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  1. This week, Brock Beauchamp posted in the Twins Daily forums on the increasing value of the Ryan Pressly trade. While the irony of the Twins bullpen performing strongly long after they were out of contention is not lost on most Twins fans, Alcala’s breakout may have been. In the second half of 2021, he made the leap to bona-fide high-leverage relief pitcher. Let’s begin by considering the big picture before we dive into the minutiae. Alcala may not have remained with the big league team all season given his first half if the rest of the Twins pitching wasn’t struggling so much. He put up a 4.67 ERA, 2.3 HR/9, 5.53 FIP, and just a 23% K%, pretty underwhelming for someone who can throw 100 mph. The second half, however, was a different story, Alcala managed a 2.88 ERA, 0.36 HR/9, 2.01 FIP, and a 32% K%, (Wow!) Alcala massively improved his ability to limit hard contact, keep the ball in the ballpark, and strike opposing hitters out, so, what changes led to this development? Tweaking his Pitch Mix Let’s start with Alcala’s pitch mix. In order for him to become a consistent back-end bullpen arm, Alcala has been working on incorporating a changeup into his pitching repertoire since the beginning of the 2020 season. Early in his career (and the first half of 2021), Alcala’s fastball was prone to be hit hard due to poor control and command. Alcala has reduced his use of his fastball from around 65% when he broke into the league in 2019 to just 36.6% at the end of the 2021 season. Similarly, he has increased his changeup usage to 16%, as his comfort with the pitch has grown. The value and effectiveness of Alcala’s changeup has increased significantly, due to his improved command and ability to keep the pitch down in the zone, and his ability to develop arm-side run when throwing it. A More Effective 4-Seam Fastball In addition to tweaking his pitch mix, Alcala’s fastball has become significantly more effective in 2021. Alcala has pushed the location of his four seam fastball further up the strike zone. Additionally, Alcala has developed over three inches more horizontal movement when throwing this pitch. Velocity in the high 90s with no lateral movement is one thing. Velocity in the high 90s with four inches of horizontal movement is another. This is leading to less consistent contact on the pitch. Improved Command If you want overall indicators of improved control from Alcala in 2021, they are everywhere. His first-pitch strike% improved 11.4%, his in-zone% improved 6.7%. What the Twins now have on their hands is a reliever who throws in the high 90s, has two strong complimentary pitches, an excellent BB%, and has shown the ability to implement changes which improve his command, and the movement of his pitches. A dominant Jorge Alcala, coming to a bullpen near you in 2022.
  2. For much of the early part of 2021, the relief pitching let Rocco Baldelli’s club down. Alex Colome was no longer close to his career numbers, and Tyler Duffey had seen substantial regression. The guys expected to step up failed to do so, and the Twins were left searching for answers on a near-nightly basis. There are a few givens are going into 2022, but a couple of guys have made cases for themselves to stick around despite potentially being on the outs previously. Derek Falvey has his work cut out for him, but the more he can count on internally, the less turnover the roster will ultimately need to experience. Here’s how I see the group: The Veterans - Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey It looked like a near-certainty that Rogers would be dealt at the deadline. That was before injury put him on the shelf and ended his season. He’ll return in 2022, and Minnesota will undoubtedly be hoping that he returns to form as one of the best lefties in the game. Duffey’s 3.45 ERA is fine on its own, but it’s a far cry from the 1.88 mark he put up just a year ago. Strikeouts are down, and walks are way up. If the Twins have a better unit, they need his best during the final year of arbitration. The Surprises - Caleb Thielbar, Juan Minaya, Luke Farrell, Danny Coulombe Thielbar has been the best of this group. All but retired from baseball and moving onto coaching, he emerged as an option in 2020. This season hasn’t been quite as good, but the 11.2 K/9 is going to play. He’s given up too many dingers, but as a crafty lefty option, there’s plenty to like here. Minaya made his way back to the big leagues this season and has a career-best 2.70 ERA. He’s not dominant by any means, but as a middle-inning guy that’s gotten it done before, he certainly could stick. Both Farrell and Coulombe were depth types for the Twins. Each has seen stretches of effectiveness, and while their ceilings are admittedly limited, one could lay claim to a spot in 2022. The Youth - Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza, Jovani Moran Minnesota counted on Alcala to take a step forward this season. As a whole, the results have been underwhelming given the 4.20 ERA. However, his last 15 games have resulted in a 1.00 ERA and .501 OPS against. He has a 21/3 K/BB in his last 18 innings pitched. That’s the arm the Twins need out of the gate. Garza was a nice get from the Astros, and he’s been effective with the organization. His strikeout numbers are down some, but he’s looked the part of a middle reliever that can get big leaguers out. Moran isn’t yet established as a future fixture, but he dominated on the farm again this year, and getting a taste going into the offseason should help him prepare to stick in the future. Minnesota used 22 different relievers in 2021, and the pen was often constructed with eight or nine arms. They’ll need better depth and higher ceilings if there’s any interest in being a better unit a year from now. Maybe Alex Colome is asked back as well, but they’ll need to be picky with who is counted upon from a group that severely underwhelmed out of the gate. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Box Score Bailey Ober: 5 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (67.7% strikes) HR: Max Kepler (13), Brent Rooker (2) Bottom 3 in WPA: Miguel Sanó (-0.236), Jorge Alcala (-0.149), Danny Coulombe (-0.109) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Early Offense Saturday night was characterized by a distinct lack of hitting ability, but Sunday quickly proved to be a different story. Max Kepler continued his hot streak by blasting a lead-off homer to kick off the scoring. In the time it took this author to inform his mom of what Kepler did, Brent Rooker, the breaker of no-hitters, absolutely launched a titanic bomb that landed somewhere in Canada. Coming into the game, Kepler had been slugging .597 since July 4th (date chosen for no particular reason). A streak of good health has been a blessing for the outfielder who has been inconsistent since his 2019 breakout. For Rooker, the opportunity is golden. The DH spot is wide open now that Nelson Cruz is on the Rays, and Rooker must impress in a speedy manner if he wishes to be a mainstay in 2022 and beyond. Blasting a ball like that off of a righty is an excellent start. A Familiar Face Returns Jake Cave made his first start for the Twins since May 12th. The added depth is much welcomed as the team has run through approximately 1053 different center fielders in 2021. Cave can provide relief for a struggling Gilberto Celestino. This is more of a result of improper seasoning than an indictment on Celestino’s upside, which simply needs more time to be seen. At any rate, it’s good to see Cave back off the IL. Ober The Hills And Far Away The oak-like rookie made another impressive start on Sunday. Ober punched out four while allowing a pair of earned runs in what is now his longest career start (5 ⅓ IP). Ober could have gone longer, but the team has been especially careful in limiting his innings in 2021 since he did not get to pitch in games in 2020. His xFIP of 4.19 on the year places him among names like Zack Greinke, Aaron Civale, and Casey Mize. Ober may only make a handful of starts down the stretch, though. Sunday’s affair brought him to 59 ⅓ innings pitched split between St. Paul and Minnesota in 2021. His previous high mark came in 2019 when Ober threw 78 ⅔ innings between three levels of the minors. It is unclear just how many more innings the team will allow him to throw-either in an effort to match his career high or lightly pass it-but it can be solidly predicted that the team will be conservative in his workload going forward. Enjoy watching him while you can! Where Did The Momentum Go? Despite getting off to a fast 2-0 start, the Twins let their lead slowly slip away. Max Stassi proved to be an especially pesky enemy as he tripled and homered to bring the game to a tie. With the game tied, the unrivaled Shohei Ohtani took one look at a hanging Danny Coulombe slider and bazooka’d it out of right field. After Rooker’s homerun, the Twins offense let Jamie Barria settle into a groove. The righty put the homers behind him, and cruised through seven innings of work with just four baserunners allowed after the homers. None of the two Twins hits after the 1st went for extra bases. The inability of the Twins to push more runs across after getting off to such a hot start has been an issue the entire season and, once again, put a dent in their chances of winning on Sunday. It was a close 3-2 game headed into the top of the 9th. The game was still well within grasp for the Twins even if they did not have the strongest part of the lineup set up for the bottom of the inning. But, things got messy. Jorge Alcala gave up a single, a double, and another single in succession, and the Angels notched two more runs. Los Angeles would have six runs on the board when it was all said and done. Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Colomé 26 22 0 11 0 10 69 Alcala 24 0 0 0 10 24 58 Duffey 0 38 0 0 0 0 38 Thielbar 17 16 0 0 16 0 49 Coulombe 5 0 32 0 0 18 55 Rogers 0 0 0 18 0 0 18 Robles 7 0 0 0 0 0 7 Minaya 0 0 0 20 0 0 20 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Injuries are obviously impacting multiple players listed below. In a perfect world, the Twins would be able to trade away all their veterans for valuable pieces, but almost nothing has gone perfectly for the Twins in 2021. That being said, here’s some of the roster shuffle that will occur over the next month. DH: Miguel Sano Replaces Nelson Cruz Miguel Sano seems destined to be the team’s DH throughout the remaining years on his contract. There are only a handful of contending teams that need help at DH, but the most logical choice might be the AL’s best team. Brent Rooker is another possibility to get some DH at-bats in the season’s second half. At Triple-A this year, he has an .861 OPS with 10 home runs and three doubles and it seems like he’s become Minnesota’s forgotten prospect. Moving Sano off first base also allows Alex Kirilloff to start getting more consistent reps at first, which is his expected long-term defensive position. SS: Jorge Polanco Replaces Andrelton Simmons Minnesota is likely hesitant to move Polanco back to shortstop, but the team’s other options are limited. Royce Lewis was supposed to be the heir apparent, but he’s out for the year. He likely won’t be ready at the beginning of 2022, so the Twins will be players in the best free agent shortstop class in baseball history. There are some benefits to moving Polanco back to short. This allows the team to get a longer look at Nick Gordon as the team has kept him on the active roster over Gilberto Celestino and Willians Astudillo. At Triple-A, J.T. Riddle has gotten most defensive starts at shortstop, but he only has .675 OPS and he’s not part of the team’s long-term plans. SP: [Break In Case of Emergency] Replaces Michael Pineda This is going to be the toughest spot to replace, because Twins pitching has be historically bad this season. Minnesota has already added Randy Dobnak and Bailey Ober to the rotation, but where does the team turn to next? Top pitching prospect Jhoan Duran was put on the IL this week with a strained right elbow, so it doesn’t seem likely for him to pitch bulk innings at the big-league level this season. Jordan Balazovic, the team’s other top pitching prospect, has allowed 10 earned runs in 14 innings so far in 2021. Charlie Barnes and Griffin Jax can be given longer looks as rotational options, but these aren’t the exciting prospects fans have eagerly been waiting to see. RP: Jorge Alcala Replaces Hansel Robles Outside of Taylor Rogers, Robles has been the team’s most consistent reliever. To take over his late inning role, I’m all on board the Jorge Alcala train. He’s been working on increasing his changeup usage so he can be more effective versus left-handed batters. He has the potential to be a late-inning shutdown arm and the team needs to give him the opportunity to prove if he can sink or swim in this role. Minnesota’s bullpen will need an overhaul for 2022, but the team can use the rest of 2021 as a tryout for players in different roles. Can these play better than the players they are replacing? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Many relief pitchers can be successful by relying on two to three pitches. For instance, Taylor Rogers has found a lot of success at the big-league level by throwing a two-pitch mix with his fastball and a slider. Relievers can use their best pitches, because they don’t have to worry about facing a hitter multiple times in the same game. Some pitchers are forced to adjust their repertoire if they aren’t finding success. Jorge Alcalá was part of one of the biggest trades under the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime. He came to the Twins along with Gilberto Celestino as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. At the time of here is what Baseball America said, “Alcalá has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcalá looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” Alcalá has shown flashes on turning into a devastating bullpen option, but lefties have given him headaches during his big-league career. Entering play on Wednesday, left-handed hitters had posted a .306/.397/.629 (1.026) slash-line when facing Alcalá. Compare that to the .389 OPS righties had compiled against him and it’s easy to see that something was going to have to change if he was going to progress to being used in more high leverage situations. During his big-league tenure, Alcalá has focused on throwing a fastball and a slider and since that hadn’t worked against lefties, the Twins encouraged him to work on his changeup. He threw the pitch to lefties 24 times during the 2020 season and held them to a .125 BA and a .250 SLG. His changeup breaks down and in on lefties which can make it a tough pitch to square up if he is locating it. “(Alcalá is) making adjustments,” Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. “He’s going out there and figuring out that sometimes facing left-handed hitters as a whole and facing left-handers and right-handers is going to be different, and you’re going to have to have — I end up calling them tricks, sometimes, but you end up coming to have a different approach.” Alcalá is going to have to keep working with the pitch and he knows the importance of what it will mean for the future of his career. “What you practice is the result you get,” Alcalá told reporters through an interpreter. “If it’s working for me in the bullpen or in practice, I think it’s going to work for me during the game. That’s my mindset. His changeup is still a work in progress, but it is the pitch that might transform him from middle reliever into a dominant late-inning option. Do you think one pitch can make the difference for Alcalá? Leave a COMMENT and star the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. 