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  1. Last winter, it was clear to anyone looking at the Twins roster that the team needed frontline starting pitching. There were other off-season needs, but they only had Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober penciled into the rotation and many other question marks. Minnesota had the financial flexibility to sign frontline starting pitching, but the club decided to go in a different direction. With the pending lockout, the Twins front office watched most frontline free agent starters ink contracts with other organizations. Minnesota's lone signing before the lockout was Dylan Bundy, who figured to fit into the rotation's back half. It was tough to decipher how the Twins expected to fill the rotation, but the team's plan became clear as spring training inched closer. Following the lockout, Sonny Gray was the Twins' biggest offseason pitching acquisition. He was a clear frontline starter and pitched that way during the 2022 season. The team added Chris Archer to join Bundy at the back of the rotation, and Chris Paddack joined the club in a last-minute deal before Opening Day. All these arms impacted the 2022 Twins, but the club wanted to rely on the young pitching in the system to supplement the veteran arms. Derek Falvey was brought to Minnesota because of his experience with the Cleveland organization. During his Cleveland tenure, one of his calling cards was cultivating young pitching, which has been a staple of the Guardians organization. Minnesota was going to start the 2022 campaign with Ryan and Ober in the rotation, but there were expectations that other young pitchers would join their ranks. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and Minnesota's pitching pipeline may have taken a step back this season. As the season began, it looked like the Twins had plenty of pitching prospects in the upper minors that had the potential to impact the roster. Minnesota had five upper minors starting pitchers ranked in their top-10 prospects, and others rounded out their top-20 list. Ryan had an up-and-down season as a rookie, but he is on pace to set the team's rookie record for strikeouts. Josh Winder and Cole Sands have combined to pitch just over 80 big league innings, with both missing games due to injury. Louie Varland saw his stock rise the most out of this group as he pitched well in the upper minors before making his big league debut in September. Matt Canterino and Jordan Balazovic were arguably the team's top pitching prospects entering the 2022 campaign, but it was a lost season for both. Canterino dominated on the mound in 13 appearances, but he needed Tommy John surgery before the season's end. Balazovic was on pace to debut in 2022, but he struggled at Triple-A and is now getting back on track. Besides Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson helped his stock the most this season, and he deserves to make some starts for the Twins down the stretch. Many will blame injuries for the Twins' failures during the 2022 season. However, the lack of contributions from the pitching pipeline is also concerning. Not every pitching prospect can be successful throughout their professional careers, and there is hope that some of these arms will get healthy in the offseason. As Minnesota's focus turns to 2023, the front office might not be able to rely as heavily on the pitching pipeline when building next year's roster. Did the pitching pipeline plan fail in 2022? Is there hope for improvement in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  2. TRANSACTIONS RHP Austin Schulfer placed on 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul C David Banuelos activated from 7-day concussion IL by St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 7, St. Paul 1 Box Score Jordan Balazovic drew the start today for St. Paul and was chased after three innings. He allowed five runs on six hits while striking out four. Balazovic did give up a walk and was burned by two homers. A five-run 3rd inning by Indianapolis put St. Paul in a bad spot early. They gave up two more in the 6th inning and before recording their first run, the Saints were staring at a seven-run deficit. Ryan Jeffers, still working his way back on a Major League rehab assignment, hit a homer in the 8th inning to make sure the Saints wouldn’t be shut out. Trevor Larnach, also rehabbing, went 1-for-3 with a walk and a strikeout as the designated hitter. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Melvi Acosta (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 1 K Hitter of the Day – Chris Williams (St. Paul) - 1-2, 2 BB PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - Twins Play Wednesday night in Kansas City. #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3.0 IP, 6 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 1 BB, 4 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Twins Daily Short Season Pitcher of the Year Twins Daily Short Season Hitter of the Year
  3. Coming into the 2022 season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin, Jordan Balazovic and Matt Canterino as the first, fourth, and sixth best prospects in the organization, respectively. Not only were they high-caliber talents with polish and big upside, but they were all more or less on the precipice of major-league readiness. In each case, things hardly could've gone worse. Whether performance, injury, or a combination, each of these critical assets saw his stock nosedive over the past summer, and it adds another layer of complexity for a front office trying to build its way back to contention. With that said, hope isn't lost for any of these three. Let's take a look at each of their campaigns so far, as things come close to wrapping up here in September. Austin Martin and the power that never came. The prize of last year's José Berríos trade at the deadline, Martin was billed as a near-ready prospect right out of the gates. It was warranted, after he led all of Double-A in on-base percentage during his first pro season. Despite his resounding success, Minnesota sent Martin back to the same level this year, no doubt hoping he'd shore up his biggest weakness from 2022 – an absence of power to complement the excellent OBP – and earn a quick call-up to Triple-A or even the majors. That didn't happen. Martin's power trended the wrong direction this year. After slugging .382 with a .127 ISO and five home runs in 418 PAs between New Hampshire and Wichita, this year he's slugging .317 with an .074 ISO and two home runs in 406 PAs at Wichita. Martin has kept his on-base skills steady, with a .367 OBP despite the crummy .241 average, but his lack of ability to drive the ball with any authority almost renders it moot. Posting a .685 OPS as a 23-year-old in your second turn at Double-A, with no apparent underlying injury, is nothing short of disastrous. Given all the injuries the Twins have faced this season, it's likely Martin would've gotten a chance at some point if he'd even modestly improved his production from a year ago. His drop-off eliminated that possibility and will leave him as something of an afterthought heading into 2023. Martin's going to tank on national prospect lists, where he ranked around #50 by consensus coming into the season. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Martin would hardly be the first player to develop significant power rapidly in his mid-20s. In fact, two "shortstop" prospects who came before him in the Twins system serve as optimistic precedents: Brain Dozier totaled 14 home runs in 317 games through his first three minor-league seasons. Five years later he would set an American League record by launching 42 as a second baseman in 2016. Jorge Polanco hit 35 total home runs total in 598 minor-league games, and could barely muster an XBH in his early days. He hit 33 home runs for the Twins last year. Jordan Balazovic's puzzling struggles in St. Paul. We had Balazovic ranked as the #1 pitcher in the system coming into this year, following a strong campaign at Double-A where he posted a 3.62 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate as a 22-year-old. Relative to other arms in the system, Balazovic had a more consistent track record and more established workload base, which is why it seemed feasible to envision him playing a significant role in the Twins rotation this year. His abominable performance at Triple-A has done away with that notion entirely. Balazovic started a month late with the Saints due to a knee strain. While he ostensibly put that behind him, staying healthy enough to take the mound each sixth day, he has never seemed right at any point. The right-hander's performance with St. Paul has been beyond awful. In 62 ⅔ innings across 20 appearances, he's 0-6 with a 7.47 ERA. Opponents have slashed .342/.412/.625 against him, as both his walk and home run rates have spiraled out of control. Balazovic has made 19 starts for the Saints and completed five innings ONCE. In late June, Balazovic told Dean Spiros of the Pioneer Press his struggles were "like a puzzle; every day it’s something new." "I’ve never pitched like this,” Balazovic said. “Last year (at Double-A Wichita) my numbers started to get worse in the second half because I was working on stuff. That’s kind of carried over to this season a little bit, but not to where it should be affecting me this bad.” The big 6-foot-5 righty boiled his issues down to consistency and execution, but expressed hope he was getting closer to solving the puzzle. "I’m still hoping for that day," he said, "and I’m hoping that day is tomorrow." It wasn't. The following day he needed 60 pitches to get through 2 ⅔ innings against the Iowa Cubs, allowing five hits (two homers) and two walks. His next time out he coughed up five earned runs in three innings against Omaha. These have been typical results for Balazovic this year, and as a result he's slid down a pitching pipeline hierarchy that's already been depleted by the Chase Petty trade and the development we'll look at next. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Balazovic didn't quite follow through on his "hoping that day is tomorrow" goal, but he might not have been far off? While he bombed in his next two starts, he's been on a bit of a roll ever since, posting a 2.52 ERA and 29-to-11 K/BB ratio with just three homers allowed over 25 innings in his past six starts. Sometimes guys need to experience their worst to unlock their best. Balazovic has plenty of talent to rebound and get back on track. Matt Canterino and the elbow that finally gave way. Canterino's elbow is the only thing that's stood in his way. Drafted 54th overall in 2019 after blowing people away at Rice University for three years, the hard-throwing righty immediately started doing the same to professional hitters. In a 25-inning debut between rookie ball and Low-A, he posted a 1.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed. Then, the pandemic happened and wiped out the 2020 season. In 2021, he was limited to 23 total innings by a forearm strain (he posted a 0.78 ERA when he was able to pitch). This year, his elbow soreness re-emerged and while the Twins continually tried to navigate around it, treating surgery as a last resort, they eventually ran out of options. "It felt like we didn't have anymore stones to turn over," said assistant GM Jeremy Zoll. Unfortunately, the efforts to avoid surgery only delayed it, and now Canterino's prospective impact has also been pushed well down the line. Since he didn't undergo Tommy John until last month, Canterino will likely miss all of next year rehabbing, meaning that by the time he's ready to fully return to the mound, he'll be a 26-year-old with fewer than 100 innings as a pro. It's really difficult to come back from that. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Difficult, but not impossible. The biggest cost of all this lost time would theoretically be missed development for a guy who's barely been able to get in-game reps since being drafted three years ago. For Canterino, I'm not sure it matters as much. He's basically always looked like a guy ready for the majors when he's pitched, with raw stuff that speaks for itself. So long as that stuff remains mostly intact after the surgery, he'll have a chance to get back up to speed quickly and make his long-awaited impact on the bullpen, even if it's not until 2024. Feeling bummed out? I hear you! Make sure to check back tomorrow when I break down the most uplifting developments on the farm for the Twins this year ... Good news: I couldn't manage to limit that list to just three.
