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  1. How do you compare starting pitchers to relievers? It's certainly not easy. For this series, we have separated hitters from pitchers, and yet, maybe in future years we will want the starters and relievers separated too. Who should rank higher? A potential #3 starting pitchers, or a potential late-inning reliever? On a real baseball team, both roles are important and complement each other. In prospect rankings, relievers often get overlooked. Why? Because over the past couple of decades, relievers may work 70-80 innings in a season whereas a #4 starter could pitch 150-180 innings. That may change over time as we see the roles a little less defined. Starters are often asked to go through an order twice, which generally will be less than five innings. As we move forward, there may be a few guys that reach 150 innings, but many starters may top out at 130 innings while many relievers could jump closer to 100 innings. We shall see. Today's five prospects include two relievers. Going behind the curtain a bit, this is the range the lefty Charlie Barnes would have fit into. As you know by now, he has signed to play in Korea in 2022. Remember, this is a prospect rankings, and it is significantly different than Nick's Twins Top Assets series that is running now too. Let's get to Twins pitching prospects that I have ranked 16th through 20th. #20 - RHP Osiris German 2021 STATS: 2-2, 4 saves, 3.34 ERA, 38/0 G/GS, 1.20 WHIP, 90/24 K/BB, 59.1 IP The Twins signed Osiris German from the Dominican Republic in July of 2016. He has slowly worked his way up the Twins’ organizational ladder. He had not pitched for a full-season affiliate before the 2021 season. He split the year between Low-A Ft. Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids. He has good control. While the 23-year-old sits in the low 90s with his fastball, he has a plus-plus changeup. That is the pitch that is intriguing and could keep him moving up the system, hopefully to the big leagues. He will need to continue to improve and gain confidence in all of his pitches, but there is a lot to work with. #19 - RHP Regi Grace 2021 STATS: 1-0, 2.59 ERA, 9/8 G/GS, 0.99 WHIP, 35/11 K/BB, 31.1 IP He had a scholarship offer to Mississippi State, but when the Twins made him their 10th round pick in the 2018 draft, Regi Grace signed quickly. A terrific athlete, Grace is very strong. While his velocity sat in the upper-80s and topped out around 90-91 in 2019, he was able to increase his fastball velocity, even touching 95 at times. The main thing holding him back to this point has been health. He missed time in 2021 with a shoulder impingement. However, after he came back, he gave up just three hits and struck out 12 batters over nine scoreless innings. He tossed the first three innings of a combined no hitter in his final start. #18 - RHP Chris Vallimont 2021 STATS: 5-7, 5.84 ERA, 22/22 G/GS, 1.64 WHIP, 136/61 K/BB, 94.0 IP After coming to the Twins from the Marlins in the July 2019 Lewin Diaz trade, Chris Vallimont made four starts for the Miracle. The former fifth-round pick from Mercyhurst didn’t pitch at all in 2020. He began the 2021 season with a few weeks on the Injured List but still made 21 starts. He certainly had his ups and downs. He had one stretch in which he gave up five or more earned runs in five of six starts. He also had 11 starts in which he gave up two runs or less. He was added to the 40-man roster in November because he has really good stuff. Vallimont sits in the mid-90s, and he’s got good (though inconsistent) secondary stuff. In the past, he has shown good control, but he struggled with that part of the game in 2021. That said, he was consistently able to miss bats. That is why he’s on the 40-man roster. #17 - RHP Casey Legumina 2021 STATS: 4-2, 3.28 ERA, 15/9 G/GS 1.07 WHIP, 63/16 K/BB, 49.1 IP Casey Legumina was drafted out of high school in Arizona but chose to go to Gonzaga instead. As a sophomore, he became a top closer in college baseball. He was set to be a starter for the ‘Zags in 2019, but after four starts, he needed Tommy John surgery. Still, the Twins had seen enough and selected him in the eighth round of the draft that year. He rehabbed the rest of that summer and into the 2020 season. That means 2021 was his professional debut. He worked 44 2/3 innings for Ft. Myers before ending the season with one start in Cedar Rapids before the playoffs. He throws his fastball in the low-to-mid 90s and has a really good slider. He’s also continuing to work on his changeup. The Twins want to use him as a starter, but obviously they had to be careful with his innings in 2021. He could be a sleeper in 2022. #16 - LHP Jovani Moran 2021 MiLB STATS: 4-2, 2.41 ERA, 35/0 G/GS, 0.89 WHIP, 109/32 K/BB, 67.1 IP 2021 MLB STATS: 0-0, 7.88 ERA, 5/0 G/GS, 2.00 WHIP, 10/7 K/BB, 8.0 IP It took some time, but lefty Jovani Moran finally reached the big leagues in September of 2021. The southpaw had been the Twins seventh-round pick back in 2015 out of the Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. When healthy, Moran has been quite successful in the minor leagues. He’s got a low-to-mid 90s fastball that touches 95, but it is his changeup that gets people talking. It is a plus-plus pitch and he gets a lot of swings and misses with it. Maybe sacrilege, but many compare it to Johan Santana’s changeup. He also has a slider that can be plus-plus at times. It was wise to get Moran some innings late in the 2021 season to help the nerves which can get to him at times. If he can throw strikes, Moran has a chance to be a long-term, late-inning, dominant relief option. This is another interesting group. There are a couple of relievers with plus-plus changeups, one of whom is ready to shine with the Twins. The other three have development to do, but the potential to be really good if they can stay healthy. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25
  2. Current Relief Pitchers: Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Ralph Garza Jr., Cody Stashak, Jovani Moran, Jharel Cotton Some of the team's veteran pitchers will again figure prominently into the team's bullpen. After a late-season injury, Rogers is a question-mark at the back of the Twins bullpen. It's the first time on the injured list during his big league career, and doctors believe surgery wasn't necessary. After two dominating seasons, Duffey had some minor struggles in 2021, but he still posted a 134 ERA+. After nearly retiring and joining the college coaching ranks, Thielbar has been one of the team's most valuable relievers. Three less experienced arms have a chance to earn late-inning roles with the 2022 Twins. Last season, Alcala had a triceps injury but still made 59 appearances and finished 15 games. Moran dominated the minor's upper-levels with 109 strikeouts in 67 1/3 innings on his way to being named the TD Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. His plus changeup is an elite pitch that will make him dangerous at the big-league level for years to come. Stashak missed most of 2021 with a back injury that limited him to fewer than 16 innings. Two waiver claims have survived Minnesota's offseason roster purge and will get a long look for the Opening Day bullpen. Cotton was claimed off waivers from the Texas Rangers in November. Last season at Triple-A, he pitched 42 innings and posted a 57 to 17 strikeout to walk ratio. Minnesota hopes he can start producing those types of strikeout numbers at the big-league level. The Twins claimed Garza Jr. from Houston back in August. In 18 appearances with the Twins, he posted a 3.26 ERA with 1.03 WHIP. 40-Man Roster Options Some of the team's top pitching prospects are considered starters, but many of them missed time during the 2021 season due to injury. There wasn't a 2020 minor league season and more missed time last year likely means these young arms will be on an innings limit. If Minnesota needs a bullpen boost in the second half, young arms can be added to get big-league experience. Lewis Thorpe and Randy Dobnak are two other pitchers on the 40-man roster that may see time in the bullpen. Thorpe is out of minor league options but hasn't found big-league success as a starter. Dobnak started last year in the bullpen, and it ended up being his worst professional season. Right now, Thorpe and Dobnak are in the starting rotation, but the team may sign or trade for other starters. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's relief pitching depth. Minnesota has multiple relief pitching options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. In the upper-minors, Danny Coulombe is a non-roster invite to spring training. Last season, he made 29 appearances for the Twins and posted a 3.67 ERA with a 1.22 WHIP. Minnesota claimed Trevor Megill and Argenis Angulo off waivers in November. Yennier Cano is an intriguing option as he was signed out of Cuba back in 2019. During 2021, he struck out over 11 batters per nine innings at Double- and Triple-A. Ryan Mason has pitched in the Twins system since 2013. Last year he split time at the organization's two highest levels with a 2.67 ERA and a 63 to 28 strikeout to walk ratio. Melvi Acosta made all but one of his appearances at High-A last year, where he struck out 10.3 batters per nine innings. Zach Neff, a 31st round pick in 2018, posted a 4.78 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP in 31 Double-A appearances. At Double-A, Minnesota acquired Alex Scherff in July for Hansel Robles. Last season was his first as a full-time reliever, and he had a 2.45 ERA with 46 strikeouts in 29 1/3 innings. Like Scherff, Evan Sisk was acquired at the deadline, but he was part of the J.A. Happ trade. Sisk struggled in his first taste of Double-A (4.24 ERA) and allowed nine earned runs in 10 AFL innings. Zach Featherstone was knocked around (8.10 ERA) like Sisk in the AFL after posting a 2.13 ERA at High-A. Jordan Gore, a former infielder, is transitioning to a relief role. Last season was his first as a full-time reliever, and he posted a 2.39 ERA in time split between High- and Double-A. Minnesota left him unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft, so some other team may take a flyer on him. Denny Bentley, a 2018 33rd round pick, had a sub-2.80 ERA with 13.4 strikeouts per nine. His walk rate was high, with over five free passes per nine innings and a 1.42 WHIP. Osiris German, Samuel Perez, and Steven Cruz are three names to watch in the lower minors. German and Cruz split time between Low- and High-A. German had 90 strikeouts in 59 1/3 innings, and Perez struck out 14.4 batters per nine innings. Perez signed with the Twins out of independent baseball and had a 1.45 ERA with the FCL Twins. Besides the names mentioned here, many other pitchers at each level can impact the upcoming season. Overall, Minnesota has questions in next year's bullpen, but some young arms can step up in 2022. What do you think about the organization's relief pitching depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop — Center Field — Corner Outfield — Starting Pitching
  3. Read through our choices for each position. Check out how each of our writers voted. And then discuss and cast your votes as well. Let’s get started. The Twins Daily 2021 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Star Team Catcher: Jeferson Morales - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels Acquired: international free agent signing in October 2016 from Venezuela. 2021 Stats: .255/.370/.438 (.808) with 24 doubles, 12 home runs and 53 RBI. Just 5-8, Jeferson Morales is a really good athlete, especially for a catcher. He also played a lot in the outfield. He began the season with 71 games in Ft. Myers where he displayed a strong approach at the plate, but he also showed some power with 19 doubles and seven homers in the hot and humid conditions in Florida. He ended the season with 25 games in Cedar Rapids where he hit .301 with five doubles and five homers. Combined, he had 12 stolen bases too. ETA - May 2023 First Base: Alex Isola, Cedar Rapids Kernels Acquired: 29th round pick in 2019 from TCU 2021 Stats: .243/.342/.425 (.767) with 15 doubles, 17 home runs and 52 RBI. Alex Isola began the season with an invitation to Twins big-league spring training. A strong defensive catcher, Isola had a really good season. Early in the year, he produced by drawing a lot of walks and getting on base, but as the season continued, he started really driving the ball well. Because of that, and some injuries, he played a lot of first base when he wasn’t catching. He was also just recently named the Cedar Rapids recipient of the Harmon Killebrew Award for Community Service. ETA - July 2023 Second Base: Spencer Steer - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge Acquired: Twins 3rd round pick in 2019 out of U of Oregon 2021 Stats:.254/.348/.484 (.832) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 24 home runs and 66 RBI The Twins have clearly made versatility a priority throughout the organization, and Spencer Steer certainly is an example of that. He played a lot at second base, third base and shortstop and does a nice job at each spot. He was a late addition to the Twins spring training development camp and played in several games. He even hit a homer in a spring game against Atlanta. It was a sign of things to come. With Cedar Rapids, he hit 10 homers in 45 games and then added 14 more in 65 games for Wichita. ETA: May 2023 Third Base: Jose Miranda - Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints Acquired: Twins Competitive Balance Pick in 2016 from HS in Puerto Rico 2021 Stats: .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles, 30 home runs and 94 RBI. Always full of potential, Jose Miranda put together one of the most impressive seasons in recent minor league history. He hit for average. He had 62 extra base hits including 30 home runs. He drove in runs. The 23-year-old always had great bat-to-ball skills, but by working to avoid swinging at pitches outside the zone, he was able to make himself into one of the team’s top prospects and a big-league debut should be coming soon. Miranda’s rankings among all minor league (full season) players: Batting Average: 1st (.343) Slugging Percentage: 15th (.563) OPS: 8th (.960) Hits: 1st (184… 19 more than #2 on the list!) HR: Tied 11th (30) Total Bases: 1st (306… 20 more than #2 on the list!) Runs: 5th (97) RBI: 5th (94) ETA: May 2022 Shortstop: Drew Maggi - St. Paul Saints Acquired: signed as minor league free agent. 2021 Stats: .252/.354/.456 (.810) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 16 homers and 50 RBI Drew Maggi returned to the Twins for a third straight season. The 32-year-old put together one of his best seasons as a pro, including his career-high 16 homers. Over the years, he has played all over the infield (and some outfield). This year, he played in 50 games at shortstop. He earned a September call-up to the big leagues, his first after 11 seasons in the big leagues. He spent two days on the Twins active roster, and inexplicably did not get into either of them before being optioned back to St. Paul. ETA: September 2021 Outfielder: Trey Cabbage - Cedar Rapids, Wichita Wind Surge Acquired: Twins 4th-round draft pick in 2015 out of HS in Tennessee. 2021 Stats: .264/.346/.535 (.881) with 20 doubles, 27 home runs, 82 RBI. Trey Cabbage has long been filled with power potential, and in 2021, it was on full display. He combined to hit 27 home runs (9 in Cedar Rapids and 18 in Wichita), which ranked in the Top 25 in minor league ball. Cabbage becomes a free agent when the World Series ends and should have several options available to him as the Tennessee native is still just 24-years-old. I’m certain the Twins would like to bring him back and see him take yet another step forward. ETA: August 2022 Outfielder: BJ Boyd - Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints Acquired: signed as minor league free agent in May 2021 2021 Stats: ..291/.349/.484 (.830) with 16 doubles, 16 home runs and 73 RBI. A former draft pick of the A’s, Boyd reached Triple-A in 2018. However, he decided to turn to football. He spent a year playing running back at a junior college and had scholarship offers from some Power 5 programs, but then came the pandemic. He began 2021 working with an independent team, but the Twins signed him in May, and he quickly joined Wichita’s roster. After hitting .319 with 13 doubles and 15 home runs in 66 games. He moved up and spent 26 more games with St. Paul. The 28-year-old is also now a free agent. ETA: August 2022 Outfielder - Mark Contreras - Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints Acquired: Twins 9th-round draft pick in 2017 out of UC-Riverside 2021 Stats: .251/.338/.485 (.824), with 30 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs and 74 RBI. Mark Contreras struggled with the bat in 2019. He hit just .186, but in his time in Double-A Pensacola, he started showing some power. After a missed 2020 season, Contreras came back strong in 2021. He started the season in Double-A with 19 games before finishing with 95 games in St. Paul where he hit 26 doubles and 18 home runs. He won a minor league Gold Glove Award in 2019, and continued to play strong defense in 2021. At 26, could he get a big-league shot in 2022? ETA: June 2022 Designated Hitter: Edouard Julien - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels Acquired: Twins 18th-round draft pick in 2019 out of Auburn 2021 Stats: 266/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles, 1 triple, 18 home runs and 72 RBI Though he was drafted in 2019 after playing in the College World Series, Edouard Julien made his professional debut in 2021 because he had Tommy John surgery that summer. Even after a missed season in 2020, the 22-year-old from Canada immediately produced in Ft. Myers. In 47 games, he hit .299 with an incredible .490 on-base percentage. He moved up to Cedar Rapids for another 65 games where he continued to get on base but added 15 home runs. He combined to steal 34 bases in 39 attempts. His 110 walks led all of minor league baseball, finishing 18 walks ahead of #2 on the list, Aaron Sabato. ETA: August 2023 Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels Acquired: Twins 15th-round draft pick in 2019 out of Concordia-St. Paul 2021 Stats: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 12.4 K/9 After being drafted, Louie Varland pitched in just three games at Elizabethton.So coming into 2021, there was no way to know what Varland would do. It didn’t take long for Varland to show out. In 10 games for Ft. Myers, he went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA and had 76 strikeouts in 47 1/3 innings. He moved up to Cedar Rapids and was 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 55 2/3 innings, he struck out 66 batters. He showed a big fastball and a strong slider throughout the year. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. ETA: June 2023 Starting Pitcher: Cole Sands - Wichita Wind Surge Acquired: Twins 5th-round draft pick in 2018 out of Florida State 2021 Stats: 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 80.1 IP, 3.9 BB/9, 10.8 K/9 Cole Sands pitched at three levels in 2019, ending the season with one start in Pensacola. After a lost 2020, he began 2021 with the Wind Surge. While he missed time twice with injury-list time, when he pitched, he pitched really well. He struck out 96 batters in his 80 1/3 innings. He’s got a good fastball that reaches into the mid-90s, but he has a very good curveball. ETA: August 2022 Starting Pitcher: Josh Winder - Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints Acquired: Twins 7th round draft pick in 2018 out of Virginia Military Institute 2021 Stats: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 72.0 IP, 1.6 BB/9, 10.0 K/9 After going 7-2 with a 2.63 ERA in 21 starts in Cedar Rapids in 2019, Josh Winder did not pitch in 2020. Then he went to Instructional League and was throwing 97 mph, and his name was on the radar. He was invited to big-league spring training and then skipped High-A ball, jumping straight to Double-A Wichita. He dominated the level. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. He had 65 strikeouts and just 10 walks over 54 2/3 innings. On July 1, he was promoted to St. Paul with Jose Miranda. His first Triple-A start started with a no-hitter into the sixth inning. He then pitched at the Futures Game. When he came back, he wasn’t the same and his season ended early with a shoulder issue. Winder is definitely on the radar for the 2022 Twins. ETA: June 2022 Starting Pitcher: Jordan Balazovic - Wichita Wind Surge Acquired: Twins 5th-round draft pick in 2016 out of high school in Ontario. 