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  1. The above graph plots the effectiveness of a pitcher's first start (measured by game score) and their career wins above replacement with Minnesota for the notable Twins pitchers to make their first start since 2000. The size of the point corresponds to career starts in a Twins uniform. The figure only includes pitchers whose Twins career has finished and those who were primarily starters. A few things stand out: The pitchers with the most impressive first starts are not exactly Twins Hall-of-Famers. Nick Blackburn, Anthony Swarzak, Boof Bonser, and Fernando Romero are the only starters with initial game scores above 60. Jose Berrios, quite memorably, had one of the worst Twins debuts in recent memory. He turned out alright. Where would the 2022 debutants fit in the list of game scores? Josh Winder: 76 ... six shutout innings with a single walk against the Rays, topping the list Louie Varland: 60 ... a memorable debut at Yankee Stadium and one of the better debuts in the last 20 years Simeon Woods Richardson: 56 ... a better first start than Johan Santana, he's well on his way! Cole Sands: 36 ... one of the worst first starts in recent years, allowing four runs in four innings in Detroit The moral of the story? Don't get too high or too low on a pitcher's career after one start. Maybe even after one year. Randomness abounds!
  2. Box Score Louie Varland: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.280), Jose Miranda (-.178), Matt Wallner (-.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The game’s action started quickly; as fans looked for seats, ordered popcorn, and organized their children, the Twins' offense clocked in for work, plating a pair of runs off Lucas Giolito in the 1st inning. Three straight singles from Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Gio Urshela loaded the bases—and while a Gary Sánchez strikeout incited groans from an often apathetic crowd—Nick Gordon broke the mold, delivering a ringing two-run double into the right field corner. Giolito was in trouble early. On the flipside, Louie Varland easily settled into his start; the St. Paul native breezed through the opening frame and worked around a walk in the 2nd inning, supporting the two-run advantage his offense had gifted him. Trouble brewed in the 3rd inning, however; Matt Wallner awkwardly misplayed a line drive, allowing Josh Harrison to score from first base while Romy Gonzalez—the fortunate individual who hit the ball—scampered safely to third base. Gonzalez traveled home two batters later thanks to a Mark Payton single. The game remained a stalemate through the middle innings; neither starter found their dominant stuff, but they were both effective, resiliently tamping down minor attempts at scoring. The White Sox found the upper hand in the 6th inning, ambushing a freshly minted Griffin Jax for two singles and a run off an Andrew Vaughn sacrifice fly. The Twins struck back in the bottom half of the inning with some old-school small-ball. After Sánchez walked to begin the inning, Billy Hamilton—always the speed demon—took his spot at first base. In perhaps the least surprising move of all-time, Hamilton stole 2nd base and then claimed 3rd after Gordon struck out. Gilberto Celestino worked a mature plate appearance, walking in a full count to set up Ryan Jeffers in a pinch-hitting scenario. With a strike to his name, Jeffers laid down a perfect push-bunt towards 1st base, a play so masterful that he even beat out the throw to 1st base. The game was now tied. After an uneventful 7th inning, action began in the 8th; Caleb Thielbar entered the game in relief of Jorge López and coaxed a sky-high pop-up from Payton. Unfortunately, Gordon never comfortably found the ball, and it slipped out of his glove, allowing Payton to dash to second base safely. The White Sox pounced immediately; José Abreu—as he always does—struck a double off the wall in right-center field, scoring the go-ahead run. That final score proved to be the dagger; the Twins fell to Kendall Graveman in the 8th, and—despite a walk from Correa in the 9th—Liam Hendriks silenced their bats in the final frame, halting Minnesota from sweeping their final home series. Notes: Louie Varland has struck out three batters in three straight starts; he remains winless in his MLB career The Twins netted two hits outside of the 1st innings Luis Arraez stands atop of the AL batting race with a .315 mark; Aaron Judge is 2nd at .313 Caleb Thielbar received his first loss since August 20th against Texas Matt Wallner earned his first MLB steal in the 4th inning Post-Game Interview: What’s Next? The Twins will head to Detroit to start a three-game series on Friday; Joe Ryan will start opposite Tyler Alexander. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet:
  3. Call this a cupcake article. Call it a blanket frosting over reality. Perhaps an escape from the truth. Part of the beauty of being a fan is riding the emotional roller coaster that comes along with the everyday affairs of your team. The wins foster jubilance and joy. The losses lament pain and vitriol. Yet emotions aside, there's an obligation to look at the reality. The 2022 Minnesota Twins will not make the MLB playoffs. Despite holding serve in the American League Central for a bulk of the season, injuries and lackluster play plagued one of the youngest teams in the league in a way that will most likely result in a bronze medal in what many consider baseball's weakest division. Disappointing? Absolutely. An utter failure? Far from it. Professional sports and baseball in particular are often viewed through a black and white, championship or bust lens. The fact the Twins won't be playing in October is certainly a shame...yet it would be foolish to not address the number of overwhelming successes that took place for the 2022 Twins, many of which were far from expected. Don't disseminate your disappointment, but acknowledge the good that took place. 1. Jose Miranda is Everything We Hoped For Jose Miranda had one of, if not the best season in Twins minor league history last year, slashing .344/.401/.572 (.973) between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. After 21 games with the Saints this year, Miranda was called up to Target Field. Each transition up the minor league ladder is an added layer of difficulty; it's no secret that the jump from Triple-A to the bigs is the most difficult, separating big leaguers from Four-A players. Miranda has shown that he belongs in the MLB, and that he can serve as a valuable asset for the Twins for years to come. After a slow month of May, Miranda shunned the doubters with 22 hits, 13 RBI, and a .306 batting average in the month of June. The power-packed corner infielder pumped up the noise in July with a .353/.405/.603 slash line. Miranda has slashed .273/.327/.764 through the season and has cemented himself as a leader in the Twins' offensive lineup. Just 24 years old, imagine what consistent middle of the lineup would like like with Buxton, (hopefully) Correa, and Miranda. The future is bright. 2. The Veteran the Twins Needed The Twins have struck out with veteran pitching acquisitions in years past. Not with Sonny Gray. Acquired prior to the season in exchange for 2021 top draft pick Chase Petty, Gray has served as the anchor for a young and often injury-ridden staff. Slated to start today's game, Gray is 8-5 on the season with a 3.08 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 24 starts. Like most other pieces of the pitching staff, Gray too has struggled with injuries throughout the course of the year. Still, the 32-year-old has remained quite consistent. Gray's May was especially dominant, going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in five starts. With Joe Ryan finding his groove and Bailey Ober returning to health (not to mention the return of Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddock), Gray has the potential to be a cornerstone of a rock-solid starting pitching staff in 2022. Whether he's the ace or three/four man, Gray's consistency has and will continue to bolster a fairly inexperienced staff. 3. Smiles-a-Plenty...at Last You can't help but smile when you see Nick Gordon smile...and after the incredible 2022 season that he's had. Drafted as the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 Draft by the Twins, Nick Gordon was expected by many to make a splash as a marquee player early on in his career. Yet for various reasons, Gordon didn't hit his stride early on. It's a tough league and amounting to the expectations of the front office, fans, and media is hard, especially as a first round pick. Perhaps it made Gordon's 2022 season that much sweeter. Gordon has slashed .276/.323./.761 so far this season with 9 homers and 45 RBI. He's been a staple 'yes man' in the field, playing all over the place when his number is called. As at matter of fact, the same can be said at the plate. Flash G has batted everywhere from cleanup to the nine-hole in the order and has consistently produced results. Yes, there's room for improvement on the base paths, that will come with time. Yet at the end of the day, Gordon's story is one that all fans should appreciate alongside the fact that he's amounted into about as good of a utility-man as an organization can ask for. 4. An Ace in the Making People knew Joe Ryan was good when the Twins acquired him in the Nelson Cruz trade last season. The entire league now knows that Ryan can become one of the league's elite pitchers with a few tune ups in years to come. Ryan is sitting at 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 26 starts in 2022. He's proven to be the guy with the 'it factor' in the Twins' rotation; a rock-solid fastball, sneaky good breaking pitches, the ability to go long, and a swagger that cannot be underappreciated. Yes, one can bring up the fact that six of Ryan's losses have come against likely playoff teams and ten of his 12 wins have come against teams that won't be playing in October. Don't read into it too much. Yes, the bar has been set high...but it's because everyone sees the talent in the west-coast arm. And while high expectations can be great, let's remember that Joe Ryan is a rookie. He's got all the time in the world to develop and it will be fascinating to see what the 26-year-old amounts to in his hopefully storied career. 5. Hometown Products Shine in Fourth Quarter...and all Season Everyone loves a good hometown kid story...the Twins have seen three of them this season. Former North St. Paul RHP and Concordia-St. Paul alum Louie Varland was called up on September 7 to pitch against the Yankees in the Bronx. He was electric, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings. Varland squared off against MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani in his Target Field debut on September 23, pitching a respectable 5 2/3 innings of seven-hit, three-run ball while striking out three. Forest Lake's Matt Wallner has been outstanding since being called up on September 17. The power hitter has nine hits (including two homers and two doubles) and six RBI in his first 37 at bats and crushed his first Target Field homer last night off of "old friend" Lance Lynn. Yes, Wallner will strikeout a lot, but that's still pretty impressive for a power hitter in his first 11 games. What's most impressive is the Wallner started last season at High-A Cedar Rapids and Varland started at Low-A Fort Myers...talk about progress! On top of all of that, Randolph, Minnesota native Caleb Thielbar has has an outstanding season in the bullpen. Set to start coaching Division II baseball for Augustana less than three years ago, Thielbar has tallied just 0.79 HR/9 and 2.86 BB/9 through 2022. His fastball is consistently touching 94 and 95 MPH and is still complemented by a picture-esque curveball that can go as low as the high 60's. What's your favorite moment from the 2022 Minnesota Twins season? Drop a comment below!
