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  1. "He may have been a 15th rounder but he's a first rounder in my book." In a world of challenges and turmoil, nothing draws a smile like the sight of brotherly love. Poking back and forth with grins and banter, it's safe to say the connection is tightly-wound between the Varland brothers. Sons of North St. Paul and alumni of Concordia-St. Paul, Louie and Gus have emerged as rising stars in their respective organizations. WATCH TWINS SPOTLIGHT WITH GUS AND LOUIE VARLAND Louie Varland started the 2021 season in Low-A Fort Myers and finished a bulk of the season with High-A Cedar Rapids, throttling the competition at both levels. The younger brother finished the season with a 10-4 record and 2.10 ERA in addition to being named Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year in his first professional season. Not a bad first rodeo. Older brother Gus has cemented himself as a staple in the Dodgers organization just a year after receiving Tommy John surgery. Despite what some would call a setback, the Dodgers had so much faith in Varland that they placed him at the Double-A level in 2021 despite his injury-riddled season at High-A in 2020. Just 24 and 25 years old, the road ahead looks bright for two of the most exciting prospects to come out of the Land of 10,000 Lakes in recent history. Twins Daily's Seth Stohs had a chance to chat with the two on Wednesday night, here's what you need to know. 1. College, Man As mentioned, both Gus and Louie pitched at Concordia University in St. Paul, etching themselves as two of the most dominant players in Golden Bear history. Yet playing with his older brother for the DII school wasn't initially the plan for Louie. Like many younger siblings, Louie wanted to go anywhere besides the school that his brother was pitching for. "I just wanted to go to a place where I could pitch against him and beat him," Louie chuckled. That didn't stop Gus from putting on his recruiting shoes and doing everything possible to get another member of the family in a navy blue and gold jersey. "I was encouraging him through the entire process to come and sign at Concordia," Gus said. "I was talking to the coaches, we had him throw a bullpen in front of us, and I was trying my hardest to get him there. He fought it off for the longest time but ended up signing in the end, and it was the best thing ever." "It worked out the absolute best way that it could have, and I really enjoyed those two seasons that I had with him," Louie responded. Both brothers experienced immense individual success on the mound but cited underdog team performances as their favorite memories from CSP. Gus recalls his freshman season when the Golden Bears went into the season unranked and ended up mounting an incredible run that landed the team in the NSIC conference championship game. Louie's favorite moment came two years later when the Golden Bears rallied another incredible run before falling to eventual national champion Augustana (SD) in the conference championship. On paper you'd assume that the two spent three seasons together given that they're only one year and school grade apart. They only spent two. The reason? Gus was drafted after his junior year by the Oakland Athletics in the 14th round of the 2018 Draft; not a bad reason to leave! 2. Scouting Reports Gus spent 2021 with the Tulsa Drillers, a team that frequently plays the Twins' Double-A affiliate Wichita Wind Surge. Throughout the course of the season he would hear scouting reports on how his younger brother was pitching in Low and High-A. "I was in Tulsa running foul poles right around when Louie was called up to High-A and I remember chatting with (Wichita pitcher) Cole Sands and him saying 'He's tearing it up, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets called up (to Double-A).'" Louie stayed in High-A Cedar Rapids for the rest of the year, cementing himself as the team's ace. He credits his success to the talented crop of arms pitching alongside him and fellow 2019 Twins draft picks, including names like Tyler Beck, Casey Legumina, and Sawyer-Gipson Long. "It's a really supportive relationship with those guys, we're always bouncing ideas off of each other," Louie said "Yes, we're competing against each other but at the end of the day it's very friendly and great to work with them." Could the two face off at the Double-A level in 2022? There's a fairly high probability; you betcha, wouldn't that be awesome! 3. Life After Baseball Perspective is huge in life and in baseball. And while the Varland's both have an excellent shot at making the show, they haven't forgotten about the over-arching 'life after baseball question.' Both brothers completed their degrees from Concordia-St. Paul in 2020. Gus finished his mathematics degree and would love to one day teach math or work in the baseball industry in data analytics. Louie earned a degree in Sports Management and Marketing. Will Louie serve as his own agent? Probably not. Still, the fact that both men have taken the extra step to prioritize their education is impressive. On the topic of analytics, both men spoke volumes on the technology and data analysis used in their respective organizations. This has been echoed by many if not most Twins prospects that have appeared on Twins Spotlight, yet it was awesome to hear Gus' perspective on the Dodger's organization. Traded from Oakland, he appreciates the investment that Los Angeles has made in being as 'cutting edge' as possible. Organizations like the Dodgers are nationally-recognized for their emphasis in staying 'on top of the modern edge,' it seems like the Twins are working their way into that silo as well. 4. Respective Arsenals The 2022 season presents opportunities to hone in on successes and foster new pitches for both Louie and Gus. Louie's arsenal consists of a strong fastball, changeup, and slider. "I have to keep my fastball at the top of the zone because that's where it works best, my changeup is a work in progress but has come a long way, and I need to get my slider to move more horizontally while keeping the same velocity," he said. That slider is something the the Twins have worked on with him and that he hones in on when throwing bullpens with his brother in the offseason. Similar to his brother, Gus relies on a high-riding fastball, changeup, and slider. He has also begun to add a cutter to his skillset and plans to make that an emphasis in his '22 campaign. Extra Innings Gus received a non-roster invite to Dodgers spring training in 2021 and struck out Fernando Tatis Jr! In addition to playing baseball at North St. Paul, Louie wrestled and played football. Gus played basketball through his junior year. Similar to Drew Strotman (who was featured on Twins Spotlight earlier this week), Gus describes being traded as a mixed bundle of emotions. Luckily for him, the Dodgers and A's both call Arizona their home for spring training so he gets to catch up with his old friends and teammates from Oakland each year. In addition to being named Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year, Louie was the unanimous winner of our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year Award. Past winners of the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year award include Jose Berrios, Johan Santana, and Brad Radke. Feel free to discuss this impressive brother tandem below.
  2. In today’s list of five Twins pitching prospects, you’ve got five pitchers that have big potential, high ceilings, but also may have a question mark or two. That may be the need to add a third (or fourth) pitch, gain better control or command, or return from injury and continue to improve. #15 - RHP Drew Strotman 2021 STATS: 3-3, 7.33 ERA, 12/12 G/GS, 1.76 WHIP, 42/30 K/BB, 54.0 IP Drew Strotman was the Rays fourth-round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary’s College (California). He had Tommy John surgery in June 2018. He returned to the mound with nine games and 24 innings. He got some extra time playing with Twins prospects in the Arizona Fall League after the season. The Rays added him to the 40-man roster after the season, but he didn’t pitch in a game in 2020. In 2021, he had been 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA for Triple-A Durham. Then in late July, he came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in the trade for Nelson Cruz. He struggled with the Saints. Overall on the season, he threw 112 1/3 innings> He struck out 104 but walked 63 batters. Obviously after Tommy John, he will need to regain control and command, but the velocity is certainly back. He was sitting in the mid-90s with the Saints and touched 99 mph with the fastball. He has secondary pitches that can be really good at times. He will be 25 throughout the 2022 season. If he can find control, he has a chance to be a big-league starter. But with his fastball and a good slider, he could be a big bullpen arm for a long time. #14 - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long 2021 STATS: 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 20/19 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 134/27 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins drafted Sawyer Gipson-Long in the 6th round of the 2019 draft out of Mercer University in his home state of Georgia.He made six starts that summer in Elizabethton. After the missed 2020 season, the Twins had him start with the Mighty Mussels. He made 13 starts and went 5-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. He ended the season with six starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. And went 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA. Overall, he worked 97 innings. He walked just 27 and struck out 134 batters (12.4 K/9). Gipson-Long looks the part of a big-league pitcher, standing tall and strong. He’s got a really good fastball and as you can see, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. Like all pitchers, there are areas he can keep improving upon and the big thing may be consistency with his secondary pitches. But if you’re looking for a breakout pitcher in the Twins system for 2022, just-turned-24-year-old Gipson-Long just might be it. #13 - RHP Cole Sands 2021 STATS: 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 19/18 G/GS, 1.17 WHIP, 96/35 K/BB, 80.1 IP In November, Cole Sands was added to the Twins 40-man roster, and it was likely an easy decision. In 19 games (18 starts) for Double-A Wichita, Sands was really good when he was on the mound. He has arguably the best curveball in the organization and his fastball is in the low-90s, touching 94-95 mph. Unfortunately, he missed time a couple of times on the Injured List for short stints. The 24-year-old spent three seasons playing in his hometown, for Florida State, before the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He made his professional debut in 2019 and pitched at Ft. Myers, Cedar Rapids and Double-A Pensacola. He didn’t pitch in 2020. #12 - RHP Louie Varland 2021 STATS: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 20/18 G/GS, 1.09 WHIP, 142/30 K/BB, 103.0 IP Louie Varland, a North St. Paul High School grad, chose to join his older brother Gus at Concordia University in St. Paul. The two were on the team for two seasons before Gus was drafted by the A’s in 2018. A year later, Louie was the 15th round pick of the Twins. He made three appearances for Elizabethton that season and then did not pitch in 2020. So while most Twins that don’t follow Twins Daily didn’t know about him before the season, he had a monster breakout season in 2021. He pitched in ten games for the Mighty Mussels and went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. He moved up to Cedar Rapids in the second half and was 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 103 innings, he struck out 142 batters (12.4 K/9) and walked just 30. He was the easy choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Varland made a name for himself last offseason when video of him hitting 100 mph on the radar gun surfaced on Twitter. In games, he generally sat between 94 and 96 mph with the fastball. He also has a slider that at times can be really, really sharp. The pitch that will determine his future is the changeup. At times this year, it was really good. I mean, look at his numbers. He was on all year, but that is his third pitch and one he will continue to develop. The next challenge for Varland will be Double-A in 2022. He will be 24-years-old throughout the season. #11 - RHP Blayne Enlow 2021 STATS: 1-1, 1.84 ERA, 3/3 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 23/6 K/BB, 14.2 IP Blayne Enlow has been in the Twins organization for a long-time already. He was the Twins third-round draft pick in 2017 out of high school in Louisiana. The Twins were able to meet his signing bonus request, and he gave up his scholarship to LSU. He slowly worked up the system, ending the 2019 season at High-A Ft. Myers. That is where he began the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. He made three starts for the Kernels and was throwing hard and missing a lot of bats. In those games, he worked 14 2/3 innings and struck out 23 batters. Unfortunately, in a between-starts bullpen session, he didn’t feel right. In June, he had Tommy John surgery. After some time off, he has been rehabbing in Ft. Myers. The Twins had a tough decision, but chose to add him to the 40-man roster because of his upside. Unfortunately, when the lockdown started, he was no longer able to work at the Twins complex or talk with people with the Twins. He has been working in Arizona and hopes to be ready for the start of the season. The Twins will be patient with such a talent. When healthy, Enlow was pitching in the mid-90s, having added velocity in the lost-2020 season. He’s always been known for his spin and throws both a curveball and a slider. He also had a much-improved changeup. Just as important, he is in a good frame of mind and has full confidence. In summary, this is a really exciting group of pitchers. They fit into the mold of this front office. These guys can spin the ball. Four of the five were drafted out of college. Each of them has had a big increase in velocity. And, each of them has a real chance to pitch in the big leagues. Feel free to discuss these pitchers and ask questions below. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15
  3. Although most pitching prospects begin their minor league careers as starters, many of them eventually wind up in the bullpen at the MLB level. The Minnesota Twins are very familiar with how this transition can lead to a fruitful career with the likes of Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, and, more recently, Tyler Duffey doing so under their watch. The Twins currently have a multitude of pitching prospects who are knocking on the door to the majors, but it is unlikely that all of them will stick as starters. Below are five names who could not only make the switch to the pen, but may ultimately perform well in the closer role. RHP JHOAN DURAN 2021 stats (Triple-A): 5 G, 4 GS, 16 IP, 5.06 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 22 K, 13 BB, 16.7% HR/FB Duran has, without a doubt, the most electric raw stuff in the Twins' farm system. He regularly hits 100 mph with his 4-seam fastball, which pairs well with his splitter-sinker hybrid (low-90s) and curveball (mid-80s). However, his poor command and right upper-extremity injury history may limit the overall height of his ceiling; he’s only ever thrown more than 70 innings in a season once. There are many similarities between Duran and former Twin Brusdar Graterol, so it would not be surprising to see their careers take indistinguishable paths. Graterol was solid out of the pen for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021, though he functioned more as a set-up man than a closer. A shift to the bullpen may be in Duran — and the Twins' — best interests in the short and long-term. RHP LOUIE VARLAND 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 20 G, 18 GS, 103 IP, 2.10 ERA, 2.34/3.20 FIP, 142 K, 30 BB, 6.9%/5.8% HR/FB The Twins' 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year burst forth out of obscurity this past summer on the back of a fastball that jumped in average velocity from the low-90s while at Division II Concordia University, St. Paul to the mid- to upper-90s with above average spin. He also owns a biting curveball that plays well down in the zone, feeding off the dominance of his fastball up. However, he lacks a third pitch and, despite low walk numbers, occasionally struggles with command, particularly that of his breaking ball. Varland will likely stick in a starting role as he advances through the minor leagues, but unless he develops a third offering or cleans up his curveball, his future may be as a back of the bullpen ace. The Twins have had previous success with closers from St. Paul, after all. RHP OSIRIS GERMAN 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 38 G, 0 GS, 4 SV, 59 1/3 IP, 3.34 ERA, 3.14/2.69 FIP, 90 K, 24 BB, 12.5%/4.5% HR/FB At just 23 years old, German is still at least a couple of years away from sniffing the majors, but it’s easy to see why he is highly thought of after watching just a couple of pitches. German has that undefinable, yet important electricity that many of the game’s best bullpen arms possess. While his fastball pops out of the hand and plays well up in the zone, it’s his breaking ball that is the star of his show. What may prevent German from reaching his potential, however, is his erraticism and high-effort delivery. German doesn’t possess good command of either his fastball or curve, often overthrowing both. From a mechanics perspective, doesn’t get enough push off from his lower extremity which causes him to rely on the whipping action of his core and shoulder to produce torque and velocity German is the perfect candidate for a tweak in his delivery as well as the development of a third pitch (perhaps a cutter?). If he can hone his command, his stuff is good enough to reach the majors. RHP COLE SANDS 2021 stats (Double-A): 19 G, 18 GS, 80 1/3 IP, 2.46 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 96 K, 35 BB, 7.2% HR/FB Sands was among the Twins’ most steady minor league starting pitchers in 2021. He consistently pitched until at least the fifth inning and racked up strikeouts with the best in the system, ranking ninth overall. The former Florida State Seminole has a three pitch mix consisting of a fastball, curve, and changeup, though only his breaking ball is currently an above average offering. (His fastball is close, and may already be there, depending on whose opinion you seek.) In many respects, Sands is a carbon copy of current Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey, who has been among the team's more consistent bullpen arms over the past couple of seasons. Sands currently may lack an electric fastball — which is often a requirement among back of the bullpen arms — but his curveball and punch out pedigree is intriguing. HIBERNATION CANDIDATE: LHP AARON ROZEK 2021 stats (Rookie Ball through Double-A): 16 G, 7 GS, 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 0.81/2.48/4.40/2.15 FIP, 74 K, 7 BB, 0.0%/14.3%/18.2%/0.0% HR/FB Rozek came out of nowhere during the 2021 season. The Burnsville native and Minnesota State University, Mankato alum signed with the Twins on a minor league deal in late June before proceeding to pitch to great success across four levels of play. (He had never played in the minors prior to his signing, though he did play Indy Ball during 2019.) Rozek possesses two breaking pitches — a slider and a loopier slurve — which he uses primarily as his out pitches as well as a a fastball, though it is rather mediocre. At age 26 with less than one season of MiLB experience under his belt, the likelihood Rozek ever makes it to the parent squad is slim. Add in the fact that he is left-handed and doesn’t possess an elite fastball, and the odds of him ever being a closer are nearly nil. But for an undrafted free agent from an NCAA Division II school, he displayed plenty of talent that should pique the interest of Twins’ fans. 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
  4. 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.