2021 Stats: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 97.0 IP, 3.5 BB/9, 9.5 K/9 After a fantastic 2019 between Low-A and High-A, Jordan Balazovic solidified him as a top pitching prospect in the organization. He spent the final month of the 2020 season working at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. He was added to the 40-man roster soon after. He went to big-league spring training but his season was delayed a few weeks by an oblique strain. He had a streaky season. It took him a couple of starts to get adjusted, but soon after, he had a stretch of four starts in which he did not allow a run. That was followed with some struggles, but he ended strong. ETA: July 2022 Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Jordan Gore - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge Acquired: Twins 19th-round draft pick in 2017 out of Coastal Carolina 2021 Stats: 8-2, 7 saves, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 3.7 BB/9, 11.7 K/9 For the first three years of his pro career, Jordan Gore played primarily shortstop. In 2019, he spent the first half of the season as the Pensacola shortstop. Late that season, after Royce Lewis arrived, Gore was a utility infielder until the decision was made for him to become a pitcher. Blessed with a big arm, he was able to work throughout 2020 on how to be a pitcher and on developing secondary pitches. He began 2021 at Cedar Rapids where he went 5-1 with a save and a 2.95 ERA. He had 58 strikeouts and 17 walks in 39 2/3 innings. He moved up to Wichita and was even better. He went 3-1 with six saves and a 1.61 ERA. He consistently showed a mid-90s fastball, but he also had developed a solid slider and a changeup. He is now a sleeper pick for a spot on the Twins 40-man roster this offseason. ETA: August 2022 Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints Acquired: Twins 7th-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico 2021 MiLB Stats: 4-2, 3 saves, 2.54 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 4.3 BB/9, 14.6 K/9 We know where his season ended, with a spot on the Minnesota Twins roster. But Jovani Moran had a terrific season in the minor leagues to earn that spot. He began the season in Wichita where he dominated. In 37 2/3 innings, he posted a 1.91 ERA and had 64 strikeouts to go with just 14 walks. He was promoted to St. Paul where he still pitched well, despite some control issues. In 29 2/3 innings, he had a 3.03 ERA and 45 strikeouts. However, he also had 18 walks. However, since he signed in 2015, he would have become a minor league free agent at the end of the World Series if not added to the 40-man roster. He has a future with the Twins, so getting him some innings in the big leagues will be beneficial. He was the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. ETA: September 2021 ------------------------------------------------------------------ PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C : Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker, RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos. Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C :Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF:LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C :Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2019 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C :Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Jaylin Davis, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff ---------------------------------------------------------------- The Votes So there you have it. The fifth annual Twins Daily Minor League All Star team, though obviously we skipped a year with no 2020 season. What would your ballot look like? Below are the votes/selections of our 2021 Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth: C :Alex Isola, 1B: Tomas Telis, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: Trey Cabbage, Mark Contreras, BJ Boyd, DH: Edouard Julien. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic, RH RP Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. Nash: C :Tomas Telis, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: BJ Boyd, Jimmy Kerrigan, Matt Wallner, DH Brent Rooker. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic. RH RP: Ian Hamilton, LH RP: Zach Featherstone. Lucas: C :Jeferson Morales, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Edouard Julien, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS, Drew Maggi, OF: Gilberto Celestino, Mark Contreras, BJ Boyd, DH: Trey Cabbage, SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Jordan Balazovic, RH RP: Jordan Gore, LHP: Jovani Moran. Cody: C :Jeferson Morales, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: Trey Cabbage, Brent Rooker, Gilberto Celestino, DH: BJ Boyd. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic. RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. Tom: C :Alex Isola, 1B: Edouard Julien, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Trey Cabbage, Mark Contreras, Jeferson Morales, DH: Yunior Severino. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Tyler Beck, Austin Schulfer. RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. Ted: C :Roy Morales, 1B: Andrew Bechtold, 2B: Edouard Julien, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: Trey Cabbage, Mark Contreras, Jimmy Kerrigan, DH: Matt Wallner. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Kody Funderburk, Jordan Balazovic. RH RP: Ryan Mason, LH RP: Jovani Moran. Steve: C :Alex Isola, 1B: Aaron Sabato, 2B: Edouard Julien, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: Trey Cabbage, Mark Contreras, Brent Rooker, DH: Spencer Steer. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic. RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. Matt: C :Jeferson Morales, 1B: Aaron Sabato, 2B: Edouard Julien, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Trey Cabbage, Matt Wallner, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Brent Rooker. SP: Louie Varland, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Ben Gross, Andrew Albers. RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. David: C :Jeferson Morales, 1B: Aaron Sabato, 2B: Edouard Julien, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Gilberto Celestino, Aaron Whitefield, BJ Boyd, DH: Trey Cabbage. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Jordan Balazovic. RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran. Allen: C :Tomas Telis, 1B: Aaron Sabato, 2B: Jose Miranda, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Jimmy Kerrigan, BJ Boyd, Brent Rooker, DH: Trey Cabbage. SP: Louie Varland, Cole Sands, Ben Gross, Jordan Balazovic. RH RP: Ryan Mason, LH RP: Jovani Moran.
  4. Relief pitchers often don't get the love, recognition, or credit that their colleagues at the front end of the pitching staff receive. Yet it's impossible to not love a guy with a 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP and arguably the best changeup that the Twins' organization has seen since the days of franchise hall of famer Johan Santana. Meet southpaw reliever Jovani Moran. Drafted by the Twins in 2015 out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy, the 24-year-old has teetered with dominance since joining the organization nearly seven years ago. After starting six games in the GCL Twins' rotation in 2015 Moran was transitioned to the bullpen and has excelled since. After a rough rookie season Moran posted a 2.38 ERA in 71 appearances (a majority from the bullpen) between 2017-2019. That's good, but Moran has been great in 2021. For that, he's our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Despite his young age, Moran played the role of a rising journeyman this season, bouncing from club to club. Twenty of his 35 appearances came at Double-A Wichita, where he started the season. The Surge relied heavily on Moran through the months of May and June. Between the two months Moran appeared in 16 games and 28 2/3 innings, tossing 47 strikeouts, allowing only 11 hits and six earned runs, and touting a stellar 2.04 ERA and 0.77 WHIP. In that span opposing hitters hit a meager .118 when facing Moran. After a strong start, the month of July was just as fruitful for Moran. After four appearances that consisted of nine innings and 17 strikeouts Moran was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul. While his Triple-A stats weren't as eye-opening as his numbers with the Surge, they were still pretty darn good, especially for a guy pitching at that level for the first time. In 15 appearances and 29 2/3 innings, Moran posted a 3.03 ERA and 1.08 WHIP with opposing batters mustering a .140 average when facing him. Moran's success isn't attributed to a triple-digit fastball or 12-6 curveball. In fact, his fastball rarely surpasses 92-94 MPH. Yet similar to Caleb Thielbar, Moran's success can be attributed to the massive contrast between his fastball and breaking pitches. As mentioned, the changeup is Moran's off-speed weapon of choice, a pitch that he often uses as a strikeout dagger. The secret? Moran's arm delivery on the pitch resembles that of his fastball yet is 10-12 MPH slower. It is, perhaps, the largest reason why he touted a 41.8% strikeout rate in the minors this season. Twins Daily writer Lucas Seehafer broke down Moran's pitch arsenal earlier this season, check it out here. After finding success in Lowertown, Moran was called up by the Twins on September 11th. MLB competition hasn't been the flowers and roses for Moran like it was prior to his big league debut. Don't fret though. Moran will continue to grow and learn as he gets more repetitions at the big league level. Don't be surprised if he starts next season at Triple-A. However, his time will come given the dominance that he's shown over the past five months. Top Three In addition to Moran, Jordan Gore and Zach Featherstone also had outstanding seasons. Check out some of the accomplishments of this years' runner ups! 1. LHP Jovani Moran, Wichita/St. Paul (35 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 67.1 IP, 28 H, 32 BB, 109 K) Check out this analysis of Moran and Jordan Gore made by Tom Froemming! 2. RHP Jordon Gore, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (39 G, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 67.2 IP, 36 H, 28 BB, 88 K) A shortstop-turned-pitcher, 2021 presented Gore with his first full season on the bump. The 2017 draft pick did not disappoint, holding opposing hitters to just a .155 batting average through May and June in Cedar Rapids. Just three games into July, Gore was promoted to Double-A Wichita. Gore didn't tally as many innings with the Surge but was just as effective, posting a 1.61 ERA in 28 innings (20 games) with 30 strikeouts and six saves. It's unclear what Gore's long-term identity will be as a relief pitcher. All we know is that he has excelled in all corners of the bullpen and has done it consistently all season. That's pretty darn impressive for a guy that had only pitched in four professional baseball games prior to this season. 3. LHP Zach Featherstone, Cedar Rapids (40 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 55 IP, 28 H, 42 BB, 93 K) Similar to Gore, Featherstone isn't a pitcher by trade, he's an outfielder. That didn't stop him from having an outstanding year on the hill for Cedar Rapids. After a rocky month of May, Featherstone was nearly perfect in June, surrendering zero earned runs, five hits, and ten walks while striking out 28 batters in 15 innings over nine appearances. That's right, a PERFECT earned run average for an entire month! Featherstone continued his dominance as the season continued, posting a 3.95 ERA in July, 2.31 ERA in August, and another perfect 0.00 ERA in September. Featherstone has a bit more pitching experience than Gore, but this was still his first full season pitching. He transitioned to the mound in 2017, had Tommy John surgery, rehabbed, and as he was ready to come back, COVID arrived. It's a great story, but he's also become a solid, hard-throwing lefty reliever. Kudos to him on an excellent year. HONORABLE MENTION LHP Denny Bentley, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (36 G, 2.78 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 51.1 IP, 50 H, 33 BB, 87 K) RHP Ryan Mason, Wichita/St. Paul (38 G, 2.67 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 54 IP, 45 H, 28 BB, 63 K) RHP Ian Hamilton, St. Paul (37 G, 4.08 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 57.1 IP, 45 H, 38 BB, 83 K) RHP Osiris German, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (38 G, 3.34 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 47 H, 24 BB, 90 K) RHP Hector Lujan, Wichita (18 G, 3.62 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 32.1 IP, 25 H, 9 BB, 33 K) RHP Melvi Acosta, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (38 G, 3.67 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 61.1 IP, 55 H, 18 BB, 69 K) RHP Derek Molina, Cedar Rapids (32 G, 4.65 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 62 IP, 51 H, 26 BB, 81 K) LHP Aaron Rozek, FCL Twins/Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita (16 G, 2.40 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 56.1 IP, 42 H, 7 BB, 74 K) Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners!
  5. Box Score John Gant: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Nick Gordon -.175, Kyle Barraclough -.114, Luke Farrell -.079 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) As has been the case more times than not this season, the Twins simply didn’t have the juice Saturday evening. John Gant took to the mound approximately an hour after the game was scheduled to begin — more on that in a second — and relatively breezed through the opening frame. However, the second didn’t go as smoothly. Teoscar Hernandez wedged his 31st home run of the season in the ivy that coats the batter’s eye in centerfield to give the Jays a 1-0 lead. A couple of hits and a bobbled ball in rightfield later, Toronto extended their lead to 2-0, which ultimately proved enough to take down the Twins. Minnesota’s offense was anemic all evening, mustering a meager three hits, only one of which — a Josh Donaldson double — went for extra bases. However, it wasn’t all doom and gloom for the Twins. Jovani Moran produced his best big league outing, throwing 19 pitches — 15 for strikes — and punching out four. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco picked up stolen bases, while Mitch Garver just missed launching his 14th home run, settling for a long sacrifice fly instead. That’s about where the positives end, though. Minnesota has seven games remaining on their schedule and they’ll have to win at least four to avoid a 90-loss season. The Twins will conclude their series against the Blue Jays on Sunday as Griffin Jax (3-4, 6.75 ERA) and Alek Manoah (7-2, 3.36 ERA) go head-to-head. First pitch is slated for 1:10 p.m. CT. Morneau Enshrined The reason the game was delayed nearly an hour was because Justin Morneau became the 34th player inducted into the Minnesota Twins Hall of Fame. The four-time All-Star and 2006 American League MVP played his first 11 seasons in a Twins uniform and wracked up 221 home runs with a .278/.347/.485 slash line. He along with his good friend and fellow MVP winner Joe Mauer formed the foundation for some of the most fearsome and fun Twins’ lineups. Morneau’s speech was long but perfectly enmeshed inside jokes with touching commentary and memories. The entire thing can be viewed below. Another thing that I will always remember is the way he was talked about in my hometown. I grew up in a small town in southcentral Minnesota, the same town that Morneau’s wife, Krista, grew up in. It’s one of those farming communities that dot the landscape south and west of the Twin Cities where the only place to eat is a Dairy Queen. Whenever Justin and Krista were in the area, good-natured rumors would spread like wildfire. The neighbor kid saw him riding his moped down by the park. Word on the street is that he had agreed to play with the local townball team once he retired. That kind of stuff. While I wasn’t around to witness it, Morneau stopped by at my brother’s little league game the day after winning the 2008 home run derby with his award. The game paused in the middle innings so that all the kids could take individual pictures with him. He also recognized the rough shape of the dugouts and donated money for them to be refurbished. For all intents and purposes, Justin Morneau is one of the “good ones” and seeing his name forever in the confines of Target Field will never not bring joy and fond memories for myself and all Twins fans. Postgame Interviews Coming soon Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Barraclough 35 0 0 0 33 68 Coulombe 17 0 0 0 37 54 Duffey 11 12 0 17 0 40 Farrell 0 0 19 0 18 37 Colomé 7 24 0 5 0 36 Minaya 0 13 0 19 0 32 Thielbar 16 0 14 0 0 30 Alcalá 10 10 0 6 0 26 Moran 0 0 0 0 19 19 Garza Jr. 0 0 16 0 0 16 Vincent 0 0 13 0 0 13 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. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Jax 4.2 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Homeruns: Sano (28) Bottom 3 WPA: Jax (-0.201), Buxton (-0.047), Jeffers (-0.042) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Griffin Jax Gets Blown Up in the Fifth Griffin Jax’s rough first season in the Majors has been especially brutal of late, as he has posted a 7.54 ERA over his last four starts entering play on Wednesday. For a guy that is clearly pitching for a potential spot in the Twins 2022 starting rotation, these last few starts of the season are going to be very important to him. The way things started in this ballgame, it appeared as though Jax was going to have a start that would help him start to right the ship. However, that was not be the case. Jax faced just 10 batters through the first three innings of the game, before giving up a run on a couple doubles in the fourth. Things took a turn for the worse in the top of the fifth inning, which ended with a Twins reliever on the mound (Jovani Moran, to be specific). A single and an error put two runners on base for the Cleveland nine-hole hitter Oscar Mercado, who delivered a three-run blast into the bleachers in left, giving Cleveland a three-run lead. The damage didn't stop there. Cleveland continued to hit up Jax before he was finally pulled with two outs in the inning and the Twins trailing by five. Jovani Moran came in to relieve Jax in just his third Major League appearance, and got Bobby Bradley to strike out looking to end the inning. Moran would stay out and pitch a clean 1-2-3 sixth inning, before things imploded on him as well in the seventh when he gave up three runs on four hits before having to be relieved with just one out in the inning. Andrew Albers came in to relieve Moran, and promptly gave up a two-run blast to Bobby Bradley. One of those runs was charged to Moran, who finished with four earned runs in the inning. Andrew Albers would stay in and pitch the final 2 2/3 innings for the Twins to help give the rest of the bullpen the night off before an off day on Thursday for some additional much-needed rest. He surrendered single runs in both the eighth and ninth innings, the latter of which coming off a solo blast from Franmil Reyes. Twins Position Players Have Rough Night While this game will certainly be looked back on as a rough night for the pitching staff, the position players had an equally-rough night. The defense did the pitching staff no favors as they committed two sloppy throwing errors that helped lead to Cleveland’s two big innings. In addition to the defense, the bats were almost non-existent, at least until the game was well out of reach. The Twins bats mustered just one hit through six innings off of Cleveland starter Cal Quantrill, and it should have stayed that way through seven had it not been for a misplayed pop-up off the bat of Max Kepler that should have ended the inning. Instead, the inning stayed alive long enough for Miguel Sano to deliver a three-run blast to make the Twins offensive woes seem not as bad as they actually were. Twins Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Minaya 0 17 0 13 0 30 Coulombe 23 0 0 27 0 50 Colomé 0 0 27 11 0 38 Duffey 0 0 38 0 0 38 Farrell 12 0 34 0 0 46 Barraclough 0 0 23 16 0 39 Moran 0 37 0 0 34 71 Thielbar 26 0 11 0 0 37 Alcalá 0 18 0 8 0 26 Albers 0 0 0 0 40 40 Garza Jr. 0 11 6 0 0 17 What's Next? The Twins are off on Thursday before heading back on the road for a three-game series with the Toronto Blue Jays beginning on Friday. Postgame Interview
