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  1. The team has not yet announced that Duran will miss the rest of 2021, but, given the nature of elbow strains, I find it difficult to see him returning to the mound in any meaningful way. There's just no decent reason to push him. Now, 2022 will be about rebuilding (essentially) two years of missed time while juggling playing time at both the AAA and major league levels. That sounds like quite a challenge. Fortunately, there is another player that the Twins can mimic in how they build Duran back up. Unfortunately, that player is on a rival squad. Michael Kopech; you probably know him. The White Sox brought him over with Yoán Moncada when they traded scissors-enthusiast Chris Sale to Boston as a kick-start to their rebuild. Kopech debuted in 2018 with mild success-barely any walks, but a ton of homers-and emerged as something of a budding ace. The following two years were less kind. Kopech missed all of 2019 with Tommy John surgery, and then he opted out of the 2020 season for 'personal reasons'. Kopech was still more-or-less as talented as when he debuted, but he faced an uphill climb in 2021 to build back the stamina needed to be a successful starter. What has been the plan? Use him as a reliever, of course. Kopech has started just three games against 27 relief appearances as of August 23rd. Oddly enough, Chicago immediately threw Kopech into the heat of battle-eight of his first ten appearances lasted longer than one inning-before reining him in afterward. Since May 18th, he has thrown multiple innings just three times, with none of those outings lasting longer than two innings. Perhaps part of that is caution. MLB teams are notorious for treating young pitchers like buried treasure, but I think there's a somewhat different philosophy at play here. Yes, the White Sox want to be careful with Kopech, but they want to get him cheap playing time. Relief pitchers are much easier to command because the manager can control the situations they find themselves in. Do you want to avoid using a guy in a high-leverage context? Then don't. Do you want to get him multiple innings? Go right ahead. The reliever moniker allows the team to be flexible in a way that starters cannot be. I believe that the Twins should follow suit with Duran. His lack of innings perfectly mirrors the situation Kopech was in, and the 2021 season has been fantastic for Chicago's righty (I wrote this sentence before he gave up five earned runs in one inning, whoops.) The team should use Duran as a sort of swingman or as a piggybacker at the major league level as soon as they can. Forcing Duran to burn time at AAA in a vain effort to build back his stamina will only cause the team to avoid utilizing one of their most exciting pitching prospects. "But Matt," you say, "why not just keep him as a starter in AAA? Why force him into the bullpen? What difference does it make?" These are fair questions. The Twins will strongly limit Duran in 2022. My guess is 80 innings-it could be more but likely not by much. Why, then, should Duran waste innings at AAA when he could instead get accustomed to major league talent while also building back his innings? The team will not be competitive in 2022, so Duran taking his occasional licks will hurt no one. Keep in mind that Duran will be 24 when the 2022 season begins, and if they keep him as a starter that season, he likely will not be up in any significant fashion until 2023, when he's 25. That's far from old, but he's getting to the point where his prospect status needs to become actual tangible major league ability. The Twins should be looking solely to prep Duran for 2023, and I see a spot in the major league bullpen as a better alternative than more time at AAA.
  2. 5. RHP Jhoan Duran (23 years old) Season Stats (AAA): 16.0 IP (5 G), 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12.4 K/9. 7.3 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 2, 2021 Preseason: 5 Duran is one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins system in quite some time. He can consistently hit triple digits with his fastball while mixing in a splitter, curveball, and changeup. One of his pitches sometimes referred to as a splinker, is similar to another big-leaguer. His biggest concerns are control and staying healthy. Currently, he is out with an elbow strain, and he also dealt with a trapezius issue earlier in the year. When he went on the IL at the end of June, the recommendation was for him to be shut down for 5-6 weeks, and surgery will not be needed for the time being. Minnesota can hold its collective breath and hope Duran doesn’t need to go under the knife and miss significant time in 2022. 4. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (20 years old) Season Stats (AA): 45.1 IP (11 G), 5.76 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about Woods-Richardson as he was acquired as part of the José Berríos trade. He showcases a traditional mix of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, all four pitches already grade at a 55 (20-80 scale) or higher. Toronto was aggressive with sending him to Double-A as a 20-year old, and the Twins have assigned him to the same level as he returned from the Olympics. Minnesota will be his third organization since being drafted in 2018, and it should be the organization where he will make his big-league debut. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 63.1 IP (13 G), 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 3, 2021 Preseason: 6 Minnesota snagged Balazovic back in 2016 in the fifth round out of Canada. Balazovic started the year on the IL, so his first game action didn’t come until the beginning of June. After shaking some dust off, he had a terrific month of July as he posted a 2.86 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has allowed three runs or fewer, including seven appearances with no runs allowed. His strikeout rate is higher than his career mark, and he faces older batters over 80% of the time. Will he get a shot at Triple-A before the season’s done? 2. SS/CF Austin Martin (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 62 G, .291/.438/.391 (.829), 2 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B,19.4 K%, 15.2 BB% Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline While most will have Martin in the #1 spot among Twins prospects, he slots in at #2 here as the organization might have bought low on him. There are a lot of similarities between Lewis and Martin which means they both have immense potential. Since he is new to the organization, here are a few things to learn about him. Martin may be able to play shortstop, but he can also play other infield and outfield positions as needed. He played a lot of third base in college, but the Twins will have him focus on center field. He will hit for average and get on base. The remaining question is how much power he’ll be able to provide. 1. SS Royce Lewis (22 years old) Season Stats: Out for the season after ACL surgery Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 1, 2021 Preseason: 2 Eight out of ten Twins Daily Minor League Writers agree, Royce Lewis returns to the #1 spot in our Twins Top Prospect rankings. He made strides in 2020 at the alternate site. He’s begun some baseball activities recently after spring training ACL reconstruction. Lewis has power. He has speed. He has the potential to stick at shortstop but can be versatile. Other players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft have started to perform, so some might question whether Lewis was the right choice. Martin might have a higher floor than Lewis, but Lewis has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Prospects 6-10 -Prospects 11-15 -Prospects 16-20 -Prospects 21-25 -Prospects 26-30
  3. 5. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA/AAA): .350 AVG, .409 OBP, .614 SLG, 16 HR, 46 RBI 2021 Ranking: 19 When we ranked him No. 19 on our preseason top prospects list, the short synopsis on Miranda was a familiar one: "High-contract righty-swinging infielder needs to find power stroke." The former second-round draft pick has long sat on the fringes of our top-20 rankings because of his many intriguing traits, but the production just wasn't there to justify ranking him much higher. Through his first 379 games in the minors, he slugged .394 with 37 home runs. This year, he found his power stroke. Miranda came out of the gates red-hot at Double-A, opening with a seven-game hitting streak that included three home runs, and he never really slowed down. Miranda slashed .345/.408/.588 with 13 home runs in two months at Wichita, then earned a late-June promotion to St. Paul, where he put together an unforgettable Triple-A debut: 5-6, 3 HR, 6 RBIs. It all came together in a hurry for Miranda and there's not much reason to think his breakthrough isn't legit. He's got a smooth, compact swing from the right side that was always produced high contact rates, and he's clearly turned a corner with his ability to drive the ball. He projects as a third baseman in the big leagues, and perhaps pretty soon, depending on what happens with Josh Donaldson. 4. Matt Canterino, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A+): 18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 1.14 FIP, 51.5 K%, 4.4 BB% 2021 Ranking: 9 Canterino drew considerable hype coming into this season after reports emerged of him touching 100 MPH in a side session. A second-rounder out of Rice University in 2019, he made a strong impression by dominating in his first stint as a pro (1.44 ERA, 11.2 K/9 between rookie and A-ball), but plenty of highly-drafted collegiate players have done that. Taking the next step is the differentiator. Canterino's velo jump, and the behind-the-scenes work it reflected, were seemingly positive indicators. The righty needed to show it on the field. He has. Canterino was brilliant through four starts for Cedar Rapids, now the Twins' High-A affiliate. I mean, we're talking stupid good numbers. Thirty-five strikeouts in 18 innings? A 17.5 K/9 rate?? Canterino was striking out literally more than half the batters he faced. Beyond overpowering. He was likely in line for an imminent promotion to Double-A, but unfortunately the 23-year-old developed a sore elbow and hasn't pitched since May. He is currently on the comeback trail and the Twins hope he'll be able to return to the mound soon – probably in Wichita once he's fully back on track. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA): 21 1/3 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 29.5 K%, 7.1 BB% 2021 Ranking: 6 After getting a late start to his season while healing from injury, Balazovic's results through six starts at Double-A have been ... uneven. His 4.44 ERA is nothing to write home about, and he has yet to get through six innings in an outing. With that said, he's been building up – his best, and longest, start was also his most recent – and the signs of that big potential have been on display. In 24 ⅓ innings, he has piled up 33 strikeouts with a 14% swing-and-miss rate. While hitters have had success against him at times, they haven't hit for much power (3 HR and 7 XBH total) and Balazovic's control hasn't really eluded him at any point. For now the key is to continually advance his workload and consistency. 2. Jhoan Duran, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A/AA): 34 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.64 FIP, 38.2 K%, 9.0 BB% 2021 Ranking: n/a Like Balazovic, Duran's start to the 2021 campaign was delayed by injury following a lost pandemic season. When he took the mound on May 22nd at CHS Field, it was Duran's first time pitching in a minor-league game since August 29th of 2019. He was worth the wait. Unleashing triple-digit heat, Duran dazzled, striking out six over three innings of one-run ball. His next time out he allowed only one hit while fanning eight over four scoreless frames. However, things took a downward turn at this point, as Duran was tagged with losses in his next three appearances (one a long-relief outing), surrendering 8 earned runs with an 8-to-12 K/BB ratio in nine innings. Then, he went on the Injured List with an elbow strain. For now, the Twins hope and believe he'll avoid surgery. Duran has the best stuff in Minnesota's system and some of the best in the minors. He's the real deal talent-wise and the Twins have done a stellar job in targeting, acquiring, and developing him. His biggest barriers are control and health, and we've seen both fully presented this year, with the latter currently sidelining him indefinitely. He's as boom-or-bust as they come, but the ceiling is game-changing and within reach. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats: n/a 2021 Ranking: 2 Losing two consecutive full seasons – one to a global pandemic and the next to a torn ACL – in the very crux of one's development is an ordeal many baseball prospects would be unable to overcome. I'd bet on Royce Lewis not being one of them. His much-lauded character and makeup have always positively affected the view and evaluation of Lewis, in certain intangible ways, but these qualities can have a very real impact in how he responds to this challenge. He'll be more than two years removed from playing competitively when he takes the field next spring – or maybe this winter – but has the natural talent to get back up to speed quickly. And "speed" really is the key word: even after knee surgery, he'll be one of the fastest and most athletic prospects in the game. Lewis is a dynamic talent who will likely end up at one of the most important defensive positions on the field – shortstop or center – and should be relatively productive at one of those spots even if his offensive shortcomings are not fully resolved. If the Twins do hope to rebound back into contention next year, they may need to ask quite a bit of their No. 1 prospect, as well as the other four we just profiled. One commonality you will notice among this reshaped top five: They're all 22 or 23 years old, with ETAs of 2022. These players are all verging on big-league ready and in most cases, health is the only significant barrier to surpass. 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  4. Unfortunately, a series loss against the Baltimore Orioles after the one-third mark of the season should be the proverbial nail in the coffin for this team. Injuries have piled up, and Rocco Baldelli has been tasked with finding enough beating hearts to compile lineups on a nightly basis. With that as the new reality, making sure that 2021 is used productively to set up 2022 now must be the goal. Both Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach have debuted for the Twins. They represent the organization's two best pure hitting prospects, and neither should be sent back to the minors the rest of the way. Getting them regular reps is a must and making sure they’re comfortable to contribute out of the gate next year has to be the focus. Who should join them though? Jhoan Duran Pitching prospect number one, Duran got off to a late start this year dealing with a minor injury. He’s now taken a couple of turns at Triple-A St. Paul and looks every bit the dominant piece that the Twins have been waiting on. Maybe he’s not an ace, but he throws triple-digits and has strikeout stuff. Getting him something like 10 starts at the major-league level this season makes too much sense. Allocate the workload expected for Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ to other guys, this being the number one option. Matt Canterino Starting at High-A never made sense for Canterino. He’ll soon be 24 and is clearly advanced well beyond that level. He should be at Double-A already, and Triple-A by the end of the summer. I don’t know if Canterino necessarily needs big league starts, but there’s no reason for him not to throw major-league innings this year. He’s got dominant strikeout stuff and could be usable in both a starting and relief role. Expecting him to contribute in 2022 makes a lot of sense, so getting the jitters out now needs to happen. Jordan Balazovic This one is a bit trickier given the injury situation. He’ll begin at Double-A Wichita this weekend, but as the Twins top pitching prospect, the stuff could push him along quickly. Balazovic has as high of an upside as anyone in the system. If Derek Falvey is going to develop his own Jose Berrios or better, this is the kid. I’d like to see him get at least one or two starts for Minnesota before the year is over. Josh Winder Another arm in the vein of Canterino, Winder was given more of an aggressive starting point. Having dominated Double-A over his first five outings, it’s time for a step up. He should spend a couple of months with the Saints at Triple-A, and then a 40-man addition along with a big league promotion makes sense. A 7th round pick in 2018, Winder will be 25 by 2022 and could certainly be an arm that the Twins look at when filling out the rotation. Cole Sands A 5th round pick back in 2018, the former Florida State Seminole has done nothing but impress in pro ball. He’ll turn 24 next month and has started strong at Double-A Wichita. There’s been a bit less command in 2021 than previous seasons, but the strikeout stuff plays. Getting him to Triple-A by mid-summer with an end-of-year promotion to the big leagues seems like the right timetable. Another guy that could be called upon in the rotation for '22, there’s no reason not to get his feet wet. Jose Miranda Losing Travis Blankenhorn over a middling reliever wasn’t ideal, but it’s Miranda that likely made him dispensable. The 2nd round pick in 2016 was Rule 5 eligible this winter but went undrafted. He’s crushed Double-A to start the year and owns a .920 OPS. There’s not much reason to keep him down longer, and he could quickly emerge as the next utility option with a bit stronger bat. He’s not a shortstop, but he can play third base, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Minnesota pushes for some outfield flexibility. 