1. Taylor Rogers Much like in 2019, Taylor Rogers has been one of the few options Baldelli can trust in the late innings of games. At season’s start, it seemed like Rogers would be used in more of a set-up role with Colomé getting more of the closing opportunities. Until Colomé can figure it out, Rogers will be used as the closer and he has the team’s highest level of trust. 2. Hansel Robles Robles was brought in to help add veteran depth to the bullpen and he has made a good impression so far this year. His xBA ranks in the 82nd percentile and his wOBA ranks in the top 7% of the league. One of the biggest changes for him this season is his pitch usage. From 2015-18, he used his changeup less than 10% of the time. So far in 2021, he has used his changeup over 50% with his fastball usage dropping from 45% in 2020 to 31% in 2021. 3. Tyler Duffey Duffey has been one of the baseball’s best relievers over the last two seasons. In fact, MLB Network had him in their top-10 relievers entering the season. So far this year, he hasn’t looked like his dominating self as he ranks in the 24th percentile or lower in nearly every Statcast metric. Baldelli still shows trust in Duffey with the hope that he can make some adjustments moving forward. 4. Cody Stashak Stashak is striking out batters at the highest rate of his career with a K% north of 36% that ranks him in the top 6% of the league. On the other hand, batters are barreling up the ball against him quite regularly. His 20 barrel% is in the bottom 1% of the league and it is 6.5 percentage points higher than his previous career high. 5. Jorge Alcala Alcala might have the best raw stuff in the Twins bullpen and an argument can be made for him being given more high leverage spots as the season progresses. One of the toughest things for Alcala has been his inability to get left-handed hitters out on a consistent basis. For his career, lefties have a 1.178 OPS against him in 55 plate appearances. If he wants to earn more high leverage appearances, he needs to improve against southpaws. 6. Caleb Thielbar With Rogers moving into the closer role, Thielbar will be critical for when the team is facing lefties before the ninth inning. Since rejoining the Twins last year, he has posted a 2.53 ERA with 44 strikeouts in 32 innings. 7. St. Paul Train (Derek Law, Luke Farrell, Devin Smeltzer) The Twins will likely continue to shuffle through players at the backend of the bullpen, especially if a player pitches multiple innings the previous day. These players aren’t going to be relied on for high leverage situations, so there doesn’t need to be a lot of trust in using them. 8. Alexander Colomé Colomé’s start to the season has been disastrous. Until he shows signs of improvement, the teams should have little trust in him. How would you rank the bullpen by level of trust? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  7. Following a strong rookie campaign, Jorge Alcalá logically had higher expectations entering the 2021 campaign. Things haven’t gone perfectly to start the year, but with a couple of small changes, Alcalá might be the key to turning the Twins bullpen around. Last season, Alcalá appeared in 16 games and posted a 2.63 ERA with a 1.21 WHIP. He struck out nearly 29% of the batters he faced and posted a 163 ERA+. He ranked in the 75th percentile or higher in average exit velocity, hard hit %, barrel %, and K %. Based on those numbers, it was easy to envision Alcalá taking on a high leverage role at some point during the 2021 season. Alcalá has made seven appearances so far in 2021 and only two of those appearances have come in a Twins win. In fact, both of those wins were by six runs or more, so his role hasn’t been in the high leverage situations. On Sunday, Alcalá got five strikeouts in two innings including nine whiffs on 14 swings. This was a welcome sight after he entered play with a 20 K%, which was well below his career average. MLB Statcast has him ranked in the 40th percentile or lower in max exit velocity, hard hit %, xERA, xWOBA, xSLG. The most disturbing stat might be the fact that his barrel % ranks in the bottom 4% of the league as batters are barreling up the ball against him 17.6% of the time. One of the biggest reasons for these poor numbers so far this year might be tied to his pitch usage. During the 2020 season, Alcalá used his fastball and slider for nearly the same percentage of pitches. He used his four-seamer 46.4% of the time, while his slider was used 44.7% of the time. There has been a large increase in his fastball usage this year as he is up to 55%, which means his slider usage has dropped nearly seven points. It seems like increasing his slider usage would be a natural solution for avoiding more barrels. There’s no reason to throw Alcalá directly into a late inning role, especially with some of the other names ahead of him in the bullpen pecking order. That being said, he has been used in mostly low leverage situations or when the team was up big early in the season. He’s less experienced than other bullpen options, but look for his role to increase as the season progresses. Rocco Baldelli needs some arms he can rely on in the bullpen and Alcalá just might be the man to help turn the bullpen around in 2021. What do you think Alcalá can provide to the Twins? What should his role be moving forward? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. Jorge Alcala, RHP Alcala has 18 big league games under his belt, but the 2021 season can be an opportunity to prove he belongs in Minnesota’s long-term relief plans. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli already showed confidence in Alcala by using him in the seventh inning or later in every September appearance last season. Minnesota’s bullpen looks different for 2021 and this can allow Alcala to take on an even more important role. When the Twins acquired Alcala, he was still being used as a starter, but his transition to reliever has come with excellent results. Minnesota’s bullpen pecking order will likely fluctuate throughout the 2021 season with players serving in different roles depending on the situation. Can Alcala move up the depth chart throughout the season? Jhoan Duran, RHP Last winter, president of baseball operations Derek Falvey said that he expected Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran to both make their MLB debuts in 2020. Obviously, the shortened season stopped that from happening, but both players seem primed for a debut in 2021. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the highest ranked pitcher in our annual top-20 prospect list and there is plenty to be excited about when thinking about what he can add to the Twins starting staff. He might be the most exciting starting pitching prospect to come through the Twins system in quite some time. With an electric fastball and improving off-speed offerings, Duran can provide a mid-season boost for the Twins, especially if the White Sox are hot on their tails. The question is, how high is his ceiling? Shaun Anderson, RHP Matt Wisler was a breakout pitcher for the Twins last season after the team brought him in and told him to concentrate even more on throwing his slider. He threw it over 83% of the time and found remarkable success. Minnesota felt comfortable enough with finding a Wisler replacement that they let him walk this winter. This season, Shaun Anderson hopes to follow a similar trajectory as Wisler. In 2020, Anderson threw his slider 53% of the time, so there is certainly room for him to use this pitch on a more consistent basis. However, there is a major difference between Wisler and Anderson as Anderson’s fastball averages 94 mph. He also ranks in the 92nd percentile when it comes to fastball spin. Working with Wes Johnson might allow Anderson to find the right mixture of these two pitches. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B While Duran moved up our rankings to the number one pitching spot, Kirilloff and Royce Lewis both can make a claim as the team’s top overall prospect. At some point in 2021, he is going to take over as a starting outfielder and the Twins hope he stays there for most of the next decade. Back in 2018, he was one of the best hitting prospects in all of baseball, but the 2019 season saw injuries take a toll. He was able to homer four times in five playoff games that season, so the power potential is there. His hit tool separates him from the crowd as he can spray the ball to all fields. As I have previously written, his minor league spray charts should be hung in a museum. His advanced approach at the plate should help him to transition to the big-league level. Kirilloff avoids swings and misses and he should pencil into the middle of Minnesota’s line-up for years to come. Who do you think will breakout for the Twins in 2021? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. First, you can get up to speed on the 'why and how' behind these rankings by reading Monday's introductory post. If you're already hip, proceed to find my choices (and reasoning) for the 16th-through-20th most valuable assets under Minnesota's control as 2021 gets underway. 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 2020 Ranking: NR The 20th spot in these rankings is one I always wrestle with most. There are so many different players with good arguments to appear on the list; this selection becomes a battle between many semi-critical assets, whose competing qualities are fundamental to this exercise. Which is more indispensable to the Twins' plans: a proven MLB commodity with a relatively low ceiling (i.e. Randy Dobnak, Jake Cave), versus a near-ready prospect with moderate upside (i.e. Travis Blankenhorn, Edwar Colina), versus a more distant and uncertain project with game-changing potential? Ultimately, I landed on the latter, best represented in the system by Keoni Cavaco. No, he hasn't done anything of note as a professional yet, posting a paltry .470 OPS in his first turn at rookie ball in 2019. But the Twins believed in him enough to take him 13th overall – the highest pick this regime has made outside of Royce Lewis (No. 1) in 2017 – because they so value Cavaco's athleticism and long-term ceiling. I have no special insight or information on the 19-year-old, especially coming off a lost minor-league season, but frankly I trust this front office enough to consider him an important part of the big picture going forward. Needless to say, 2021 will be a key year for Cavaco. 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 2020 Ranking: NR The former first-round pick reached the majors in 2020, just three years after being drafted, and was exactly as advertised: an advanced bat with big bop, exhibiting no signs of intimidation against MLB pitching. Rooker has factors working against him in the context of this list – namely, a lack of asset scarcity. Big, immobile sluggers who can only play first base and corner outfield are not hard to come by. He also happens to be a bit extreme in the traditional flaws of this profile: a sub-par defender and extremely strikeout prone. But on the flip side (pun intended), his raw power is at the highest end of the spectrum and Rooker shows potential to develop into a reasonably disciplined hitter. Although he only made 21 plate appearances as a rookie before breaking his forearm, he made a strong enough impression to solidify his place in the club's plans going forward. Rooker is inexpensively controllable for years to come. 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 2020 Ranking: NR Donaldson signed after this list came out last year, so I didn't have to struggle with the challenging task of ranking him as an asset. It goes without saying he would've been higher at that point then he is now. The first year of Donaldson's historic contract was theoretically supposed to deliver the greatest value for the Twins, but was mostly a bust. Now, he's entering his age 35 season with magnified durability concerns, still owed $70 million in guaranteed money over the next three years. In the scope of this discussion, Donaldson's huge salary is a significant drawback, limiting the front office's ability to build around him within payroll constraints. The need to prioritize adding depth behind him, due to his unreliable health, is also a negative. And yet ... to an extent, this is all counterbalanced by the monumental impact he's capable of making. Donaldson is the only former MVP on the roster, and someone who was elite both offensively and defensively just two years ago. He showed signs of being that same player while on the field in 2020. It's possible no other team would take on Donaldson's contract at this moment if they had the chance, which is why he ranks as low as he does here. But his presence will be crucial if Minnesota's is to capitalize on the current championship window. 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 2020 Ranking: 12 One year ago, Rogers was a top-end closer, set to earn less than $5 million, yet he still didn't crack the top 10 in these rankings. That says a lot about the relative value of relief pitchers, who are – for better or worse – among the game's most fungible assets. (The Twins, having made a habit of letting quality bullpen arms walk, seem to live by this credo.) Rogers is now a year older and closer to free agency, although the Twins still control him for two more seasons. He's also coming off a tough campaign, albeit it a shortened one where his peripherals and underlying indicators remained strong. Set to earn $6 million, he's no longer the clear-cut bargain he once was. The lefty's value has surely dropped but his price isn't unreasonable, all things considered, and he remains an integral piece of this bullpen – especially with Trevor May moving on, and guys like Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard (for now) out of the picture. 