  5. Varland was selected in the 2019 Major League Baseball Draft, and after just a brief debut in that season, he showed out in a big way this year. Putting in a ton of work during the shutdown for minor league baseball in 2020, results showed in a big way for the up-and-coming pitcher. I checked in with him to see why he thought there was so much success this season, talk baseball, the offseason, and pick his brain. Here’s what he had to say: Twins Daily: You didn't get much of a debut for Elizabethton following your selection in the 2019 draft. With minor league baseball shut down last season, how did you go about improving and gearing up for the season? Louie Varland: After pitching 8 2/3 innings and the season getting canceled, I really did exactly what the Twins asked of me, and it spiraled into improving my mechanics and staying healthy. I threw pretty much all COVID year with two short shutdown periods. When I was throwing, I was working on stuff, whether it was mechanics or pitch development. I worked with Richard Salazar, Mark Moriarty, Martijn Verhoeven, the Twins coordinators, and Kevin Walsh with Starters. TD: With the dust settled in 2021, you were among the best minor league pitchers in baseball. What was your focus, and what did you feel helped you take the most significant step forwards? LV: My focus was getting outs and putting my team in a position to win. In order to do that, I had to throw my pitches in my strikeout zones; Fastball top of the zone, changeup bottom right and slider bottom left. What really helped me take that next step and making it easy for me was an arm path fix. Working a lot with Martijn, Zach Bove, and my pitching coaches, I was able to clean it up and make it more efficient and easily repeatable. TD: Having pitched at two levels this season, you saw equal success in both places. What did you feel was the most significant difference at Low-A and High-A? LV: The biggest difference that I noticed was the batters not swinging at balls out of the zone as much. I got away with more balls out of the zone being swung at in Low-A than High-A. Batters also had a better approach looking for specific pitches during different innings depending on what pitches I have working. A little more patience, I would say. They barreled more balls as well. TD: You've now picked up a few different Pitcher of the Year awards, both from the Twins and Twins Daily. What do those mean to you? LV: It’s always nice to get awards. I look at them as a reward for my hard work. I do have to give credit to my fielders making great plays behind me. Nonetheless, it is a satisfying feeling even though I have a lot more work to do and more to prove. TD: As someone from Minnesota and played their college career at Concordia in St. Paul, what would it mean for you to make the big leagues with your hometown team? What steps do you need to take in preparation for Double and Triple-A next season? LV: It would mean a lot. It was a dream come true to be drafted by the Twins, but it would be more of a dream come true to make the big leagues with them. I need to fine-tune some pitches and continue to improve my pitching in general. Like I said earlier, I need to dial in my pitches and throw them in the strike-out zones when I want. Consistency with my three pitches. TD: How much of the Major League Baseball postseason are you tuning into? Is there a guy or two you like to key in on and try to learn from their stuff? LV: I need to be watching more, but I’ve tuned in a little here and there. I always love watching (Gerrit) Cole, (Max) Scherzer, (Liam) Hendriks, and (Josh) Hader. TD: Although the offseason doesn't mean the work ends, what are you most looking forward to in terms of recharging and relaxation? LV: I like to fish, so I will be fishing around Minnesota. Also, a little hunting. I took a couple of weeks off, and I’m back to training now, but I will enjoy the outdoors in the weekends to come before the snow flies. Then I’ll be ice fishing. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. 1. Pitching Depth is the Strength... For years, the Twins were known for producing soft-tossing pitchers and preaching a pitch-to-contact approach. However, if one needs an example to display that is no longer the case, it would be challenging to produce a more blatant example than the 2021 season. Partially due to the natural evolution of the game as well as the Derek Falvey and Thad Levine regime's propensity to select hard-throwing high schoolers and college arms with solid reputations, the Twins farm system is currently replete with pitching talent. Jhoan Duran and Chase Petty are among those who sit in the upper 90s and touch 100 mph with regularity. Sawyer Gipson-Long, Matt Canterino, and Louie Varland all boasted K% north of 30%. There's so much talent in the system that top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, and Simeon Woods Richardson couldn't even be bothered to pop up until the fifth paragraph of this article! And the talent doesn't stop at the backend of the starting rotation. While Jovani Moran and his 42% strikeout rate earned a promotion to the big league club by the end of the season, he was only one of a handful of genuine bullpen arms that excelled over the summer. Zach Featherstone, Jordan Gore, Osiris German, Aaron Rozek, Yennier Cano, and Denny Bentley put up huge strikeout numbers across various levels, and all boasted ERAs below 3.40. Ian Hamilton, a former top prospect in the White Sox system, put together a strong season at Triple-A, and it could be argued that he deserved a call-up at multiple points this season. In short, this is no longer your Dad's Twins farm system. Their approach to acquiring and developing pitching is night and day from 5-10 years ago. In short order, the team will be reaping the benefits of what they sowed, whether by advancing critical pieces to the majors or by swapping prospects for MLB-ready talent. 2. …, However, Offensive Depth is Lacking It's well known at this point that infield prospect Jose Miranda had one of the best seasons in all of MiLB this past summer. The 23-year-old slashed .344/.401/.572 to go along with 30 home runs, 32 doubles, and a 158 wRC+ across Double- and Triple-A en route to garnering numerous awards. Besides Miranda, who could play a prominent role on the Twins as early as next spring, the system lacks definite MLB-caliber offensive talent, particularly up the middle. Top prospects Royce Lewis and Austin Martin possess the raw talent to succeed at the MLB level for years to come. However, Lewis has not played organized baseball for nearly two years due to COVID and injury, and neither are guaranteed to stick at shortstop. (In fact, Martin played the majority of his innings in centerfield after coming over from the Toronto Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios trade.) Utility guy Edouard Julien put together arguably the most potent offensive season besides Miranda — he posted a 154 wRC+ due largely to his absurd 21.4% walk rate. He also showed more pop (18 home runs, 28 doubles) and base stealing ability (34 in 39 attempts) at Low- and High-A than he did while at Auburn University. However, he lacks a true defensive home, having appeared all over the diamond this past summer, though he is most robust at second base. Beyond the two, the Twins top offensive performers, according to FanGraphs, were a who’s-who of borderline top 30 prospects and minor league veterans. Luckily for the Twins, the majority of their offense at the big league level comprises established athletes who are under contract, so the need for prospects to reach the majors next summer is at a minimum. However, beyond the summer of 2022, the lack of offensive depth in the system may begin to rear its head unless key pieces are retained or a few of the borderline prospects breakout. 3. Watching Minor League Ball was a Good Distraction Perhaps distraction isn't the correct term here. The Twins were terrible this year and, at many points, virtually unwatchable. But their minor league teams all performed well this year and served as an excellent alternative for the baseball hungry. There are many issues with minor league baseball — the players are poorly compensated, the life is a grind, the production value of non-Twins streams was often pretty bad, etc. — but baseball is baseball at the end of the day. Few teams across MLB put forth a better minor league product than the Twins, which made the summer much more enjoyable. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  7. Louie Varland spent his childhood on the dirt of ballfields across the northeast sector of the Twin Cities. The Maplewood native turned his successful tenure at North St. Paul High School into an even better pitching career at Concordia-St. Paul. After that? A 15th round selection in the 2019 MLB Draft by his hometown Minnesota Twins. And after a sprinkle of 2019 games in rookie ball and just one full season of pro ball, Varland has distinguished himself as one of the most prolific pitchers in the entire Twins organization. For that, he's been voted as our 2021 Starting Pitcher of the Month. Varland started the 2021 season with Low-A Fort Myers where he posted a 4-2 record and 2.09 ERA in ten appearances (eight starts). In that span he struck out 76 men and opposing batters hit a meager .208 against Varland. Those numbers earned him a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids, just four hours from home. With his family able to finally attend games, Varland did not disappoint, going 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA in ten starts with the Kernels. While he didn't post as many strikeouts as he did in Fort Myers, Varland was more efficient, posting a stellar 0.99 WHIP and only 14 walks while holding opponents to just a .202 batting average. Varland joined a talented Cedar Rapids rotation of Ben Gross and company upon being called up. That rotation was amplified towards the end of the season with Sawyer Gipson-Long, Cody Lawyerson, and Casey Legumina joining the rotation. Yet despite the addition of talented arms, Varland was the clear choice to start Game 1 of the High-A Central Championship Series against Quad Cities. Following a career-high 11 strikeout performance against Peoria on September 16, Varland dazzled in his postseason debut, tossing seven innings of six-hit, one-run ball while striking out four and walking one en route to a 2-1 Cedar Rapids victory. There's no doubt that Varland's 2021 stat line makes him a clear-cut selection for this award. A 10-4 record and 2.10 ERA is pretty darn great at any level. For a pitcher to tally those numbers in his first full season? Unbelievable. Prior to this season Varland only had three professional baseball appearances, all with the Elizabethton Twins in 2019. Varland only started one of those games and compiled a slim 8 2/3 innings in that three game span. With the 2020 minor league season scrapped due to COVID-19, it's truly incredible that Varland was able to trailblaze such an incredible 2021 season. Congrats, Louie! THE TOP SIX Varland wasn't the only pitcher in the Twins' farm system to have a standout season. In addition to Varland, these five pitchers round out the top six starting pitchers in 2021 per the Twins Daily Minor League staff. 1. RHP Louie Varland, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (18 GS, 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 IP, 82 H, 24 ER, 30 BB, 142 K) Check out Seth Stohs' interview with Louie prior to his electric season and other Twins Daily content on Varland! St Paul to Stardom: Louie Varland is the Real Deal Twins Prospect Varland Won't Stop at Pretty Good 2. RHP Cole Sands, Wichita (18 GS, 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 22 ER, 35 BB, 96 K) Despite loads of movement in the organization, Cole Sands was an absolute workhorse for the Wind Surge all season. While many of his starts did not surpass five innings, it wasn't because of poor performance. Sands was as efficient as could be, holding opposing hitters to a .203 average on the year and touting seven scoreless starts. Ironically enough, one of Sands' two losses came on August 14 against Tulsa in a start where he recorded a season-high ten strikeouts. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic, Wichita (20 GS, 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 97 IP, 98 H, 39 ER, 38 BB, 102 K) Arguably the most notable pitching prospect in the organization, Jordan Balazovic had a season full of ups and downs. When he's on, the 2016 5th round pick is unstoppable with his blazing fastball and deceptive off-speed pitches. We saw that on July 15th when the Ontario-native lit up the Tulsa Drillers with 11 strikeouts in seven scoreless innings of one-hit ball. On the flipside, Balazovic has struggled with control, command, and pitch selection at times leading to a few bad outings that have deflated his stat line. It's clear that the talent is there, Balazovic will continue to hone in on consistency as he reflects on his first season of Double-A ball. 4. RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (19 GS, 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 97 IP, 99 H, 49 ER, 27 BB, 137 K) After a rocky month of May with Fort Myers, Sawyer Gipson-Long flipped a switch and was rock-solid through the summer, posting a combined 2.76 ERA in June, July, and August. That stellar summer in the Sunshine State earned Gipson-Long a promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids on August 9th. Gipson-Long has qualities that resemble both Balazovic and Varland. Similar to Balazovic, Gipson-Long had some incredible outings this season but also saw a few outings get out of hand. Like Varland, Gipson-Long was drafted in 2019 out of Mercer and had just a few opportunities to get his feet wet in pro ball that year. After his first full-season of pro ball, Gipson-Long should be happy with his quality performance. Yet like any other young pitcher, experience and innings on the mound will help garner the young pitcher's consistency. 5. RHP Josh Winder, Wichita/St. Paul (14 GS, 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 72 IP, 55 H, 21 ER, 13 BB, 80 K) If it were not for injuries and bad luck, there's a good chance that Josh Winder would be higher on this list. After an amazing two months in Wichita, Winder was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul on June 28th. Winder dazzled in his first start with the Saints, throwing 5 2/3 innings of eight-strikeout ball while giving up one run. With all the momentum stacked his way, Winder was struck by a line drive in his next outing that removed him from the game. Two starts later, he was placed on the 7-Day IL for a shoulder injury and has not pitched since. It's likely that the Twins are taking the safe route when it comes to Winder's rehab. And why shouldn't they? The 2018 draft pick has been impressive each season since signing and will only continue to improve. If Winder continues his progress once healthy it wouldn't be shocking to see him at Target Field at some point next season. 6. RHP Ben Gross, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (17 GS, 5-4, 4.06 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 95.1 IP, 99 H, 43 ER, 32 BB, 122 K) Ben Gross closes out a talented crop of 2019 draft picks on this list. Gross was the heart and soul of the Kernels rotation prior to his late-summer promotion to Wichita. The 10th round pick has shown versatility on the mound with his pitch arsenal but also through how he retires hitters. Most of Gross' starts feature 4-8 strikeouts and a plethora of groundouts and pop flies. However, the 24-year-old diced on August 11th against Peoria when he struck out a career-high 13 batters. While there's certainly work to be done, Gross has shown that he can be a consistent starter day in and day out. If things continue the way they are, he'll have the opportunity to showcase that consistency at a higher level. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Tyler Beck, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (13 GS, 3-4, 3.00 ERA, 1.12 WHIP, 84 IP, 64 H, 28 ER, 30 BB, 91 K) LHP Charlie Barnes, St. Paul (16 GS, 6-4, 3.79 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 76 IP, 73 H, 32 ER, 24 BB, 62 K) LHP Andrew Albers, St. Paul (16 GS, 7-4, 3.75 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 96 IP, 113 H, 40 ER, 11 BB, 85 K) RHP Austin Schulfer, Wichita (24 GS, 6-8, 4.34 ERA, 1.44 WHIP, 110 IP, 109 H, 53 ER, 49 BB, 105 K) LHP Kody Funderburk, Cedar Rapids/Wichita (10 GS, 4-3, 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 67 IP, 46 H, 19 ER, 28 BB, 82 K) RHP Sean Mooney, Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids (12 GS, 0-2, 2.79 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 42 IP, 22 H, 13 ER, 23 BB, 71 K) Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen Congrats to all those mentioned! Comment your thoughts below!
  8. If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. With that, let's look at Week 21 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (4-1, hosting Iowa), overall (65-60) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Regular Season (69-51) Week (0-3 vs NW Arkansas in the Double-A Central League championship series) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Regular Season (67-53) Week (2-3 vs Quad Cities in the High-A Central League championship series) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Regular Season (60-54) Complex League FCL Twins: Regular Season (21-38) In Case You Missed It... Here are the week's Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: Playoff Time for Wind Surge, Kernels Tuesday: Playoffs?! Yes, We’re Talking About Playoffs! Unsung Heroes of Lowertown: The St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Wednesday: Game Twos and an 0-fer Thursday: Saints Ride the High of the Long Ball Prospect Retrospective: Justin Morneau Friday: Wind Surge Swept, Kernels Take Control Saturday: River Bandits Force Decisive Game 5, Saints Beat Cubs Sunday: Eliminated Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Highlights St. Paul Saints The Saints played their final home series of the season. CHS Field and the Saints hosted the Iowa Cubs in the first of two Final Stretch weeks in Triple-A. The Saints won four of the five games. BJ Boyd went 4-for-10 (.400) with three walks, a triple, a homer and three RBI. Ben Rortvedt played in four games. He went 5-for-12 (.417) with three walks, a double, a homer and four RBI. Of course, Jose Miranda had another terrific week. In five games, he went 9-for-20 (.450) with two walks, a double, a homer and six RBI. Finally, David Banuelos played in just one game, but in that game, he went 2-for-4 with a walk, a double, a homer and three RBI. That’s a solid 2.100 OPS day! On the mound, Beau Burrows pitched the fifth through ninth innings. In five scoreless innings, he gave up just two hits, walked one and struck out six batters. Edgar Garcia had a four-inning outing. He gave up no runs on just one hit and one walk. Ian Gibaut pitched twice in the five-game set. He struck out four batters over two perfect innings. Lefty Chris Nunn struck out three batters over three scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit. Chandler Shepherd struck out four batters over 3 2/3 scoreless frames. He gave up just one hit and one walk. Andrew Albers had another strong start. He gave up one run on four hits and two walks over five innings. He struck out seven batters. Wichita Wind Surge The Wind Surge went into the championship series as the #1 see which meant the first two games on the road. Unfortunately, there weren’t a lot of positives in their three-game sweep at the hands of NW Arkansas. But there were a couple… Austin Martin went 6-for-12 (.500) with two walks. He had two-hit games in all three games. Likewise, Jermaine Palacios had three multi-hit games. All told, he was 7-11 (.636) with a walk, a double and two home runs. Cedar Rapids Kernels The Kernels jumped out to a 2-1 lead after three games, but the River Bandits won games four and five. As you would expect, there were a few more positives. Sawyer Gipson-Long gave up one run and struck out nine batters over 4 2/3 innings in his start. Louie Varland continued to throw well. He gave up just one run on six hits over seven innings in Game 1. Osiris German pitched twice out of the bullpen. He pitched a perfect inning in Game 1 and was credited with the Win. In Game four, he gave up just one hit over three scoreless innings. No walks. Five strikeouts. Zach Featherstone struck out three batters in the ninth inning to record the save in Game 1. In Game 1, Jair Camargo was the hitting star. He went 2-for-3 with a double and a late-inning homer to give the Kernels a lead. After going 0-for-7 in the first two games, Edouard Julien went 2-for-4 with a walk and two home runs in Game 3. He had two more hits in Game 4. In the series, Alex Isola had four walks, two doubles and a three-run homer. DaShawn Keirsey had two doubles and a homer in the series. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our updated Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 37 games, .254/.399/.381 (.779) with 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 19 RBI, 23 BB, 30 K. #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 20 GS, 97.0 IP, 98 H, 38 BB, 102 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP #4 - Simeon Woods-Richardson (Wichita) - 4 G, 3 GS, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 10 K, 6.75 ERA, 1.75 WHIP. #5 - 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) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 122 games, .342/.400/.568 (.968) with 29 doubles, 29 homers, 92 RBI, 41 BB, 73 K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - St. Paul (2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), Minnesota (4 GS, 22.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 25 K, 2.45 ERA, 0.59 WHIP) #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 5 GS, 21.0 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 43 K, 0.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP (IL, elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - 2 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP. #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 60 games, .233/.296/.301 (.597) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 89 K, 5 SB (Temporary Inactive List) #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (IL, shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 66 games, .264/.350/.508 (.858) with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 15 homers, 47 RBI, 28 BB, 98 K. #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (44 games, .296/.397/.457 (.854) with 11 doubles, 5 homers, 24 RBI, 23 BB, 38 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 11 GS, 53.0 IP, 63 H, 26 BB, 41 K, 6.96 ERA, 1.68 WHIP. #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 22 games, .238/.316/.369 (.685) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers, 14 RBI, 9 BB, 26 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (52 games, .201/.294/.397 (.691) with 10 doubles, 8 homers, 15 RBI, 15 BB, 64 K) #17 - 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) #18 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 101 games, .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers, 52 RBI, 54 BB, 82 K, 16 SB) #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 19 G, 18 GS, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 35 BB, 96 K, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 110 games, .254/.348/.484 (.833) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 24 homers, 66 RBI, 55 BB, 105 K) LOOKING AHEAD FCL Twins Season is Complete. Ft. Myers Season is Complete. Cedar Rapids Season is Complete. Wichita Season is Complete. St. Paul @ Toledo: (Jason Garcia, Derek Law, Beau Burrows, Drew Strotman, Andrew Albers): Also, Instructional League/camp began last Tuesday. Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  9. TRANSACTIONS There were no transactions in the system in advance of the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Wichita Wind Surge starting their league championship series on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL Scheduled Day Off The Saints got an extra day off on their schedule, as they begin the Final Stretch of games happening across the Triple-A level to end the season. They will play five games against the Iowa Cubs at home starting on Wednesday, and then five on the road against Toledo next week. WIND SURGE WISDOM Game 1: Wichita 5, NW Arkansas 7 Box Score The Wichita Wind Surge had to feel good about themselves heading into game one against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, with top prospect Jordan Balazovic lined up to start. It didn’t go as well as they hoped, but was a back and forth affair throughout with several lead changes and big plays on both sides. Wichita had a two-out threat in the top of the first after singles from Roy Morales and Spencer Steer put runners on the corners, but Jermaine Palacios grounded out to keep them off the scoreboard in the opening frame. That changed in the second inning when Leobaldo Cabrera clubbed a home run to left field for a 1-0 lead. Balazovic got two quick outs in the bottom of the frame, but the Naturals struck back with a single followed by a triple to tie the game at one. In the third inning, it was a D.J. Burt homer that put the Wind Surge back out front, but another two-out rally from the Naturals brought in two runs of their own that made the score 3-2 after three innings. The fourth inning was much of the same as the teams again traded single runs, with Wichita getting an RBI double from Cabrera in the top half before the Naturals chased Balazovic in the bottom half after a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases. Melvi Acosta was summoned from the bullpen and issued a walk of his own that made the score 4-3 for Northwest Arkansas. The fifth inning was finally a scoreless frame on both sides, though the Wind Surge had a chance as Austin Martin doubled to lead off the inning, but he was stranded on third base. In the sixth inning, it was one swing of the bat from Palacios that again tied the game at four. With two outs in the top of the seventh and Spencer Steer at-bat, a pivotal play was made that may have finally swung the momentum of the game one way. Steer laced a 2-1 pitch deep into the gap in left-center, but the Naturals left fielder tracked it down at full speed before crashing hard into the wall, likely saving a run. That same fielder, Brewer Hicklen, of course was up the next inning, and with that adrenaline still running through his veins, took Erik Manoah Jr. deep to center for a 5-4 lead. The home team added two insurance runs in the eighth for a 7-4 lead that would turn out to be enough for the Naturals to take game one. Wichita threatened in the ninth with three singles that scored one run, but couldn’t get the big hit to bring them all the way back. On the pitching front, Balazovic went 3 2/3 innings in the start, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while picking up three strikeouts. Acosta went the next 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs of his own on one hit and one walk. Kody Funderburk went 2/3 of an inning and allowed a hit and walk. Manoah Jr. was tagged with the loss by allowing the go-ahead home run in the seventh. He pitched one inning, allowed two hits, and struck out one. Evan Sisk and Adam Lau each recording two outs, with Sisk allowing two insurance runs on two hits while striking out one. Lau allowed one hit, walked two, and struck out one. The Wind Surge got multiple hits on the night from Martin (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Morales (2-for-5, RBI), Palacios (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, K), and Cabrera (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR) and the team's three home runs on the night were not enough. Wichita will look to even the series at one with Cole Sands taking the hill tomorrow before heading back home to the ICT to finish off the series. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 Box Score The Kernels were able to fend off the teams on their heels to grab their league’s final playoff spot, and they sent a big reason why in Louie Varland to the mound in game one. He didn’t disappoint, though it looked shaky for a minute in the second inning. After picking up a groundout for the first out of the frame, Varland allowed a double and the game’s first run on a single that followed. He then walked a batter and surrendered another single to load the bases before a mound visit was in order to get him back in rhythm. After that, he got a grounder to first that forced the runner out at home, then a pop out to escape that jam. His lineup got that run back for him in the bottom of the inning, as consecutive two-out doubles from Jair Camargo and DaShawn Keirsey tied the game at one. That mound visit was definitely what the doctor ordered, as Varland was locked in from then on. He retired nine in a row from the third through the sixth inning, and gave up just two singles to bookend that streak. In all, he finished seven fantastic innings, tying his mark for longest outing of the season, and allowed just the one run on six total hits and one walk. He struck out four River Bandits in the outing and of his 98 pitches, 68 went for strikes (69.4%), along with getting 14 swinging strikes. Varland was matched, however, by the pitching staff of Quad Cities. The game remained tied while he was on the mound. The Kernels were unable to cash in any of their scoring chances, including a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth. In the seventh inning, the Kernels struck out four times, but nonetheless had an opportunity as one of those K’s resulted in a wild pitch that allowed Edouard Julien to reach base. Another wild pitch moved him to second before the River Bandits played the percentages and intentionally walked Aaron Sabato to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Matt Wallner. It worked, as the pitcher got his fourth K of the inning and kept the game tied at 1-1. In the top of the eighth, the Kernels went to reliever Osiris German, and he delivered a one-two-three inning to bring his team back into the dugout looking to finally break through. Jair Camargo did just that, sending a two-out home run over the wall in right field to give the Kernels the lead. With the lead in hand, Cedar Rapids called on one of the best relievers in the system this year in Zach Featherstone to close out the game. He allowed a one-out single but like he had all season, also racked up the strikeouts, getting three of them to pick up the save and take game one for the Kernels. Camargo (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) was the only batter in the lineup with multiple hits on the night while Sabato and Julien each reached base twice. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position compared to 2-for-4 for the River Bandits, but it was enough behind Varland. It’s worth noting that the Kernels were just 7-17 against the River Bandits during the regular season, but that means nothing in a playoff series they now lead 1-0 with Sean Mooney taking the mound in game two tomorrow night. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels (7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Jair Camargo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, 2B #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 (pinch hit appearance) #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 2.66 ERA) Wichita @ NW Arkansas (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands (4-2, 2.46 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 6.23 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the playoff games from Tuesday!