  4. TRANSACTIONS C Kyle Schmidt activated (Wichita) INF Ernie Yake placed on 7-day IL (Wichita) OF Trevor Larnach begins rehab assignment (St. Paul) Saints Sentinel St. Paul 2, Louisville 5 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Elliot Soto (2-for-3, R, BB) St. Paul lost quietly to Louisville on Thursday. Jordan Balazovic pitched well, allowing a single earned run with six strikeouts over four innings; that punchout is good for his second-highest of the season. It’s been an up-and-down year—with far more downs than anyone wished to see—but Balazovic has turned a corner late in the season, and it has been great to see. The bats couldn’t find any momentum, only scratching out two runs off technically old friend Justin Nicolino before shutting down against the Bats’ bullpen. Elliot Soto’s three times on base represented the best of any batter. Both runs scored on a Dalton Shuffield double. Jake Jewell carried the pitching effort, striking out three over 2 ⅓ scoreless innings of work; Brad Peacock tagged in with a shutout frame of his own. Trevor Larnach singled and struck out in his first rehab game. Mike Siani—the 26th ranked prospect in the Reds system—leads the Bats; he singled in four plate appearances. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 8, Midland 6 Box Score Brent Headrick: 4 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI), Yunior Severino (2-for-4, RBI, BB), DaShawn Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5), Leobaldo Cabrera (2-for-4, 2 R, BB) Wichita won a barn burner on Thursday. The bats came alive early; Wichita scored five runs off a flurry of hits in the 2nd inning and never looked back. Dillon Tatum, Austin Martin, Edouard Julien, and Yunior Severino all earned an RBI for their efforts. Martin doubled in another run in the 4th inning; Alex Isola singled one home in the 6th. The bullpen carried the day as their incredible effort—spearheaded by scoreless outings from Hunter McMahon and Casey Legumina—saved the game. The collection of arms pitched five innings in relief of Brent Headrick, allowing two runs with six strikeouts. Martin stole his 34th base of the season; DaShawn Keirsey Jr. nabbed his 41st. Tyler Soderstrom—the Athletics’ 2nd ranked prospect according to MLB.com— leads the RockHounds. Soderstrom singled, walked, and scored a pair of runs. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 5, South Bend 3 Box Score Travis Adams: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Wander Javier (1) Multi-hit games: Brooks Lee (2-for-4, 2 2B, R) The Kernels won on Thursday to knot the playoff series at 1. No one hitter dominated the batter’s box; Cedar Rapids rode a steady stream of walks—seven of them, to be precise—to five runs, just enough to win the game. The 5th inning proved especially fruitful, as the team scored three runs off a walk, a hit by pitch, and a balk. The team went 0-7 with runners in scoring position. Travis Adams didn’t have his A-stuff; the righty allowed six hits and three runs over four innings, with runs scoring in three separate innings. Fortunately, his bullpen had his back, as Jaylen Nowlin, Miguel Rodriguez, and Ryan Shreve combined for five scoreless innings, allowing a sole hit with seven strikeouts. Brooks Lee clubbed a pair of doubles; Wander Javier blasted a solo homer. Pete Crow-Armstrong—the Cubs' top prospect according to MLB.com, and the son of Ashley Crow, the actress who played the mom in Little Big League, leads the Cubs. He had a single in four trips to the plate. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 7, Dunedin 5 Box Score Marco Raya: 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Keoni Cavaco (1) Multi-hit games: Ben Ross (2-for-3, 2 R, BB), Tanner Schobel (2-for-4, R), Kala’i Rosario (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI) The Mighty Mussels won with a late comeback on Thursday. It all started with an 8th-inning movement; Fort Myers stood at a 2-5 deficit, staring up the Blue Jays as Dunedin appeared set to take a commanding 2-0 series lead. Ben Ross walked, Noah Miller singled, and Kala’i Rosario brought the Mighty Mussels one run closer with an RBI single. Ian Churchill—working to become the most well-known man with that surname—walked Misael Urbina, bringing Keoni Cavaco to the plate with the bases full. Cavaco wasted no time, stepped into the first pitch, and drove a grand slam deep out to left-center field. Marco Raya worked a tough but admirable game; the righty allowed three 1st inning runs—never an ideal start for a pitcher—but dialed himself in, and held the Blue Jays scoreless in the three following frames. Kyle Jones was probably the most important pitcher in Thursday’s effort as he pitched three innings without an earned run while striking out two. 2022 draft picks carried the game in general; Ben Ross and Tanner Schobel both clocked in multi-hit performances. Josh Kasevich and Cade Doughty—the 10th and 11th ranked prospects for the Blue Jays, respectively—lead the Dunedin club. Kasevich walked twice and singled; Doughty singled and struck out twice. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic, St. Paul Saints Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Keoni Cavaco, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, 2 2B, R #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, R, K #8 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-4, BB, 2 K #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 2B, R, RBI, 2 KP #18 - Tanner Schobel (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, R #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, R, 2 RBI, K FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:07 PM) - RHP Mario Sanchez Wichita @ Midland (7:00 PM) - RHP Daniel Gossett South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM) - RHP Orlano Rodriguez (Game 3 in Best of 3 series) Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM) - LHP Jordan Carr (Game 3 in Best of 3 series)
  5. TRANSACTIONS OF Carlos Aguiar reinstated from 7-day IL at Ft. Myers Cedar Rapids placed RHP Luis Rijo on 7-day IL LHP Jovani Moran optioned to St. Paul Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Omaha 4 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: Chris Williams (8) Multi-hit games: Matt Wallner (3-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, 1 BB), Cole Sturgeon (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, BB) St. Paul won decisively on Saturday. It was an all-around offensive breakout; eight batters scored a run in an 11-hit, seven-walk effort. Matt Wallner may have collected the most RBIs, but this was a democratic affair; the lone hitter to not score a run drove one in. Chris Williams swatted a solo home run. Jordan Balazovic pitched arguably his best outing on Saturday; the righty struck out six while allowing a lone run over his four innings of work. It may not be the most impressive start ever, but a step in the right direction is always welcome. Michael Feliz netted four outs with one strikeout; Williams’ AAA OPS is now over 1.000. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 2, Springfield 8 Box Score Brent Headrick: 5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (2-for-4), Anthony Prato (2-for-4, 2B) Wichita played a game to forget on Saturday. The defense was the major bugaboo; the team committed five errors, with two blunders attributed to Yunior Severino and three stemming from Jair Camargo. It’s difficult to win many games with that sort of performance. Brent Headrick worked around his fielders in admirable fashion, allowing two earned runs over five innings with seven strikeouts. The lefty has 42 strikeouts over 29 innings since the beginning of August. Both runs scored late as Ernie Yake singled home a runner in the 7th, and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. brought one in with a 9th inning sacrifice fly. Keirsey also sto le two bases, giving him 37 on the season. Blayne Enlow struck out four over two innings; Anthony Prato’s double was the sole extra-base hit. Kernels Nuggets The rain ended this game before it could start; the Kernels will play a doubleheader on Sunday. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 3 Box Score Tomas Cleto: 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 4 K HR: Nate Baez (1) Multi-hit games: Kala’i Rosario (2-for-4, 2 R), Nate Baez (2-for-4, HR, 2B, R, 3 RBI) The Mighty Mussels won a tame game on Saturday. Nate Baez dominated the story; the catcher cracked a double and blasted a homer on his way to three RBIs. He hasn’t played much this year—the 2022 draft pick has just 47 at-bats—but more games like this could set the foundation for a phenomenal 2023 season. Kala’i Rosario was the Robin to Baez’s Batman, drumming a double and scoring a pair of runs in Saturday’s effort. Tomas Cleto was effectively wild. The starter allowed a single hit but walked four in his scoreless outing, perhaps even flummoxing himself regarding pitch location. It was no matter; Cleto walked away with a sparkling ERA, and that is all the Mighty Mussels could ask for. Noah Miller tripled for the 4th time this season; Niklas Rimmel pitched two scoreless innings to end the game. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Brent Headrick Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Matt Wallner PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-4 #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-5, 3B, K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 3-for-4, 2 2B, R, 3 RBI, 1 BB #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-3, BB, 2 K #15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 2 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Ft. Myers) - 2-for-4, 2 R SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Omaha @ St. Paul (5:07 PM) - RHP Josh Winder Wichita @ Springfield (6:05 PM) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ Dayton (12:09 PM) - TBD Fort Myers @ Bradenton (11:00 AM) - LHP Jordan Carr
  6. Last season the Twins saw Canadian right-hander Jordan Balazovic show up on multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was a sleeper pick to rocket up those same rankings in 2022, and there’s no denying Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had dreams of him slotting into Rocco Baldelli’s rotation. Balazovic started the season late after a knee injury, and nothing has gone right since. There’s been no indication that he’s still injured, but you certainly have to hope that something has been off. The former 5th round pick in 2016 now owns a 9.06 ERA across 49 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, and he’s gone from a double-digit strikeout pitcher to one with declining numbers and the ball leaving the park at an alarming rate. No matter how the rest of the string plays out, Minnesota has to figure out a way for Balazovic to get right next season. In his place, you could have assumed Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino or any number of other top prospects in the upper levels may have stepped up. Instead, the arm that won Minnesota’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago just kept going about his business. Louie Varland was grabbed in the 15th round during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Concordia St. Paul is a Division 2 school right down the street from Target Field. Gus Varland, Louie’s brother, was selected a year earlier by the Oakland Athletics. Bryan Lippincott and Jake Schmidt were drafted from legendary coach Mark McKenzie’s program before them. It’s maybe not the most glorious path, but with talent, it won’t ever matter. Varland has been a lunch-pail type of pitcher since the moment he joined the Twins organization. He posted a 2.10 ERA across his first 100 professional innings in Single-A ball, and followed it up with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 105 innings this season. Now knocking on the doorstep playing for the St. Paul Saints, Varland has been nothing short of magical in three turns. With 17 Triple-A innings under his belt, Varland has a 24/3 K/BB while allowing just three runs (two earned) on 11 hits. He’s never been one to give up the long ball, he’ll mow down batters in bunches, and he’s remained stingy with free passes. There isn’t a ton of deception at play here either, and Varland has worked to push his velocity into the triple-digits during offseason workouts. Nearing a 25th birthday it’s fair to understand that Varland doesn’t have the luster brought on by some of the teenage hitting prospects. He is about to capture a second-straight Minor League Pitcher of the Year award though, and it will be because he’s earned it in the most dominating fashion. With Minnesota needing to infuse the starting rotation with homegrown talent, it’s hard to get better than a kid from their own backyard, that’s taken the path less traveled, and beaten the odds. Maybe the organization can right whatever went wrong with Balazovic this season, but they have to be ecstatic with the found money and developmental progress Varland has displayed. The next stop will be on a mound with slightly more fans than Barnes Field.