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 2020 Ranking: NR Like Rogers, Alcala has shown the ability to dominate out of the bullpen. The similarities end there. Whereas Rogers is a polished, experienced, time-tested relief fixture, Alcala is an up-and-comer with a sparse MLB track record. But that track record has yielded a 2.45 ERA and 9.8 K/9 rate in 25 ⅔ innings. The right-hander didn't exactly come out of nowhere. He was a big-ticket international signing by the Astros out of the Dominican Republic in 2014, and was the prospect headliner in a trade that sent Ryan Pressly to Houston in 2018. Though he predictably fizzled out as a starter, Alcala shows all the signs of a quality back-end reliever, and he's under team control for the next five seasons. If he can firmly establish himself as a lights-out setup man or closer in 2021, he'll move up this list. THE TOP 20 TWINS ASSETS OF 2021 20. Keoni Cavaco, SS 19. Brent Rooker, OF/1B 18. Josh Donaldson, 3B 17. Taylor Rogers, LHP 16. Jorge Alcala, RHP 11-15: Coming tomorrow!MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow said, "We had ranked all the relievers that we had interest in a few weeks ago taking a really deep look at all of them (and) we felt Pressly was the best combination for stuff, control — how much time he would be with us — and acquisition cost and ability to plug right into our bullpen. We like his stuff a lot." At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Eduardo Escobar trade and the Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Alcala was still starting in the Astros organization at the time of the trade. Here is what Baseball America said, “Alcala has a plus-plus fastball, but there are times as a starter where he gears down to try to maintain his stamina. At his best, he’s reached triple digits in the past. There are days when Alcala looks like a one-pitch pitcher trying to start, but seen on the right days, he has the makings of being a devastating bullpen option.” When looking at Celestino, Baseball America projected him to “end up as a plus defender in center with the ability to hit .270 with 15-20 home runs, with a fourth-outfield future as a decent fallback option.” When the Twins acquired them, Alcala and Celestino were among the top-15 prospects in the Astros' farm system, according to MLBPipeline.com. Pressly’s Houston Success Pressly has pitched a grand total of 78 1/3 innings in an Astros uniform over the course of three seasons. He was a first-time All-Star last season at the age of 30 after posting a 1.36 ERA in the first half. During that same stretch, he held opponents to a .176/.208/.282 slash-line with 47 strikeouts compared to six walks. He was one of the best relievers in the game, but things haven’t gone as perfectly since then. In 2019’s second half, Pressly ran into some struggles and dealt with an injury. His ERA jumped to 4.91 and his WHIP rose from 0.78 in the first half to 1.23 in the second half. He was forced to undergo arthroscopic right knee surgery and didn’t pitch in a game from August 15-September 21. He’d make the team’s postseason roster, but his ERA was 9.00 or higher in every round of the playoffs. So far in 2020, Pressly was in line to become Houston’s closer in place of Roberto Osuna. Pressly had a finger blister during Summer Camp and he has been dealing with elbow soreness. He left his only appearance of the year early with a cut on the cuticle above his thumbnail. The team seems optimistic that he will be able to avoid any extended time on the injured list. Minnesota’s Trade Return Jorge Alcala split time as a starter and reliever in 2019 and the Twins were aggressive with him after switching him to the bullpen. He made six relief appearances (10 2/3 innings) at Double-A and allowed two earned runs while holding opponents to a .502 OPS. At Triple-A, he did even better as he didn’t allow an earned run and he struck out 11 batters in 7 2/3 innings. He made two big league appearances as a September call-up and only allowed one hit. Since switching to the bullpen, Alcala has been able to focus on using his best two pitches, his fastball and his slider. His fastball is constantly in the mid-90s and so far this season it is averaging 96.8 mph. His slider has also ticked up a few miles per hour from 85.9 mph last year to 88.0 mph in 2020. He’s looking like he could be Minnesota’s closer of the future. Gilberto Celestino was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season after a breakout season. He was always seen as a strong defender, but his offensive improvements helped put him on the prospect map. He changed his base at the plate and started his swing earlier after working with Kernels hitting coach Ryan Smith. From May 9 through season’s end, he hit .303/.374/.464 with 38 extra-base hits in 98 games. Who Won the Trade? It will probably be multiple years before Twins fans will know if the organization “won” this trade. Houston got what they wanted out of the deal with Pressly turning into one of baseball’s best right-handed relief pitchers. He set an MLB record for consecutive appearances without giving up a run, the team has signed him to an extension, and he could be the team’s closer this season if he proves to be healthy. Minnesota got two players in return that could impact the big-league roster for multiple years. MLB.com updated their top-30 prospects this week and both Alcala (27) and Celestino (16) make the list. Alcala missed more bats than previous seasons and seems destined for a bullpen role. Celestino is one of the best defenders in the Twins system, but if his offensive improvements could make him an impact player at the big-league level. Looking back, what do you think about the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Back in 2016, the Twins revamped their front office by hiring Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. One of their biggest tasks in their first year on the job was preparing to have the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. That draft was just the start of how they were able to add to Minnesota’s well stocked farm system. Minnesota’s current crop of regulars was moving through the system back in 2015-16 and that’s why the farm system ranked so highly. The new front office crew saw some of their impact after the 2017 MLB Draft and that continued into the following year’s draft. The results of their time at the helm are already being felt at the big-league level. 2017 Draft There were multiple options with the top overall pick back in 2017 with names like Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay and Kyle Wright all in the discussion. Minnesota decided Royce Lewis was the best option and he has been the organization’s highest-ranking prospect since he was drafted. Last season, Lewis finished at Double-A and under normal circumstances, he might have made his big-league debut this season. Lewis wasn’t the only strong pick in this draft. Brent Rooker was recently called up and he has been contributing to a team in the middle of a pennant race. Time will tell if he can develop into a big league regular, but his powerful swing should keep him on the roster. In the same draft, Minnesota had to offer Blayne Enlow a big signing bonus to lure him away from LSU and now he is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. He might be a couple years away from debuting, but he add to the depth of the farm system. 2018 Draft Coming off a surprise run to the playoffs, the Twins had a much lower draft pick in 2018, but that didn’t stop them from finding players to restock the farm. Trevor Larnach was the team’s first round selection and he has developed into one of the best hitting prospects in the organization. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year and the Florida State League Player of the Year. He finished last year at Double-A and now he has been part of the team’s 60-man roster that is working out in St. Paul. Another player from this draft, Ryan Jeffers, has played a pivotal role with the club due to Mitch Garver’s injury. When he was drafted, he was seen as a bat-only catcher, but he was given very little coaching on his catching defense throughout his collegiate career. Now, his 51.2% strike rate has him in the top-20 among all MLB backstops when it comes to catcher framing. Trades Add Depth Making trades is another way to stock a farm system and the Twins front office has already seen some of the rewards of those trades. Zack Littell was acquired back at the 2017 trade deadline as part of the Jaime Garcia trade and he has fit nicely into the Twins bullpen when healthy. At that same deadline, Minnesota added LHP Tyler Watson who pitched all last season at High-A with a 3.62 ERA and a 1.21 WHIP. The 2018 trade deadline was where Minnesota was able to revamp the farm. Trading Eduardo Escobar to the Diamondbacks got the Twins back a trio of prospects including RHP Jhoan Duran, who is considered one of the team’s top pitching prospects. Also, Minnesota traded away Ryan Pressly for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Alcala has shown electric stuff out of the Twins bullpen this year and Celestino could become a regular at the big-league level in the years ahead. For the Twins, this trade could pay dividends for multiple years into the future. How do you feel about the Twins consistency in their farm system? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or
  12. Before we get too deep into things, let’s step back for a quick reminder of how the Twins acquired pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers. JHOAN DURAN The 22-year-old Duran is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Diamondbacks in December 2014 and worked his way up the ladder. In late July of 2018, he came to the Twins organization with outfielders Ernie de la Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal. Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell was the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Player Development for eight years. He said of trading Duran, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization.” Get to know Jhoan Duran from this story from January, shortly after he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. At that time, he spoke of his best pitches. ““Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” DAKOTA CHALMERS Dakota Chalmers was the 3rd round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. The highly-touted, hard-throwing prospect showed great stuff, but early in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery. In August of 2018, the Twins traded veteran closer Fernando Rodney to the A’s for Chalmers, knowing he would not be able to pitch until at least the second half of the 2019 season. He began making rehab appearances last July, and on July 30th, he debuted with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After a rough first start, he was really good in his final four starts before the end of the regular season. He then went up to Pensacola and pitched for them in the playoffs. And after that, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings. Like Duran, Chalmers became an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after the season. We caught up with the 23-year-old at Twins Fest as well for this Get to Know him story. --------------------------------------- Now, back to their performances on Sunday. For each, it was their first appearance in Summer Camp intra-squad games. Hard to know what to expect. As pitching coach Wes Johnson pointed out, they weren’t necessarily looking for results. “I told those guys that it wasn’t, for me, as much about balls and strikes - as crazy as that sounds - it was How was their presence? We gave them some different situations. We started their second innings with runners on.” But it was hard not to notice that they each threw two scoreless innings, despite those situations. Also, Johnson added, “Both of those guys had to go through the heart of our order. That’s not easy. In my opinion, we have the best offense in baseball.” https://twitter.com/HagemanParker/status/1284955121277964296 Johnson said that Nelson Cruz provided the biggest compliment, “Nelson Cruz came up to me and said ‘Hey, both of those guys who just threw, they impressed me. They looked like they belonged, and they were in control.’ And I 100% agree with Nelson obviously.” Following Sunday’s game, Rocco Baldelli excitedly discussed Duran, Chalmers, and also hard-throwing reliever Jorge Alcala. He said, "I think all three of those guys are going to be impacting us at the big league level, and probably soon... The type of stuff we're talking about is the type of stuff that impacts major league games." Duran hit triple digits multiple times in 2019 in Ft. Myers and Pensacola. Chalmers has reached 97 at times. Alcala works 94 to 97 too. But for each of them, they have multiple pitches that could become, and maybe soon, plus pitches. Will that happen in 2020? While Duran and Chalmers have the stuff and the potential to be big league, impact starters, they are young. Also, in 2020, it becomes about opportunity. The Twins have a veteran pitching staff. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey would appear to be the starting five at the beginning of the season. In addition, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe all showed something in 2019 in the big leagues and give the team major-league-ready starting pitcher depth. So for 2020, especially the shortened 2020 season, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they get the call to start this year. However, as Wes Johnson pointed out, “Crazy things happen, as you guys know. It’s crazy times. It’s going to be tough to answer that question. There’s always that possibility. We wouldn't have them here if we didn’t think that if we needed to we could call on them and bring them up.” Maybe even more important, these pitchers indicate that the Twins player development, and specifically, their pitcher development has come a long way. It also speaks to their pro scouting department to tout these guys as targets in that large group of late 2018 trades. Baldelli is excited about what they can be. “Those guys are going to help us win for a very long time.They don't just have pretty good stuff. They don't just have pretty good ability. They have elite traits that are going to allow them to get a lot of outs, a lot of swings and misses.” The reigning AL Manager of the Year specifically mentioned one of Duran’s pitches that he thinks can be great. “I don't even know what anyone wants to call the pitch Duran throws, as well, the splinker pitch, or I don't even know what to call it, but it's coming in hot. It moves and just kind of disappears.” https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1284997265300566018 While it is OK to question the plate discipline of Eddie Rosario, just watch the movement of that Jhoan Duran pitch from Sunday again. That’s not a pitch that can be hit, certainly not with any authority. The future is bright for the Twins, and specifically for these high-upside Twins pitchers. Remember that Jordan Balazovic isn’t even in the current Twins 60-player pool. Baldelli thinks this group is going to be special, and more importantly, it really continues to enforce just how much depth the Twins have on the mound. Baldelli noted, "What we're watching is not typical. You could watch some really good major league baseball and not see some of the stuff those guys threw out there today." So while Dakota Chalmers and Jhoan Duran are unlikely to make starts for the Twins in 2020, it’s not impossible to think that they could contribute out of the bullpen for stints if needed. And, it’s exciting to think of what they can become - and what it means for the health of the Twins organization - if they continue to develop and gain consistency moving forward. Their futures are quite bright.