  7. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/6 thru Sun, 9/12 *** Record Last Week: 4-3 (Overall: 63-80) Run Differential Last Week: +9 (Overall: -102) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (19.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 137 | MIN 5, CLE 2: Ober and Pineda Piggyback, Polanco Rakes Game 138 | MIN 3, CLE 0: Gant Combines with 4 Relievers in Shutout Game 139 | MIN 3, CLE 0: Ryan Flirts with Perfection, Dominates Cleveland Game 140 | CLE 4, MIN 1: Quantrill Keeps Twins Bats Quiet Game 141 | KC 6, MIN 4: Offense Goes Silent After Explosive First Inning Game 142 | MIN 9, KC 2: Twins Drill 5 Homers, Coast to Easy Win Game 143 | KC 5, MIN 3: Royals Rally Late, Take Series NEWS & NOTES If you had to put your finger on just what's gone wrong with the Twins' pitching staff this year, one culprit would be ... well, fingers. Taylor Rogers has officially been shut down for the season with a middle finger sprain that he suffered in late July. While he'll have a full offseason to heal, the nature of this injury for a slider-reliant pitcher turns the team's top reliever (and one of their top trade candidates) into a major question mark. It's hard to fully trust he'll be the same guy when he returns. The same is more or less true for Randy Dobnak, who went back on the IL ahead of his planned Wednesday start with renewed soreness in his own middle finger, which previously sidelined him for more than two months. Dobnak, unlike Rogers, was struggling pretty consistently before getting hurt so there's even less assurance with him going forward. With Dobnak going down again, Andrew Albers was recalled to start on short notice. He did okay, all things considered, but was returned to St. Paul a couple days later when the Twins promoted (at long last) relief pitcher Jovani Moran. The lefty Moran has been a dominant force this year in the minors, piling up whiffs and strikeouts with help from a standout changeup that makes him even highly effective against righties. Moran made his debut on Monday and looked good, notching a pair of strikeouts over 1 ⅓ innings, though his control started to slip a bit in the latter part of the 37-pitch outing. HIGHLIGHTS Joe Ryan stole the show with a dazzling performance at Cleveland in his second major-league start, carrying a perfect game through six and ultimately allowing just one hit over seven shutout innings. His Game Score of 79 was the second-best for a Twins starter all season, trailing only José Berríos' spectacular first start of the year in Milwaukee. The young right-hander showed pretty much everything you'd want to see in his gem. He worked efficiently, needing only 85 pitches to get through seven frames while throwing 71% strikes. He notched only four strikeouts in this one, but induced plenty of weak contact. And while his fastball was good as advertised, Ryan continued to demonstrate he's no one-trick pony, mixing in some very nice low sliders as well. Ryan was the star in another strong week for the rotation, which got another member back via the return of Michael Pineda. Needing to build up after skipping a rehab stint, Big Mike appeared in relief of Bailey Ober on Monday, tossing three scoreless innings. He followed up with five innings of one-run ball against Kansas City on Saturday night. This isn't the dominant version of Pineda we've seen in the past, but he's still plenty effective and the velocity appears to have rebounded. His fastball averaged 91.6 MPH on Saturday, which is his highest mark since early June. Personally, I believe that Pineda makes a lot of sense to bring back on a low-cost deal for the back of the rotation, although not everyone agrees. Ober, for his part, kept chugging along with a couple more strong performances – albeit in two of his shorter outings in a while. On Monday against Detroit, the big righty tossed four innings of two-run ball, striking out four with no walks. In his following start on Sunday, he was charged with three runs over 4 ⅓ innings, but had his stuff working with six strikeouts and 16 swings-and-misses on 75 pitches (21% SwSt). Ober hasn't issued multiple walks in a start since before the All-Star break, and owns a tremendous 48-to-6 K/BB ratio over 50 innings in his past 10 starts. Toss in a very fine outing on Tuesday from John Gant, who struck out seven over five scoreless, and it was an altogether outstanding week for this mish-mashed collection of starting pitchers. Alas, it's not just the rotation holding things down for the pitching staff as this campaign winds down. The bullpen, to its credit, has really come around. Despite lacking its best player in Rogers, the relief corps has quietly been among the best in baseball since the end of July. The past week saw Minnesota's bullpen deliver a 1.56 ERA, with Alex Colomé, Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar, and Luke Farrell chipping in three scoreless innings apiece. Jorge Alcala, Ralph Garza Jr., and of course Moran had solid showings as well. Offensively, Jorge Polanco remains the life of the party. He opened his week with a four-hit game in Cleveland that included three doubles and a homer, then launched two bombs against the Royals on Saturday night. The second baseman is putting on a power-hitting clinic here in September, where he's slugging .795 with six doubles and five homers. Perhaps most impressively, he's driving the ball like this without sacrificing much contact. True to form, Polanco has struck out only seven times in 45 plate appearances this month. He's locked in, to put it mildly. Byron Buxton isn't quite on Polanco's level right now, but he does show signs of getting back on track offensively. Buck launched three homers last week, including this mammoth blast to straightaway center on Friday night: He didn't do a ton otherwise, and his swing still feels pretty all-or-nothing at this point, but it's a good start as the center fielder looks to finish strong in another frustrating, incomplete season. LOWLIGHTS Role players vying for opportunities on the 2022 team aren't doing much to help their cases. Brent Rooker came through with a big two-run double on Sunday, but went just 4-for-18 overall with six strikeouts and no walks. Rob Refsnyder – who drew two starts as the No. 3 hitter and one in the two-hole, for reasons unknown – managed three singles in 15 at-bats. Since returning from the IL in early August, he's slashing .208/.313/.236 with two extra-base hits (both doubles) and two RBIs in 83 plate appearances. Jake Cave made one start all week and was 1-for-6 at the plate. In fact, he's started only twice in the team's past 17 games. He's pretty clearly being phased out and his departure this offseason feels like a mere formality. TRENDING STORYLINE Honestly, there's nothing too compelling happening at the moment. Will the Twins avoid 90 losses? (They'd need to go 10-9 or better in the final 19 games.) Can they steer clear of a last-place finish? (They're currently two games behind the fourth-place Royals). How high of a draft pick will they net in 2022? (As Aaron Gleeman notes, they could realistically get as high as No. 7.) Personally I'll be more interested in following some of the noteworthy individual storylines in these last three weeks. I want to see if Buxton can show hints of the player he was back in April. I want to see how Ryan and Ober close out their first impressions in the majors. I want to see how Moran's stuff plays against big-league hitters. The games might not matter much anymore, but there are other implications to this remaining stretch nonetheless. LOOKING AHEAD For a second consecutive week, the Twins must take a disruptive detour in the middle of their homestand, heading to New York on Monday for an afternoon makeup game against the Yankees. Should be a ton of fun! Right?! From there, they quickly turn around and head back home for a double-header against Cleveland on Tuesday. Three games in 35 hours should provide some challenges for Rocco Baldelli in managing a thin pitching staff, but at least there's an off day coming up on Thursday. It's unclear at this point who will take Dobnak's vacant turn with Albers sent back to the minors. Charlie Barnes is a decent bet. MONDAY, 9/13: TWINS @ YANKEES – RHP John Gant v. TBD TUESDAY, 9/14: CLEVELAND @ TWINS (G1) – RHP Aaron Civale v. RHP Joe Ryan TUESDAY, 9/14: CLEVELAND @ TWINS (G2) – RHP Triston McKenzie v. TBD WEDNESDAY, 9/15: CLEVELAND @ TWINS – RHP Cal Quantrill v. RHP Griffin Jax FRIDAY, 9/17: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Hyun Jin Ryu SATURDAY, 9/18: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP Bailey Ober v. LHP Steven Matz SUNDAY, 9/19: TWINS @ BLUE JAYS – RHP John Gant v. RHP Alek Manoah 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. Joe Ryan, RH SP Ryan was one of the key pieces as part of the Nelson Cruz trade and he made his organizational debut last week after returning from the Olympics. His Saints debut was ridiculous as he struck out nine batters in four innings. Ryan, a former water polo player, is known for the life on his fastball and his command of the strike zone. He led the minor-league baseball in strikeout rate in 2019 by fanning 183 batters in 123 2/3 innings. As a 25-year-old, he has already found success in the high minors, and the Twins may want to give him a September audition for the 2022 rotation. Jose Miranda, INF Miranda is having one of the best offensive seasons in team history among players in the high minors, and he is a lock to be the team’s Minor League Player of the Year. There are multiple ways to get him to Minneapolis before the season’s end. Entering 2021, he had struggled with working counts in his favor, which led to a lot of weak contact. Minnesota worked on his approach last season, and the results speak for themselves. St. Paul has been a remarkably better team with Miranda in the line-up, and the team has taken over first place in the division. Jovani Moran, LHRP Moran was left unprotected during this past season’s Rule 5 Draft (and the year before), but he went unselected, which looks like a mistake by MLB’s other organizations. Moran’s stock rose significantly this season as he has compiled strong numbers at Double- and Triple-A. He’s held opponents to hitting .115/.213/.230 (.443) as he has collected 97 strikeouts in 60 innings. His dominant change-up is how he misses bats, as MLB Pipeline calls it a double-plus pitch. Moran is big-league ready, but the Saints are fighting for a division title so the Twins may want to keep him in St. Paul. Austin Martin, SS/CF Martin, one of the pieces of the Jose Berrios trade, is the only player on this list not at Triple-A. He has been playing well at Double-A, and the argument can be made for him as the organization’s top prospect. He is an on-base machine, but there have been some questions raised this year about his power. Defensively, he can play multiple infield positions and centerfield, so this flexibility can allow him to reach the big leagues more quickly. Minnesota has two series against the Blue Jays near the end of September, and that might make for an intriguing big-league debut for Martin. There are a few things to consider when looking at the names above. Three of the players are currently at Triple-A, and St. Paul is in the playoff hunt. Also, none of the players are currently on the 40-man roster, but all but Martin will need to be added this winter. There will be plenty of 40-man roster clean-up to do during the off-season, so the team might not want to add another wrinkle to that equation. All four of these players look more than ready to help the big-league squad. Now the question remains, who will be the first to make it to the show? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. The Twins will be faced with several decisions during the offseason concerning the makeup of their roster, beginning with who's placed on and removed from the 40-man. While it may seem as though the team will be confronted with many impossible decisions, the fact of the matter is that the Twins are well-positioned to add critical prospects to the 40-man without losing much in the way of established talent and productivity. Below is a discussion of the Twins 40-man roster, primarily regarding their top prospects. Twins Daily's most recent Top 30 prospect list was used for reference. Already on the 40-man Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Drew Strotman, RHP Gilberto Celestino, OF Edwar Colina, RHP Brent Rooker, OF/DH Nick Gordon, UTIL Of the players listed above, only Rooker's future with the team appears to be dubious. Perhaps Gordon's as well. If the Twins were to try to drop them from the 40-man — something that I don't consider to be particularly likely — they both would be claimed. While Rooker and Gordon may not remain as Twins for the long haul, Minnesota likely won't just give them away for free. The remainder of the athletes above will probably fill critical roles with the Twins, if not next summer, then in the summers to follow. Not eligible for Rule 5 Draft or Minor League Free Agency Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Austin Martin, OF/SS Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Keoni Cavaco, INF Misael Urbina, OF Matt Wallner, OF/DH Alerick Soulaire, UTIL Will Holland, INF Marco Raya, RHP Spencer Steer, INF Steve Hajjar, LHP Louie Varland, RHP Noah Miller, INF Chase Petty, RHP All of these guys are going to be sticking around for at least one more season, if not longer. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team. None of the players above meet the criteria, so they aren't going anywhere unless traded. Additionally, save for perhaps Austin Martin and Matt Canterino, it's unlikely that any of the above athletes will be promoted to the majors at any point next season. The majority are still fairly young or lack professional experience, meaning some more seasoning in the minor leagues is more than warranted. 40-man Locks Jose Miranda, INF Joe Ryan, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Royce Lewis, SS/OF Jovani Moran, LHP There's no chance that the Twins will risk losing any of these guys. Miranda has been the most impressive minor league player in the system — if not all of MiLB — and will likely slot in somewhere in the infield next season. Joe Ryan and Josh Winder will probably be among those competing for a starting rotation spot next spring. Cole Sands has dominated the minors when healthy. Royce Lewis is a potential franchise cornerstone. Jovani Moran is already an MLB-caliber reliever. While all five athletes may not make the Opening Day roster, they will all accumulate service time beginning next summer, if not sooner. 50/50 Chance Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Yennier Cano, RHP Ian Hamilton, RHP Yunior Severino, INF Jermaine Palacios, INF Here's where the Twins need to make some decisions. Enlow was a third-round pick in 2017 out of high school and has been phenomenal during his minor league career. However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins. Because of this, I would not be surprised if the Twins placed him on the 40-man rather than risk losing him for nothing. As I have discussed frequently, Vallimont is an enigma. He has fantastic raw stuff and strikeout numbers, but he lacks command and gives up too many free passes and runs. While he may eventually become an MLB pitcher, he isn't particularly close to being one at the moment. For this reason, I think it would be unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 Draft, and, as such, I could see the Twins keeping him off their 40-man. Cano is an electric bullpen arm that dominated the lower minor leagues but has struggled a little bit since being promoted to Triple-A. That said, he has the raw stuff to carve out a major league career. He's already 27-years-old, but has only spent two seasons in the minors after signing as a free agent in 2019. So while he isn't eligible for the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, one figures that if he's going to make it to the big leagues, he'll likely have to do it soon. I'd be surprised if we don't see him in Minneapolis at some point next season. Odds are that he won't be added to the 40-man until next season if he isn't by the end of this one. Both Severino and Palacios were former highly-touted prospects who failed to live up to expectations, though both have been performing exceptionally well as of late. As was the case with Vallimont, neither are ready to face MLB pitchers consistently. However, both still have a fair amount of potential, especially if their recent output remains. Palacios would be eligible for free agency if he is not rostered, while Severino would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If I'm the Twins, I place Severino on the 40-man and hope I can re-sign Palacios. Hamilton's situation is akin to that of Palacios. He's a former highly-regarded prospect who will be eligible for free agency if not added to the 40-man. He's shown promise this season at the Triple-A level, hitting 100 mph with his fastball on multiple occasions. Frankly, it's a little surprising that the Twins haven't given him a shot to this point, and, who knows, maybe they'll do so before the summer is over. Regardless, Hamilton has shown that he still has MLB talent and simply letting him walk could prove to be a poor decision. Rather Unlikely Notable Prospects Wander Javier, SS Trey Cabbage, OF/DH Both Javier and Cabbage will be eligible for minor league free agency following the season, though I doubt that the Twins will use that fact as motivation to put them on the 40-man. Javier has been too inconsistent at the plate to justify a roster spot, while Cabbage is a power-hitting corner outfielder/1B/DH-type. Cabbage is in the midst of a career year and does have some value; however, the Twins are loaded with young, power-hitting outfield talent. He could probably fetch something like a potential bullpen arm in a trade, but the odds of a team trading for him when they could try to sign him away from the Twins are low. Impending Free Agents Michael Pineda, RHP Alexander Colome, RHP Andrelton Simmons, SS The Twins may try to re-sign Pineda and Colome this coming winter, but Simmons seems highly unlikely to return, especially with Lewis's arrival right around the corner. I'd put the over/under on open 40-man roster spots from this group at 1.5. 40-Man Spots That May Be Up For Grabs Charlie Barnes, LHP Devin Smeltzer, LHP Beau Burrows, RHP Danny Coulombe, LHP Luke Farrell, RHP Edgar Garcia, RHP Ralph Garza Jr., RHP Juan Minaya, RHP Cody Stashak, RHP Lewis Thorpe, LHP Nick Vincent, RHP Derek Law, RHP Willians Astudillo, UTIL Jake Cave, OF Kyle Garlick, OF Rob Refsnyder, OF The Twins have a bevy of bullpen arms, bench players, and trade candidates that could be on the move this offseason. As such, the team has at least 16 40-man spots — and that may be an underestimate — to play with. Add in the impending free agents, and that number jumps to 19. Subtract the locks, and that number falls to 14. So while it may seem as though the Twins are on the cusp of a roster crunch at first blush, the reality is that the team has plenty of room to play with this coming winter. If the team loses anyone to the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, it's because the team determined that they were of little value to them moving forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here