  7. Getting to the major leagues can be challenging even for baseball's best prospects. Some players work their entire lives to reach the big leagues, and others make their debut before their 20th birthday. All three names below had the potential to impact the Twins roster during the 2022 season, but poor performance and injuries have cast doubt on their top prospect rankings. Minnesota's farm system continues to drop in national rankings, and these three players take a small portion of the blame for the fall. So which prospects have seen their stock drop the most this season? Austin Martin, SS/OF TD Preseason Ranking: 1 Many national rankings pegged Martin as the Twins' top prospect entering the 2022 season. All three national prospect rankings placed him in their top-60 prospects, but he has fallen off those lists as they have been updated this season. Martin is repeating Double-A this season as a 23-year-old, where he is over a year younger than the average age of the competition. His biggest concern is the lack of power development throughout his professional career. Martin posted a 1.007 OPS in college, and his OPS dropped to .676 in 2022. Martin still has all of the tools to be an above-average hitter, and he needs to continue making adjustments in the minors' upper levels. Jordan Balazovic, SP TD Preseason Ranking: 4 Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus included Balazovic at the backend of the top-100 lists entering the season. Balazovic missed time to start the 2022 season with a knee injury and has never looked right on the mound. In his first 17 appearances, he has allowed 50 earned runs in 49 2/3 innings. His strikeout rate is down (8.3 K/9), and his walk rate is up (4.7 BB/9). He is on the 40-man roster, but he has struggled so much at Triple-A that the Twins haven't been able to call him up. Luckily, he is over four years younger than the average age of the competition at Triple-A. Hopefully, he can call 2022 a lost season and get back on track this winter for an improved 2023. Matt Canterino, SP TD Preseason Ranking: 6 Canterino may never be ranked as a top-100 prospect, but he may have the best stuff and highest ceiling of any pitching prospect in the organization. He has been unhittable with 13.8 K/9 and a 1.48 ERA in his career when on the mound. Unfortunately, he hasn't been able to pitch more than 37 innings in any season since turning pro due to various injuries. His 2022 season ended abruptly when the Twins announced Canterino would undergo Tommy John surgery. This injury means he will miss the rest of 2022 and the majority of 2023. Plenty of pitchers have come back strong after this surgery, and the Twins have to hope he can stay healthy moving forward. Are you worried about the future of these three players? Can they bounce back from poor 2022 campaigns? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Let’s see what happened this Wednesday in the Twins organization. TRANSACTIONS The Twins sent OF Kyle Garlick on a rehab assignment to AAA St. Paul SAINTS (AAA) St. Paul 2, Iowa 4 Box Score The Saints did not start the day well for the Twins minor league affiliates as they fell 4-2 to the Iowa Cubs in an afternoon game. Jordan Balazovic took the ball for St. Paul in this one. Balazovic has had a rough year as he was 0-5 with a 9.26 ERA and a 7.41 FIP coming into today’s game. Balazovic’s first two innings were scoreless on Wednesday, and he was looking like he had maybe written the ship and turned it around. This all changed in the bottom of the third when Iowa put up two runs on four hits, including three straight two-out singles to produce the runs. Balazovic allowed John Hicks to hit a solo homer in the bottom of the fourth, increasing Iowa’s lead to three runs. Balazovic now has allowed 16 home runs in 49 ⅔ innings for St. Paul this year, which equates to 2.9 HR per 9 innings. To put that number into perspective, Twins fan favorite, Emilio Pagan, has allowed 2.1 HR/9 this year. Despite the lead-off homer, Balazovic bounced back and struck out two batters to end the fourth and his outing. Balazovic went four innings, allowing three runs on six hits and two walks while striking out three. The Saints got the deficit within one in the top of the seventh thanks to solo homers from Braden Bishop and Michael Helman. Iowa gave themselves some breathing room in the bottom of the eighth with a solo homer off of Jharel Cotton to increase the lead to two. Jermaine Palacios led off the ninth with a single to get the tying run to the plate, but nothing sufficed, and the Saints dropped the game 4-2. Kyle Garlick played in the first game of his rehab stint and went 1-for-4 with a single and two strikeouts. Helman, Bishop, Matt Wallner, and Mark Contreras all had two-hit games to lead the offense. Drew Strotman and Jovani Moran combined to throw three scoreless innings of relief to keep the Saints in the game. The Saints fall to 57-60 on the year with the loss. WIND SURGE (AA) Wichita 4, Frisco 0 Box Score The Wichita Wind Surge continued their incredible season and defeated Jack Leiter in a very well-played game on Wednesday night. Edouard Julien continued his incredible season by hitting his 16th homer of the year in the top of the first. Julien is now hitting .294 with a .944 OPS at Double-A this year. This gave Wichita starter Cody Laweryson a lead before he ever stepped on the mound. Laweryson never relinquished this early lead and was fantastic, throwing 4 ⅔ scoreless innings while striking out six, dropping his Double-A ERA to 0.92. The Wind Surge tacked on insurance runs in the sixth, seventh, and ninth innings. In the sixth, Jair Camargo walked, scoring Julien. In the seventh, Austin Martin doubled to score DaShawn Keirsey Jr. In the ninth, Will Holland hit his third Double-A homer to increase the lead to four. Francis Peguero, Ryan Horstman, Alex Phillips, and Steven Cruz combined to throw 4 ⅓ scoreless innings of relief to finish the game, striking out five. Peguero was credited with the win as Wichita moved to 66-49. Julien, Keirsey, and Alex Isola all had two hits to lead the offensive charge. On Thursday, Wichita will turn to Daniel Gossett who is fresh off a no-hitter. KERNELS (HIGH-A) Cedar Rapids 9, Lake County 10 Box Score Cedar Rapids dropped an extra-inning thriller to Lake County on Wednesday by a score of 10-9. The Kernels jumped out to an early lead, putting up five runs in the first inning. Mikey Perez led off with a single, advanced on an error, and was singled home by Brooks Lee. After Seth Gray walked, Jake Rucker smoked a double to score Lee and Gray. The next batter was Wander Javier, who hit his 11th homer of the year to give the Kernels a five run lead before they had recorded an out. The beneficiary of all this run support was Sean Mooney, who was making his first start since being activated from the injured list. Mooney just threw one inning and only faced three batters, getting two strikeouts and a flyout. After Mooney’s scoreless inning, Orlando Rodriguez came in as the bulk reliever for the Kernels. Rodriguez threw 4 ⅔ solid innings, allowing two runs while striking out four. After Orlando was done, the Kernels brought in Miguel Rodriguez who allowed three runs while just getting two outs as Lake County tied the game up at five in the bottom of the seventh. After not scoring from innings two through seven, the Kernels saw the game was tied and had to get it going. After Willie Joe Garry Jr. was hit by a pitch, Charles Mack smashed a two-run homer, his third of the year to give Cedar Rapids the lead. In the ninth, they added another insurance run thanks to a Mikey Perez homer. Going into the bottom of the ninth, the Kernels had a three-run lead and the game was close to done. Well, three batters into the ninth Lake County had tied it up thanks to a three-run homer from Korey Holland. Garry Jr. tied it up in the top of the tenth with an RBI single but Lake County answered in the bottom half to send it to 11 innings. In the 11th, Cedar Rapids did not capitalize and Lake County did, walking off Cedar Rapids in 11 innings. Rucker led the offense with three hits, and Perez, Lee, and Dylan Neuse also chipped in with two hits a piece. Ryan Shreve was credited with the loss for Cedar Rapids as their record falls to 68-48. MIGHTY MUSSELS (LOW-A) Fort Myers 7, Lakeland 6 Box Score After a four hour weather delay, Fort Myers delivered a walk-off victory in eight innings over the Lakeland Flying Tigers. Mike Paredes started on the hill for the Mighty Mussels. He went four innings, allowing three runs on seven hits while striking out one batter. Fort Myers got on the board in the first inning when Tanner Schobel singled, scoring Noah Miller. In the bottom of the fourth, Rubel Cespedes scored Ben Ross with a single to cut the Fort Myers deficit to one run. Then the rain came. Four hours later, the two teams resumed. Four hours after he hit a single, Cespedes came in to score on a wild pitch. One batter later, Misael Urbina drove in Carlos Aguiar with a single to give the Mighty Mussels a lead. The Flying Tigers tied it up in the top of the fifth and the game remained 4-4 until the first extra inning they played (the 8th inning). Juan Mendez came in to pitch for Fort Myers and allowed two runs in the top half of the eighth. With three outs to play with, Fort Myers needed a rally. Kala’i Rosario led off, reaching on an error by the second baseman to score Cespedes, who started the inning on second base. After an Aguiar walk, Luis Baez hit a single to score Rosario and tie it up. On the play, Aguiar was thrown out at home and Baez advanced to third. Three pitches later, Baez scored on a wild pitch to walk it off for Fort Myers. Schobel and Ross each had two hits to lead the offense, and Mendez picked up the win to improve his record to 3-2. Fort Myers improves to 62-50 on the year with the win. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Cody Laweryson (Wichita) - 4 ⅔ IP, 2 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K Hitter of the Day – Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 2B (15), HR (16), 2 R, RBI, K PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins' top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-6, RBI #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2B (10), RBI, BB, 2 K #7 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, 2B (12), R, BB #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, K #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 BB, 3 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 2B (15), HR (16), 2 R, RBI, K #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 2-for-3, RBI, BB, SB (2) #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, R, BB, 2 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Iowa (6:38 CST) - RHP Louie Varland (1-0, 1.64 ERA) Wichita @ Frisco (7:05 CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett (2-1, 2.74 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Lake County (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Luis Rijo (0-2, 8.03 ERA) Lakeland @ Fort Myers (Doubleheader - first game starts at 3:30 PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  9. Let’s see what happened this Wednesday in the Twins organization. TRANSACTIONS The Twins claimed RHP Jake Jewell off waivers from the Cleveland Guardians and optioned him to AAA St. Paul. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson was promoted from AA Wichita to AAA St. Paul The Saints placed C Roy Morales on the 7-day IL with a lower back strain LHP Aaron Rozek was promoted from High-A Cedar Rapids to AA Wichita The Wichita Wind Surge activated SS Austin Martin from the 7-day IL The Wichita Wind Surge transferred OF Leobaldo Cabrera to the development list LHP Jaylen Nowlin was promoted from Low-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids SAINTS (AAA) St. Paul 6, Scranton 0 Box Score Is Jordan Balazovic back? The former Twins’ top pitching prospect has had an abysmal year but turned in four scoreless innings tonight for St. Paul, striking out four batters. The Saints got three early runs in the top of the second. After Chris Williams hit his first AAA double, Andrew Bechtold hit a 2-run single to score Williams and Caleb Hamilton. Later in the inning, Jermaine Palacios came through with a single to tack on an extra run. The game remained scoreless for a few more innings thanks to Balazovic and Evan Sisk, who was first out of the bullpen. Sisk threw 1 ⅔ innings while not allowing a hit and striking out two. Matt Wallner picked up his first triple as a Saint in the bottom of the seventh. This was Wallner’s only hit of the night as he went 1-for-5 with three strikeouts. The Saints added three more in the bottom of the seventh thanks to a catchers’ interference and a John Andreoli two-run single. Juan Minaya, Michael Feliz, and Drew Strotman all had scoreless outings in relief as the Saints quickly completed the shutout of Scranton 6-0. Sisk picked up the win, his second for the Saints. Andreoli and Michael Helman had two hits. Helman also stole his 17th base of the year. The Saints improve to 55-56. WIND SURGE (AA) Wichita 9, Tulsa 5 Box Score Wichita won a thrilling extra-inning game thanks to some late-game heroics from Aaron Sabato. Sabato, who was 3-for-25 with no extra-base hits going into his last at-bat on Wednesday, came up clutch. With the bases loaded and one out, Sabato took a 2-0 slider and hit it over the center field wall for a walk-off grand slam. The home run was Sabato’s 19th of the year between Cedar Rapids and Wichita, and hopefully, this breaks him out of his slump in AA so far Wichita took an early 4-1 lead through four innings, thanks to four good innings from Wichita starter Cody Laweryson who allowed one run and struck out four. Laweryson has been dominant in AA through 34 innings. He is 4-0 with 39 strikeouts and a 1.05 ERA. Alex Isola started the scoring with an RBI single in the first, and Cole Sturgeon followed with an RBI walk. In the fourth, Austin Martin drove in a run with a groundout, and Will Holland later came in to score on a wild pitch to give Wichita a 4-1 lead. Osiris German allowed three runs in 1 ⅔ innings out of the bullpen to bring the game to a tie. Will Holland came up clutch with an RBI single in the bottom of the seventh to give Wichita the lead back. Everything went smoothly until the ninth, when Casey Legumina allowed a leadoff homer to Ismael Alcantara to tie the game back up. After a scoreless bottom of the ninth, Legumina returned for the tenth. Legumina allowed the extra-inning runner to get to third with one out but stranded him thanks to a fielder's choice and a strikeout. In the bottom of the tenth, Holland drew a walk to open the inning. When DaShawn Keirsey moved up to third on a wild pitch, Tulsa opted to intentionally walk Edouard Julien to load the bases. After Austin Martin lined out, Aaron Sabato ended the game. Isola had the only multi-hit game for Wichita, but plenty of players had multi-walk games. Julien had four walks, Anthony Prato had three, and Sturgeon, Yunior Severino, and Keirsey had two. KERNELS (HIGH-A) Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 1 Box Score The Kernels won a pitchers’ duel on Wednesday thanks to a strong outing from starting pitcher Travis Adams. Adams had allowed 11 earned runs through 10 ⅓ innings in Cedar Rapids until Wednesday, when he turned in his best outing in High-A this far. Adams went five innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out eight. The game was tied at zero until the fourth inning, when Adams allowed his only run of the day on a single. This score held until the bottom of the sixth when Pat Winkel singled to center field, scoring Jake Rucker. After a strikeout, Wisconsin’s pitcher balked with two outs to score Seth Gray from third base. After taking the lead, the Kernel pitching locked down the game. Bobby Milacki entered the game in relief of Adams and threw two scoreless innings, picking up the win. After Milacki, Hunter McMahon threw scoreless eighth and ninth innings to lock down the save, his second of the year. McMahon has allowed only two earned runs in 29 ⅔ innings at Cedar Rapids this year. Winkel led the game offensively, going 3-for-4. Cedar Rapids improves to 65-45 with the victory and continues to be a force in High-A. MIGHTY MUSSELS (LOW-A) Fort Myers 6, Palm Beach 5 Box Score Fort Myers won in an extra-inning thriller on Wednesday thanks to a game-winning RBI single in the top of the 11th by 2022 second-round pick Tanner Schobel. The scoring was very back-and-forth all game long. Palm Beach jumped to a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the first off of starting pitcher Malik Barrington. Fort Myers answered right away as Ben Ross hit a 2-run homer in the top of the second for his first professional home run. That was followed by a Kala’i Rosario single and a Rubel Cespedes double, adding another run to the lead. In the bottom of the third, Palm Beach added three runs to chase Barrington, who went 2 ⅔ innings, allowing four runs on three hits and two walks while striking out two opposing hitters. The game was scoreless for a few innings until the top of the seventh when Misael Urbina tied it up with his fourth homer. Ross drew a bases-loaded walk later in the inning to give Fort Myers a 5-4 lead. It was looking suitable for Fort Myers, who needed two more outs in the bottom of the ninth to secure the victory when RJ Yeager hit a solo homer to tie it up and send it to extras. In the bottom of the tenth, Jackson Hicks induced a double play with two runners on base to send it to an extra frame, where Schobel would give Fort Myers the lead before Hicks stranded a runner at third with one out in the bottom of the eleventh to secure the win. Fort Myers had phenomenal relief pitching, as Hicks, Regi Grace, and John Wilson combined to throw 8 ⅓ innings while only allowing one run. Cespedes and Noah Cardenas each picked up two hits to lead the offense in the victory. Fort Myers improved to 59-47 with the win. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Twins 4, DSL Brewers 6 Box Score Starting Pitcher: Orlando Rubio (5 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) Multi-Hit Games: Yilber Herrera (3-for-3), Isaac Pena (2-for-2) 2B: Herrera (6), Jose Rodriguez (14) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Travis Adams (Cedar Rapids) - 5 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – Yilber Herrera (DSL Twins) - 3-for-3, R, 2B, BB PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins' top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, 2 K #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-5, R, RBI, BB, K, 2 SB (24) #7 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 1-for-5, R, 2 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-5, 3B (1), R, 3 K #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-2, 2 R, 4 BB, K, SB (14) #15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 1 ⅓ IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, RBI, BB #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 1-for-5, R, K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Scranton @ St. Paul (7:07 CST) - RHP Louie Varland (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05 CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (2-1, 5.28 ERA) Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30 PM CST) - RHP Mike Paredes (7-4, 2.88 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  10. TRANSACTIONS - 1B Aaron Sabato promoted to Double-A Wichita - SS Will Holland promoted to Double-A Wichita - C Chris Williams promoted to Triple-A St. Paul - 3B Andrew Bechtold promoted to Triple-A St. Paul And in the "Rest of the 2022 Draft Picks Got Assigned" portion of the Transactions: - RHP Kyle Jones assigned to FCL Twins. - RHP Zebby Matthews assigned to FCL Twins. - SS Ben Ross assigned to FCL Twins. - C Andrew Cossetti assigned to FCL Twins. - RHP Cory Lewis assigned to FCL Twins. - RHP Andrew Morris assigned to FCL Twins. - SS Dalton Shuffield assigned to FCL Twins. - RHP C.J. Culpepper assigned to FCL Twins. - LHP Zachary Veen assigned to FCL Twins. - LHP Connor Prielipp assigned to FCL Twins. - RHP Ben Ethridge assigned to FCL Twins. - SS Jankel Ortiz assigned to FCL Twins. - OF Alec Sayre assigned to FCL Twins. - C Nate Baez assigned to FCL Twins. SAINTS SENTINEL Saints 6, Columbus 8 Box Score The Saints’ bullpen leaked in a loss to the Clippers Thursday. Jordan Balazovic started and pitched four innings. Balazovic allowed four hits and two runs, with two walks and one strikeout. Balazovic gave up his 16th homer of the season. Matt Wallner walked twice and hit his second Triple-A homer in the seventh, a two-run shot. Michael Helman went 2-for-5 with an RBI double and Caleb Hamilton added a two-run double out of the cleanup spot. Guardians’ top-5 prospect Gabriel Arias hit two home runs for the Clippers. Former Guardians centerfielder Oscar Mercado hit a two-run homer in the win. The Saints are 52-54. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wind Surge 8, Hooks 5 Box Score The Wind Surge jumped out to an early lead thanks to a homer from Anthony Prato and an RBI single from Leobaldo Cabrera in the second. Will Holland gave the Surge a 3-1 lead with a single in the third while tallying three hits on the night. Alex Isola also had three hits, including a double. Edouard Julien entered tonight hitting .306/.432/.536 (.968) since June 1st. He blasted another homer Thursday. Julien has 14 homers on the season and has crushed since the summer months kicked off. Simeon Woods Richardson struck out five over four innings. He gave up two runs on three hits and a walk. Woods Richardson has a 3.02 ERA on the season. The Wind Surge are now 10 games above .500 at 57-47. KERNELS NUGGETS Kernels 1, River Bandits 6 Box Score The curse of the Quad City River Bandits continued for the Kernels Thursday night. Losing their third game in a row to the Bandits, the Kernels had trouble getting their offense going outside of a solo homer from Kyler Fedko. Fedko put the Kernels on the board in the ninth, his seventh of the season. Matt Mullenbach pitched two scoreless innings in relief, lowering his Kernels ERA to 0.84. It was a tough go for starter Travis Adams, who gave up five runs in five innings. Adams struck out seven. The Kernels have had an awesome year and will look to get back in the win column Friday. The Kernels are 61-44. MUSSEL MATTERS Mighty Mussels 1, Hammerheads 10 Box Score The Mussels took a 1-0 lead in the top of the first on an error. Unfortunately, that would be it for their scoring. The Hammerheads scored 10 unanswered runs on 15 hits. Mussels pitchers walked seven and struck out eight. Misael Urbina had a two-hit night and continues to thrive. Urbina is hitting .305/.352/.547 since joining the Mussels. Keoni Cavaco doubled and stole a base after a walk. The Mussels had eight hits despite the lopsided final score. The Mussels have an opportunity to bounce back immediately Friday and still sit 11 games over .500. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 2, FCL Rays 7 Box Score The powerhouse FCL Rays improved to 33-12 with a 7-2 drubbing of the FCL Twins Thursday. The Twins took a 1-0 lead in the third on a Náte Baez RBI double. That lead held for one commercial break, as the Rays quickly tied things up and took the lead in the top of the fourth. José Olivares started for the Twins and pitched three innings. Olivares allowed two earned runs on three hits and three walks. Olivares struck out two and now has 35 strikeouts in 30 2/3 innings this year. Danny De Andrade posted a multi-hit game and drove in a run on an RBI single in the bottom of the ninth. De Andrade has a .335 on-base percentage with eight doubles, a triple and two homers on the season. The FCL Twins are 21-25. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Twins 4, DSL Cleveland Blue 2 Box Score The Yasser Mercedes show continued with another two-hit game for the 17-year-old outfielder. Mercedes is hitting .351/.416/.573 in 35 games. Bryan Acuña went 3-for-4 with an RBI double, a key hit in a three-run rally for the Twins in the seventh. Anderson Nova added two hits in the win and is batting .347 with a .934 OPS. Anthony Narváez was terrific on the mound for the Twins, spinning four scoreless innings with six strikeouts and one walk. Narváez has a 2.18 ERA in 20 ⅔ innings. Juan Mercedes and Jeferson López added scoreless innings in relief. The DSL Twins have a very talented offense and a pitching staff to boot. They are 28-21 after the win over Cleveland. Twins fans would love to see the entire organization continue to beat Cleveland’s various teams. MINOR LEAGUE HITTER OF THE DAY - Bryan Acuna: 3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI, BB MINOR LEAGUE PITCHER OF THE DAY - Anthony Narvaez: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R/ER, BB, 6 K PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4 #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) -4 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, BB, 5 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St.Paul) - 4 IP, 4 H, 2 R/ER, 2 BB, K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, BB #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 1-for-5 #20 - Kala'i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, BB Comment your thoughts/questions below!
