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  1. Dustin Morse tweeted that the Twins have claimed 27-year-old right-handed pitcher Trevor Megill off of waivers from the Cubs. To make room on the 40-man roster, outfielder Jake Cave was outrighted to St. Paul. Megill turns 28 next week. In 2021, he pitched in 28 games for the Cubs. He went 1-2 with an 8.37 ERA in 23 2/3 innings. He walked eight and struck out 30 batters. Megill stands 6-8 and 250 pounds. He was originally drafted by the Padres in the seventh-round of the 2015 draft out of Loyola Marymount. A year earlier, the Padres drafted him in the third round but he didn't sign. He was the Cubs Rule 5 pick in December of 2019. He didn't pitch at all in 2020. Megill is blessed with a 96.4 mph average fastball. He also throws a slider in the mid-80s and a curveball in the low-80s. His two breaking balls were each thrown about 16-18% of the time. It wouldn't be surprising if Wes Johnson worked with him and got him to eliminate one of the breaking balls and use the other a lot. The other half of the transaction should relieve some Twins fans angst. Last week, the Twins signed Cave to a non-guaranteed contract. Today, he was removed from the 40-man roster, went unclaimed and was outrighted to St. Paul. According to Darren Wolfson, he had a split contract in which he would make $800,000 in the big leagues and $300,000 at Triple-A. Over his first two seasons with the Twins (2018-19), he played in 163 games and hit .262/.329/.466 (.795) with 27 doubles, four triples, 21 homers and 70 RBI. Unfortunately over the past two seasons, he has played in 118 games and hit .202/.263/.332 (.595) with nine doubles, three triples and seven home runs. UPDATE - Trevor Megill was non-tendered by the Twins on Tuesday night. However, according to Kiley McDaniel, there is a once-a-year loophole that makes it make a little bit more sense. Feel free to share your thoughts on Megill or Cave.
  2. 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.
  3. Twins Protect Prospects, Fill 40-Man Roster Last Friday marked the deadline for teams to add players to their 40-man rosters in order to block them from being claimed in the Rule 5 draft. Minnesota elected to protect six prospects. IN: Royce Lewis, SS Jose Miranda, 3B Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP While the first four adds above were essentially considered locks, the Twins went the extra mile by adding Enlow (recovering from Tommy John surgery) and Vallimont (24-year-old with no success yet above Single-A). After getting burned on the loss of Akil Baddoo last year, it seems Minnesota wanted to take no undue risks this time around, especially when it comes to their critical minor-league pitching depth. In order to facilitate this wave of additions, the team also cleared room by offloading four players. OUT: Devin Smeltzer, LHP (Outrighted) Kyle Garlick, OF (Outrighted) Charlie Barnes, LHP (DFA) Willians Astudillo, UTIL (DFA) These moves leave the 40-man roster full, with 17 position players and 23 pitchers. Here's the makeup as it currently stands. From here on out, the Twins will need to remove a player and risk losing him for each new addition. Any of Danny Coulombe, Ralph Garza Jr., Juan Minaya, Cody Stashak, Drew Strotman, and Lewis Thorpe could be on the chopping block. It's hard to envision any more drops on the positional side (barring trades), after one clear candidate got himself a controversial new contract for 2022. Cave Lands Deal for 2022 It was widely expected the Twins would move on from Jake Cave this offseason. He produced a total of 0.2 fWAR in 118 games over the past two seasons, his performance progressively worsening. Alas, the team agreed to terms with him Friday on a one-year, $800K contract. It's a bit less than Cave was projected to earn in arbitration this winter, but still could hardly be considered much of a value, considering how awful his play has been. My read on this is that the Twins are simply trying to preserve some experienced outfield depth, with both Byron Buxton and Max Kepler ranking among their most likely players to be traded this offseason. Still, Jake Cave? It bears noting that arbitration contracts are not guaranteed. The Twins can still cut Cave before the next season starts while shedding most of his salary commitment. That rarely happens, but it may be somewhat more likely in this case given the circumstances. Here's a look at the updated 2022 roster and payroll projection, with Cave (for now) penciled in as fourth outfielder: Rotation Options Fly Off the Free Agency Board Free agent starters Noah Syndergaard, Justin Verlander and Eduardo Rodriguez have all signed with aspiring 2022 contenders from the American League. None of those teams are the Twins. Detroit made an emphatic statement about its status as a reborn legit player in the AL Central, signing Rodriguez to a five-year, $77 million contract. Not only is E-Rod a quality arm added atop a talented young Tigers rotation, but he was also one of the more realistic high-end starter targets for the Twins. (Though they reportedly were not in on him.) Syndergaard got a one-year, $21.5 million contract from the Angels, while Verlander re-signed with Houston on a one-year deal worth $25 million, plus a 2023 player option. It's likely that neither of these ace-caliber hurlers had much interest in signing with the reigning last-place finishers in the Central, but those kinds of short-term commitments are in the wheelhouse of the flexibility-focused Twins. With that trio off the board, here's what remains at the top end of the free agent starting pitching market (* denotes QO and draft pick compensation): Max Scherzer, RHP Kevin Gausman, RHP Robbie Ray, LHP* Marcus Stroman, RHP Clayton Kershaw, LHP Carlos Rodón, LHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Steven Matz, LHP Zack Greinke, RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Yusei Kikuchi, LHP Jon Gray, RHP Alex Wood, LHP Still plenty of quantity out there, but if the Twins want to score a name from this list they might want to act quickly, because other clubs aren't wasting time. One lower-level name also came off the board on Sunday when José Quintana signed with the Pirates for $2 million. Winter of Discontent? We all knew this was likely to be an unusual offseason, given the looming labor strife. Plenty of organizations seem to be biding their time. The Twins front office, especially, has had a habit of waiting out the market and treating patience as an asset, so their general lack of activity comes as no big surprise. With that said, the early events of this offseason have done nothing but fuel the sour vibes of frustrated fans who are eager for a turnaround, and a showing of intention. Since wrapping up one of the most disappointing seasons in franchise history, here's what we've witnessed: Three top free agent starters signing with other teams, including one with a division rival. An unpopular player in Cave re-signing for 2022. José Berríos signing a long-term extension with Toronto, and more or less indicating that his prior dedication to reaching free agency was largely due to Minnesota never making an offer that seriously tempted him. Reports of Buxton negotiations inexplicably remaining fruitless despite the apparent presence of a reasonable framework, with a trade considered likely. None of these are necessarily unforgivable offenses on their own (the Buxton thing might be, if it plays out like it's trending). But they all feed into negative narratives around the Twins: a team that is unwilling to do what it takes to keep premier homegrown talent, or to sign high-end free agent pitching. A team that's overly committed to perceived "bargains," and maintaining the status quo rather than taking bold action. There's time to turn the tides on these narratives yet, but if the Twins stand still until the CBA expires midway through next week, they're staring down the prospect of letting this sourness and discontent fester through an extended lockout, which will already be alienating enough for fans on its own. If that's the case, well... good luck with those season ticket sales. 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
  4. In March 2018, the Yankees had a surplus of big-league caliber players on their 40-man roster. This made Jake Cave expendable as the team designated him for assignment. At 25-years-old, Cave hadn’t made a big-league appearance, but he had compiled some strong numbers at Triple-A. In 72 games, he hit .324/.367/.554 with 15 homers. As Minnesota entered their winning window, Cave made sense as outfield depth on a team ready to contend. At the time of the trade, Luis Gil was a 19-year old that was coming off a season in the Dominican Summer League. He was older than the average age of the competition at that level and he posted a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. Minnesota had initially signed him in 2015 for a $90,000 signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He was far from the big leagues, and the Twins didn’t think he would develop into a starter. During Monday’s TV broadcast, Justin Morneau brought up the point that the Twins saw Gil as only having two pitches, which usually results in being a reliever. So far in his big-league career, this evaluation was correct as he has used his fastball and slider over 92% of the time. He has thrown his changeup less than 30 times in five starts. Gil’s first four starts were impressive. He posted a 1.42 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 24 strikeouts across 19 innings. Minnesota’s line-up messed with those numbers on Monday as the club scored five earned runs on seven hits, including three long balls. His fastball is a plus pitch, and his slider is strong, but the 23-year-old has a long time to go before proving he can make it as a starter. Cave’s time in Minnesota can be challenging for fans to evaluate since he is nearing the end of an injury-plagued season. In 64 games, he has hit .193/.259/.310 with a 58 OPS+ a -0.5 WAR. These totals are a far cry from the player that posted a .795 OPS and a 112 OPS+ in his first 163 games with the Twins. He posted positive WAR totals from 2018-2020, which combined for 2.6 total WAR. He was more than filling the role of fourth outfielder. It’s easy to look at Gil and say it would be great for the Twins to have him back in the organization. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and there was no way to know he would develop this way. To add a little perspective, non of his teammates on the 2015 DSL roster have played in the big leagues. Maybe switching organizations changed his development path? Perhaps the Twins would have moved him to a relief role? Perhaps he still ends up as a reliever? Cave has provided some excellent big-league moments, and Gil was a wild-card that the Yankees have turned into one of their organization’s top pitching prospects. It's still going to take time to see how Gil develops, but young, controllable starting pitching is a valuable commodity. Ultimately, it is going to take more time before a true winner of this trade can be declared. Who do you think won the trade? 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