  10. If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. Is it just me, or was that season quick. Twenty weeks of minor league ball complete. The Saints have a couple of weeks to go, to match the Twins schedule. Wichita and Cedar Rapids begin their playoff runs on Tuesday. The Mighty Mussels and FCL Twins seasons are complete, but Tuesday also begins Instructional League. But, before we get to any of that, let's look back at Week 20 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (3-3, @ Indianapolis), overall (61-59) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (4-2, hosting Arkansas), overall (69-51) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (4-2, @ Peoria), overall (67-53) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (3-1, hosting Tampa), overall (60-54) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (2-3), overall (21-38) STANDINGS Triple-A East Midwest: Toledo 69-51, Omaha 66-54, St. Paul 61-59. Double-A Central North: Wichita 69-51, NW Arkansas 64-55, Arkansas 64-56. High-A Central West: Quad Cities 77-41, Cedar Rapids 67-53, Wisconsin 59-60. Low-A Southeast: Tampa 73-43, Bradenton 71-48, Ft. Myers 60-54. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Here are the week's Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: One Week To Go Baseball Down Under: The Unique Journey of Aaron Whitefield Tuesday: Woods Richardson Deals, Saints Come Marching In Wednesday: Varland Does it Again Thursday: Wichita Surges Into Playoffs, Kernels Playoff Push Friday: Kernels Edge Closer Twins 2020 Rule 5 Rewind A 32-Year-Old Rookie, Twins Promote Drew Maggi Saturday: A No-Hitter?!* Kernels Klinch with Huge Win Highlights We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week and mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 20 performances. Twins Player of the Week: Aaron Sabato, Cedar Rapids Kernels Aaron Sabato has had an up and down season, but the 22-year-old has been much improved since the beginning of August, especially with the power numbers. In the final regular-season week, Sabato hit .333/.500/.833 (1.333) with three homers. He also walked seven times and had just four strikeouts. He was terrific over the final weekend when the team needed to win. In his first pro season since the Twins made him their first-round pick in the 2020 draft out of North Carolina, he began in Ft. Myers. In 85 games, he hit .189/.365/.357 (.722) with 15 doubles and 11 home runs. In just 22 games with the Kernels, he has hit .253/.402/.613 (1.015) with three doubles and eight home runs. Overall, in 464 plate appearances, he has 92 walks and 149 strikeouts. Twins Pitcher of the Week: Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Louie Varland was terrific again this week. The 23-year-old from St. Paul struck out 11 batters in six innings in his start this week. He gave up just two runs (1 earned) on four hits and did not issue a walk. Varland was the team's 15th round pick in 2019 out of Concordia University in St. Paul. Varland began the season in Ft. Myers, where he pitched 47 1/3 innings over ten games (8 starts). He went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA and a 1.20 WHIP. He was promoted to Cedar Rapids, where he's made ten starts. He is 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA and a 0.99 WHIP. In 103 total innings, he has struck out 142 batters while walking just 30. Other Strong Performances this Week St. Paul Saints The Saints had some really strong performances, especially from bullpen types. Robinson Leyer, Ryan Mason, Vinny Nittoli, and Chris Nunn each tossed three scoreless innings over two outings. Jason Garcia tossed four innings of shutout ball in his start. Derek Law made the first start of his professional career, and he gave up just one hit and struck out six batters over four shutout innings. Also, Beau Burrows had his best start since joining the Twins organization. He gave up just one run on four hits over 6 1/3 innings. He struck out six batters. Damek Tomscha had not been playing much recently, but this past week, he played in all six games and responded by hitting .375/.400/.708 (1.108) with three doubles, a triple, and a home run. Drew Stankiewicz also played more. In five games, he hit .385/.438/.615 (1.053) with a homer. Of course, Jose Miranda had another excellent week. He played six games and hit .357/.357/.643 (1.000) with two doubles, two homers, and eight RBI. Jimmy Kerrigan hit .400/.423/.560 (.983) with four doubles. Wichita Wind Surge The week's highlight has to be that the Wichita team clinched a playoff spot and the best record in the Double-A Central Division. They begin their championship series on Tuesday. The individual highlight probably is the performance of Simeon Woods Richardson. After two rough, unintentionally short outings, he made two appearances. He made one start and tossed three scoreless innings. On Sunday, he worked two scoreless innings out of the bullpen to prepare for the playoffs. Chris Vallimont had a nice start this week. He gave up one run on two hits over 5 2/3 innings. Cole Sands was terrific again. He tossed five scoreless innings in his start. In his past three starts, he has given up only an unearned run over 17 innings. Right-hander Hector Lujan became a first-time father, and he got four outs in a perfect outing. Melvi Acosta gave up zero earned runs on one hit over three innings. Erik Manoah pitched some big innings and was terrific. He allowed just one hit and one walk over 3 1/3 innings. He struck out five batters. Trey Cabbage had another solid week. Over five games, he hit .429/.500/.714 (1.214) with a double and a home run. Ernie de la Trinidad hit .308/.400/.615 (1.015) with a double and a big home run. Aaron Whitefield played five games and hit .375/.474/.438 (.911) with a double, three walks, and six stolen bases. Austin Martin hit .316/.480/.421 (.901) with two doubles. He also walked six times. Andrew Bechtold played in six games and hit .294/.357/.417 (898) with a double and a home run. I'm guessing a personal highlight for him was getting to catch a game. The day after the Wind Surge clinched their playoff spot and the top seed, Bechtold found himself behind the plate for a game. It is something that he has been working on throughout the season, trying to give himself more versatility. He caught the game that Cole Sands threw. There were no passed balls or wild pitches, and Sands tossed five scoreless innings. He must have done just fine. Cedar Rapids Kernels Not only did the Kernels have to finish with the second-best record in the High-A Central League, but they also had to win that spot by a game because Lake County and Great Lakes had the tiebreakers. The Kernels came up big and won their final three games to make the playoffs for the eighth time in eight seasons as a Twins affiliate. On Sunday, Aaron Rozek made the start, and the team couldn't have asked for more. He worked five shutout innings and gave up only a hit and a walk. Sean Mooney was outstanding too. He gave up one run on two walks and a hit batter over five innings. He did not allow a hit and struck out seven batters. Zach Featherstone worked in three games and had a big save. He worked 3 2/3 scoreless, hitless innings. He walked two and struck out seven batters. Osiris German also was crucial. He came into two big situations and gave up only one hit over four scoreless innings. He struck out six batters without issuing a walk. Carlos Suniaga and Tyler Watson each had a save as well. Edouard Julien hit just .231, but he posted a .964 OPS with two doubles and three home runs. DaShawn Keirsey had two home runs in Sunday's playoff clincher and three home runs this week. Matt Wallner went 7-for-23 (.304) with a double and a home run. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Fair to say that the highlight of the week was Saturday night's combined no-hitter. Regi Grace worked the first three innings. Landon Leach followed with two innings before Bradley Hanner and Matthew Swain each worked a hitless inning. Swain blew fastballs by the three hitters he struck out in the final inning. Regi Grace struck out four batters in his three innings. Since returning from the shoulder impingement, he has worked nine scoreless innings over three appearances. Brent Headrick struck out seven batters over three scoreless innings in his final start of the season. Cade Povich struck out five batters over two innings in his outing. He gave up an unearned run. John Stankiewicz had a strong start. In six innings, he gave up one run on five hits and a walk. He struck out six batters. Charlie Mack played in three games. He went just 2-for-6 (.333), but he walked five times (.636 OBP) and had a big triple. Patrick Winkel went 3-for-8 (.375) with two doubles and two walks to give him a 1.170 OPS. Mikey Perez has been fantastic since debuting a couple of weeks ago. In four games this week, he hit .444/.500/.667 (1.167) with two doubles. Willie Joe Garry hit .385/.385/.769 (1.154) with a triple and a home run. FCL Twins The FCL Twins concluded their season on Saturday morning. The highlight(s) of the week involved more players getting just a taste of pro ball before the end of the season. 2021 draft picks, right-handed pitchers Christian McLeod, Travis Adams, and Johnathan Lavallee made their pro debuts. Righty Hunter McMahon returned to the mound for a rehab appearance and struck out four batters in two scoreless innings. Mike Paredes, another 2021 pick, made another appearance and struck out five batters over two perfect innings. Wilker Reyes gave up just one hit over three scoreless innings. Kala'i Rosario ended his season strong. He went 4-for-10 (.400) with a double and a home run. Rubel Cespedes and LaRon Smith each hit a homer during the week. Lowlights St. Paul Saints Bryan Sammons struggled in his start. He was charged with seven runs on seven hits (2 HR) and three walks in 3 1/3 innings. Ian Hamilton gave up four runs on five hits and four walks over 2 2/3 innings (though he did strike out six of the eight batters he got out). Yennier Cano gave up three runs on four hits and four walks over 2 1/3 innings. Tomas Telis has been terrific again for the Saints this season. In five games last week, however, he hit .136/.208/.136 (.345). BJ Boyd hit .150/.190/.200 (.390) in five games. Wichita Wind Surge Ben Gross made two appearances, one out of the bullpen and then his first Double-A start on Sunday. Combined, he gave up nine runs (8 earned) on 11 hits and six walks in just 5 2/3 innings. Jordan Balazovic gave up four runs on four hits and four walks in 3 2/3 innings. Zach Neff pitched once, but he gave up five runs (4 earned) on three hits and two walks. No player with more than five plate appearances had an OPS under .619. Cedar Rapids Kernels Cody Laweryson gave up six runs on eight hits, a walk, and a hit batter over 5 1/3 innings. Denny Bentley gave up two runs on five hits and got just four outs. Seth Gray had a tough week overall. He had two hits in 20 at-bats (.100) in six games. However, his home run on Saturday night gave the Kernels a 7-6 lead in the ninth inning. Anthony Prato went 2-for-14 (.143). Alex Isola as 4-for-22 (.182). Ft. Myers Might Mussels Jake Rucker went 0-for-9 for the week. Alerick Soularie went 1-for-14 (.071). Misael Urbina went 2-for-13 (.154), though he did have a double. PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our updated Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 37 games, .254/.399/.381 (.779) with 8 doubles, 3 home runs, 19 RBI, 23 BB, 30 K. #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 20 GS, 97.0 IP, 98 H, 38 BB, 102 K, 3.62 ERA, 1.40 WHIP #4 - Simeon Woods-Richardson (Wichita) - 4 G, 3 GS, 8.0 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 10 K, 6.75 ERA, 1.75 WHIP. #5 - 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) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 117 games, .338/.394/.565 (.959) with 28 doubles, 28 homers, 86 RBI, 39 BB, 72 K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - St. Paul (2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), Minnesota (3 GS, 17.0 IP, 7 H, 2 BB, 14 K, 2.12 ERA, 0.53 WHIP) #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 5 GS, 21.0 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 43 K, 0.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP (IL, elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - 2 G, 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 6 H, 1 BB, 6 K, 5.40 ERA, 1.40 WHIP. #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 60 games, .233/.296/.301 (.597) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 89 K, 5 SB (Temporary Inactive List) #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (IL, shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 66 games, .264/.350/.508 (.858) with 14 doubles, 2 triples, 15 homers, 47 RBI, 28 BB, 98 K. #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (39 games, .310/.405/.490 (.894) with 11 doubles, 5 homers, 24 RBI, 20 BB, 33 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 10 GS, 47.0 IP, 55 H, 25 BB, 38 K, 7.28 ERA, 1.70 WHIP. #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 22 games, .238/.316/.369 (.685) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 2 homers, 14 RBI, 9 BB, 26 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (46 games, .206/.294/.413 (.707) with 9 doubles, 8 homers, 15 RBI, 13 BB, 58 K) #17 - 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) #18 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 101 games, .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 12 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers, 52 RBI, 54 BB, 82 K, 16 SB) #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 19 G, 18 GS, 80.1 IP, 59 H, 35 BB, 96 K, 2.46 ERA, 1.17 WHIP #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 110 games, .254/.348/.484 (.833) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 24 homers, 66 RBI, 55 BB, 105 K) LOOKING AHEAD Ft. Myers Season is Complete. High-A Central League Championship Series: Cedar Rapids vs. Quad Cities: (Louie Varland, Sean Mooney, Casey Legumina, Sawyer Gipson-Long, TBD) Double-A Central League Championship Series: Wichita vs. NW Arkansas: (Jordan Balazovic, Cole Sands, Austin Schulfer, TBD, TBD): Iowa @ St. Paul: (Derek Law, Bryan Sammons, Beau Burrows, Drew Strotman, Andrew Albers): Also, Instructional League/camp starts on Tuesday in Ft. Myers for some players, particularly those who have lost time due to injury. Good luck to the Wind Surge and the Kernels this week!