  11. SAINTS SENTINEL Saints 3, Storm Chasers 9 Box Score The Saints had trouble offensively in Thursday’s loss to the Storm Chasers. They struck out 15 times and recorded seven hits, two of which came from the new Saint Nash Knight. Elliott Soto homered in the fifth, his fifth of the season. Caleb Hamilton also went deep in the eighth, his 11th long-ball of the year. Jordan Balazovic started and gave up five runs on six hits in three innings. Balazovic walked two and struck out four. His ERA is 10.75 in 37 ⅔ innings for the Saints. Ronny Henriquez struggled in relief, allowing four runs in four innings. Henriquez walked one and struck out six. The Saints had won four straight and six of their last seven. They fell to 49-51 with the loss on their trek to .500. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wind Surge 4, Missions 3 Box Score The Wind Surge, after giving up their lead in the ninth, won the game in the 10th on an RBI single from Anthony Prato and a scoreless outing from Steven Cruz. Cruz entered the game with a runner at third and one out in the bottom of the 10th. He got a key strikeout and forced a flyout to end the game. Louie Varland started for the Surge and pitched six scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Varland has a 3.34 ERA on the season, his follow-up from an outstanding Minor League Pitcher of the Year season in 2021. Andrew Bechtold had a two-hit, two-walk night, including his 14th homer of the season. Prato, the hero in the top of the 10th, notched two hits on the night and drew a walk. He’s hitting .308 with an .808 OPS in 49 games for the Surge. Edouard Julien hit his 13th homer, continuing a scorching hot streak. Wichita is 52-46. KERNELS NUGGETS Kernels 4, Sky Carp 5 Box Score The Kernels scored their first two runs on wild pitches in the first and second innings, jumping to an early lead. Seth Gray made it a 3-1 game with a double in the fifth, his 12th double and 51st RBI of the season. Gray went 2-for-4 on the day. Orlando Rodríguez started for the Kernels and pitched well. Rodríguez struck out six of the 13 batters he faced, allowing three hits and one run in 3 2/3 innings. The Kernels blew the lead in the sixth, giving up a game-tying two-run homer and a two-run single. The Kernels battled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with three straight singles to pull within one run. They had the tying run on third and the winning run on second but couldn’t cash in. The Kernels are 59-40. They’ve lost three straight to Beloit and five of their last six. MUSSEL MATTERS Mighty Mussels 7, Marauders 4 Box Score The Mighty Mussels built a 7-0 lead behind a tremendous start from Jordan Carr. Carr pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with four strikeouts and zero walks. Misael Urbina and Rubel Cespedes each hit solo homers to give the Mussels a 2-0 lead. Urbina entered the game hitting .290/.333/.548 with 11 extra-base hits over his last 69 plate appearances. Daniel Ozoria added an RBI double in the fourth, his fourth on the season. Cespedes and Urbina had multi-hit nights, as did Noah Cardenas. Nelson Roberto added a double and came around to score. The Mussels gave up four runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but Jackson Hicks ultimately shut the door to secure the win. The Mussels are 55-40. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 8, FCL Pirates 5 Box Score Brooks Lee made his much-anticipated debut Thursday, leading off and playing shortstop for the FCL Twins. Lee went 1-for-4 with his first professional hit, a single to left. Lee, the Twins’ first-round pick mere weeks ago, should be fun to watch down the stretch. Brayan Medina started for the Twins and pitched four solid innings, allowing just one run with five strikeouts and one walk. It was a massive day for Rafael Cruz, who went 2-for-4 with a triple, a homer, and five RBI. Dennis Ortega notched two hits as he rehabs on route back to Wichita. The FCL Twins are inching back toward .500, improving to 20-21 with the win. They’ll face the FCL Red Sox Friday morning in Fort Myers at the historic JetBlue Park. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Twins 6, DSL Dodgers 2 Box Score The DSL Twins took down the DSL Dodgers Thursday, thanks to stellar performances from Yasser Mercedes, José Rodríguez, and the pitching staff. Mercedes went 3-for-4 with a double, and Rodríguez went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, his 10th of the season. Both Mercedes and Rodríguez have crushed DSL pitching this summer. Anthony Narváez struck out seven over his three-inning start, allowing only one run and walking none. Orlando Rubio and Bianger Liedo combined to allow zero earned runs over four innings, locking down the victory. It was a strong day. The DSL Twins improved to 27-18 with the win and will return to play the DSL Tigers Friday at 10 a.m. CT. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Minor League Hitter of the Day - José Rodríguez (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland (6 IP, 7 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 3 K) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY #7 Jordan Balazovic - 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R/ER, 2 BB, 4 K #11 Louie Varland - 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 3 K #12 Matt Wallner - 1-for-4, 2B #14 Ronny Henríquez - 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R/ER, BB, 6 K
  12. Major League Baseball’s 2022 Draft is scheduled to start on July 17, 2022. Each team prepares for the draft with a specific plan, and sometimes those plans play out better than others. To prepare fans for the upcoming draft, here is a look at some of the most important drafts in recent Twins history. The 2015 season was a compelling time in Twins Territory as the club finished in second place in the AL Central after four straight 90-loss seasons. An improved record meant Minnesota drafted in the middle of the 2016 MLB Draft instead of near the top. Because the team had the 15th overall pick, it can make it tougher to project which players will be available and how the team can get as much value as possible for their picks. Minnesota selected outfielder Alex Kirilloff out of high school in Pittsburgh, PA. He was known for his advanced hitting approach, which has been his calling card throughout his professional career. Out of players selected in the first round, Kirilloff (0.4 WAR) currently ranks 13th according to Baseball-Reference’s WAR. Eight players selected behind him rank higher in career WAR, including Will Smith (8.1 WAR), Dakota Hudson (4.5 WAR), Gavin Lux (4.3 WAR), and Eric Lauer (3.8 WAR). Many of these names played in college, so they were expected to debut before Kirilloff. Only three high school players taken in the first round have accumulated more WAR than Kirilloff (Lux, Ian Anderson, and Dylan Carlson). During the second round, the Twins had three different picks, and all three have made their debuts over the last two seasons. Minnesota selected Ben Rortvedt with the 56th overall pick, and he has been worth -0.1 WAR in 39 career games. He was included as part of the Josh Donaldson trade and underwent arthroscopic knee surgery in May. Rortvedt may never hit well enough to be an everyday catcher, but he is a solid backup with strong defensive skills. Later in the second round, the Twins had back-to-back picks and took Jose Miranda and Akil Baddoo. Miranda won the team’s minor league player of the year last year after dominating in the minor’s upper levels. His big-league career started slowly, but his bat is showing signs of the hitter he was last season. Over his last 16 games, Miranda has a 1.012 OPS with six doubles and three home runs. The Tigers selected Baddoo in the 2021 Rule 5 Draft, and he posted a 111 OPS+ in 124 games last season. He started the 2022 season by going 7-for-50 (.140 BA), and he is currently in the minors trying to rediscover his swing. Minnesota’s third-round pick was Griffin Jax from the United State Air Force Academy. During his rookie campaign, the Twins used Jax as a starter, and he posted a 6.37 ERA with a 1.35 WHIP. There were some positive signs in his numbers as he did very well the first time through a line-up, so the team moved him to the bullpen for 2022. His transition to reliever has been outstanding as the team has relied on him to get some crucial outs this season. Jordan Balazovic ranks as one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects, and the team took him with their fifth-round pick. Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects entering the 2022 season. His season started late as he dealt with a left knee strain, and he has made six starts at Triple-A this season, and he has a 9.00 ERA with a 2.33 WHIP. If he can put together some more consistent outings, there will be an opportunity for him to debut in 2022. Tyler Wells is developing into a solid late-round pick by the Twins (453rd overall). Unfortunately, the Orioles selected him in the 2021 Rule 5 Draft, so his value has been earned in a Baltimore jersey. His 1.8 WAR is the highest total of any Twins player taken in the 2016 Draft. Last season, he pitched out of the bullpen and posted a 109 ERA+ with a 0.91 WHIP. The Orioles moved him to the rotation this season, and he has a 3.86 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 12 starts. Kirilloff still has a long career ahead of him to accumulate value for the Twins, but there were other strong players in the first round that Minnesota passed over. Overall, the Twins found talent that is emerging at the big-league level, and the total value won’t be known for multiple more years. Do you think the Twins made the right decision by taking Kirilloff? Should the team have left Baddoo and Wells unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2012 MLB Draft Retrospective
  13. Bill Smith Contributions (2007-2011) Smith faced a challenging time in Twins history as he took over the GM role. Torii Hunter was on his way out the door, and the team needed to trade Johan Santana. The Twins lost a Game 163 (2008) and won the division twice (2009-10) during his tenure. Despite these positive results, Smith couldn’t survive the 2011 campaign as the Twins lost 99 games. It was one of the most disappointing seasons in Twins history, but he helped sign three core pieces to the current roster. Smith’s lasting legacy with the Twins connects to the 2009 international signing class, which was tremendous in retrospect. Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler signed as part of this class. These players have combined for 37.3 total WAR and two All-Star appearances in their big-league careers. Sano’s Twins tenure may conclude in 2022, but Kepler and Polanco are under team control for multiple more seasons. Terry Ryan Contributions (2012-2016) Ryan served as GM for two different stints, so it makes sense for his fingerprints to be all over the Twins organization over the last decade. When taking over from Smith, Ryan got the opportunity to pick the second overall pick, and the organization decided on Byron Buxton. Multiple pitchers were in the conversation for Minnesota, but Buxton has accumulated the fourth-most WAR among players from the 2012 first round. He is now the face of the franchise, and he will be in a Twins uniform for over a decade after Ryan was fired. Minnesota signed Luis Arraez as an international free agent during the 2013 signing class. He has been worth 5.9 WAR in his career while hitting .312/.374/.400 (.748) with a 130 OPS+. Nick Gordon was a top-5 draft pick under the Ryan regime. His professional career hasn’t progressed perfectly, but he has shown the club the value he can provide over the last two seasons. These players look like they will be part of the team’s roster for multiple seasons moving forward. Minnesota’s bullpen picture is also covered with players acquired by Ryan. Tyler Duffey was a fifth-round pick in 2012, and he has been one of the team’s best relievers since 2019. Cody Stashak, a 13th-round pick in 2015, has been terrific to start the 2022 season, and he has yet to become arbitration-eligible. The Twins took Griffin Jax in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Ryan’s last with the organization. This season, he is transitioning to the bullpen, and signs point to him fitting well into his new role. Other prospects on the 40-man roster were also acquired under the Ryan regime. Jovani Moran was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he has the potential to be a dominant late-inning reliever. His change-up is a dominant pitch, and it has helped him post a 13.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Jordan Balazovic was a fifth-round pick in 2016, and he currently ranks as Twins Daily’s fifth overall prospect. Entering the season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus each had him in the back-half of their top-100 prospects. He recently made his Triple-A debut, so there is a good chance his big-league debut will be in 2022. Smith and Ryan might not be regarded highly because of how each left the organization. However, their impact will be felt years after their departure. Besides Buxton, which of these players will provide the most long-term value to the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. The Twins' top pitching prospect in the minors, Jordan Balazovic, made his 2022 debut last Saturday against the Iowa Cubs in St. Paul. Balazovic's stat line for the game was 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched, five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts with 79 pitches thrown. Balazovic’s start on Saturday was an improvement from his rehab appearance on May 1 with Fort Myers where he went two innings and gave up four earned runs on four hits, two walks, and only one strikeout. After Saturday’s game, Balazovic spoke about the improvement he had felt in his knee and in his performance compared to the rehab start. “Sunday was a tough one, but otherwise I feel great. It felt good to be back out here and back to natural adrenaline and body-wise I feel great,” said Balazovic. As of now, Balazovic is set up to make regular starts with the Saints every five to six days. Saints manager Toby Gardenhire shared the current plans that he, Balazovic, and pitching coach Virgil Vasquez have for Balazovic’s pitching limits. “Today he threw the ball really well, and we’ll work on him being more efficient. He's got great stuff, and he will learn to be more efficient with it. That's going to keep his pitch count down and that's the big thing. He threw some really good sliders and some not-so-good sliders. He threw some really good changeups and not as good changeups. Those are the little things that the longer he goes, hopefully, they'll be able to iron out because once he gets up there, all those things get magnified a lot,” said Gardenhire. A common theme in Balazovic’s start on Saturday was having the Cubs hitters foul a lot of balls off him which had raised his pitch count to 79 by the fourth inning. Currently, Balazovic is on a pitch count limit of 80 pitches. “They battled, when I was up in the count I couldn’t finish them off. It was one of those starts, but for the first one of the season, it’s definitely one I want to build off of for the most part. There's stuff we're gonna work on,” said Balazovic. Last season, Balazovic made 20 starts, all with the Wichita Wind Surge. He averaged 5 2/3 innings pitched throughout those 20 starts and averaged 84 pitches per start. Balazovic also posted a 3.62 ERA in 97 innings pitched. He had 102 strikeouts (9.5 K/9) and a 3.5 BB/9. Balazovic is scheduled to make his next start for the Saints on Friday, May 13, in Columbus against the Clippers. What would you like to see from Balazovic over the course of his next few starts, and then over the remainder of the season? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  15. TRANSACTIONS RHP Jordan Balazovic activated from the IL for the St. Paul Saints RHP Cole Sands optioned to the St. Paul Saints from the Minnesota Twins RHP Blayne Enlow assigned to Low-A Fort Myers on minor league rehab RHP Dylan Thomas was reinstated from the 7-day IL and released Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Iowa 2 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K HR: Kevin Merrell (1), Derek Fisher (3) Multi-hit games: Jermaine Palacios (2-for-5, RBI) A top prospect made his AAA debut on Saturday. Jordan Balazovic, one of the team’s top pitching young arms, returned from the injured list on Saturday, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the Saints. Other exciting pitching prospects have overshadowed Balazovic with their major-league performances, but no one should forget just how dominant Balazovic can be when healthy. Of course, one should never lose themselves in a pitcher when St. Paul’s offense scored nine runs. It was a group effort on Saturday; every player got on base at least once, and the only player without a hit (Curtis Terry) walked four times. In fact, the team ended up walking more often than they struck out (11 to 10). The Cubs suffered death by a thousand paper cuts. Outside of the Kevin Merrell homer above, Derek Fisher and Cole Sturgeon provided the only other extra-base hits of the game. One final offensive note: every RBI came from the 5-9 hitters. Mario Sanchez allowed two runs over 3 1/3 innings in relief of Balazovic; Wladimir Pinto shut out Iowa over the final two innings with an impressive five strikeouts. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 5, Tulsa 4 Box Score Simeon Woods Richardson: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K HR: Spencer Steer 2 (3, 4) Multi-hit games: Spencer Steer (3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR) Wichita walked off their opponent on Saturday. Simeon Woods Richardson proved he was human, allowing his first earned runs of the year in a decidedly middling start. The Drillers, full of classically tough Dodgers prospects, ambushed Woods Richardson in the third inning with three hits and an HBP, ultimately netting three runs in the frame. Wichita would not stand around quietly, though. Or, Spencer Steer specifically, would not stand around quietly. Steer was a train engine, doubling home a run in the first before homering in the third and fourth innings. One must assume that Tulsa pitchers were on the verge of an outright revolt if their coaches forced them to pitch to Steer. Of course, one man an offense does not make. Alex Isola reached base three times, Michael Helman singled home a run, and Matt Wallner brought home the walk-off run in the 9th inning. Don’t look now, but Wallner now owns an .897 OPS at AA despite his dreadful start to the season. We all sometimes Need A Little Help From Our Friends, and the wind smiled favorably onto Wichita. Oh, and Wallner also threw a missile to nail a runner at home. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 6, Quad Cities 2 Box Score Cade Povich: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K HR: Anthony Prato (4), Will Holland (1), Aaron Sabato (4) Multi-hit games: Jeferson Morales (3-for-4, 2 R) The Kernels won on Saturday. Water is wet. Cade Povich continued his utterly brilliant introduction to the full minor-league season by punching out eight batters without allowing an earned run. Don’t look now, but the Twins may already have the second wave of arms in the wings waiting for the first group to graduate. Cedar Rapids’ offense started with a bang. Anthony Prato hit a lead-off homer and Charles Mack doubled home another run in the first to give Povich a 2-0 lead before his second inning of work. Will Holland extended the lead in the second with a solo shot before Aaron Sabato blasted away, giving the Kernels a six-run lead before anyone knew what hit them. Bobby Milacki and Denny Bentley combined for four innings with just one run allowed to end the game. Kernels pitchers struck out 15 batters in total. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 7, Lakeland 12 Box Score Blayne Enlow: 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (2-for-3, R, RBI, 2B, BB), Noah Miller (2-for-4, R, RBI, BB), Noah Cardenas (2-for-4, 2 RBI), Daniel Ozoria (2-for-4, 2 R) The Mighty Mussels lost a high scorer on Saturday. Blayne Enlow made his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery. The young righty was tagged as the Lance McCullers of the Twins’ 2017 draft when they went over-slot to pick him in the third round after drafting Royce Lewis with the first overall pick. His career hasn’t been straightforward since, but the Twins saw enough potential to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and this year will go a long way to proving whether that decision was wise. Baseball is far too cruel to carry a storybook tale, though. Even after Fort Myers jumped out to a 6-0 lead, Lakeland harassed Enlow in the second inning, taking advantage of poor defense to take a 7-6 lead after the dust had settled. Mike Parades tried in vain to put the effort to a stop, but Lakeland’s bats were in an evil mood, and all he gained was a higher ERA. The game wasn’t all bad; Fort Myers reached base 16 times as Noah Miller and Emmanuel Rodriguez continued to flash their on-base potential with three and two times reaching base respectively. Keoni Cavaco was not so fortunate, striking out three times in the loss. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cade Povich Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-5, R #2 – Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, 2B, K #3 – Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, BB #4 – Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K #7 – Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K #10 – Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 2-for-4, R, RBI, BB, K #11 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 #12 – Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-4, RBI, 2B, BB, 2 K #15 – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, R, 2 BB, K #17 – Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K #18 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR, 2B SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (2:07 PM) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05 PM) - RHP Chris Vallimont Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 PM) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Fort Myers @ Lakeland (12:00 PM) - LHP Steve Hajjar
  16. The Twins have optioned pitchers Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Drew Strotman to Triple-A St. Paul. Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow were also optioned, but he was optioned to Double-A Wichita. It is the second options for Balazovic and Strotman. It is the first options for the others. The spring training roster currently has 53 players on it, including 19 non-roster players. There are still 24 pitchers (7 non-roster), five catchers (2 non-roster), 15 infielders (7 non-roster), and nine outfielders (3 non-roster). The regular-season big-league roster will include 26 players, although it is likely that there will be expanded rosters for a little while when the season begins due to the shortened spring training. It is normal for players on the 40-man roster who will not start the season in the big leagues to be optioned with the first cuts. There are several reasons for that. One might be that if a player gets hurt in big-league spring training, they would go on the big-league Injured List. In this case, these pitchers are likely to be starters in the minor leagues, and they need to be stretched out. They simply won't get the innings in big-league camp to do that. Enlow will start the season on the Wind Surge Injured List, but don't be surprised if he's back to pitching in games by May. He had Tommy John surgery last May. Josh Winder is on the mound today for the Twins in their spring game against the Red Sox. It is possible he is optioned either after the game or in the coming days. If he is not, that tells us he is being considered for an Opening Day job. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY Latest Twins coverage from our writers Recent Twins discussion in our forums Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  17. The last list from 2021 featured just three Twins after multiple players reached their rookie limits and “graduated” from the list during the 2021 season. The three players from the last installment of their rankings were shortstop Royce Lewis (#35), shortstop/center fielder Austin Martin (#36), and right-handed pitcher Jordan Balazovic (#81). Despite the various “graduates”, they were able to rebuild their farm systems a bit with the José Berríos and Nelson Cruz trades for an overall farm system ranking 15th out of the 30 MLB teams. It remains to be seen where they rank the farm system ahead of the 2022 season, so here’s what we know they think of the Twins top prospects. #46 Royce Lewis, Shortstop The former first overall pick has had a long, windy road since being drafted in 2017. Despite all of those challenges, the one thing that has remained consistent is his placement as a consensus top 100 prospect. The talent and the ceiling are there and now we hope that the various challenges he has overcome are behind him. He’ll likely spend all of the 2022 season between AA-Wichita and AAA-St. Paul, especially with the recent additions of Gio Urshela and Carlos Correa. Big picture I think this is a good thing as it allows him to focus on getting back into the game without the pressures of performing to get back to the big league club ASAP. #52 Austin Martin, Super Utility Martin has been another staple in the top 100 since being drafted 5th overall in 2020. Of course, that was always with the Toronto Blue Jays before being the headliner of the Berríos trade and immediately becoming the Twins second-best prospect. Even before Correa and a healthy Royce Lewis, he was already getting run as a center fielder instead of a shortstop. He’s good enough to be passable at any position aside from catcher, so he’ll eventually find his way to the Twins because of his bat…whether that’s in the infield, outfield, or all over is anyone's best guess. #95 Jose Miranda, Utility IF The only surprise here is that he barely cracked the top 100 after his spectacular 2021 season where he won Twins Minor Leaguer of the Year. Of course, there’s nothing from prior years that indicated this was coming or that it’s even repeatable so it’s probably fair he was ranked in the 90’s. Like the two before him, the offseason additions give him the time to prove 2021 was no fluke without the added pressure of needing to contribute to the big leagues right away in 2022. That said, if he starts to show that 2021 was not a flash in the pan, then I don’t know how they don’t give him an opportunity in Minneapolis. #97 Joe Ryan, Starting Pitcher Despite ending the season giving up six earned runs to the Detroit Tigers, Joe Ryan quickly established himself as the headliner of the Nelson Cruz trade and was penned in for the 2022 rotation. In his four other starts in 2021 he gave up six earned runs TOTAL while posting a 29:3 K:BB in 22 innings pitched despite throwing a fastball that averaged just 91 miles-per-hour. Despite the lack of velocity, Ryan is projected to be a mid-rotation starter due to the movement of that fastball up in the zone. If he can improve his offspeed pitches to counteract that high fastball, he’ll be a more than passable starter for years to come. #103 Jordan Balazovic, Right-Handed Pitcher Shortly after the top 100 was released, Sam Dykstra of MLB Pipeline released the prospect who “just missed the top 100.” I’m guessing it was in order and Balazovic was third on the list which would make him prospect number 103 as he continues his dance as a top-100 / almost top-100 prospect since 2019. The last rendition of the rankings had him at #81, but part of the reason for the drop was hinted at in the article…his K rate dropped about 10 points in AA-Wichita compared to his previous four seasons in A-ball and below. I wouldn’t be surprised if Balazovic starts the year in AA-Wichita again, but eventually works up the chain to Minneapolis before the season is over. What’s ironic about all of this is that it very well could take two of these prospects (and more) to net Frankie Montas who the Twins are reportedly looking to acquire from the A’s. The good news in the short-term is that aside from Joe Ryan, the Twins aren’t counting on any of these guys to be contributors in 2022. Would you be okay trading two of these guys for Frankie Montas or should we hold and see how they develop this year? 