  4. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 2/3 IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 3K (88 pitches, 58 strikes, 65.9%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gilberto Celestino (-.203), Matt Wallner (-.161), Jermaine Palacios (-.140) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland and Ohtani both debut at Target Field, both pitch into the sixth Two teams with disappointing seasons and miles away from playoff contention met on a cold, somewhat rainy Friday night at Target Field. Everything pointed out to this being one of the most irrelevant games for both fanbases to attend or watch from home, except for one thing: the pitching duel. After two starts on the road, St. Paul native and recently appointed Twins Daily’s minor league starting pitcher of the year, Louie Varland, finally made his Target Field debut. Furthermore, Shohei Ohtani, one of our generation’s greatest talents, was set to toe the rubber for the Angels, also representing his first-ever start at Target Field. Varland was off to a hot start, tossing a 1-2-3 top of the first on only seven pitches, retiring Ohtani himself with a groundout on the first pitch. Then, Shohei took to the mound for what might’ve been the coldest temperature he’s ever experienced at first pitch in his MLB career. To make matters even worse for him, the rain came down during his first trip to the mound and almost caused him some serious damage. After Ohtani retired leadoff hitter Luis Arraez, the rain got stronger, and he started to struggle with his command. So much so that he lost the next three batters, giving up walks to Jose Miranda and Gio Urshela and hitting Nick Gordon in the ankle. Then, Jake Cave grounded into an inning-ending double play which, at first, kept this a scoreless game. But after review, it was noticed that Miranda crossed home plate before third baseman Matt Duffy could glove the throw by second baseman Livan Soto, scoring the game’s first run. But that lead didn’t last long. Varland gave up a leadoff home run to Taylor Ward in the top of the second that tied the game. Then, in the third inning, after losing the first two batters, Varland gave up an RBI single to Mike Trout, which scored Max Stassi from third. Ohtani couldn’t get anything going in his second at-bat of the game, but, back on the mound, he really got into the zone. He pitched a perfect bottom of the third, and after giving up a leadoff walk in the fourth – matching his season-high four walks in a game – he went on to strike out five Twins batters in a row. Minnesota didn’t have a hit until the fifth when Arráez hit a two-out grounder to left. Despite allowing a few hits, Varland managed to deliver a couple of scoreless frames after the Angels scored their second run. But for the second time on the night, Ward took him deep to lead off an inning. The Angels’ cleanup hitter crushed another fastball up the middle, basically at the same location as his first home run, making it 3-1 Angels in the top of the sixth. Varland retired the next two batters before Rocco Baldelli brought in Trevor Megill to get the inning’s final out. Twins get one run back but waste a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation After four dominant innings from Ohtani, the Twins’ offense finally made him sweat and ended the night for him. Gordon led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, then Urshela drew his third walk of the night. As the Angels bullpen started to warm up, Cave singled to center, and Gordon scored from second, cutting the Angels’ lead in half. Ohtani was allowed to face another batter in Gary Sanchez, and the Twins’ catcher also drew a walk, loading the bases for the second time on the night for Minnesota – this time with no outs. Ball four was rightfully protested as the Twins caught a huge break, but it ended up going to waste anyway. With reliever Aaron Loup pitching, Matt Wallner and Gilberto Celestino couldn’t capitalize. Loup escaped with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play. Minnesota failed to add on, but Los Angeles didn’t. Megill got two outs in the seventh, but not before he had also allowed two men to reach on a couple of walks. The latter came after a hard-fought, ten-pitch at-bat against Trout that brought Ohtani to the plate with two men on instead of ending the inning. Baldelli decided to bring Caleb Thielbar to face a still-hitless Ohtani, but it didn’t pan out. The superstar hit a ground ball to center and brought Soto home, making it 4-2 Angels. Overall, Minnesota’s offense went 2-for-13 against the Angels bullpen and didn’t come even close to sparkling a late rally. Postgame interview What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for this Saturday, with first pitch at 6:10 pm CDT. The Twins will bring Joe Ryan (3.61 ERA) to the mound, whereas Los Angeles will start lefty Reid Detmers (3.71 ERA). Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Henriquez 73 0 0 0 0 73 Megill 0 17 0 0 28 45 Pagán 15 0 0 0 23 38 López 34 0 0 0 0 34 Thielbar 0 23 0 0 10 33 Moran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Fulmer 0 23 0 0 0 23 Jax 0 4 0 0 0 4 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  5. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS Starting Pitcher of the Year Relief Pitcher of the Year Hitter of the Year SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 4, Indianapolis 1 Box Score The Saints were able to come away with a win Friday night in Indiana behind a stellar pitching performance by Dereck Rodriguez. Rodriguez tossed five scoreless innings and allowed only one hit while walking three and striking out four. At the plate, third baseman Andrew Bechtold led the way, going 2-for-4 with a home run. Michael Helman (1-for-5, RBI) and John Andreoli (1-for-3, 2 RBI) also hit home runs. PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 #12 - Louie Varland (Minnesota) - 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Ariel Jurado (2-2, 3.54 ERA)
  6. Derek Falvey has been tasked with building a pipeline of pitching talent since he was brought over from Cleveland to head up the front office. Minnesota has been intentional in targeting arms with upside that they can mold into solid workhorses. There were plenty of strong performances this season the farm, but only one took the title of Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Before getting to the winner, here are some others that were in contention: Honorable Mention- Pierson Ohl (Fort Myers) - 20 G 91.2 IP 3.53 ERA 1.178 WHIP 9.9 K/9 1.3 BB/9 Jaylen Nowlin (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 71.0 IP 3.80 ERA 1.352 WHIP 14.1 K/9 4.6 BB/9 Travis Adams (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 100.2 IP 3.93 ERA 1.162 WHIP 9.7 K/9 2.3 BB/9 #5 Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - 19 G 65.0 IP 3.05 ERA 1.077 WHIP 10.5 K/9 3.2 BB/9 Raya was taken in the 4th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from United South High School in Laredo, TX. With the Covid shutdown and injuries over the past couple of years, 2022 was his professional debut. Skipping the Complex League entirely, Raya pitched as a 19-year-old for the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Across 19 games and 17 starts, he was nothing short of dominant. Arguably the staff ace, Raya racked up strikeouts in bunches while doing a good job to limit damage. He’s got mid-90s stuff and is someone Minnesota could mold into a number three starter or better. #4 Brent Headrick - (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 25 G 108.1 IP 3.32 ERA 1.080 WHIP 11.3 K/9 2.1 BB/9 Selected in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft out of Illinois State University, Headick has really seen the ceiling for his stuff grow. Last year was his first full professional season and he put up strong numbers for Low-A Fort Myers. Splitting time between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita this year, Headrick has become an anchor on the staff at whatever level he plays. Headrick has continued to rack up strikeouts in bunches, and has shown a very strong ability to command the baseball. He gave up a few more homers after the promotion to Double-A, but was every bit as dominant. When the Wind Surge advanced to the Texas League postseason, it was Headrick tabbed as the Game 1 starter. #3 David Festa - (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) 21 G 103.2 IP 2.43 ERA 1.090 WHIP 9.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Festa made quick work of Fort Myers after starting the season there following his 13th-round selection out of Seton Hall during the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. Pitching substantially for Cedar Rapids this season, he made adjustments to continue strong outings while the strikeouts took a slight dip. Just 22 years old, Festa has done a great job avoiding big innings by limiting the longball. In just over 103 innings this season, he allowed opposing batters to leave the yard only six times. For a late-round pick, the immediate development here has been incredibly encouraging. Runner-Up Simeon Woods Richardson - (Wichita/St. Paul) 21 G 2.93 ERA 1.080 WHIP 9.7 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Acquired alongside Austin Martin from the Toronto Blue Jays when Minnesota sent Jose Berrios north of the border, Woods Richardson has been nothing short of dominant this season. Not being interrupted by the Olympic appearance as he was last season, Woods Richardson has settled into a routine. His 2.55 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul is even better than it was with Double-A Wichita, and he continues to average over a strikeout per inning. This is a top-half-of-the-rotation arm that Minnesota could call upon as soon as 2023. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year - Louie Varland - (Wichita/St. Paul) - 24 G 126.1 IP 3.06 ERA 1.259 WHIP 10.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Winning this award for the second season in a row is none other than Concordia St. Paul product Louie Varland. A St. Paul native, Varland was a 15th-round pick by the Twins during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. After dominating Single-A in 2021, Varland continued his roll by earning a promotion to Triple-A late this season. After a 3.34 ERA across 105 innings with Wichita, Varland posted a dominant 1.69 ERA in four starts for the Saints. As has been the case over the duration of his professional career, Varland has been a strikeout arm. This season he’s tallied 146 strikeouts while ceding just 42 walks. Once working in the low-90s, Varland has put in the offseason work to push his fastball in the mid-90s on a consistent basis with the ability to top out near 97 mph. When Minnesota needed an arm for a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, it was Varland who was called on to make his big league debut. Brother, and Dodgers prospect, Gus Varland was in the stands to see Louie punch out Aaron Judge for the first strikeout of his career. Varland will continue to grow at the big league level, but he has looked the part of an arm with intrigue. He’s a hard thrower that works quick and isn’t afraid to trust his stuff. Although the Twins may not have immediate room for Varland in the 2023 Opening Day rotation, there should be no doubt that he’ll make a handful of starts and be ready to make an impact when his number is called. Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2021 winner - Louie Varland 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
  7. Yesterday we assessed the damage from the most upsetting negative developments in the Twins system this year, with three of the organization's top six prospects experiencing calamitous setbacks that have sent them spiraling out of the Twins' plans. As a chaser to cleanse all those bad vibes, today we'll highlight some hugely positive developments on the farm, each propelling ascendent prospects more directly into the team's future. Best of all, we couldn't limit this list to just three. These five players have tremendously improved their stocks this year, setting the stage to potentially help the major-league team in the very near future (if they haven't already). Louie Varland backs up a big year. We've already seen the early returns on this breakout prospect star. Varland didn't exactly come out of nowhere – he was named the organization's minor-league pitcher of the year in 2021 – but there was still an air of skepticism around him, a former 15th-round draft pick out of a D-II college. Sure, he was amazing in A-ball last year, but plenty of collegiate draft picks have dominated those low levels only to get a reality check in the high minors. For Varland, that check never came. He translated his excellence to Double-A without missing a beat, earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A that quickly turned into a major-league debut. Stepping out under the lights of Yankee Stadium, Varland excelled and made a big impression. Things didn't quite as well his next time out, in Cleveland on Saturday, but this is a guy whose stated goal for this year was to reach St. Paul. He blew past it, and as a consequence, will find himself squarely in the MLB depth picture heading into next season. Matt Wallner mashes past his contact issues. Wallner is another prospect whose monster campaign has already paved the way for a sooner-than-expected MLB debut. And like Varland, he's a local kid, native to Forest Lake, MN. Unlike Varland, Wallner was not a late-round draft pick who emerged from low expectations to achieve top prospect status. He was a bona fide stud coming out of college, selected 39th overall in 2019. But he had his own set of doubts coming into this season, relating mainly to his contact and discipline issues. Even for someone with as much raw power as Wallner, it's really tough to project big-league success for a bat-first player who strikes out 33% of the time and barely walks – at Single-A as a 23-year-old, no less. Would upper-level pitchers chop him to bits? Turns out, it's been the other way around. Wallner obliterated Double-A pitching, posting a .299/.436/.597 slash line with 21 homers in 74 games. That earned him a trip to the Futures Game and a promotion to Triple-A soon after. Wallner got off to a slow start with the Saints, batting .105 with zero extra-base hits in his first 10 games. Then he flipped a switch. Since the beginning of August he's slashing .289/.414/.564. Walks are up, strikeouts are down, and that has a been an overall trend for him this year as he's shown the ability to actively improve his strike zone control and evolve his game. The huge breakout season, combined with desperation for help at the big-league level, led to Wallner getting called up in Cleveland this past weekend. He homered off Shane Bieber in his first MLB game. Wallner felt like a bit of a longshot at this time last year, but now looks like a guy you can confidently write into the team's plans going forward. The idea of both he and Varland, as hometown boys, turning into fixtures for the Twins over the next five years is pretty fun. Simeon Woods Richardson shows his true colors. A former second-round draft pick of the Mets, Woods Richardson has widely been viewed as one of the more prestigious pitching prospects in the minors, making both Baseball America's and MLB.com's Top 100 lists in 2020 and 2021. The Twins were thrilled to get him alongside Austin Martin in the trade that sent José Berríos to Toronto last summer. Looking at his 2021 season in isolation, fans might have been asking ... why? He had a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts with the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate, and then put up a 6.75 ERA in a brief eight-inning September stint with Wichita. It was a weird year that saw him get aggressively assigned to Double-A at age 20, then take a bunch of time away from his team for the Olympics, where he didn't even pitch. The 6-foot-3, 210 lb right-hander has fully gotten back on track this year. He didn't allow a run in his first four starts en route to a 2.92 ERA over 71 innings at Wichita before moving up to St. Paul in mid-August. There he has continued to excel with a 2.55 ERA in 24 ⅔ frames. Between both levels, Woods Richardson has averaged well over a strikeout per inning, cut down significantly on the walks, and allowed only six home runs in 21 outings. Opponents have batted .206 against him. He's about three years younger than the average player at Triple-A. This reaffirming turnaround from Woods Richardson has been huge for two reasons, both tying to yesterday's article. First, it keeps the Berríos trade looking like a winner even with Martin falling off, and second, it keeps another high-caliber and near-ready pitching prospect in the wings even with Balazovic getting derailed. Emmanuel Rodriguez blossoms into prospect stardom. Unlike the others highlighted in this article, Rodriguez is probably not in line to make an MLB debut in the especially near future. He's a teenager who hasn't appeared above Low-A and his timeline was further delayed by a season-ending knee injury suffered in June. In spite of all that, his performance prior to that injury was so magnificent, and so incredibly encouraging, that he has to be included in this piece. Rodriguez ranked 15th on our preseason top prospects list, characterized as an intriguing yet distant international talent coming off an impressive showing in rookie ball. His follow-up at Single-A left no doubt as to the outfielder's sky-high potential: in 47 games before going down, he slashed .272/.493/.552 with nine homers, 11 steals, and 57 (!) walks. Yes, you read that right – nearly a .500 OBP and more walks than games played from a 19-year-old in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Realistically, even if he comes back with gusto next year, Rodriguez is probably looking at a 2024 debut at the earliest, but his spectacular first half puts him in the "blue chip prospect" conversation and that's a hugely positive development for this system. Brooks Lee arrives and thrives. I honestly believe this will go down as THE biggest boost to the farm system over a span of many years: Lee, widely viewed as one of the premier talents in this year's MLB draft, somehow sliding to the Twins at No. 8 overall, where they were more than happy to take him. They may have landed a new franchise player. Quickly signed to a $5.7 million bonus, Lee has handled every assignment so far with aplomb. He went to rookie ball briefly where he batted .353 to earn a promotion to Single-A. Five weeks at Cedar Rapids was enough to convince the Twins he was ready for the next level, so over the weekend, Lee was called up to Wichita, reaching Double-A exactly two months after he was drafted. Touted for his "otherworldly bat-to-ball skills," Lee was one of the top hitters in college, an exceedingly advanced talent, and the Twins could barely contain their excitement when he fell into their laps. "It’s hard to say who made who fall to our pick," said scouting director Sean Johnson, "but regardless of who caused it, [for] the domino to trickle, we’re ecstatic." Their actions have backed up their words. Advanced talent or not, pushing a player to Double-A two months after drafting him makes an aggressive statement. Presumably billed to open back at Wichita in 2023, Lee will be in position to make a case for a big-league promotion next summer. It's almost as if the Twins are planning around that possibility.