  11. TRANSACTIONS Charlie Barnes was returned to the Saints after being the 29th man on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 2 Box Score Playing an afternoon matinee in Indianapolis, the Saints sent Beau Burrows to the bump. He tossed 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball allowing just a single run. Burrows walked two and punched out six in what was among his best outings this season. St. Paul scored first as Sherman Johnson singled home Damek Tomscha in the 2nd inning. After allowing an equalizer in the bottom half, St. Paul added again in the 3rd inning. Jimmy Kerrigan drove in Jose Miranda on a single to center. Putting some distance between the clubs, Caleb Hamilton singled in the 4th inning to score Tomscha and make it a 3-1 game. Things got a bit dicey in the 9th inning when Yennier Cano allowed some traffic to turn into a run. He loaded the bases with a walk on a 3-2 pitch but generated a ground ball to end the game. Miranda continued his amazing season with a 3-for-4 effort and Tomscha had a multi-hit game as well tallying two doubles. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 10, Wichita 5 (Game 1) Box Score Suspended yesterday, here’s what Steve had to say about the action that did get played: Unfortunately for the Wind Surge, they played much of this game through some drizzle before the conditions became too much for them to continue. They had not yet completed five innings, so the game was suspended in the top of the fifth and will resume tomorrow. It had been a mixed bag before the game was paused, as Simeon Woods Richardson delivered a fantastic performance for the first three innings of the game, but upon his exit the Travelers struck to take the 4-1 lead against Ben Gross. In his outing, Woods Richardson allowed just two hits while striking out five in his three innings. He definitely looked like a top prospect in this one as compared to his prior outings. Of his 47 pitches in the game, 32 went for strikes (68%), including a whopping 12 swinging strikes. He got those swings and misses on all of his pitches as well, with his changeup especially (to my eyes) looking like it was fooling everyone. Wichita got their lone run in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI infield single from Aaron Whitefield. Picking up in the 5th inning, Trey Cabbage made his presence felt launching his 18th homer of the year, a two-run shot that drew Wichita within one at 4-3. A 6th inning grand slam for Arkansas allowed a five-run inning to provide plenty of distance. Wichita attempted to make things interesting in the 8th inning when Andrew Bechtold singled in Cabbage and Aaron Whitefield drove in Spencer Steer. That 9-5 deficit was the closest things would get, and with Arkansas adding another run in the 9th inning, this one stayed out of reach. Wichita 6, Arkansas 4 (F/7 Game 2) Box Score Jordan Balazovic was on the bump for game two of this non-traditional doubleheader. It wasn’t his sharpest outing and the Twins top pitching prospect went just 3 2/3 innings allowing four runs on four hits and four walks while striking out five batters. Down 2-0 after the first inning, Wichita answered with two runs of their own in the 2nd inning. Jermaine Palacios singled driving in Leobaldo Cabrera, and Andrew Bechtold plated Palacios on a single of his own. Again trailing after the 4th inning, the Wind Surge answered with Spencer Steer ripping a bases loaded double to bring everyone home. Grabbing their first lead of the contest, Cedar Rapids was now on top 5-4. During a 6th inning Bechtold walk, Whitefield swiped third base and scored on an error by the Travelers backstop. 6-4 is where this on would end, and Roy Morales was the lone player to record a multi-hit effort going 3-for-4 on the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS Peoria 2, Cedar Rapids 1 Box Score Louie Varland has been dominant at the two levels of Class A ball this season, and he turned in another great start tonight for the Kernels. Working six innings, Varland allowed two runs (just one earned) on four hits and no walks. He punched out 11 batters on the evening and dropped his ERA to 2.10. Derek Molina struck out four batters over the final two innings. Jair Camargo drove in Aaron Sabato with a 5th inning single knotting the game at one, but that was the only run production the Kernels could muster and they fell just short. Camargo had a two-hit night and accounted for half of Cedar Rapids total. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 5, Tampa 2 Box Score Needing just seven total strikeouts to set a new team record, the Mighty Mussels eclipsed the team total set by the Miracle back in 2019. Starter John Stankiewicz picked up six of the necessary punch outs and worked six innings allowing just a single run on five hits and a walk. After getting behind in the first, Charles Mack recorded his second triple of the season plating both Misael Urbina and Will Holland to take the lead. Mack then drew a bases-loaded walk in the third to drive in Alerick Soularie before Jake Rucker was hit and allowed Christian Encarnacion-Strand to score. Kyle Fedko was hit by a pitch and allowed Holland to score. Three runs came across in the inning, and none were generated by a ball put in play. Tampa drew closers with a solo shot in the 9th inning, but the left the bases loaded and wound up on the short side of the scoreboard. Despite being scheduled for a twin bill, rain again impacted tonight’s plans and turned this into a one game, nine-inning affair. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Scheduled Day Off TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland (Cedar Rapids) - 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K Hitter of the Day - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-4, R PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-2, R, BB, K #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 4 H 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-4, R #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - No game #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Temporarily Inactive List #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, BB #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - Did not play #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - No game #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play (Paternity List) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-3, R, BB #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-3, 3 RBI THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 3.20 ERA) Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Chris Vallimont (5-7, 6.33 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 9.00 ERA) Tampa @ Fort Myers, Game 1 (6:00 PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
  12. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins recalled LHP Andrew Albers from St. Paul Saints. Fort Myers Mighty Mussels placed RHP Orlando Rodriguez on the temporarily inactive list. Fort Myers Mighty Mussels placed SS Keoni Cavaco on the temporarily inactive list SAINTS SENTINEL Omaha 4, St. Paul 2 Box Score Gilberto Celestino put the Saints on the board with a crisp line drive homer (5) over the center field wall in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at one. St. Paul scored their second run thanks to an RBI ground out from Tomas Telis that scored Damek Tomscha. Starting pitcher Beau Burrows lasted 4 2/3 innings, giving up three runs on four hits while striking out six. Burrows' Achilles was the long ball, giving up three home runs on the evening. Burrows did enough to keep the game close and had a little help from his defense as well! Ryan Mason followed Burrows and was efficient, giving up no runs and zero hits while striking out three and walking two in 1 1/3 innings. Yennier Cano followed that up with two innings on the bump, giving up a run on two hits while striking out two. Edgar Garcia pitched the final inning for the Saints and escaped with a scoreless inning after walking two batters. WIND SURGE WISDOM NW Arkansas 14, Wichita 7 Box Score After gaining an early 2-0 lead the Surge were unable to hang with the Naturals after giving up 10 runs in the second inning. Wichita got things going early when D.J. Burt laced an RBI double that scored Austin Martin in the first inning. After advancing on the previous play, Burt scored thanks to an RBI groundout from Roy Morales. Top Prospect and Olympic Silver Medalist Simeon Woods Richardson didn't have his stuff on the bump tonight. Woods Richardson lasted only 1 2/3 innings and gave up six runs and three walks on his short outing. Tyler Beck took the brunt of the relief work for the Surge, giving up six runs on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. Evan Sisk and Mitchell Osnowitz carried the caboose for the Wind Surge bullpen. tossing a combined two innings while giving up two runs and walking one. Sisk struck out one batter. Despite the surplus of scoring from the other dugout, Ernie De La Trinidad knocked his eighth homer of the year in the second inning. Jermaine Palacios plated the final run for Wichita when he struck a fourth inning RBI single to left field that scored Leobaldo Cabrera. Cabrera added to Wichita's run count in the eighth inning when he demolished a three-run homer (10) to left field, plating Burt and Morales. That would prove to be the final run for Wichita on a rare night where the team was outscored in a football-esque score. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 11, Wisconsin 4 Box Score On the opening night of the NFL the Cedar Rapids Kernels attempted to put up a football-like score...and succeeded. Cedar Rapids scored 11 runs in the first five innings to propel the Kernels to a 11-4 win on Thursday night. The offense was great, but Cedar Rapids starting pitcher and Minnesota native Louie Varland was just as solid. Varland didn't walk any hitters and struck out seven, giving up three runs on six hits. Varland is now 6-1 on the year and has been one of the brightest surprises in the Twins organization all season long. The Kernels offensive barrage began in the first inning when Edouard Julien led off the game with a single. Michael Helman followed suit with a triple (3) that scored Julien all the way from first. Helman's efforts were rewarded when he later scored on an RBI sac-fly from Aaron Sabato. The second innings was 'thrice' as fruitful for the Kernels. Cedar Rapids scored six runs in the inning to open the flood gates. To the eye, one would assume a six-run inning would consist of at least one extra base hit. Not the case. The Kernels recorded six walks (2 HBP) and singles from Deshawn Keirsey, Alex Isola, and Jeferson Morales to put up the crooked number on the inning. The Kernels DID see a pair of extra-base hits two innings later. Isola and Morales tallied back-to-back solo home runs to expand the Kernels lead to 10-0 after four innings of play. Julien added a homer of his own to inflate the lead to 11-1 in the fifth. After Varland exited the game, reliver Carlos Suniaga touted his own dominance on the mound with two innings of one run, one hit ball with one strikeout. Tyler Palm sealed the deal for the Kernels with a perfect ninth inning. The win puts Cedar Rapids a full game ahead of Great Lakes and Lake County for the second spot in their playoff race. The team has now won three straight! MUSSEL MATTERS Game 1 Fort Myers 7, Palm Beach 6 Box Score With weather postponing the completion of Wednesday's game, the Mussels showed up at Hammond Stadium for double the amount of baseball on Thursday. The squad didn't disappoint. After Palm Beach plated four runs in the seventh and eighth innings to tie the game at six, Fort Myers scored the go-ahead run to push the Mussels past the Cardinals' affiliate in game one of a double-header. The go-ahead run came courtesy of an home run from Alerick Soularie, who punished a 2-0 pitch over the left field wall to secure the lead for the Mussels. Soularie's late-inning blast wasn't the only time that the Tennessee Volunteer touched home plate in the game. Soularie scored a run in the fourth, one of four on the inning for Fort Myers. Willie Joe Garry Jr. led off the inning with a triple and scored on an RBI single from Mikey Perez. Soularie and Christian Encarnacion-Strand joined Perez on base thanks to a pair of walks. Patrick Winkel and Jake Rucker followed suit with a pair of back to back singles to score Perez, Soularie, and Encarnacion Strand. Fort Myers starting pitching John Stankiewicz lasted four innings, giving up five hits and two runs while walking two and striking out four. David Festa took the bulk of bullpen duties for the Mussels, pitching 2 2/3 innings of three strikeout ball, walking two and giving up two runs. Reliever A.J. Labas received one of the more unique stat lines on the night. Labas tossed 1 1/3 innings, giving up five hits and two-runs, including the game-tying run that tallied a blown save under his name. However, thanks to Soularie's blast, Labas also recorded the win (W, 1-2) on the game. Juan Pichardo cleaned up in the final inning and earned his fourth save of the season. Game Two Fort Myers 11, Palm Beach 2 Box Score Just like they relied on a big inning in the first game of the doubleheader, Fort Myers soared in game two thanks to a five-run third inning....and an absolutely electric outing from starting pitcher Casey Legumina. Legumina was stellar through 5 2/3 innings, striking out six while only giving up one run on one hit and a walk. The outing was the second outstanding appearance that Legumina has recorded in the month of September. The Dallas, Texas native went the same distance on the mound on September 2 against Dayton, giving up zero runs on three hits while striking out three and walking one. Yet dominant pitching is often a biproduct of dominant offense, something the Mussels did not lack in the third inning. Charlie Mack launched a three-run homer (7) followed by a Will Holland solo shot (10) to give Fort Myers a comfortable lead. Mikey Perez added to the scoring party with an RBI double in the inning, his first of the year. Holland continued his impressive night with an RBI single in the sixth inning that scored Encarnacion-Strand to put the Mussels up 11-1. After Legumina's masterpiece reliever Logan Campbell closed the door for the Mussels, tossing 1 1/3 innings of one-run ball while striking out one and walking none. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 4, FCL Pirates Gold 3 (10) Box Score A three-run fourth inning and a sac-fly walk-off from Rubel Cespedes powered the Twins to a victory against the Pirates on Thursday afternoon. Wander Valdez and Rubel Cespedes each tallied RBI singles to score runs in the Twins' dominant third inning. LaRon Smith also drew an RBI walk to score a run. Noah Miller, the Minnesota Twins' second pick in the 2021 draft tallied two hits on the day, including a single and a run in the fourth. Twins starting pitcher Erasmo Moreno was excellent, pitching three innings of scoreless baseball while striking out two and walking three. Jordan Carr followed Moreno with three innings, giving up one run on four hits while striking out three. Similar to A.J. Labas of Cedar Rapids, Complex reliever Malik Barrington tallied a blown save but also the win (W, 1-1), thanks to Cespedes' walk-off sac-fly that scored Ka'lai Rosario. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Casey Legumina (Fort Myers) - (W, 4-2) 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K Hitter of the Day - Michael Helman (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-5, 2B, 3B, 2 R, 2 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-3, R, BB #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 1.2 IP, 6 R, 6 ER, 3 H, 3 BB, 2 K #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-4 #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Did not play #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, RBI, BB, 2 K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, HR, R, RBI #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - Did not pitch #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, K #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 2-for-2 #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2 K FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTERS Omaha @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes (6-3, 3.93 ERA) NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (4-4 3.61 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 11.25 ERA) Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - LHP Cade Povich (0-0, 3.00 ERA) Thoughts? Comments? Concerns? Drop a comment below!
  13. TRANSACTIONS: The Twins traded Saints LH RP Andrew Vasquez to the Dodgers for minor league catcher Stevie Berman. RHP Jason Garcia promoted from Double-A to St. Paul C Kyle Schmidt promoted from High-A to St. Paul RHP Ben Gross promoted from High-A to Wichita IF Andrew Bechtold placed on 7-day IL SAINTS SENTINEL Postponed (Rain) WIND SURGE WISDOM Wind Surge 10, Travelers 3 Box Score Twins pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic threw tonight for the Wind Surge, and it was a bit of a mixed bag. He gave up nine hits in just 4 2/3 innings, but he also limited the damage to just three runs (two earned) while walking two and striking out three. Hardly dominant, but he did work around danger. After getting down in the 1st inning, Wichita took the lead in the 4th inning and never looked back. Leobaldo Cabrera tallied his fifth double of the season scoring Austin Martin and Roy Morales. D.J. Burt then singled to drive in Trey Cabbage and Cabrera, doubling the tally to four. Arkansas made noise in the 5th inning, but Jermaine Palacios lifted his 19th homer of the year in the top of the 6th inning to make it a 5-3 lead. Aaron Whitefield then singled in the 7th inning scoring Burt and extending the lead before Cabrera, Burt, and Whitefield drove in runs on a trio of singles in the 8th inning. Palacios pushed across Wichita’s 10th run scoring Cabbage in the 9th on a single, and the 17 hits for the Wind Surge resulted in double-digit runs. Arkansas used a 9th inning grand slam in an effort to make things interesting, but the 10-7 score held strong. Morales and Burt both recorded three hits on the evening, while Palacios picked up a four-hit effort. Cabbage, Cabrera, and Whitefield all had two-hit nights for Wichita in the rout. KERNELS NUGGETS Kernels 12, River Bandits 2 Box Score It was a Louie Varland start tonight for the Kernels, and that’s good news when you’re looking for a win. The righty went five strong innings and allowed just one run on three hits. He struck out eight and worked around three walks. His ERA drops to 1.85 since the promotion to High-A Cedar Rapids. Cedar Rapids gave up the first run tonight on a 4th inning single, but they quickly erased the deficit with a crooked number in the bottom half. Aaron Sabato recorded his third Kernels double to score Alex Isola before a Michael Helman single plated Matt Wallner. Wander Javier then grounded into a fielder’s choice that featured a Quad Cities throwing error, and Sabato was able to scamper home. Before the inning ended, Seth Gray hit a two-run single driving in both Helman and Javier. Tacking on in a big way again, it was a seven-spot in the 6th inning for the home team. Javier’s 14th double drove in Helman before a Gray single brought Wander across the plate. Edouard Julien crushed his ninth dinger with the Kernels, a three-run blast, making it 10-1. Isola followed up with a solo shot of his own, his 12th of the year, and Helman picked up another RBI on a single to score Wallner. With 12 hits recorded by the Kernels tonight, there was a trio of hitters putting up multi-hit efforts. Isola and Gray both recorded two while Michael Helman went 3-for-5 on the evening. MUSSEL MATTERS Tortugas 9, Mussels 1 Box Score A.J. Labas made his first start for the Mighty Mussels tonight, just his second appearance for the club. The recently-signed righty from LSU recorded just two outs, however, and gave up five runs on six hits while both walking and striking out a single batter. After the Tortugas put up a five spot in the home half of the 1st inning, Fort Myers was going to be up against it all night. Daytona added another run in the 2nd inning and then two more in the 4th inning. Trailing 8-0, the Mussels needed a response. Christian Encarnacion-Strand provided the first offense for Fort Myers. His 7th inning single scored Will Holland and they finally found themselves with a tally in the run column. Encarnacion-Strand compiled two hits on the evening and was joined with that designation by Jake Rucker. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 15, FCL Orioles Orange 2 Box Score Niklas Rimmel took the ball for the Twins FCL squad today and worked two innings giving up a single run on two hits. Brandon Koch started his rehab stint and came on in relief punching out two. Juan Mendez worked three innings and earned his second win of the season. DaShawn Keirsey also kicked off his rehab while leading off. He went 1-for-3 with two runs scored before being lifted. Three runs crossed in the first as Noah Miller roped his third double of the season to score Keirsey. A Rubel Cespedes single then scored both Emmanuel Rodriguez and Kala’i Rosario. Entering the 4th inning leading 4-1, the Twins added in some less conventional ways. Miller and Rodriguez both drew RBI on bases loaded hit by pitches and then Keirsey scored on a wild pitch with the bases still chucked. Leading 7-1, Rosario drove in another on a ground out, and it wasn’t until a Carlos Aguiar single that a run scored on a hit. Another goofy run scored in the 7th inning when Rodriguez came home on an Orioles balk. The tally stood at 11-2 going into the 9th inning. Because this one wasn’t enough of a laugher yet, Aguiar crushed a grand slam that pushed the final total to 15-2. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Louie Varland (Cedar Rapids) - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 3 BB, 8 K Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jermaine Palacios (Wichita) - 4-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, HR(19) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-4, R, BB, K #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 4.2 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K #4 – Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - No game #7 – Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #9 – Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 0-3, BB, 3 K #11 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, 2 R, 2B, BB, 2 K #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - No game #14 – Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - No game #15 – Noah Miller (FCL Twins) - 2-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B, BB #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 1-2, K #17 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #18 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 0-2, 2 BB, K #19 – Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-4, BB, 2 TRANSACTIONS RHP Miguel Rodriguez reinstated from 7-day IL at A Fort Myers RHP Ramon Pineda transferred from FCL Twins to A Fort Myers Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Toledo 9 (Paused game) Box Score Drew Strotman: 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Well, I had a write-up here, but apparently the game ran so late that it was paused due to a curfew. I'll leave the box score link so that people can check it out as they please, but know that the game is not technically finished. Also know that this is the first time I have ever seen something like this happen in a minor league game. Weird stuff. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 13, Tulsa 4 Box Score Cole Sands: 3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K HR: Leobaldo Cabrera (8), Andrew Bechtold (16), Austin Martin (2), Spencer Steer (13) Multi-hit games: Spencer Steer (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, BB), Austin Martin (3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI), Wichita gave Tulsa the business on Saturday. ...Oh, I need to say more? (Editor's Note: Yes, please.) Here are a few questions: Is it a good thing when eight out of nine of your batters get a hit? Is it a good thing when six different hitters earn an RBI? Is it a good thing when your 1-2 hitters combine for six runs? I’m not a baseball expert, but I tend to think that the answer to all of those questions is yes. Tulsa actually had the first lead of the game but a homer by Leobaldo Cabrera put the lead firmly in Wichita’s grasp. They would not let go. With five runs already on the board, Andrew Bechtold demolished a three-run homerun to make it a cruel seven-run lead. With a nine-run lead, Austin Martin clobbered a homer to make it an evil 11-run lead. Finally, with 12 runs on the board, Spencer Steer obliterated a solo shot to add a cherry on top of this battered cake. Tulsa actually out-hit the Wind Surge on Saturday which is objectively hilarious. Cabrera: Bechtold: Martin: Steer: Cole Sands allowed only one run over three innings but was inefficient as he tossed 80 pitches in order to do so. From there the combination of Kody Funderburk, Zach Neff, and Hector Lujan took Wichita to the finish line on Saturday. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 1, Beloit 6 Box Score Ben Gross: 5 IP, 10 H, 6 ER, 0 BB, 8 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Daniel Ozoria (2-for-3, RBI) Cedar Rapids had the lone offensive dud on Saturday. Ben Gross brought the strikeouts, but the Snappers proved resilient, and dropped 10 hits on the starter. It was an all-or-nothing approach that netted Beloit six extra-base hits off of Gross en route to a lead that would never really be challenged. The lone Kernels run came thanks to a Daniel Ozoria infield single in the 5th inning. The team put together just six hits on the night, but oddly enough, three of those hits were doubles. In another odd turn, both teams had matching one walk, 14 strikeout performances by their respective pitching staffs (and lineups, technically). But, Beloit bunching their extra-base hits proved to be a wise strategy as they easily beat Cedar Rapids on Saturday. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 8 Box Score Miguel Rodriguez: 1 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 0 K HR: Jesus Feliz (7) Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (2-for-5, 3 R), Will Holland (3-for-4, 2B, R, RBI) Fort Myers was unable to recover from a 4-0 deficit on Saturday. Starter Miguel Rodriguez had one to forget. The righty was activated just before the game and more than a bit rusty on Saturday. Allowing three walks over just a single inning more or less speaks for itself. Let’s hope that Rodriguez can get back on the horse the next time he’s called upon. To their credit, the Mighty Mussels did not lie down and let the Marauders win this game without a fight. They were down by a score of 7-1 before a burning offensive spirit took hold across the dugout. Jesus Feliz kicked off the rebuttal with a solo homer in the 7th while Will Holland doubled home a run later in the inning. This would be just the first attack. Kyler Fedko unloaded the bases in the 8th with a double that was followed by the classic double error on the part of the Marauders. Unfortunately, the fight would end there. Bradenton plated one more run in the 9th, and Fort Myers fell narrowly short of a victory. Casey Legumina provided a strong effort in the loss. He was able to siphon off the bleeding over five strong innings of one-run ball in relief of Rodriguez. Complex Chronicles The FCL Twins game was suspended in the 8th inning on Saturday. Nash will have the update for you on this game when it is completed on Sunday. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Casey Legumina Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 3-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 – Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - Suspended game #7 – Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #9 – Chase Petty (Complex) - #10 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Did not play #11 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - Suspended game #14 – Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 2 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 6 BB, 2 K #15 – Noah Miller (FCL Twins) - 1-3, RBI, BB, 2 K #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-1, R, BB, K #17 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #18 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-3, 2 BB #19 – Cole Sands (Wichita) - 3 IP, 6 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K #20 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-4, HR, 2B, 4 R, 2 RBI, BB WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (5:15CT PM) RHP Bryan Sammons (0-2, 5.86 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (7:10CT PM) TBD Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35CT PM) RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (2-1, 2.12 ERA) Fort Myers @ Daytona (6:05CT PM) RHP Matthew Swain (6-2, 4.99 ERA) If you have any questions or comments, please feel free to ask below.