  13. First, some background. The “couple other guys” Johnson referenced were Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. All three were optioned to the minor league side this week but all are highly touted arms in the organization. Chalmers, who was acquired in the Fernando Rodney trade in 2018, impressed in the Arizona Fall League. He flashed a mid-90s fastball and, what one American League scout told Baseball America, the best curveball in the fall league. He has swing-and-miss stuff, the critical lifeblood to becoming a successful modern pitcher. In 17.2 innings facing the game’s most promising prospects, Chalmers struck out 25. That said, he also walked 12 in that same time. Johnson referenced velocity when comparing Chalmers to Alcala and Duran. The latter two have seen their fastballs touch triple-digit territory while Chalmers has not. Johnson says there is a mechanical reason for this. Here are the three pitchers from their 2019 season: Chalmers differs in his delivery in the use of his lower half, beginning with his feet. This is the critical component of a pitcher’s mechanics as pitchers who have the tendency to get to their toes limit their velocity ceilings. This is something that Jose Berrios' has wrestled with last season using quad-dominant mechanics. Johnson spoke extensively about the subject last spring, noting how having contact into the ground through the heel (but really the entire foot) aids in creating additional hip speed by engaging the gluteus muscle along with the quadriceps muscle. Here are shots of the pitchers’ feet. Notice that Chalmers’ foot is entirely on his toe while Alcala and Duran maintain more contact throughout. Chalmers gets quad dominant quickly. This leads to reduced hip speed which leads to lower peak velocity. Velocity, it is said, comes from the ground up. More issues can spring from these mechanics. When using predominately the quad muscle, less velocity and more stress is put on the arm. It may be one of the reasons Chalmers required Tommy John surgery in April 2018 while with Oakland, placing additional strain on the UCL. Another factor is command. When rotating from a stable full-foot, there is consistency in the mechanics. The Twins aren’t guessing on all this either. Sure, they can look at the video or watch a bullpen session and see this happening, but with the various array technological devices at their disposal, they can break down exactly what these movements mean to the pitcher. Starting with the release and working backwards, the Twins have available to them the standard pitch flight data systems available, like Trackman and Rapsodo devices, which measure the velocity and spin rates. They can track release point consistency as well. They have a legion of Edgertronic cameras which isolate all or small portions of the delivery, including how the ball comes out of the hand. These programs have now been widely utilized throughout baseball. Even some high school programs have invested in that equipment. Here is where things start getting advanced. From the ground up, the Twins recently invested in Newtforce ground plates. These data-collect mounds allows the Twins to capture how much pressure and where during the delivery process it is being created or applied. They can tell a pitcher just how much force they are generating from their back leg. On the field, the Twins have a Simi Motion system installed at Target Field and now at Hammond Stadium. This system can feed the team’s analysts information on components like hip speed, the driving factor in velocity, or valgus stress applied on the elbow (which could be an indicator of potential injury risk). In short, the Twins are no longer just visually assessing pitchers and telling them to make changes. They come armed with more data than NASA. The Twins players themselves are not necessarily diving into all the data after every pitch or every outing. Taylor Rogers says that he does not look at the information unless a coach notices something is off. Others have used the numbers to improve. Trevor May spent last season adding to his velocity and cited hip speed as a factor. The key has been having a coaching staff and analytic department that has worked together to identify and deliver the message to the player in ways that can help them understand how it will help them on the field. The other aspect is implementing the plan that the Twins create for their pitchers. Chalmers, for example, could be told exactly what he needs to do -- i.e. stay in his heel more and engage his glute more -- and be on board with the plan, but that specific movement may require additional physical preparation on Chalmers’ part. A pitcher could lack some hip mobility that would restrict his movements. The Twins training staff assesses all their players to figure out how their bodies move and then creates a plan to help them reach optimal movements. Chalmers told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs that he had spent the off-season working on strengthening his core and lower half to stabilize his delivery. Still, given Johnson’s quotes this spring, the Twins haven’t seen Chalmers incorporate those changes in his mechanics just yet. Furthermore, Chalmers will be on an innings restriction so his work this spring has been varied from that of Alcala and Duran. If he does, we may see an uptick in his velocity, command and health this season. When contemplating the immediate potential of the three arms just sent down to the minor league camp, Johnson says the Twins are looking for swing-and-misses to add to the big league staff. “Those are the guys that impact your bullpen. We don't need ground ball guys coming in out of the 'pen.” Swings and misses can come from breaking balls, such as on Chalmers’ impressive bender, but velocity always helps play it up. 96 is cool but 99 is really cool. While this is a story of just one minor league pitcher’s journey, the real takeaway is how impressive the Twins development system has become in a short period of time. With numerous tools and minds at their disposal, the Minnesota Twins could soon be a pitcher development factory unrivaled in the game.
  14. Before we look at the 2020 Honorable Mentions, a quick look at last year’s Honorable Mentions shows that 2019 Twins Top Rookie Luis Arraez was mentioned, referred to as a “Hit Machine.” Also, Jordan Balazovic went from Honorable Mention to, well, you’ll see him profiled soon. So which players who received votes this year will climb the prospect ladder in 2020? ALREADY DEBUTED Four players who made their MLB debuts in 2019. These players may not have super-stardom in their futures, but as we saw last year, they absolutely can be contributors to winning teams. Randy Dobnak went from non-drafted free agent who spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids to a guy who pitched well at four levels in the Twins system in 2019, including at the big league level, on his way to the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Likewise, Devin Smeltzer pitched in some big games and performed well at various times throughout the year. LaMonte Wade debuted mid-summer, and after an injury, he played most every day in September. Hard-throwing Jorge Alcala moved from a starting role to the bullpen late in the season and received a mid-September promotion to the big leagues. OTHERS ON 40-MAN ROSTER Along with those four players, a few other Honorable Mention players are on the Twins 40-man roster. Nick Gordon was added after the 2018 season. This past November, the Twins added Luke Raley and Dakota Chalmers to their 40-man roster, putting them one call away from the big leagues. In addition, Luis Rijo and Griffin Jax were two guys that Twins fans (and probably the Twins too) were worried about potentially losing in the Rule 5 draft. They were not selected, but as we know, both have the potential to move up this list. RETURNING FROM INJURIES Injuries are a part of the game, any game, and several Twins prospects fought injuries in 2019. Injuries can mean missed time and fewer development opportunities. They can sometimes be played through and affect performance. Ben Rortvedt suffered a knee injury late in the season, but he had surgery and should return at 100% in 2020. Akil Baddoo’s season ended in mid-May. He had Tommy John surgery and is excited to return to the field. Nick Gordon’s season started late due to a stomach ailment. His season ended early because of a knee injury. In between, he played well in Rochester. Luke Raley got off to a fast start for the Red Wings in April but at the end of the month he hurt his ankle and had surgery. He returned for the Arizona Fall League. Bailey Ober fought elbow injuries at times during the season, but when he took the mound, he was great. Yunior Severino fractured his thumb early in the season for Cedar Rapids. He was able to return in August. And Dakota Chalmers returned in the second half from his Tommy John surgery. You see the names, and you know several of them were previously Top 20 prospects, some even Top 10 guys. If healthy, their talent could push them quickly back up the rankings. WE HARDLY KNOW YE Spencer Steer had a strong first impression in pro ball. The Twins third-round pick from Oregon played for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in his debut. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins organization along with Sergio Romo (and cash) from the Miami Marlins for Lewin Diaz at the trade deadline. He’s got a big fastball and a solid pitch mix. Willie Joe Garry was a Twins draft pick in 2018 out of high school from Mississippi. He is a tremendous athlete with great speed and improving power. He’s got all the tools and is one to watch in 2020. DEADLINE TRADES 2018 The Twins were not good in 2018, and at the deadline, the front office traded several expiring contracts (and 1 1/4 seasons of Ryan Pressly) for a plethora of prospects. A couple of those prospects will be profiled later in this series, but a lot of them received votes and would appear in the 21 through 35 range of Twins prospect. Clearly that flurry of trade activity has much helped the Twins' prospect depth. From the Dodgers for Brian Dozier, the Twins received both Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley. From the Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar, the Twins received Gabriel Maciel. From the Yankees for Lance Lynn, the Twins received Luis Rijo. From the Astros for Ryan Pressly, the Twins acquired Jorge Alcala. From the A’s for Fernando Rodney, the Twins acquired Dakota Chalmers. Tomorrow, we will begin our look into the Top 20 Twins prospects with prospects 16-20. Be sure to check every day to see where your favorite Twins prospects rank. And feel free to ask questions and leave your comments below. 2020 MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECT HANDBOOK For more information on these Honorable Mentions, pick up a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF (for immediate download). Order your copies today! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. Box Score Berrios: 6IP, 8H, 5 ER, 1BB, 5K, 68% strikes (66 of 97 pitches) Bullpen: 3IP, 8H, 7ER,2 BB, 2K Home Runs: Wade Jr. (2) Multi-Hit Games: Wade Jr. (2-for-3 HR, 3B, BB), Arraez (2-for-5, 2B), Cruz (2-for-5), Sano (2-for-4) Bottom 3 WPA: Rogers (-0.43), Berrios (-0.24), Rosario (-0.14) Kansas City Strikes First In the top of the second inning, with one out, Jose Berrios hit Alex Gordon in the foot. After a bloop single, Ryan O’Hearn doubled, scoring Gordon. Meibrys Viloria then hit a shallow fly ball to Eddie Rosario and Ryan McBroom tagged from third. Rosario’s throw was slightly off-line, but appeared good enough to get McBroom. However, after reaching across to tag McBroom the ball popped out of the webbing of Jason Castro’s mitt when it hit the ground. Berrios was able to strike out Brett Phillips and keep the score at 2-0. Rookies Spark the Offense, Man With Dick Bremer lamenting about how many first pitch fastballs Twins hitters were taking, LaMonte Wade Jr. came up in the bottom of the third and turned on the first pitch Glenn Sparkman had to offer. 