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. All of those players were mentioned in this preview after a lengthy delay to the start of the MLB season, and you’ll see quite a few of the same other names in this year’s version. As an immense fan of the minor leagues due to my experiences in those ballparks as a kid, top prospect lists and scouting reports have always been must-read material for me during the winter months as we wait for Spring. There are numerous websites and lists dedicated to this these days, including some of the best you will find about your hometown team right here at Twins Daily. I have certainly made plenty such lists over the years and have been a Minor League Report contributor here since the site’s inception, but because of the depth provided elsewhere I like to put out my own version of a list every year that instead talks about prospects you might see in the majors during the upcoming season. While 2020 was beyond weird when making this list, this season is perhaps even harder as there is no MiLB data from the prior season to rely on. I expect this list to either be woefully inaccurate or right on the nose, as assumptions from the prior season carry over. So, who are the next Minnesota Twins that could make their debut during the 2021 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The number of names in this section is a testament to the maturity of the Twins minor league system going into the 2021 season. Six of the eight names are on Twins Daily’s Top Prospect List and the other two have appeared there in the past. With this many heralded prospects knocking on the major league’s door and an already established MLB roster, it could lead to some interesting roster moves during the 2021 season. Jhoan Duran (23 years old on opening day), RHP – TD’s #5 Prospect There is a lot to like with Duran. He has size, triple-digit velocity, and a unique pitch that can give hitters fits if they are sitting on his fastball. Like many young hurlers, development of his off-speed or breaking pitches will determine whether he remains a starter in the majors or gets transitioned to the bullpen. While he spent time at the alternate site in 2020, he has only pitched 37 innings at the double-A level with inconsistent results. It is not out of the question he starts the MiLB season back in double-A, pushing any potential debut timeline out to later in the summer, which also could come as a reliever much like Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Nick Gordon (25), IF (Gordon made his MLB debut on 5/6, and went 1-for-2 with a BB and 2 SB) I have had Gordon on this list for several years now, and the 2021 season may be the make-it-or-break-it campaign for the Twins first round pick from the 2014 draft. The stat lines have not been flashy but improvement year-to-year at each level has been noticeable. He followed up a 2017 season in double-A where he hit .270/.341/.408 by hitting .333/.381/.525 to earn a promotion to triple-A in 2018. He hit only .212/.262/.283 after moving up, but the next season improved to .298/.342/.459 at the same level and it may have been a hard choice between him and Luis Arreaz for a promotion if he had not been injured at the time. I think Gordon can find an infield utility role, but whether that comes with the Twins or not is what the 2021 season may be all about for him. Jordan Balazovic (22), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Hype around Balazovic, much like Duran, is also warranted. He may not have the same level of raw stuff as Duran, but the performance has been better in comparison. The only caveat there is Balazovic has not pitched above single-A yet, though he did end up at the alternate site late in the 2020 season. I would be surprised if he began anywhere but double-A Wichita to start the year, and he is certainly going to be on an innings limit. These things work against him in terms of debuting in 2021 but being on the 40-man roster also places him high on any depth charts for promotion. He also has far less risk of being transitioned to a reliever in the future due to his above average control of all of his pitches. Ben Rortvedt (23), C – TD’s #17 Prospect (Rortvedt made his MLB debut on 4/30, going 1-for-3 with an RBI, R, and BB) Rortvedt was added to the 40-man roster after the 2020 season to make sure he was not lost in the Rule 5 draft. This is mainly due to his defensive chops as a catcher, but potential with the bat still remains as a 23-year-old with good plate discipline likely to play at triple-A for the first time this year. The defense will get him to the majors, but it depends on if his bat is unlocked enough to become a regular in an organization already boasting two strong bats at the position in Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers. He is basically an ideal emergency catcher as is and I can envision a career much like former Twins catcher Drew Butera as a good floor. Dakota Chalmers (24), RHP Chalmers has only pitched around 60 recorded innings since having Tommy John surgery during the 2018 season, and less than 200 total innings in six years as a professional, but that has not stopped him from getting close to the majors. That is because of strong raw stuff that includes a mid-90’s fastball and bat missing sliders and changeups as his secondary offerings. Control of these pitches has always been the issue as he has walked 6.6 per nine innings pitched over his professional career. This was especially evident in his time in the Arizona Fall League after the 2019 season, where he was all over the board from terrible to dominant in his outings there, depending on that control. He started the AFL Championship game that the Twins prospects went on to win (with help from other prospects, of course). Gilberto Celestino (22), OF – TD’s #11 Prospect (Celestino made his MLB debut on 6/2, starting in CF and going 0-for-2 with a K) Celestino is an interesting case study on 40-man protection situations, as he is a player who has yet to play any games above A-ball, and only eight of them in the advanced Florida State League at that. As is the case with all these guys, you can blame that on a lost 2020 MiLB season, but his apparent rise in those circumstances is noteworthy as he did spend 2020 at the alternate site in St. Paul. Celestino’s bat came alive with Cedar Rapids in the latter half of the 2019 season where from July onward he hit .348/.413/.532. If the bat has continued to come around there is an exciting prospect here as he has always been a fantastic outfielder, including in center. Someone on the MLB roster could learn something about playing walls from him, too: Bailey Ober (25), RHP – TD’s #20 Prospect (Ober made his MLB debut on 5/18, starting the game and going 4.0 IP , allowing 4 ER on 5 H, 1 BB, and struck out 4 in a win against the Chicago White Sox) You will not find a better statistical performer as a starting pitcher in the Twins system from the 2019 season, where Ober posted eye opening numbers including a 0.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and K/9 rate of 11.4 at Fort Myers and Pensacola. You might expect such numbers to warrant a higher ranking on prospect lists, but he is a bit of a unicorn in the tool aspects as a 6’9” hurler whose fastball *might* touch 90 MPH on a good day. What he does have however, is perhaps some of the best control you will find in all of the minor leagues. While striking out 100 hitters in 78 2/3 innings in 2019, he walked just nine for a rate of 1.0/9IP. Pitches will always play up when you can locate them like he does, especially from his frame, and Ober is one I am particularly looking forward to following again in the 2021 season. TOP PROSPECTS: It is disappointing I had to remove one of the entries who would be in this section before Spring Training even started, but it is still worth mentioning Royce Lewis’ name. His 2019 campaign in the Arizona Fall League that resulted in an MVP award does not seem to get the credit it should. It was the best performance by a Twins prospect by far since I have been following that league with a keen eye for more years than I care to admit. His knee injury is a major bummer for the 2021 season (I guess welcome to the torn ACL club, Royce!), just like the cancelling of 2020’s minor league season was. We are going to have to wait even longer for the former #1 overall pick to arrive in the majors, but I have no doubts it will be well worth the wait. I consider each of the players in this section to be on equal footing when it comes to their maturity in the Twins system as the 40-man roster players above. They just have not needed to be added to that list yet. Trevor Larnach (24), OF – TD’s #3 Prospect (Larnach made his debut on 5/8, playing LF and going 0-for-4 but reaching base on a HBP) Twins Daily’s 2019 MiLB Hitter of the Year gets less accolades than fellow outfielder Alex Kirilloff, but I would not argue with you if you put them on equal footing as hitters. Larnach has comparable power to all fields and a bit better plate discipline to make up for any lag in hitting that skill evaluators might perceive. With the glut of corner outfield talent in the upper portions of the Twins system, having Larnach start the 2021 season back in double-A is logical, but his bat is one that could force the issue as the MLB season wears on. Blayne Enlow (22), RHP – TD’s #10 Prospect (Update: Enlow hit the disabled list in early June, and was later determined to need Tommy John surgery and will mist the rest of the 2021 season) When drafted in 2017, Enlow was said to have one of the best curveballs available, which was an even more impressive statement as he was a high school pitcher. But that pitch took a step back when he became a pro, leading to relatively unimpressive strikeout numbers. That tide could be changing as he continues to grow into any adjustments made by coaches, as reports from instructs last fall included added velocity (mid 90’s) and a reinvigorated breaking ball. Losing the 2020 season was especially detrimental to evaluating someone like Enlow, but youth is still on his side as the youngest player to appear on this list. I would envision 2022 as a more likely MLB debut year for him, but you never know. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect Canterino is another prospect where the loss of a 2020 season looms large. As an advanced college draftee in 2019 he spent time with Cedar Rapids in his first professional season and could have been fast-tracked to the upper levels in 2020. Instead of impressing on the diamond, he did so off of it, earning a late addition to the alternate site in St. Paul where he demonstrated some added velocity and also got some notice for touching 99 MPH in throwing sessions over the winter. Because his delivery has a lot of moving parts, there are some questions about if he can remain a starter long-term, but he has answered them positively in every way he can so far. If he is ticketed for double-A Wichita early in the season (or to start it?), take notice. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players are not necessarily top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a thing where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Griffin Jax (26), RHP (Jax made his MLB debut on 6/8 against the New York Yankees, in relief. He pitched 1 inning, allowing 3 ER on 3 H, and striking out 1) Jax reached triple-A for three starts during the 2019 season due to a stellar campaign at Pensacola where he posted a sub 3.00 ERA in 111 1/3 innings and earned an All-Star nod. He is not a strikeout artist but has limited walks and hard contact as a pro. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason was not able to pitch as much as he would have liked during the 2019 season due to an ulnar nerve injury that cut it short after just 23 innings with Pensacola. But those innings were fantastic as he closed out seven games for saves with a 2.35 ERA with 28 K’s and earned Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Month award for April. Zander Wiel (28), 1B/OF Wiel has been a favorite follow of mine since the Twins took him in the 12th round of the 2015 draft out of College World Series champion Vanderbilt. He may not have any loud tools, but has been productive throughout his MiLB career, leading the International League in doubles with 40, and all Twins minor leaguers with 86 runs scored with Rochester in 2019. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out nowhere to make a surprise debut for me. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skillset or background I find intriguing that could pay big dividends. These are my shots in the dark at guys who that could be in 2021. Tom Hackimer (26), RHP (Hackimer was promoted to triple-A in mid-May but had some struggles and was released in June) A pure reliever prospect who could remind fans of Pat Neshek when it is all said and done. A sidewinder who missed most of the 2018 season with a shoulder injury returned in 2019 to post a 2.54 ERA and 75 K’s in 56 2/3 innings between Fort Myers and Pensacola, earning a FSL All-Star selection in the process. Matt Wallner (23), OF – TD’s #13 Prospect A native Minnesotan and another advanced hitter out of the Brent Rooker/Trevor Larnach mold from college, Wallner could move quickly if he is hitting bombs like he did at this spring training game I was fortunate enough to attend last year: Cole Sands (23), RHP – TD’s #15 Prospect Another victim of no 2020 season, Sands was fantastic in 2019 pitching at three levels in his first taste of professional ball, ending the year with a start in double-A. He was especially dominant with Fort Myers, posting a 2.25 ERA and 0.83 WHIP in nine starts. His changeup has been rated as the best in the Twins system by Baseball America. Yennier Cano (27), RHP An international signing in 2019, Cano has flown a little under the radar despite being rated as one of the top arms available in that market up to that point. A standout from Cuba that played on their national teams, Cano boasts high-90’s velocity and a full repertoire that could be culled to play to his strengths out of the bullpen. Chris Vallimont (24), RHP Vallimont was the prospect addition in the deal with the Miami Marlins for Sergio Romo during the 2019 season and impressed with Fort Myers after the trade. He has been a starter with a full repertoire including a fastball with movement and slider that gets swings and misses, especially against same-sided hitters. The Twins want him to throw that slider more, which could be an interesting development to follow this season as the organization has taken a particular interest in slider heavy relievers recently. These are (some of) the players I think could make their MLB dreams come true during the 2021 season and don a Minnesota Twins jersey for the first time. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? Who are the prospects I’ve missed that you believe could do so this year?