  10. Be sure to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday, and then jump into the minor league week. Before we get started, let’s check out the FCL Twins game and the transactions from Monday. TRANSACTIONS RHPs Tyler Beck and Erik Manoah, Jr. were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long was promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. FCL Twins Talk FCL Twins 1, FCL Braves 5 Box Score The FCL Twins managed just five hits on Monday. Alerick Soularie had three of them including his first double. Shouldn’t be long before he joins the Mighty Mussels. A rehabbing Anthony Prato had one hit as well. Juan Mendez made the start. He went 3 1/3 innings and gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. He struck out six batters. John Wilson got the next five outs and gave up just one hit. Jackson Hicks made his affiliated-ball debut. He gave up two runs (1 earned) on two hits over three innings. He struck out three. Hicks signed with the team last month out of the USPBL. Rafael Feliz gave up an unearned run in his inning. With that, let’s look at Week 14 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (4-2, hosting Louisville), overall (44-39) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (5-1, hosting Midland), overall (49-35) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (1-5, hosting Quad Cities), overall (45-39) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (3-3, hosting Dunedin), overall (43-38) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (1-1), overall (7-19) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: Complex Struggles but Success Everywhere Else The Twins Bought Low on Austin Martin Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month - July 2021 Tuesday: Austin Martin Makes Twins Debut Twins Claim RHP Ralph Garza Jr. Wednesday: Sabato’s Blasts, Martin’s Heroics Thursday: Shootout in Wichita, Pitcher’s Duel in St. Paul Friday: Affiliates Feast on Home Cooking Scouting Twins Prospects: Cole Sands St. Paul to Stardom: Louie Varland is the Real Deal Saturday: Walk-off Winners Sunday: (Gonna Make You Sweat) Everybody Pitch Now TD Top Twins Prospects (Post Draft and Post Trade Deadline): 26-30 HIGHLIGHTS We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 14 performances Twins Player of the Week: Jermaine Palacios, Wichita Wind Surge A former Twins top prospect, Palacios was sent to the Rays in exchange for Jake Odorizzi. He struggled with Tampa, especially in Double-A. The Twins outbid teams to bring back Palacios this offseason. He signed with the Twins with the understanding that Royce Lewis would be the Wichita shortstop to start the season, and he would need to move around the diamond. Instead, Lewis hurt his knee and Palacios played shortstop nearly every day. He plays great defense there, and he has provided strong offense as well. Then last week, the Twins acquired shortstop/center fielder Austin Martin from the Rays, and Palacios needed to move around the infield. He played a game at second base. Then he played a game at third base. Then Martin moved out to center, and Palacios got to play some games at shortstop. It’s fair to say that Palacios handled it well, and was out to prove something. In six games, he hit .304/.385/.783 (1.167) with two doubles, three homers and seven RBI. He also stole two bases. In 76 games this season, he has hit .261/.351/.467 (.818) with 12 doubles and 16 home runs. Twins Pitcher of the Week: Jovani Moran, St. Paul Saints Moran has had a terrific season, and his adjustment to Triple-A has gone swimmingly. This past week, he tossed 5 1/3 scoreless innings over two games. He gave up no hits. He issued zero walks. He did hit a batter. He also struck out six batters. In seven games since joining the Saints, he is 1-0 with a save. He’s got a 1.80 ERA and a 0.47 WHIP. In 15 innings, he has four walks and 23 strikeouts. (13.8 K/9) That is after he worked 20 games in Double-A Wichita to start the season. There, he went 2-1 with two saves and a 1.91 ERA and 0.74 WHIP. In 37 2/3 innings, he walked 14 and struck out 64 batters (15.3 K/9). So, overall, he’s got a 1.88 ERA, a 0.67 WHIP, just 3.1 BB/9 and 14.9 K/9. Yes, in his 52 2/3 innings, he has 87 strikeouts. The 2015 seventh round pick from Puerto Rico appears to be ready for one more promotion this season. Other Strong Performances this Week St. Paul Saints Ben Rortvedt is getting much more playing time now with the Saints, and he’s performing. This past week, he played in five games and hit .357/.400/.857 (1.257) with a double and two home runs including a pinch-hit, extra-innings, walk-off, two-run homer. Mark Contreras played in five games. He hit .294/.316/.706 (1.022) with a double and two home runs, including a game-tying home run in the ninth inning of the Rortvedt Walkoff Game. The Saints also got some very nice bullpen work. Kyle Barraclough struck out six batters over five scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit. Edgar Garcia also worked in three games. He threw four scoreless innings and gave up two hits and a walk. Chandler Shepherd had a terrific start, tossing six shutout innings. He gave up just four hits and walked none. Andrew Albers gave up one run over seven innings in his start. Drew Strotman gave up just one run on four hits over five innings in his start. Wichita Wind Surge Trey Cabbage had a big week. He played in all six games and hit .375/.423/.875 (1.298) with a double, triple and three home runs. In his first week with the Twins organization, Austin Martin played in all six games and hit .400/.571/.500 (1.071) with two doubles. He also walked six times and struck out just once. BJ Boyd played just twice and went 3-for-7 (.429) with a double and a home run. Caleb Hamilton played in three games and had a double, triple and home run. Martin and Hamilton each had a walkoff this week. Jordan Gore worked three scoreless, hitless innings and gave up only a walk. He struck out four. Austin Schulfer provided a solid start. He gave up one run on five hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out six. Cole Sands struck out 11 batters over 8 2/3 innings in his two starts while posting a 3.12 ERA. Cedar Rapids Kernels Max Smith had a strong week again. He played in five games and hit .357/.471/.571 (1.042) with a home run and three walks. DaShawn Keirsey, Jr, hit two home runs. Yunior Severino went 9-for-24 (.375) with a double over his six games. Breckin Williams worked three innings over two relief appearances. He gave up only an unearned run and struck out four. Osiris German struck out four batters over three innings over two games. In addition, he also received his high school equivalency through the Twins academy on Monday. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Aaron Sabato played in four games this past week. He went 2-for-11 (.182), but the two hits were both home runs, one in each game of a doubleheader. The highlight for the organization was the return of Matt Canterino. He worked two perfect innings on Sunday in his first rehab appearance. Matthew Swain struck out five batters over a three-inning performance. Bobby Milacki made one start and gave up just one earned run over four innings. He struck out five batters. Aaron Rozek worked twice out of the bullpen and gave up just one run over four innings. He also struck out five batters. FCL Twins Emmanuel Rodriguez had just seven at bats, but he had four hits including two doubles and a home run. Alerick Soularie finally got to make his professional debut after hurting his foot in spring training. In his three rehab games, he is 5-for-9 (.555) with a double and a home run. Ricardo Olivar also hit a home run. Lowlights We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches. St. Paul Saints Nick Gordon will finally get every day playing time. In his return to the Saints, he played four games and went 2-for-15 (.133). Keon Broxton went 1-for-10 (.100). JT Riddle played in three games and went 0-for-8. Rafael Garza’s first appearance with a Twins affiliate didn’t go great. He gave up three runs on two hits and two walks and recorded just two outs. Wichita Wind Surge Both Aaron Whitefield and Andrew Bechtold went 3-for-20 (.150), though each had a home run, and Bechtold also had a double. Sean Gilmartin gave up four runs on four hits in his innings of work before going on the Injured List. Jordan Balazovic went 4 2/3 innings in his start. He gave up six runs on eight hits, two walks and a hit batter. Alex Phillips gave up four runs on four hits (2 HR) over 3 2/3 innings over two appearances. Cedar Rapids Kernels Seth Gray went 3-for-23 (.130). Michael Helman went 2-for-18 (.111). Gabriel Maciel went 1-for-9 (.111). Edouard Julien went 1-for-10 (.100). Matt Wallner went 2-for-22 (.091). Tyler Watson has been really good this season, but he had a rough one this past week. The lefty gave up six runs on four hits and two walks over 3 1/3 innings in his start. Cody Laweryson gave up four runs on six hits and three walks over just 2 2/3 innings in his start. Even Ben Gross had an off start. He gave up seven runs on eight hits (3 HR) and a walk in 4 1/3 innings. He’s been pretty terrific of late. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Ruben Santana played in all six games and went 0-for-16. Misael Urbina went 1-for-18 (.056) over his six games. The one hit was a home run. Keoni Cavaco played in five games and went 2-for-19 (.105). Will Holland was 2-for-16 (.125) though he had a home run. TRENDING STORYLINE One very cool benefit of the Twins academies both in Ft. Myers and in the Dominican Republic is that beyond baseball work, they are able to take classes. There is a program which allows players to take classes and receive their high school equivalency and graduate. On Monday, there was a virtual celebration of the graduates from 2020 (were not able to celebrate in person) and 2021. Here is the list of Twins players who have received their diplomas. 2021 Graduating Class Carlos Aguiar Luis Baez Miguelangel Boadas Rubel Céspedes Gregory Durán Osiris Germán Oscar Paredes Alexander Peña Emmanuel Rodríguez Endy Rodríguez Malfrin Sosa 2020 Graduating Class Develson Aria Rafael Feliz Giovahniey Germán Argenis Jiménez Jeferson Morales Juan Pichardo Breilin Ramírez Wilker Reyes Carlos Suniaga Wander Valdez Join us in congratulating each of these, well, student-athletes. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our Midseason Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. As you have seen, we have started to share the Twins Daily Top 30 Prospect rankings after the draft and trade deadline. Here is Part 1. #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #2 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain) #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 12 GS, 57.1 IP, 55 H, 21 BB, 68 K, 4.24 ERA, 1.33 WHIP #4 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 4 GS, 18.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 35 K, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP (went on the IL with right elbow strain, made first rehab appearance for Ft. Myers, 2 perfect innings) #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 82 games, .337/.401/.587 (.987) with 19 doubles, 22 homers, 63 RBI, 30 BB, 52 K #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 45 games, .249/.323/.341 (.664) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 19 RBI, 17 BB, 57 K, 5 SB #7 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (7 games, .250/.276/.464 (.740) with 2 homers, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 6 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K) #8 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP #9 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 75 games, .185/.364/.309 (.674) with 13 doubles, 6 homers, 32 RBI, 67 BB, 101 K #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 33 games, .279/.338/.558 (.896) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 9 homers, 23 RBI, 10 BB, 49 K. #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th) #12 - Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – St. Paul (4 GS, 16.0 IP, 13 H, 5 BB, 21 K, 2.81 ERA, 1.13 WHIP), Minnesota (12 GS, 52.1 IP, 53 H, 15 BB, 56 K, 4.99 ERA, 1.30 WHIP) #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 12 G, 11 GS, 49.1 IP, 33 H, 21 BB, 64 K, 2.79 ERA, 1.12 WHIP #14 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (23 games, .176/.235/.374 (.608) with 6 doubles, 4 homers, 6 RBI, 6 BB, 27 K) #15 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 73 games, .193/.295/.294 (589) with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 4 homer, 46 RBI, 37 BB, 60 K, 12 SB) #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 79 games, .255/.363/.497 (.860) with 11 doubles, 2 triples, 19 homers, 48 RBI, 45 BB, 67 K) #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 77 games, .219/.273/.415 (.688) with 12 doubles, 9 triples, 10 homers, 41 RBI, 20 BB, 112 K) #18 - Alerick Soularie (FCL Twins) – 3 games, .556/.636/1.000 (1.636) with 1 doubles, 1 homer, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K) #19 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (had surgery on his right elbow to remove bone chips) #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - 15 GS, 64.1 IP, 60 H, 40 BB, 102 K, 4.76 ERA, 1.55 WHIP LOOKING AHEAD Ft. Myers @ Bradenton (Sean Mooney, Landon Leach, Casey Legumina, Miguel Rodriguez, Bobby Milacki, Aaron Rozek): Cedar Rapids @ Peoria:(Ben Gross, Louie Varland, TBD, Jon Olsen, Sawyer Gipson-Long, TBD) Wichita @ Tulsa: (Jordan Balazovic, Bryan Sammons, Chris Vallmont, Austin Schulfer, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic) St. Paul @ Indianapolis: (Andrew Albers, Drew Strotman, Chandler Shepherd, TBD, TBD, TBD) Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  11. 30. RHP Marco Raya (19 years old) Season Stats: Yet to Debut Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: NA, 2021 Preseason: NA Raya was the Twins’ fourth-round draft pick in 2020 out of United South High School in Laredo, Texas. His fastball can hit in the low- to mid-90s, and he mixes in three breaking pitches, including a slider, a curveball, and a change-up. At 6-feet tall and 170 pounds, he isn’t tall on the mound, but he is a good athlete, and the Twins are excited about the promise he shows for the future. Currently, he is on the IL with the FCL Twins. 29. LHP Jovani Moran (24 years old) Season Stats (AA/AAA): 50 IP (26 G), 1.98 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 15.3 K/9, 3.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NA Moran has one of the best change-ups in the Twins system, and he has been able to use it to dominate the minor’s upper levels this season. Originally, he was taken by the Twins in the seventh round in 2015 out of Carlos Beltran Baseball Academy in Puerto Rico. During July, he struck out nearly 50% of the batter he faced. Right-handed batters have been limited to a .352 OPS against him in 2021. With his success at Triple-A, he seems likely to make his big-league debut before the season's end. 28. LHP Steve Hajjar (21 years old) Season Stats (College): 81.2 IP (14 G), 3.09 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 12.1 K/9 3.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: NA, 2021 Preseason: NA Hajjar was Minnesota’s second-round pick in this year’s draft from the University of Michigan. He signed for the full slot value of $1,129,700 but has yet to make his professional debut. At Michigan, he led the Big Ten with 110 strikeouts in 81 2/3 innings. He is 6-foot-5 and weighs 215 pounds, so he is quite the presence on the mound. Typically, his fastball sits in the low-90s, but he can reach the mid-90s with some movement. He mixes in a change-up and a curveball to keep batters off balance. 27. SS Wander Javier (22 years old) Season Stats (A+): 76 G, .219/.274/.409 (.683), 9 HR, 12 2B, 9 3B, 33.8 K%, 6.1 BB% Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 17, 2021 Preseason: NA Javier was initially signed by the Twins in July 2015, and his name has populated the team’s top prospect lists throughout that time. At one point, he was considered a top-100 prospect in baseball, but he hasn’t put it all together to the point where he has been left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft the past two years. He had a tremendous month of June with a .834 OPS, but he struck out 41 times in 112 plate appearances in July. Fans can hope he develops into a five-tool talent, but that dream might have passed at this point. 26. 2B Alerick Soularie (22 years old) Season Stats: Rehab Assignment Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 18, 2021 Preseason: 18 Soularie rolled his ankle during spring training and then broke his foot going down some stairs, which has kept him out of action until late last week. He was taken in the second round in 2020 out of the University of Tennessee and he is 22-years old. Soularie has started his rehab assignment by going 2-for-5 with a home run, two RBI, and two runs scored. He is considered one of the best athletes in the Twins system, and the organization has to be excited to have him back on the field. Check back this week for the rest of the Twins post-draft and post-trade deadline top-30 rankings. Feel free to discuss this group of prospects and ask questions.
  12. Following a non-existent 2020 minor league season, the line between reliever and starter continues to be blurred for prospects. That being said, a few pitchers were used more regularly out of the bullpen and were able to separate themselves statistically. Before exploring the top four relievers, here are three Honorable Mentions: Jordan Gore, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Wichita Wind Surge - 8 G, 2.77 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 8 H, 8 walks, 21 strikeouts Osiris German, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 2.40 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 6 walks, 23 strikeouts Ryan Mason, Wichita Wind Surge - 9 G, 0.82 ERA, 1.36 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 10 H, 5 walks, 14 strikeouts. THE TOP FOUR RELIEF PITCHERS #4 - RHP Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 22 K Molina was drafted by the Twins in the 14th round back in 2017. He ended the 2019 season at High-A and that’s where he’s spent all of 2021. Things didn’t start off great for him during the 2021 campaign as he entered the month of July with a 5.46 ERA with opponents getting on base over 33% of the time against him. There were some positive signs as his strikeout totals were high (40 K in 29 2/3 innings). He seemed to put it all together in July as was asked to pitch two innings or more in every appearance. Opponents were only able to hit .190/.257/.286 (.543), and his five walks were the fewest he’s had in any month. Righties really struggle against Molina as he has held them to a .190 average with 35 strikeouts in 100 at-bats this season. His numbers could have looked even better if he hadn’t allowed two earned runs on the last day of the month. #3 - LHP Jovani Moran - Wichita Wind Surge/St. Paul Saints - 8 G, 2.41 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 34 K Moran joined the Twins in 2015 as a 7th round pick from Puerto Rico, and the development of his dominant changeup have made him a reliever to keep an eye on. He made his first five appearances at Triple-A during July, where he is over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He posted some dominant numbers during the month as he faced a total of 71 batters and compiled 34 strikeouts. Yes, he struck out nearly 50% of the batters he faced during the month. Also, he was asked to pitch more than one inning in every appearance during July. Batters struggled to do anything against him as he held them to a .094/.183/.203 slash line. With him now in St. Paul, it is not hard to imagine him making his big league debut before season’s end. #2 - LHP Denny Bentley - Fort Myers Mighty Mussels - 11 G, 1.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 8 H, 8 BB, 21 K Bentley, a 33rd round pick back in 2018, was the June Relief Pitcher of the Month, so it’s no surprise to see his name back near the top of the list. For the second straight month, batters hit under .145 against him and got on base only 25% of the time. All three of his earned runs this month came in one appearance as he was asked to make a spot start back on July 6. That means he ended the month with eight straight scoreless appearances. Even as a lefty, Bentley allows a .705 OPS against left-handed hitters, which is nearly 240 points higher than his OPS versus righties. Since he’s pitched at Low-A for the entire season, one has to wonder if he will make the jump to High-A during the season’s second half. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: RHP Erik Manoah Jr. - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 0.60 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 20 K Manoah might not be a familiar name to Twins fans because he wasn’t even in the organization at season’s start. He began the year pitching in independent baseball as part of the Atlantic League, but he impressed enough to catch the eye of the Twins organization. Originally, he was a 13th round pick of the Mets and he pitched parts of three seasons for that organization before joining the Angels organization. He topped out at High-A with Los Angeles and ended 2019 pitching in the American Association. As the calendar turned to July, Manoah was promoted to Cedar Rapids where he made an immediate impact. Across nine appearances, he only allowed one run and he held batters to hitting .140/.241/.180 (.421). Lefties have only been able to combine for a .313 OPS when facing Manoah. Also, he seems to buckle down in pressure situations as he has 24 strikeouts in 43 at-bats with runners on base. Because of his stints in independent leagues, all but one of his at-bats this season has come against younger batters. Other players might have quit after multiple years in independent leagues, but now he is back on the professional map. And yes, his younger brother Alek pitches for the Toronto Blue Jays. As the Twins have seen this year, an organization can never have too much relief pitching. All of these players had strong month and some may be worthy of promotions in the weeks ahead. Congratulations to Erik Manoah Jr., the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2021.
