play center field at all in 2022. It’s just more likely that another player will be seen there more often. The next likely player to see playing time in center field behind Buxton is Jake Cave. The majority of Cave’s 281 career games have been played in center field and now that the Twins have signed him to a Major League contract for the 2022 season, there could be an increase in his playing time. Cave’s 2021 season was abysmal at best and one that both he and Twins fans want to put behind them. It is likely, at this time, that Cave will be the primary backup to Buxton in centerfield to start 2022. One other option within the Twins organization, and on the 40-man roster, that could see playing time in center field for the team in 2022 is Gilberto Celestino. Celestino’s brief time with the Twins in 2021 did help the team defensively in Buxton’s absence. Yet Celestino showed he is not ready to face major-league pitching. In his time with the club last season, he had eight hits in just 59 at-bats. Celestino will still need time to develop his hitting with the St. Paul Saints in 2022. If his hitting continues to improve, as it did in Triple-A in 2021, it could provide another chance for him to play in center for the Twins in 2022. There is a fourth option currently in the Twins minor league system that is hopeful to make his MLB debut in 2022 and could see playing time in center field if he does get called up. That is Austin Martin. The timeframe on when the Twins second-best prospect could make his MLB debut is still uncertain. Martin split time between center field and shortstop following his trade to the Twins organization near the July deadline. He played 46 games in center and 43 at short for the Wichita Wind Surge. Martin’s primary position may be tweaked by the Twins following the Buxton extension, but if he does get called up in 2022, that won’t rule out any playing time he could see in center field with the Twins. Buxton’s extension with the Twins doesn’t dismiss the fact that the Twins won’t try to add more depth to the outfield either. A utility player like Danny Santana or super-utility player such as Chris Taylor could be options for the Twins to still pursue. Taylor and Santana are examples of players who aren’t primarily center fielders yet can still fill in holes for the Twins at other positions where they’re needed such as shortstop. Taylor would be the perfect fit for the Twins because he can play shortstop and back up Buxton in center. Santana, not so much. Santana has only played 12 games at shortstop since the start of the 2016 season and many more games at almost every other position, including center field. The great take away from the Buxton extension is that the Twins organization can be comfortable with a star centerfielder once again playing out his career with the Twins. Buxton’s injury history does warrant a need to have depth in center field. The Twins have solid options to work within the organization, but they could still pursue options outside their system to help ensure Buxton has the right players supporting him in center field when he isn’t playing.
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