  6. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/17 through Sun, 5/23 *** Record Last Week: 4-4 (Overall: 17-29) Run Differential Last Week: -4 (Overall: -24) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (9.5 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 39 | CWS 16, MIN 4: Sox Decimate Twins in Dispiriting Blowout Game 40 | MIN 5, CWS 4: Sanó's 3 HR Spark Rare Comeback Win Game 41 | CWS 2, MIN 1: Twins Bats Come Up Empty Against Giolito Game 42 | LAA 7, MIN 1: Halos Bury Twins to Kick Off Makeup Doubleheader Game 43 | MIN 6, LAA 3: Another Big Blast from Sanó Lifts Twins in Nightcap Game 44 | MIN 10, 0: Cleveland Rocked as Dobnak Cruises Game 45 | CLE 5, MIN 3: Twins Fall in 10th Inning Yet Again Game 46 | MIN 8, CLE 5: Hex in Extras Snapped by Garlick's Heroics NEWS & NOTES The Twins played eight games last week. They won four and lost four. They snapped their winless records in both double-headers and extra innings. They were outscored by four runs over the course of a week that included a 10-0 victory, large because it also included a 16-4 loss. There is much to cover. As always, we begin with a quick rundown of roster moves and injury updates over the past week. Heading out: Ben Rortvedt, who went 4-for-25 (.160) with 10 strikeouts and zero extra-base hits in his first turn of the majors, was optioned to Triple-A. Lewis Thorpe came and went, again, giving up four runs (just one earned) in an unimpressive spot start on Thursday before being sent back to St. Paul. Bailey Ober struggled in a spot start of his own on Tuesday (4 IP, 4 ER) and was returned to the Saints shortly thereafter. Derek Law was outrighted from the 40-man roster after posting an 8.53 ERA through 6 ⅓ innings for the Twins. He passed through waivers and made it back to St. Paul, where he coughed up a couple runs on Saturday night Michael Pineda went on the Injured List due to a minor surgical procedure. He's due to return in the coming week. Reliever Shaun Anderson also was placed on IL, with a left quad strain. Ahead of Sunday's game, the Twins placed Kenta Maeda on the shelf with a groin/adductor injury that has been bothering him for some time. Coming in: Alex Kirilloff is back! The outfielder was activated for the weekend series in Cleveland after a brief rehab stint at CHS Field. And while he's apparently playing through a wrist issue that will later require surgery, he shows no real signs of being limited. Randy Dobnak joined the rotation, starting in place of a sidelined Pineda on Friday. His outstanding return is detailed in the Highlights section below. Cody Stashak was recalled and made two scoreless appearances. Luke Farrell also joined the bullpen, hurling two shutout frames on Friday. Taking Maeda's roster spot on Sunday was Nick Gordon, who may have a shot at some decently regular playing time during this stint with both Luis Arraez (shoulder) and Jorge Polanco (ankle) banged up. HIGHLIGHTS This team shows signs of getting on track. Getting Kirilloff back in the lineup is a real difference-maker and it was felt on Friday night, when he batted cleanup in his return and the Twins scored 10 runs, as well as the next day when he came through with a clutch game-tying hit. Having both him and Trevor Larnach in the lineup is fun and exciting. Even if Larnach hasn't quite turned a corner production-wise like Kirilloff, he looks similarly comfortable and natural at the major-league level. You get the sense both of these guys are here to stay. Other hitters like Max Kepler, Mitch Garver, Kyle Garlick, and Rob Refsnyder and also had good weeks and big moments. But the star of the show, without question, was Miguel Sanó. The dam finally broke, and six weeks worth of pent-up offensive production burst forth within a ridiculous eight-game span. In 33 plate appearances dating back to last Monday, Sanó slashed .300/.364/.900 with five home runs, three doubles and 10 RBIs. His slugging percentage, which was all the way down to .209 as little as 10 days ago, is now up to .442 – well above the league average. His theatrics included a three-homer game, two four-RBI games, and a blast off Shane Bieber. Not only is he delivering big hits, he's delivering them in pivotal situations. The Twins have won five of their past 15 games and you can make a strong case that three of those victories were almost entirely because of Sanó: On May 15th, they beat Oakland 5-4 after his three-run blast in the eighth turned a two-run deficit into a one-run lead. On May 18th, he homered three times and drove in four in a 5-4 win over Chicago. In the second half of May 20th's doubleheader, Sanó's grand slam proved to be the difference in a 6-3 win. It bears noting that in 2019, Sanó slumped in June and saw his batting average sink to .195 before he flipped the switch and played at an MVP level the rest of the way, posting a .994 OPS with 25 homers and 64 RBIs in 74 games. So, let's see where he goes from here. On the pitching side, it was awesome to see Dobnak return to the rotation and look much more like the version that flashed back in the spring. The righty worked six scoreless innings in Cleveland on Friday, allowing just three hits and two walks while striking out five. He was inducing grounders and weak contact, executing his pitches, and generally looking to be in control. With Maeda now on the shelf, back-end starters Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ looking quite shaky, and Thorpe failing to step up, the Twins vitally needed Dobnak to find his footing. Friday's start was an excellent first step. LOWLIGHTS The Twins may be showing some signs of life, but still played .500 ball last week at a time where they desperately need to be making up ground. Even with a few things turning around, it feels like two steps forward are constantly being matched by two steps back, and some of their issues are so structurally fundamental they make it extremely hard to believe a sustained run of winning baseball is possible. Saturday's game was a perfect example of how this team just can't shake its woes. First, you've got Maeda's continued inability to make it click. The Twins have lost six of his last seven starts, and he's frequently been a prime culprit. Saturday's outing against Cleveland was the seventh straight in which he failed to complete six innings; he has one quality start in nine tries this year after going 8-for-12 in 2020. When your fourth or fifth starter aren't getting it done, you can adapt and adjust. Guys like Dobnak step in, and keep the rotation intact. But when the reigning Cy Young runner-up – a pitcher you invested heavily to acquire, and were absolutely counting on to be one of your frontline horses – turns into a pumpkin, that's an exceedingly difficult problem to fix. We'll have to hope some time off to rest of his bothersome groin proves to be the elixir Maeda needs to rediscover his game. But even with Maeda giving up an early 3-0 lead on Saturday, the Twins were in position to take the game and series. They rallied back to tie it, and sent the contest to extra innings. There, an all-too-familiar script played out. In the top of the 10th, the Twins once again failed to score their lead runner from second. In the bottom half, Alex Colomé entered, and on the second pitch he threw... I mean, look at the location of that pitch. Once again Colomé, who formed a reputation over many years as one of the most effective late-inning relievers in the game because he didn't flop in crunch time, offered up an absolute cookie in a critical spot, with the winning run in scoring position. We've seen it time and time again this year. It's particularly disappointing in this instance because Colomé really seemed to be figuring things out. Pitching in a reduced-leverage role, he'd worked seven scoreless appearances in May, allowing only two hits (both singles) and legitimately getting back to the things he's done well – namely, placing his cutter on the edges of the zone rather than right down the middle. Then, he gets another chance in a key late-game spot and immediately goes back to pulling the same crap from April. This is an enormous problem because, for better or worse, Colomé is a crux in this bullpen – especially since their other top right-hander has also been a mess. In more ways than one. On that note... In a season that's spun off the rails so early, leaving contention as an unlikely scenario for the summer, you look for other things to cheer for as a fan. You want to root for good stories. You want to connect emotionally with the squad as they grind and grow together through a tough year. You want to invest in the character of your club. All of which made Tuesday's embarrassing antics the lowlight of the week, and maybe even the season, for me. To recap: On Monday the Twins got blown out by Chicago at Target Field, to the point where Willians Astudillo was called in to chuck some 45-MPH eephus balls in the ninth. With the White Sox leading 15-4, Astudillo fell behind Yermin Mercedes 3-0. The next non-competitive offering from Tortuga found its way into the zone, and then Mercedes made sure it found its way over the fence. The Twins announcers were displeased. Evidently some Twins players were too. The next day, in a close game, Tyler Duffey decided to exact revenge, throwing behind Mercedes with Minnesota trailing by only two runs in the seventh. Yuck. As a result, Duffey was ejected along with his manager Rocco Baldelli. Each served a short suspension later in the week. Now, Mercedes ignoring a take sign from his coaches is one thing. That's not great, but it's an issue for the White Sox to take care of on their own accord. For the Twins to be so pissy that Chicago had the gall to keep trying, and for "respecting the game" to be sanctimoniously lectured about by anyone in a situation where Minnesota had its backup catcher on the mound throwing beer-league softball pitches in a major-league game ... it's too much. It's too much from a team, and a player, who need to be worrying about their own issues before getting involved in another team's, and putting people in harm's way in the process. Chicago's shortstop Tim Anderson said later that the actions were "Definitely a sign of weakness from Duffey and the Twins.” As a Twins fan who generally despises the Sox, it absolutely crushes me that I can't argue with his conclusion one bit. TRENDING STORYLINE On Saturday night at CHS Field, Jhoan Duran made his first start in a minor-league game since August of 2019. He got a bit of a late start this season due to a trapezius issue, but the organization's No. 5 prospect was worth the wait. Lucas Seehafer was on hand to cover Duran's season debut for Twins Daily, and you can find his detailed account here. The short version is this: Duran touched 103 MPH on the gun multiple times (granted, the CHS gun seems to be a little hot, but still, the guy was pumping triple digits). He struck out six over three shutout innings. A month ago, I suggested that this Twins season might go one of two ways: a 2006-style turnaround or a 2016-style meltdown. A critical factor in replicating the '06 formula was getting an impact performance from a young phenom in the rotation. In that case it was Francisco Liriano, who led the team to an 11-2 record in his first 13 starts and energized the roster with his mere presence. When you look at players in the current system capable of doing anything similar in 2021, Duran tops the list, and on Saturday we saw why. He needs to build up his pitch count but if the 23-year-old continues to show this type of dominance, and the Twins can get on any kind of run to get back to the fringe of relevance, we could see Duran enter the fray. Let's talk a little bit about that (seemingly outlandish) latter caveat. LOOKING AHEAD If you were looking for a glimpse of hope, a glimmer of promise, a glint of optimism ... this is it. The Twins have escaped the meat-grinder portion of their schedule and now enter a soft patch, with 13 consecutive games against the Orioles and Royals. Baltimore is in last place and Kansas City has plummeted since opening the season 16-9. If the Twins can REALLY make hay during this two-week stretch – say, going 11-2 or 10-3 – they would suddenly be back in the range of .500, with Byron Buxton probably close to returning (if he hasn't already). It's hard to expect that kind of success against any competition, but then, it's hard to play as poorly as Minnesota has over the past many weeks. The pendulum is due for a swing. It all starts this week with six games at Target Field. MONDAY, 5/24: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP John Means v. RHP Matt Shoemaker TUESDAY, 5/25: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Dean Kremer v. RHP Jose Berrios WEDNESDAY, 5/26: ORIOLES @ TWINS – RHP Jorge Lopez v. RHP Michael Pineda FRIDAY, 5/28: ROYALS @ TWINS – LHP Kris Bubic v. RHP Randy Dobnak SATURDAY, 5/29: ROYALS @ TWINS – TBD v. LHP J.A. Happ SUNDAY, 5/30: ROYALS @ TWINS – RHP Brad Keller v. RHP Matt Shoemaker
  7. 5. Cole Sands, RHP Current/Future Fastball: 50/55 Sands gets a lot of life in the upper half of the strike zone. Typically, he is in the low-90s, but he has the ability to hit 95-96 mph. According to FanGraphs, “his fastball will creep into the mid-90s with big time tail, the kind that can run off the hip of left-handed hitters and back over the plate.” His control has improved during his professional career and there is still room for him to make improvements moving forward. 4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Current/Future Fastball: 55/55 Outside of Jhoan Duran (see below), Balazovic is the other pitcher in contention for being the team’s top pitching prospect. His fastball doesn’t have quite the velocity as others on this list, but he typically sits in the low- to mid-90s while topping out at 96 mph. His fastball plays up because hitters have a tough time picking it up out of his hand. He uses it a lot at the top of the zone and that means that the strikeouts will continue to pile up. 3. Josh Winder, RHP Current/Future Fastball: 60/60 During last year’s shutdown, Winder might have earned the award for most improved pitcher in the Twins organization. During the 2019 season, his fastball sat in the low-90s, but he can now hit 98 mph consistently and he proved this during instructs. There is good movement on the pitch too, which helps his off-speed pitches to play up. During the 2021 season, he needs to prove his 2020 development is for real. If he does, fans better be prepared for how fast Winder will fly up prospect lists next off-season. 2. Edwar Colina, RHP Current/Future Fastball: 65/65 Colina might not be as well known as some of the other names on this list, because he is destined for a role in the bullpen. His fastball consistently sits in the mid- to upper-90s and he can touch 100 mph. Even with this big velocity, his fastball doesn’t have a ton of movement, so hitters have a better chance of putting it in play. There’s a good chance he is part of the Twins bullpen at some point in 2021 and he can fill a late inning role in the years to come. 1. Jhoan Duran, RHP Current/Future Fastball: 70/70 Minnesota acquired Duran as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade and now he is considered one of the team’s best pitching prospects. He has grown into his frame throughout his time in the Twins organization as he now sits at 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds. His fastball consistently hits in the high 90’s and he can hit triple digits on a regular basis. His four-seam fastball might not even be his best fastball as he has a hybrid “splinker” pitch that can also reach into the mid-90s. His velocity is elite, and the Twins hope he can mix-in more strikeouts as he gets closer to the big leagues this season. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Speed Tool Prospects -Hit Tool Prospects -Power Tool Prospects 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. MLB.com tried to identify the top players under 25 under an interesting premise. “If you were starting a team today, and you were able to choose only from players under 25 years old -- that’s Major League stars and Minor League prospects, just so long as they aren’t past their age-24 season in 2021 -- who would you pick?” It can be a tough exercise, especially with Minnesota’s deep farm system. 5. Royce Lewis, SS (21-years old) Lewis might be the team’s second-best prospect, but his recently announced knee surgery puts a hold on his development. There were already questions about his swing and his long-term defensive position. Those questions will remain, especially after not playing a professional game in 2020 or 2021. The potential is there, the work ethic is there, and he projects to be a building block piece in the future. For now, the Twins are going to be left looking for other shortstop options as they wait for Lewis to return to the field. 4. Jhoan Duran, RHP (23-years old) Minnesota’s front office was confident Duran would debut in 2020, but then the pandemic shortened the season. He worked at the Twins alternate site last season and reports continue to be positive. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the organization’s highest ranked pitching prospect. With a fastball that hits triple-digits and a unique splinker pitch, Duran is one of the most intriguing prospects to come through the Twins organization. He has the making of four above average pitches and the Twins hope he is a pitcher they can build their rotation around for years to come. 3. Ryan Jeffers, C (23-years old) Jeffers is half of one of baseball’s best catching duos and he’s six and a half years younger than Mitch Garver. Because Garver was a late bloomer, the Twins have team control of both players for multiple seasons. Jeffers was Twins Daily’s number four overall prospect and it’s clear to see why people should be excited about him. He has some of the best catch framing skills in baseball and it is going to be intriguing to see how his numbers play over the course of 162-games. Jeffers needs to prove his offensive numbers weren’t a fluke from 2020, but he was known as a hitter out of college. 2. Luis Arraez, UTL (24-years old) Arraez is moving to a utility role for 2021, but there’s no question that Rocco Baldelli will find way to insert him into the line-up on a regular basis. Even though he was hobbled in 2020, he still managed to post a .321 batting average, which means he has a career .331 batting average in 124 big-league games. On many other teams, Arraez would be in the everyday starting line-up, but he’s only one injury away from finding himself back in a fulltime role. FanGraph’s ZiPS projects him to win the AL batting title and it will be Baldelli’s job to make sure he gets enough plate appearances to qualify. 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF (23-years old) Kirilloff is the type of player any team would like to build their franchise around. He had tremendous make-up and a sweet swing that is hard to ignore. MLB.com will likely include him on their top-25 list entering next season after baseball gets a longer look at Minnesota’s top prospect. One of the few questions that remains is whether or not Kirilloff will be on the Opening Day roster. Minnesota’s winning window is open and that’s one of the strongest reasons to have Kirilloff be in the line-up from day one. How good can he be in his age-23 campaign? Other Potential Names (Ages): Jordan Balazovic (22), Trevor Larnach (24), Aaron Sabato (21), Gilberto Celestino (22), Matt Canterino (23), Edwar Colina (23) Would you put any of these other names on the list? Should Lewis drop off because of his injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Jorge Alcala, RHP Alcala has 18 big league games under his belt, but the 2021 season can be an opportunity to prove he belongs in Minnesota’s long-term relief plans. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli already showed confidence in Alcala by using him in the seventh inning or later in every September appearance last season. Minnesota’s bullpen looks different for 2021 and this can allow Alcala to take on an even more important role. When the Twins acquired Alcala, he was still being used as a starter, but his transition to reliever has come with excellent results. Minnesota’s bullpen pecking order will likely fluctuate throughout the 2021 season with players serving in different roles depending on the situation. Can Alcala move up the depth chart throughout the season? Jhoan Duran, RHP Last winter, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said that he expected Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to both make their MLB debuts in 2020. Obviously, the shortened season stopped that from happening, but both players seem primed for a debut in 2021. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the highest ranked pitcher in our annual top-20 prospect list and there is plenty to be excited about when thinking about what he can add to the Twins starting staff. He might be the most exciting starting pitching prospect to come through the Twins system in quite some time. With an electric fastball and improving off-speed offerings, Duran can provide a mid-season boost for the Twins, especially if the White Sox are hot on their tails. The question is, how high is his ceiling? Shaun Anderson, RHP Matt Wisler was a breakout pitcher for the Twins last season after the team brought him in and told him to concentrate even more on throwing his slider. He threw it over 83% of the time and found remarkable success. Minnesota felt comfortable enough with finding a Wisler replacement that they let him walk this winter. This season, Shaun Anderson hopes to follow a similar trajectory as Wisler. In 2020, Anderson threw his slider 53% of the time, so there is certainly room for him to use this pitch on a more consistent basis. However, there is a major difference between Wisler and Anderson as Anderson’s fastball averages 94 mph. He also ranks in the 92nd percentile when it comes to fastball spin. Working with Wes Johnson might allow Anderson to find the right mixture of these two pitches. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B While Duran moved up our rankings to the number one pitching spot, Kirilloff and Royce Lewis both can make a claim as the team’s top overall prospect. At some point in 2021, he is going to take over as a starting outfielder and the Twins hope he stays there for most of the next decade. Back in 2018, he was one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball, but the 2019 season saw injuries take a toll. He was able to homer four times in five playoff games that season, so the power potential is there. His hit tool separates him from the crowd as he can spray the ball to all fields. As I have previously written, his minor league spray charts should be hung in a museum. His advanced approach at the plate should help him to transition to the big-league level. Kirilloff avoids swings and misses and he should pencil into the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for years to come. Who do you think will breakout for the Twins in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Position: RHP Age: 22 (DOB: 9-17-1998) 2019 Stats (Low-A/High-A): 93.2 IP, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 ETA: 2022 2020 Ranking: 5 2019 Ranking: NA National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR | MLB: 97 | ATH: 63 |BP: NR What’s To Like Canada hasn’t exactly been a hotbed of MLB pitching talent, but Balazovic looks to buck that trend in the years to come. Last year, he was added to the organization’s alternate site in St. Paul before ending the year in the team’s instructional league. By season’s end, he was added to Minnesota’s 40-man roster and that leaves him even closer to making his big-league debut even though he has yet to make an appearance above the High-A level. One positive to come out of last year’s pandemic was Balazovic was able to concentrate on adding weight to his lanky frame. When Minnesota selected him in the fifth round, he was a long and lean 17-year-old that was listed at 6-foot-3 and 175 pounds. Since then, he has added two inches in height and bulked up to 217 pounds. This has helped his fastball move from the high-80s into the mid-90s. Many scouting reports praise him for his pitching deception as hitters can’t pick up the ball well out of his hand. Typically, he uses his fastball at the top of the zone, and it has helped him to post SO/9 totals north of 11.0 over the last two seasons. He throws strikes and he has four pitches that he isn’t afraid to throw in any situation, which make him a very projectable big-league arm. What’s Left To Work On Like many budding pitching prospects, Balazovic continues to refine his secondary pitches. His change-up is the biggest work in progress, but he has made significant strides since joining the organization and it has a chance to be an above average pitch. This pitch will help him to attack left-handed hitters, but he might already be able to do that since lefties only hit .189/.232/.269 against him in 2019. Currently, his slider is his out pitch although he uses his curveball to get strikes as well. He has yet to pitch over 100 innings in any professional season, so that will be an important milestone for 2021. His violent delivery helps to add some deception, but this can also be a concern. Some pitchers with violent deliveries suffer from health or control issues, but neither of these have been a concern so far in Balazovic’s career (knock on wood). What’s Next Last season, Balazovic worked hard to make sure he got invited to the alternate site before the season ended. This allowed the coaching staff to work closely with him and for the front office to get a better idea of how ready he was to take the next step. As mentioned last week, he is good friends with Blayne Enlow, another Twins top pitching prospect, and they keep pushing each other up the organizational ladder. How aggressive will the Twins be with Balazovic this season? It seems most likely that he would spend the majority of the season at Double-A with an outside chance of appearing with St. Paul before the season is complete. Last winter, president of baseball operation Derek Falvey said that he expected Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to make their MLB debuts. It didn’t happen in 2020, so the time might be right in 2021. Do you think Balazovic should be the Twins top pitching prospect? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Twins Daily 2021 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Bailey Ober, RHP 19. Jose Miranda, INF 18. Alerick Soularie, OF 17. Ben Rortvedt, C 16. Edwar Colina, RHP 15. Cole Sands, RHP 14. Misael Urbina, OF 13. Matt Wallner, OF 12. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 11. Gilberto Celestino, OF 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Matt Canterino, RHP 8. Aaron Sabato, 1B 7. Keoni Cavaco, SS 6. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! 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. In a season without minor league games, it is hard to know what happened on the back fields at spring training, at the alternate site in St. Paul, or in instructional leagues this fall. For better or for worse, the names on this list will form the core of the Minnesota Twins for the majority of the next decade. 5. Jhoan Duran- RHP (23-years old) Acquired: Along with Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad in the Eduard Escobar trade ETA: 2021 Duran can pump it across the plate with a triple-digit fastball that regularly sits in the high 90s. He combines that with a very good pitch that is a cross between a splitter and a sinker. His off-speed pitches include a curveball and a changeup that he can use to keep hitters off balance. At 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, his frame continues to fill out. His command continues to improve and his ability to triple-digit velocity and other sinking pitches will make it tough for big league hitters to make consistent contact. 4. Ryan Jeffers- C (23-years old) Acquired: 2018 2nd Round Pick ETA: 2020 When the Twins drafted Jeffers, he was seen as a bat-only player as many scouts felt like he would be a hindrance behind the plate. Things certainly have changed as MLB.com just named him the organization’s best defensive prospect. He burst onto the scene last year and he is the highest riser on this list. Minnesota is projected to use Jeffers and Mitch Garver in a two-catcher system for 2021. Last season, he hit .273/.355/.436, so there could be some expected regression, but he will continue to have strong defensive value. 3. Trevor Larnach- OF (23-years old) Acquired: 2018 1st Round Pick ETA: 2021 In some other organizations, Larnach would have a shot at being the team’s top prospect, but Minnesota has some bigger names ahead of him. His polished swing is going to make him a home run threat at the big-league level. He’s a large man and that prevents him from adding much value on the defensive side of the ball. During the 2019 campaign, he was the organization’s choice for Twins Minor League Player of the Year. He should start 2021 in St. Paul before making his big-league debut sometime next season. 2. Royce Lewis- SS (21-years old) Acquired: 2017 1st Round Pick ETA: 2022 Since the Twins drafted him, Lewis has been considered the top prospect in the Twins organization. Within the industry, there seems to be a shift this winter as more national outlets are putting Kirilloff at the top of the list. There are questions with Lewis about his swing mechanics and his future defensive position and this makes it tough to know what the future might hold. He is making changes to his swing, but some of the flaws are still present. Likely, he has a higher ceiling than Kirilloff, but his floor is also lower and that’s why I have a new number one prospect on my list. 1. Alex Kirilloff- OF/1B (23-years old) Acquired: 2016 1st Round Pick ETA: 2020 In the last draft under Terry Ryan, the Twins took a high school outfielder known for his advanced swing and a tremendous make-up. He has a tremendous plate coverage, and he uses a free-swinging approach to drive balls to all parts of the field. Defensively, he will end up playing right field, first base or designated hitter so that will decrease some of his value. However, he has proven that he is a hitter, and he is projected to hit for power. Minnesota is going to be able to rely on him in the middle of their batting order for the majority of the next decade. How would you rank the top five prospects? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Prospects 16-20 — Prospects 11-15 — Prospects 6-10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 11th-through-15th most valuable player assets currently under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. Read Part 1 (16-20) 15. Miguel Sanó, 1B 2020 Ranking: 11 This is the deepest placement yet in these rankings for Sanó, and with good reason. He moved from third base to first. He is coming off a disappointing year, marred by a ridiculous strikeout total. He is currently lined up as the team's second-highest paid player in 2021, with his $11 million commitment trailing only Donaldson's $21 million. With all this in mind, I think it's important to remember the qualities that have kept Sanó on this list year after year – all still on display in the abbreviated 2020 campaign. He is an incredibly gifted athlete who hits baseballs as hard as anyone in the world. He acclimated quickly to first base, with his natural skill and instincts shining through. He's only 27 years old, at the heart of his physical prime, and still quite athletic for his prodigious size. While he'll be somewhat highly paid in 2021, the Twins also control him in 2022 at $9.25 million, which will be an amazing bargain if he pulls it together. They also have a $14 million option for his age-30 season. Focus on Sanó's flaws all you want – it's valid. But don't lose sight of his strengths. They are in some ways unparalleled. 14. Tyler Duffey, RHP 2020 Ranking: 16 If he hadn't claimed it already, Duffey firmly took hold of the team's "bullpen ace" title in 2020. He was among the league's most dominant relievers, allowing only 19 baserunners via hit or walk in 24 innings, nearly all high-leverage. And because of his sparse previous track record, Duffey remains quite inexpensive in his second turn at arbitration. He's set to earn $2.2 million in 2020. In some ways, he epitomizes the volatility and unpredictability of relief arms. Duffey was not present in these rankings two years ago, and in fact was probably on the verge of moving on from the organization at that point. He has since harnessed his full potential out of the bullpen to become an elite force in the late innings. How long will it last? That remains to be seen. But the Twins are more than happy to control him affordably for the next two seasons. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2020 Ranking: 8 The lost minor-league season in 2020 was especially unfortunate for a guy like Balazovic. He entered the year as a fast-rising and highly promising young arm, ready to take on advanced levels for the first time and make a statement. But because he hadn't yet taken this step, and wasn't really within range of a call-up, he was left off the alternate site roster, leaving him to progress on his own, without the benefit of competition or direct coaching. (He did get added to the alternate group late in the season.) None of this means Balazovic's outlook has dropped off, especially in a relative context (all prospects just lost a year). But he was at such a pivotal crux in his development – 21 years old, three years removed from being drafted out of high school, set to reach Double-A for the first time – that the disruption weighs a bit harder in his case. With that said, he's clearly one of the organization's top pitching prospects – virtually deadlocked with the next guy, from my view – and that makes him one of Minnesota's most valuable assets. Huge year ahead for Balazovic. 12. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2020 Ranking: 13 The Twins acquired the Dominican right-hander from Arizona as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal in July of 2018. At the time, Duran was a middling Single-A starter with big stuff and lackluster results. Upon coming switching organizations, he immediately turned a corner. Since the trade, Duran has posted a 3.38 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, and 10.7 K/9 rate in 151 innings. His whiff rates are among the best in the system. He's been dominating. He's also just about big-league ready. Duran reached Double-A in 2019 and spent 2020 at the alternate site in St. Paul, where he gained consideration for a call-up. His proximity to the majors and proven performance in the upper minors gives him a slight edge over Balazovic in these rankings but as I said, they're practically even in my eyes. 11. Luis Arráez, 2B 2020 Ranking: 10 The strengths and positives that Arráez brings to the table are no secret. He's one of the game's best contact hitters and the definition of a spark plug, with a .331 average and .390 on-base percentage through nearly 500 major-league plate appearances. All this before turning 24. But Arráez also has his limitations. He's not a speedy runner, nor a strong defender, and it's dubious whether he'll ever develop enough power to become a well-rounded offensive threat. Overshadowing these shortcomings, all of which he's been able to rise above as a huge difference-maker in his first two seasons, is the one issue that has actually held him back: his health. The second baseman missed all of 2017 in the minors after tearing the ACL in one knee, and in 2020 he was bothered all year by tendinitis in the other. Arráez was clearly hobbled most of the time and spent much of September on the Injured List. No surgery was planned for this offseason, so he'll focus on strengthening his lower body and shaking off the creeping "injury-prone" rep that threatens to further tarnish his otherwise impeccable asset value as a cheap young core player with five remaining years of team control. THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 15. Miguel Sanó, 1B 14. Tyler Duffey, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Jhoan Duran, RHP 11. Luis Arráez, 2B 6-10: Coming tomorrow!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. Initial Deal: November 14, 2003 Joe Mauer was waiting in the wings to talk over as the team’s full-time catcher. During the previous minor league season, Mauer posted an .832 OPS with 37 extra-base hits while making it all the way to Double-A. He was widely considered baseball’s best prospect and Baseball America had awarded him their Minor League Player of the Year. Pierzynski was no slouch either as he was an All-Star in 2002 and he was coming off a season where he posted an .824 OPS with 49 extra-base hits. The three players acquired from the Giants were Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. Nathan became one of the baseball’s best closers on the way to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Liriano was electric in the minor leagues and he went on to pitch part of seven seasons for the Twins. Even Bonser pitched nearly 400 innings in Minnesota and he became the next branch in this transaction tree. Bonser Trade: December 10, 2009 As a 28-year old, Bonser was on his way out in Minnesota after the Twins designated him for assignment. Carl Pavano agreed to go to arbitration with the club and this made Bonser expendable. Also, Bonser missed the entire 2009 campaign following shoulder surgery, so it was a surprise the team was able to get anything for him. Bonser was dealt for a player to be named later that turned out to be Chris Province, a 2007 fourth round pick. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League that season as a 25-year old, but his time in the Twins organization would be short-lived. In 2010, he pitched most of the season at Double-A where he posted a 5.58 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. He made a few Triple-A appearances, but his career was done after a brief stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Liriano Trade: July 28, 2012 Joe Nathan would leave the Twins after the 2011 season as the team declined to pick up his $12.5 million option but paid him a $2 million buyout. This ended his part of the transaction tree, but the Twins were able to leverage Liriano to add some pieces to the organization. At the 2012 trade deadline, Minnesota dealt Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez pitched just under 57 innings for the Twins and posted a 6.83 ERA with a 1.82 WHIP. He would only make one more big-league appearance and that came in 2014 with Colorado. Escobar was the key pick-up as he had 671 games in a Twins uniform while playing nearly every defensive position. At the plate, he posted a .729 OPS while getting on base 30.8% of the time. He was a solid contributor, but he was heading to free agency after the 2018 season. Escobar Trade: July 27, 2018 Minnesota was out of contention during the 2018 campaign, so the front office made multiple moves with the trade deadline approaching. Arizona sent three prospects to Minnesota in return for what could have been less than 200 at-bats from Escobar. He eventually resigned with the D-Backs, but that wasn’t a guarantee at the time of the deal. As I wrote about last week, Jhoan Duran was the biggest return for Escobar as he is considered one of the Twins top two starting pitching prospects. Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel have also added depth to the organization. When it comes to Duran, pitching prospects are never a sure thing. That being said, his ceiling seems to be a solid regular starting pitcher and if that doesn’t work, he projects to be a very good relief option. More than two and a half decades after taking Pierzynski in the 1994 MLB Draft, the Twins organization is still feeling the ramifications of his transaction tree. What are your thoughts on these deals? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Arizona’s manager Torey Lovullo said, “We’re really excited about Eduardo Escobar. He’s got a tremendous track record in this game, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great player. He’ll fit right in.” At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Escobar trade and the Ryan Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Baseball America was very high on Duran at the time of the deal as he was the 10th ranked prospect in the Diamondback organization. They wrote, “He's coveted for his size, projectability and arm strength. His four-seam fastball reaches into the upper 90s and has peaked at 98 mph this season, and he's also shown a two-seam fastball in the low 90s that has flashed plus at low Class A Kane County. He has feel to spin his curveball, but the pitch still needs further refinement to keep hitters from picking it up early. His changeup is well below-average.” The other two players acquire along with Duran were Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad. Baseball America said, “Maciel is a touch undersized but has shown the ability to spray the ball around the park. Even so, scouts see well below-average power with plus speed. He plays an average center field right now, but with his speed has a chance to develop into an above-average defender.” Regarding De La Trinidad, Baseball America said, “De La Trinidad has plenty of power for a player listed at just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. His eight home runs are second on Kane County, behind only Jazz Chisholm… He plays hard and gets the most out of his ability, but there is no single carrying tool on his card and he does not project as a big league regular.” Escobar’s Arizona Time The Diamondbacks were trading for only a partial season of Escobar even though they did go on to resign him. In those 54 games in 2018, he hit .268/.320/.444 with eight home runs and 11 doubles. At the time of the trade the Diamondbacks were trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1.5 games in the NL West and they were a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race. Things didn’t go well down the stretch as Arizona ended the season with an 82-80 record which was 9.5 games back in the division. Escobar resigned with the Diamondbacks for three years and $21 million, so he has one more year remaining on that current contract. In 2019, he hit .269/.320/.511 with 35 home runs, 29 doubles, and a league leading 10 triples. The 2020 seasons didn’t go as well for him as his OPS dropped by over 200 points. Minnesota’s Trade Return Back in 2019, Duran was able to reach Double-A as a 21-year-old and the Twins added him to the 40-man roster following the season. His fastball is his key to getting to the big leagues as he can hit triple-digits on the radar gun. His best secondary pitch, a splitter/sinker hybrid pitch, is one that Baseball America has written multiple articles about. This pitch typically sits in the 88-94 mph range and he adds in a curveball that continues to improve. Maciel split the 2019 season between Low- and High-A where he hit .283/.366/.366 with 18 extra-base hits and a 61 to 44 strikeout to walk ratio. Also, he played all three outfield positions. De La Trinidad split the 2019 season between High- and Double-A where he hit .228/.309/.320 with 15 extra base hits and a 68 to 31 strikeout to walk ratio. Without any minor league games, it’s hard to know what kind of improvements any of these players made in 2020. Duran got to work the entire year at the team’s alternate site and the Twins continue to be very high on his potential. Who Won the Trade? Any value the Twins could get for Escobar is positive since he was essential a rental player. Minnesota has a deep farm system and Duran is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At best, he should fit into the Twins rotation for the better part of the next decade. If he can’t make it as a starter, his pitch combination could make him a lethal bullpen option. Maciel and De La Trinidad have an outside shot at making the big leagues, but the Twins clearly won with their acquisition of Duran. Looking back, what do you think about 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
  15. October is going to look different this season with no off days in scheduled in each of the first three rounds. There is some time off between each round, but bullpens are going to be even more important in this tight schedule. These power rankings aren’t about who should be used in a specific spot because the manager can be creative in the playoffs. The rankings below are about who is pitching well and who has the best stuff to succeed in October. 10. Sean Poppen (4.70 ERA, 1.70 WHIP, 10 K, 7 2/3 IP) Poppen has seen limited time for the Twins this year and it seems unlikely that he would be called on in October. His lone role might be to eat some innings if there was a blowout. He also hasn’t pitched in a game in nearly two weeks. Twins fans don’t want to see him on the mound in the playoffs, because that likely means something went wrong in the game. 9. Caleb Thielbar (1.69 ERA, 1.31 WHIP, 20 K, 16 IP) Thielbar has been a feel-good story for the Twins this season as his pitching performance certainly has matched a player that hasn’t pitching in the big leagues since 2015. If you take out his first appearance, he has a 0.66 ERA while holding batters to a .149/.259/.149 (.408) slash-line. Also, he has been asked to get more than three outs four of his fourteen games, which is likely something he wouldn’t be asked to do in the postseason. On other teams, he’d rank much higher. 8. Cody Stashak (3.09 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 15 K, 11 2/3 IP) Stashak has been really good and him being this low shows the depth of the Twins bullpen. He’s only allowed runs in two of his nine appearances and he has multiple strikeouts in over half of his outings. His one bad appearance was an inning where he allowed three runs to Kansas City. Rocco Baldelli has shown faith in using him in the late innings of close games. With few off days in each series, Stashak might be needed for some big outs. 7. Jorge Alcala (2.91 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 27 K, 21 2/3 IP) Alcala might have helped Twins fans to forget about Brusdar Graterol since he is basically filling the same role on the team. He’s also been better than Graterol this season. His fastball will certainly play in October and he’s used his slider nearly as often. His Baseball Savant page is also the thing of dreams as he ranks as ranks higher than the 80th percentile in all but one category. He could be the team’s closer of the future and October could be his month to shine on the big stage. 6. Matt Wisler (1.11 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 34 K, 24 1/3 IP) Wilser has been the Twins diamond in the rough this year. Claimed off waivers, the Twins have helped him to morph into one of the American League’s best relief pitchers. According to Baseball Reference, he is tied with Jose Berrios for the fourth highest WAR on the team behind Byron Buxton, Kenta Maeda, and Nelson Cruz. He’s been used as an opener, earned a save, and has five holds to his name. His versatility could be useful with how effective he continues to be. 5. Tyler Clippard (2.78 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 22 K, 22 2/3 IP) Minnesota saw plenty of Clippard last year in Cleveland and he’s been nearly as good so far this year. He could actually move down this list with some recent poor performances. In three of his last four appearances, runs have been scored against him, so his worst stretch of the season might be coming at the wrong time. Baldelli will likely continue to turn to him because he is a 14-year veteran with 14 playoff appearances during his career. 4. Sergio Romo (2.89 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 22 K, 18 2/3 IP) Since the Twins acquired him last year, Romo has been getting plenty of late inning opportunities out of the Twins bullpen. Taylor Rogers has struggled at times this year and this has led the Twins to continue to use Romo in late inning situations. Fans saw this as recently as Sunday night in Chicago with Rogers getting the eighth and Romo getting the ninth. Things got a little shaky in that game, but he has a long playoff track record and he’s going to be trusted to get outs in the eighth and ninth inning. 3. Taylor Rogers (4.58 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 22 K, 17 2/3 IP) Rogers and his struggles have been well documented throughout this season. In such a small sample size, luck might be accounting for some of his poor performance. His BABIP is one of the highest among all relief pitchers and his 4.58 ERA comes with a 2.84 FIP. Some of his issues this year might also be tied to the use of his breaking pitches. As Nick wrote about last week, his curve spin rate has flattened out and this could be one reason for more solid contact against him. Whether it’s luck or a poor breaking ball, the Twins need Rogers to be in peak form by the start of next week. 2. Trevor May (4.35 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 34 K, 20 2/3 IP) Back on September 6, May blew up in a loss to Detroit as he allowed three runs on four hits and saw his ERA rise to 5.74. In his last five appearances, he has been nearly unhittable with opponents limited to two hits, both singles. He has struck out eight in five innings and nearly 60% of his WPA for the season has come during this recent stretch. Even though his season hasn’t been perfect, he’s been Minnesota’s hottest reliever to end the season. 1. Tyler Duffey (1.69 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 28 K, 21 1/3 IP) Duffey is the Twins best relief pitcher and it might not be close. If an opponent’s heart of the line-up is coming up in a key spot, Duffey gets the call in the bullpen. These types of situations will only be more amplified in the upcoming postseason. So far this season, he has pitched in any inning from the fourth to the eighth, because Baldelli trusts him in any situation. He isn’t the Twins closer, because he is better than any of the closing options for the Twins. How would you rank the Twins bullpen? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Derek Falvey talked to media members on a Zoom call on Tuesday afternoon about a variety of topics including the upcoming trade deadline and how the prospects in St. Paul could develop and contribute as soon as needed. He also reiterated that the Twins goal for the 2020 season remains the same as it was when they arrived in Ft. Myers in February. ““They’re going out there to compete every night to win this World Series. That’s the goal. That hasn’t changed from the day we showed up in Ft. Myers to the day we restarted here in Summer Camp.” The trade deadline is obviously different in this 2020 season in which so many things are different. There was no July 31st trade deadline as the season wasn’t even a week old at that time. There is, however, a trade deadline on August 31st. At Twins Daily and elsewhere, you will find articles on who the Twins should consider adding or not, which positions do the Twins need help and more. While many believe that the trade deadline will be quieter than normal, in large part due to more teams being in some sort of contention still, there will be players that could be dealt in the right deal. Falvey noted, “If there are ways to help our club and opportunities that present, certainly, but we are going to do it on the backs of a lot of the people that are already in the organization.” Now, as you know, the only players who can be traded are players on the 60-player pools. Of course, the Player To Be Named Later could very possibly be a popular name heard over the next week. Teams are not going to want to trade their top prospects for an impending free agent. One of those things that teams, front office members, media types say or write each year is that getting Player X or Pitcher Y back is as good as making a trade. A lot of fans hate that, but this year in particular, it is true for the Twins. Consider this group of players could also return within the next couple of weeks: Michael Pineda’s suspension is complete and he should be inserted into the Twins rotation. He’s been progressing nicely in St. Paul, working in simulated or intrasquad games the past month. We may easily forget that when his suspension kicked in late last year, he was clearly the Twins top starting pitcher. If he can come back near that form, that is going to be impactful. Falvey said that he was hitting 94 this past weekend. Josh Donaldson should be returning, potentially as early as the next homestand sometime. He has now been getting at bats in intrasquad games in St. Paul and still getting his ground ball work in at Target Field too. Falvey acknowledged that they have been “slightly conservative” but for good reason. “He has had a history with calf issues in the past. He has had a history at one point in time maybe rushing it back a bit to try to get back on the field as quickly as possible.” Byron Buxton is feeling “much improved” according to Falvey. “He’s on a good track. He’s on a good course.” Mitch Garver - He’s been getting treatment and improving, but his return will not be in ten days. “He’s focused more on the recovery part right now than he is on the rehab exercises.” Cody Stashak - According to Falvey, he was feeling good through rehab, but did experience some not-unexpected soreness. Jake Odorizzi - He is with the team. He is feeling better, but there is still bruising and soreness. Reports to Falvey indicate that he is getting better day-by-day, but he’s not able to let loose at 100% yet. Zack Littell - He’s had his forearm and elbow checked out. Falvey noted that if not for a need in the bullpen at the time, he may have just been able to miss three or four games. That said, there are several teams that are going to be looking to trade, and they will be asking for the Twins top prospects, so what are they up to? MINOR LEAGUERS KEEP WORKING, PROGRESSING Let’s start with some good news. Derek Falvey announced yesterday that Nick Gordon has cleared COVID testing protocol and the Orlando native will soon head to Ft. Myers to begin the rehab process. “We’ll anticipate seeing him progress from a strength and conditioning standpoint first, and then we’ll go into baseball activities. That could take a few weeks.” At that point, he can head to St. Paul and be added into the 60-player pool. The players in St. Paul have been there for about six weeks. Aside from those who have been called up to the Twins or took a road trip with the team on the taxi squad, things can get a big monotonous. Derek Falvey said he spoke this week with the coaching staff and some of the players and it isn’t necessarily easy. “It feels quite a bit like Groundhog Day. There’s no way around that. They don’t play another team. They face each other every day. We’re trying to come up with some fun ideas to have some interesting competitions which our guys have really adapted to.” In talking with some of the players, they have worked to avoid boredom away from the ballpark with going on some hikes, playing video games and streaming television and movies. But the important stuff is that they are working and able to improve under a structured system. They are really able to focus on areas of their game. “We spend some days focused on individual skill development, in a way that we normally wouldn't over the course of the regular season.” Falvey continued, “I’ve always wanted that to some degree. Our minor league seasons, they play a game every night. Sometimes you can’t focus as much on the individual skill development.” But they are playing games. Yes, intra-squad games or simulated games for pitchers. And, although to this point we can’t watch those games anywhere on TV or online, we do know there are some very talented prospects there. Let’s start with the hitters. Falvey said they are all doing well. “In terms of the games, really a lot of our guys have looked good. Ryan Jeffers, before he came over, was swinging the bat well. I think Trevor Larnach has continued to progress. Alex Kirilloff. Royce Lewis. All of these guys on the offensive side, some of our premium prospects, have really swung the bat well.“ In addition, Travis Blankenhorn provides some versatility and power. With such a left-handed heavy lineup, Brent Rooker and maybe Zander Wiel and their power potential could be options as well. Speaking of Royce Lewis, since Byron Buxton’s injury, I have heard many people ask if Royce Lewis is getting any time in center field in St. Paul. Since he went to the Arizona Fall League last year (where he was named league MVP) and played centerfield and third base and second base, Twins fans are curious about his future position. A source in the state’s capital city tells me that Lewis has only practiced and played shortstop at CHS Field and has been told there is no plan to alter that any time soon. There are several really exciting arms in St. Paul too. Falvey went into some detail on two pitchers who are on the 40-man roster and made a strong impression at Summer Camp. “Jhoan Duran has thrown the ball well for a good portion of camp. We’ve been really careful with him just to make sure, for all the pitchers, and for a lot of reasons as we look at challenges for pitchers with the second restart across the game, making sure that we’re being particularly careful. Dakota Chalmers’ stuff has looked really good. Command still remains an area of focus for him.” In addition, when discussing players that may be able to contribute to a September run, he mentioned a name the Twins fans are starting to hear more and more often. “Edwar Colina came back and he’s throwing the ball well, as well.” Of course, aside from rehab players and some hardship cases such as international players unable to travel, the Twins minor league facilities in Ft. Myers are not yet open. That’s true across MLB organizations. At this point, there still aren’t any official plans for fall or winter leagues or the option for teams to bring in players for camps. There is no timeline. There are, however, discussions on if, when and how something can happen for all those minor league players who are currently at their homes working out, trying to remain ready when needed. Falvey said, ““I hope we’ll be doing something for them toward the end of this year. To this point, we’ve had some conversations with Major League Baseball about the potential for what the Fall can look like. There have been rumors about the Arizona Fall League and the Instructional League and different things that we can do for those players.” Right now, the only players that teams are allowed to work with (except rehab players) are guys in the 60-player pools. They can’t bring in players to do anything, or even allow players who want to just be there to work out in Ft. Myers. For those players, at this time, they are doing some work remotely. Falvey said that they have and are “building some developmental plans and training plans throughout our system for players who aren’t here.” Until they are allowed to do more, their hands are tied. Lewis Thorpe has joined RHP Juan Minaya and UT Willians Astudillo on the Twins taxi squad in Cleveland in case there is a need. The rest of the players, those in St. Paul, will get up and go to work at CHS Field again tomorrow, and the next day, trying to avoid boredom, and more importantly, trying to improve and be ready when called upon. So to summarize, the Twins will take and make phone calls with other MLB teams over the next week. They will listen. If there are deals that make sense for the Twins in 2020 and beyond, a deal could be consummated. If not, the Twins have some talented veteran hitters and pitchers who could return from injury or suspension in the very near future and contribute mightily. They also have some great hitting and pitching prospects who are ready, or nearly ready, if an opportunity presents itself. It should be an exciting week, but more important, it should be an exciting next month, or hopefully two, for the Twins and their fans!