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. Age: 23 (DOB: 9/17/1998) 2021 Stats: (Double-A): 97 IP, 3.62 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 102 K, 38 BB ETA: 2022 2021 Ranking: 3rd National Top 100 Rankings BA: 85 | MLB: 95 | ATH: 43 | BP: 78 What’s To Like Velocity has long been the name of the game on the mound, and it’s something the Twins haven’t seen from a starter they developed in a long time, maybe ever. Balazovic was sitting at 95 mph last year on his fastball, even after missing time to start the season due to injury. He pushed it up to 97 mph at times, and the electricity behind the pitch is something to drool over. With a starter’s mix, Balazovic also has a strong slider and has turned the changeup into an out pitch as well. Double-A was a new test for Balazovic last season, and he did take a slight step backward in terms of numbers, but the elite stuff is still all there. A rough three-start stretch at the end of July made things look more mediocre than they were. Over his final eight starts, Balazovic posted a 2.72 ERA allowing just a .672 OPS against. What’s Left To Work On It’s not to say that Balazovic is a finished product, but he’s very close. Even with the time missed due to the pandemic, the Canadian is knocking on the door to the big leagues. A return to Double-A could be in the cards at the beginning of 2022, but he should quickly move up to Triple-A St. Paul. Balazovic has done a good job repeating his delivery, and continuing down a path of sustained success is a must for him. Minnesota would probably like to see a trend back towards the 2019 numbers, but that’s also not a showstopper. The strikeouts were down slightly, and the walks rose, but both happened in minor increments. Settling back in with a clean bill of health should lead to more dominating performances than not. What’s Next It would be far from shocking if Balazovic was pitching for the Twins by mid-summer. He’s near ready as a prospect, and while he’s probably not the type to be called upon before ready in a spot-start role, he’s got the talent to force his way into sustained action. Minnesota should have a middle-of-the-rotation arm at worst here, and seeing him add even more would be a welcomed sight. The Twins have been longing for a guy that can mow down the opposition, and Balazovic has the makings of someone capable of doing just that. If he can be a staff ace, the organization will have its next piece to build around. Previous Rankings Honorable Mentions Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 #10: Josh Winder, RHP #9: Chase Petty, RHP #8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP #7: Jhoan Duran, RHP #6: Matt Canterino, RHP #5: Joe Ryan, RHP #4: Jordan Balazovic, RHP #3: Coming tomorrow
  19. With the lockout impacting only Major League Baseball, the minor-league baseball season can go off without a hitch. It was recently announced that Triple-A teams will play 150 games after adding six more to their schedule. Many minor leaguers are already down in Fort Myers, preparing for the 2022 season. Unfortunately, a handful of top prospects will start the year on the farm but can’t join their teammates. In my opinion, the guys hurt most by Major League Baseball’s lockout are those recently-added to the 40-man roster but not yet big-league mainstays. Not only do they not get a traditional Spring Training, but they can’t start the minor league season on time and are not allowed access to club facilities either. For Minnesota, that group includes some pretty big names: Jordan Balazovic Balazovic is currently the Twins top pitching prospect. He was at Double-A in 2021 and should be expected to reach Triple-A this season quickly. He’s a hard thrower that can push 97-mph and has the chops to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. Balazovic missed time last year due to injury so being delayed out of the gate is sub-optimal. Cole Sands Like Balazovic above, Sands missed time on the Injured List in 2021. He was dominant at Double-A and should jump up to Triple-A quickly. He still needs to reign in the walks, but this is a rotation arm with plenty of strikeout ability. Sands will be 25 midway through the 2022 campaign. Drew Strotman Half of the return in the Nelson Cruz trade, Strotman spent all season at Triple-A. He walked way too many batters, and the ERA is a testament to that, but he’s got strikeout ability and should be an option for the Twins shortly. Continued acclimation to the new organization and a spring training showing on the big league side would’ve been ideal. Chris Vallimont Arguably the pitcher needing the most refinement from this group, Vallimont has massive strikeout stuff with significant command issues. Working on the big-league side during a traditional spring training would have been invaluable. He’s probably a relief arm, but it would have been great to see what he could have done in March. Josh Winder Maybe Minnesota’s most slept-on pitching prospect, Winder looks the part of a difference-maker. He doesn’t give up free passes, and he mows down plenty of batters. Home runs burnt him in three of four starts at Triple-A, but he too should settle in as a nice option for the Twins soon. Jose Miranda Last season’s prospect darling, Miranda went from off-the-radar to top-100 prospect in the blink of an eye. He crushed at Double-A and then continued doing so at Triple-A. He’s probably sniffing a roster spot on Opening Day, but that gets much tougher without a traditional spring training and lack of runway to make his case. Royce Lewis After missing two seasons of games due to Covid and a torn ACL, Lewis not being able to immediately be back on the diamond isn’t good. Having him prove it in game action is where all parties want him to be, so sitting idle on the 40-man is disappointing. This is a big year for the former top prospect, and getting him going quickly is a must. Trevor Larnach Dealing with injury last season, Larnach found himself struggling and sent back to Triple-A. He was soon hurt, prematurely ending his season He should be a significant contributor in Minnesota’s lineup this year, but we’ll have to wait on what a healthy version looks like. It’s disappointing that these guys, and a few others with youth on their side, won’t get to hit the ground running in 2022. We all want baseball back, and I’m sure they’re itching for it the most. 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. If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. What is very exciting is that these five pitchers, along with the pitchers in the 6-10 ranking range, and even a couple in the 11-15 range, have a real chance to be impact big league starters. The other thing to note is that the organization's top prospect lists have shifted quite significantly even from last year. While hitters such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Ben Rortvedt lost their prospect status, the Twins have developed many intriguing, exciting pitching prospects. Obviously what matters most is what they are able to do in the big leagues, but there is a stable of pitchers that Twins fans should be very excited about. Let's get started on my Top 5 Twins Pitching Prospects. #5 - RHP Josh Winder 2021 STATS: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 14/14 G/GS, 0.94 WHIP, 80/13 K/BB, 72.0 IP The Twins drafted Josh Winder out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He went 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts at Elizabethton that summer. In 2019, he went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. Like so many others, he missed the 2020 season, but when he came to Instructional League, he made a prospect name for himself. Instead of sitting 91-92 with the fastball, he was now hitting 95-97 consistently. In addition, he has a good slider and a changeup. In 2021, he received a call to be a part of the Twins depth camp for spring training. He skipped High-A and began the season as Wichita’s opening day starter. He dominated Double-A. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 65 batters while striking out just ten. He moved up to St. Paul and in his first Triple-A start, he started with five no-hit innings. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in the Futures Game in Denver. He made just four starts for the Saints due to a shoulder impingement and missed the remainder of the season. Winder is intriguing because of his fastball, his control of all of his pitches, and his work ethic is second to none. Following the season, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster and when spring training starts, he should be given a real shot to make the opening day roster. That said, he is most likely to spend some more time in St. Paul. He will be 25 years old throughout the 2022 season. #4 - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson 2021 STATS: 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 1.75 WHIP, 10/8 K/BB, 8.0 IP Simeon Woods Richardson joined the Twins organization in July when the Twins acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios deal. It was the second time the 21-year-old prospect was traded. After being drafted out of his Sugar Land, Texas, high school in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, he was traded in 2019 to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. He has always been very young for the level in which he plays, but at Double-A in 2021, he was nearly five years younger than average. The numbers showed it as he posted a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in New Hampshire before the trade. Now, he did have 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. He also walked 26 batters. Control was something that eluded him in 2021, though it really hadn’t previously. When the Twins acquired him, he was a teammate of Joe Ryan on Team USA in the Olympics. Woods Richardson has a big fastball in the mid-90s as part of a solid four-pitch mix. Again, control will be the key. He will pitch the 2022 season at age 21. With his struggles in 2021, and his youth, he should spend much of the season in Wichita. #3 - RHP Jordan Balazovic 2021 STATS: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 20/20 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 102/38 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins 2016 draft has proven pretty impressive to this point. The Twins started with five straight high school hitters. In the fifth round, they took Jordan Balazovic out of secondary school in Ontario. He has had ups and downs since signing with the Twins, but when healthy, he has generally been very good. He has also really developed as a starting pitcher. He now has a fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 at times. He has four pitches that all can be average or better big-league pitches. He has typically shown good control. He didn’t pitch in 2020, although he spent the last several weeks in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. Following the season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He came to big-league camp for spring training in 2021, but he began the season on the Injured List with an oblique injury. However, he still made 20 starts and reached a career-high 97 innings, all in Double-A Wichita. He was much more inconsistent throughout the season than normal. He had a good start, then struggled a bit. Then he dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He followed that with struggles again, but he ended the season strong, and most important healthy. Balazovic should spend most of the 2022 season in Triple-A St. Paul, but I would expect him to make his MLB debut in 2022. He won’t turn 24 until mid-September. #2 - RHP Joe Ryan 2021 MiLB STATS: 0-0, 2.00 ERA, 2/2 G/GS, 0.78 WHIP, 17/2 K/BB, 9.0 IP 2021 MLB STATS: 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 5/5 G/GS, 0.79 WHIP, 30/5 K/BB, 26.2 IP Fair to say that Joe Ryan made a strong first impression with the Twins. Then again, he has been impressing since he was young. The Twins wanted to sign him after he went undrafted following an injury-filled junior season. He bet on himself, went to Cal State-Stanislaus, pitched great and the Rays took him as a senior sign in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. He has been really good since joining the Rays, and in 2020, he was pitching at the alternate site. He was pitching well for Triple-A Durham to start this season and then headed to the Olympics with Team USA (the team won both games he started). While across the ocean, he learned that he had been traded to the Twins with Drew Strotman in the Nelson Cruz deal. Upon his return to the States, Ryan made two unbelievable starts with the Saints (Strotman’s story about that in Monday’s Twins Spotlight is hilarious!) before joining the Twins. Then he came up to the Twins and was again impressive. A few more home runs than you might want, but he showed great poise and an ability to miss bats. As Strotman said of Ryan, you may not know why you can’t hit him, but they don’t hit him. Ryan sits with a fastball that averages right around 90 mph. He can occasionally touch 94 with the fastball, but since he releases the ball low and can spot the pitch and be successful up in the strike zone, it is hard to hit. He will throw a high percentage of fastballs, but we also saw some really good change ups and sliders, and he really tunnels the ball with all three pitches very well. Ryan should spend the full 2022 season with the Twins. He won’t turn 26 until May. I think Twins fans can look forward to The Joe Ryan Experience for years to come. #1 - RHP Matt Canterino 2021 STATS: 1-0, 0.78 ERA, 6/6 G/GS, 0.61 WHIP, 45/4 K/BB, 23.0 IP I am guessing that this ranking of Matt Canterino as my choice for the Twins top pitching prospect will come as a surprise to some. However, if not for the elbow concerns that caused him to only throw 23 game innings in 2021, I don’t think people would be surprised. They’re certainly legitimate concerns, for sure. However, when it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Canterino’s is electric. He’s got a big fastball, sitting 94-96 with his fastball as a starter, touching 97. He’s got the slider that can make hitters look silly. He’s got a slower curveball. And he’s got a good changeup. He’s also got really good makeup, work ethic and energy, some of the intangibles you are looking for in a top-of-rotation option. Canterino was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2019 out of Rice where he was a three-year starter and averaged about 97 innings each season. He did spend some time at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul late in 2020. If healthy, Canterino could move quickly. After his absolute domination in Cedar Rapids for the first month of the season (43 strikeouts in 21 innings!), I would expect he will start his season at Double-A Wichita and have a chance to move up to St. Paul fairly quickly. Now, innings will be a concern at some point, and if that happens, he could certainly work out of the bullpen as the season ends. The goal should continue to be to have him start, but obviously this kind of arm is very valuable and needs to be taken care of. He will be 24 throughout the 2022 season. Discuss... I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my rankings 100% I certainly wouldn’t expect that. I hope that I was able to make my case. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are a lot of pitchers in this system that have upside to become a playoff-caliber starting pitcher, and that’s exciting. It’s important to have some, but the fact that they have several should give hope that one to three of them will become just that while others will become mid-or-back end starters or even relievers. That’s just how pitching prospects work. Feel free to discuss and ask questions. . Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5