  5. To find out who hit all those home runs in St. Paul, how the big innings all went down, and who was responsible for that no-hitter in the FCL, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS Catcher Mitch Garver was sent on a rehab assignment to the St. Paul Saints. Good to see him back on the field after his freaky injury. Jake Cave was also activated for a rehab assignment with the Saints. LHP Kody Funderburk and RHP Jordan Gore were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. LHP Aaron Rozek was assigned to the Mighty Mussels from the Wind Surge, and RHP Jason Garcia was placed on the 7-day injured list. Taking the place of the departing pitchers from Cedar Rapids were RHP Osiris German and RHP Louie Varland from Fort Myers. In addition to Rozek the Mighty Mussels also were assigned RHP Orlando Rodriguez. SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 1, St. Paul 19 Box Score With Jake Cave, Mitch Garver, Brent Rooker, and Willians Astudillo in the lineup for the Saints on Tuesday, this one played out just like you might expect when putting a lineup of major leaguers out against one of minor leaguers. St. Paul bludgeoned Columbus pitching early with three runs in the first then four more in the third before exploding for 10 runs in the fourth. When they needed a hit, they got them, and big ones in bunches too. Cave led off the game with a homer and Rooker hit another blast in the first. Rooker and Mark Contreras each went yard in the third. Then Rooker again, and Jose Miranda took one out of the park in the big fourth inning. The lineup got multiple hits from Miranda (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K), Rooker (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K), Contreras (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K), and JT Riddle (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI). Cave and Rooker each scored four runs. As a team St. Paul was 9-for-13 (.692) with runners in scoring position and left only five men on base. In addition to their 14 hits and six walks, five hitters were hit by pitches leading to their runs outpacing hits for the game. Righthander Griffin Jax took the mound for the Saints and went the first five innings, working efficiently. He allowed one run (solo homer) on three hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter, and threw just 63 pitches with 40 going for strikes (63.5%). Reliever Juan Minaya came on for the sixth inning and finished the next three scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, one walk, and struck out four. Joe Harvey finished off the game with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and punching out two. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 7, Wichita 2 Box Score Wichita got on the board first in this one when Trey Cabbage clubbed his third home run of the season, a two run-shot in the second inning. But that was all the offense they would muster on the night as the lineup managed just two other hits on the game. They had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position and left only two men on base for the game. There is not much you can if you never have the opportunities. Righthander Austin Schulfer got the start for the Wind Surge and went five solid innings. He allowed three earned runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out six. Jovani Moran went the next 1 2/3 and was not his usual knife through butter self, being charged with one run on one hit and three walks, though he still did strike out four. Zach Neff came on gave up three runs of his own in 1+ innings. He allowed four hits and struck out one. Jhonleider Salinas finished the game off for the Wind Surge with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 5 Box Score The Kernels too, got on the board early and then often in a single inning on Tuesday as they put up three runs in the first then a five-spot in the fourth that put them ahead 8-1 at the time. The three runs in the first came courtesy of Seth Gray’s seventh home run of the season. The lineup got multiple hits from Gray (3-for-6, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K), Wander Javier (2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K), and Edouard Julien (2-for-5, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K). Julien’s 2-RBI single in the fourth inning capped the scoring for Cedar Rapids and he continues to lead the minors in walks while sporting a .475 on-base percentage across two levels. The eight runs were more than enough to pick up the win as the pitching staff held strong enough as South Bend attempted a comeback. Starter Cody Laweryson went the first four innings for the Kernels, allowing a single earned run on three hits and two walks while punching out six. Tyler Palm allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in his single inning. Ryan Shreve was credited the win after his two innings where he allowed one run on two hits and struck out two. Zach Featherstone pitched the final two innings, allowing a run of his own on one hit and two walks while striking out three. The Kernels improved to 35-26 on the year and are firmly in second place of the Midwest League West Division. MUSSEL MATTERS Jupiter 10, Fort Myers 12 Box Score Fort Myers jumped out to a beg early lead after an eight run second inning, but struggled to keep that lead for the rest of the game and it turned into a back-and-forth contest late. Willie Joe Garry Jr. got the scoring started in the second with a two-RBI single. Misael Urbina followed two batters later with a grand slam that made it 6-1. A Jeferson Morales double and Jesus Feliz single would plate the other two runs in the frame. Starter Brent Headrick went four innings in total, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks, while striking out six. Matthew Swain came out for the fifth inning but was not able to get out of it before being charged with four runs on three walks. He struck out one. With two in the fifth Carlos Suniaga was summoned and went the next 2 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping the Mighty Mussels within one going into the bottom of the seventh. They were able to tie it at nine thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Ruben Santana, but gave it right back in the top of the eighth. Righthander Bradley Hanner came into the game and gave up consecutive single to start the inning, that resulted in a run as the first hitter stole second and reached third on a throwing error. Now down 10-9, Fort Myers would not give up. Yunior Severino delivered an RBI sac fly in the bottom of the eighth after Aaron Sabato reached base on an error and moved to third on a double from Morales. Feliz then put them up by one with an RBI single and executed a double steal with Justin Washington for another run to make it 12-10 in favor of the home team. Back out front for the top of the ninth, the Mighty Mussels brought on Denny Bentley to close out the win. A one out walk and single made it a little interesting, but Bentley buckled down and struck out the final two hitters (and all three outs in the inning) to end the game and pick up his fifth save. In addition to Morales and Feliz, Washington (2-for-4, R, 3B, K, SB) and Santana (2-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB, SB) also multiple hits on the game. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Game 1: FCL Braves 5, FCL Twins 1 Box Score The FCL Twins played a doubleheader with their Atlanta Braves counterpart on Tuesday afternoon, and they each picked up a victory. In game one the Twins were outhit 8-5 and were not able to mount any rallies in losing 5-1. Alexander Pena led the way with a 2-for-3 effort including a double. Kala’I Rosario picked up the only RBI. Starter John Stankiewicz went the first two innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while recording all of his outs via the strikeout (six total). Wilker Reyes went the next four innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks. Cole Bellair finished the game with an unearned run on two walks in the seventh, striking out one. Game 2: FCL Twins 8, FCL Braves 0 Box Score The Twins got back at the Braves in game two behind a no-hitter from their starting pitcher. The caveat here is even in the normally shortened 7-inning game of a doubleheader, only 5+ innings were completed in this one as lightning moved into the area. The Twins scored two in the first and six in the second to account for all their runs. Rosario had two more RBI in this one thanks to a double. Catcher LaRon Smith had three RBI and his second home run of the season. Pena (2-for-4, R, RBI) and Miguel Vallejo (2-for-2, R, 2 2B) had multiple hits. As a team they were 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left just six on base for the game. Pitcher Giovahniey German went five innings and walked just two while striking out four. Quite a performance for the 20-year-old in just his third game pitching in the states! Goes down as a no-hitter in the scorebook no matter who is reading it, congratulations! (Reliever Zach Goree was meant to start the sixth inning before the game was called) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Giovahniey German, FCL Twins (5 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day – Brent Rooker, St. Paul Saints (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 1-for-2, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – All Star Break #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, R, BB #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (wrist sprain) #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – All Star Break #13 – Cole Sands Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 1-for-5, R, GS HR, 4 RBI, BB, K #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-4, 3 K #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury) #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Columbus @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – TBD Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05PM CST) – TBD Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beck (1-1, 1.93 ERA) Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (4-2, 5.89 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  6. There’s no question that successful organizations need to have a strong scouting department. It is the job of this group to find talent at any level and decide if those players are a good fit for an organization. One undervalued scouting skill might be the ability of an organization to evaluate their own talent and decide which pieces are most critical for an organization’s long-term success. Unfortunately, these three players have all found success with other organizations without getting a long look at the big-league level by the Twins. Akil Baddoo, Detroit Tigers Minnesota drafted Baddoo in the second round back in 2016 and he played his first four professional seasons in the organization. Back in 2019, he topped out at High-A where he hit .214/.290/.393 in 29 games. Entering the 2021 season, he didn’t have an at-bat at the Double-A level and the lost 2020 season certainly took away some development time, so the Twins left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Now, it’s looking like the Twins might have given up on him too soon. Detroit is in rebuild mode so they can afford to take some chances in the Rule 5 Draft, and they were willing to give Baddoo a shot at the big-league level. His hot start to the season was well documented as he had a 1.024 OPS through his first 15 games. He may not be getting the hype he was at season’s start, but he entered play on Monday with a 142 OPS+ while leading the American League in triples. Minnesota had a lot of minor league outfield depth, but Baddoo is looking more like he can be a contributor for years to come. LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants Wade was a ninth-round pick by the Twins in the 2015 MLB Draft and the Twins had used him throughout parts of the 2019 and 2020 season. In those two years, he compiled an 87 OPS+ in 42 games and he looked to have a shot at making the 2021 Twins. The decision came down to picking Wade or Jake Cave as the team’s fourth outfielder. Minnesota was able to trade Wade to the Giants in exchange for Shaun Anderson, who was recently claimed off waivers by the Rangers. It was a deal that couldn’t have gone more poorly for the Twins. In his age-27 season, Wade has found a role with the Giants, the first team to 50 wins this season. Through his first 28 games, he has posted a 136 OPS+ while playing all three outfield positions and first base. Cave compiled a 43 OPS+ in 31 games this year before ending up on the 60-day injured list with a stress reaction in his lower back. Wade is finding big-league success on one of baseball’s best teams while the Twins have been forced to shuffle through a variety of outfielders. Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays Anderson, a Minnesota native, had to work his way into professional baseball after attending college at Mayville State University in North Dakota. The Twins signed him out of independent baseball and used him as a reliever in four different seasons as he topped out at Triple-A. In November 2018, the Twins traded him to the Miami Marlins for Brian Schales and Anderson has pitched at the big-league level ever since that deal. Anderson was a critical piece of the Rays bullpen that drove them to the 2020 World Series. Throughout the 2019-20 seasons, he has combined for a 155 ERA+ with a 0.96 WHIP and 15 SO/9. His 2021 season hasn’t started yet as he recovers from a partial torn ligament in his right elbow. The injury didn’t require surgery and he is supposed to return for the season’s second half. This will be a welcome boost to a Rays club that is fighting for an AL East crown. He would also be a welcome addition to a Twins bullpen that has seen it’s fair share of struggles this season. It’s great to see these players writing their own success story, but it’s too bad those achievements didn’t come in a Twins uniform. Minnesota needs to hang on to players like these that can add to their organizational depth and that process might start with looking in the mirror at their own self-scouting. Do you think the Twins have a self-scouting issue? 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
  7. Catcher Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are penciled in to get the majority of the innings behind the plate. However, Willians Astudillo is making the Opening Day roster and he can be used occasionally at catcher. Garver and Astudillo’s bats are strong enough that they may be used at other defensive positions as well. Jeffers is the best defensive catcher as his pitch framing skills are among baseball’s best. First Base Miguel Sano is set to be the primary first baseman, but his long-term role might end up being DH. Reports praise Alex Kirilloff and his athleticism at first, but he is starting the year in the minor leagues. Mitch Garver might be the team’s best back-up option at first until Kirilloff is called up. Max Kepler and Willians Astudillo also have some experience at first, but the Twins can get creative and use other players at first. Second Base Jorge Polanco has shifted from shortstop to second base, but he certainly isn’t anchored at that position. Luis Arraez will see time at second along with Astudillo. It is going to be intriguing to see how good Polanco can be in his transition to a new position. His previous defensive flaws won’t be magnified as much at second and some think he can be above average at second. Third Base As Twins fans saw last season, Josh Donaldson might not be able to be in the line-up for 162-games. Baldelli will need to find days off for him to get rest as he continues to age. Sano has the most experience at third among Twins players and the team sounds open to him making periodic starts at the hot corner. Arraez and Astudillo will also get opportunities at third. Shortstop If Andrelton Simmons is in the line-up, he is going to be the starting shortstop, because he has proven to be one of the best defenders at that position in baseball history. On the Opening Day roster, Polanco is the most likely player to take over if Simmons needs a day off. On the team’s official depth chart, Arraez is listed as the third option at short, but that would be in an emergency situation. Left Field One of the biggest question marks entering spring was who would take over for Eddie Rosario. Minnesota’s initial answer will be a platoon of Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave. Brent Rooker and Kirilloff were in the mix, but they didn’t make the club. Arraez has a chance to make starts in left, but he has very limited outfield experience and that inexperience showed itself during the spring. Center Field Much like shortstop, Byron Buxton is the primary center fielder, but he isn’t the club’s only option. Kepler has shown the ability to fill in nicely and he is an underrated defender in center. Also, Cave has experience starting in center even if he is the worst defender of the three. Right Field Max Kepler is one of the best defensive right fielders in baseball and he should start here on a regular basis. Many of the same options from left field can fill in for Kepler if he is needed in center field or if he needs rest. Garlick and Cave can shift to either corner spot so that adds even more flexibility. How many different defensive alignments will Baldelli use in 2021? What’s the team’s best defensive line-up? 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
  8. Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers In the initial roster projection, Willians Astudillo was included as a third catcher and bench option for Rocco Baldelli. Things have shifted with other parts of the roster and this made Astudillo the first player dropped from the 26-man roster. Garver and Jeffers will rotate catcher duties and Astudillo can rake in St. Paul until he is needed at the big-league level. Infielders (5): Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons Little has changed here with all infield positions solidified and Luis Arraez set to shift into a super-utility role. How will Jorge Polanco adjust to second base? Can Josh Donaldson stay healthy? Will Andrelton Simmons help the Twins to have their best defensive team ever? There are still plenty of questions to be answered, but this group looks solid to start on Opening Day. Outfield (4): Jake Cave, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker There’s some talk that the Twins could ignore some of the service time rules and allow Alex Kirilloff to be with the team from season’s start. That is certainly a possibility, but it seems more likely for him to start the year at Triple-A with Jake Cave and Brent Rooker getting outfield at-bats. Byron Buxton bulked up again this winter and Max Kepler might have something to prove in 2021. Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz Cruz is over 40-years old this season and few players have found success after crossing this plateau. Can Cruz join this elite list of players that all made the Hall of Fame? Rotation (5): Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker The biggest change since the first roster projection is Minnesota signed Matt Shoemaker to fill out the fifth spot in the rotation. This pushed Randy Dobnak out of a rotation spot for the time being. After pitchers threw limited innings last year, some teams are considering a six-man rotation to help ease workloads. Dobnak can easily be a fill-in starter or a long reliever to eat innings if another starter has a short outing. Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Shaun Anderson The first seven bullpen spots are relatively set-in stone barring any injuries. This leaves at least one spot available as the team needs to decide if they are going with a 13- or 14-man pitching staff. Last year, teams were limited to 13-pitchers when there were 26-man rosters. That rule has been dropped for 2021, so Minnesota can start the year with a nine-man bullpen to help starters ease back into the workload associated with a full 162-game season. Dobnak moves from the rotation to the bullpen as a long-reliever and Shaun Anderson gets the bump up to the final bullpen spot. Who do you think makes the Opening Day roster? 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
  9. The Rundown Left field has become far more interesting ahead of the 2021 season. Every Central team besides the Twins have a good deal of certainty around the position. Ex Twins will man the position for two other Central teams in 2021, while the Royals recently traded for a reclamation project at the position. Let’s see what the division has to offer at left field in 2021. Detroit Tigers The Tigers recently brought former Twin Robbie Grossman in on a 2 year, $10MM deal. Grossman projects as Twins fans will remember him, a patient gap hitter. Grossman had an excellent season at the plate in 2020 for Oakland, putting up a 127 wRC+, mostly thanks to a HardHit% which improved 7.5% from 2019. Grossman has improved in the field since his Twins tenure, putting up 6 OAA in Oakland in his last two seasons (-15 in the previous 3 in Minnesota). Ultimately, Grossman projects as a slightly above average hitter in 2021 (105 wRC+), and a solid defender. He’ll likely put up 1.0-1.5 fWAR, and is the worst of the bunch in the AL Central. Kansas City Royals Andrew Benintendi’s trade to the Royals marked the final member of the 2018 World Series winning outfield departing the Red Sox. Benintendi has occupied a huge range of outcomes in his short career, putting up a 4.4 fWAR in 2018 and -0.5 fWAR in 2020 (in only 14 games). He’ll likely feature somewhere in the middle of those two extremes in 2021. Steamer projects him to put up 1.6 fWAR and be a marginally above average hitter (103 wRC+). Benintendi is a poor outfielder (-10 OAA in his last three seasons). Despite this, the Benintendi trade made a ton of sense for the Royals, who have a strong young offensive core and excellent organizational pitching depth. While it’s far from a sure thing, Benintendi is young enough to rebound and return to form as an above average left fielder. Cleveland It seemed almost inevitable that Eddie Rosario would sign with Cleveland after being non-tendered by the Twins. Rosario made improvements in his approach in 2020, adding 5% to a previously criminal BB%. He fills a huge need in Cleveland, where a few similar signings 3-4 years ago could have put them over the top for a World Series. Steamer projects Rosario for 1.6 fWAR in 2021, with a 108 wRC+. Rosario is a horrible defender, which is often overlooked because he has an incredible arm. In 2019 alone he put up -18 OAA, making him easily the worst fielding outfielder of those examined so far (still got to get to Eloy!). Remarkable throws, baserunning blunders, you'll likely see it all again, just in a different uniform. Chicago White Sox Get used to seeing Eloy Jimenez in left field for the White Sox. He’s signed through 2024 with two further years of team options. Acquired in the deal with the Cubs for Jose Quintana, Jimenez is a classic slugging outfielder. Huge bat, wretched, truly horrible glove. Jimenez mashed 45 HR over