  13. Some possible solutions to the rotation were found with the return from the Nelson Cruz trade on Thursday. Still, the front office has their work cut out for them to improve the pitching staff as a whole. More trades are surely on the way and a fair share of the available payroll will likely be spent on arms. There are three relievers at AAA however who we may see by season’s end that could put a massive patch in the sinking ship that is this pitching staff. Ian Hamilton Nick summarized just about every reason to have hope for Hamilton in one tweet. Hamilton was drafted in the 11th round in 2016 and quickly proved to be an exciting up and coming bullpen arm in the White Sox system. Unfortunately Hamilton’s career was thrown off course by two freak accidents. He struggled thereafter and eventually bounce around waiver claims before the Twins claimed him (and then successfully DFAd him) this spring. Hamilton has spent the entire season in St. Paul which is by no means an indicator of his effectiveness. Instead, it almost seems like the Twins are developing the 26-year-old as if he was a prospect as he weathers his first full season of professional baseball since 2018. This plan appears to have paid dividends, as Hamilton has posted a 34% K rate with a 0.58 HR/9 so far and has sorted out his early season walk issues. He should get a chance by season’s end to showcase his high 90s fastball at Target Field in an attempt to earn a place for 2022. Yennier Cano Signed in 2019 as an international free agent out of Cuba, Cano is a bit different than most prospects in the Twins top 30 as he’s 27 years old. Cano has moved a bit more slowly through the system than expected when he was signed, but he appears to be on the precipice of the Major Leagues after debuting at AA ball this year and getting called up to St. Paul a few weeks ago. Cano got hit around a bit in his AAA debut allowing three Earned Runs in 1 2/3 innings. He’s settled down since then, dropping his ERA to 4.50 with a 3.05 FIP. He’s struck out 28.4% of the hitters he’s faced. He has a pitch mix that profiles extremely well with a mid 90s fastball to go with a great slider and a splitter to equalize left-handed hitters. It’s honestly a bit surprising that Cano hasn’t received The Call already, but it’s easy to foresee him in Minneapolis very soon. Jovani Moran Moran was Cano’s partner in crime when it came to terrorizing opposing lineups out of the AA bullpen to start the year. Moran has long had the reputation of having nasty stuff but has struggled with control thus far in his career. After having 14% walk rates at both levels in 2019, it was encouraging even to see those numbers drop to 10% at AA to start the season. Moran is a left-handed pitcher with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, but his changeup is likely one of the best the Twins system has seen since Johan Santana as Lucas points out (tweet above). The pitch allows him not only to avoid big lefty/righty splits, but is also his go-to weapon for swings and misses. He seems to have the right idea, as he’s struck out 46% of AA hitters and 44.4% of AAA hitters thus far. His late arrival to AAA makes him a bit more questionable to debut with the Twins this season, but it’s certainly a possibility depending on how the trade deadline shakes out. Skepticism is warranted after this season, but it’s been a long time since the Twins in particular have developed arms with such high octane, can’t miss stuff. While far from a sure thing, we should get a look at at least a few of them this year. At the very least it’s a bit of excitement in what will be an inconsequential finish to 2021. At best, we just might get a glimpse into a more effective stable of arms for 2022. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  14. While the Lookouts finished at the bottom of the Southern League North division standings while with Minnnesota for the 2018 season, the Blue Wahoos won a wild card in the second half before losing to the Biloxi Shuckers in the first round of the playoffs while an affiliate of the Cincinnati Reds. The Blue Wahoos appear to join the organization at a good time, as there’s a few top prospects in all the minor leagues that could spend a lot of time with them during the 2019 season. They appear to have a strong roster at the outset but may be even better in the second half if and when players are promoted. So here’s a look at the inaugural Pensacola Blue Wahoos roster and coaching staff for the 2019 season. Feel free to share any thoughts you may have on the team and as always, ask questions in the comments! COACHING STAFF Manager Ramon Borrego comes to Pensacola after spending seven years as the Twins manager in the Gulf Coast League, and then the 2018 season at the helm of the Fort Myers Miracle where he led them to the Florida State League championship. Steve Singleton will be the hitting coach and is very familiar with Borrego, as they’ve been together at both the GCL and FSL levels in the past few years. They’ll be joined by pitching coaches Cibney Bello and Justin Willard who worked together last year with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. ROSTER The Blue Wahoos will be represented on the Twins 40-man roster by two players to start the season. There is not a member of the team who has played in the majors yet, though eight players have spent some time at the Triple A level, with 11 more having spent at least some time with the Chattanooga Lookouts in 2018 or at Double A in the past. Note that this is a tentative roster and can be updated before the minor league season starts on Thursday. HITTERS Catchers: Brian Navarreto, Mitchell Kranson, Caleb Hamilton Infielders: Luis Arraez, Brian Schales, Drew Maggi, Jordan Gore, Taylor Grzelakowski (also Catcher) Outfielders: Jaylin Davis, Jimmy Kerrigan, Ernie De La Trinidad, Tanner English (IL), Alex Kirilloff (IL) PITCHERS: Starting Pitchers: Brusdar Graterol, Jorge Alcala, Griffin Jax, Devin Smeltzer, Sean Poppen, Tyler Wells (IL), Daniel Camarena (IL), Randy LeBlanc (IL) Relief Pitchers: Tyler Jay, Sam Clay, Jovani Moran, Jeff Ames, Adam Bray, Andro Cutura, Dusten Knight, Ryan Mason, Cody Stashak, Williams Ramirez (IL) POTENTIAL LINEUP: CF – Jimmy Kerrigan 2B – Luis Arraez OF – Jaylin Davis (Alex Kirilloff) 1B – Taylor Grzelakowski DH – Mitchell Kranson OF – Ernie De La Trinidad / Jaylin Davis 3B – Drew Maggi / Brian Schales SS – Jordan Gore C – Brian Navarreto TOP PROSPECTS: Alex Kirilloff (Twins Daily #2 Prospect) – Best hitter not named Vlad Guerrero Jr. in all of MiLB last season. Brusdar Graterol (Twins Daily #3 Prospect) – Graterol is the Twins top pitching prospect. Blessed with a triple-digit fastball as well as improving breaking ball and changeup. Jorge Alcala (Twins Daily #19 Prospect) – Like Graterol, Alcala can hit triple-digits with his fastball and will continue to work on his secondary offerings. Tyler Wells – Twins Daily’s 2018 MiLB Starting Pitcher of the Year. Has dedicated himself to fitness and diet as a pro and the big righthander will look to continue his rise among pitching prospects. Luis Arraez – Professional hitter with a .329 career batting average in the minors tied with only an 8.5% strikeout rate. Jovani Moran – Lefty reliever was nearly unhittable last year at Cedar Rapids, then improved when promoted to Fort Myers. Has a 12.6/9IP strikeout rate in the minors thus far. Arrow pointing firmly up. Taylor Grzelakowski – .828 OPS in pitcher friendly Florida State League in 2018. Standout in MiLB reports last year could improve that number even more in Southern League. Griffin Jax – Jax re-joined the organization in late-April as part of the Air Force’s World Class Athlete program. He joined the Miracle in mid-May and spent the rest of the season with the team. He posted a 3.70 ERA over 87 2/3 innings with the Miracle and then threw another 21 innings in the Arizona Fall league. Jaylin Davis – Strongly built outfielder will likely slot somewhere in middle of Blue Wahoos order. Power is tool to keep an eye on in 2019. STORIES TO WATCH: What else can one say about Alex Kirilloff at this point? He’s the must-watch prospect for Pensacola to start the season, and it’s fun to speculate on if he can repeat the success he had last year in the upper levels of the minor leagues. He’ll start the year on the injured list but shouldn’t be on the shelf long. Brusdar Graterol and Jovani Moran are being challenged with the assignment to Double A to start the year after fantastic campaigns in 2018, how will they respond? The Fort Myers Miracle won the FSL championship in 2018 in part because of several players added to the roster in the second half of the season. A lot of those same guys are starting the year back with Fort Myers, with the potential to make the same type of impact with the Blue Wahoos in the latter half of this summer. Hear it from the Championship organization themselves: https://twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall/status/1112423800375857152 Tyler Wells was fantastic during the 2018 season and is arguably the top pitcher on the staff to start the year. Will he be able to keep his arrow pointing upward as he faces stiffer competition in the Southern League? Can Tyler Jay reclaim any of his former top-prospect-shine in the mold of Kohl Stewart from the 2018 season? Please feel free to discuss this roster. Ask lots of questions and check back often. What stories will you be following?
  15. There were several standout strikeout arms in the Twins system when it came to relief pitchers, as you will see below. Some of them have spent time in the majors this season, while a few others appear ready for their opportunity. Short profiles of our top five are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Nick Anderson, Rochester Red Wings – 39 G, 8-2, 4 Saves, 3.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 60.0 IP, 49 H, 19 BB, 88 K Gabriel Moya, Rochester Red Wings – 26 G, 1-1, 4 Saves, 1.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 42.2 IP, 38 H, 12 BB, 50 K John Curtiss, Rochester Red Wings – 38 G, 2-4, 10 Saves, 3.42 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 55.1 IP, 41 H, 31 BB, 61 K Ryne Harper, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – 38 G, 1-5, 6 Saves, 3.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 65.0 IP, 61 H, 10 BB, 86 K These are the top five players to receive votes for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year #5 – Jake Reed, Rochester Red Wings – 30 G, 0-3, 2 Saves, 1.89 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 47.2 IP, 34 H, 21 BB, 50 K For a few years now, it has seemed like Jake Reed was knocking on the door to the major leagues, but in part due to some injuries, hasn’t yet made the jump. I’ll say quite frankly that he should have, at least for September of this year (and last year for that matter). The ERA to finish his season is great, but he really turned it on as the season wore on, appearing in both July and August’s Relief Pitcher of the Month entries. In that time frame Reed appeared in 16 games, pitching 26 total innings and allowing just four earned runs (1.38 ERA) on 10 hits and 10 walks (good for a 0.77 WHIP), while striking out 29. #4 – Alan Busenitz, Rochester Red Wings – 27 G, 2-3, 7 Saves, 2.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 32 H, 8 BB, 45 K Despite appearing in 28 games with the Twins in 2017 and delivering a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, Busenitz has been on the Triple A shuttle several times this season, never quite being able to settle in. He was excellent in the minors again in 2018, including the month of May in which he didn’t allow a single run in eight appearances and 13 total innings. He was recognized in both May and June’s Relief Pitcher of the Month awards, and in that stretch over a period of 13 MiLB appearances, did not allow a run while striking out 27 in 23 innings pitched. #3 – Cody Stashak, Fort Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts – 37 G, 2-1, 4 Saves, 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 59.2 IP, 49 H, 15 BB, 74 K Stashak was a starting pitcher for the first two years of his professional career, and a decent one, after being drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns University. But that changed in 2018, as the Twins put him in the bullpen for its entirety. He didn’t miss a beat, sustaining a sub 3.00 ERA, sub 1.10 WHIP, and sub .240 batting average against while increasing his K-rate. Stashak has always had good control, and that also didn’t leave him out of the ‘pen allowing him to have the best K/BB ratio of his career. From July through the end of the season, spanning 17 appearances and 23 innings pitched, Stashak allowed just two earned runs (0.78 ERA) on 19 hits and only 2 walks, while striking out 25. He was #2 in July’s Relief Pitcher of the Month entry and made honorable mention in two others during the season. #2 – Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle – 37 G, 9-3, 8 Saves, 2.49 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 76.0 IP, 45 H, 35 BB, 107 K If you paid attention during the year or have been clicking the links throughout this article, you know of the legend that is Jovani Moran already. He took home the monthly relief pitcher honors in June and July and received an honorable mention twice. The first thing you’ll notice with him is obviously the K’s. After striking out literally everybody with Elizabethton in 2017 (almost, his rate was 16.4/9IP) and taking home the Short Season Pitcher of the Year award, Moran continued that success with the Kernels and Miracle in 2018, finishing with a rate of 12.7K/9IP between his two stops. Surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2016 seemingly ended his development path as a starter, but what they’ve found as a reliever is hard to ignore. Listed at 6’1” and 170 lbs, Moran hasn’t been known for his velocity, but may have kicked it up some in the bullpen. He has also improved the movement of his secondary pitches, led by a great changeup and improving breaking ball. Moran is one to watch closely moving forward. #1 – Andrew Vasquez, Fort Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – 40 G, 1-2, 6 Saves, 1.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 50 H, 21 BB, 108 K If you thought Moran’s strikeout total was egregious, take a look at Andrew Vasquez’s. There’s a reason the left-handed Vasquez jumped from Fort Myers all the way to the Twins bullpen during the 2018 season—he has been as untouchable as his slider is elite. Like Moran, Vasquez made appearances on several of the monthly awards, including winning in August before his September callup to the majors. Leading to his recent MLB debut, Vasquez has had a standout minor league career since being drafted by the Twins in the 32nd round of the 2015 draft out of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. His career minor league ERA is just 1.52 in four seasons and he has struck out 13.4/9IP. While his fastball will only touch the 90’s, as Twins farm director Jeremy Zoll noted to Twins Daily, “It’s all about the slider with Andrew.” Because of this pitch, he didn’t allow a single extra-base-hit to same-sided hitters during his 2017 season that ended with a trip to the Arizona Fall League (fun fact only I may know since I wrote about it: his first hit allowed in the AFL was a double to a lefty). His efforts during that 2017 campaign also landed him at #5 in this award category last year. Zoll went on to talk about how Brad Steil, Luis Ramirez (Vasquez’s pitching coach in rookie ball), and the Twins pushed him to rely on the pitch after turning pro. “The slider is your thing, make it your thing. He really owned that this year. I think he realized that not only lefties, but righties were having a really hard time hitting it too. Once he got to Double A it was like ‘All right, I’m catching a groove here’ and you could see his confidence boost. It’s been really fun to see him have that type of success, starting in high-A and ending up in the big leagues.” You can definitely see that boost in confidence talked about in his numbers on the year. With Fort Myers, Vasquez pitched 32.2 innings with a 1.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 37:13 K to BB ratio. With the Lookouts, those numbers improved to 31.0 innings with a 1.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and a 59:4 K to BB ratio. Then, before he was called up to the Twins he made four appearances with the Rochester Red Wings, pitching 5.2 innings and striking out 12 of the 28 hitters he faced (42.3%). It was an easy decision to add Vasquez to the 40-man when rosters expanded for September based on his numbers and the fact that he would have to be protected in the offseason anyway. Twins fans should be able to see that slider plenty of times over the final month and get an idea of what the future could hold for the 6’6” left-hander. It’s very apparent how much the Twins believe in Vasquez and his slider, as Zoll closed by recalling a conversation with Tim O’Neill, one of their national cross-checkers, who said, “How about the kid from Westmont?!” Zoll went on, “It’s an interesting story and situation to see that type of profile, having a reliever with that type of slider. Where did you learn that thing and how can we teach other people? Maybe there’s something in the water. We’ll have to ship that out to Fort Myers.” Definitely look into that, Mr. Zoll! Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez and the rest of the relievers recognized by Twins Daily for their efforts in 2018. Vasquez has the ingredients to stick around for a while, even if it’s just to devastate left-handed hitters. The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Jake Reed, 4) Alan Busenitz, 5) Cody Stashak Jeremy Nygaard – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Alan Busenitz, 4) Cody Stashak, 5) Nick Anderson Cody Christie – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Gabriel Moya, 4) Cody Stashak, 5) Alan Busenitz Tom Froemming – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Ryne Harper, 5) Nick Anderson Steve Lein – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Ryne Harper, 5) Nick Anderson Ted Schwerzler – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jake Reed, 3) John Curtiss, 4) Alan Busenitz, 5) Jovani Moran What do you think? How would your ballot look?