416 feet later Kansas City’s lead was cut to one. The home run was the second of Wade Jr.’s young Twins MLB career. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175560833054588928 Broadcaster Latroy Hawkins claimed that he joked with Wade Jr. before the game that he hit like Reggie Jackson in batting practice, but like Michael Jackson in games. It appears that Wade Jr. took Hawkins' words to heart. In his next at-bat, Wade Jr. led off the bottom of the fifth with a triple. Luis Arraez followed Wade Jr.’s triple with his second hit of the game, a hustle double that scored Wade Jr. to tie the game. With the rookies doing their job, the anti-rookie, Nelson Cruz stepped up and singled in Arraez for his team-leading 104th RBI. That marked the end of the day for Sparkman. With runners on first and second and no outs, Eddie Rosario stepped up to the plate and did the most Eddie thing possible – he immediately popped out on the first pitch. But luckily for Minnesota Miguel Sano stepped up and singled in Jorge Polanco (who had earlier walked) to put the Twins up 4 – 2. Royals shortstop Adalberto Mondesi was kind enough to gift Minnesota another run by botching a Willians Astudillo groundball, allowing Nelson Cruz to come home and put the Twins momentarily ahead. Berrios stumbles, Royals Strike Back Things were looking good going into the sixth and Jose Berrios was able to induce a double play after allowing the first two Kansas City hitters of the inning to single. With a runner on third and two outs, McBroom singled to bring the score to 5 -3. The next batter, the other Ryan, took a Berrios’ changeup for a ride, tying the game up. Berrios was able to finish out the inning, but it marked the end of the day for Berrios. Rogers, Hildenberger Falter Both Kansas City and Minnesota got great efforts from their bullpens after Sparkman and Berrios left the game. However, after Tyler Duffy and Serio Romo went six up, six down in the seventh and eighth innings, Taylor Rogers struggled mightily in the ninth. Rogers managed to get only one out, giving up three hits, the most damaging one a two-run dinger coming off the bat of pinch-hitter Cheslor Cuthbert. It’s worth mentioning that it is the fourth time in the last six games that Rogers has pitched (although he hadn’t thrown more than 14 pitches in any of the appearances). Trevor Hildenberger relieved Rogers and the wheels really fell off. Hildenberger faced six batters and failed to record an out. It doesn’t get much uglier than that. By the time the top of the ninth finally ended the Twins were down 12 – 5 and the game had been lost. Jorge Alcala Debuts If you bothered to stick around after the meltdown, you were rewarded by getting to see Jorge Alcala make his MLB debut (and see a seemingly never ending, nearly 50-minute(!) top of the ninth). He came into the game with the bases loaded and one out and gave up a single that Marwin Gonzalez had a chance to catch but didn’t. His four-seam fastball topped out at 95. He would go on to walk in another run but finally ended the inning by retiring two Royals batters. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1175607269620211712 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  16. The 2019 season marked Alcala’s first full season in the Twins organization. He began the year as a starter in Pensacola, but he would eventually end up pitching out of the bullpen at Double- and Triple-A. There were some ups and downs as a starter, but his time as a reliever saw some positive improvements. As a starter, he posted a 5.86 ERA in 16 starts (73 2/3 innings) with a 1.43 WHIP and a 75 to 22 strikeout to walk ratio. There were some issues with control as he hit five batters and allowed nine home runs. His posted an impressive 9.2 SO/9 which was even higher after the first month of the year where he had a 4-1 record with 11.0 SO/9. Switching to a relief role seemed to help some of Alcala’s peripheral numbers. Across 15 appearances (36 2/3 innings), he allowed 19 earned runs on 34 hits. His strikeout rate increased from 9.2 SO/9 as a starter to 10.1 SO/9 as a reliever. He added in 41 strikeouts, but he walked 17 batters, which was almost as many as his time as a starter. Some scouting reports critique parts of Alcala’s mechanics. He doesn’t use his legs enough and his effort with his pitching hurts his ability to repeat his delivery. There are times when he can overthrow and that impacts his control at the plate. His fastball is very good, but he needs to be able to locate all of his pitches to be a successful starter or reliever. In the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook, this is what we said about Alcala: The first thing to know about Jorge Alcala is that he throws hard. His fastball sits anywhere from 93-99 MPH, but he frequently hits triple-digits, topping out at 102 MPH. Because of the velocity, his secondary pitches can be effective if they are merely average. His slider sits between 87 and 89 MPH, with a little bit of late movement. His changeup sits more in the mid-80s. It doesn’t move much, but he uses the same arm motion. Those secondary pitches aren’t consistent, and at best they’re average, and they will be the key in determining whether his future is as a starter or a late-inning reliever. Right now, it looks like he will be a reliever and that’s what the Twins might need at this point in the season. What are your thoughts about the Alcala call-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. Link to Podcast: https://open.spotify.com/episode/7FnITrhARBvuOpnJrvO5k6 Time stamps Week in review: 4:45 Magic number is nine: 15:00 Jose Berrios: 16:55 Brusdar Graterol: 20:00 Buxton done: 25:40 Dobnak/rotation talk: 33:45 Jorge Alcala: 47:20 Injury news: 51:40 Fan questions: 63:15 Looking ahead: 82:00 https://open.spotify.com/episode/7FnITrhARBvuOpnJrvO5k6 Give it a listen and leave a comment on this post or tweet at us what you thought Matt: @Matthew_bTwins Cooper: Carlson_MnTwins
  18. Before we get to our Top 5 relievers in the Twins system in August, here are several Honorable Mentions. Jovani Moran - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 7 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 7 BB, 15 K Calvin Faucher - Ft. Myers Miracle - 7 G, 1.54 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 11.2 IP, 11 H, 3 BB, 16 K Moises Gomez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 3.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 13.2 IP, 9 H, 5 BB, 23 K Nate Hadley - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 3.14 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 14.1 IP, 11 H, 5 BB, 15 K Tyler Beck - Elizabethton Twins - 8 G, 1.23 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 19 K Benjamin Dum - Elizabethton Twins - 8 G, 3.21 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 14 H, 0 BB, 20 K Ryan Shreve - Elizabethton Twins - 6 G, 2.70 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 20.0 IP, 20 H, 2 BB, 20 K Bradley Hanner - GCL Twins - 5 G, 2.45 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 4 H, 6 BB, 13 K Niall Windeler - GCL Twins - 5 G, 1.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 9.0 IP, 6 H, 3 BB, 10 K. THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Preston Guilmet - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 2 GS, 2.33 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 19.1 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 27 K The 32-year-old Guilmet made his MLB debut in 2013. He played for four MLB teams between 2013 and 2015. Then he returned to the big leagues and played for two more MLB teams in 2018. He signed early in the offseason with the Twins hoping for an opportunity to make it to the big leagues again, for a seventh team. That didn’t happen as Guilmet struggled some, especially early in the Red Wings season. However, he finished the season with a strong month. Call me impressed with the two walks to 27 strikeouts ratio. In addition, opponents hit just .214 with a .547 OPS against him during the month. #4 - Jonathan Cheshire - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 10 K Cheshire was the Blue Jays 37th-round pick in 2017 out of college. Toronto released him in early June and the Twins signed him in late July. The 24-year-old made a solid first impression in the Twins organization by posting a 0.00 ERA over his first full month in the organization. Opponents hit .205 off of him with a .510 OPS. #3 - Gabriel Moya - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 5 G, 1 GS, 1.69 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 13 K The Twins acquired Moya just over two years ago from the Diamondbacks in exchange for catcher John Ryan Murphy. He helped Chattanooga to a Southern League title that year and earned a promotion to the Twins. He spent time with the Twins last year. Unfortunately, he began the 2019 season hurt and when he went to Rochester, he really struggled. He ended up back in Double-A to end the season. But, he pitched well. Most important is that he didn’t issue walks and was back to recording strikeouts. Opponents hit just .179 with a .456 OPS against him. He is now off of the Twins 40-man roster, but I wouldn’t be surprised if the still just 24-year-old lefty resurfaces in the big leagues in 2020. #2 - Jorge Alcala - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 10 G, 1.10 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 11 H, 4 BB, 18 K It was a generally tough season for the hard-throwing right-hander. The Twins finally made the decision to move him to the bullpen in July, and he had mixed results. However, he and Brusdar Graterol were promoted to Triple-A Rochester in mid-August. Graterol was good, but Alcala was fantastic. With the Red Wings, he pitched in 7 2/3 innings over five games. He didn’t give up a run, gave up just four hits, walked two and struck out 11 batters. For the month, opponents hit .186 with a .526 OPS against him. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Pensacola Blue Wahoos – RHP Anthony Vizcaya - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 14.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 13 K Every year there are a number of great stories in any MLB organization. One such story in the Twins organization in 2019 is that of Anthony Vizcaya. He signed with Cleveland in 2011 from Venezuela. However, he was released in 2014 after posting an ERA over 10 in the advanced rookie league. Since that time, he has only played in the Venezuelan Winter Leagues, and event that was very limited. He didn’t play during the 2017-18 season but returned last winter. He pitched in eight games, but it was enough to catch the eye of Twins pro scout Rafael Yanez who recommended the Twins sign him. They did, and he has been terrific all year. He posted a 2.22 ERA over 15 games with the Miracle. In 28 1/3 innings, he struck out 35 batters. He has now pitched in 26 games for the Blue Wahoos and has a 0.78 ERA. In his 46 Double-A innings, he has struck out 48 batters. Combined, he has 11 saves. In August, he was at his finest. The 25-year-old did not allow a run in eight games and 14 innings. Opponents hit just .149 with a .370 OPS against him. It’s a great story, but those great stories are always even a little more fun when they pan out with a successful season. ------------------------------------------------------- As you can see, there were several strong relief pitcher performances in August. These guys are all worthy of some recognition. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today. Congratulations to Anthony Vizcaya, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August 2019.