the last two seasons, and Steamer likes him to be the best of the AL Central bunch in 2021, projecting him for 3.3 fWAR and a 130 wRC+. It would be remiss not to mention his abjectness in the field, managing -14 OAA in left over the last two seasons. Make no mistake, he more than makes up for it adding another huge bat to a potent Sox offense. Minnesota Twins There should be a whole article about who will play LF for the Twins. Luckily, Matthew Lenz already wrote it. For the purposes of this preview, I’m going to focus on Kirilloff. While he likely starts in the minors to suppress service time, he’s the heir apparent to the position. Kirilloff is now a consensus top prospect but with only one MLB game, he’s not going to get a ton of love in projection systems. Steamer projects a 101 wRC+ and 0.8 fWAR in 2021 from around 400 plate appearances. This feels like the floor for Kirilloff, with the eventual ceiling being an All Star outfielder. Kirilloff has averaged a 145 wRC+ in his last two MiLB seasons, and performed well at the alternate site in 2020. Rooker has a big bat but is a poor outfielder (-2 OAA) in just 7 MLB games in 2020. He could be a good platoon option with Jake Cave for the first month of the season but is better suited to a DH or 1B role. Cave is a perfect 4th outfielder for the Twins, with a close to league average bat, good outfield defense, and the ability to play all three outfield positions. It's likely Luis Arraez may see time in left, particularly at the beginning of the season as the Twins will give a player projected to be AL batting champion as many ABs as possible. Grade ‘Em Detroit Tigers: D Grossman is a solid addition and credit to the Tigers for adding to a poor team. Grossman is a league average hitter and a fine option for Detroit in 21/22 when they won’t be competing for the AL Central. Kansas City Royals: C Kansas City has had a great winter. Even if Benintendi doesn’t return to his 2018 peak, the Royals have acquired a solid MLB outfield to supplement their strong, young offensive core. Cleveland: C+ There’s no denying Rosario is a good signing for Cleveland. He’s a solid, if streaky hitter but a vast improvement for a Cleveland outfield which has been miserable for years. You’ll get highs and lows. The dynamic of Twins VS Cleveland will be much more interesting as a result. Chicago White Sox: A- Despite being a horror show defensively, Eloy Jimenez is currently the cream of the crop in the central and probably the AL. He’s going to be a big, problematic bat in a great offensive for at least the next 4 seasons. Minnesota Twins: B- The Twins are hard to grade here. Kirilloff projects to be an excellent MLB hitter who is ready now. The Twins have enough options to keep his spot warm at a respectable level until he takes over the role full time sometime in 2021. The Voice of the People https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1362985193330511872 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Today, Luis Arraez had his first availability for Twin Cities media ahead of spring training. Arraez may have given a hint of the Twins initial plans for his position in his opening press Zoom call. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1361748537546076161 With Alex Kirilloff likely starting the year in the minors to suppress service time, Arraez may see time in left field, along with Jake Cave, and Brent Rooker. This is hardly surprising, the Twins will look to get a bat projected to win the AL batting title into the lineup at every opportunity. Additionally, Arraez indicated that he is fully healthy after struggling with knee issues in 2020. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1361748056924975104 What do you think of Arraez in left field? Hamilton Clear Waivers The Twins sneaked Ian Hamilton through waivers Tuesday, and have now added Brandon Waddell and Hamilton as additional upside relief depth. Hamilton will remain with the team as a non-roster invite to spring training. I’d expect to see him in St. Paul and Minneapolis this summer. It’s an interesting strategy to add organizational depth after exhausting payroll budget. While these moves may seem insignificant now, depth is clearly a point of emphasis in all aspects of the roster and organization after a shortened 2020 season. https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1361762167582769157 Twins Twitter Rages over Offseason Efficacy On an otherwise slow news day, Twins twitter debated the quality of the Twins offseason. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1361714460600262657 At best I think it’s hard to convincingly argue that the Twins roster has taken a step back from last year. The 2020 squad was decimated by injuries. As a result, the 2021 squad is deeper. The front office has produced another playoff caliber team. How the team takes advantage of that, or not, is why we watch the games. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1361721685800550405 Where do you land on the Twins offseason, assuming they’ve wrapped up major moves. Do you think they improved, held serve, or regressed? What does the roster still lack? Transactions Here’s a roundup of transactions from around the league on Tuesday: The Mets signed Kevin Pillar to a deal worth $3.6 MM this year and a complex combination of player and club options. The Brewers signed Brett Anderson to a 1 year, $2.5 MM deal The Pirates signed Tyler Anderson to a 1 year, $2,5 MM deal. The Dodgers traded RHP Josh Sborz to the Rangers for RHP Jhan Zambrano The Nationals signed T.J. McFarland to a MiLB deal. The Reds signed Cam Bedrosian to a MiLB deal. The Dodgers signed Matt Davidson to a MiLB deal. The Phillies signed Jeff Mathis to a MiLB deal The Yankees signed Robinson Chirinos to a MiLB deal MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Current Corner Outfielders: Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota locked up Max Kepler at the right time as the 27-year-old is under team control for four more seasons with a team-friendly deal. Over the last two seasons, he has hit .246/.332/.499 with 45 home runs and 41 doubles in 182 games. Not to mention, he represented MLB in Germany last winter by “promoting baseball and inspiring the next generation of players.” Kirilloff’s 2020 debut was well documented because he became the first player in league history to make his debut by starting a playoff game. He went 1-for-4 in the game as the Twins were swept by the Astros. Kirilloff has been one of the team’s top prospects since he was drafted in the first round back in 2016. Entering last season, he was a consensus top-100 prospect with MLB.com and Baseball America having him ranked in the top 32. 40-Man Options While Kirilloff is expected play the majority of the team’s games in the outfield, Jake Cave has a chance to start the year in left field so they Twins can control Kirilloff’s service time. Since joining the Twins, Cave has hit .254/.321/.451 while showing the ability to play all three outfield positions. He does a good job of fitting into the fourth outfielder role, but some of the younger players mentioned below might start encroaching on his playing time in the coming year. Brent Rooker made a strong impression last year as he hit .316/.381/.579 with three extra-base hits. Unfortunately, his season only last seven games as he suffered a fractured forearm on a hit by pitch. LaMonte Wade Jr. has played 42 big-league games over the last two seasons and he has compiled a .684 OPS. Defensively, the Twins have used him at all three outfield positions, and he has even seen some time at first base. On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other corner options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Trevor Larnach is actually older than Kirilloff and he has been right behind him when it comes to prospect rankings in the organization. He spent the 2020 season with Kirilloff at the alternate training site after coming off a 2019 season where he was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Larnach likely fits into the team’s long-term plans in the outfield which allows Kirilloff to switch to first base in the years to come. Kerrigan showed some up in the upper levels of the minor leagues last season as he accumulated 31 extra-base hits in just 98 games. He adds to the organizational depth and he can play all three outfield positions. Wallner was drafted out of college in 2019 and saw time in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in his professional debut. He posted an .810 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 65 games with all his defensive innings coming in right field. Soularie and Rosario joined the Twins as part of the 2020 draft class. Soularie was the team’s second round pick out of the University of Tennessee. In his two collegiate seasons, he hit .336/.448/.586 with more walks (49) than strikeouts (47). Rosario was Minnesota’s final draft pick in the 2020 draft since it was shortened to five rounds. He has a lot of raw power and impressive exit velocities for a prep player. Aguiar, a native of Venezuelan, has been in the Twins system for two years. In 2019, he was limited to seven games, but he was the youngest player on the GCL Twins. What do you think about the future of corner outfielders in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -Catcher -Second Base -First Base -Third Base -Shortstop MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Byron Buxton is coming off a strong season where he led the Twins in WAR even though he only appeared in 39 of the team’s 60 games. He combined to hit .254/.267/.577 (.844) with 13 home runs and three doubles. Granted it was a small sample size, but his OPS and his slugging percentage were both career highs. It might seem silly to trade away a player of his caliber, but this is going to be an offseason unlike any other. Buxton’s name has come up in trade talks before. At the 2019 trade deadline, the Twins were looking to upgrade their rotation for a potential playoff run. One of the teams Minnesota had discussions with was the New York Mets. The Twins were interested in acquiring starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, but talks stalled when the Mets insisted that Buxton be included in any trade. Minnesota wasn’t willing to deal Buxton then, so what might have changed? One of the reasons the Twins might be more willing to deal Buxton is his current contract situation. Minnesota only has team control of Buxton for two more seasons as he enters his second year as an arbitration eligible player. He will likely be making somewhere between $4-6 million this season and next year would be a higher in his final arbitration year. Two years of team control might be the sweet spot for trading away a player, because the team acquiring him isn’t getting an expiring contract. The Twins can also go in a different direction with Buxton if they wanted to try and sign him to an extension. Minnesota was able to work out extensions with some of the other young core players like Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. Would Buxton be willing to sign a deal that bought out his remaining arbitration years while also giving the Twins more team control? Approaching a Buxton extension is a little trickier than the names mentioned above, because of the way his career has transpired. There’s no question that he is a dynamic player, but injuries are part of his career that can’t be ignored. He’s only played more than 92 games in one big league season. The Twins have tried some creative approaches to keeping him on the field including having him start further back defensively and trying to jump off of two feet instead of one foot when attempting catches at the wall. Other teams know his injury history too and that might make a deal tougher to find. Minnesota would have a big hole to fill in center field if Buxton were traded. Max Kepler can take over in center, but he has expressed concerns in the past about the wear his body goes through when playing at a more demanding defensive position. Other options on the 40-man roster include Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino and LaMonte Wade Jr. A more intriguing choice would be promoting Royce Lewis, but he has only played a handful of games above the High-A level and he’s played limited defensive innings in center. Buxton’s trade value may never be higher as he enters the prime of his career and he has two years of team control. Minnesota is a better team when he is on the field, but this off-season is going to force teams to make some tough choices. Trading Buxton would be a difficult decision, but if the deal was right, it might be the time to move in a new direction. Do you think the time is right to trade Byron Buxton? 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