  14. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins recall LHP Lewis Thorpe from Triple-A St. Paul Minnesota Twins designate RHP Nick Vincent for assignment SAINTS SENTINEL Iowa 11, St. Paul 7 Box Score The Saints fell behind early, but used the big fly to get back in the game and take the lead, only to blow it in the ninth. They battled to force extras, but sputtered in the additional frames to lose 11-7. The I-Cubs got the scoring going early with a bases-loaded sacrifice fly off the bat of Jared Young, but couldn’t manage to add any additional runs from the chance. The Saints responded immediately with a Trevor Larnach solo blast that tied the game at a run apiece. In the third, however, Iowa put one across on a single from Young and then two more came in on a Trent Giambrone homer. And in the fourth, Chandler Shepherd grooved a hanging breaking ball to the ninth hitter in the Cardinals lineup, and Edwin Figuera hit it about 400 feet over the left field wall to add one more. The Saints had a response though, in the form of a two-run Gilberto Celestino home run onto the Killebrew Root Beer awning in left-center. Moments later, Jimmy Kerrigan put a ball a bit further left: Then, in the next inning, Tomas Telis tied the game and gave the left field spectators yet another souvenir. In the seventh, the Saints finally got their noses in front. In an inning with three stolen bases (including a steal of third from Telis!), Mark Contreras drove in Telis with a double. He was thrown out at the plate two batters later trying to grab another run, but St. Paul took their first lead nonetheless. Unfortunately, that lead wasn't enough, as Jovani Moran uncharacteristically allowed two runs in the ninth to blow the save and give the Cubs the lead back. Still, the never-say-die Saints weren't out of it yet. Mark Contreras hit his third double of the night and moved up to third on a flyout. At that point, Cubs pitcher Dillon Maples walked Ben Rortvedt unnecessarily and threw a ball a foot behind Kerrigan, allowing Contreras to tie the game on a wild pitch and send the game to extras. However, Iowa answered with four runs in the top of the tenth. At that point, the never-say-die Saints were, in fact, out of it. They lose 11-7. Chandler Shepherd ended up getting through five innings, but allowed five earned runs on eight hits and two walks. He struck out three. Ryan Mason (6th) and Chris Nunn (7th and 8th) combined for three scoreless innings to set the game up for Moran. Moran only got two outs and allowed two runs on two hits, two walks and a homer. He needed Robinson Leyer to come in to get the last out in the top of the ninth. He managed that, but fell apart in the 10th, as he allowed four runs and gets saddled with the loss. Telis, Contreras, and Kerrigan had multi-hit games (all three of Contreras's hits were doubles). WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 7, Springfield 1 Box Score Springfield squandered big opportunities for runs early and late, while Wichita capitalized on theirs all night long. The Surge win this one in a rout. Springfield led off the game with a triple and loaded the bases in the third, and both times, Tyler Beck was able to weasel out of the inning without allowing a run. Beck’s threat management paid off immediately as Leobaldo Cabrera blasted a two-run shot to give his team (and his starter) a two run cushion. Then, in the fifth inning, after (another) Austin Martin hit by pitch, a ground ball from B.J. Boyd led to two errors from the Springfield defense which allowed Martin to score and Boyd to take third on a Little League triple. Boyd scored in the next at-bat on Jermaine Palacios’s double. After a few close brushes early in the game, Beck settled down nicely into the middle innings. He only allowed two baserunners in innings four through six and handed the ball over the bullpen after the sixth without ever allowing a run. He worked around five hits and two walks, and struck out six. The Surge fully broke the game open in the eighth, when they scored three runs. Cabrera, D.J. Burt and Chris Williams each grabbed an RBI and the Wichita lead ballooned to 7-0. Springfield finally pushed one across in the eighth, but then, for good measure, they squandered another bases loaded opportunity in the ninth. Surge win 7-1. After Beck’s excellent work, Bryan Sammons struck out two in a baserunner-less seventh inning. Jason Garcia was tasked with finishing the game, but allowed a run in the eighth, and loaded the bases in the ninth frame, requiring Jordan Gore to get the final out. Cabrera, Burt, Palacios, and Aaron Whitefield all had multi-hit games. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 10, Wisconsin 1 Box Score The Cedar Rapids offense was explosive in this game and Louie Varland was excellent again, leading to a big Kernels win. Michael Helman started the Kernels onslaught with his solo homer in the second inning. However, Joey Wiemer answered for Wisconsin with a solo shot of his own to lead off the fourth. Wiemer, with his homer, was the first Timber Rattler to reach base. In the bottom of the inning the Kernels had another homer, only this time it wasn’t a solo shot. In fact, Jeferson Morales’s deep bomb to center came with the bases juiced and Cedar Rapids took a 5-1 lead, just like that. Manager Brian Dinkelman said, "(Morales) competes well at the plate, has a good feel for the zone, good bat-to-ball skills, puts the ball in play. So far he's driven the balls hard, has a couple of home runs, Big grand slam for us tonight. He puts together good at-bats and seems to find the barrel." Matt Wallner helped the Kernels add on in the fifth with a two-run double down the right field line. Wallner scored on a Seth Gray sac fly minutes later to stretch the lead to 8-1. The Kernels kept pouring it on in the seventh, as another Gray double drove in Wallner and Edouard Julien. After Wisconsin’s catcher, Kekai Rios, took the mound to do his best Willians Astudillo impression, the Timber Rattlers went down quietly in the ninth and this game came to its official conclusion. While the offense was making noise all night, Louie Varland was silencing the Wisconsin bats. He became the first Kernels starter to record an out in the seventh inning. He got through seven full innings (the longest start of his career) and allowed one earned run on six hits. He also struck out six. Varland was also remarkably efficient, needing only 75 pitches (54 strikes) to get through seven innings. Dinkelman said, "Louie attacks the zone. Tonight, they were very aggressive and he switched his plan to a lot of off-speed pitches and induced a lot of weak contact, and got outs early. He threw the ball well again for us and gave us seven strong innings." Of his efficiency, Varland noted, "I had all three of my pitches working. I went off-speed heavy and got a lot of soft contact for outs. I'm happy with it." He acknowledged, "I need to find that changeup and use it more consistently and throw it in the zone more. That right now is my next step moving forward, finding that consistent third pitch." Tyler Palm covered the final two innings of the game, allowing no runs on two hits and striking out four. Julien, Morales, and Wander Javier had multi-hit games in tonight’s drubbing. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 1, Dunedin 0 (Game suspended due to weather) Box Score Tonight’s Mighty Mussels was suspended after three innings due to inclement weather and wet field conditions Jesus Feliz’s solo homer in the second inning was the only run scored before the postponement. On the mound, Aaron Rozek was effective for Fort Myers, as he struck out four in three scoreless innings. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 9, FCL Orioles Orange 5 (F/7) Box Score The Complex League Twins have turned around their form of late, as today’s win over the Orioles’ Orange squad makes it four victories in their last five. The Twins scored in all but two innings of this seven-inning contest and the offense was keyed by contributions from the bottom of the order. Seventh hitter Malfrin Sosa had a two-run shot in the second and an RBI double in the fifth, eighth hitter Rubel Cespedes hit a LONG home run, and ninth hitter Nelson Roberto had a two-run homer of his own (and also made a nice, running catch in center). Leadoff man Luis Gomez also had a two-hit outing, but didn’t score or drive in any runs. Kala'i Rosario added a big, booming double. On the mound, Samuel Perez was perfect through five innings. He ran into a bit of trouble with back-to-back singles in the sixth and was removed. Ricardo Velez replaced Perez and only managed to get one out while allowing two inherited runs and three runs of his own. Fortunately, the offense was humming, and John Wilson got the Twins out of the sixth and covered the seventh and final inning to close out a 9-5 win. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids (7.0 IP, 1 R, 1 ER, 6 H, 0 BB, 6 K, 75 pitches) Hitter of the Day - Jeferson Morales, Cedar Rapids (2-for-4, R, 4 RBI, Grand Slam) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-3, R, BB, HBP #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - Did not pitch #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-6, K #7 - Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - Did not pitch #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 0-for-1 (game suspended) #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (shoulder) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-3, 3 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, K, HR #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - Did not play #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-for-1 (game suspended) #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B, BB THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) - RHP Beau Burrows (2-1, 4.34 ERA) Wichita @ Springfield (7:05PM CST) - RHP Austin Schulfer (3-7, 4.19 ERA) Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - LHP Tyler Watson (2-3, 3.33 ERA) Fort Myers @ Dunedin (5:30PM CST) - RHP Casey Legumina (2-1, 4.63 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games!