  16. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Daytona 1 Box Score W: Charlie Barnes (6.2 IP, 7 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K) SV: Jovani Moran (2.1 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 6 K) HR: Jose Miranda Multi-hit games: Travis Blankenhorn (3-for-3), Jose Miranda (2-for-4, 2B, HR) Game 1 of the Florida State League Championship Series opened up as a pitcher’s duel. Charlie Barnes of Fort Myers and Packy Naughton of Daytona each wiggled out of early jams, Barnes being the beneficiary of some great defense. Daytona opened the third inning with consecutive singles and loaded the bases with one out. A potential sacrifice fly was hit out to Aaron Whitefield in center, but he turned it into an inning-ending double play instead, throwing out the runner trying to score. This game was tied at 0-0 heading into the bottom of the sixth. Naughton retired the first two hitters he faced, but Alex Kirilloff hit a single to extend the inning and Jose Miranda delivered a huge two-run homer. The Miracle added an insurance run in the seventh, as Caleb Hamilton hit a leadoff single, stole second base with two outs and came around to score on a Travis Blankenhorn single. Things got way too interesting in the top half of the eighth inning. With Jovani Moran pitching, the Tortugas’ leadoff batter reached safely on a strike three passed ball. Moran hit the next batter, then gave up an RBI single. The Miracle finally got the first out of the inning on a pop out, but then Moran walked the bases loaded. Luckily, he got things straightened out and struck out the next two batters swinging. Heading into the ninth up 3-1, Ryan Costello committed an error to put the leadoff man on, but Moran buckled down again and struck out the next three batters, all swinging. Game 2 of this series takes place tomorrow evening. Griffin Jax will start for the Miracle. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Beloit 0 (7 innings) Box Score W: Randy Dobnak (7.0 IP, 6 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K) Multi-hit games: Akil Baddoo (3-for-4, 2B) There’s nothing better than a dominant outing by a starting pitcher in postseason play. Randy Dobnak surely had the Snappers feeling helpless, as he shut them out for the full seven innings of this game. Dobnak gave up just six hits and a walk and struck out eight. He was effectively aggressive, throwing 72 of his 92 pitches for strikes (78.3 percent). Akil Baddoo was rock solid for Cedar Rapids at the plate. He hit a leadoff double in the first, but was eventually stranded there. In the second, he got the Kernels on the board with a two-out RBI single. He added another single in the middle of what was a two-run fourth inning for Cedar Rapids. This game was only scheduled for seven innings because if the Kernels would have lost, a third and deciding game would have been played later in the evening on Friday. With a victory in Game 2 of their series against Beloit, the Kernels advance to the Midwest League Western Division Championship, and will host Peoria tomorrow night. Bryan Sammons will be on the mound for Cedar Rapids. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Randy Dobnak, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Jose Miranda, Fort Myers TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-4 2. Alex Kirilloff (FM): 1-for-4, R 6. Trevor Larnach (CR): 1-for-2, BB, RBI, K 8. Akil Baddoo (CR): 3-for-4, 2B, RBI, R, K 13. Travis Blankenhorn (FM): 3-for-3, RBI 18. Ryan Jeffers (CR): 0-for-3 SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Fort Myers vs. Daytona, 6:00 pm CT: Griffin Jax (Game 2 of series, Miracle up 1-0) Cedar Rapids vs. Peoria, 6:35 pm CT: Bryan Sammons (Game 1 of series) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.
  17. TRANSACTIONS There were a few moves in the system before the games: The Chattanooga Lookouts sent LHP Casey Crosby on a rehab assignment to the GCL Twins. Also, in some sad news RHP Todd Van Steensel was released from the Lookouts roster. In Cedar Rapids, outfielder and 2018 first round draft pick Trevor Larnach was officially promoted. To make room, Jean Carlos Arias was sent back to Elizabethton, and Christian Cavaness was released from the Kernels roster. RED WINGS REPORT Toledo 5, Rochester 1 Box Score Starter Zack Littell had to try to work around a bunch of trouble in his outing, and he wasn’t able to on enough occasions. He finished 4 2/3 innings with 96 pitches (61 strikes), allowing five hits and five walks. Two errors from his defense led to five runs (two earned). This was more than enough for the Mud Hens as Rochester finished 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Gregorio Petit finished the day 2-for-4 with a double to lead the way. Edgar Corcino added a triple and scored their only run on a RBI single from Juan Graterol that followed. The bullpen duo of Luke Bard and John Curtiss combined to finish the game in scoreless fashion. Bard went 2 1/3, allowing one hit and striking out two. Curtiss finished the final two innings by allowing one hit and one walk. He struck out three. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Scheduled Day Off. After taking three out of five against the Mississippi Braves, the Lookouts got a day off on Tuesday before continuing the second half of their 10-game homestand against the Jackson Generals tomorrow. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 5, Lakeland 0 Box Score The Miracle got a fantastic start from right-hander Griffin Jax and as a result Jose Miranda’s first home run in the Florida State League would be all the run support needed, but the lineup added some insurance just in case. Jax pitched into the eighth inning where he allowed a leadoff double before getting a groundout for his final out. In his 7 1/3 innings, he gave up only four hits, walked one, and struck out seven. Of his 94 pitches 67 went for strikes and he retired twelve in a row at one point. He improved to 3-1 on the season. July’s Twins Daily MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Month, Jovani Moran, came on and finished off the victory with 1 2/3 scoreless frames to pick up his third save with Fort Myers. He retired all five hitters he faced including punctuating the win with his second strikeout to end it. The offense got two hits from Taylor Grzelakowski (2-5, RBI, 2 K) and Caleb Hamilton (2-for-3, R, 2B, RBI), While Miranda’s home run was a two-run shot in the eighth that made it 3-0. Royce Lewis singled, stole a base, and scored a run in five trips to the plate. Alex Kirilloff finished 1-for-4. KERNELS NUGGETS Scheduled Day Off. Cedar Rapids got a travel day on Tuesday to head further east across the state of Iowa. They will begin a five-game road trip with three versus the Clinton Lumberkings on Wednesday. E-TWINS E-TALK Kingsport 10, Elizabethton 16 Box Score The lack of offense in the other games on Tuesday was more than made up for in this one. The E-Twins racked up 16 runs on 16 hits, seven walks, and two errors against the Kingsport defense in a scoreboard slugfest. Even more remarkable was that the Mets scored their 10 runs on just six hits. Combined the teams finished 9-for-21 with runners in scoring position and left half as many runners on the bases as they scored. Chris Williams had a mammoth day, finishing 2-for-3 with two home runs and six RBIs. He also was hit by a pitch, had a sac fly, and scored three runs on the game. His first home run in the eight-run third inning was a three-run blast. His second was a two-run shot in the fourth. Robert Molina concluded the fireworks in the third with a grand slam. Williams now has 14 homers in 42 games with Elizabethton (that’s a better rate than Brent Rooker had last year, if you were wondering). Molina’s slam was his second in the Appalachian League and drove in five runs in total. Gilberto Celestino (2-for-6, 2 R), Colton Burns (3-for-4, 3 R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Ricky De La Torre (2-for-5, R, K), and Lean Marrero (3-for-4, R, BB) joined Williams and Molina with multiple hits. With all that offense, the pitching wasn’t as great for the Twins. Luis Rijo made his first start with his new organization and due to an error in the fourth, ended his debut being charged with five unearned runs. In 3 2/3 innings he allowed two hits, walked two, and struck out four. Pedro Garcia went the next 3 1/3 and allowed five earned runs on three hits and four walks while striking out three. Zach Neff finished the game for the Twins with two scoreless innings. He allowed one hit and struck out one. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Twins 2, GCL Rays 3 Box Score The Twins lineup was only able to muster three hits on the game and combined with drawing zero walks, they just didn’t have or make for themselves many opportunities. They were just 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left only one man on base. Their runs were courtesy of an Agustin Marte solo home run in the sixth (his first in the states), and an RBI single from Estamy Urena after Gabe Snyder reached second base on an error in the eighth. Despite all that the score was tied 2-2 heading into the ninth, so the Twins also had some good pitching. On a rehab assignment from Chattanooga, Casey Crosby struck out three in the first inning but due to a walk, a stolen base, error, and wild pitch also gave up an unearned run. Prelander Berroa went the next four frames and allowed an unearned run on three hits and one walk while striking out three. Junior Navas then threw two scoreless frames, allowing two hits and striking out two. Denny Bentley added a one-two-three eighth inning setting the stage for climactic ninth. When the Twins went down in order in the top half, Niklas Rimmel came on to pitch the bottom. He was greeted by a double from the leadoff man, got the next to fly out, but couldn’t escape as a single a few batters later walked it off for the Rays. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Griffin Jax, Fort Myers Miracle (W, 7.1IP, 4 H, BB, 7 K) Twins Daily Hitter(s) of the Day – Chris Williams, Elizabethton Twins (2-for-3, 3R, 2 HR (14), 6 RBI) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-5, R, SB (5) #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-4, K #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch. #4 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) – 0-for-4, 2 K #5 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) – Did not pitch. #6 - Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play (officially promoted on Tuesday). #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – Did not play. #8 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play. #9 -Wander Javier – Out of for the season. #10 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – L (3-5), 4.2IP, 5 R (2 ER), 5 H, 5 BB, 3 K #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play. #12 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – Did not play. #13 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-4, R, K #14 - Lewis Thorpe (Chattanooga) – Did not play. #15 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) – Did not play. #16 - Yunior Severino (Elizabethton) – 1-for-6, R, 2 K #17 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) – Will have surgery on his wrist soon. Out for season. #18 - Ryan Jeffers (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play. #19 - Jacob Pearson (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play. #20 - Luis Arraez (Chattanooga) – Did not play. WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Toledo @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) – RHP Chase De Jong (0-1, 12.27 ERA) Jackson @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (7-4, 3.67 ERA) Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30PM CST) – RHP Clark Beeker (4-6, 4.04 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (7:00PM CST) – LHP Tyler Watson (4-5, 4.76 ERA) Kingsport @ Elizabethton (6:00PM CST) – TBD GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (11:00AM CST) – TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  18. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for July, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Erik Cha- GCL Twins, 7 G, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 11.0 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 8 K Ryan Eades - Chattanooga Lookouts, 6 G, 2.19 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9 H, 0 BB, 12 K Regi Grace - GCL Twins, 3 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 7 K Ryne Harper - Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 1.42 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 11 H, 2 BB, 15 K Zach Neff - Elizabethton Twins, 9 G, 2.70 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 11 H, 5 BB, 18 K Derek Molina - Elizabethton Twins/Cedar Rapids Kernels, 7 G, 1.42 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 3 H, 12 BB, 22 K Andrew Vasquez - Chattanooga Lookouts, 9 G, 2.16 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 16 H, 1 BB, 29 K THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Jose Martinez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 8 G, 1.20 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 16 K You may not have heard of Jose Martinez, but this is his sixth season in the Twins organization. Signed in 2013 out of Venezuela by Jose Leon, Martinez spent the 2014 and 2015 seasons in the Dominican Summer League. He spent the last two seasons in Elizabethton. He has spent this entire season with the Kernels in Cedar Rapids.In 28 total games, he has worked 53 2/3 innings. He’s got a 4.53 ERA. He has 50 strikeouts and 21 walks. He was very good in July and ended the month with six scoreless outings covering 11 1/3 innings. He recorded a save in three of his final four outings during the month. #4 - Jake Reed - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 2.03 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 4 H, 5 BB, 11 K Reed was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2014 out of the University of Oregon. He flew up the system, pitching in the Arizona Fall League that year and starting the 2015 season in Chattanooga. However, he has fought some injuries and still has yet to receive the call up. However, if his past two months are any indication, just maybe it will come this year. In July, opponents hit just .095/.224/.143 (.367) against him. Reed has a fastball in the mid-90s that runs in on a right-hander, and he compements it with a mid-80s slider that darts away from a right-hander. #3 - Adam Bray - Ft. Myers Miracle - 9 G, 0.98 ERA, 0.71 WHIP, 18.1 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 19 K Adam Bray had a fantastic baseball career if he had just quit playing after a high school state championship and a national championship with his American Legion team. He went to South Dakota State and then was drafted by the Dodgers. This March, he was acquired by the Twins in a trade. He didn’t join the Miracle until the end of June. As you can see from his numbers, he pitched a lot, and he pitched quite well. Opponents hit just .136/.212/.220 (.432) off of him during the month, and he struck out more than a batter per inning. Get to know a little more about Adam Bray from this story. #2 - Cody Stashak - Chattanooga Lookouts - 9 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 16 K Stashak was drafted as a starting pitcher out of St. Johns in the 13th round of the 2015 draft. He was a pretty solid, underrated starter. In 2016, he posted a 2.80 ERA between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Last year, he posted a 3.60 ERA between Ft. Myers and Chattanooga. This year, the move was made to the bullpen and it has been successful. In 43 2/3 innings so far this year for the Lookouts, he has a 3.09 ERA and 60 strikeouts to go with just 13 walks. In July, he didn’t give up a run, earned or unearned. Opponents hit just .179/.220/.256 (.476) against him during the month. At 6-2 and thin, Stashak throws in the low 90s with a good pitch mix. He’s got good control and command. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle – LHP Jovani Moran - 8 G, 1.13 ERA, 0.56 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 22 K Moran is the choice for Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for the second straight month. The difference, of course, is that he was a member of the Cedar Rapids Kernels throughout the month of June. At the end of the month, Moran was promoted to Ft. Myers and hasn’t missed a beat. The 2015 seventh-round pick from Puerto Rico has pitched in different roles in his short time with the Miracle, averaging two innings per outing. In July, opponents hit just .148/.164/.204 (.367) against him. In large part, the 22:1 strikeout to walk ratio helps with that. The 21-year-old missed the 2016 season after having surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He returned strong in 2017, and he was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. For Elizabethton, he gave up just one run in 24 2/3 innings (0.36 ERA), and had just six walks to go with 45 strikeouts. Moran is not a big guy .He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs in at about 170 pounds. He’s got a good whip action and some deception in his delivery. His fastball reaches into the low-90s, and he’s got a good slider and changeup. He really just needs to keep working and developing, and gaining strength could help him add a little more velocity. He’s a really good athlete who fields the position well. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in July throughout the Twins minor league system. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but for the second straight month, Congratulations to Jovani Moran. He is the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for July 2018.