  17. Going into the season, Minnesota’s rotational depth certainly looked like a strength, but injuries to Jake Odorizzi, Rich Hill, and Homer Bailey have taken a toll. Odorizzi is back in the rotation, but with Hill battling back issues and Bailey dealing with right biceps tendinitis, the Twins can use all the help they can get. And while Randy Dobnak has continued to amaze, both Lewis Thorpe (due to velocity loss and lack of command) and Devin Smeltzer (whose stuff is better suited for long relief) leave a lot to be desired as starters. Both rebuilding teams such as Kansas City (Brady Singer, Kris Bubic) and teams hoping to contend like Toronto (Nate Pearson), Philadelphia (Spencer Howard), and Houston (Christian Javier) have been quick to turn to top-pitching prospects as injuries have been abundant across the MLB. And for the most part the results have been pretty good, as the Twins can attest to after losing to the Royal’s Singer on Sunday’s series finale. With José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, Randy Dobnak, and Jake Odorizzi anchoring the rotation, Minnesota could make its own rookie splash by calling up Jhoan Duran to fill in the fifth and final rotation slot. Duran spent the majority of 2019 in High-A Fort Myers where he pitched really well (3.05 FIP, 29.9 K%) and didn’t skip a beat in his seven AA starts (2.76 FIP, 26.8 K%/5.9 BB%). In his final two starts he went 13 innings with 17 strikeouts, two walks, and allowed just one earned run. But most importantly, Duran has the stuff to succeed at the MLB level. Unlike Thorpe or Smeltzer, who need pinpoint command to succeed with sub-90 mph heaters, Duran can hit 100 mph, and sits in the high-90s. Duran features a two-seam fastball rather than the four-seamer that is in-vouge these days, but the two-seamer gets Duran plenty of ground balls (52.9% in A+ and 63.3% in AA) and he doesn’t give up many home runs (0.55 HR/9 in 2019). While the fastball velo is certainly enticing, the most exciting pitch in Duran’s mix has to be his “splinker.” As the name implies, the splinker is a hybrid between a splitter and a sinker. Twins fans have likely become somewhat familiar with splitters, as Homer Bailey and Jake Odorizzi both throw the pitch and Kenta Maeda throws a split-change, but Duran’s pitch is on a whole nother level. Rather than acting like an off-speed pitch, Duran’s splinker is more fastball than changeup. He manages to throw the pitch up to the mid-90s and it has the potential to miss a lot of bats and induce weak contact as it falls off the table. Having a unique pitch that is unfamiliar to big-leaguers should help Duran keep hitters on their toes and keep us entertained as well. The 22-year-old complements the two-seamer and splinker with a slower curveball that gets plenty of break and is working on a changeup as well. His pitch-mix is anything but traditional, and without the benefit of watching Duran pitch in the minors, it’s difficult to know exactly how well he’s progressing with the remainder of the 60-man roster over in St. Paul. However, the stuff is enticing and the Twins clearly have a need for high-upside starting pitching, so maybe we’ll see Johan Duran and his splinker in action sooner than later. What do you think? Are you ready for the Jhoan Duran Experience? And how do you feel about splinkers? Please leave your comments below! 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. Before we get too deep into things, let’s step back for a quick reminder of how the Twins acquired pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers. JHOAN DURAN The 22-year-old Duran is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Diamondbacks in December 2014 and worked his way up the ladder. In late July of 2018, he came to the Twins organization with outfielders Ernie de la Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal. Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell was the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Player Development for eight years. He said of trading Duran, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization.” Get to know Jhoan Duran from this story from January, shortly after he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. At that time, he spoke of his best pitches. ““Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” DAKOTA CHALMERS Dakota Chalmers was the 3rd round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. The highly-touted, hard-throwing prospect showed great stuff, but early in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery. In August of 2018, the Twins traded veteran closer Fernando Rodney to the A’s for Chalmers, knowing he would not be able to pitch until at least the second half of the 2019 season. He began making rehab appearances last July, and on July 30th, he debuted with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After a rough first start, he was really good in his final four starts before the end of the regular season. He then went up to Pensacola and pitched for them in the playoffs. And after that, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings. Like Duran, Chalmers became an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after the season. We caught up with the 23-year-old at Twins Fest as well for this Get to Know him story. --------------------------------------- Now, back to their performances on Sunday. For each, it was their first appearance in Summer Camp intra-squad games. Hard to know what to expect. As pitching coach Wes Johnson pointed out, they weren’t necessarily looking for results. “I told those guys that it wasn’t, for me, as much about balls and strikes - as crazy as that sounds - it was How was their presence? We gave them some different situations. We started their second innings with runners on.” But it was hard not to notice that they each threw two scoreless innings, despite those situations. Also, Johnson added, “Both of those guys had to go through the heart of our order. That’s not easy. In my opinion, we have the best offense in baseball.” https://twitter.com/HagemanParker/status/1284955121277964296 Johnson said that Nelson Cruz provided the biggest compliment, “Nelson Cruz came up to me and said ‘Hey, both of those guys who just threw, they impressed me. They looked like they belonged, and they were in control.’ And I 100% agree with Nelson obviously.” Following Sunday’s game, Rocco Baldelli excitedly discussed Duran, Chalmers, and also hard-throwing reliever Jorge Alcala. He said, "I think all three of those guys are going to be impacting us at the big league level, and probably soon... The type of stuff we're talking about is the type of stuff that impacts major league games." Duran hit triple digits multiple times in 2019 in Ft. Myers and Pensacola. Chalmers has reached 97 at times. Alcala works 94 to 97 too. But for each of them, they have multiple pitches that could become, and maybe soon, plus pitches. Will that happen in 2020? While Duran and Chalmers have the stuff and the potential to be big league, impact starters, they are young. Also, in 2020, it becomes about opportunity. The Twins have a veteran pitching staff. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey would appear to be the starting five at the beginning of the season. In addition, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe all showed something in 2019 in the big leagues and give the team major-league-ready starting pitcher depth. So for 2020, especially the shortened 2020 season, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they get the call to start this year. However, as Wes Johnson pointed out, “Crazy things happen, as you guys know. It’s crazy times. It’s going to be tough to answer that question. There’s always that possibility. We wouldn't have them here if we didn’t think that if we needed to we could call on them and bring them up.” Maybe even more important, these pitchers indicate that the Twins player development, and specifically, their pitcher development has come a long way. It also speaks to their pro scouting department to tout these guys as targets in that large group of late 2018 trades. Baldelli is excited about what they can be. “Those guys are going to help us win for a very long time.They don't just have pretty good stuff. They don't just have pretty good ability. They have elite traits that are going to allow them to get a lot of outs, a lot of swings and misses.” The reigning AL Manager of the Year specifically mentioned one of Duran’s pitches that he thinks can be great. “I don't even know what anyone wants to call the pitch Duran throws, as well, the splinker pitch, or I don't even know what to call it, but it's coming in hot. It moves and just kind of disappears.” https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1284997265300566018 While it is OK to question the plate discipline of Eddie Rosario, just watch the movement of that Jhoan Duran pitch from Sunday again. That’s not a pitch that can be hit, certainly not with any authority. The future is bright for the Twins, and specifically for these high-upside Twins pitchers. Remember that Jordan Balazovic isn’t even in the current Twins 60-player pool. Baldelli thinks this group is going to be special, and more importantly, it really continues to enforce just how much depth the Twins have on the mound. Baldelli noted, "What we're watching is not typical. You could watch some really good major league baseball and not see some of the stuff those guys threw out there today." So while Dakota Chalmers and Jhoan Duran are unlikely to make starts for the Twins in 2020, it’s not impossible to think that they could contribute out of the bullpen for stints if needed. And, it’s exciting to think of what they can become - and what it means for the health of the Twins organization - if they continue to develop and gain consistency moving forward. Their futures are quite bright.