  8. Box Score SP: Louie Varland 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (91 pitches, 60 strikes (65.9 strike %)) Home Runs: Matt Wallner (1) Bottom 3 WPA: Louie Varland -.185, Jose Miranda -.091, Luis Arraez -.057 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Debuts Making his second big-league start for the Twins was North St. Paul native Louie Varland. Alongside him making his Major League debut in right field was Forest Lake native Matt Wallner. Varland and Wallner became a part of a unique club in MLB history in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader. The two are the second pair of Minnesota-born players to make their debuts back to back on the same team. The only other Minnesota-born players in this club are Carl Thomas and Dick Stigman who debuted three days apart in April of 1960 with the Cleveland Indians. Wallner ended up going 1-3 with a home run to make his mark in the Big Leagues. All Blues, No Rock N’ Roll for Varland Varland’s quickness on the mound was one of the few things the Twins had going for them all afternoon. Varland surrendered a home run to Jose Ramirez in the first inning to put Cleveland up 1-0. The third inning for the Twins' defense was very costly for them. After a lead-off walk to Myles Straw, Steven Kwan hit into what looked like a double play but after missing the second base bag and Jose Miranda fumbling at first with the throw from Nick Gordon. It advanced Straw to third and allowed Cleveland to get the game's second run. The Guardians lit up Varland once more in the bottom of the fourth as they tagged two more runs on thanks to three hits leading off the inning to make it 4-0. Varland pitched through the fifth without giving up any additional runs but still saw struggles giving up to singles and an intentional walk to Andres Gimenez. Varland’s afternoon was over after the fifth as he tallied 91 pitches and 60 strikes to get through his second MLB start. Big Hitting Woes Carlos Correa and Gio Urshela were the only hitters that had a hit through the first six innings of the game for the Twins. Gordon managed a single in the seventh but Bieber dominated the Twins through seven and kept Cleveland’s bullpen well rested ahead of Game 2. Fortunately for the Twins, the hitting woes ended in the top of the eighth as Wallner hit his first MLB home run to put the Twins on the board. They were still down 5-1 but Wallner’s homer made him the 12th Twin in history to hit a home run for his first MLB hit. Bieber did not pitch past the eighth but the Twins had to go up against Emmanuel Clause once again in the ninth to try and revive their hitting. The Twins had hit .188 and scored only one run off Clase before Saturday’s appearance. The hitting numbers decreased by the minimum as Clause closed out the victory for Cleveland. What’s Next? Twins will start game two of this doubleheader at 6:10 p.m. CT tonight with Josh Winder going against Konnor Pilkington of the Guardians. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Sheet
  9. As has been the case with virtually any new idea Major League Baseball has come up with, the minor leagues have served as a training ground. That means many of these new rules have already been practiced at some level by prospects that would hope to come through the system Now being implemented at the highest level, big leaguers will have their first exposure to them. When looking at each individually, it may be worth breaking down who is helped most by each new rule. Pitch Clock When runners are on base pitchers will have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch, and they’ll have just 15 seconds to do so when the bases are unoccupied. I have seen this firsthand plenty throughout St. Paul Saints' action this season. It seems to be integrated seamlessly and works well. There’s no doubt that pitchers will benefit most from the pitch clock. Yes, there has been pushback in regard to routines and timing, but for the most part, the arms have adapted. Specifically, pitchers without much of a Major League track record, or those that work quickly, will benefit from the change. It was widely apparent how quickly Minnesota Twins starter Louie Varland worked against the Yankees last week, and you’ll see plenty more of that from guys who come up off the farm. With batters only being allowed one timeout per plate appearance, there should be a substantial cut down on the ticks that emanate in the form of bat taps, adjusted batting gloves, and walks around the dish. Largely, the suggestion is now to get in the box and stay there. While stealing hasn’t been largely impacted at the minor league level with a set time to deliver a pitch, it’s not maybe more important than ever for pitchers to change up their looks. Minnesota has done a terrible controlling the running game, and while neither Gary Sanchez or Ryan Jeffers throw many base stealers out, their pitchers have to help them as well. Bigger Bases Going from 15” to 18” bases isn’t all of a sudden going to increase the running games. Steals haven’t spiked with bases being larger, but the amount of bang-bang plays directly correlates. There’s also the opportunity for slightly more real estate when two players are rushing to the same base. Plays at first base should have a bit more room for the runner to step through and keep pitchers or other fielders covering a bit safer. The bases being larger is something that fans and players won’t likely realize at all, but there will be multiple instances of different calls or spared injury that could be directly attributed to the change. Byron Buxton probably won’t start stealing 30 bases per year with the new size, but Billy Hamilton would’ve been safe at third base on his steal attempt. Oh, and while we’re here, home plate is not changing and Whit Merrifield was still out. Shift Restriction This change may have the greatest impact on players and the game itself. Teams will still find ways to shift, but now two infielders must be on each side of second base, and all four have to be touching the dirt when the pitcher is on the rubber. No longer will a defender be able to play a short outfield spot, and there won’t be an entire position on the infield unmanned. Joey Gallo is the first name that comes to mind across baseball, but for the Twins, this could actually make Max Kepler good again. He’s been awful about hitting into the shift for most of his career, and the problem is largely attributed to his launch angle. Opting for ground balls and low liners, he’s been easy to steal hits from. Ground balls still probably won’t find their way through, but being able to dump the ball into short right field may be of benefit. Ultimately, I’d expect teams to get creative with their outfielders when it comes to shifting. We may see three play on one half of the grass, and that’s probably how extreme-pull hitters are attacked. What rule are you most in favor of? Are there any you have concerns about?
  10. Twins fans know Louie Varland after his impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He’s the organization’s reigning minor league pitcher of the year, but he might not have gotten the respect he deserved entering the season. Many Twins rankings didn’t have him in the organization’s top-10, and another prospect may be following his path to the big leagues. Drafting and developing pitching is one of the critical strategies for teams to keep their winning window open as long as possible. Varland was a 15th-round pick in 2019, and the Twins have developed him into a legitimate starting pitching prospect. Picks later in the draft can allow for some sneaky value, and Brent Headrick fits that mold. The Twins drafted Headrick in the 9th round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Illinois State University. It was tough to know what to expect from Headrick as he posted a 6.40 ERA as a sophomore. Following that season, he headed to the Northwoods Summer League and had a 2.63 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. Some of those positives translated to his junior season, where he posted a 10.8 K/9 with a 1.09 WHIP. Minnesota saw potential and selected him later in the draft. Entering the 2021 season, Headrick was limited to three professional appearances because of the missing 2020 campaign. Minnesota sent him to Fort Myers in 2021, where he was over a year older than the average age of the competition at that level. In 15 appearances, he posted a 3.82 ERA with a 12.6 K/9 over 61 1/3 innings. His biggest issue was allowing more than a hit per inning, resulting in a 1.58 WHIP. Luckily, Headrick has made vast improvements in 2022. Headrick started the year by dominating at High-A, where he posted a 2.34 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 15 starts. He significantly reduced the number of hits per nine from 9.3 H/9 in 2021 to 7.3 H/9 in 2022. Since being promoted to Double-A, his strikeout rate has improved to 12.2 K/9, and he is slightly younger than the competition for the first time in his career. Only one Twins prospect has struck out more batters than Headrick this season. Varland has accumulated 146 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings, while Headrick has 130 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. For the season, his 11.2 K/9 is the highest among Twins prospects who have pitched at least 80 innings. Headrick is one of a handful of Twins prospects who will pitch more than 100 innings this season, and he is making the most of his time on the mound. Headrick won’t finish the season ranked as highly as Varland, but he is having a standout performance while other top prospects struggle. He should enter next season as one of the team’s top-30 prospects with a chance to prove himself in the upper minors. His ceiling may be a back-end of the rotation starter, but that can provide value to a Twins organization that has recently filled those spots with veterans. Keep your eye on Headrick in 2023 and beyond. What are your thoughts on Headricks’ performance so far in 2022? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 1/3 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K (80 pitches, 55 strikes, 68.8%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Trevor Megill (-.570), Griffin Jax (-.254), Gio Urshela (-.201) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland is sharp in his major league debut (pulled too early?) There probably isn’t a much tougher way to start your major league career than the one Louie Varland had to. Called up for the first time on Tuesday, the St. Paul native had been the most anticipated Twins prospect since… what? Byron Buxton? Some might go even a little further and say… Joe Mauer? Either way, the amount of expectation this kid had to burden was enormous. Then, you look at all the elements surrounding today’s game. The Twins have been constantly crushed by the New York Yankees for the past two decades; they have been Minnesota’s perennial foes in the postseason in that same span; they haven’t lost a single series against the Twins since 2018, and not one at home since 2014. The list goes on. This game, in particular, is even more crucial short-term, as the Twins started the day a game and a half back from the Guardians for the division first place. Not being competitive in this Bronx series could be the end of the season for the Twins. Is that pressure enough for the 24-year-old Minnesotan? Before Varland even stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, the offense made a good effort to relieve some of the pressure and perhaps calm him down. Luis Arraez jumped on the game’s second pitch and doubled against starter Domingo German. After a Carlos Correa strikeout, José Miranda hit a laser to the deep left corner for a home run, making it 2-0 Twins early. Whether or not the run support made a difference for Varland at that point, making him less nervous, we’ll never know. But the fact is that he had a nearly perfect first time through the order to begin his big-league career, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He also struck out three of those batters, including American League MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge for his first-ever MLB strikeout. That’s a heck of a greeting card. Varland’s first hit given up was an Oswald Peraza two-out double in the third, but he responded to that with an inning-ending groundout, his third of the game. Then, the offense came through for him again with some more run support. In the top of the fourth, Germán got two quick outs, but the bottom third of Minnesota’s lineup did some two-out damage. Jake Cave, Gary Sanchez, and Gilberto Celestino hit three consecutive singles, and, with that, another run scored, making it 3-0 Twins. The Yankees responded quickly, though, with Judge getting back at Varland in the bottom of the same inning with a leadoff home run, cutting the Twins’ lead to two. Varland displayed some impressive nerves after that, retiring batters three through five of the Yankee lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts following the Judge home run. Varland pitched into the sixth, facing two batters: he lost Peraza for a leadoff single but came back to strike out Oswaldo Cabrera. Before he could face Judge (the tying run) a third time in this game, Rocco Baldelli decided to call it a game for him. Griffin Jax was brought in, and he got Judge to pop out for the second out, but before he could finish the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Baldelli’s decision to pull Varland when he did cause mixed feelings throughout Twins Twitter. Twins Daily’s writers Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs, for example, had opposing views of Baldelli’s call (here and here). Do you think Varland should’ve stayed to face Judge and Torres? Use the comment section to give your opinion. Bats quiet down, bullpen trio takes the game into extras The Twins’ offense couldn’t bother the Yankees again for the better part of the game, with the only exception coming during the eighth inning. Miranda snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a one-out single, and Nick Gordon followed him up with a single of his own, posing the first Minnesota threat since the fourth inning. Unfortunately for the Twins, both runners ended up being stranded. Fortunately for them, though, the bullpen did a fine job maintaining this a tied game for the remainder of regulation. After Jax blew the lead in the sixth, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran did a fantastic job preventing New York from scoring. With Duran pitching in the ninth, Sánchez made a huge play catching Tim Locastro trying to steal second with a laser throw for the second out that Jermaine Palacios somehow caught and kept the tag on as Locastro came off the base. Then, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third with a steal and a throwing error, Correa ended the inning with a crucial defensive move. Celestino puts the Twins ahead, but the Yankees tie it, walk it off With Celestino starting the 10th inning at second base, Arráez hit a single to shallow right, and the outfielder was waved around. However, he hesitated a bit heading from third to home and was caught by catcher Jose Trevino with plenty of time. Duran pitched a scoreless 10th, and the game headed for the 11th. After the offense went down in order in the top of the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom after an intentional walk to Judge and a walk to Torres. A beautiful 3-2-3 double play prevented the winning run from scoring and paved the way for another inning. Came the 12th inning, the Twins put some pressure on reliever Ron Marinaccio, with Cave drawing a leadoff walk. With a Sánchez strikeout, New York had a double play in order, but Celestino had other plans. He hit a sharp groundball to right, deep enough to score ghost runner Jermaine Palacios from second, snatching the lead back for the Twins. Arráez drew a walk to load the bases before the inning was done, but Correa and Miranda couldn’t take advantage. That lead didn’t last long, though. Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball off Trevor Megill to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez scored from second. Trevino then hit a one-out single that sent Kiner-Falefa to third and, despite getting Peraza to fly out for the second out, Megill couldn’t retire Cabrera, who hit a grounder to short, past a diving Gordon, to bring Kiner-Falefa home and end the game. What’s Next? Game two of the doubleheader is about to start with Joe Ryan (3.88 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota and Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA) starting for the Yankees. Currently, Minnesota still has the chance to split the series, as both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game four of the series. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sanchez 70 0 0 0 0 70 Duran 0 20 0 0 28 48 Megill 0 0 27 0 20 47 Fulmer 0 14 0 0 16 30 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 11 26 Pagán 0 0 22 0 0 22 Jax 0 8 0 0 12 20 López 0 0 0 0 15 15 Davis 0 0 11 0 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  12. TRANSACTIONS RHP Louie Varland contract selected by Minnesota Twins RHP Jake Jewell designated for assignment SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 10, Toledo 6 Box Score The Saints got to watch teammate Louie Varland deal in New York this afternoon before Ronny Henriquez took the mound in Toledo. Henriquez was great allowing just two runs on one hit. He walked one but struck out nine. St. Paul started off the scoring with a pair of first inning dingers. Michael Helman launched his 12th of the season before Mark Contreras hit his 14th. In the 2nd inning the good guys kept rolling. First, Andrew Bechtold got his first Triple-A double to drive in Cole Sturgeon, then Elliot Soto ripped a triple to bring home Bechtold. Matt Wallner wound up grounding out, but the ball being put in play allowed Soto to scamper home. Still looking to pile on, Helman grabbed his second hit of the day, a single this time and Soto scored for the second time. After giving back two on a 4th inning Mud Hens homer, the Saints answered a few innings later. Chris Williams grounded out with the baes loaded, but Toledo couldn’t roll a double play and David Banuelos scored. After the Mud Hens got a run back on an Austin Schulfer wild pitch in the 6th inning, Banuelos doubled to bring in Bechtold and wipe it off in the 7th inning. Toledo drew closer in the bottom half, but Contreras was able to smash his second blast of the game in the 8th inning, a two-run shot scoring Matt Wallner, and double up the Mud Hens 10-5. Five different St. Paul hitters had multi-hit nights, which isn’t surprising given the 13 total for the team. Contreras was the lone batter to reach three in the game, however. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 5, NW Arkansas 0 Box Score The Wind Surge turned to Kody Funderburk tonight. He was great going six strong allowing only four hits and a walk. The Wichita starter punched out seven batters. It took no time for Wichita to get runs for their starter. Aaron Sabato started things with his third Double-A two-bagger, this one with the bases loaded, bringing in Edouard Julien, Jair Camargo, and Yunior Severino. Anthony Prato then singled to bring Sabato home and make it 4-0 early. Quietly going about their business through the middle of this one, DaShawn Keirsey Jr. added an insurance run in the 8th inning to score Anthony Prato. Edouard Julien and Prato both recorded three-hit games, and the Wind Surge tallied a total of 14 runs tonight. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 4 Box Score It was David Festa tonight for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After getting behind early, Festa settled in and wound up working 6 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits while also striking out three. After getting behind 1-0 after the 1st inning, the Kernels responded with a run of their own in the 3rd inning. Pat Winkel crushed his 9th double to drive in Brooks Lee and knot things up. Unfortunately the lead evaporated in the 5th inning when South Bend added two more. In the 6th inning Cedar Rapids began their comeback. Alerick Soularie drove in Mikey Perez on a ground out and the deficit was only one. After giving it back in the 7th inning, the Kernels erupted for six runs in the eighth inning. Charles Mack crushed his fifth homer of the season to draw back within one before a bases loaded walk of Dylan Neuse scored Seth Gray. Kyler Fedko then drove a single through the left side and watched both Perez and Wille Joe Garry Jr. cross the plate. Before the inning was done, Brooks Lee got into the action with his fourth double, plating both Neuse and Fedko. Both Fedko and Perez had two hits apiece, and six different Cedar Rapids batters combined to tally the eight hits. MUSSEL MATTERS Postponed Game postponed due to inclement weather. Fort Myers and St. Lucie will make it up tomorrow as part of a doubleheader. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K Hitter of the Day – Mark Contreras (St. Paul) - 3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR(15) PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 1-2, R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2B #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-3 #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-4, R, RBI, BB #12 - Louie Varland (Minnesota) - 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K #13 - David Festa (Cedar Rapids) - 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3-4, R #16 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K #19 - Alerick Soularie (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, RBI, 2 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo (5:35PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams St. Lucie @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  13. Louie Varland's rise from 15th-round pick to top pitching prospect has been well documented at Twins Daily. Since the Twins drafted him, there have been over 50 articles where he has been tagged at the site. Varland, a St. Paul native, will be debuting for his hometown team with the added pressure of being in a tight division race. Here are some things to watch as he debuts against the New York Yankees. 1. Fastball Velocity Throughout his collegiate career, Varland topped out in the low 90s with his fastball. With no 2020 minor league season, he used his time to rework his arm action to put less stress on his joints. These changes allowed him to see a significant jump in velocity as he averaged 94 mph during the 2021 season, and he can now reach into the high 90s. He will likely have some adrenaline pumping during his debut, so he will likely be able to reach back and hit the higher end of his velocity range. 