  19. TRANSACTIONS Rochester LHP Lewis Thorpe optioned by Minnesota (August 26) INF Ivan De Jesus Jr released RHP Sean Poppen begins rehab assignment. Was scheduled to throw today with GCL. Game was cancelled, as well as the rest of their season. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 10, Buffalo 2 Box Score Rochester isn’t making the postseason, but with just five games left after tonight they’re all about finishing strong. Going with a committee tonight, they did just that. Five pitchers combined to throw nine innings of two-run baseball while striking out 13 and walking just three. Jorge Alcala is the stud prospect eyeing a September call up, and he turned in two scoreless with four strikeouts. La Tortuga himself started things off with his fourth Triple-A dinger in the top of the first. Rochester added another in the second before a five-run fourth innings really got things going. Two singles and a sac fly did the damage and the Red Wings posted a crooked number. Insurance runs came across in both the sixth and ninth to give the away team nine runs of breathing room. A nine-inning tally by Buffalo was inconsequential in this one and Rochester was able to slam the door. BLUE WAHOOS BITES No Game Scheduled Pensacola had a scheduled off day today. However, both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were confirmed as going to the Arizona Fall League to play for Salt River on behalf of the Twins. Tomorrow the Wahoos are schedule to start a series against the Montgomery Biscuits. Rays prospect Blake Bivens lost his wife and one year old son in a tragic and senseless act of violence a couple of days ago. A memorial has been set up in their honor. You can see that here. MIRACLE MATTERS Dunedin 2, Fort Myers 1 (Game 1, 7 innings) Box Score Jordan Balazovic took the ball for the Miracle in this one and he was nothing short of exceptional. Turning in five innings of two-hit ball, he allowed no runs and just one free pass while striking out nine. The effort lowered his Single-A ERA to 2.84 in 2019. Although both clubs generated the same number of hits (five), it was the Blue Jays that got the extra run. A Trey Cabbage single accounted for Fort Myers' only tally in the top of the 6th, but two Dunedin runs in the bottom half were enough for the victory. Dunedin 4, Fort Myers 3 (Game 2, 9 innings) Box Score Another tightly contested game that wound up being a one-run loss saw the Miracle turn the game over to the bullpen. Four Miracle pitchers combined to throw nine innings in the regularly scheduled seven-inning affair. Recently named to the Arizona Fall League roster for the Twins, Moises Gomez gave up an unearned run with one out in the final frame that allowed the Blue Jays to walk it off. A Yeltsin Encarnacion double plated Brian Schaled and Jose Mirande in the fourth to open the scoring. After giving one back, Fort Myers and Dunedin traded runs in the fifth after Trey Cabbage homered for the ninth time this season. The Blue Jays evened the score in the bottom of the seventh before their eventual walkoff. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 0 Box Score Matt Canterino was making his fifth start for the Kernels in this one and he was excellent. Going five strong while allowing just one hit, no free passes, and striking out seven, Minnesota continues to be impressed with their 2019 draft pick. These two clubs combined for just six hits on the evening, but it was the final one that mattered most. Jared Akins came up in the bottom of the ninth and delivered an RBI single to score Spencer Steer and walk this one off for the Kernels. https://twitter.com/JimCrikket/status/1166897282832379906 E-TWINS E-NOTES Greenville 7, Elizabethton 3 Box Score The E-Twins turned to Ryley Widell in this one and he gave them six innings of four- run ball. Widell allowed seven hits but just one walk while striking out seven. Even though Elizabethton won in the hit column (10 to 9) they couldn’t generate the necessary run production. Greenville took an early three-run lead in the second and the E-Twins answered with just one. It was 4-1 before Charles Mack hit his eighth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the fifth. Down by one into the eighth, that’s where Greenville pulled away and Elizabethton couldn’t mount a rally. Unfortunately the loss also ended the season and Elizabethton finished at 33-34 in 2019. GCL TWINS TAKES Doubleheader today was cancelled and the remainder of the season followed suit due to the incoming hurricane. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Willians Astudillo (Rochester) 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR(4) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - No Game #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - No Game #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - No Game #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, 2 K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Season Complete #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Did Not Play #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - No Game #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (lower leg contusion) #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - No Game #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Injured List #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured (Tommy John) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - Season Complete #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - No Game THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Buffalo (6:05PM CST) - LHP Lewis Thorpe (5-4, 4.63 ERA) Pensacola @ Montgomery (6:35PM CST) - TBD Ft. Myers @ Dunedin (5:30PM CST) - RHP Blayne Enlow (4-3, 3.20 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Tyler Palm (3-9, 4.02 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Wednesday games or any other minor league topics you would like.
  20. Over the course of the season Minnesota has used the fringes of its roster as a revolving door to a certain extent. The rotation has utilized a taxi squad for both length and bullpen help, while the final bench spot has rotated with players offering positional flexibility as starting talents have needed time off. There are both avenues for reward and merit-based promotions here and I imagine it would behoove the Twins to capitalize on all of them. Let’s look at some of the groupings. Taxi Squad (5): Devin Smeltzer, Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart, Lewis Thorpe, Sean Poppen Cody Stashak and Randy Dobnak both find themselves a part of this group as well but are currently on the 25-man roster. This collection of arms has been utilized to be used at a moment's notice for the Twins this season. Whether making spot starts, pitching mop up, or keeping games close in the middle innings, these guys have provided immeasurable value to Minnesota during the 2019 season. The trio of Thorpe, Smeltzer, and Littell have all operated in some very high leverage spots thus far and could be counted on down the stretch. Stewart and Poppen have been more product of circumstance, but there’s no reason for the front office not to reward these guys. A month of big league pay as well as some additional development could go a long way toward growth and future development. Retreads (5): Ryne Harper, Trevor Hildenberger, Fernando Romero, Willians Astudillo, LaMonte Wade Don’t get this twisted, retread is hardly a negative definition here. This trio is a group of guys who have been on the big-league roster, have been optioned out, and their future status remains in flux. Harper obviously offered the most to the major league team this season. His Bugs Bunny curveballs were a thing of beauty until they weren’t. Having a book on him now, he needs to find a way to keep opposing batters off balance. Sent to Triple-A after struggling for months and owning options, it made sense, but he should get the opportunity to wrap up 2019 with in the big leagues. Pairing Hildenberger and Romero is an interesting case study. One is a former stud that wore down, and the other was expected to take a leap that never came. Now healthy, Hildenberger has been lights out since his activation from the IL, and a return to form would give the Twins an arm that has pitched in some very big spots the past couple of seasons. Romero hasn’t been as expected, and we’re still as confused as ever considering what he could provide, but letting him get some low leverage work and try to finish the year on a high note makes some sense. As the first position player here Willians Astudillo will return, to the delight of Twins fans. He’s a character and energizer bunny, but Minnesota will need more in terms of production. It’s great that he doesn’t strike out, but a heightened ability in the box needs to come in the form of commanding the zone, not just covering it. If he can take more of a Luis Arraez approach and rein in his swing to pitches he can do something with, the Twins will have two of the better contact hitters in the game. Wade isn’t much of a retread given he played in just two games before hitting the shelf. A 60-day IL move would open a spot, or he could be activated despite the short runway back to game action. Fresh Faces (2): Brusdar Graterol, Jorge Alcala Easily the two biggest names tied to potential promotion are two of the Twins' top prospects. Graterol is a top-100 pitcher that’s expected to be a difference maker in the rotation. There’s some uncertainty about how good he’d be there, and he’ll have a chance to flash his relief arm in 2019. A triple-digit fastball is going to play, and if he can miss bats while keeping hitters off balance, you can assume he’ll make a difference in the postseason. The prized part of the return in the Ryan Pressly trade, Alcala too is a fireballer who can pump the cheddar. He’s as much an uncertainty for the rotation as Graterol (if not more) but has looked great since switching to the pen at the end of July. Both guys need 40-man spots, and with just one opening, some roster shuffling will need to take place. Needing a Spot (5): Jake Reed, Zander Wiel, Wilin Rosario, Alejandro De Aza, Ian Miller Only Reed here is a former top prospect. Drafted out of Oregon with the intention of getting to the big leagues in short order, though the fiery fastball and clean bill of health have escaped him at times. He warranted a look last season but was passed over. This year the numbers are much worse, but he’s incorporated a new arm slot and has dealt with the Triple-A baseball as well. Subject again to being lost this offseason, it may be a final opportunity to see what’s there. Wiel has been the pride of a Rochester team that employed bigger names. The former Vanderbilt star has 29 doubles in 121 games while owning an .838 OPS. Twenty-two homers show off his power, and while there’re plenty of strikeouts he’s pushed for an opportunity. The trio left over is an interesting bunch. Rosario is essentially a DH and hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2015. The 30-year-old owns an .858 OPS at Triple-A though, and his 19 dingers are bolstered by a .306 avg. De Aza was a late season depth acquisition and he’s done his part with a .994 OPS in 29 games. Miller represents Minnesota’s version of Terrence Gore. He hasn’t played in an MLB game, but the 27-year-old has stolen 34 bases in 119 Triple-A games this year. All these guys would need a 40-man spot. On the Mend (3): Stephen Gonsalves, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker Had the season gone, or ended, differently for any of this trio they could’ve found themselves in a different category. Gonsalves just recently got back on the mound and has only 12 IP in 2019. He’s at Double-A right now but has worked for Minnesota previously and did come out of the pen. Nick Gordon had a strong year two at Triple-A, following a path he’s repeated most of his pro career. He’s been on the shelf since early August after taking a pitch to the knee, so his season could be over. Rooker recently returned to action and was rehabbing at the GCL. With that season done though he’ll need game action elsewhere. A 1.036 OPS in 41 G from June 1 through his injury, along with a .933 OPS in 65 total games with Rochester, it appeared he was ready for more. Two of three in this section have current 40-man spots, and their inclusion or exclusion from the active roster could swing plenty of decisions. Gordon and Gonsalves could be placed on the 60-day IL (with service time implications) to free up openings. Rooker would need an avenue to inclusion on the 40-man for the first time in his career. If we’ve done the math correctly, there’s a total of 20 names that are potentially in play for the Minnesota Twins to use on the 40-man active roster in a couple of days. No matter how aggressive the club wants to be, the maximum number of additions would be 15. Of those 20, eight need a spot on the 40-man roster that currently sits at 39 occupants. If this exercise shows us anything, it’s that there’s a good amount of opportunity, but still a large number of mouths to feed. Being a better man, I’d put the O/U on Twins call ups at 5.5 and take the over without thinking twice. Rochester’s season ends Monday September 2, so we probably won’t have complete clarity until that point. I’d bet the Twins mix in a good number of bodies to provide rest, as well as talent to provide help, when they make their decisions in the coming days.
  21. There are other players currently on the 40-man that may receive the call as well. Will Willians Astudillo conveniently be brought back from his rehab on September 1st? Will Nick Gordon be recovered in time to finally experience his first major league clubhouse as a player? Today, we'll look at six players who are not currently on the 40-man roster who could help the Twins wrap up the AL Central pennant. While not all of these players - and perhaps most - will not join the team, they all offer something that could make an impact on the current team. RHP Brusdar Graterol - With Graterol, it's not a matter of if he joins the Twins, but when. After missing a few months earlier this year with a shoulder ailment, he has returned to Pensacola and pitched in three games, all relief appearances. In those games he's thrown five scoreless innings, allowing one hit and two walks while striking out four. Of the 64 bullets he's fired, 43 (67.2%) have been strikes. Most impressively and famously, Graterol threw a fastball 103.8 mph in his last outing. He joined the Red Wings on Monday. He spent 10 days in Pensacola after recovering from his injury. How long will he be in Rochester? OF Alejandro De Aza (pictured) - Before being placed on Rochester's injured list on Sunday with a hand contusion, De Aza slashed .333/.410/.588 (.998) in his 28 games with the Red Wings. De Aza, 35, has not played in the MLB since 2017, but does have postseason experience which could help in September. In 2014, De Aza went 7-for-21 with three doubles and three RBI for the Orioles, who fell to the Royals in the ALCS. De Aza would be limited to below-average defense in an outfield corner (or DH), but would provide both experience and depth in the form of a left-handed bat who hits righties well. OF Ian Miller - Miller came to the organization in August from Seattle in a minor-league trade. The potential value of adding Miller to the big-club comes exclusively from his legs. Over his seven minor league seasons, Miller is 240-for-289 (83%) on stolen base attempts. The Twins this year - without Byron Buxton - are 11-for-28 (39%). I'm not suggesting the Twins bring up Miller to have him steal a bunch of bases. But the lack of successful stolen bases suggests that the team doesn't have a ton of speed. And there's going to be an occasion (again!) where a game will hang in the balance with a runner on first with one out or nobody out... and we'd all prefer that runner (or pinch-runner) is someone actually fast, not someone that is fast compared to the TwinsDaily writing staff. (Jeremy's note: When TwinsDaily writers competed at the mascot race a few seasons back, I won. And it wasn't even close. Believe me, these other guys aren't fast. They made me look like The Freeze.) LHP Ryan O'Rourke - Since ROR last pitched the for the Twins in 2016, he's had Tommy John surgery and bounced around baseball, eventually recently bouncing back into the organization. O'Rourke has always been death to left-handed hitters and could be a very useful commodity in September. RHP Jorge Alcala - Along with Graterol, Alcala joined Rochester on Monday. Acquired in the Ryan Pressly deal last July, Alcala has been a less-heralded prospect than many and his results haven't done a lot to make people take notice. In 26 AA games (16 starts), Alcala went 5-7 with a 5.87 ERA. He allowed a WHIP of 1.47 and opponents hit .284 off of him. But since moving exclusively to the bullpen in late July, Alcala has been a different dude. In 10 2/3 innings, Alcala has allowed seven hits and two walks (0.84 WHIP) and has struck out seven. Like Graterol, he's pounded the strike zone - 106 strikes in 165 pitches (64.2%). Pre-season scouting reports had Alcala up to 98 mph as a starter. In short stints, he'll be over 100 mph. Combine that with an above-average slider... and this bullpen might be OK after all. C Wilin Rosario - Like De Aza, it's been a bit since Rosario was a major-league baseball player. After hitting 28 home runs and finishing fourth in NL Rookie of the Year voting as a 23-year-old in 2013 with Colorado, Rosario had three years that increasingly got worse before playing the last three years in Korea and Japan. Back in America in 2019, Rosario has hit .307/.347/.527 (.874) in 385 plate appearances. He's a liability behind the plate, but could play there in a pinch. While it's not likely for Rosario to come up with the pending addition of Willians Astudillo, Rosario would be a phone call away if any of the three catchers go down to injury.