  19. 5. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2019 MiLB Stats: 5-12, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 136 K, 40 BB, 115.0 IP The Twins might have stolen Duran from the Diamondback organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was never going to be part of the long-term solution in Minnesota and Duran could be one of the answers to some of Minnesota’s pitching woes. Duran throws multiple fastballs with a four-seamer that can reach triple digits and consistently sits in the high-90s and a two-seamer that acts like a splitter which hits over 90 mph. Last season, Duran really put himself on the prospect map by showing plus velocity and multiple pitches as a starter. He was almost two year younger than the average age of the competition in the FSL and that number jumped to 3.3 years younger in the Southern League. Even with the age gap, he struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings and his walk rate dropped from 3.6 BB/9 to 2.2 BB/9 after his promotion. 4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2019 MiLB Stats (A, A+): 8-6, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 129 K, 25 BB, 93.2 IP Balazovic is good. Like, really good. He has the chance to be better than any pitcher in the current Twins rotation and that’s something the Twins have struggled to produce from the farm system for many years. The kicker is… He was a fifth-round draft pick under the previous front office regime. Talk about a going away present. He can hit the high 90s with his fastball and there is some sinking action on the pitch to induce groundballs. Add in a change-up in the mid-80s and that’s a recipe for disaster as a hitter. He made hitters look foolish in the MWL last season as he struck out 33 batters in just over 20 innings. Yes, that is over 14 strikeouts per nine innings. He took the jump to the FSL in stride and struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings. In some organizations, he’d be the top prospect and that tells you how good the players are ahead of him. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF 2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .309/.384/.458, 13 HR, 30 2B, 124 K, 57 BB, 127 G In his second professional season, Larnach destroyed the baseball across two levels and an argument could be made for him to be the best prospect in the Twins organization. He’s had success in college and as a pro and that could help him to advance through the Twins system. Last season he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and the Florida State League named him their Player of the Year. His 147 hits were the most in the Twins system and he seemed to get better as the season progressed. From August 2 through the season’s end, he had a .969 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 28 games. He’s added a lot of weight throughout college and his professional career and this will only help with his power numbers in the future. On the defensive side, he’s slotted in to be a corner outfielder and he seems likely to play that position throughout his professional career. 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF 2019 MiLB Stats (AA): .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 18 2B, 76 K, 29 BB, 94 G Any prospect would have a tough time living up to the numbers compiled by Kirilloff in 2018. He dominated two levels of the minor leagues by hitting .348/.392/.578 with 71 extra-base hits in 130 games. The 2019 season was a different story as he missed time at season’s start with a wrist injury and then ended up back on the injured list with the same injury. From that point forward, he made his presence felt in the Southern League. In August, Kirilloff crushed the ball to the tune of a .311/.351/.500 slash-line with five home runs in and five doubles in 26 games. He really found his stride in the playoffs as he hit home runs in the Blue Wahoo’s first four playoff games and posted a 1.435 OPS during the team’s semifinal appearance. He and Larnach have been compared to each other but Kirilloff is younger and it’s scary to think about the outfield these two could occupy in the years ahead. 1. Royce Lewis, SS 2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .236/.290/.371, 12 HR, 26 2B, 123 K, 38 BB, 127 G An argument can be made for any of the Twins top three prospects to be the best in the system. Lewis was the number one overall pick back in 2017 so it is going to be hard to ignore his prospect status no matter what he does in the minor leagues. Some might question the mechanics of his swing and some might question his eventual defensive position. His athleticism and skills are hard to ignore no matter what scouts might say about him. Even with a down season, the Twins sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League and he dominated over the course of 95 plate appearances. He hit .353/.411/.565 with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. Because of other players on the roster, he was asked to play positions besides shortstop, and he lived up to the challenge. Kirilloff and Larnach might beat him to the big-leagues, but Lewis could be a once-in-a-generation talent. PREVIOUS TOP-20 POSTS — Prospects 16-20 — Prospects 11-15 — Prospects 6-10 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Here is some background on the draft rules before getting into the results. There were 16 rounds in the draft with the draft order being randomly selected prior to starting. Players had to be picked at their primary position but if a player had 15 or more games at a position, they could be selected for that position as well. All players must have “prospect” or “rookie” status to be draft eligible. Positions on each team included: Catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, three outfielders, a bench player/hitter, three starting pitchers, three relief pitchers, and an extra pitcher. (Please note that comments under the picks were made by the person making the selection. After reading this, be sure to also click on some of the available links on each player for more on each.) Round 1 Seth Stohs - Royce Lewis, SS #1 spot, have to go with the #1 prospect, right? Teams want to be strong up the middle, and whether Lewis plays shortstop or center field, I feel good about having him on this roster. He’ll likely hit first, second or third for me too. (The Defensive Future of Royce Lewis) (Royce Lewis Is Putting It All On Display) Steve Lein - Alex Kirilloff, 1B I'll start with the best pure hitter in the organization, and also likely one of the best in the minor leagues. I'm going to play him at 1B for now because I think impact outfielders will be easier to come by. (Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Learning From Past Mistakes) (Alex Kirilloff Should Make his Twins Debut in 2020) Ted Schwerzler - Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Although I like that a clone of the second pick is available here, I think anchoring the rotation with a potential ace works out. (Have The Twins Fixed Their Velocity Problem?) (How MLB’s Delayed Start Could Impact Minnesota’s Rotation) Cody Christie - Trevor Larnach, OF I think I have the easiest pick in the draft. I’m happy with whomever Ted left for me. But please, let it be the player I want. Alex Kirilloff’s clone is available. I’ll take Trevor Larnach as the player that I think could have been the first pick in this draft and he could be the Twins best position player over the next 10 years. (Pending Prospects: Which Outfielder Will Be Called up First?) (Trevor Larnach Homers in First MLB Spring At-Bat) Jeremy Nygaard - Jhoan Duran, RHSP For me, there were five prospects in the top tier, and I was going to take whichever one fell. Getting arguably the top pitching prospect at this point is fine with me as I feel there is more position player depth than frontline pitching. (Get to Know Twins RHP Prospect Jhoan Duran) (Jhoan Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions) Matt Braun - Ryan Jeffers, C A bit annoyed that I missed out on the guys who I believed to be truly elite, but Jeffers is no slouch. Not only will he be by far the best catching prospect available, his offense and defense both have trended upward since being drafted and he’ll look to potentially grow in the future. (Get to Know Ryan Jeffers) Round 2 Matt Braun - Lewis Thorpe, LHSP While there were a few other solid pitching options, Thorpe provides the immediate upside that few can match. His strikeout potential appears to be immense and the fact that he held his own at the major league level gives me great hope. (5 Questions with Twins Pitcher Lewis Thorpe) (What’s Next for Lewis Thorpe?) Jeremy Nygaard - Gilberto Celestino, OF I hoped that Jeffers would fall, and maybe that would have been the wiser pick at #5 considering Matt may not have taken two pitchers, but I stuck to my board. This pick was more difficult because there were a number of different trains of thought: Do I take the best prospect? Do I take the best player at a position of scarcity? At the end, though, I thought it would be smartest to take someone who could fill premium defensive (CF) and offensive (leadoff) positions. (Could Gilberto Celestino or Royce Lewis Cover Center if Byron Buxton Gets Injured?) Cody Christie - Blayne Enlow, RHSP I wanted a starting pitcher with this pick, and I’ve been high on Enlow for multiple years. I think he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter. The Twins don’t have a ton of players that fit that mold and I wanted to make sure I had a player that could anchor my pitching rotation. (For Enlow and Other Minor Leaguers, “No One Is Safe” At Trade Deadline) Ted Schwerzler - Matt Canterino, RHSP Might as well stick with pitching here. Canterino was a 2nd round pick in 2019 and immediately made an impact on the pro mound. He’s got a quirky delivery, but there’s a bunch of strikeouts on the way and I think the ceiling is very high. (Matt Canterino: Pitcher and Problem Solver) (Q&A with Matt Canterino) Steve Lein - Randy Dobnak, SP This may be the first pick that surprises, but it shouldn't. Dobnak has been the most consistent starter in the Twins organization since May 16th...of 2018. In that time he has a near 2.00 ERA and hasn't given up more than 4 runs in ANY outing, from A-ball to the majors. (5 Questions with Twins Pitcher Randy Dobnak) (Randy Dobnak Is Better Than You Think) Seth Stohs - Brent Rooker, OF You love getting to draft first, but then it’s a long wait while a lot of great players and prospects are taken. I thought I would take some pitching here, but instead, I’m going to just mash. Rooker put up some great numbers for nearly two months in Rochester in 2019 (May/June) before his season came to an early end. He’s also nearly big-league ready. (5 Questions with Twins Prospect Brent Rooker) (Brent Rooker Is ‘Ready to Go’ For a ‘Big’ Year) Round 3 Seth Stohs - Matt Wallner, OF Continuing the theme, I’ll take a Minnesota kid who was the Twins Competitive Balance pick in 2019. Wallner was Mr. Minnesota, drafted by the Twins as a pitcher (2016), went to Southern Mississippi, became an All-American outfielder with great power. (Get to know Matt Wallner) Steve Lein - Edwar Colina SP I may regret not taking a position player at this point, but after taking a rock for the rotation I'll go upside here. I watched Colina hit 100 MPH on the gun at Spring Training before baseball got shut down, and he has a good slider as well. (Triple-Digit Shoes to Fill) Ted Schwerzler - Keoni Cavaco SS This feels like a steal at where we are in the draft. Cavaco didn’t debut well in his first pro season, but he’s both young and raw while having immense tools. I’ll gamble on the upside here. (Cali Connection Jumps Draft Boards: Q&A with Keoni Cavaco) Cody Christie - Ben Rortvedt, C Catcher is a tough position to fill and I thought it was a great time to get the second-best catcher in the system. His AFL experience from last year will help him in the years ahead. Some might think it was a reach at this point, but I wanted to fill an up the middle position with one of the team’s top prospects. (Prospect Spotlight Video: Ben Rortvedt) Jeremy Nygaard - Devin Smeltzer LHSP My target list for this spot was wiped out with the previous picks, with the exception of Smeltzer. So I'll stick with my theme of 2018 Deadline acquisitions and complete my 1-2 Righty/Lefty punch. (Get to know Devin Smeltzer and his story) Matt Braun - Jose Miranda 3B This is kind of a weird portion of the draft now where I have to go with my gut. I love Miranda’s offensive upside and the fact that there are a limited number of other great third baseman available in the Twins’ system. (Get to Know Jose Miranda) Round 4 Matt Braun - Cole Sands RHSP Much like Miranda, there are a number of other great choices for a pitcher with solid upside. Sands is still somewhat of an unknown but he was a strike-throwing machine when healthy and could move quickly because of his status as a college arm. Jeremy Nygaard - LaMonte Wade Jr LF Had a hard time deciding what direction I wanted to go here. With Celestino and Wade locked into two outfield spots, I know I'm going to be giving up a power position, but Wade's ability to get on base was too much to pass on. Not sure with one of my outfielders will lead off now, but really like both of their ability to impact the game from the top of the lineup. (Get to Know LaMonte Wade, Jr.) Cody Christie - Misael Urbina, CF Much like my catcher pick earlier in the draft, I’m going for an up-the-middle player with this pick. Adding him with Larnach in the outfield could be a fun pair to watch. Urbina might have some of the highest upside of any player in the organization and he has all the tools to be an impact player. (Twins Tied to Misael Urbina, Expected to be “Aggressive” Internationally) Ted Schwerzler - Travis Blankenhorn 2B Up the middle should now be covered on my team by adding a guy that could debut for the Twins in 2020. Blankenhorn has positional flexibility, good bat skills, and should hit for doubles power at worst. (Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn) (5 Questions with Travis Blankenhorn) Steve Lein - Nick Gordon SS I was focusing on Gordon or Blankenhorn here, happy to get the one that can play SS. When healthy, he's also been a good hitter I can have set the table from the top of the lineup. Seth Stohs - Dakota Chalmers RH SP Chalmers completed his Tommy John rehab after coming to the Twins in an August 2018 deal. He possesses a big arm with upper-90s velocity. He's also got the makings of a couple of plus secondary pitches. Needs innings and time, but he has a high ceiling. (Get to Know Dakota Chalmers) We are hoping to do some fun things with the finalized rosters in the weeks ahead. After four rounds, who has the best roster so far? 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
  21. The Astros drafted Sands in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft but his heart seemed set on pitching for Florida State in his hometown. You have to look deeper at his college numbers to fully appreciate them. In his first four starts for the Seminoles, Sands posted a tremendous 1.84 ERA in 14 ⅔ innings. His next six starts were not as pearly. He allowed 15 runs in 19 innings (7.11 ERA). He finished the season with a respectable 4.13 ERA but walks were an issue and strikeouts were few and far between. Sands finished his freshman year with a less-than-stellar 1.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sands flashed his formidable upside that summer in the Cape Cod League by striking out 18 in 14 innings. He allowed only seven hits and two runs (1.29 ERA). That wouldn’t exactly carry into his sophomore season at Florida State. His ERA jumped to 5.40 the following spring, but he boosted his strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.48), and his strikeouts (7.8) and walks (3.1) per nine rates were much improved. It was again a tale of multiple streaks for Sands. Here is how his sophomore season broke down: First 7 starts: 3.38 ERA Next 7 starts: 8.81 ERA Last 4 starts: 3.52 ERA Sands was a beast in the 2017 ACC Tournament, shutting down 15 straight Duke hitters and sending the 'Noles to the championship. He pitched three scoreless innings in the final and helped Florida State to Omaha. You can start to see the trend here. Sands has always had the ability, but struggled to consistently utilize his stuff in college. His junior season was no different. He started 4-0, dazzling and dominating to a sterling 2.45 ERA with 31 punchies and only five walks in 22 innings. In the two appearances after that, he allowed 14 runs, more than double as many as his first four starts combined (6). Of course, he bounced back with two consecutive seven inning quality starts against a great Louisville team and a winning Georgia Tech club. He threw over 100 pitches six times, including five consecutive starts in March and April. When the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of that draft, they elected to rest his arm and save his pro debut for 2019. And what a debut it was. Sands was excellent in his first start for Cedar Rapids, pitching five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. In three starts from April 19th to May 5th, Sands produced a 1.05 ERA and struck out 16 in 17 innings. He stymied hitters with a mid-90s fastball and a well-commanded curveball. He pitched very well against lefties all year long, holding them to a .621 OPS. His splits suggest that his changeup is indeed a quality pitch, and he can use it to get lefties out consistently. Sands made it to Fort Myers by June and further impressed there. He finished with a 2.25 ERA for the Miracle and opponents hit .199 off him. He struck out 53 and walked seven in 52 innings. The Twins sent him a message by moving him to Pensacola before the conclusion of the season. He struck out six in his lone four-inning start for the Blue Wahoos. He was likely set to spend much of the 2020 season in Pensacola’s rotation with quick ascension still in the cards. https://twitter.com/Nashwalker9/status/1250501028983836674?s=20 Sands’ fastball command has certainly developed over the years. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has skyrocketed since joining the Twins organization. His walk rate fell below 2.0 per nine last year and his WHIP (1.027) was lower than any of his three seasons at Florida State. His ground-ball rate was just 40%, which would’ve ranked as the 15th lowest in MLB last year. If you look closely, you can see the Twins stamp on him. Throwing up in the zone, pushing for fastball velocity, walking fewer batters and supressing home runs are all points of focus for pitching coach Wes Johnson and company. The Twins walked only 2.8 per nine last year, down from 3.6 in 2018. They struck out one batter per inning, an increase from 8.6 strikeouts per nine in 2018. They allowed an equal number of homers in 2019 as 2018 (198), but the league hit 1,191 more home runs. Sands is an exciting young pitcher with plenty of upside. Maintaining his fastball command, upping his velocity, and further blossoming his curveball and changeup will be important moving forward. Furthermore, with a somewhat violent delivery, avoiding elbow and shoulder complications will be vital. Sands missed some time during his junior year with biceps tendonitis. Nevertheless, there is a shining glimmer of a front-of-the-rotation starter here in the budding right-hander. 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. First, some background. The “couple other guys” Johnson referenced were Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. All three were optioned to the minor league side this week but all are highly touted arms in the organization. Chalmers, who was acquired in the Fernando Rodney trade in 2018, impressed in the Arizona Fall League. He flashed a mid-90s fastball and, what one American League scout told Baseball America, the best curveball in the fall league. He has swing-and-miss stuff, the critical lifeblood to becoming a successful modern pitcher. In 17.2 innings facing the game’s most promising prospects, Chalmers struck out 25. That said, he also walked 12 in that same time. Johnson referenced velocity when comparing Chalmers to Alcala and Duran. The latter two have seen their fastballs touch triple-digit territory while Chalmers has not. Johnson says there is a mechanical reason for this. Here are the three pitchers from their 2019 season: Chalmers differs in his delivery in the use of his lower half, beginning with his feet. This is the critical component of a pitcher’s mechanics as pitchers who have the tendency to get to their toes limit their velocity ceilings. This is something that Jose Berrios' has wrestled with last season using quad-dominant mechanics. Johnson spoke extensively about the subject last spring, noting how having contact into the ground through the heel (but really the entire foot) aids in creating additional hip speed by engaging the gluteus muscle along with the quadriceps muscle. Here are shots of the pitchers’ feet. Notice that Chalmers’ foot is entirely on his toe while Alcala and Duran maintain more contact throughout. Chalmers gets quad dominant quickly. This leads to reduced hip speed which leads to lower peak velocity. Velocity, it is said, comes from the ground up. More issues can spring from these mechanics. When using predominately the quad muscle, less velocity and more stress is put on the arm. It may be one of the reasons Chalmers required Tommy John surgery in April 2018 while with Oakland, placing additional strain on the UCL. Another factor is command. When rotating from a stable full-foot, there is consistency in the mechanics. The Twins aren’t guessing on all this either. Sure, they can look at the video or watch a bullpen session and see this happening, but with the various array technological devices at their disposal, they can break down exactly what these movements mean to the pitcher. Starting with the release and working backwards, the Twins have available to them the standard pitch flight data systems available, like Trackman and Rapsodo devices, which measure the velocity and spin rates. They can track release point consistency as well. They have a legion of Edgertronic cameras which isolate all or small portions of the delivery, including how the ball comes out of the hand. These programs have now been widely utilized throughout baseball. Even some high school programs have invested in that equipment. Here is where things start getting advanced. From the ground up, the Twins recently invested in Newtforce ground plates. These data-collect mounds allows the Twins to capture how much pressure and where during the delivery process it is being created or applied. They can tell a pitcher just how much force they are generating from their back leg. On the field, the Twins have a Simi Motion system installed at Target Field and now at Hammond Stadium. This system can feed the team’s analysts information on components like hip speed, the driving factor in velocity, or valgus stress applied on the elbow (which could be an indicator of potential injury risk). In short, the Twins are no longer just visually assessing pitchers and telling them to make changes. They come armed with more data than NASA. The Twins players themselves are not necessarily diving into all the data after every pitch or every outing. Taylor Rogers says that he does not look at the information unless a coach notices something is off. Others have used the numbers to improve. Trevor May spent last season adding to his velocity and cited hip speed as a factor. The key has been having a coaching staff and analytic department that has worked together to identify and deliver the message to the player in ways that can help them understand how it will help them on the field. The other aspect is implementing the plan that the Twins create for their pitchers. Chalmers, for example, could be told exactly what he needs to do -- i.e. stay in his heel more and engage his glute more -- and be on board with the plan, but that specific movement may require additional physical preparation on Chalmers’ part. A pitcher could lack some hip mobility that would restrict his movements. The Twins training staff assesses all their players to figure out how their bodies move and then creates a plan to help them reach optimal movements. Chalmers told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs that he had spent the off-season working on strengthening his core and lower half to stabilize his delivery. Still, given Johnson’s quotes this spring, the Twins haven’t seen Chalmers incorporate those changes in his mechanics just yet. Furthermore, Chalmers will be on an innings restriction so his work this spring has been varied from that of Alcala and Duran. If he does, we may see an uptick in his velocity, command and health this season. When contemplating the immediate potential of the three arms just sent down to the minor league camp, Johnson says the Twins are looking for swing-and-misses to add to the big league staff. “Those are the guys that impact your bullpen. We don't need ground ball guys coming in out of the 'pen.” Swings and misses can come from breaking balls, such as on Chalmers’ impressive bender, but velocity always helps play it up. 96 is cool but 99 is really cool. While this is a story of just one minor league pitcher’s journey, the real takeaway is how impressive the Twins development system has become in a short period of time. With numerous tools and minds at their disposal, the Minnesota Twins could soon be a pitcher development factory unrivaled in the game.