2. Strikeout Totals Striking out batters in the minor leagues differs from attacking hitters at the big-league level. Throughout his professional career, Varland has posted 11.3 K/9, including 10.4 K/9 in 2022 at Double- and Triple-A. He has struck out seven or more batters in three of four Triple-A appearances. Unfortunately, the Yankees don't strike out much as their 22.2 K% ranks 7th in the American League. Varland can hope that New York will be unfamiliar with his repertoire since none of their batters have faced him. 3. Minimizing Home Runs Yankee Stadium is famous for its short outfield porch that allows for more regular home runs. As a right-handed hurler, Varland will likely face multiple lefties in the Yankees line-up. During the 2022 season, lefties have hit .249/.320/.385 (.704) with eight home runs against Varland. For his career, he has allowed 0.8 HR/9, including 15 home runs in 24 appearances this season. Luckily, many of the Bronx Bombers' best hitters are right-handed, including Aaron Judge, Giancarlo Stanton, and DJ LeMahieu. Judge's bat in this series has already hurt Minnesota, so Varland needs to minimize the damage done by the long ball. 4. Enjoy the Moment Pitching at Yankee Stadium can be a thoroughly unenjoyable experience, but players only get one chance to make their big-league debut. Varland has been a great story to follow throughout the last two seasons. The Twins named him the organization's minor league pitcher of the year last season, and he has a chance to win back-to-back honors. He and his family also have deep roots in the Twin Cities. Varland was born in St. Paul and attended college at the same school as his brother, a prospect in the Dodgers organization. Twins fans have clamored for this front office regime to produce pitching prospects, and Varland is one of the best starting pitchers produced under their watch. What will you keep an eye on during Varland's debut? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. When Twins ownership decided on Derek Falvey as the pick to lead their rebuilt front office, the underlying premise was fairly straightforward: As a mid-market team that can't afford to spend with the big-market heavy hitters, the key to sustainable contention lies in drafting and developing high-quality pitching. Falvey had a track record for helping spearhead this model in Cleveland, a franchise that — along with Tampa Bay, another of the new regime's clear aspirational influences — became a standard-bearer for getting it right. Specifically, the Twins hoped a Falvey-led front office would find a competitive advantage by uncovering hidden talent in the draft, as well as in other organizations via trade. They've had some success in the latter department, with Joe Ryan and Jhoan Duran emerging as two of the top arms for this year's staff. The Twins' record for drafting and developing homegrown talent is, however, noticeably lacking. They've had a few near-misses — or, I should say, not-yets. Bailey Ober, who was taken in the 12th round of Falvey's first draft in 2017, showed great promise last year in 20 starts as a 25-year-old rookie. But his sophomore season being wiped out by a groin injury sorta puts the brakes on his "success story" narrative. Josh Winder, an eighth-rounder in 2018, has also flashed much to like as both a glow-up prospect and — more crucially — a capable big-league rookie. But he too now finds himself spinning in circles due to injury issues. Neither of these guys feels like someone you can really trust as a starter going into 2023. But that is precisely what the Twins need this front office to provide, especially with so many of their more highly-drafted pitching prospects (first-rounder, Chase Petty, second-rounder Steve Hajjar, third-rounder Cade Povich) being dealt away in trades for veterans. Louie Varland has the makings of a signature success story under Falvey. Few had eyes on him has a little-known starter at Concordia University in St. Paul. The Twins worked closely with him to improve his mechanics for better durability and increased velocity. He came back after the lost pandemic season with a bang, mowing through two levels of A-ball with a 2.10 ERA and 12.4 K/9 rate to earn Twins minor league player of the year honors. Moving up to the high minors this year, while still subject to some outside skepticism (no major prospect ranking had him in their top 100), Varland backed up his performance at Double-A to earn an early-August promotion to Triple-A, where he was was more filthy than ever: 21.IP, 1.69 ERA, .192 BAA, 27 K, 3 BB, 1 HR. Right now, Varland's got everything you could want: outstanding performance at every level, legitimate high-octane stuff, and -- perhaps most critically, where the Twins are concerned -- a seemingly strong bill of health and durability. In his 24 starts between Wichita and St. Paul this year, Varland has thrown 126.1 IP, which would lead all Twins pitchers. Of course, those things were also true of Ober and Winder, and any number of other promising ascendant arms in this organization ... until they weren't. Varland unfortunately carries the burden of so many past disappointments as he steps in and tries to give this unraveling rotation a jolt. I'm not sure how many more near-misses, or even not-yets, this front office can withstand. People can quibble over the wisdom of splashy free agent and trade acquisitions like Carlos Correa, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle, but at the end of the day, if this regime can't start yielding some impact from its own pitching development engine, what are they here for? How can fans feel confident in the future? Petty is gone. Matt Canterino's out of the picture until 2024. Winder's health is an ongoing question mark. Jordan Balazovic has seen his stock plunge amidst a nightmare season. The standout pitching depth, which seemed to be such a shining strength of the system coming into this season, has been decimated. Varland is one of the few that remains, and there's a lot riding on his shoulders — from both a macro and micro perspective — as he prepares to make his debut in Yankee Stadium (a park where the Twins have won two of their past 22 games), against Aaron Judge and the Bronx Bombers, their season hanging in the balance. Like I said ... no pressure, kid.
  15. The Twins acquired right-hander Tyler Mahle from the Cincinnati Reds for three prospects including Spencer Steer at the trade deadline. He made three starts for the Twins, went on the IL, came back, pitched two more innings and is back on the IL. About a week after the trade deadline, right-hander Louie Varland was promoted to Triple-A St. Paul. And just one month (and four Triple-A starts) later, Varland is taking over Mahle’s spot in the big-league rotation. While we had heard the news 3-4 hours earlier, Patrick Reusse was the first to announce the news. Amateur Days Louie Varland was born and raised in St. Paul. No need to mention that Hall of Famers Dave Winfield, Paul Molitor and Jack Morris grew up in St. Paul, as did soon-to-be Hall of Famer Joe Mauer. He went to high school at North St. Paul where he was also a star on the wrestling mat. As his high school days were winding down, he was considering several schools. His older brother Gus Varland was pitching in his freshman season at Concordia University in St. Paul, but Louie kind of wanted to get away from his brother’s spotlight. Ultimately, Louie joined Gus and the two pitched very well under the tutelage of legendary coach Mark “Lunch” McKenzie. As a freshman in 2017, he pitched in eight games. That summer, he played for Utica in the Perfect Game College League. As a sophomore, he went 5-1 with a 1.41 ERA over nine games (6 starts) and 44 2/3 innings. That summer, he played for Willmar in the Northwoods League. That was a great summer for the Varland family as Gus was drafted in the 14th round by the Oakland A’s. In 2019, Louie’s junior season, he went 4-5 with a 3.58 ERA over nine starts. In 55 1/3 innings, he walked 14 and struck out 68 batters. In June, his hometown team, the Twins, selected him in the 15th round of the draft. He signed and pitched in three games at Elizabethton before being shut down with some shoulder discomfort. The pitcher development staff really worked with him in the offseason and throughout the lost Covid season of 2020 on some mechanical things designed not only to keep his arm in a better position but also to increase velocity. It worked. As he was preparing for spring training in February of 2021, he hit 100.2 mph. Wade Varland, Gus and Louie’s father, told @Parker Hageman, “It was like I won gold in the Olympics” That 2021 Season Even with the 100 mph milestone reached off a practice mound was exciting, no one was sure what to expect from Louie Varland as the 2021 season approached. We discussed it on a Twins Spotlight show in early January of 2021. He began the season with the Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels. He pitched in 10 games (8 starts) and went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. In 47 1/3 innings, he walked just 16 and struck out 76 batters (14.5 K/9). He was promoted to Cedar Rapids and performed equally well. In 10 starts, he went 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 55 2/3 innings, he walked 14 batters and struck out 66. In 103 total innings, that is 142 strikeouts (12.4 K/9). Following the season, he was named the Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year, as well as the Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Year. Following the season, I had the opportunity to put both Varland brothers under the prospect spotlight. The 2022 Season While his prospect status was certainly significantly higher, there were still question marks regarding his game. It’s a well-known thought that a lot of times, college pitcher draft picks meet their biggest struggles when they get to the Double-A level. In addition, while he did a great in the lower levels in 2021, he was primarily known as a two-pitch pitcher (fastball, slider). His change-up needed to continue to progress, but he also said that the Twins wanted him to add more horizontal movement to his slider as well. I’m not a pitching guru, so I won’t speak to whether or not his slider has more break, or how consistent the Twins pitching coaches would say that his changeup has become. But we can look at the numbers. At Double-A Wichita this year, he went 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA in 20 games (19 starts). In 105 innings, he walked 39 and struck out 119 (10.2 K/9). In his time with the Wind Surge, there were several matchups between Tulsa and Wichita. The two made history in starting opposite each other in what was a lot of fun for their family and friends. In his four starts at Triple-A St. Paul, he is 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA. In 21 1/3 innings, he has 27 strikeouts and just three walks. Varland tossed five no-hit innings in his Saints debut and then left to a standing ovation at CHS Field. The Twins could have gone safe and returned Aaron Sanchez to the starting rotation. He had pitched fine in limited time with the Twins. They could have selected Ronny Henriquez or Simeon Woods Richards, or Louie Varland. On Monday, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said regarding having a starter make his debut on Wednesday, “That wouldn't bother me one bit to pitch [a rookie]. We’re going to pitch whoever we think the best pitcher is for that spot on that day. And I mean, hypothetically, I would never hesitate to put a young pitcher on the mound and just let him go do his job.” That day will be Wednesday at Yankees Stadium for Louie Varland. He is set to make his MLB debut against Aaron Judge and the Yankees. Louie Varland is the Twins #12 prospect currently at Twins Daily. Check out the dozens of articles and videos that Varland has been tagged in on Twins Daily over his time with the Twins. He has been fantastic for Twins Daily, doing several Q&As, interviews and more, so there is a ton of great content. And because of that, we congratulate him and his family and wish him the best going forward. And Gus Varland is currently at Triple-A Oklahoma City, hoping he soon gets the same call.