  15. 25. RHP Chris Vallimont (24-years-old) Season Stats (High-A + Double-A): 4-4, 4.76 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 102 K, 40 BB, 6 HR Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 20, 2021 Preseason: NR Chris Vallimont has the physical profile of a modern day pitcher. He stands nearly 6-foot-6-inches tall with an athletic 220 pound frame that he uses to generate fastballs in the mid-90s to go along with a hammer curve (as well as the occasional slider and changeup). When he's on, there's a strong argument to be made that he has some of the most dynamic stuff in the Twins' system. However, he is a bit of an enigma. His peripheral numbers suggest that he is a better pitcher than what the surface-level stats say, the main anchor dragging him down being his walks. If he hones his command, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he develops into, say, a No. 3 starter. If he doesn't, he may wind up in the bullpen long-term. There are few prospects in the Twins' system with more future outcome variance than Vallimont. 24: RHP Louie Varland (23-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): 6-2, 1.70 ERA, 69 IP, 98 K, 25 BB, 2 HR Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NR Louie Varland is one of those Twins prospects who has shot up the rankings this season due to sustained dominance. Varland was an unknown prospect when the Twins selected him in the 15th round of the 2019 draft out of Concordia-St. Paul. He started out the 2021 season with the Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels before earning a promotion to the High-A Cedar Rapids Kernels where he rattled off nearly 20 straight innings of scoreless ball to begin his run at that level. Varland primarily relies on a fastball-curveball pitch mix. His fastball plays well both up and low in the zone; it presents with decent rise when elevated and greater sinking action when down. His most likely future role is as a reliever, but he has the raw stuff — and performance, to this point — to suggest he'll be effective in the high minors and, possibly, the big leagues. 23: UTIL Nick Gordon (25-years-old) Season Stats (MLB): .250/.301/.333, 37 G, 3 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB, 26/5 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: NR, 2021 Preseason: NR To say that Nick Gordon was an after thought on the minds of Twins' fans entering the 2021 season would be an understatement. However, a strong showing at Triple-A combined with a fast start when promoted to the parent squad quickly got him back into people's minds. Gordon primarily played shortstop in the minors; however, the rash of injuries suffered by Twins' outfielders thrust Gordon into some minutes in centerfield. While he didn't provide Gold Glove caliber defense, he did show enough to suggest that he may have a brighter future as a true utility man than most thought. Gordon doesn't do anything great, but also doesn't do anything well-below average. He may not be an everyday-type of player, but he should find himself with a role in the majors — though perhaps ultimately not with the Twins — for years to come. 22: 1B/DH Aaron Sabato (22-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A): .181/.365/.309, 75 G, 13 2B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 101/67 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 9, 2021 Preseason: 8 The tale of Aaron Sabato is virtually the opposite of that of Varland and Gordon. Sabato was known as a bopper with a good eye at the plate when the Twins selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 draft but so far only his peepers have translated. Sabato has struggled to keep pace with Low-A pitching. His strikeout numbers are through the roof and his power has evaporated compared to what he displayed while with the Tar Heels. To put it bluntly, not many minor leaguers have struggled as much as he has to date and proceeded to carve out a productive major league career. Sabato's walk totals are encouraging, but he needs to show more the rest of the way. 21: INF Edouard Julien (22-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): .251/.423/.449, 78 G, 21 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 25 SB, 98/73 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NR Alright, back to being positive. Edouard Julien is an on-base machine with some pop who has displayed the ability to play multiple positions defensively, though he is probably best at second base. He's also stolen far more bases this year than many thought possible when he came out of Auburn University. Julien's overall productivity has declined some since his promotion to Cedar Rapids — and, thus, the removal of Robo-umps — however, he has done more than enough to justify his placement on this list. Not bad for a former 18th round pick. What do you think of this set of five prospects? Future big-leaguers? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Look at Cedar Rapids Kernels pitcher Louie Varland’s stat line and you’d think he was a Division I standout drafted in the first few rounds of the MLB Draft. Not a 15th round pick who played college ball at Division II Concordia-St. Paul. These aren’t just part of the home-grown star’s identity; they’re things that have motivated him unlike anything else. “It definitely has been a chip on my shoulder, but it came down to the fact that ‘I’ve got something to prove,” Varland said. “I wasn’t a DI guy, but I came in to prove my own and show that I can compete at this level.” The confidence from that chip has shown. Since being promoted to Cedar Rapids from Low-A Fort Myers on July 13, Varland is 2-0 with a 0.83 ERA in four starts for the Kernels. That second win came Friday night when Varland tossed 5 2/3 innings of two-run, five-strikeout ball to lead the Kernels to a critical win over league-leading Quad Cities in front of a season-high attendance at Perfect Game Field. The Maplewood, Minnesota native and North St. Paul High School graduate began the season with the Mighty Mussels and was nothing short of rock-solid. Varland appeared in ten games and made eight starts for Fort Myers, going 4-2 with a 2.06 ERA. He was named Low-A Pitcher of the Week on June 14 after pitching 12 consecutive scoreless innings and striking out 17 in that period. Yet as the competition increased upon his arrival to High-A, so did the difficulty for batters to hit Varland. Opposing batters mustered up a meager .228 batting average against Louie in the Sunshine State. That number has dipped to an incredible .173 average throughout his time in Cedar Rapids so far. “I feel great. I feel confident on the mound. I’ve got my stuff working for me,” Varland said. That confidence was crafted in the in Fort Myers earlier this year at the Twins’ spring training site and courtesy of the Mussels’ staff with a dash of technology. “I had some mechanical flaws earlier in the year, so down at the Low-A level, we have simulation cameras (that helped), and Pete (Larson) and the coaching staff helped me fix those issues to create a more efficient arm path, leading to more strikes,” Varland said. “I can throw harder, my delivery is cleaner, and I feel ready to go.” Is this Heaven? No, it’s Iowa After exiting a stellar pitching staff in Fort Myers, Varland arguably joined an even more dominant one in Cedar Rapids. The Kernels staff touts a league-leading 3.66 ERA and an impressive 1.23 WHIP. Ben Gross has led the starting pitching staff with his 4-1 record and 3.27 ERA. He’s also been an incredible asset to the newest member of the pitching staff. “It’s absolutely helped (having other successful pitchers), especially Ben Gross,” Varland said. “He’s really helped me dive into the preparation part of things; what to throw and when to throw certain pitches. He’s helped me dive into opposing hitters, which he’s really big into, and that’s helped me out a lot.” And while Varland is surrounded by a strong group of players on the field, the greatest asset of his Iowa promotion may be off the field. Cedar Rapids is just a hop, skip, and a jump away from the Twins Cities metro, where Varland’s family still resides. “It’s especially nice for my family,” Varland said. “It’s the closest affiliate of all the affiliates to my hometown. Every trip (for my family) to Cedar Rapids, Beloit, and Wisconsin (Appleton) are all roughly four and a half hours away so it’s great for them.” Varland’s dad Wade, who played a huge role in mentoring Louie and his brother Gus, can attend games more frequently. The family is even taking a trip to Tulsa to watch Gus pitch for Dodgers’ Double-A affiliate Tulsa later this month. “It’s just really nice to have my family back in the stands watching me play,” Louie said. Sprint to the Finish Now that Varland has gotten his feet wet in Cedar Rapids, his dominance couldn’t have come at a more critical time. The Kernels are amidst a playoff race that looks like it will come down to the wire. While there are two divisions in the High-A Central League, only two teams will qualify for the playoffs, regardless of division. Quad Cities (Royals affiliate) holds a commanding ten-game-lead in the league with a 54-26 record. Cedar Rapids and Great Lakes (Dodgers affiliate) are tied for second, sitting at 45-37. Lake County (Cleveland affiliate) and Dayton (Reds affiliate) are within two and a half games from Great Lakes and the Kernels. It’s going to be exhilarating. And only one team can make it. The good news for the Kernels? They arguably control their destiny. Cedar Rapids and Quad Cities will play each other eight more times before the end of the season, all at Perfect Game Field in Cedar Rapids. “The atmosphere is really competitive. Every game, we’re fighting for a playoff spot," Varland said. "With six and a half weeks left, every game counts, especially these against Quad Cities. Hopefully, we can win this series.” The Kernels face off against Quad Cities tonight at 6:35 PM CST in Cedar Rapids. Tickets are available at www.kernels.com, and the game can be viewed on MiLB.TV. More on Louie Varland from Twins Daily Twins Prospect Louie Varland Won't Stop at Pretty Good Twins Spotlight: Louie Varland
  17. 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 on Monday. There were no transactions announced on Monday. FCL Twins Talk FCL Twins 0, FCL Pirates Black 3 Box Score On Monday, the FCL Twins fell to 6-18 despite a nice start from a rehabbing Lewis Thorpe. The lefty from Australia tossed three scoreless, hitless innings. He walked one and struck out four batters. Danny Moreno came up a run in the fourth on a hit and two walks. Matt Mullenbach gave up two runs (1 earned) on three hits in 1 2/3 innings. Cole Bellair got the final four outs, two on strikeouts. The Twins managed just four hits in the game. Yonardy Soto’s double was the lone extra-base hit. With that, let’s look at Week 13 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (3-3, hosting Indianapolis), overall (40-37) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (3-3, @ NW Arkansas), overall (44-34) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (4-2, @ Wisconsin), overall (44-34) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (1-2,@ Clearwater), overall (40-35) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (1-4), overall (6-18) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: Second Half Success Scouting Twins Prospects: Jose Miranda Tuesday: Everybody Hits, Sometimes… Wednesday: Bombas Across the Board Thursday: Saints Hold Serve Twins Prospect Joe Ryan Excels in Olympic Debut Twins Acquire Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson Twins Acquire Evan Sisk Twins Claim Edgar Garcia off Waivers Twins Acquire Alex Scherff Friday: You Win Some, You Lose Some, Sometimes There’s COVID 5 Things to Know About Twins Deadline Centerpiece Austin Martin The Twins Have Got to Make Their Loaded Farm System Count 5 Things To Know About Twins Pitcher Simeon Woods-Richardson Saturday: A New Prospect Approaches Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month - July 2021 Sunday: Tyler Beck Dazzles for Kernels, Surge Win a Thriller Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month - July 2021 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 13 performances Twins Player of the Week: Michael Helman, Cedar Rapids Kernels Helman played in six games last week for the Kernels and hit .435/.500/.652 (1.152) with a triple and a home run in 26 plate appearances. In 71 games this season, he has hit .237/.333/.420 (.754) with 13 doubles and ten home runs. At least twice this season, Helman has ended a game in walk-off fashion. Helman was the Twins 11th round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M. Twins Pitcher of the Week: Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels It has been a breakout year for St. Paul native and Concordia University alum Louie Varland. He began the season dominating in Ft. Myers, and after throwing five shutout innings this week for the Kernels, he has begun his Cedar Rapids tenure with 16 scoreless innings. He was the Twins choice for Pitcher of the Week, and he was Twins Daily’s choice for Starting Pitcher of the Month for July. Click the link for more information on the hard-throwing right-hander. Other Strong Performances this Week St. Paul Saints Jimmy Kerrigan was named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month, and he ended it with a strong week. In six games, he hit .391/.423/.696 (1.119) with a double and two home runs. Rob Refsnyder played four rehab games. He hit .500/.600/1.063 (1.663) with three doubles and two homers. Keon Broxton played four games and hit .333/.412/.800 (1.212) with a double and two homers. Jose Miranda played five games and hit .409/.480/.636 (1.116) with two doubles and a homer. On the mound, Matt Shoemaker tossed seven shutout innings in his start. He gave up just two hits, walked two and struck out six batters. Rob Whalen returned and tossed two perfect innings over two games. In his start last Tuesday, Chandler Shepherd gave up two hits over seven scoreless innings. Wichita Wind Surge Spencer Steer had been struggling in Wichita since his promotion, other than home runs. In five games last week, he hit .444/.565/1.056 (1.621) with three doubles, a triple and two home runs. BJ Boyd played all six games and hit .429/.448/.679 (1.127) with a double and two home runs. DJ Burt played in four games and hit .357/.550/.500 (1.050) with two doubles. Chris Williams hit .357 and had a double and a home run. Chris Nunn made his Twins organizational debut this week. He struck out seven batters in 3 2/3 innings over two games. Cedar Rapids Kernels Yunior Severino was promoted to the Kernels and in his five games, he hit .412/.524/.647 (1.171) with four doubles and four walks. Matt Wallner played in five games. He hit .304/.304/.783 (1.087) with two doubles and three home runs. Edouard Julien hit just .217, but he posted a .976 OPS because his five hits included two doubles and three home runs. Tyler Beck tossed five scoreless innings in his start. He gave up two hits and two walks, but struck out five. Zach Featherstone continues to dominate. He pitched in three games and had a hold and two saves. In four innings, he struck out seven and didn’t allow a run. Tyler Watson gave up only an unearned run over his five innings in his start. Erik Manoah, Jr., struck out eight batters in 3 2/3 scoreless innings. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Obviously when the team played just three games, it’s hard to make too much out of anything. Charlie Mack played in one of the three games, and he went 3-for-4. Keoni Cavaco hit a home run in the game he played. Ruben Santana went 5-for-10 with a double and a walk (1.145 OPS). Sawyer Gipson-Long was the league’s pitcher of the week. In his start, he went seven innings and gave up just an unearned run on three hits and a walk. He struck out nine batters. Bobby Milaci tossed three perfect innings and struck out three batters. FCL Twins Emmanuel Rodriguez had just two hits in nine at bats, but both were home runs. LaRon Smith went 4-for-8 (.500) with his fourth homer of the season. Kala’i Rosario went 6-for-16 (.375) with three walks, a double and a triple. Samuel Perez tossed six innings of one-hit baseball this past week. He struck out eight batters. Ramon Pineda struck out four batters in four scoreless innings… and his brother didn’t get traded. Giovahniey German threw three innings and gave up just one hit while striking out three batters. Juan Mendez gave up just one hit over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. ; LOWLIGHTS Weekly Reminder: We are talking about very 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 Damek Tomscha went 1-for-12 (.083) over four games. JT Riddle was 2-for-14 (.143). In his start on Sunday, Chandler Shepherd again took one for the team. In four innings, he gave up eight runs on 11 hits. Wichita Wind Surge Roy Morales went 3-for-17 (.176). Ernie De La Trinidad went 2-for-13 (.154) over four games. Trey Cabbage went 3-for-16 (.188) with ten strikeouts. Chris Vallimont had a tough two-start week. He gave up 11 runs (10 earned) on 10 hits and eight walks in 8 1/3 innings. Byran Sammons gave up seven earned runs on five hits and four walks in four innings in his start. Jordan Balazovic went 3 1/3 innings in his start and gave up seven runs (6 earned) on six hits and four walks. Cedar Rapids Kernels Seth Gray went 4-for-26 (.154) with 12 strikeouts. Tyler Palm gave up five runs on seven hits in 2 1/3 innings. He was replacing Cody Laweryson who gave up three runs in just 2/3 of an inning before leaving with an apparent injury. The good news is that he is on the schedule to make another start this week. Ft. Myers Might Mussels The lowlight was simply that the team played just three games up in Clearwater because of a COVID situation by their opponent. Games Friday through Sunday were canceled. TRENDING STORYLINE For this week, let’s use this section to ask our readers a couple of questions. Leave your responses or comments below. #1a. Who is the Twins top position player prospect? It would appear that it is a choice between Austin Martin and Royce Lewis, but has Jose Miranda done enough to put himself into that conversation? #1b. Who is the Twins top pitching prospect? This one is pretty challenging. In our preseason rankings, Jhoan Duran was ahead of Jordan Balazovic. Is it one of them? Does either Simeon Woods-Richardson or Joe Ryan enter the conversation? How about Matt Canterino? Maybe even Josh Winder? PROSPECT SUMMARY We have now updated this Prospect Summary to show our Midseason Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings… #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) – 11 GS, 52.2 IP, 47 H, 19 BB, 64 K, 3.59 ERA, 1.25 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) #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 76 games, .347/.410/.612 (1.022) with 18 doubles, 22 homers, 62 RBI, 30 BB, 48 K #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 43 games, .264/.344/.362 (.706) with 6 doubles, 2 triple, 2 homers, 20 RBI, 18 BB, 52 K, 6 SB #7 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (1 game, .400/.400/1.000 (1.400) with 1 homer, 0 BB, 1 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) – 71 games, .185/.370/.290 (.660) with 13 doubles, 4 homers, 26 RBI, 66 BB, 97 K #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 26 games, .330/.381/.680 (1.060) with 5 doubles, 2 triples, 9 homers, 20 RBI, 7 BB, 41 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 (11 GS, 47.1 IP, 46 H, 14 BB, 51 K, 4.94 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 10 G, 9 GS, 39.2 IP, 27 H, 19 BB, 53 K, 2.72 ERA, 1.16 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 (16 games, .197/.258/.443 (700) with 3 doubles, 4 homers, 5 RBI, 4 BB, 20 K) #15 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 67 games, .203/.303/.299 (602) with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homer, 43 RBI, 35 BB, 56 K, 11 SB) #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 73 games, .257/.371/.504 (.874) with 10 doubles, 2 triples, 18 homers, 44 RBI, 45 BB, 63 K) #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 71 games, .226/.279/.420 (.700) with 12 doubles, 8 triples, 9 homers, 38 RBI, 18 BB, 102 K) #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (injured) #19 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (had surgery on his right elbow to remove bone chips) #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - 14 GS, 59.1 IP, 56 H, 36 BB, 94 K, 4.85 ERA, 1.55 WHIP LOOKING AHEAD Dunedin @ Ft. Myers (Casey Legumina, Sean Mooney, Landon Leach, Bobby Milacki, TBD, Sawyer Gipson-Long): Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids:(Jon Olsen, Tyler Watson, Ben Gross, Louie Varland, Tyler Beck Cody Laweryson) Midland @ Wichita: (Cole Sands, Bryan Sammons, Jordan Balazovic, Chris Vallimont, Austin Schulfer, Cole Sands) Louisville @ St. Paul: (Matt Shoemaker, Andrew Albers, Drew Strotman, TBD, TBD, Matt Shoemaker): Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  18. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Four Starters for July, there were some other solid starting performers that just missed the cut. Let’s discuss the top starting pitchers in the organization in July. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Ben Gross - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 G, 3 GS, 21.0 IP, 2.14 ERA, 0.86 WHIP, 14 H, 4 BB, 25 K RHP Jordan Balazovic - Wichita Wind Surge - 5 GS, 28.1 IP, 2.86 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 21 H, 11 BB, 31 K. THE TOP FOUR STARTING PITCHERS #4 - RHP Giovahniey German - FCL Twins - 5 GS, 16.2 IP, 1.62 ERA, 0.96 WHIP, 9 H, 7 BB, 19 K German was born in Massachusetts but grew up in the Dominican Republic. The Twins signed him as a 16-year-old in 2017. He spent two seasons in the DSL. After missing the 2020 season, He came to the States this spring and was placed on the FCL Twins roster. His first start was June 28th and he gave up four earned runs in four innings. In his first start of July, he gave up three earned runs in 3 1/3 innings. Since then, he has tossed 13 1/3 innings and only allowed an unearned run. In his July 13th start, he tossed five no-hit innings and allowed two walks. #3 - LHP Aaron Rozek - FCL Twins/Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels/Wichita Wind Surge - 5 G, 2 GS, 22.0 IP, 1.64 ERA, 0.82 WHIP, 16 H, 2 BB, 29 K Rozek grew up a Twins fan in Burnsville. After high school, he went to Minnesota State-Mankato. He redshirted and then pitched four seasons for the Mavericks. He also played in the Northwoods League during his summers. He went undrafted in 2018 and has played independent baseball since. Until, that is, the Twins signed him in June. It’s been an interesting month. After two appearances in the FCL, including five shutout innings on July 3rd in which he struck out 11, he was moved to the Double-A Wichita Wind Surge. He pitched three scoreless innings in relief and recorded a Win. He was then sent to Ft. Myers where he has pitched three times. He tossed five scoreless innings in his first start there and ended the month with a two-inning scoreless outing. The lefty rarely, if ever, touches 90 on a radar gun, but he mixes things up well to keep hitters off balance. #2 - LHP Tyler Watson - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 G, 3 GS, 19.0 IP, 0.47 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 11 H, 7 BB, 17 K Watson spent most of the season’s first month in a piggybacking role, either starting and working three innings or coming on after the starting and working three innings. In June, he worked mostly as a more traditional relief pitcher, working two innings or less. His final appearance of June was a four-inning start, and his four outings in July were all either four or five innings. His non-start, he came into the game in the second inning and pitched until the seventh inning. On the month, he gave up just two earned runs. He limited base runners. He was very good. Overall this season, the former Nationals prospect is 2-1 with a 1.68 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP. And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is (Drumroll, please...) Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - RHP Louie Varland - 5 GS, 27.0 IP, 1.00 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 20 H, 8 BB, 36 K Louie Varland was a star on the diamond and on the wrestling mat in his years at North St. Paul High School. He stayed home and pitched for three years at Concordia University in St. Paul, the first two years with his brother Gus. Gus was the 14th round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2018. He was traded to the Dodgers earlier this year. Louie was the 15th round pick of the Minnesota Twins in 2019. He pitched in just three games that summer for Elizabethton. He used the 2020 summer to get healthy, get stronger and gain velocity, and he did just that, hitting 100 mph on a radar gun before spring training. But for now, the intent for Varland is to be a starter, and he’s been fantastic. He began the season with Ft. Myers where he went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA in 10 games. In 47 1/3 innings, he walked 16 and struck out 76 batters. He made two July starts in Ft. Myers, but mid-month, he was promoted to HIgh-A Cedar Rapids. He has made three starts for the Kernels so far and is yet to allow a run. In 16 innings, he has given up just eight hits, walked seven and struck out 17 batters. His best start was in Cedar Rapids against Beloit when he gave up one hit and struck out nine batters in five scoreless innings. Overall this season, the 23-year-old is 5-2 with a 1.56 ERA and a 1.14 WHIP. In 63 1/3 innings, he has walked 23 and struck out 93 batters. Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of July, Cedar Rapids RHP Louie Varland.