  22. Why is that the opposite? Remember, this lockout revolves around only Major League Baseball and its players. Minor League Baseball is not covered under that umbrella, and while that’s often to its detriment, that means affiliated action will go off without a hitch in the year ahead. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we had a 60-game big-league schedule and no minor league action. There was the birth of Alternate Sites, but no games of record took place. Fast forward to where we are now, and a year of development could come on the farm with nothing taking place at Target Field. It’s a really weird thing to think about, the minor league feeder system taking place with no ultimate goal being represented for a year. However, the reality is that it’s on the farm where the most development happens, and losing that season was highly disappointing for plenty of prospects. If time were to stand still on the Major League side, the year would be solely focused on developing the next wave of prospects. While that could be a good thing for guys a bit further away, it's certainly an unfortunate reality for some of the Twins best young talents. Two situations come to mind, and the biggest of them may involve Royce Lewis. Minnesota’s top prospect hasn’t played a game since 2019. After losing the season to Covid, he tore his ACL before 2021 even began. Still an elite talent, Lewis is looking to distance himself for down results last time he was on the field and also trying to build on a swing and position that both still have question marks. There’s no doubt Lewis is a big part of Minnesota’s future, and he has an outside chance of reaching the majors this season. Having recently been added to the 40 man roster, he'd be stuck in limbo with no opportunity to get back on the field but also being pushed further from his ultimate goal. In a cascade of continued unfortunate events, it'd be nice to see Lewis catch a break. The other grouping includes players that could use the additional time to develop and now won’t have that opportunity. After struggling, Trevor Larnach was sent back to Triple-A, and Jose Miranda is still a young kid. Throw in arms like Jordan Balazovic or Jhoan Duran, and there’s a lot of young talent on the Twins 40-man roster. Like Lewis, having been added to the 40-man, none of those players would be eligible to participate in minor league games. Irrelevant is whether they have options or could be maneuvered around the roster. With the league locked out, no transactions are permitted, meaning the pool of players for organizations solely becomes those not on a 40-man roster. At the end of the day, we’re going to have meaningful baseball, and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately, my belief has dwindled that we’ll have a full Major League season, and if there isn’t one at all, it may help as many guys as it hurts. Really this all comes down to Rob Manfred and the league working through this with the union so everyone can get back to work. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP From there, we dive into the top 15. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15 15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 2021 Ranking: NR The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did. "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.” That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Ranking: 12 In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated. Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings. With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2021 Ranking: 13 While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind. 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 2021 Ranking: 10 Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while. Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A. It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward. 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 2021 Ranking: 11 Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset. First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year. It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves. Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him? Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. Current Starting Pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe Two young pitchers and three pitchers that struggled last season isn't the recipe needed for a last-place team trying to rebound. Bundy certainly has some intrigue, especially when looking back to his 2020 season. If the Twins can work with his pitch mix, he may improve enough to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. He's the most veteran pitcher on the staff, so there is a possibility the team adds other arms before Opening Day. Ober and Ryan were terrific during their first taste of the big leagues. Many were surprised by Ober's ability to pound the strike zone and work quickly. Ryan's unique fastball made it challenging for hitters to adjust, and he looks to be part of the team's long-term plans. Expectations need to be tempered with both pitchers because there will likely be some growing pains during their sophomore seasons. Last winter, Minnesota signed Dobnak to a unique extension, and then he proceeded to have his worst professional season. The Twins tried to use him in the bullpen to start the year, which was just the start of his season-long issues. Thorpe was limited to less than 40 innings last year, and he struggled at multiple levels. He's out of minor-league options, so he will have to earn a rotation spot this spring, or the team can try him in a bullpen role. 40-Man Roster Options Many of Minnesota's top pitching prospects are scheduled to spend time at Triple-A, and that might be one reason the club didn't spend big money on free agent pitching this winter. Top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Josh Winder, and Cole Sands are all on the 40-man roster and project to spend time in St. Paul. All four of these arms ranked in the team's top-20 prospects in the second half of the season. Griffin Jax has big-league experience, making him a depth option if some of the top prospects aren't ready. Minnesota acquired Drew Strotman and Ryan as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. One of the reasons the Twins acquired him was because he is close to big-league ready. Other players on the 40-man roster include Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow. Vallimont posted a 6.03 ERA in 21 Double-A starts last season, so it seems likely for him to get a repeat trip with Wichita. In June, Blayne Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery, so he won't be back into game action until later this summer. This winter, Minnesota had a tough decision regarding adding Enlow to the 40-man roster, but he can eventually be moved to the 60-day IL to open an additional roster spot. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's starting pitching depth. Minnesota has multiple starting pitching options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. At Triple-A, there are multiple players with big-league experience. Jake Faria received a non-roster invite when Minnesota signed him at the beginning of December. Devin Smeltzer was removed from the 40-man roster after injuries limited him to one appearance in 2021. Charlie Barnes posted a 3.79 ERA with a 1.28 in 16 Triple-A starts. Bryan Sammons and Austin Schulfer are both Rule 5 eligible but can slot into roles with St. Paul if they stay in the organization. Some of the team's other top-pitching prospects are penciled in for Double-A. Minnesota acquired Simeon Woods Richardson as part of the Jose Berrios trade. As a 20-year-old, he spent all of 2021 at Double-A and played in the Olympics. The Twins selected Matt Canterino in the second round back in 2019, but he was limited to six starts last season because of an elbow strain. Louie Varland finished the year at High-A, and he will be looking to build off his breakout 2021 season. There are some other names to watch in the minor's lower levels. Much of the organization's 2019 draft class projects to be at High-A, including Cody Laweryson, Sean Mooney, and Sawyer Gipson-Long. Laweryson was young for Cedar Rapids last season, and he posted a 3.86 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. In 13 starts, Mooney posted a 2.79 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. Gipson-Long struck out over 12 batters per nine innings at Low- and High-A in 2021. Steve Hajjar and Cade Povich were top-100 draft picks in 2021. Hajjar was one of the Big Ten's best pitchers in 2021, and that's why the Twins took him with the 61st pick. He has yet to make his professional debut. Povich dominated in his four starts after being drafted as he allowed one earned run and struck out more than 17 batters per nine innings. Their college experience can help to make them fast risers next season. Marco Raya and Chase Petty are two young pitchers to watch with the FCL Twins. Minnesota drafted Raya in the 4th round back in 2020 out of high school in Texas. Petty was the Twins 2021 first-round pick out of high school in New Jersey. Raya has yet to make a professional appearance, and Petty made two appearances after signing last year. Besides the names mentioned here, many other pitchers at each level can impact the upcoming season. Overall, Minnesota's current starting rotation doesn't look built for a playoff run, but 2022 may be set up for the young pitching core to debut. What do you think about the organization's starting pitching depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop — Center Field — Corner Outfield
  25. The two areas that the Minnesota Twins had an immense need heading into this offseason were starting pitcher and shortstop. Now, the cupboards are all but bare in each of these areas with 13 of Aaron Gleeman’s top 15 free agent starting pitchers and four of Gleeman’s top six free agent shortstops off the board entirely. Aside from signing one of the star free agent shortstops (not likely) or Carlos Rodón (possible), the Minnesota Twins will need to utilize the trade market if they want to bring in any difference-making talent this offseason. Doing so, though, would not be wise. I’m not breaking any news here, but the Minnesota Twins were not a good baseball team last year. The Twins just had their worst season since 2016, and did not show at any point in the season that they were on the verge of being a successful team. In only one full month in 2021 did the Minnesota Twins finish with a record above .500, when they went 14-13 in the month of August. On top of that, the Twins traded away their best starting pitcher since Johan Santana and their best power hitter since Jim Thome. The most likely path for the Minnesota Twins to acquire difference-making talent via the trade market would be by packaging one (or multiple) future prospects to a rebuilding team in exchange for a win-now player. Trade ideas as proposed by Twins Daily writer, JD Cameron, include Trevor Larnach for Chris Bassit or Jordan Balazovic and Ryan Jeffers for Sonny Gray. While the exact prospects that the Twins would need to part with in these trades could be different, the core idea remains the same…the Twins would need to part with key future prospects if they want to acquire top-shelf talent. The problem, and why they should avoid making deals this offseason, is that the Twins have not shown that they are close to competing and that adding a starting pitcher like Bassit or Gray (or both, even!) would suddenly turn the Twins into contenders. The Twins finished last in the American League Central last season and got worse, while the White Sox, Tigers and Royals all figure to improve. Trading away future pieces such as a Trevor Larnach or a Jordan Balazovic only to marginally improve a still-bad baseball team could prove catastrophic in terms of rebuilding efforts down the line. The other option that the Twins could look at on the trade market would be to trade away a non-prospect batter for some top-line pitching talent. Names like Max Kepler or Luis Arraez could potentially be expendable on a team with more hitting depth than pitching. While this type of trade would prove more palatable for an underwhelming Twins team, they are very difficult to come by. The teams that are looking to add MLB-ready bats are typically not the teams that are willing to part with MLB-ready arms. While it’s possible, I don’t see the Twins making this kind of trade. The best path for the Minnesota Twins to follow in 2022 would be to round out their pitching rotation this offseason with number three or four starting pitchers such as Michael Pineda or Danny Duffy. Then, simply let the season play out. If the Twins’ young arms show that they are the real deal and in turn the Twins prove to be more competitive in 2022 than predicted, Minnesota can then move prospects for win-now arms at the trade deadline. Making a trade now, though, could prove extremely costly.
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