  16. The 2022 season has two full weeks left before the playoffs begin, but first, let's look back at the month of August. Yesterday, we announced the August Hitter of the Month. Today, we write about the top starting pitchers. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Orlando Rodriguez - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 G, 4 GS, 19.2 IP, 0-0, 2.75 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 16 H, 4 BB, 31 K RHP David Festa - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 15.2 IP, 1-1, 1.15 ERA, 1.37 WHIP, 15 H, 8 BB, 14 K. LHP Brent Headrick - Wichita Wind Surge - 5 G, 4 GS, 24.0 IP, 2-1, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 20 H, 6 BB, 35 K. THE TOP FOUR STARTING PITCHERS #4 - RHP Cody Laweryson - Wichita Wind Surge - 7 G, 4 GS, 1-0, 1.57 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 23.0 IP, 18 H, 6 BB, 29 K Laweryson (pronounced Lor-ih-sun) was the Twins 14th round pick in 2019 out of the University of Maine. That summer, he was named the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. After the missed 2020 season, he reported to Cedar Rapids for the 2021 season. He went 2-5 with a 4.91 ERA in 15 games (14 starts). In 58 2/3 innings, he walked 19 and struck out 73 batters. After the season, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 18 batters in 14 innings. He began the 2022 season with the Kernels again, this time working primarily out of the bullpen. He posted a 2.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP in 16 games. In 35 innings, he walked 12 and struck out 42 batters. At that point he was promoted to Double-A Wichita. In 16 games, he is 4-0 with a 1.03 ERA and a 1.03 WHIP. In August, he made four starts out of his seven appearances. As you can see, he was dominant. He continued to rack up strikeouts while not handing out free passes. The right-hander has a unique delivery and hides the ball well. (For more Twins Daily content on Cody Laweryson, click here.) #3 - RHP Pierson Ohl - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels - 4 G, 3 GS, 2-1, 1.33 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 27.0 IP, 21 H, 1 BB, 26 K Ohl continued his strong professional debut. Not only did he not give up runs, but he also kept runners off of the base paths. Nearly a strikeout per inning, but just one walk in 27 innings is remarkable. He was the Twins 14th round pick a year ago from Grand Canyon University in Phoenix. After the draft, he pitched in just one game in the FCL. This season, he has pitched in 20 games and made 18 starts. With the Mighty Mussels, he is 6-7 with a 3.53 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. In 91 2/3 innings, he has walked just 13 batters and struck out 101 batters. For more Pierson Ohl content on Twins Daily, click here. #2- LHP Jaylen Nowlin - Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 2-1, 2.14 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 21.0 IP, 13 H, 7 BB, 33 K The Twins selected Nowlin with their 19th-round pick in the 2021 draft out of Chipola College in Florida. Following the draft, he pitched in just one game for the FCL Twins. In 2022, the southpaw began the season with the Mighty Mussels, pitching primarily out of their bullpen. As the season progressed, and Nowlin began putting up strong numbers, he began making starts. In 19 games (11 starts) with the Mussels, he went 4-3 with a 3.97 ERA and a 1.34 WHIP. In 56 2/3 innings, he walked 29 (too many) but also struck out 89 batters (14.1 K/9). After two August starts, he was promoted to the Kernels where he made two more starts. As you can see above, he really improved his control in August and became even more dominant. In his final two Mighty Mussel starts, he walked three and struck out 16 batters in 10 innings. In his first start at High-A Cedar Rapids, he struck out 11 batters in six innings. He struck out six batters in five innings in his second start with the Kernels. Nowlin is young and still developing into what he can become. However, he currently can hit 96-97 mph with his fastball and is able to mix a couple of breaking balls in as well. (Click here to read more Twins Daily content on Jaylen Nowlin.) And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is: Wichita Wind Surge - RHP Louie Varland - 5 GS, 1-1, 1.32 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 27.2 IP, 22 H, 5 BB, 30 K While Varland is certainly a candidate the repeat as the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year, it is almost surprising that he has not won a Starting Pitcher of the Month award this season… until now. The Saints Paul native was the Twins 14th round pick in 2019 out of Concordia University in St. Paul. He was the Twins Pitcher of the Year in 2021 and began 2022 at Double-A Wichita. In 20 games (19 starts), he went 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA and 1.34 WHIP. In 105 innings, he walked 39 and struck out 119 batters. He made one August start in Wichita, but earned his promotion to his hometown St. Paul Saints, one step away from Target Field and the big leagues. In his four starts for the Saints, he went 1-1 with a 1.69 ERA and a 0.88 WHIP. In 21 1/3 innings, he walked just three and struck out 27 batters. In his Triple-A debut against the Columbus Clippers, he started with five no-hit innings. In his third start, he tossed six innings with nine strikeouts. His 146 strikeouts ranks 8th among all minor league pitchers this season. His 126 1/3 innings ranks #18. Varland continues to sit 94-96 with his fastball and touches 97 at times. He has a slider that can be devastating at times. And, he has made strides with his changeup and its consistency. He will be added to the 40-man roster after the season and could compete for an Opening Day roster spot during spring training. Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of August, St. Paul native and Saints starter Louie Varland. There has been a lot of Louie Varland content on Twins Daily since he was drafted. Click here to read more on him. Previous 2022 Starting Pitchers of the Month April: RHP John Stankiewicz, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels May: LHP Steve Hajjar, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels June: LHP Aaron Rozek, Cedar Rapids Kernels July: RHP Mike Paredes, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Feel free to agree or disagree with the order, if you like. It wasn’t as easy a decision as you might think. There were several solid starters in August.
  17. Last season the Twins saw Canadian right-hander Jordan Balazovic show up on multiple top 100 prospect lists. He was a sleeper pick to rocket up those same rankings in 2022, and there’s no denying Derek Falvey and Thad Levine had dreams of him slotting into Rocco Baldelli’s rotation. Balazovic started the season late after a knee injury, and nothing has gone right since. There’s been no indication that he’s still injured, but you certainly have to hope that something has been off. The former 5th round pick in 2016 now owns a 9.06 ERA across 49 2/3 innings at Triple-A this year, and he’s gone from a double-digit strikeout pitcher to one with declining numbers and the ball leaving the park at an alarming rate. No matter how the rest of the string plays out, Minnesota has to figure out a way for Balazovic to get right next season. In his place, you could have assumed Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, Matt Canterino or any number of other top prospects in the upper levels may have stepped up. Instead, the arm that won Minnesota’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year a season ago just kept going about his business. Louie Varland was grabbed in the 15th round during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Concordia St. Paul is a Division 2 school right down the street from Target Field. Gus Varland, Louie’s brother, was selected a year earlier by the Oakland Athletics. Bryan Lippincott and Jake Schmidt were drafted from legendary coach Mark McKenzie’s program before them. It’s maybe not the most glorious path, but with talent, it won’t ever matter. Varland has been a lunch-pail type of pitcher since the moment he joined the Twins organization. He posted a 2.10 ERA across his first 100 professional innings in Single-A ball, and followed it up with a 3.34 ERA for Double-A Wichita in 105 innings this season. Now knocking on the doorstep playing for the St. Paul Saints, Varland has been nothing short of magical in three turns. With 17 Triple-A innings under his belt, Varland has a 24/3 K/BB while allowing just three runs (two earned) on 11 hits. He’s never been one to give up the long ball, he’ll mow down batters in bunches, and he’s remained stingy with free passes. There isn’t a ton of deception at play here either, and Varland has worked to push his velocity into the triple-digits during offseason workouts. Nearing a 25th birthday it’s fair to understand that Varland doesn’t have the luster brought on by some of the teenage hitting prospects. He is about to capture a second-straight Minor League Pitcher of the Year award though, and it will be because he’s earned it in the most dominating fashion. With Minnesota needing to infuse the starting rotation with homegrown talent, it’s hard to get better than a kid from their own backyard, that’s taken the path less traveled, and beaten the odds. Maybe the organization can right whatever went wrong with Balazovic this season, but they have to be ecstatic with the found money and developmental progress Varland has displayed. The next stop will be on a mound with slightly more fans than Barnes Field.