  22. Chronologically, the first trade was the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was a beloved by Twins fans but trading him made loads of sense because he was an impending free agent and seemed unlikely to resign with the Twins. In return for Escobar the Twins received RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time of the trade it seemed like a pretty good return as Duran and Maciel were intriguing prospects with some upside. After one year the trade is looking even better. Jhoan Duran has been really good since joining the Twins. After the trade, Duran pitched for Cedar Rapids for the remainder of the 2018 season and was dominant. In 36 innings Duran struck out 44 batters while walking only 10. He finished with a 2.00 ERA and .81 WHIP and opponents hit just .154 off him. It has been more of the same this year, as Durant started in High-A Fort Myers and has pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. In the past week Duran was called up to AA Pensacola and is inching closer and closer to the big leagues. He can hit triple digits with his heater and certainly appears to be the top dog of the 2018 trade acquisitions. Duran looks like he may make it as a starter but would certainly be enticing at the back end of a bullpen as well. Duran is 21-years-old. Gabriel Maciel has also done well early in his time with the organization. The Brazilian is a center fielder who has elite speed but has yet to develop much power and is listed as 5’10” and 170 pounds. He held his own last year at Cedar Rapids and began 2019 there as well. After 45 games and an impressive .309/.395/.377 triple slash, Maciel was promoted to High-A Fort Myers. He has done well since joining the Miracle, hitting .288/.366/.360, and is an ideal leadoff hitter with his speed and ability to get on base. Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far this year and is still just 20 years old. Ernie De La Trinidad was more of a throw in and has struggled to a .228/.314/.300 triple slash between Fort Meyers and Pensacola in 2019. He actually started the year in AA Pensacola but was sent back down to Single-A where he played in 2018. He is rather small in stature, has limited upside, and is already 23-years-old. Overall this trade is looking really good as Duran has become one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects and Maciel has done quite well while flying a bit under the radar. Either one of these two could become important trade chips and have a good chance of reaching the majors. The Twins quickly made another big trade when they traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Pressly was having a solid 2018 for Minnesota pitching to a 3.40 ERA (2.95 FIP) and was striking out 13/9 IP. He still had one year of team control left. Pressly has become one of the best relievers in all of baseball since joining the Astros. Pressly has pitched to a 1.60 ERA (2.31 FIP) with a WHIP of .768 for Houston. He has been absolutely filthy and would obviously be really, really nice to have in the current Twins pen. Like Duran, Jorge Alcala is another guy who tops out at over 100 mph. He too joined the Twins organization as a starter but many questioned whether he would remain so. Alcala pitched exclusively as a starter since joining the Twins but very recently shifted to the pen. Alcala has pitched in AA in both seasons with Minnesota and the results have not been pretty. In 2019 he has an ERA of 6.22 with a WHIP of 1.51 but he still gets strikeouts (98 in 94 IP). Walks have always been an issue with Alcala but hopefully Alcala will be able to tone things down in the pen and reach his full potential. Alcala just turned 24. Gilberto Celestino was a big international signing for Houston in 2015. Like Maciel, Celestino is a centerfielder but has a better chance to hit for power than Maciel. After joining the Twins, Celestino spent 2018 playing short season ball in Elizabethton and has played for Cedar Rapids in 2019. Celestino’s numbers on the year are not overly impressive (.249/.324/.366) but he has shown improvement month by month and has really heated up of late (.322/.390/.500 in July). Like Maciel, Celestino will only be 20 for the remainder of the season and contains plenty of upside. Although Alcala and Celestino have plenty of upside, this is probably a trade the Twins would like to take back. Pressly would make quite a 1-2 combo with Taylor Rogers and had the front office known the Twins would be contenders in 2019 this trade likely would not have been made. Next, the Twins traded Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Chase De Jong and 1B/3B Ryan Costello. As a lefty specialist, Duke was unlikely to bring back much and so far the results of this return have been fairly underwhelming. Chase De Jong split time between the minors and the major league club and was not particularly effective in either. For the Twins he did okay it 2018 as he posted a 3.57 ERA in four starts but the outings were short and his FIP was 4.92. 2019 has been a complete disaster for De Jong. He pitched one inning for the big league club and gave up four runs. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much better in Rochester, as he was 0-5 with a 9.73 ERA in 45.1 innings. He was released by the Red Wings on July 12. Ryan Costello is another player without a ton of upside but he did show some “pop” by hitting 20 home runs in 2018 (16 of them came with in low-A ball with Seattle). 2019 has been a struggle for Costello. Between High-A and AA he has hit just .212/.337/.361 for an OPS of .698 with eight long balls. Costello spends the majority of his time at first base so he will need to hit to further his career. He is 23-years-old. On the same day that Duke was traded, Minnesota traded Lance Lynn to the New York Yankees for 1B Tyler Austin and RHP Luis Rijo. Minnesota’s haul in this trade seemed pretty impressive as Lynn had struggled with the Twins and was a rental player. Austin was traded again from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants early this season. His time with the Twins was brief, but he made sense as a depth piece at first base with Joe Mauer’s looming retirement. With the Twins picking up C.J. Cron off of waivers and signing Nelson Cruz to DH, there was no room for Austin in 2019. Austin hit .236/.294/.488 with 9 home runs in 35 games for the Twins last season and since joining San Francisco he has hit just .181/.278/.402 in 68 games. The second piece of this trade is looking really good so far for Minnesota. Luis Rijo finished 2018 pitching for Elizabethton in rookie ball and his numbers were impressive as he was 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in five starts. He has built upon that success in Low-A Cedar Rapids this year with a 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 77.2 innings. Rijo’s fastball now sits in the mid-90s and he also throws a curve and changeup. With his success this year and added velocity, Rijo is sure to continue moving up the prospect lists. Rijo is 20-years-old. On the last day of the trade deadline the Twins sent fan favorite Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer. Dozier was having a down year for the Twins and was also in the last year of his contract so his trade value had greatly diminished. Forsythe, who like Dozier was in the last year of his contract, was thrown in to offset Dozier’s salary and is no longer a Twin. Luke Raley is a strong and athletic outfielder who has raked since joining the organization. He hit .276/.371/.449 in AA for the remained of his 2018 season and joined AAA Rochester for the start of 2019. This year Raley was turning heads by hitting .302/.362/.516 but suffered a dislocated tendon in his left ankle that required surgery and has been out since mid-May. The Twins will need to decide whether or not to add Raley to the 40-man roster this off season as he will be eligible for the Rule-5 draft. Raley is 24-years-old. The other prospect acquired in the Dozier trade is one that Twins fans have become quite familiar with this year. Devin Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen in 2018 while in the Dodger’s minor league system and finished last season in the bullpen after joining the Twins organization as well. However, Smeltzer wanted one more chance to remain a starter and the Twins granted him his wish. In 2019, between AA and AAA Smeltzer has pitched to a 2.21 ERA and .993 WHIP with 92 Ks in 89.2 innings. Smetzer has been up with the Twins three times this season, making two starts and a total of four appearances. So far Smeltzer has done well with the big league club, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and 1.015 WHIP in 21.2 innings of work. Smeltzer is likely to see more time with the Twins this season either as a spot starter or out of the pen. Smeltzer is 23-years-old. The MLB has done away with the August waiver wire trade deadline but the Twins did make one August trade last season. The Twins traded closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A’s for Dakota Chalmers. Rodney had a team option for 2019, but exercising the option was far from certain due to Rodney’s age and performance (he has not been good in 2019). Dakota Chalmers is another high upside player who has struggled with control throughout his career. The former third-round pick ($1.2 million signing bonus) recently returned from Tommy John surgery and joined High-A Fort Meyers after a short rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. Chalmers struck out 19 batters in 13.1 innings in the GCL but also walked eight. Chalmers is more of a lottery ticket at this point, but if he is able to put it all together he could be another player with the potential to shoot up the prospect lists. Overall, the 2018 trade return looks pretty solid. Duran, Maciel, Rijo, Raley, and Smeltzer have all had great starts in their first full year in the organization and Celestino, Alcala, and Chalmers still offer plenty of upside. The Twins were able to add great depth to an already good farm system and the only significant loss was not having Ryan Pressly in the 2019 bullpen. The Twins would love to have Pressly now but they were able to gain plenty of prospect capital and depth. This makes it easier to deal prospects without decimating the farm as well as giving the Twins plenty of hope for the future. Looking back a year later, how do you think the FO did for the 2018 trade deadline? Did all the additions make the loss of Pressly worthwhile? Which of the additions has most impressed you since joining the Twins organization?