  19. 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 Transactions and the FCL Twins game on Monday: Infielder Yunior Severino was promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. Right-Handed Pitcher Cole Bellair was sent from Ft. Myers to the Complex. FCL Twins Talk On Monday, the FCL Twins game against the FCL Orioles Black was suspended in the first inning. With that, let’s look at Week 12 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (4-2, @ Omaha), overall (37-34) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (4-2, @ Arkansas), overall (41-31) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (4-2, hosting Beloit), overall (40-32) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (3-3, hosting Daytona), overall (39-33) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (1-4), overall (5-14) IN CASE YOU MISSED IT... Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: All Four Teams Over .500 Tuesday: Balazovic Extends Scoreless Streak Wednesday: Dingers Galore, Nick Vincent Shines Thursday: Little Bit of Everything One Prospect the Twins Should be Willing to Trade Friday: Close Games Across the Board Twins Minor League Pitching Report: Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman Finding Hope for a 2022 Bullpen Saturday: Some Strong Corn Sunday: Fantastic Feliz! This Saints Outfielder is Making his Mark 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 12 performances Twins Player of the Week: Trey Cabbage, Wichita Wind Surge Trey Cabbage was the Twins choice for Hitter of the Week. He played in all six games for the Wind Surge. He hit .304/.320/.652 (.972) with two doubles and two home runs. Cabbage was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Tennessee. He began the season in High-A Cedar Rapids. In 40 games, he hit .266/.342/.538 (.880) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. In 25 games for Wichita, he has hit .231/.317/.451 (.768) with five doubles and five more home runs. His 15 doubles this season is fifth in the Twins system, and his 14 homers ranks fourth. His 49 RBI ranks third in the organization this year. Twins Pitcher of the Week: Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels In his second start with the Kernels, Varland tossed five scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out nine batters. In his first start for Cedar Rapids, he threw six shutout innings. Overall this year, he is 4-2 with a 1.70 ERA and a 1.13 WHIP. In 58 1/3 innings, he has walked 20 and struck out 90 batters. Varland, who has a diploma from North St. Paul High School, was the Twins 15th round pick in 2019 out of Concordia University in St. Paul. His brother Gus Varland pitches for Tulsa, the Double-A affiliate of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Highlights St. Paul Saints It’s the highlights list, so of course Jose Miranda needs to be here. In six games last week, he hit .321/.345/.714 (1.059) with two doubles, three homers and six RBI. Roberto Pena doesn’t play a ton, but he went 3-for-9 with a double and a homer. He also walked three times. Jimmy Kerrigan played in five games and hit .300/.533/.800 (1.333) with two doubles, a homer and five walks. Andrew Albers gave up one run on six hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six batters. Chandler Shepherd gave up one runover five innings in his outing. He struck out six as well. Andrew Vasquez came out of the Saints’ bullpen three times and recorded seven outs, three on strikeouts. Wichita Wind Surge Along with Cabbage, the Wind Surge’s top performers last week were hitters signed to minor league contracts before or during the season. Catcher/First Baseman Roy Morales played in all six games and hit .500/.571/.636 (1.208) with a double, a triple and five walks. Jermaine Palacios was limited to three games, but he hit .308/.357/.769 (1.126) with two home runs. DJ Burt played four games and went 8-for-15 (.533) with a double and a triple. Adam Lau made a spot start for the Wind Surge. He went 3 2/3 scoreless innings and gave up just one hit and walk. He struck out six. Continuing his return to the mound, Cole Sands struck out four batters over three shutout innings. Chris Vallimont was very good in his start. He tossed six scoreless innings, gave up three hits, three walks and struck out eight batters. On Tuesday, Jordan Balazovic tossed seven shutout innings to extend his streak to 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless frames. He wasn’t as strong in his second start of the week. He gave up three runs on five hits and five walks in five innings. Cedar Rapids Kernels The highlight of the week for the Kernels, at least from a Twins/Player Development standpoint, has to be the return of Matt Wallner from his hamate bone injury. He played in five games and hit .278/.381/.611 (.992) with two home runs. Gabriel Maciel played in four games and hit .500/.571/.583 (1.155) with a double and three big RBI. Kyle Schmidt played in three games and went 5-for-11 (.455). Along with Louie Varland, the Kernels had some really good starts. Ben Gross struck out eight batters in five shutout innings. Jon Olsen gave up just three hits over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. Cody Laweryson and Tyler Watson both gave up one run on three hits in their five-inning starts. The sixth Kernels starter, Tyler Beck gave up two runs (and struck out seven batters) in five innings. Melvi Acosta struck out six batters in 3 2/3 innings. He gave up only an unearned run. Zach Featherstone struck out six batters in 2 2/3 one-hit innings. Erik Manoah struck out five batters in three no-hit innings. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Charlie Mack played in five games last week. He hit .333/.429/.500 (.929) with three walks, a homer and four RBI. Jesus Feliz posted an .807 OPS, but he also provided the team with a walk-off homer on Sunday. Lefty Zarion Sharpe had his best start. He gave up two hits over five shutout innings. He struck out five. Sawyer Gipson-Long had a Quality Start. He gave up two runs on six hits over six innings. He walked two and struck out 11 batters. Denny Bentley pitched in three games. He got a Win and two Saves. In 5 2/3 innings, he gave up one hit, walked three and struck out seven batters. FCL Twins Luis Baez went 6-for-15 (.400) with a double and a triple last week. Alexander Pena went 5-for-11 (.455) with a double. LaRon Smith, Malfrin Sosa, Argenis Jimenez and Kala’i Rosario each hit a home run. Develson Aria and Juan Mendez each tossed three scoreless innings. Aria struck out six and gave up only one hit. 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 It has certainly been a struggle of late for JT Riddle. He played all six games last week, but went just 1-for-19 (.053). Ian Hamilton has been fantastic for the Saints for a couple of months, but he had a rough week. He came into three games and was charged with four runs on one hit and four walks. That said, he also was 2-for-2 in Save Opportunities. Yennier Cano gave up five runs (4 earned) on nine hits over just 3 2/3 innings. Wichita Wind Surge Last week, we highlighted catcher Chris Williams. This week, he only played twice and went 0-for-8 with five strikeouts. Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-17 (.118, .308 OPS). Spencer Steer went 3-for-22 (.136) with a homer (.409 OPS). Bryan Sammons gave up four runs on two hits and four walks in three innings in his appearance. Joe Kuzia made one appearance and gave up three runs on two hits, a walk and a hit batter in just 2/3 of an innings. Cedar Rapids Kernels A lot of Kernels struggled at the plate last week. Wander Javier went 2-for-20 (.100) with eight strikeouts. Edouard Julien went 2-for-24 (.083) with 11 strikeouts. Max Smith went 1-for-11 (.091). DaShawn Keirsey went 1-for-12 (.083). Luis Rijo made one appearance out of the bullpen. In 1 2/3 innings, he gave up four runs on five hits and a walk. Ft. Myers Might Mussels Justin Washington played four games and went 1-for-12 (.083). Willie Joe Garry was hitless in 14 at bats, but he did walk five times for a .300 on-base percentage. Keoni Cavaco played in four games in his return to the lineup after missing a week. He went 3-for-19 (.158) with eight strikeouts. Aaron Sabato went 2-for-16 (.125) with ten strikeouts in five games. He did walk seven times and had an on-base percentage of .391. Bobby Milacki gave up five runs (4 earned) on five hits and two walks in 2 2/3 innings. Juan Pichardo gave up three runs on seven hits and a walk in two innings. FCL Twins 31-year-old lefty Sean Gilmartin pitched in 81 games in the big leagues from 2015 through 2020. The Twins signed him a few weeks ago, probably with the plan of getting him up to the Double-A or Triple-A level soon. In three games and 4 1/3 innings, he has given up nine runs (8 earned) on ten hits, two walk sand eight strikeouts. It’s been a tough season for righty from The Netherlands, Donny Breek. He pitched in four games with the Mighty Mussels earlier this year. He gave up 11 runs on six hits and 12 walks in just 3 2/3 innings. For the FCL Twins, he has now worked 1 2/3 innings and gave up nine runs (4 earned) on zero hits and seven walks. Overall, that’s a 25.31 ERA and a 4.69 WHIP in 5 1/3 innings. He’s given up six hits, walked 19, hit four and struck out three batters. Trending Storyline The trade deadline is Friday afternoon at three o’clock. The team has already made one trade, acquiring Triple-A right-handed pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman from the Rays for Nelson Cruz. There is a good chance that by the next time you read this, the Twins will have acquired several more prospect for us to research and discuss. Along with the draft picks that have signed, we may even be in need of a new prospect rankings. PROSPECT SUMMARY We have now updated this Prospect Summary to show our Midseason Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings… #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) – 10 GS, 49.1 IP, 41 H, 15 BB, 61 K, 2.74 ERA, 1.14 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) #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 71 games, .342/.405/.610 (1.015) with 16 doubles, 21 homers, 60 RBI, 28 BB, 43 K #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 42 games, .264/.343/.346 (.689) with 6 doubles, 2 triple, 1 homer, 19 RBI, 18 BB, 52 K, 6 SB #7 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 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) – 70 games, .185/.370/.290 (.660) with 13 doubles, 4 homers, 26 RBI, 66 BB, 97 K #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 24 games, .322/.380/.600 (.980) with 3 doubles, 2 triples, 6 homers, 16 RBI, 7 BB, 36 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 (10 GS, 43.1 IP, 42 H, 13 BB, 45 K, 5.19 ERA, 1.27 WHIP) #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 9 GS, 36.2 IP, 25 H, 18 BB, 49 K, 2.45 ERA, 1.17 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 (12 games, .136/.191/.386 (375) with 2 double, 3 homers, 4 RBI, 2 BB, 18 K) #15 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 64 games, .208/.310/.308 (618) with 7 doubles, 4 triples, 3 homer, 42 RBI, 34 BB, 56 K, 10 SB) #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 68 games, .244/.356/.465 (.821) with 7 doubles, 1 triple, 16 homers, 37 RBI, 42 BB, 59 K) #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 66 games, .215/.274/.400 (.674) with 11 doubles, 5 triples, 9 homers, 36 RBI, 18 BB, 96 K) #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (injured) #19 - Edwar Colina (Minnesota) - 60-Day IL (had surgery on his right elbow to remove bone chips) #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - 12 GS, 51.0 IP, 46 H, 28 BB, 82 K, 3.88 ERA, 1.45 WHIP LOOKING AHEAD Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (Sawyer Gipson-Long, Brent Headrick, Landon Leach, TBD, TBD): Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin:(Louie Varland, Jon Olsen, Tyler Watson, Ben Gross, Cody Laweryson, Tyler Beck) Wichita @ NW Arkansas: (Chris Vallimont (Cole Sands), Austin Schulfer, Bryan Sammons, Jordan Balazovic, TBD, Chris Vallimont) Indianapolis @ St. Paul: (Beau Burrows, Charlie Barnes, Matt Shoemaker, Griffin Jax, Drew Strotman, Beau Burrows): Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  20. Louie Varland (High-A Cedar Rapids) Twins Daily Ranking: Honorable Mention MLB Pipeline Ranking: N/a FanGraphs Ranking: N/a Weekly Stats: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K Varland made his well-earned High-A debut earlier this week after putting up some stellar numbers in Low-A. His 14.45 K/9 rate and 4.75 K:BB ratio in 47 ⅓ innings for the Mighty Mussels were not only among the best on the team, but the Twins’ system in general, which is not something that many expected for the team’s 15th-round pick in 2019. Varland owns a compact windup with repeatable mechanics and a three-quarter arm slot. Although he has primarily been utilized as a starter both in college - at NCAA Division II Concordia University, St. Paul - as well as in the minors, his pitch mix primarily consists of a fastball and curveball, which is typically better suited out of the bullpen. The fastball, which sits in the mid-90s, plays best up in the zone where it stays flat with a little bit of tailing action. However, as he moves it lower in the zone, the amount of sink increases and, along with it, a diminished command. The curveball has potential to be a plus second pitch if he can refine his command. While he unleashes it frequently to miss bats, his feel for the pitch is fairly average, highlighted by often leaving it hanging middle-middle, which is something he can get away with in A-ball but will get slapped around at higher levels. However, when he locates it low, it’s a very difficult ball to square up, especially when piggybacking off a fastball up in the zone. Varland’s lack of a third pitch, whether that be another off-speed offering or improved command of his fastball down, will likely limit him to a relief role should he make it to the majors. Regardless, his performance to date should get his name placed on the major Twins prospect ranking lists come the end of the season. Chris Vallimont (Double-A Wichita) Twins Daily Ranking: No. 20 MLB Pipeline Ranking: No. 18 FanGraphs Ranking: No. 18 Weekly Stats: 3 1/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 7 K Chris Vallimont looks every bit the part of a major league pitcher. Standing at 6-foot-5-inches tall with an athletic frame and a left arm full of tattoos, Vallimont was acquired along with former Twin Sergio Romo from the Miami Marlins in exchange for minor league slugger Lewin Diaz. He shot up the Twins prospect rankings due in large part to his projectability and solid fastball/curve repertoire; he’ll also mix in the occasional changeup and slider, though his command, which isn’t necessarily anything to write home about to begin with, of the latter two pitches is pretty poor. However, since joining the system, he has been a bit of an enigma. Vallimont has always boasted huge strikeout numbers and that has continued this season. He currently is cutting down batters at an impressive 14.57 K/9 clip, which translates to 68 strikeouts in 42 innings at the Double-A level. However, the sheen of these numbers are muted a bit due to his propensity to dish out free passes (5.36 BB/9) and hard contact (9.1% HR:FB ratio). Making things even more murky is the fact that Vallimont’s standard and advanced statistics largely paint two distinct pictures. His 4.71 ERA is ugly, but his 3.24 FIP is much prettier, for example. He also is getting BABIP’d to death (.402), which is unsustainable. Basically, the beauty of Vallimont’s future is ultimately in the eye of the beholder, though as of now, he’s more likely to end up as a reliever than a starter in the long-term. Jordan Gore (Double-A Wichita) Twins Daily Ranking: N/a MLB Pipeline Ranking: N/a FanGraphs Ranking: N/a Weekly Stats: 3 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K The success of Jordan Gore is simply a good story. Taken in the 19th round of the 2017 draft as an infielder, Gore converted to relief pitching full-time this season after serving as a two-way player for the previous two. In 46 career innings across rookie ball, A-ball, and Double-A, Gore has struck out 62, walked 24, and allowed only two home runs. Much like the two other pitchers discussed above, Gore is a right-hander who primarily relies on his fastball and curveball. The fastball won’t necessarily blow anyone away, but the curve plays well off of it. If he continues to perform as he has to this point, he may find himself in the Twins’ bullpen at some point next summer. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Honorable Mentions: LHP Brent Headrick, Low-A: 1-1, 1.71 ERA, 21 IP, 30 K, 10 BB, 1.24 WHIP RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Low-A, 3-0, 2.91 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 31 K, 5 BB, 1.25 WHIP Number 5: RHP Chris Vallimont, Double-A Stats: 2-2, 3.22 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 34 K, 10 BB, 1.39 WHIP On the surface, Vallimont's numbers from May are arguably better than the ones he posted in June. However, the big difference was his uptick in innings. Vallimont faced exactly twice as many batters in June as he did in May - 96 versus 48 - and essentially maintained his strikeout rate. While he wasn't fantastic, he was good, which was enough to come in fifth in the vote. Number 4: RHP Ben Gross, High-A Stats: 2-0, 1.54 ERA, 23 1/3 IP, 29 K, 10 BB, 1.37 WHIP Gross will be 25-years-old before the end of the season meaning the odds that he ever reaches the majors are dwindling with each passing day. That said, his performance during the month of June was rather encouraging. Compared to May, Gross pitched six more innings, struck out seven more batters, allowed four fewer runs, and dropped his overall ERA from 4.15 to 2.66. Number 3: RHP Austin Schulfer, Double-A Stats: 1-1, 1.75 ERA, 25 2/3 IP, 28 K, 8 BB, 1.29 WHIP Like Gross, Schulfer saw his performance improve dramatically as the calendar turned from May to June. A 19th-round pick in the 2018 draft, Schulfer dropped his ERA from 5.31 to 3.33 after allowing seven less earned runs and striking out twice as many batters in 5 1/3 more innings. Again, his future may not be in the majors as he is already 25-years-old and owns a FIP north of 3.50 in his minor league career, however, it's always intriguing anytime a player posts a month as successful as Schulfer. Number 2: RHP Louie Varland, Low-A Stats: 1-0, 0.40 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 29 K, 5 BB, 0.90 WHIP For as mediocre as Varland's May was, his June was absolutely superb. Piling up strikeouts has never been an issue for the former Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bear, but what changed for the 23-year-old in June was his ability to combine his punch outs with preventing the long ball. Varland struck out 29 batters in June compared to his 28 in May while seeing his home runs allowed (0 versus 2) and walks issued (5 versus 10) drop precipitously subsequent to a 59% increase in innings pitched (22 1/3 versus 14). Varland owns the raw stuff to be a contributor in some capacity at the major league level. The key with him, as is the case with many minor league pitchers, is improving his command to the point he did in June. If he can keep the walks low and and long ball few and far between, he could find himself pitching at Target Field someday. Number 1: RHP Josh Winder, Double-A (recently promoted to Triple-A) Stats: 2-0, 2.37 ERA, 30 1/3 IP, 35 K, 4 BB, 0.96 WHIP In a Twins' farm system that is replete with talent, perhaps no pitching prospect is more under-appreciated than Josh Winder. Winder, who did not even crack Twins Daily's Top 20 prospect list prior to the start of the season, finished in second place during last month's Starting Pitcher of the Month race after posting some ridiculous numbers and he continued his streak of dominance as spring turned to summer en route to winning this past month's honors. Unlike contemporaries Matt Canterino and Jhoan Duran, Winder possesses fluid mechanics with a consistent, repeatable motion. He get's good push off from his back leg which reduces the strain placed on his shoulder and elbow. He's only been placed on the injured list once in his minor league career, a stint that lasted exactly one week. Winder's owns a classic pitch arsenal consisting of a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and change-up. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, though it can touch as high as 96 mph, and is graded as a 50-55 on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale according to FanGraphs. While he doesn't have one pitch that stands out as more impressive than the others, all four are at least average offerings, which has the benefit of raising his floor as a prospect. It this fact, along with his string of consistent positive performances, that drove Winder to be named to the 2021 Futures Game alongside a host of top-tier MLB prospects. Winder may never find himself among the Twins' top-10 prospects, however, arguably no pitcher in the system has risen their stock more than he has compared to prior to the season beginning. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. To find out everything that happened with your favorite Twins prospects on MiLB opening day, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS The Minnesota Twins recalled infielder Nick Gordon to take the place of Luis Arraez who was placed on the 7-day concussion injured list. LHP Lachlan Wells was assigned to the Cedar Rapids Kernels. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 2, Omaha 8 Box Score The Saints debut as a major league and Twins affiliate didn’t quite go to plan, but count me as one who is super excited they are in the fold instead of an independent. Starter Andrew Albers went the first four innings but was touched up for a single run in three of them, and four in the other as the Saints fell behind 7-0 while he was on the mound. He allowed eight hits total and struck out six. Glenn Sparkman came on for the fifth and allowed a solo home run, Omaha’s fourth of the game, but struck out five in his two innings. Lefty Andrew Vasquez came on for the seventh and flummoxed Omaha hitters with his slider that the broadcaster compared to “those wiffle ball pitches you see in your backyard.” He went 1-2-3 in both his innings, striking out three. Saints hitters were also flummoxed by Storm Chasers pitching throughout the game, striking out 15 times and collecting only five hits and two walks. Zander Wiel and Ryan Jeffers led the way with two hits apiece, and Jeffers delivered the first two runs as an affiliate for St. Paul with a two-run homer in the seventh. https://twitter.com/KSTPSports/status/1389756806965174275 WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 2, Springfield 0 Box Score Another new affiliate for the Twins, Wichita got their season off on the right foot defeating the Springfield Cardinals 2-0. It's fun for me to see this matchup at Hammons Field in Springfield, MO as it is one of the MiLB stadiums I have had the pleasure of attending, and reminds me of their parent club’s Busch Stadium in mini form. As for this game, it was a pitcher’s duel throughout with the teams trading zeroes until the top of the eighth, when the Wind Surge struck for two runs. Singles from Damek Tomscha and Jose Miranda started the inning, then Mark Contreras and Andrew Bechtold finished it with consecutive RBI singles with two outs to account for the scoring. Josh Winder made the start for Wichita and went the first 4 2/3’s, allowing no runs on five hits and a walk while striking out six. He threw 81 pitches with 57 of them going for strikes (70.4%), including 14 swinging strikes. Left-hander Jovani Moran got the last out of the fifth with a K, then struck out two more in a scoreless sixth. Sidewinder Tom Hackimer was next out of the bullpen and added two more scoreless frames, allowing two hits and striking out three. International signing out of Cuba in 2019, Yennier Cano, came on for the ninth and bookended a single with a pair of strikeouts to close out the victory. Aaron Whitefield, batting ninth, led the Wind Surge offense with two hits including a double and a stolen base. Contreras finished 1-for-2 with a pair of walks in addition to the RBI. Gilberto Celestino led off the game with a single and finished 1-for-5. KERNELS NUGGETS Peoria 0, Cedar Rapids 7 Box Score In the Kernels first game as a high-A affiliate, they got the job done on opening night in convincing fashion. They chased Chiefs starter Ian Bedell from the game before he could complete one inning, scoring three runs on four hits and a walk in the opening frame. They would add two more in the second and one each in the third and fourth innings to jump out to a 7-0 lead that was more than enough. Kernels pitchers cruised throughout the game, allowing just three hits to Peoria hitters and scattering five walks. Kody Funderburk made the start and went the first three innings, allowing one hit, two walks, and striking out two. Andrew Cabezas went the next four innings and picked up the win, allowing one hit, two walks, and striking out two. Melvi Acosta finished the game with two scoreless frames, allowing a hit and a walk while striking out two. Leadoff man Spencer Steer (2-for-4, 2 R, BB, SB) was the only Kernels batter with multiple hits, while Matt Wallner, Jair Camargo, and Seth Gray each clubbed a double. Gabe Snyder had an RBI triple in the first and was hit by a pitch twice. While the lineup had just seven hits, they also drew eight walks. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 6, Bradenton 3 Box Score Newly minted as the Twins low-A affiliate and renamed the Mighty Mussels before last year’s MiLB season was cancelled, Fort Myers opened their new era with a 6-3 win over Bradenton. Willie Joe Garry Jr. got the scoring started three pitches into the game, launching a home run to right-center for the early 1-0 lead. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1389715977990852609 Fort Myers would leave the bases loaded without adding another run in the opening frame and from there until the seventh inning the pitchers were the story. Mussels starter Regi Grace went 4 2/3 innings, allowing just one run on four hits and a walk while striking out six. Though he struck out the first two hitters of the fifth, he was lifted as his pitch count reached its limit at 75. He was relieved by Louie Varland who was drafted in the 15th round of the 2019 draft out of Concordia-St. Paul, and he would finish the game’s final 4 1/3 with some eye-popping numbers. He gave up two earned runs on two hits and a walk among his 16 batters faced, but struck out TEN(!) of them. The runs given up came on a two-run home run that gave the Marauders a 3-2 lead after seven, but the bats would pick him up in the ninth to give him the win. Will Holland led off the top of the ninth with a double and a few walks (one intentional to Garry Jr.) around a strikeout kept the bases loaded for the bulk of it. The first two runs would score on wild pitches, then with two outs Edouard Julien delivered the finishing blow with a two-run single. Garry Jr. (1-for-3, HR, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB), Holland (1-for-3, 2B, 2 R, BB), Keoni Cavaco (1-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB), and Julien (2-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI, BB) led the way for the offense in the win. Aaron Sabato was 0-for-5 with 3 K’s in his minor league debut. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Louie Varland, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (4.1 IP, 2 ER, 2 H, BB, 10 K) Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, St. Paul Saints (2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Alex Kirilloff (Minnesota) – Did not play #2 - Royce Lewis (Rehab) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #3 - Trevor Larnach (St. Paul) – 0-for-3, BB, K #4 - Ryan Jeffers (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, R, HR, 2 RBI, K #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Injured List (back) #7 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 1-for-3, R, RBI, 2 BB, SB #8 - Aaron Sabato (Ft. Myers) – 0-for-5, 3 K #9 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Wichita) – 1-for-5, 2 K #12 - Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 0-for-4, 3 K #13 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5, R, 2B, K #14 - Misael Urbina (Complex) – N/A #15 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #16 - Edwar Colina (Rehab) - 60-Day IL (elbow) #17 - Ben Rortvedt (Minnesota) – Did not play #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A #19 - Jose Miranda (Wichita) – 1-for-3, R, BB #20 - Bailey Ober (St. Paul) – Did not pitch WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Omaha (12:05PM CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes Wichita @ Springfield (6:35PM CST) – TBD Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Ben Gross Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:05PM CST) – RHP Casey Legumina Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  23. On what was to be his final pitch of the session, Varland hit 99.6 off the mound. It was a fantastic achievement. Had Varland been throwing at Target Field, that 99.6 would be rounded to 100 on the broadcast, an effect that Trevor May called “the TV hundge.” Still, the staff at the facility Varland has trained at begged him for one more pitch. Empty the tank, they said, give it everything and try to clear that barrier. An instructor gave Varland a “velo slap” and the right-hander took a deep breath and let it fly. The iPad read 100.2. https://twitter.com/npgsports/status/1365387580573970436 The 100-mile-per-hour mark is a mystical and, too often, mythical figure for the Minnesota Twins organization. Since tracking and archiving of velocity began in 2008, the Twins have reached 100-miles-per-hour 16 times. Until 2018, they had only hit it 3 times -- all by the forgettable Juan Morillo. Only the Brewers (13), Indians (13) and Diamondbacks (5) have thrown fewer triple digit fastballs than the Twins. Thankfully, in the last two seasons, Brusdar Graterol (12) and Jorge Alcala (1) helped move the Twins up the velocity leaderboard. Maybe because of this lack of heat at the big league level, whenever a Twins prospect hits one-double-oh -- regardless if it is indoors in the offseason -- it draws attention. In March, Varland returned to face hitters in live at-bats with the goal of reaching that number again. As he warmed up, he threw an effortless 97. It had an incoming sizzle that popped the catcher’s glove like a firecracker. High school players stopped their training and turned their attention to Louie’s cage. In addition to the players and staff, another attendee was Wade Varland, Louie’s father. Wade was tasked with setting up a GoPro on the catcher’s helmet to capture mechanics and pitch movement. But he said his real motivation was to witness his son break the century mark. He had seen the clip circulating and wanted to see him do it up close. Asked at what point he knew he was raising two future professional athletes in Louie and older brother Gus, a member of the Dodgers organization, Wade laughed. There was no high-pressure upbringing to be pros. He had padded mats in the basement and let them run amok and be athletes as kids. He encouraged them to be competitive in all endeavors, having them play football and wrestling. They just happened to like — and eventually excel at — baseball. As the boys got older, Wade tried to keep them hungry. Gus or Louie would spin a breaking ball or dot the corner with a fastball and Wade would just say meh. That didn’t impress him. Hell, if he had a bat in his hands, he’d hit it clear to Washington County, he’d add. His intention was to keep them from becoming complacent. He didn’t want them to settle for pretty good, no matter what path they chose. The key to the entire system, Wade admitted, was never to let a bat get into his hands. He’d sidestep any requests for a challenge, especially when they started to throw harder. As they got older and more cocksure, they’d beg their father to stand in and face them. Let’s see you try to knock it into the next county, they’d ask. Wade knew he didn’t stand a chance. When Gus was in college, after years of dodging pleas and making excuses to avoid a showdown, he was finally able to put a bat into Wade’s hands. They headed to the fieldhouse on Concordia’s campus. Wade was going to face his oldest son in a live AB round. An umpire looking for some preseason work crouched behind the catcher. Players gathered around to watch. This was going to happen officially and publicly. Wade knew he was overmatched. His son was playing in an elite college league for major league worthy prospects and was sitting 92-93. There was no way he was going to redirect anything across any adjacent county lines. Nevertheless, Wade Varland stood in there and competed, just like he had preached to his boys. It was laughable. Gus’s fastballs slammed into the catcher’s mitt and Wade would be starting his swing. This repeated several times. Then, by the grace of baseball’s divine, Wade made contact. It was, as he described it, the latest any swing could have possibly happened, as deep into the zone as physics would allow, but the ball shot off into foul territory. It landed feet — not a county — away but it was contact. The crowd erupted. “It was like I won gold in the Olympics,” Wade said with a chuckle. The reason he went through this charade was because he wanted the boys to keep working, keep improving, and to never be satisfied with where they were at. That lesson seemed to take hold. Both Varland boys found themselves at a small Division II program rather than the prototypical D1 powerhouses. That didn’t stop them from working to get on the radar of professional teams. That mindset may explain why the younger Varland, Louie, was not settling for the 99.6 and looking to hit that hundo. Louie credits the Twins’ pitching development for unlocking this extra gear. After being drafted in the 15th round, he entered the minor league system at Elizabethton in 2019. He made three outings and started to feel discomfort in his elbow and forearm. A barrage of tests showed no signs of torn ligaments. The Twins asked him to make some adjustments to his mechanics hoping it would help him feel better and unlock some velocity. “I had elbow climb that took my arm above my shoulder plane,” Louie said, demonstrating where his release point was and, through adjusting it by training with connection and plyo balls, where it is now (several inches lower). Elbow climb is considered an inefficient movement and leads to a pushing action, zapped velocity, and potentially injuries. Now his arm action follows a more optimal path, mirroring his shoulder rotation. When he rotates, his elbow and forearm follow his shoulder plane rather than rising above it. He said the delivery feels more natural. On the left, Varland pitching for the Willmer Stingers in 2019. On the right, Varland at Starters Sports Training in February 2020. Notice how much lower the elbow is compared to his head level. With the new release point comes added challenges. At the lower point, he has to try to keep on top of the fastball to maintain a high vertical break and he’s refining his slider’s movement from the new angle. Those are two of his focuses this spring. That, and sustaining the upper 90s velocity over longer stretches. He knows he still has a long way to go. The 100 mile per hour pitch in the great indoors is fine but it’s a far cry from repeating it on the mound in a game situation. For now, the ball keeps firing out of his hand. During the live ABs, Varland wasn’t able to show his dad the 100 mile per hour pitch -- Wade would have to settle for a 99er. The Stalker radar gun set up behind home plate registered 97s and 98s. The Rapsodo caught one at 99 while his fastball maxed out over 20 inches of vertical break (the latter datapoint excited Louie since his previous range was closer to 17 inches). https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1367931763511619584 Malcolm Gladwell pointed out that one of the most useful predictors of real success is people’s willingness to persevere past the point of pretty good. Having a 94-mile-per-hour fastball is pretty good. Reaching 99.6 miles per hour is pretty dang good. Louie Varland isn’t looking to stop at pretty good and that says a lot about him as a prospect.
  24. Louie Varland was the Twins 15th round draft pick in 2019 out of Concordia University in St. Paul. He was a multi-sport athlete at North St. Paul High School and then chose to become a Golden Bear, joining his brother Gus (who was drafted by the A's a year earlier). He made a couple of appearances at Elizabethton in that summer of 2019. And then came this crazy 2020 year and season. Join us live at 6:00 tonight to watch and participate by sending your questions. We'll cover a ton of topics from his youth ball, to getting drafted, signing, his development and much more. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Please watch LIVE at 6pm (central time) Thursday night on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below or on those platforms during the show and we'll ask them. Subscribe to the Twins Daily podcast on Libsyn, Apple iTunes or anywhere you download podcasts. Here is the YouTube link where you can watch the show. For More on Louie Varland: A Golden Bear Changes Cities: Q&A with Louie Varland (June 2019) Follow Regi on Twitter at @LouieVarland. Follow Regi on Instagram at @louievarland. Previous Episodes Click here to see more previous episodes of Twins Spotlight. Episode 13: Edwar Colina Episode 14: Tyler Wells Episode 15: Sawyer Gipson-Long Episode 16: Adam Bray Episode 17: Chris Vallimont Episode 18: Ben Gross Episode 19: Regi Grace Episode 20: Louie Varland
  25. Louie is a North St. Paul graduate, and being selected as a junior, this was a prioritized signing by Minnesota. Like Matt Wallner before him, Varland falls in the category of Twins selections that have grown up watching the evolution of the organization. It’s one thing to have your professional dream realized but doing so in the jersey of the organization from your own backyard is another level. Louie provided some insight into who he is and what lies ahead. Twins Daily: You often hear about talent standing out no matter where it plays. You went the D2 route at Concordia and have now followed in the footsteps of your brother being drafted last year. What has set you up for success and allowed you to shine with the Golden Bears? Louie Varland: What really set me up for success was the atmosphere and coaching staff of the CSP (Concordia St. Paul) baseball program. Concordia being my only D2 offer, it was always the plan to shine and stand out. I could not have done it without the help of Lunch McKenzie, Neil Lerner, John Gaub, Marcus McKenzie, and Alex Alverez. They helped me make huge leaps with pitching and helped me tremendously to stand out, shine, and give me the opportunity to play professionally. The competition and support from the teammates I’ve had through my three years here really helped. I’d like to give special thanks to Gus Varland and Zach Lauzon. TD: You played for baseball royalty in Minnesota being coached by “Lunch.” He’s had ties to the Twins and USA Baseball forever. What can you tell us about his impression on you and guidance over the years? LV: "Lunch" is the mastermind behind all the baseball at Concordia. Starting fall season of my freshman year I remember a teammate saying, "When Lunch talks, you shut up and listen" because you knew he was going to spill some knowledge that could be useful. Lunch is the real deal and his impression and guidance has shaped me into the ball player I am today. He always has tidbits of information to add. With many connections, and a special friendship with Tom Kelly, he has insight at the big-league level. TD: Speaking of your brother, he’s now been in pro ball for roughly a year after being a 14th round selection by the Athletics. What has he told you about what to expect, what’s next, and this process as a whole? LV: Gus has been very helpful with the whole draft preparation. Seeing him go through it last year and him telling me what he figured out through it all, he’s really paved a straight path for me that made it easier to organize it all. This past year he would always call me after he got an update from me and say, "Ok now this is what you have to do, and this is what’s going to be coming for you". Pretty cool to have him in my corner helping me out. One helpful thing he told me on what to expect is that it is just like the Northwoods (League) schedule. With all the travel and food and what the team is like. He also told me that I may think I know a lot about pitching right now, but just to wait to get to rookie camp, a lot more information is coming my way that I haven’t heard before. TD: Being a Twin Cities kid, what does it feel like to be selected by your hometown team? Obviously, you’ve grown up with the organization. What are some of your fondest memories of the big-league club? LV: It is an honor and a dream come true to be selected by my childhood favorite team. I couldn't believe it when the Twins were the first to pull the trigger on me, really cool experience. My fondest memory of the Twins is watching Joe Mauer get drafted and play for the Twins my whole childhood. I met him at the Twins fest in 2008 thinking it was the greatest day of my life. Another memory is pestering Juan Rincon as he warms up in the pen at the Metrodome, I was telling him, "Hey Juan, give me the ball, hey Juan right here, can I have the ball?” Over and over I was in his ear until finally he got tired of me and pointed at me saying, "OK!" I sat back down and waited till he was done warming up before he flipped me the ball. TD: Without the benefit of television your repertoire and stuff hasn’t been widely viewed by Twins fans. What’s your approach on the mound and what do you feature? LV: My approach on the mound is a heavy fastball approach. I like to challenge hitters up with my fastball before I use my slider or change up. Especially early in the game, hitters must prove they can hit my fastball before I will start pulling out the slider and change up. This has been my approach through college but now obviously this is better competition and I might have to adapt or adjust my approach. TD: Lastly, is there a big league you’ve modeled your game after of emulate? If not, who’s someone you just look up to as a competitor? LV: I really like to compare myself to Justin Verlander. The last name is similar along with the delivery, but the aspect that I like the most is his high spin rate fastball that gives him a rising illusion and a high vertical break number. Sort of like my fastball. He’s also really fun to watch and an amazing pitcher. Louie did attribute much of his growth to coaches Lunch (Head Coach) and Marcus (Pitching Coach) McKenzie. Here’s what they had to say about him. "Louie is a hard working dedicated player, that understands the process of becoming a baseball player, or in his case a baseball pitcher. He possesses self discipline. His fastball sits at 92-94, he's quick to the plate and is a strike thrower. Louie is extremely coachable, respectful and driven to succeed." Lunch McKenzie “Louie Varland is an incredible young man that comes from an amazing family. He came in from day one and wanted to get better at his craft. No one was going to outwork him in the weight room or during baseball activities. He was always asking questions and came with a smile and energy that was contagious. I have no doubt that Louie is going to work as hard as he can to make his dream come true of becoming an MLB player. He will be missed around campus and our program and I wish him nothing but the best in this next journey of his life.” Marcus McKenzie
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