  13. In a traditional season I expected Minnesota to look for an arm, preferably of the starting category. I wrote about how Trevor Bauer made sense if the Reds made him available, but that would have been a high-risk rental. The only reason I like him is that it was a clear upgrade on their current options. It turned out the only arm of that ilk to move was the Indians Mike Clevinger, and a team-controlled asset from within the division would have come with an astronomical price tag. The fact that the Twins didn’t go get a bat, or even another relief arm, is defensible. Byron Buxton returns September 1, with Josh Donaldson set to follow him the next day. Cody Stashak is hopefully around the corner, and maybe even Zack Littell will make his way back. There are big league assets currently on the Injured List that have tickets for September and should still play a key part. If there’s an indefensible situation though, it’s not addressing the elephant in the outfield, a right-handed bat. Minnesota has one of those ready and waiting in St. Paul, and it’s been past time Brent Rooker was given a shot. Rooker was a 1st round pick back in 2017 and entered pro ball at 22. He’s now 25 and will be 26 this calendar year. He’s not a young prospect by any means, and having played over 250 games on the farm, he isn’t too green anymore either. Rooker spent 65 games with Triple-A Rochester in 2019, and while he missed time due to injury, he posted a .933 OPS. The Twins selected him based on his power bat profile and his 54 minor league home runs have brought the belief to fruition. While fans could be clamoring for top 100 prospect Alex Kirilloff, there’s two key differentiators at play with Rooker. First and foremost, he bats right-handed. Minnesota’s outfield is exclusively left-handed without Byron Buxton, and the duo of Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade are more than redundant. Adding to the lineup flexibility, it’s plenty clear a righty is necessary. Then there’s also the idea of playing time colliding with development. Kirilloff is a very high ceiling prospect but is just 22 and has yet to play above Double-A (94 games where he had just a .756 OPS). Making sure his bat is completely ready before throwing him to the wolves at the highest level is a must. Kirilloff is also transitioning to more of a first base role and continuing to work through all types of developmental skills is imperative for his long-term success. I don’t put any stock in the notion of a guy needing consistent playing time during 2020. Despite the fact that Rooker can spell both corners and routinely see three games per week, the reality is nothing taking place at MLB alternate sites constitutes “real” game action anyways. It’s not as though Rooker or Kirilloff can’t get the same level of drill work in at Target Field. At bats may be a bit more sporadic and travel is thrown in, but opportunity remains relatively consistent. There’s no telling whether or not Brent Rooker being promoted would immediately result in a rejuvenation of the Twins run scoring prowess. What he does do is give Rocco Baldelli a righty in the outfield that he’s been hamstrung without, and an opportunity for Minnesota’s front office to tag in a high-level prospect that you’re worried substantially less about a falling floor. Soon there will be a time for Alex Kirilloff, but right now is Brent Rooker’s turn. I’ll defend the front office over trusting in their internal talent at the deadline. There’s no defense for failing to utilize it after that. Let the Bulldog out. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. In The Athletic on Thursday, pro bono Yangtze Restaurant Public Relations Manager Aaron Gleeman wrote about the new approaches the Twins are taking to protect Byron Buxton from himself. Twins Daily dug deeper to see how the team plans to keep their star-crossed center fielder healthy. Remove outfield walls in Target Field. While this might seem controversial, team officials say putting down some painter’s tape where the wall would otherwise be might pass muster. “Can’t run into a wall if there’s no wall,” said a front office source with knowledge of the situation. “Dick Bremer’s brother-in-law is a contractor and he’s volunteered to come in to tape it all up, and we can just put down a bunch of comfortable pillows behind the tape for Byron to land in softly and safe from harm.” Make his uniform out of his sliding glove. Buxton’s oven mitt-sized glove helps prevent hand injuries during the speedster’s head-first slides. “What we’re thinking is, make the jersey, the pants, the stirrups, everything out of that material,” said a source close to the coaching staff. “We built a prototype and had Jake Cave try it on. Unfortunately, it’s very bulky. He was bullied by some local teens who chased him down as he attempted to waddle away and they gave him swirlies and at least one purple nurple. So we’re still a ways off.” Cave is listed as day-to-day (America’s bullying crisis) on the team’s injury report. Russian vaccines. When Vladimir Putin announced that his country had developed an effective COVID-19 vaccine, many were skeptical. The Twins were not. “There’s a chance it might be BS, but what if it works,” asked a clubhouse source. “Let’s just say we’re better safe than sorry with Byron.” Another source revealed that the Pohlad family acquired a vaccine sample in exchange for Bill Pohlad filming his next three musician biopics in Russia. “We gave a test injection to Caleb Thielbar and it’s…well, do you know if he glowed in the dark the first time he was on the team?” Thielbar is listed as day-to-day (early onset Dr. Manhattan-ism) on the team’s injury report, while shooting on the life story of Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne begins in Volgograd in mid-2021. The team says it will continue looking to innovate as the season continues. “I know there’s a whiteboard in Thad Levine’s office that just says ‘PARACHUTES’ with a few question marks after it,” said the front office source. “Everything’s on the table.” Image license here.
  15. For Dustin Morse, collecting each of the team’s home run balls in Chicago was not “premeditated.” However, the first pitch of the season put in place some historic moments for the Twins in their first series of the year. Bomba 1: Kepler’s First Pitch Minnesota’s season started with a bang as Max Kepler took Lucas Giolito deep on the first pitch of the season. “Before I really even got my scorebook out, Kepler put one in the seats,” said Morse. “Being a little bit of a history buff, I knew it was going to be some type of record.” https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1286817990332350467?s=20 “I made a call to the White Sox and said, ‘Hey, how do I get that ball?’ and they said the best bet is probably just to go get it.” And so, the Bomba hunting journey began. Morse was in an unfamiliar ballpark amid a pandemic and that changed his path to the ball. “I took off for it and tried to navigate the right way to get out there. It wasn’t easy. There were doors that were locked and stairs that weren’t being used. I had to cut through some weird spots, parts of the ballpark I had never seen, kitchens and backdoors.” “I got out to right field and was able to track down the ball for Max or for the Twins. At the time, I didn’t know. I figured Max might want it. If not, the Twins would certainly take it.” Bomba 2: Kepler’s Second At-Bat Kepler wasted little time making Morse head out on another baseball hunting journey. In his second at-bat of the year, he hit another home run and Morse knew this had to be another historical moment. Time to track down another ball. “Then Max did it again,” said Morse. “I knew that was going to be historic. A guy to hit homers in back-to-back at-bats to start the season.” “At that point, I knew the process, so I could just go out and get it. It’s ours.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1286833289140076544?s=20 Kepler plans to keep the balls and give them both to his parents. Bomba 3: Cruz, the Ageless Wonder Minnesota’s second game in Chicago didn’t go exactly as planned as Dallas Keuchel stymied the Twins for most of the game. Before the bullpen imploded, Nelson Cruz helped to make the game a little closer by cranking his first home run of the season. “Nelson Cruz put one in the seats and I kind of thought to myself, ‘Well that’s Nelson Cruz. How many guys have home runs when they are 40?’ Might as well get it. It’s just sitting out there.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1287117340178612229?s=20 Morse continued, “At that point, I exchanged numbers with the [MLB] authenticator and he said, ‘Yeah, if you want to get it, I see it. So, then I was three-for-three and it kind of became a thing.” Bomba 4: Cave’s Grand Salami The Twins were clearly frustrated after Saturday’s loss and they took that frustration out on the White Sox pitching staff. Cave got the Bomba barrage started with a first inning grand slam. But this might have been the toughest home run for Morse to track down because of where it landed. “I thought, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ But that one was tricky, because it went into the White Sox bullpen and I just didn’t have the guts to go down there and ask those guys for a grand slam ball as we are piling on the runs.” “I ended up talking to my counterpart with the White Sox and he sent a text to one of the clubhouse attendants and one of the ball boys went down the line. He ended up getting it, bringing it in, and I met their PR guy in one of the back hallways and ended up getting the Cave ball.” Bomba 5: Cruz, the (Still) Ageless Wonder Before he was able get the Cave ball, Morse had already acquired Minnesota’s second home run of the day. Nelson Cruz hit his second home run of the year in the top of the fourth inning and luckily for Morse, that ball landed in a location that was a little more easily accessible. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287472332160868357?s=20 “I ended up getting the Nelson Cruz ball, which was a blast out into left field, prior to getting the Cave ball and I ended up getting on a hot streak.” Bomba 6: Still Cruzing Cruz wasn’t done for the day after his fourth inning blast. He ended up tallying two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI on his way to being named the American League Player of the Week. Because of his post-game duties, the eighth inning is getting a little late in the game for Morse to track down a ball. “The second Cruz ball, at that point, was just something to do and I was able to get it. I was settled on kind of six-for-six. Kind of a fun cool story.” But the story wasn’t done there. Bomba 7: Marwin Makes It Tough If Morse wanted to complete his perfect weekend, it would take a sprint out to the stands after Gonzalez hit the team’s seven home run in the series. “My postgame job is setting up for the media and we do it all through Zoom in the Zoom Room. So I was in a conference room down in the tunnel kind of off of home plate. Buried kind of deep in the ballpark.” “I looked up and I saw Marwin up and I said to a couple of our advanced guys, ‘If Marwin puts one in the right field corner here, I am going to have a hard time.’ And the next pitch, he did it.” “I set up the Zoom for post-game and I decided I need to at least give it a try. I didn’t know how to get out there, so I had to backtrack toward left field and go up a level to come back down to right field… And there it was, seven-for-seven.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1287505349436682242?s=20 More Bomba Hunting? Is Morse going to continue to try and hunt down all the home run balls for the Twins this season? “I don’t think I can keep up the pace,” he said. “I don’t think I will need to do it at home. We have a lot of good people and volunteers collecting balls at Target Field.” “The good news is as a team I think we will be able to collect most of them, but I don’t know how much longer I can bother the home team.” It certainly was exciting to follow Morse and his Bomba hunting escapades. Let’s home he has plenty more hunting to do throughout the rest of the 2020 season. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Jake Cave, OF Byron Buxton’s injury is one of the biggest reasons Cave was given the opportunity to play in two of the team’s first three games. He certainly made his presence felt in Sunday’s game by cracking a first inning grand slam that put the Twins on the way to a blowout win. For the series, he finished 3-for-9 with six RBI. The argument can also be made that he is the best fourth outfielder in baseball. https://twitter.com/Brandon_Warne/status/1287454374978039810?s=20 Defensively, Cave has been playing in centerfield, which could be viewed as an interesting choice by manager Rocco Baldelli. Max Kepler is the better defender in center as he played nearly 460 innings there last season and was worth 4 DRS and 3.6 DEF. Cave was worth -3 DRS and -2.1 DEF, so there is little question that Baldelli should put Kepler in center. However, Cave’s impact was felt in both of the team’s victories this weekend so maybe this formula works (for now). Ehire Adrianza, IF Adrianza played in one of the team’s games this weekend and it was the only game the Twins lost, but he still can impact the game. He went 1-for-4 and scored one of the team’s three runs that game. His biggest influence comes on the defensive side of the ball because he is the best defensive infielder on the roster not named Josh Donaldson. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287106518672908290?s=20 Last season, he played 59 innings or more at second base, first base, shortstop and third base. Looking at the regulars penciled in at those positions, it is going to be tough for Adrianza to get playing time at any of those spots this season. This means he will likely have to settle for being used sparingly unless an injury were to occur (knock on wood). Marwin Gonzalez, OF/1B Gonzalez entered the 2020 season in a different spot than last season. Miguel Sano started 2019 injured and this meant Gonzalez started the year as the team’s everyday third baseman. Sano isn’t injured this season, but his positive COVID-19 test kept him out of the start of Summer Camp, and he could have put his swing a little behind schedule. This allowed Gonzalez to start two games over the weekend and he went 2-for-8 with a homer. https://twitter.com/HomeRunVideos/status/1287518369462341633?s=20 One of the most impressive things from Gonzalez this weekend might have been his professional approach at the plate. On Saturday afternoon, he faced off against former teammate Dallas Keuchel who was rolling through the early innings. Gonzalez did his best to mess with Keuchel’s timing and even Justin Morneau made note of it from the booth. He did the same thing on Sunday when Reynaldo Lopez was struggling early in the game. Out of players still on the Twins, Gonzalez had the fifth most plate appearances last season, so it will be interesting to see how the club finds him at-bats this year. Which player adds the most to the Twins depth? 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
  17. Weekly Snapshot: Fri, 7/24 through Sun, 7/26 *** Record Last Week: 2-1 (Overall: 2-1) Run Differential Last Week: +10 (Overall: +10) Standing: Tied for 1st Place in AL Central Bomba Counter: 7 (On Pace for 140) Not everything went to plan for Minnesota in the opening series. Jake Odorizzi was originally expected to start for the Twins in Chicago, and then Rich Hill was, but both pitchers ended up getting pushed back. Byron Buxton missed all three games as his sprained foot heals, though it sounds like there's optimism he'll be out there for the first homestand. Even though they weren't quite at full strength, the Twins still looked plenty strong at Guaranteed Rate Field, taking two of three from the White Sox to kick off their quest for a second straight division title. HIGHLIGHTS The Bomba Squad wasted no time getting back to business, with Max Kepler launching a home run on the first pitch of the season from Lucas Giolito. It sparked a 10-run, 11-hit barrage in Minnesota's 10-5 Opening Day victory over the Sox. Kepler homered again in his next at-bat, and has gone 0-for-12 since. Baseball. Leading the charge in a tremendous series for the Twins was Nelson Cruz, who had himself a hell of a weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field: 7-for-13, three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBIs. If the ageless wonder can stay healthy for the full 60-game sprint, this offense's upside feels almost limitless. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1287505761749409797 While Cruz is a bona fide superstar, the offense's depth and length are what makes it truly special. We saw these strengths come into play already during the first series. Luis Arráez, who batted ninth and seventh in the two games he started, went 4-for-8, delivering a key two-run single in the opener. Jake Cave, who stepped in to make two starts with Buxton unavailable, also had a big two-run hit in the opener, and launched a first-inning grand slam on Sunday that set the tone in 14-2 a laugher. The White Sox pitching staff has already experienced what plenty of others are going to: Facing this relentless Twins lineup is a daunting and draining task. Sunday's 14-run explosion provided plenty of breathing room for Kenta Maeda in his Twins debut, and for his part, the right-hander made things look easy. While Cruz controlled the offense, Maeda went on cruise control, coasting through five innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts, one walk, and four hits. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1287458818423754754 He was one of several players to make their first appearances as Twins over the weekend, and for the most part, all made good first impressions. Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless frame on Friday night, combining with Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and Cody Stashak for five innings of shutout ball from the bullpen. Offseason waiver pickup Matt Wisler is the only Twins pitcher with two appearances thus far, and he's looked filthy: 2.1 IP, two hits, six strikeouts, and 13 swinging strikes on 63 pitches (20.6% whiff rate). The bullpen overall has piled up 19 strikeouts through its first 13 innings of work. And Taylor Rogers hasn't pitched yet. When they come to Target Field to open a two-game series against the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Twins will carry a well-stocked and well-rested relief corps. LOWLIGHTS Not everyone on the Twins saw their season get off to such a smooth start, in large part because Chicago's lineup showed its prowess. They gave José Berríos plenty of trouble on Opening Day, touching him up for five runs on seven hits over four innings. Berríos got just one strikeout and seven swinging strikes on 75 pitches. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with him physically – in fact, his velocity was noticeably up, with his fastball sitting comfortably in the mid-90s touching 97 several times, but the command just wasn't quite there. https://twitter.com/jeffwzimmerman/status/1287002032927375360 It could be construed as a sign that Berríos might've been a little TOO amped up for this highly anticipated start. The righty sacrificed spin for heat and it didn't seem to benefit him as Chicago hitters were on a number of his pitches. He's in line to open a crucial early-season series against Cleveland on Thursday, so hopefully adjustments are made. Count Zack Littell and Devin Smeltzer among other Twins pitchers who didn't have much fun against the Chicago lineup. Saturday's contest spun out of control under their watch. Littell entered in the fifth inning of a one-run game, and allowed home runs to three of the seven batters he faced, with four earned runs coming across in total. In a 60-game season, Littell's implosion will make it extremely tough for him to get his ERA (currently 36.00) to a good place before the finish line. Then again, it bears noting that last year he allowed eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his second appearance for the Twins, then posted a 0.88 ERA the rest of the way. After Cruz brought the game back within reach on his three-run homer, Smeltzer came in and promptly pushed it back out of reach. In two innings the left-hander allowed five runs on six hits, including two more homers. Smeltzer's outing wasn't quite as bad as it looks on paper – his reworked breaking ball showed some promise, and five of his six outs came on strikeouts – but he looks very much like a work in progress. In such a short season, it can be tough to rely on someone like that. While the offense is mostly clicking out of the gates, Miguel Sanó is still searching for his first hit of the season. He was behind in Spring Training 2.0 after reporting late due to a positive COVID test, and the rust was evident on Friday and Saturday as he went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. The quality of at-bats has not been good. Sanó got the day off on Sunday but will surely be out there for the home opener. Fellow corner infielder Josh Donaldson was mostly quiet in his first series as a Twin, going just 1-for-10 with an infield single representing the extent of his damage. But on the bright side, he drew four walks, showing the value he can bring beyond slugging, and the Twins scored 27 runs even without getting much of anything from him. Imagine when he heats up. TRENDING STORYLINE When will Odorizzi pitch? His first turn through the rotation is being skipped due to back soreness. He'll face live hitters within the next couple days, and it sounds like the Twins will assess his timeline based on how that goes. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1287437187902996481 The team has never signaled much concern regarding Odorizzi's status. If things go well in the BP session, he could conceivably start the first game against Cleveland on Thursday, though it's more likely he'd go sometime during the weekend. Then again, as Cody Pirkl wrote here recently, we are wise not to downplay this reportedly "minor" issue because back injuries can be very tricky for pitchers and Odorizzi has a history with them. The 2019 All-Star is a critical piece for this rotation. We'll be keeping a close eye on his health updates. LOOKING AHEAD Two more Twins debuts are on tap in the home-opening series against St. Louis, with Homer Bailey and Hill slated to start for Minnesota. It'll be interesting to see how they fare against Paul Goldschmidt and a pretty good Cards team. Then, the top presumptive challengers in the division come to town, with Cleveland coming for four games. It's tough to overstate the magnitude of this home series for the Twins. A sweep either way would be a seismic development in the division race. This series will feature pennant-race-intensity baseball, played a week into the season before an empty stadium. Gonna be weird. TUESDAY, 7/28: CARDINALS @ TWINS – RHP Homer Bailey v. RHP Carlos Martinez WEDNESDAY, 7/29: CARDINALS @ TWINS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Miles Mikolas THURSDAY, 7/30: INDIANS @ TWINS FRIDAY, 7/31: INDIANS @ TWINS SATURDAY, 8/1: INDIANS @ TWINS SUNDAY, 8/2: INDIANS @ TWINS Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 1 | MIN 10, CHW 5: Kepler Blasts 2 Bombas, Twins Outlast White Sox Game 2 | CHW 10, MIN 3: White Sox Hit 5 Homers Off Twins Bullpen Game 3 | MIN 14, CHW 2: Lineup Flexes Early to Aid Maeda in Victorious Twins Debut 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. With the magnitude of each game heightened, teams will be less likely to throw in the towel on any given day, and more teams in contention will mean more competitive games. Minnesota went to extra innings in twelve games last season (and didn’t fare well at 5-and-7), but could very well see an increase in the percentage of extra inning games due to more teams being in it to win it and fighting through all nine innings. With the MLB adopting the MiLB rule of starting off every extra inning with a runner at second base, speed could become even more significant. The runner who is placed at second will be the batter who made the last out of the previous inning, so unless Byron Buxton made the last out, the Twins will probably end up with a less than ideal base runner. It’s not only extra-inning affairs in which a speedy runner would come in handy. In any close game having a burner who can steal a bag or take an extra base is extremely valuable. A fast base runner also gives the pitcher one extra thing to worry about, and every little advantage will matter in 2020. Teams do have the opportunity to pinch run, and with a 30-man bench to start the season, filling in a roster spot with a speedster who could be a pinch run specialist makes some sense. Teams such as the Dodgers (Terrance Gore), Giants (Billy Hamilton), and Astros (Myles Straw) have done just that, but does Minnesota have anyone who fits the bill? One player with a bit of speed who is likely to make the team due to the roster expansion is OF LaMonte Wade Jr. According to Baseball Savant, Wade Jr. trails only Buxton (30.3 ft./sec.) and Jorge Polanco (28.2 ft./sec.) with a Sprint Speed of 28.1 ft./sec. While that’s better than average, Wade Jr.’s not exactly a burner. The next fastest bench option would be Jake Cave, who comes in just behind Max Kepler (27.7 ft./sec.) at 27.6 ft./sec. That’s still above average and would make sense for replacing someone like Nelson Cruz or Miguel Sano on the bases, but it’s hardly the late inning speed that would strike fear into opposing hurlers. Minnesota will also have the remainder of the 60-man roster nearby in St. Paul and ready to be called upon. There are at least a few names who could provide some value for the big league team, if only as a speed option. Interestingly, Minnesota recently invited OF Aaron Whitefield to join the group. Whitefield spent the majority of 2019 in high-A Fort Myers where he didn’t exactly set the world on fire with just a .607 OPS. He finished the year at AA Pensacola and his numbers were even worse, but he has elite speed and managed to steal 30 bases on the year. While his bat doesn’t warrant being on the 40-man, the Twins might consider utilizing his speed or possibly his defense as he plays a really good center field. Two other possibilities would be Gilberto Celestino and Royce Lewis. Like Whitefield, Celestino is a center fielder who would be capable of filling in for Buxton defensively, but has only played eight games above low-A, and while speedy isn’t quite the base stealing threat that Whitefield is. Lewis, who is widely considered the Twins top prospect, has yet to be added to the 40-man roster but does offer elite speed. If Minnesota doesn’t want to mess around with calling up a prospect primarily to be a pinch runner, it’s also likely that someone like Billy Hamilton would be available when teams begin to fall out of contention (which shouldn’t take long for the Giants) and might even be available on the waiver wire. All in all, the Twins are in great shape and there’s rightfully a lot of excitement for the season that’s about to get underway. Not having elite speed on the bench isn’t a reason to damper this excitement, but winning the margins is ever imperative in a 60-game sprint, and a little extra speed could be crucial in crossing the finish line first. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Initial Reports Byron Buxton is recovering from season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left-shoulder. He started swinging in late January, hitting off a tee in February and taking live batting practice this week. Slow and steady seems to be the name of the game and it’s certainly makes sense with Buxton’s injury history. Near the beginning of spring training, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the club anticipated Buxton being ready for game action by mid-March. This deadline is quickly approaching, and Buxton has yet to appear in a game. Even if he does appear in games in the next week, will that be enough time put him on the Opening Day roster by March 26. "There's no rushing this process," Buxton told MLB.com. "I know what I've got to do to be able to get back to being myself, and rushing is not one of them." Manager Rocco Baldelli echoed this sentiment on Monday. "I don't have a schedule for Byron Buxton," Baldelli said. "Our training staff does not have a schedule for Byron. He's going to show us what his schedule will be by how well everything goes as it is laid out." Buxton was off to a strong start last season before getting injured as he seemed to have found himself offensively. In 87 games, he hit .262/.314/.513 (.827) with 44 extra-base hits. His 30 doubles were near the top of the league before he missed time. Matthew Trueblood wrote there could be one seemingly small adjustment that would yield a big payoff. Roster Impact If Buxton isn’t ready for Opening Day, there will be a few moving pieces that impact the overall 26-man roster. Firstly, Max Kepler would move from right field to center field where he played for parts of last season after Buxton’s injury. Secondly, Marwin Gonzalez would likely take over as an everyday player to start the year, but he has been coming back from an offseason knee surgery of his own, so the Twins would need other outfield depth. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. would likely be vying to serve in the back-up outfielder role. Cave hit .258/.351/.455 (.805) with 21 extra-base hits in 72 games last season. Wade Jr. dislocated his thumb in his second big-league game and was forced to sit out from early July until the middle of August. He returned to the big-leagues as a September call-up and hit .196/.348/.375 (.723) with five extra-base hits in 26 games last year. Cave is already in a battle for the final roster spot with Willians Astudillo, so it seems more likely for both players to make the Opening Day roster if Buxton is unable to go. Should fans be worried about Buxton? Is it better to take it slow with him because of his injury history? 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
  20. Jake Cave burst onto the scene in May of 2018, when he belted a home run in his MLB debut. Since then, he has done an excellent job as the Minnesota Twins fourth outfielder, hitting for a .262/.329/.466 (.795) slash line, with a 111 wRC+ in 537 plate appearances across both seasons. Additionally, Cave has provided solid defense in the outfield, finishing with a catch probability added of 0 percent in 2018, and 2 percent in 2019. For reference, among outfielders with at least 50 opportunities in those seasons, Cave finished 74th out of 174 in 2018, and 52nd out of 184 in 2019. It is clear that Jake Cave has been an average, to slightly above average, outfielder in his first two seasons in the majors. However, there are plenty of signs pointing towards Cave elevating his game to a higher level in 2020. The first factor that has Cave trending in the right direction is his age and experience. 2020 will be Cave’s age-27 season, which means he will be entering into his prime years starting this season. Factor that in with roughly a full season’s worth of MLB plate appearances under his belt, and Cave should have his feet under him. In addition to entering his prime years, there are also statistical factors that suggest that a Jake Cave breakout is on the horizon. One of the biggest improvements to his game that Jake Cave made from year one to year two, was his ability to recognize pitches. In 2018, Jake Cave struggled with this a bit, as he swung at 35.9 percent of pitches outside of the strike zone, which ranked in just the 22nd percentile among all MLB hitters with at least 300 plate appearances that season. Jump ahead to 2019, and Cave cut that rate down to a much more respectable 31.7 percent. At the same time, he also made a drastic improvement at swinging at pitches inside the strike zone, as his swing percentage on those pitches increased from 65.8 percent in 2018, up to 72.9 percent in 2019. This all helped Cave’s on-base percentage improve from a mere .313 in 2018, to a strong .351 mark in 2019. More great signs that point toward further success for Jake Cave are his Statcast metrics. Per Baseball Savant, Jake Cave collected an expected wOBA (xwOBA) of .360 in 2019. This ranked 55th out of the 360 MLB hitters who had at least 200 plate appearances last season. Among Twins players, Cave had the sixth highest xwOBA, and finished higher than each of the other outfielders on the team. A big part of that is due to his ability to hit the ball hard. Last season, Cave finished with an average exit velocity of 90.5 MPH and a hard-hit rate (batted ball events at or above 95 MPH) of 43.8 percent. Those two numbers finished in the 82nd and 84th percentiles, respectively, among all MLB hitters with at least 50 batted ball events in 2019. With as hard as Jake Cave hits the ball, it is easy to wonder why his power numbers aren’t better than they are, and why they dipped slightly in 2019. Perhaps the best explanation for this is the slight drop in average launch angle he had from 10.0 degrees in 2018, down to 7.4 degrees in 2019. If he can make a slight adjustment with his swing to get that number up to a more optimal number of roughly 12 degrees or higher, without seeing a dip in his hard-hit rate, we could his a huge increase in his power numbers, similar to what happened to Max Kepler in 2019. While most Twins fans might not realize it, Jake Cave is already more than good enough to be a full-time starting outfielder at the major league level. If he is able to take the leap forward in 2020 that he is more than capable of, I wouldn’t be surprised if Cave starts getting some playing time over Eddie Rosario later in the season, especially in games where either Jake Odorizzi or Michael Pineda (both heavy flyball pitchers) are starting, and the effects of Jake Cave being a far better defensive outfielder than Eddie Rosario are more pronounced. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Andrew Thares on Twitter here