  23. The 20-year-old Graterol started the year as a starting pitcher and posted a 1.89 ERA with 46K in 47.2 IP, but suffered from a shoulder impingement condition in early June, and was shut down until late-July. Since his return to Pensacola, he’s been used as a reliever, throwing five innings, holding opponents to a 0.71 ERA, though he’s only struck out four batters. His outing yesterday versus Chattanooga was when he threw the 103.8 MPH pitch. He is being joined at Rochester by Jorge Alcala. Like Graterol, Alcala also has a triple-digit fastball and started the year at AA-Pensacola as a starting pitcher, but he has posted a 5.87 ERA. He also was recently moved into a relief role and has posted a 1.69 ERA, and held opponents to a .179 batting average and struck out seven in 10.2 IP. The move to Rochester gives both time to build on their move to the bullpen, while facing a higher level of competition and using the more homer-friendly major league baseball, which AAA adopted this year. Both could help the Twins bullpen for the stretch run and help the team in the playoffs. Rosters expand on September 1st, and both are eligible for the postseason roster. Both would also likely shatter the previous records for “fastest pitch ever thrown by a Twins pitcher.” The top five are: Juan Morillo 100.3 Trevor May 99.8 Ryan Pressly 99.0 JT Chargois 98.9 Fernando Romeo 98.7
  24. TRANSACTIONS OF Lamonte Wade Jr. sent to A Cedar Rapids on a rehab assignment RHP Yancarlos Baez assigned to Elizabethton from extended spring training RHP Brusdar Graterol will reportedly be promoted to AAA Rochester along with RHP Jorge Alcala https://twitter.com/betsyhelfand/status/1162909926697644032 RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 1, Louisville 2 (10 innings) Box Score Adam Bray: 4 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Ian Miller (2-for-4), Tomás Telis (2-for-4) The Red Wings made everything perfectly balanced as they won a 10 inning game last Saturday and then lost a 10-inning game this Saturday. The Red Wings ran a bullpen game to much success as Adam Bray, Jeremy Bleich, Preston Guilmet, and Fernando Romero combined for nine and a third innings pitched with just two earned runs. Bray was effective to start as he struck out seven over four innings and Guilmet was the other pitcher who allowed no runs as he threw three shutout innings. Fernando Romero had an interesting outing as the lead-off batter bunted the starting runner to third (remember the extra innings rule in the minors) and after an intentional walk, an infield single ended up winning the game. The Red Wings offense was scattered and the only time a run was scored was when Zander Wiel tripled home Brandon Barnes after Barnes hit a double. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1162882167329812480 BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 5, Chattanooga 1 Box Score Alex Phillips: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K HR: Alex Kirilloff (9) Multi-hit games: Willians Astudillo (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Alex Kirilloff (3-for-4, HR, R, 3 RBI), Travis Blankenhorn (2-for-4, 2B) The Blue Wahoos flirted with a no-hitter during a very successful bullpen game. Alex Phillips, Brusdar Graterol, Jorge Alcala, Andrew Vasquez, and Tom Hackimer combined to give up just one measly single (an infield single in the 9th) en route to their attempt at pitching a no-hitter. The end result was still just one earned run, one hit, three walks, and 10 strikeouts, a pretty good performance all around. Willians Astudillo had a pair of hits and a pair of RBIs thanks to a 3rd inning double. He ended up catching seven innings before being replaced behind the plate by Taylor Grzelakowski. Not to be outdone by the rehabbing major leaguer, Alex Kirilloff had a three RBI game thanks in part to a two run blast in the 5th inning. He is well on his way to getting back to doing Alex Kirilloff things as he had a 149 wRC+ over the week coming into Saturday’s game. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1162891090804051968 MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 1 Box Score Chris Vallimont: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jacob Pearson (2-for-4), Ernie De La Trinidad (2-for-4, 2B) Chris Vallimont had his second straight seven inning performance and the best start of his in the Twins’ system. His nine strikeouts is tied for his third highest amount in a game this year and he has now given up just five hits over his last 14 innings combined. Melvi Acosta relieved Vallimont and would eventually end the game with no earned runs given up but one unearned run so not shutout would be had for the Miracle on Saturday. There’s more to the game than pitching, however, and the Miracle received all their scoring in the 8th inning thanks to a bases-clearing double off the bat of Andrew Bechtold. Gabriel Maciel was hit by a pitch in the 3rd inning and eventually left the game, hopefully the move was more preemptive than anything and Maciel is fine. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 4 Box Score Tyler Palm: 6 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 K HR: Spencer Steer (2) Multi-hit games: Spencer Steer (2-for-4, HR, R, RBI) It had seemed like a game that was going to go well for the Kernels as Spencer Steer blasted a home run to lead-off the game for the Kernels but that was all the offense they would get as there would only be three more hits in the game for the Kernels and Steer was the only player with multiple hits. Tyler Palm fought through six innings but was ruined by a 5th inning three-run home run that stained the ledger and put the Kernels in a deficit that they would not overcome. Rickey Ramirez relieved Palm and tossed a pair of scoreless innings to lower his Kernels ERA to an incredible 0.90. Lamonte Wade Jr. played in his first rehab game and went 0-for-3 with a strikeout as he played seven innings. E-Town E-Notes Elizabethton 2, Danville 3 Box Score Tyler Benninghoff: 0 IP (left with injury) HR: None Multi-hit games: Kidany Salva (2-for-4, 2B) Tyler Benninghoff had the first pitch of the game hit back at him off his hand and left the game. Hopefully everything is alright for him. Frandy Torres took over and was outstanding for pitching on a moment’s notice as he fired off four scoreless innings to keep the Twins’ heads up despite having their starter leave the game early. The Elizabethton offense left many ducks on the pond as they went just 1-for-14 w/RISP and had a team LOB of 12. The two runs scored were not enough and the chances the Twins had with runners on proved to be their downfall. In total, Elizabethton’s pitching was impressive as Torres, Denny Bentley, and Benjamin Dum combined for just two earned runs allowed over nine and a third innings pitched. Seems like a number of teams in the Twins’ system received fine performances as they attempted to piece the game together with their bullpen. GCL Twins Takes Game one: GCL Twins 5, GCL Red Sox 6 (7 innings) Box Score Stephen Gonsalves: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K HR: Jesus Feliz (4), Francisco Martinez (4) Multi-hit games: Wander Valdez (3-for-3, 2 2B, R) Stephen Gonsalves made another rehab start for the GCL Twins. In this start he allowed a homer and a double but also got five of his six outs on strikeouts, a solid sign for the lefty. Trevor Hildenberger relieved Gonsalves and he also went two innings with a pair of strikeouts and only one hit allowed. Strangely enough, only one out came on a ground ball, an unusual feat for Hildenberger. The GCL Twins’ offense was firing early as Jesus Feliz hit a three-run home run in the 1st inning and Francisco Martinez hit a two-run home run in the 4th which gave the GCL Twins a 5-1 lead. Unfortunately for the Twins, the lead would not last as some sloppy play allowed a handful of runs to score and the GCL Red Sox would eventually walk them off in the 7th. It started with a throwing error by catcher Jeferson Morales in the 5th on a steal that allowed a run to score to make it 5-2. Then in the 6th, a balk by Donny Breek scored another run before a bases-loaded walk made it a 5-4 game. Jose Guevara took over for the 7th and with two outs he allowed the game-tying single before a passed ball from Jeferson Morales allowed the winning run to score. Game two: GCL Twins 7, GCL Red Sox 4 (7 innings) Box Score Anthony Escobar: 2 ⅓ IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K HR: Francisco Martinez (5) Multi-hit games: Jeferson Morales (2-for-2, 2B, 2 R, RBI), Jake Hirabayashi (2-for-3, 2 RBI) The GCL Twins again got out to a quick offensive start thanks to a two RBI single from Jake Hirabayashi in the 1st that was followed by a wild pitch which scored another run in the inning. Much like the game before, the scoring did not stop there for the GCL Twins as a Jeferson Morales double in the next inning scored another run and Francisco Martinez’s second homer of the day plated two more runs to give them seven runs total in the game. The big difference was that the pitching held firm as just two pitchers gave up runs and even though runs were given up in the 7th again, the lead was much bigger this time around so it didn’t matter. Steeve Theetge pitched two and a third shutout innings to earn the win and Niall Windeler punched out the side in his lone inning of work. Evan Gillespie was the culprit in giving up the runs in the 7th but it didn’t matter as the runs came with two outs and Gillespie was able to get the final out to win it. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Chris Vallimont Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Alex Kirilloff PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 1-for-4, R, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 3-for-4, HR, R, 3 RBI #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 0-for-4, K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, 3 K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Did not play #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Injured list #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Twins) - Did not pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured list #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - Did not play #14 - Luis Arraez (Twins) - #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) - Did not play #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did not play #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Out for year with Tommy John surgery #18 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - 1 ⅔ IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - 2-for-4 #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 2-for-4, 2B, K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Louisville (1:00 P.M.) - RHP Randy Dobnak Pensacola @ Mississippi (5:05 P.M.) - TBD Fort Myers @ Jupiter (12:00 P.M.) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (5:15 P.M.) - RHP Andrew Cabezas Elizabethton @ Princeton (4:00 P.M.) - RHP Ben Gross Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games.
  25. Lefty Duo Lewis Thorpe, a left-handed pitcher, made one start for the Twins this year. Back on June 30, he held the White Sox to two earned runs on five hits while striking out seven. Thorpe is coming of a 2018 season where he was named Jim Rantz Award winner as the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year. Thorpe’s pitching repertoire might be a good fit as a bullpen arm. His fastball sits in the low-90s and he mixes in a slider, a curveball, and a changeup. Throughout his five professional seasons, Thorpe has been used as a relief pitcher on three separate occasions. In the last week, Rochester used Thorpe in relief, but this was so Fernando Romero could be utilized as an opener. Devin Smeltzer, another left-handed pitcher, has made three appearances with the Twins this year. Across 16 2/3 innings, he has a 3.24 ERA, a 1.02 WHIP and a 13 to 4 strikeout to walk ratio. Right before the All-Star break, Smeltzer was used as a relief arm after Kyle Gibson had started the game as an opener. In that appearance, he allowed one run on five hits in 4 1/3 innings. Smeltzer doesn’t exactly fit the mold of power-throwing lefty. His fastball sits in the high-80s while his change up (82.9 mph) and curveball (76.4 mph) help to keep hitters off-balance. Out of his 216 big-league pitches, only three pitches have been barreled up against him. Since Smeltzer is more of a finesse pitcher, it might make more sense for Thorpe to be given the first crack at a relief role. Other Names to Consider Over the last couple weeks, multiple 40-man roster spots have been vacated. Adalberto Mejia, Andrew Vasquez, Mike Morin and Ronald Torreyes were all either outrighted or designated for assignment. Minnesota currently has three open 40-man roster spots and no clear indication of what the plan will be for these openings. Perhaps, the club could be looking at internal options to add to the bullpen. Cody Allen, the former Indians and Angels closer, has been working his way through the Twins system. He made three appearances with Fort Myers and didn’t allow a run. Since joining Rochester, he has allowed two runs in three appearances with two strikeouts. https://twitter.com/ParkerHageman/status/1151297467855659009 Over the weekend, Charley Walters of the Pioneer Press mentioned that the Twins could look at other internal options. “It’s not necessarily Triple-A pitchers the Twins are considering, either,” Walters said. “They could reach to Double-A and even high-A for help. Those would be pitchers with fastballs in the mid-to-high 90s-mph range.” Edwar Colina is a player that could fit that mold as he was just promoted from High-A to Double-A. As a right-handed pitcher, he can hit triple-digits with his fastball. In 61 2/3 innings as a starter, he has a 2.34 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. Also, he has a 61 to 15 strikeout to walk ratio. He made his Pensacola debut on Tuesday as he allowed two runs on four hits in four innings. Other than Colina, Jorge Alcala, who has pitched all year with Pensacola, could be a relief option. His fastball can hit into the high-90s, but there have been some struggles in his first taste of Double-A. He has a 6.15 ERA and a 1.51 WHIP in 89.1 innings. His 9.8 K/9 is good for a starter and the Twins could hope to take advantage of his strikeout ability. It seems more than likely that the Twins will be adding a relief piece or two in the weeks ahead. Could any of these arms help the Twins in the second half? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Other Stories of Interest Is Taylor Rogers the AL’s Most Valuable Reliever? Wouldja? Trading For Giants Closer Will Smith Week in Review: Second Half Statement
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