  19. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for June, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Tyler Duffey, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 2.03 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 11 K Jared Finkel, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 7 G, 3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 K Gabriel Moya, Rochester Red Wings, 10 G (3 GS), 1. 59, 1.06 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 16 K THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 6 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 13 K The Twins 35th round draft pick in 2016 out of Westmont College had a real solid month with the Miracle in June. After a breakout 2017 season in Cedar Rapids in which he posted a 1.13 ERA and 17 saves, 2018 has had some ups and downs. However, he now has a 3.18 in 39 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .240/.283/.340 (623) off of him in June. #4 - Paco Rodriguez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 6 K Rodriguez was the second-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Later that season, he made his big league debut and stayed in the big leagues through the 2015 season. Unfortunately, he fought several injuries. Fast-forward to this year, and after the season started, the Twins signed him as a free agent. Soon after, he spent a couple of weeks with the Miracle before moving up to Chattanooga in late May. The southpaw had a strong month for the Lookouts. Opponents hit just .206/.300/.294 (.594) off of the 27-year-old during the month. #3 - Alan Busenitz - Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins - 8 G, 3.07 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 0 BB, 13 K Busenitz wasn’t as good in June as he was in April and May, but he was still quite good. While fans wanted him up soon, he did get called back up with a week left in June, though he was again optioned before the month’s end. Opponents hit just .228/.241/.333 (.575) off of him. Most impressive was 13 strikeouts and zero walks. Despite his 6.43 ERA with the Twins this year, he has a 12-2 strikeout to walk ratio. #2 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 6 G, 2.79 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 3 H, 7 BB, 17 K Vasquez represented the Twins and the Miracle in the Florida State League All-Star game in June and threw a scoreless inning (if you want to add that to his above stats). As you can see, there are times that Vasquez can struggle with control, but he limits hits by utilizing a tremendous slider that can miss a lot of bats. Like Lujan, Vasquez was drafted out of Westmont College in 2016 in the 32nd round. Following the All-Star break, he was promoted to Chattanooga. He’s made two appearances and has 10 strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Cedar Rapids Kernels – LHP Jovani Moran - 6 G, 0.90 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 4 H, 7 BB, 23 K Moran was the Twins seventh-round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico. He missed the 2016 season after having surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He returned strong in 2017, and he was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. For Elizabethton, he gave up just one run in 24 2/3 innings (0.36 ERA), and had just six walks to go with 45 strikeouts. Moran began the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He struggled with his control in April when he had 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in just 7 1/3 innings for the Kernels. Since then, he has been much improved. In May, he had 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 18 innings. As you see above, he had 23 strikeouts and seven walks in 15 innings. Still not great control, but his swing-and-miss stuff make the walks more bearable. Moran is not a big guy .He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs in at about 170 pounds. He’s got a good whip-like action and some deception in his delivery. His fastball reaches into the low-90s, and he’s got a good slider and changeup. He really just needs to keep working and developing, and gaining strength could help him add a little more velocity. He’s a really good athlete who fields the position well. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in June throughout the Twins minor league system. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but again, congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2018, Jovani Moran of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
  20. In case you missed it, late last month I rolled out this feature without really having any idea where it was going to fit into the big picture of minor league coverage at the site. Seth and I came to the conclusion this would be a good mid-month feature to sort of play off his Minor League Player of the Month Award articles. Speaking of which, here are the award winners from May: Hitter: Alex Kirilloff, OF, Cedar Rapids Starting pitcher: Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Cedar Rapids Relief pitcher: Todd Van Steensel, RHP, Chattanooga Below are the stats for this edition of the Prospect Pulse. All numbers were pulled on the morning of June 15. Affiliates -Rochester Red Wings: 30-33, fifth place in IL North -Chattanooga Lookouts: 35-32, second place in SL North -Fort Myers Miracle: 26-39, last place in FSL South -Cedar Rapids Kernels: 31-35, sixth place in MWL Western -Elizabethton Twins (season starts June 19) -GCL Twins (season starts June 18) -DSL Twins: 8-3, tied for first place in DSL South Top Prospects Here’s a snapshot at how the top 20 prospects have performed. Just a quick note before we get into the numbers, one way or another there will be an updated top 20 list I’ll be using for the mid-July Prospect Pulse. 1. Royce Lewis, SS, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: .267/.300/.505 (.805 OPS), 17.1 K%, 3.6 BB% Full season: .291/.336/.437 (.773 OPS), 15.9 K%, 6.0 BB% 2. Fernando Romero, RHP, Minnesota Last 28 days: 24.2 IP, 6.20 ERA, 1.46 WHIP, 6.9 K/9, 2.7 K:BB Full season: 62.1 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 8.5 K/9, 2.3 K:BB (MIN & CHAT) 3. Nick Gordon, SS, Rochester Last 28 days: .269/.290/.385 (.674 OSP), 19.6 K%, 2.8 BB% Full season: .308/.347/.466 (.813 OPS), 16.8 K%, 4.7 BB% (ROC & CHAT) 4. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP, Rochester Last 28 days: 15.1 IP, 9.98 ERA, 2.28 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 0.9 K:BB Full season: 57.0 IP, 4.42 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 1.9 K:BB (ROC & CHAT) 5. Alex Kirilloff, RF, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: .346/.417/.635 (1.051 OPS), 13.3 K%, 10.8 BB% Full season: .329/.386/.608 (.994 OPS), 16.9 K%, 8.2 BB% 6. Wander Javier, SS, out for the year with a shoulder injury. Last 28 days: None. Full season: None. 7. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF, Chattanooga Last 28 days: .273/.354/.535 (.889 OPS), 28.3 K%, 11.5 BB% Full season: .255/.310/.449 (.759 OPS) 28.4 K%, 7.0 BB% 8. Blayne Enlow, RHP, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: 15.2 IP, 4.60 ERA, 1.53 WHIP, 6.3 K/9, 1.4 K:BB Full season: 34.1 IP, 4.46 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, 6.6 K/9, 1.7 K:BB 9. Brusdar Graterol, RHP, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: 22.0 IP, 3.68 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 8.6 K/9, 4.2 K:BB Full season: 36.1 IP, 2.48 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.4 K/9, 7.0 K:BB 10. Akil Baddoo, CF, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: .233/.309/.493 (.802 OPS), 27.2 K%, 9.9 BB% Full season: .220/.364/.387 (.751 OPS), 30.4 K%, 17.8 BB% 11. Zack Littell, RHP, Rochester Last 28 days: 19.0 IP, 7.11 ERA, 1.74 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 1.6 K:BB Full season: 58.0 IP, 5.12 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 10.20 K/9, 2.6 K:BB (MIN, ROC & CHAT) 12. Lewis Thorpe, LHP, Chattanooga Last 28 days: 26.1 IP, 3.76 ERA, 1.33 WHIP, 11.3 K/9, 3.7 K:BB Full season: 62.2 IP, 4.74 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 3.5 K:BB 13. Lewin Diaz, 1B, Fort Myers Last 28 days: .167/.177/.244 (.421 OPS), 16.5 K%, 0.0 BB% Full season: .208/.232/.344 (.576 OPS), 18.2 K%, 1.5 BB% 14. LaMonte Wade, OF, Rochester Last 28 days: .267/.375/.350 (.725 OPS), 9.7 K%, 13.9 BB% Full season: .293/.396/.424 (.821 OPS), 9.3 K%, 13.7 BB% (ROC & CHAT) 15. Mitch Garver, C, Minnesota On May 28, Mitch collected his 130th MLB at bat, meaning he no longer qualifies as a prospect. 16. Ben Rortvedt, C, Fort Myers Last 28 days: .362/.384/.435 (.818 OPS), 16.4 K%, 4.1 BB% Full season: .288/.335/.388 (.723 OPS), 20.8 K%, 6.4 BB% (FM & CR) 17. Travis Blankenhorn, 3B/2B, Fort Myers Last 28 days: .313/.385/.388 (.773 OPS), 20.3 K%, 10.1 BB% Full season: .270/.323/.446 (.769 OPS), 24.4 K%, 6.7 BB% 18. Yunior Severino, 2B, expected to join E-Town next week. Last 28 days: None. Full season: None. 19. Tyler Jay, LHP, Chattanooga Last 28 days: 15.1 IP, 3.52 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 2.8 K:BB Full season: 27.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7.5 K/9, 2.3 K:BB 20. Felix Jorge, RHP, out with a knee injury. Last 28 days: None. Full season: None. Another 10 to Know These aren’t necessarily the next 10 in the rankings, but here are some other names of note: Luis Arraez, 2B, Fort Myers Last 28 days: .345/.400/.500 (.900 OPS), 8.1 K%, 8.1 BB% Full season: .271/.328/.371 (.699 OPS), 11.8 K%, 7.2 BB% Charlie Barnes, LHP, Fort Myers Last 28 days: 23.0 IP, 3.13 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 7.4 K/9, 2.7 K:BB Full season: 55.2 IP, 3.88 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 8.1 K/9, 2.0 K:BB Trey Cabbage, 1B/LF, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: .254/.325/.463 (.787 OPS), 24.7 K%, 9.1 BB% Full season: .248/.312/.418 (.730 OPS), 31.2 K%, 7.1 BB% Randy Dobnak, RHP, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: 28.0 IP, 1.29 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 4.8 K/9, 7.5 K:BB Full season: 58.1 IP, 4.01 ERA, 1.39 WHIP, 5.4 K/9, 3.89 K:BB Adalberto Mejia, LHP, Rochester Last 28 days: 27.1 IP, 2.63 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 8.9 K/9, 3.9 K:BB Full season: 36.1 IP, 3.47 ERA, 1.38 WHIP, 9.4 K/9, 2.9 K:BB Sean Miller, SS/2B, Chattanooga Last 28 days: .303/.387/.364 (.750 OPS), 21.3 K%, 12.0 BB% Full season: .225/.281/.275 (.556 OPS), 19.4 K%, 5.8 BB% (ROC & CHAT) Jose Miranda, 2B/3B, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: .339/.390/.514 (.904 OPS), 12.7 K%, 6.8 BB% Full season: .251/.308/.381 (.689 OPS), 13.0 K%, 6.5 BB% Jovani Moran, LHP, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: 18.1 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 15.2 K/9, 3.9 K:BB Full season: 34.2 IP, 2.60 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 14.0 K/9, 2.1 K:BB Brian Navarreto, C, Chattanooga Last 28 days: .269/.319/.388 (.708 OPS), 12.5 K%, 4.2 BB% Full season: .265/.300/.377 (.677 OPS), 13.4 K%, 2.9 BB% Bryan Sammons, LHP, Cedar Rapids Last 28 days: 23.2 IP, 3.04 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 10.6 K/9, 7.0 K:BB Full season: 53.0 IP, 2.89 ERA, 1.06 WHIP, 8.7 K/9, 3.6 K:BB That’s it for this edition of the Prospect Pulse. Thanks for checking it out.
  21. Welcome to the world of Kernels pitcher Edwar Colina, as it existed on April 7 this spring when he took to the mound for his first start in full-season professional baseball. “It was hard for me,” Colina recalled this weekend, concerning his introduction to Midwest spring weather. “It was the first time in my life that I see snow. The weather was really hard. In my home, the regular weather is 85 degrees. 85 to 90 all year. So when I came here, the first week was really hard for me. But the experience is all (part of) baseball. That’s part of the process, you know? “It was hard, because I never pitched in that weather, but you just try to compete and I think I did a good job with the weather.” Indeed he did. Colina accorded himself quite well, considering the circumstances that night, when he got the start for the Kernels’ home opener. He surrendered two runs, just one of which was earned, in four innings of work in what would become a 4-3 Cedar Rapids win. Thanks, in part, to a streak of unplayable weather that followed the Kernels across the Midwest for a week, Colina didn’t get another chance to start until more than two weeks later. In fact, he’s had only three starts this season. He gave up just a pair of hits over five shutout innings in a start on April 24, recording his first win on the year in a game where the temperature was 74 degrees at first pitch, exactly twice what it had been in his first start. That’s pretty good, but both the weather and his performance levels were both just starting to warm up. In his start on Tuesday, May 1 (two days before his 21st birthday), it was 80 degrees in Cedar Rapids when he took the mound for the first inning. When he left the game, he not only had shut out the South Bend Cubs over his six innings of work, he’d also held them without a hit. After Jovani Moran provided three innings of no-hit relief, the pair had combined to throw the first no-hitter for the Kernels in just over five years and Colina’s record rose to 2-0. The no-hitter was a first for Colina. “That was my first no-hitter ever at any level, amateur or professional,” a smiling Colina acknowledged. “It was the first no-hitter of my life.” Whether by tradition or due to superstition, common baseball practice is to pretty much leave a pitcher alone between innings when he has something as meaningful as a no-hitter going on, but that’s not what Colina was doing on Tuesday. “No, I talked to my teammates a lot during the game,” he said. “I talked to the catcher. How we feel comfortable throwing what pitches. I just tried to be a good team mate with my position guys and I did not pay attention, really, to the no-hitter. I just tried to keep focus on the game and to help my team.” Edwar Colina pitches during the Kernels home opener on April 7, 2018 (Photo by SD Buhr) That comment reflects a level of maturity that extends beyond the playing field, as well. Maybe that’s because his path to professional baseball in the United States took a little different route than some Latin American players do. Typically, most of what we hear and read about concerning signings out of Latin America involve 16-year-olds getting significant signing bonuses. You won’t find any old press clippings announcing a huge bonus being paid to a young Edwar Colina, however. Colina wasn’t signed by the Twins until September of 2015, a few months after the hard throwing right-hander turned 18 years old, meaning he missed out on the sort of bonus that the most sought after foreign players are paid. If Colina was disappointed not to be signed as a 16-year-old, he didn’t let that deter him from chasing his dream. “I was not signed when I was 16,” Colina explained, “but I kept working hard for that because I love baseball. And when (the Twins offer) happened, I just took the opportunity.” In 2016, he started 13 games for the Twins’ Dominican Summer League team and began last season in extended spring training before making 12 appearances (11 of them starts) for Elizabethton. Not only has he proven increasingly successful on the mound, he’s also learned the importance of assimilating into his new environment in the United States. Since arriving in this country not much more than a year ago, he’s worked hard to learn English well enough to communicate with teammates and coaches, not to mention fans and the media. While the Twins do offer their foreign-born prospects English classes, Colina credits a fellow minor leaguer from the Netherlands, Taylor Clemensia, with helping him accelerate his understanding of the language. “When I went (to the U.S.) last year, I spent a lot of time with my friend (Clemensia), he’s from Netherlands. I spent like every single day with him and he doesn’t speak Spanish. He helped me a lot. "When I moved to (Elizabethton) Tennessee, you don’t see too many people that speak Spanish there, so that helped me more. You keep practicing with the players. Every day I asked different things to somebody about whatever. You just try to hear some English and that helped me.” Again, his maturity level becomes evident when Colina discusses why he feels learning English quickly is important for more than just being able to carry on a conversation with a reporter. “You never know what would happen later,” he explained. “That’s what I said when I (came) here. Hey, you never know what happens after baseball. Probably, you’ll need your English, so I would do it quick.” With a level head and an arm that generates a mid-90s fastball, one can’t help but wonder what kind of performance Colina will be capable of once game time temperatures get up into the 85-90 degree range he’s more accustomed to pitching in back home in Venezuela. Edwar Colina signing autographs following the Kernels game on May 6, 2018 (Photo by SD Buhr) Of course, if his performance continues to improve at its current pace, he may be pitching in much warmer temperatures in Ft. Myers, Florida, before long. “That’s what I try to do,” he acknowledged, concerning the possibility of a mid-season promotion to the class high-A level. “Try to move quick, fast as I can. I’m working hard every single day to fix my mistakes.” His manager, Toby Gardenhire, has noticed and is a big supporter of the right-hander. “He’s got plus stuff,” Gardenhire said of Colina. “He’s got a really good fastball, obviously, he runs it up there 95, 96 (miles per hour) a lot of times. He’s got a really good slider and a good change-up that he’s been working on. And the ball moves, that’s the biggest thing. He’s 95, 96 and it doesn’t go straight. He’s got a lot of sink. “So his biggest thing is, can he control it? Because he has a tendency to kind of dabble around the plate a little bit. When he’s good, he throws a lot of strikes. He’s done that the last couple of times, so hopefully he just keeps getting better with that, too.” (This article was originally posted at Knuckleballsblog.com)
  22. To find out what exactly happened in those games and how all the rest of your favorite Twins prospects fared on Tuesday night, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS There were several moves in the Minnesota Twins system on Tuesday: The Twins selected the contract of IF Gregorio Petit from Rochester. In the corresponding move IF Sean Miller was promoted to AA from Chattanooga. To get the Red Wings roster filled they also added catcher Winston Sawyer from the Lookouts while placing first baseman Brock Stassi on the temporary inactive list. To take one of the roster spots in Chattanooga IF Alex Perez was promoted from Fort Myers. To take his place on the Miracle roster IF Carson Crites was moved up from Cedar Rapids and they also received reliever Kevin Marnon who would debut for the Miracle on Tuesday night. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 2, Pawtucket 0 Box Score The Rochester offense scored two runs in the top of the fifth thanks to the bat of Kennys Vargas, who clubbed his third home run of the season to give them the lead. That was all the lineup would need to produce as a top pitching prospect making his 2018 Triple-A debut turned in the second longest start of his MiLB career. Left-hander Stephen Gonsalves was that starter, and he was lights out against the Red Sox. In 7 2/3 innings he allowed just one walk and one hit while adding five strikeouts. Going into the eighth inning, Gonsalves had faced the minimum thanks to a double-play ball in the second inning, and had retired sixteen in a row. In that eighth inning, he walked the leadoff man but would get two outs, including a K to his final hitter, before being replaced by Alan Busenitz. Gonsalves threw 92 pitches on the game, with 55 of them going for strikes (including eight swinging strikes). Now with five starts in AAA on his resume, he has gone six plus innings in four of those while allowing only four runs. He did have a couple of outings last year that blew up his small-sample AAA stat line, but there’s a lot to like in all his other outings at the final rung on the ladder to the bigs. Busenitz finished the final 1 1/3 innings to pick up his first save of the season with Rochester. He allowed two hits and got all three outs via K's in the ninth. The Red Wings got multiple hit efforts from Jake Cave (2-4, 2 2B, RBI) and Jermaine Curtis (2-4) to give Gonsalves his fourth win of the season. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Scheduled day off. The Lookouts had the day off on Tuesday as they traveled from Tennessee to Alabama. They begin a five-game series with the Mobile BayBears on Wednesday with lefty Lewis Thorpe on the mound looking for his first win of the 2018 season. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 1, Tampa 2 Box Score Fort Myers also got a strong effort from their starting pitcher, but the hitters weren’t able to get much going to back it. Anthony Marzi was that starter in this one, and he delivered a quality start. In his six innings, he scattered four hits and a walk while striking out five. He allowed two runs (one earned) on 92 pitches (64 for strikes). He left the game down 2-0 and in line for the loss. The Miracle got on the scoreboard in the top of the seventh inning when Travis Blankenhorn bombed his fifth home run of the season, a solo shot to left field. The rest of the lineup added just three singles and one walk while going 0-3 with runners in scoring position and leaving six men on base. Ryan Mason pitched a scoreless seventh inning thanks in part to a Jimmy Kerrigan assist to cut down a runner at home. Mason gave up two hits in the inning. Fresh off his promotion to Fort Myers, Kevin Marnon added a scoreless eighth inning to finish the game. He allowed two singles and struck out one in his Florida State League debut. KERNELS NUGGETS South Bend 0, Cedar Rapids 10 Box Score Unlike their higher-level cohorts, the Kernels had no problem with offense on Tuesday. As a team they racked up sixteen hits and used a big inning to take complete control against the Cubs. They really didn’t need that output either however, as two pitchers combined to toss the Kernels first no-hitter since the 2013 season. Their lineup scored single runs in the second and third innings thanks to solo home runs from Jean Carlos Arias and Akil Baddoo. It was the first one the year for Arias, and second for Badoo Cedar Rapids then put the game out of reach in the fourth as they sent eleven men to the plate and scored seven of them to go ahead 9-0. That big inning got going after one-out singles from David Banuelos and Trey Cabbage who trotted home on Ben Rodriguez’s second home run of the year. Singles from top prospects Baddoo, Royce Lewis, and Alex Kirilloff followed that blast, and Arias added an RBI single before Andrew Bechtold’s second double of the season cleared the bases to account for the crooked number. They tacked on another run in the eighth as a Kirilloff double brought in Baddoo who had reached with another single. Baddoo, Lewis and Cabbage all notched three hits on the game. Kirilloff and Arias added two hits apiece while Bechtold and Rodriguez each drove in three runs. As a team they were 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position while leaving only six men on base. Starter Edwar Colina was again effectively wild in this one as, despite allowing five walks in his six innings, he obviously didn’t allow a hit or run and struck out two. In picking up his second win of the year he lowered his ERA to 0.60 in 21 innings with the Kernels. He was replaced in the seventh inning with left-hander Jovani Moran who finished off the no-hitter by picking up a three-inning save, his first of the year. He walked one and struck out one. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kGWhzPURcpw&feature=youtu.be Colina and Moran combined to throw 131 pitches on the game, with 79 of them going for strikes. The no-hitter was quite an accomplishment for the defense as 24 of the 27 outs on the game were made in the field. The game started with an error on shortstop Royce Lewis and another error on second baseman Jose Miranda in the third inning put a runner on third base, but they caught him at home on a double-steal play for the innings second out before Colina would later escape that jam with the bases loaded. South Bend wouldn’t threaten again as they went 0-4 with runners in scoring position and left five men on base. Congratulations to Colina, Moran, and the Kernels on the fantastic effort! STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Edwar Colina/Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels (Combined no-hitter, 9.0 IP, 6 BB, 3 K’s) Too good to not give honorable mention: Stephen Gonsalves, Rochester Red Wings (W, 7.2 IP, H, BB, 5 K’s) Twins Daily Hitter of the Day – Akil Baddoo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3-5, 3 R, HR, RBI) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY 1. Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) – 3-5, R 4. Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) – W (1-0), 7.2 IP, H, BB, 5 K’s 5. Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) – 2-5, R, 2B (6), RBI 10. Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) – 3-5, 3 R, HR (2), RBI 13. Lewin Diaz (Fort Myers) – 1-4, K 15. Mitch Garver (Minnesota) – 0-4, 2 K’s 17. Travis Blankenhorn (Fort Myers) – 1-4, R, HR (5), RBI WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Pawtucket (11:05PM CST) – RHP Myles Jaye (0-1, 6.59 ERA) Chattanooga @ Mobile (6:35PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-3, 5.30 ERA) Fort Myers @ Tampa (5:30PM CST) – RHP Tyler Wells (2-1, 3.63 ERA) South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – LHP Tyler Watson (1-1, 3.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  23. As you’ll see below, there were several pitchers on the Twins short-season teams who put together real solid seasons. Of course, we are generally talking about a limited number of innings due to their seasons being just two months long. One poor outing can have an effect on their overall numbers. Seven Twins Daily Minor League writers were asked to vote for the various awards. For the short-season pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Short profiles of our top five are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes: Jared Finkel - Elizabethton Twins - 17 G, 2-1, 3 Saves, 2.18 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 33.0 IP, 33 H, 7 BB, 29 K Bryan Sammons - Elizabethton Twins - 7 G, 3 GS, 2-0, 1.46 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 14 H, 7 BB, 31 K (does not include stats at Cedar Rapids) Derek Molina - GCL Twins - 10 G, 2 GS, 1-0, 4 Saves, 1.08 ERA, 0.90 WHIP, 16.2 IP, 12 H, 3 BB, 21 K. Randy Dobnak - Elizabethton Twins - 5 G, 3 GS, 2-0, 1 Save, 2.39 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 26.1 IP, 19 H, 6 BB, 22 K (does not include stats at Cedar Rapids) Pedro Garcia - GCL Twins - 10 G, 3 GS, 6-2, 2.59 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 48.2 IP, 26 H, 17 BB, 41 K Nick Brown - Elizabethton Twins - 11 G, 7 GS, 3-1, 1 Save, 3.93 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 50.1 IP, 49 H, 15 BB, 54 K Short-Season 0Pitcher of the Year Here are the top five vote-getters for Twins Short Season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. #5 – Edwar Colina, Elizabethton Twins: 12 G, 11 GS, 3-5, 3.34 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 59.1 IP, 48 H, 29 BB, 56 K. Colina signed with the Twins in September 2015. He spent 2016 in the Dominican Summer League and went 1-3 with a 2.30 ERA. He came to the States this spring and made the jump up to Elizabethton. The Caracas native turned 20 in May and pitched well enough to be named the Appalachian League Pitcher of the Year. At 5-11 and stocky, Colina has proven durable. He’ll certainly need to work on his control, but he’s got good stuff. #4 – Brusdar Graterol, GCL Twins/Elizabethton Twins: 10 G, 7 GS, 4-1, 2.70 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 26 H, 13 H, 45 K. Another Venezuelan, Graterol signed with the Twins in February of 2015. At 16, he made four appearances in the Dominican Summer League before coming to Minnesota to undergo Tommy John surgery. That cost him the 2016 season. But he returned for Instructs and impressed, touching triple-digits with his fastball. This spring, shortly before coming to spring training, he broke his hand. However, he was ready by the short-season. He made five appearances in the GCL and posted a 1.40 ERA in 19.1 innings. He was promoted to Elizabethton where he made five starts and posted a 3.92 ERA. Graterol did not turn 19 until the end of August. He has the kind of stuff that could see him rise up prospect rankings. #3 – Carlos Suniaga, GCL Twins: 12 G, 6 GS, 4-0, 1 Save, 1.58 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 51.1 IP, 37 H, 12 BB, 42 K. Another right-hander from Venezuela, Suniaga came to the States in 2017. He also signed with the Twins in February of 2015. In 2016, he went 7-3 with a 2.03 ERA in his second season in the DSL. That earned him an opportunity in the States. He actually started the season by making one appearance in Elizabethton (3.1 scoreless innings). He was sent back to the GCL where he made 11 appearances (including six starts) and posted a 1.69 ERA. #2 – Blayne Enlow, GCL Twins: 6 G, 1 GS, 3-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 20.1 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 19 K. The first draft of Sean Johnson as scouting director was certainly interesting. The Twins were able to save a bit on the top overall pick, Royce Lewis, and with the added funds, they were able to offer Enlow for a well-over slot value of $2 million. The Louisiana prepster had a commitment to play at LSU, but he instead signed with the Twins. Enlow was brought along slowly. While he was used primarily out of the bullpen, or at least was used after a rehabbing pitcher, there is no question that the 18-year-old will be developed as a starter. He showed good control and an ability to miss bats. He throws in the low-90s and is said to have a terrific curveball. He’s got good size, and has a real chance to be a special pitcher. Like Graterol, Enlow should find his name among the top Twins prospect this offseason. Pitcher of the Year – Jovani Moran, Elizabethton Twins:. 11 G, 3-1, 0.36 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 45 K. The Twins drafted Jovani Moran in the seventh round of the 2015 draft out of the Carlos Beltran Academy in Puerto Rico. The left-hander pitched as a starter that season in the GCL. Unfortunately, he missed the 2016 season after having bone chips removed from this throwing elbow. This year he jumped up to Elizabethton and worked out of the bullpen where he absolutely dominated. Maybe you noticed, but 45 strikeouts in 24.2 innings equates to a K-rate of 16.4 per nine innings. He gave up just one earned run the entire season. His manager with the E-Twins was Ray Smith this year. Of Moran, Smith said, “We didn’t want to force anything with Jovani due to his arm issues last year. I’ve never seen him being utilized in a starting role, but with this ‘stuff’ being so good, it might turn out to be his role once it’s decided that his arm will continue to be 100%” Moran was used in the playoffs too and dominated even more. He pitched twice in the two-game sweep in the Appalachian League championship series. Combining the regular season and playoffs, Moran’s numbers are incredible. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/906352422058119169 Smith added, “Obviously he was dominant for us out of the ‘pen. Good intangibles. Fields his position. Mature approach.” It was a fantastic season for Jovani Moran and the Elizabethton Twins. He’s a very intriguing prospect and 2018 ought to be quite interesting. Will he continue to work in the bullpen? Will he get an opportunity to start? To the questions, well, I’ll agree with Ray Smith when he said, “Glad his uniform says ‘TWINS’ on the front of it!” There you have it, the top pitchers in the short season leagues for the Minnesota Twins in 2017. The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Jovani Moran, 2) Blayne Enlow, 3) Carlos Suniaga, 4) Brusdar Graterol, 5) Bryan Sammons Jeremy Nygaard – 1) Jovani Moran, 2) Blayne Enlow, 3) Brusdar Graterol, 4) Edwar Colina, 5) Nick Brown Cody Christie – 1) Carlos Suniaga, 2) Blayne Enlow, 3.) Jovani Moran, 4) Derek Molina, 5) Jared Finkel Tom Froemming - 1) Jovani Moran, 2) Carlos Suniaga, 3) Blayne Enlow, 4) Brusdar Graterol, 5) Bryan Sammons Steve Lein – 1) Jovani Moran, 2) Carlos Suniaga, 3) Brusdar Graterol, 4) Blayne Enlow, 5) Bryan Sammons Eric Pleiss – 1) Jovani Moran, 2) Carlos Suniaga, 3) Blayne Enlow, 4) Edwar Colina, 5) Pedro Garcia Ted Schwerzler - 1) Blayne Enlow, 2) Carlos Suniaga, 3) Jovani Moran, 4) Jared Finkel, 5) Randy Dobnak Feel free to discuss. What do you think? How would you rank them? How would your ballot look?
  24. Both of the Friday games were close. A two-run game and a one-run game… nail-biters, to be sure, especially given the playoff implications. Be sure to read through today’s article for everything about these two games and what is next. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 2, Montgomery 0 Box Score There isn’t a lot to write about this game, but that’s OK if you’re a Twins or Lookouts fan. The important thing to know is that they have regained the home-field advantage with a big win in Montgomery. Felix Jorge returned to the Lookouts and he worked six scoreless innings. He gave up just three hits, walked one and struck out four to earn the win. Todd Van Steensel did what Todd Van Steensel does. He threw two scoreless innings, striking out three batters. The offense? I’m glad you asked. Jonathan Rodriguez was on first base in the fourth inning when TJ White came to the plate. White hit his third home run in as many games in this series to give the Lookouts a 2-0 lead. That’s all they’d need. Gabriel Moya got a strikeout to end a 1-2-3 ninth inning to record the save. https://twitter.com/ChattLookouts/status/906337511642890242 The Lookouts now lead the best-of-five series 2-1. They’ll play Game 4 in Montgomery on Saturday. They will face #OldFriend Logan Darnell. The winner of this series will be co-champions of the Southern League with Pensacola who finished out their series against Jacksonville on Friday night. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 8, Pulaski 7 Box Score After winning Game 1 at Elizabethton on Thursday night, the series shifted to Pulaski for Game 2. The Twins fell behind 1-0 in the bottom of the first inning. However, starting in the second inning, the Twins put up three straight crooked numbers. In the second, Mark Contreras singled. With two outs, Carson Crites doubled to score Contreras. That was followed by an RBI single from TJ Dixon. Dixon then scored on a triple off the bat of Akil Baddoo. In the third inning, Mark Contreras came to the plate with two runners on base. For the second straight night, he knocked a big home run that gave the Twins 6-1 lead. The E-Twins got a little help from the Pulaski defense in the fourth frame. TJ Dixon singled and advanced to third on an Akil Baddoo double. With one out, Jose Miranda walked to load the bases. JJ Robinson hit a ground ball that probably should have ended the inning, but on the fielder’s choice, a throwing error allowed two runners to score and give the Twins an 8-1 lead. Moises Gomez started for the Twins. He gave up two runs in the bottom of the fourth, but when he completed five innings, he had just allowed three runs on four hits. He walked three and struck out six. Jose Martinez came on and threw a scoreless sixth inning, but things got interesting in the seventh. Martinez got a strikeout to lead off the inning, but he then gave up back-to-back solo home runs to cut the lead to 8-5. He was replaced by Jared Finkel. The first batter he faced reached on an error. Finkel got the second out on a strikeout, but it was followed by an RBI double and an RBI single to cut the Twins lead to 8-7. Ray Smith, who came into the game with 1,001 career wins, went to his closer. Jovani Moran came on and got the final out of the 7th inning on a strikeouts. In fact, he got all seven batters he faced out, four of them on strikeouts to record the save. https://twitter.com/ETwinsBaseball/status/906339592583962624 The Elizabethton Twins won the game 8-7, and they won the Appalachian League title. It was the team’s 11th championship, and the seventh this millennium. Jovani Moran, well, it’s fair to say he had a pretty strong season for Elizabethton after missing the 2016 season after getting bone chips removed from his elbow. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/906352422058119169 SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Montgomery @ Chattanooga (6:15 CST) - TBD (likely a rehabbing Adalberto Mejia) Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:35 CST) - LHP Tyler Watson Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Elizabethton’s championship, the Lookouts taking back home field advantage or the Kernels starting their second round playoff series. Check back on Saturday night for another night of Twins minor league playoff action.
  25. Before we share our Twins Daily Minor League Top Six Relievers for August, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. It may have been a shorter list to jot down which minor league relievers didn’t have a good month. HONORABLE MENTION Pedro Garcia - GCL Twins - 5 G, 1 GS, 22.2 IP, 11 H, 11 BB, 20 K, 1.99 ERA, 0.97 WHIP. Moises Gomez - Elizabethton Twins - 5 G, 1 GS, 18.2 IP, 12 H, 8 BB, 20 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Michael Kohn - GCL Twins/Ft. Myers Miracle/Rochester Red Wings - 12 G, 4 GS, 12.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 17 K, 0.75 ERA, 0.83 WHIP. Logan Lombana - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 9 G, 19.2 IP, 18 H, 4 BB, 16 K, 1.37 ERA, 1.12 WHIP. Hector Lujan - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 10 G, 10.1 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 9 K, 0.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP. Kevin Marnon - GCL Twins - 7 G, 16.2 IP, 14 H, 4 BB, 17 K, 0.54 ERA, 1.08 WHIP. Anthony McIver - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 15.1 IP, 19 H, 4 BB, 11 K, 1.17 ERA, 1.50 WHIP. Gabriel Moya - Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 10.1 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 12 K, 0.87 ERA, 0.87 WHIP. Jake Reed - Rochester Red Wings - 9 G, 14.2 IP, 11 H, 6 BB, 15 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.16 WHIP. Michael Theofanopoulos - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 15.0 IP, 9 H, 8 BB, 18 K, 1.13 ERA, 1.13 WHIP. THE TOP SIX RELIEF PITCHERS #6 - Derek Molina - GCL Twins - 8 G, 1.23 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 18 K Molina was the Twins 14th-round pick in 2017 out of Merced College. Obviously that is a small college, but Doug Fister and briefly-a-Twins-pitcher Brian Fuentes were drafted from the school. Molina’s career began a little bit later (late July) as he was getting healthy and ready, but he’s been quite good since signing. You can see from the numbers above that he’s pitched well. Opponents hit just .192/.232/.231 (.463) off of him during August. #5 - Blayne Enlow - GCL Twins - 4 G, 1.23 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 13 K I know. I know. Enlow isn’t a reliever. He was drafted in the third round and given lots of money over the slotted amount to sign to be a starting pitcher. However, things are a little different in the GCL. It’s in Ft. Myers, where big leaguers and minor leaguers tend to rehab. When they rehab, they typically start and then the regularly-scheduled GCL starter piggybacks him, coming in second in the game. That’s what the situation was for Enlow. He made four appearances, and all four were out of the bullpen in August. Opponents hit just .170/.228/.283 (.511) off him. He’s shown good control and an ability early to miss bats. Hopefully we’ll see him in the Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Month reports a few times over the next two to three years. #4 - John Curtiss - Rochester Red Wings - 6 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 5 H, 5 BB, 11 K Curtiss is certainly a candidate for Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year, to be sure. In August, he continued to pitch well in Rochester right up until he was called up to the Twins later in the month. As he has been most of the season, he worked late innings, gave up very few runs, gave up very few hits, and missed a lot of bats. He’s had some struggles now in the big leagues, but even so, you can see his electric stuff. He’s got plenty of fastball, with movement, and his breaking pitches are terrific too. He’s got a chance to be very good. Against minor leaguers in August, he gave up a slash line of just .139/.244/.139 (.383). #3 - Jared Finkel - Elizabethton Twins - 8 G, 0.55 ERA, 0.55 WHIP, 16.1 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 16 K Finkel was the Twins 23rd-round draft choice in 2017 out of Iona College in New York. The last player drafted out of Iona was Mariano Rivera’s son, Mariano. It’s not a baseball hotbed, though Jason Motte and Dennis Leonard went there. Finkel was rather Rivera-like, admittedly in rookie ball, in August. Opponents hit just .192/.232/.231 (.463) against the right-hander. #2 - Jovani Moran - Elizabethton Twins - 9 G, 0.87 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, 10.1 IP, 3 H, 4 BB, 23 K Moran was the Twins seventh-round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico. The left-hander has a good pitch mix. Unfortunately, he had to miss the 2016 season after getting bone chips removed from his elbow. He’s returned to form this year and been fantastic. For Elizabethton, he started this season without giving up a run until his penultimate regular season outing of the year, a stretch of 20.1 innings. He gave up just one run the full season. He’s been hard to hit, hasn’t issued an excessive amount of walks, and certainly has the stuff to miss a lot of bats. For August, opponents hit just .086/.179/.171 (.351) off of him. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts – RHP Nick Anderson - 11 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.53 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 5 H, 1 BB, 10 K For the second straight month, a Minnesotan will win the Twins Daily Relief Pitcher of the Month award. For the second straight month, that Minnesotan is RHP Nick Anderson. So, right or wrong, a bit of what you see below will be similar to what you read a month ago. Even his numbers are very similar to the previous month. He didn’t give up an earned run. He gave up about one base runner every other inning. He picked up four saves. He was named the Southern League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August. Opponents hit just .139/.162/.139 (.301) off of him. As a reminder, Anderson is a graduate of Brainerd High School. He went to St. Cloud state for three years before heading to Mayville State for a season. The Brewers drafted him, but they didn’t even offer him a contract. After working in the indy leagues for a few seasons, the Twins signed him late in 2015, and he’s been a dominant late inning reliever wherever he’s played. He’s spent most of this season with the Lookouts. There were a lot of very strong relief pitcher performances in August throughout the Twins minor league system. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but again, congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August 2017, Nick Anderson.
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