  23. Age: 22 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2019 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 115.0 IP, 3.76 ERA, 136/40 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP ETA: 2020 2019 Ranking: 7 2018 Ranking: Not in the organization National Top 100 Rankings BA: 96 | MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like Duran might have been one of the biggest risers in the entire Twins system last year. He made it all the way to Double-A last year where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. His 115 innings were a career high and he has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. Also, Duran led the Twins minor league system with 136 strikeouts. He has all the traits teams are looking for when it comes to starting pitchers at the big league level. His four-seam fastball is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s and he can crank it into triple-digits. To get strikeouts, he uses a 90+ mph two-seamer that acts more like a sinker/splitter. His curveball continues to improve and his change-up continues to get more work. Duran has a solid frame at 6-foot-5 and he has continued to add weight through his professional career. Since last year at this time, he has gone from 220 pounds to 232 pounds. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020. What’s Left To Work On For any pitcher with Duran’s velocity, there are going to be questions about whether or not he can find consistent success as a starting pitcher. This coming season will be critical for him to prove he can be a starter for the long-term. He needs to continue compiling innings to show he can meet the ever-changing demands on big-league pitchers. Command has also been an issue throughout his professional career because of an inconsistent delivery. That being said, he threw strikes on nearly 65% of his pitches and he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second consecutive season. His secondary pitches improved last season, but he will need to continue to get work with them as he gets closer to the majors. The Twins are in win-now mode and the club was already planning on moving a top pitching prospect to the bullpen. Could the Twins ask Duran to do the same thing? What’s Next Duran ended the year with seven starts at Double-A and that is likely where he will spend the majority of the 2020 season. Minnesota has added plenty of depth to the big-league rotation, so the club doesn’t have to feel like Duran needs to be rushed. He can continue to improve at Double-A with the chance to move to Triple-A in the season’s second half. Who knows? Maybe he could be a late-season addition to the bullpen like the Twins did with Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Duran and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.
  24. Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015, shortly after his 17th birthday. That summer in the Dominican Summer League, he went 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 starts. The next year, he came to the States and pitched at two rookie-league levels. The Diamondbacks kept moving him slowly. In 2017, he played for Hillsboro in the advanced short-season Northwest League. He went 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 11 starts. The Diamondbacks didn’t move him up real quickly, and for good reason. Last month, the Twins announced that they had hired Mike Bell to be their new Bench Coach, replacing Derek Shelton who had been named the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bell has spent the past 27 years in professional baseball. He was a player who got a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues. He became a coach and a manager in the minor leagues upon his retirement as a player. However, he has spent the last eight seasons as the Vice President of Player Development for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, he was their Minor League Director. Mike Bell was ultimately in charge of the development of each of the Diamondbacks minor leaguers, including Jhoan Duran. Bell said, “When we saw him, he had a real heavy sinker. We took some baby steps with him. We knew the kind of talent he was, so we were playing it pretty safe with him in rookie ball. We saw a fastball up to 99 with heavy sink, and he is around the strike zone with command.” He began 2018 with Kane County in the Midwest League. He was 5-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 starts. Then came July 27th, 2018. He found out that afternoon that he had been traded, along with outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad, in exchange for infielder Eduardo Escobar. Regarding the trade, Bell noted, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go.” He continued, “I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization. I’m super-excited to reconnect with him.” From Duran’s perspective, it was something new. He had obviously never been traded before then. He said he knew no one in the Twins organization at the time of the trade. But he took it as a positive. He said (through Twins translator Elvis Martinez), “It was actually a good experience. I got to meet new people, new staff.” And he made a nice first impression in the new organization. In his first Kernels start, he threw seven no-hit, one-walk innings and struck out seven batters. He faced the minimum, 21 batters. In his fourth Kernels start, he struck out nine batters and gave up just one run over seven innings. The next start, he faced his old teammates from the Kane County Cougars. He gave up just one hit and struck out ten batters over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. In his six Kernels starts, he went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA and had 44 strikeouts in 36 innings. Duran spoke of it being nice to get off to a good start in his new organization, “It was a learning process. I think it was more mental than physical. I was just trying to get better every outing.” Duran began the 2019 season in Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he went just 2-9 despite an impressive 3.23 ERA. He also had 95 strikeouts (and 31 walks) over his 78 innings in the Florida State League. He never gave up more than three earned runs in any of his 16 outings. He moved up to Double-A Pensacola and made seven more starts. He went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA. He struck out 41 batters, and walked just nine, over his 37 innings there. In his penultimate start of the season, he struck out 11 batters (and walked just one) over eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball against the Jackson Generals. The soft-spoken Duran said of his 2019 season, “I felt really good overall, however, I feel I can do better.” The Twins obviously believe there is much more in there as well. In November, he was an easy choice to add to the team’s 40-man roster. Of course, it wasn’t as obvious to him. “Actually, it was something that took me by surprise, but I was really happy. I was not expecting it, but it was one of my goals.” Duran stands 6-5 and while he is lean, he is strong, weighing in at about 230 pounds. He has always been projectable. That 99 mph he was showing in rookie ball and now crept into the triple-digits often. His fastball averaged 97 mph in 2019. Duran briefly spoke about his best pitch and the pitches that he feels most comfortable with right now. “Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” He also has a pretty good breaking ball or two that he continues to work on and hopes to make more consistent. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster. He’s been to Twins Fest. He now has his Dominican high school diploma. And to top things off, he is on the cover of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. As he looks toward 2020, Duran has a couple of goals in mind. “My main goal is to go out there and keep working, to get better and to try to make the team.” And being on the roster means he is just one phone call away from reaching a lifelong dream, the big leagues. He notes, “It will mean a lot. It will be a dream come true.” His former farm director Mike Bell could become his bench coach with that big-league promotion, and I think his final comments on Duran echo those of Twins fans. “I’m excited to see what he can do here.” No, I won't be giving away the whole book, but here is the Jhoan Duran profile page to show you what you will find in the pages of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF (for immediate download). Order your copies today!
  25. First, to reiterate the parameters and stipulations: Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally). Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we're using here. But for the purposes of this list, we're analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors. (Sorry Willians.) The idea is to assess their importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this regard, it's not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that's dependent on another team's situation and needs. (For instance, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr. would be more valuable to many other teams than they are to the Twins, who are rich with short-term and long-term corner outfield depth.) This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2019. Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? Any questions or quibbles, holler in the comments. Let's continue the countdown. TOP 20 MINNESOTA TWINS ASSETS OF 2020 (11 through 15) 15. Jake Odorizzi, RHP 2019 Ranking: NR Odorizzi is a challenging guy to rank. His situation is similar to that of Nelson Cruz, who I had two spots lower at No. 17. Both players are under contract for only one more year, which limits their asset value. But both are absolutely key to the 2020 outlook, and I would argue Odorizzi even more so given the relative depth of power-hitting, and lack of high-end pitching. And unlike Cruz, who will turn 40 next year with a balky wrist, Odorizzi turns 30 in March with a fully clean bill of health. In 2019, he was an All-Star, ranked eighth among AL starters in fWAR, and held his own in an ALDS matchup against the Yankees. 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 2019 Ranking: NR As a bat-first prospect who can't play a premium position, it's tough to climb up a list like this. Larnach was on the fringe last year as a first-round draft pick who impressed in his debut, but putting up numbers in rookie ball and Low-A is no rare feat for a slugger fresh out of college. In 2019, Larnach raised his distinction considerably. He opened up in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League, where his .316 average and .842 OPS in 84 games led all players. Then he moved up to Double-A and hardly missed a beat, finishing with a .295/.387/.455 slash line as a 22-year-old at Pensacola. As a result of the monster campaign, he earned Twins Minor League Player of the Year honors and figures to make big jumps in 2020 preseason top prospect lists. As of right now, he's probably most valuable to Minnesota as trade collateral, but his imminent impact potential can help the team breathe easier about its uncertainty at first base. 13. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2019 Ranking: NR Pitching prospects with high ceilings that are close to the major leagues are valuable to every franchise, and especially to the Twins in this moment. In 2019, Duran reached Double-A as a 21-year-old, becoming one of the youngest pitchers to throw in the league. Despite his youth, he overpowered hitters with a 16% swinging strike rate yielding a 41-to-9 K/BB ratio in 37 innings. This after he put up a 3.23 ERA and 11.0 K/9 in 78 innings at High-A. Entering his age 22 season, Duran has already established himself in the high minors and built a strong workload baseline, with 100 and 115 innings pitched the last two years. His odds of sticking as a starter seem higher than most electric arms at his stage, which gives him a big boost here. As ever, though, the TNSTAAPP caveat applies. 12. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2019 Ranking: 10 With yet another phenomenal season out of the bullpen, Rogers further solidified himself as Minnesota's relief rock. In some ways, he was more essential than ever, serving as the safety valve in an oft-beleaguered unit and recording six-plus outs on nine different occasions. He ranked fifth among MLB relievers in Win Probability Added, fifth in fWAR, and second in K/BB ratio. He doesn't feel quite as indispensable as he did a year ago, only because a few other trustworthy high-leverage options have emerged for the Twins, but no one can match what the lefty brings. He's durable, consistent, and matchup-proof. Best of all, he's still under team control for three more years (though his cost could rise quickly in arbitration if he keeps accumulating saves). 11. Miguel Sano, 3B 2019 Ranking: 14 No player roused more debate and disagreement in the last rankings than Sano. One year ago, he was shrouded in mystery, coming off an ugly season that included a "reset" demotion to Single-A and further issues with a surgically repaired leg. His run of mishaps carried over into the spring of 2019, when a questionably treated heel laceration cost him a quarter of the season, but upon returning Sano made his presence felt and restored his status as a deeply feared hitter. In just 105 games, Sano hit 34 home runs with 79 RBIs. His .579 slugging percentage ranked 11th among big-leaguers with 400+ plate appearances. His average exit velocity and barrels per plate appearance % were both fifth-highest in baseball. In Cleveland, late in the season, Sano delivered the fatal blow in the AL Central race with a devastating grand slam. He narrowly misses the Top 10 because of defensive shortcomings at third, and because durability concerns will persist until they don't (he still hasn't played more than 116 games in an MLB season). The Twins are down to two years of team control remaining. RECAPPING THE RANKINGS SO FAR: 20. Ryan Jeffers, C 19. Eddie Rosario, OF 18. Michael Pineda, RHP 17. Nelson Cruz, DH 16. Tyler Duffey, RHP 15. Jake Odorizzi, RHP 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 13. Jhoan Duran, RHP 12. Taylor Rogers, LHP 11. Miguel Sano, 3B Check back in tomorrow for Part 3. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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