  21. Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Alex Avila Garver and Avila are locks for the Opening Day roster, but there are a few questions surrounding the Twins and their 2020 catchers. How much will the Twins rely on Garver behind the plate? Last season, he was very successful when rotating with Jason Castro. Minnesota could try and follow a similar routine with Avila and Garver this season. Another decision facing the Twins is whether to keep Willians Astudillo on the 26-man roster. There are benefits to carrying a third catcher, but I think the Twins have better options for their bench and Astudillo has a minor-league option remaining. Infielders (5): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano Much like the catchers, the infielders are almost set in stone for Opening Day. Arraez, Donaldson, Polanco and Sano will all be in the line-up and Adrianza will come off the bench. Adrianza offers a solid defensive upgrade over the other middle infielders and it will be interesting to see if he is used as a defensive replacement more regularly. Nick Gordon and Travis Blankenhorn are on the 40-man roster but neither player should figure into the team’s roster unless there were multiple injuries this spring. Outfielders (5): Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Marwin Gonzalez, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario If all are healthy, the trio of Buxton, Kepler and Rosario should be getting most of the regular reps in the outfield. Cave has a minor-league option remaining, but he has proven himself as a big-league hitter and he and Astudillo will likely be fighting for the final roster spot. Gonzalez will be on the team in the Opening Day roster in some capacity and he is in a similar spot to last season. He entered spring without a starting role but ended up being a starter after Sano’s injury. Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz There isn’t much to debate here. Cruz will be looking to build off a tremendous 2019 campaign where he was named the team’s MVP. Rotation (5): Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Homer Bailey, Jhoulys Chacin With Michael Pineda and Rich Hill out to start the year, there had been some questions swirling around the back end of the starting rotation. Tuesday night's trade certainly changed the rotation's outlook. Maeda is an immediate upgrade and it gives some of the other younger pitchers an opportunity to prove themselves at Triple-A. Minnesota signed Jhoulys Chacin to a minor league deal last week, but he can easily be added to the 40-man roster after Hill is added to the 60-day injured list. I think the Twins are still high on Thorpe’s potential. He has put together some strong strikeout numbers throughout his professional career and it has taken some time for him to adjust to different levels. If Chacin can't find success, Thorpe could be the next man up. Bullpen (8): Taylor Rogers, Trevor May, Tyler Duffey, Sergio Romo, Zack Littell, Tyler Clippard, Cody Stashak, Matt Wisler One wildcard in the bullpen picture is Fernando Romero, who seemed like a lock for the bullpen last season. Jorge Alcala will both be in camp with the team, but his remaining minor-league options make it unlikely for him to come north with the club. Stashak looked good at the end of last season and he could take the place that had been earmarked for Graterol before he was traded. Wisler will need to look good enough throughout the spring to get a bullpen spot, otherwise the Twins could turn to one of the other names mentioned above. Who do you think makes the team’s Opening Day roster? 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
  22. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/Episode_457.mp3?dest-id=74590 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Box Score Perez: 5.2 IP, 3 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 5 K, 62% strikes (63 of 102 pitches) Bullpen: 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 6 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Cron (25), Cave (8), Castro (13) Multi-Hit Games: Cave (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Brusdar Graterol (-.358), Lewis Thorpe (-.340), Jonathan Schoop (-.117) Ehire Adrianza (manager) knows how to make a home run lineup. Rookie manager Ehire Adrianza put together the final lineup of the regular season and they got off to a hot start. The game started with the Twins trailing New York by one in the home run race, but the Twins had something to say about that. The first inning had a pulled home run from C.J. Cron at 115.6 MPH (22nd hardest hit ball in the majors) and then Cave hit an opposite field home run to give the Twins a 3-0 lead. Martin Perez shows some encouraging signs for the playoffs. The playoffs begin on Friday and I think Perez should make the team (don’t ask @Matthew_bTwins on Twitter if Perez should make it). He is excellent against left handed hitters (.233/.292/.301) and the playoffs will be a good time for him to come in and get a few lefties out. He did not have that bad of a start today, going nearly six innings and allowing three runs. Kyle Gibson came on in relief in the middle of an inning thanks to a smart pitching change from rookie manager Arraez. He came in and struck out the lone batter he faced in what was his final audition for a playoff spot. He and Martin Perez will be two of the most interesting decisions made this week. Kohl Stewart took over in the seventh inning. He will not make the playoff roster. Despite that, he pitched an excellent seventh inning that took a total of four pitches to finish off with a 4-3 lead. Royals take the lead and win in the final innings In a game loaded with playoff auditions, Lewis Thorpe did not have an excellent outing. The eighth inning started with a leadoff triple from Hunter Dozier which was followed by an RBI double from Ryan O’Hearn. Thorpe would go on to strike out the next hitter but was then pulled for Fernando Romero. It started to seem like Adrianza’s job was on the line unless he could pull out a win. Luckily for Ehire, Fernando Romero got the next two guys to keep the game tied but the managerial job definitely wasn’t safe at this point. In the bottom of the ninth inning, Brusdar Graterol gave up a double and a single which eventually led to a game-ending walk-off sacrifice fly to cap off the 2019 regular season. I’m hearing rumors that Adrianza is being removed as manager The home run record belongs to the Minnesota Twins The Twins were able to barely pull out the home run title in the final game, hitting 307 total bombas while the Yankees finished with 306. Who would have thought Jason Castro would be the guy to set the record? That means Garver (catcher) broke the original record and now Castro (also catcher) broke the final record. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1178436363315601408 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  24. Box Score Smeltzer: 5 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 70% strikes (57 of 81 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Jonathan Schoop (23), Willians Astudillo (4) Multi-Hit Games: Ian Miller (2-for-5), Willians Astudillo (4-for-5), Jonathan Schoop (2-for-5), Jake Cave (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Cave .213, Astudillo .200, Miller .198 Young Players Make an Impact Ian Miller collected both his first big league hit and RBI in the third inning to give Minnesota an early lead. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for Ronald Torreyes stealing second, marking only the fourth stolen base for Minnesota since the All-Star break. LaMonte Wade made his first professional start at first base. He hadn’t played the position since his sophomore year of college, five years ago, and was borrowing Max Kepler’s first baseman's mitt. This was an all-around interesting lineup. Bomba Squad Reaches 300 and Beyond In the top of the seventh inning, Jonathan Schoop hit his 23rd home run of the season and the 300th of the year for the Minnesota Twins. With that home run, Minnesota became the first team to ever hit 300 home runs in a season and once again passed the Yankees for the most home runs this year. In the eighth inning, Willians Astudillo made it 301 bombas when he blasted his fourth of the year over the left field fence, giving Minnesota a 10-4 lead. Winding Down With the division already clinched and the 2019 regular season coming to an end, with no chance of leapfrogging the Yankees or Astros in the A.L. standings, we can expect to see more lineups similar to today's. Enjoy watching stress-free baseball against Kansas City and get locked in for postseason baseball. There’s nothing better and we’ve earned this, Twins Territory. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1177324912676990976 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  25. Facing a right-handed starter, which dominate both the Astros’ and Yankees’ rotations, Marwin Gonzalez and Jake Cave are better fits than CJ Cron (684 OPS vs RHP) and Jonathan Schoop (737 OPS vs RHP). Both started Monday night. Garver has also seen more time at catcher lately, even versus right-handers. The rest of the lineup are the everyday players But if Kepler is in the lineup, he is likely to lead off. Kepler has been the leadoff hitter for the Twins 105 times this season, versus just eight times for Arraez. So what does the batting order look like if one adds Kepler? Turns out, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has written that combination of nine names – last night’s 1-8 hitters plus Kepler - into the starting lineup just one time all year. Like last night, it was against the White Sox at Target Field. And like last night, it was against Reynoldo Lopez. Last month on Tuesday, August 20th, the Twins scored 14 runs and beat up the White Sox. (Here's the box score.) The starting lineup looked like this: (L) Max Kepler-CF (S) Jorge Polanco-SS ® Nelson Cruz-DH (L) Eddie Rosario-LF ® Miguel Sano-3B (L) Luis Arraez-2B ® Mitch Garver-C (S) Marwin Gonzalez-1B (L) Jake Cave-RF Does Kepler’s health change things? Does Cave need to show he can hit like he did before the injury? If he does, does he switch places with Gonzalez? Do Sano’s back problems mean he switches places with Garver? These are additional questions for us to explore and the Twins to work out over the next two weeks. But you’re welcome to share your ideal postseason lineup in the comments.
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