  18. The Twins drafted Louie Varland in the 15th round of the 2019 MLB Draft out of Concordia University in St. Paul, MN. After signing, he made his professional debut with the Elizabethton Twins. He allowed two earned runs on nine hits over 8 2/3 innings in three appearances. His 10-to-4 strikeout to walk ratio pointed to him making some improvements as a professional, and he improved even more during the 2020 shutdown. The Twins and Varland were concerned with some of the stress on his joints, so they focused on changing his arm action. This change had multiple benefits. He saw increased velocity and movement on his fastball along with improvements to his secondary pitches. In college, his fastball topped out in the low 90s, but now he can regularly hit in the upper 90s. His best secondary pitches are his changeup and slider that play well off his improved fastball. Varland used his improved stuff to surprise many during the 2021 campaign. He dominated at Low- and High-A on his way to winning the Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Year. In 103 innings, he posted a 2.10 ERA with a 1.09 WHIP and a 142-to-30 strikeout to walk ratio. Half of his appearances came at Low-A, where he was over a year older than the average age of the competition. Still, he continued to perform well after his promotion. Varland had put himself on the prospect map but needed to prove it wasn’t a fluke in 2022. For the first time in his professional career, Varland has spent the entire season pitching at levels where he is younger than the average age of the competition. Nearly 56% of his at-bats have come against older batters who he has held to a .234 batting average. In 122 innings, he has posted a 3.02 ERA with a 1.27 WHIP and a 143-to-42 strikeout to walk ratio. He’s pitched a career-high in innings, and his three Triple-A starts have been nearly flawless. Varland would have been an excellent candidate for a September call-up in previous seasons, but MLB changed the roster rules. September rosters are now limited to 28 players, and this will be the first 162-game season where that rule will be in effect. Minnesota has to add Varland to the 40-man roster this winter, so it might not be too challenging to add him earlier. Multiple pitchers returning from injury would be ahead of Varland on the team’s depth chart. Up-and-coming prospects can be exciting when making their debuts, and the team can play well behind the pitcher. It would be great to see Varland have some September success like Joe Ryan did in 2022. However, Minnesota might also want Varland to end the season on a high note. He’s pitching very well at Triple-A in his hometown, which might be enough to carry him through to the start of next season. He will be added to the 40-man roster this winter and enter spring training with eyes focused on him being a big-league contributor in 2023. Do you think Varland will get a September call-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  19. TRANSACTIONS The Twins signed OF Billy Hamilton to a Minor League deal and assigned him to the Florida Complex League. Just days after the Twins released him, the team signed free agent RHP Michael Feliz to a minor-league contract and assigned him to St. Paul Saints. RHP Josh Winder was assigned to Low-A Fort Myers on Minor League Rehab. SAINTS SENTINEL Iowa 2, St. Paul 1 Box Score SP: Louie Varland - 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K HR: None Multi-Hit games: David Bañuelos (2-3, RBI (20), K) The Saints entered their third game against the Cubs in Des Moines Thursday night down 2-0 in the series. The team looked to North St. Paul native Louie Varland to lead the team to their first win since Sunday afternoon at home. St. Paul would strike first in the top of the second on a David Bañuelos RBI single that scored Nash Knight from second. That would be all the Saints needed while Varland remained on the mound. Varland dominated for the Saints in his third start since being called up to Triple AAA. He only allowed four base runners on three singles and a walk. Varland also retired nine consecutive batters before giving up his last hit of the night with two outs in the bottom of the sixth. He also struck out nine batters for the evening. The former Golden Eagle has yet to surrender a home run to an opposing batter since being called up to the Saints. In fact, Varland’s last home run surrendered came on July 29 against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. Unfortunately for Varland, the Saints bats did not produce any runs following his removal from the game. The Cubs tied the game in the bottom of the seventh with a sacrifice fly off of Evan Sisk. Then in the bottom of the ninth with Brad Peacock on the mound, the Cubs designated hitter Matt Mervies walked-off the Saints with a solo homer in the 2-1 loss. The Saints start at 7:08 p.m. CT for their game Friday night against the Cubs with Ronny Henriquez on the mound for them. WIND SURGE WISDOM Frisco 2, Wichita 1 Box Score SP: Daniel Gossett - 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-Hit games: Will Holland (2-3, R, 3B) The Wind Surge came into Thursday’s game having won the night before 4-0 against Frisco. Daniel Gossett made his first start since his no-hitter for the Wind Surge Thursday night and continued off the success he had that night. The bid for back-to-back no-hitters for Gossett ended in the first inning when he gave up a hit with two outs. That did not stop him from tossing a great outing. He went five innings and gave up only two additional hits and one run. He struck out two. Gossett’s command of the zone kept the Wind Surge in the game where the team's bats were silenced. Wichita scored the first run of the game on an RBI fielder's choice hit by Austin Martin in the top of the third. Frisco came along to tie the game off Gossett with a sacrifice fly out to center field. Martin’s RBI single accounted for the only run of the game for the Wind Surge. The game went into extra innings, but lefty Bryan Sammons walked consecutive batters in the bottom of the 10th inning to load the bases. Wichita dropped the game with a walk-off walk. The Wind Surge start their game against Frisco at 7:05 p.m. CT Friday night and left Kody Funderburk will make the start. KERNELS NUGGETS Lake County 8, Cedar Rapids 4 Box Score SP: Luis Rijo 2.2 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: Pat Winkel (6), Seth Gray (15) Multi-Hit games: Winkel (2-3, R, HR 2 RBI (28)) Cedar Rapids entered Thursday night dropping their first two games against the Lake County Captains and were hoping to keep themselves from a three-game losing streak with Luis Rijo on the mound. Unfortunately for the Kernels, the Captains got to Rijo early in the game. Rijo surrendered three runs (two earned) against the Captains, all in the bottom of the third inning. He was removed after giving up four straight hits with two outs in the inning. Derek Molina got the Kernels out of the inning. The Captains managed to create more damage against the Kernels relievers in the fifth adding two more runs, and then the sixth inning when they scored three more. The hitters for the Kernels were quiet until the seventh inning. They managed two runs thanks to catcher Pat Winkel’s two-run shot. They made a small comeback but were still down 8-2 following the inning. When the Kernels looked to be down and out of the game in the top of the ninth, Seth Gray hit a two-run homer. Even with the extra pop at the plate, the Kernels still dropped the game 8-4. The Kernels will play their next game against the Captains early Friday evening with a 5:35 CDT start time. David Festa will make the start for the Kernels. MUSSEL MATTERS Game 1 : Lakeland 6, Fort Myers 3 Box Score SP: Josh Winder 2 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K HR: Misael Urbina (5) Multi-Hit games: None The Mighty Mussels played two games against the Lakeland Flying Tigers Thursday and game one had Josh Winder on the mound for the start of his rehab assignment. Winder did not fare well in the two innings he pitched. He allowed four runs on three hits and two walks. The good news out of Winder’s bad rehab start is his fastball velocity averaged 92.7 mph while his max velocity hit 94.7 mph. The Mighty Mussels bats looked like their Major League big brothers as they only tallied two hits in the first game. One was a leadoff solo home run by center fielder Misael Urbina. Johnathan Lavallee came on to pitch following Winder’s removal from the game. Lavallee threw three innings and gave up two earned runs on a walk and two hits but struck out four in his relief outing. Game 2 : Lakeland 1, Ft. Myers 0 Box Score SP: Pierson Ohl 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K HR: None Multi-Hit games: None In Game 2. the Mussels had Pierson Ohl on the mound for his 17th start of the season. Ohl went four strong innings and allowed only one run on four hits. He struck out five. The Mussels bats only managed three hits while being shut out. Fort Myers has only one game against Lakeland on Friday which is scheduled to start at 6 p.m. CT. Marco Raya will make the start for the Mighty Mussels TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Louie Varland (St. Paul) - 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K Hitter of the Day – Pat Winkel (Cedar Rapids - 2-3, R, HR, 2 RBI (28) PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, R, K #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-3, RBI (22), K #7 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - Game 1: 0-2, R, BB, K, Game 2: 0-3, BB #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-3, HBP, K #12 - Louie Varland (St. Paul) - 6 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-3, BB #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - Game 2: 0-3, 3 K #20 - Kala'i Rosario (Fort Myers) - Game 2: 1-3 FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS All Twins Minor League Affiliates play night games on Friday. Here are the start times and probables for their games. Toledo @ St. Paul (7:07 PM CST) - Ronny Henriquez vs Matt Swarmer Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - LHP Kody Funderburk vs. RHP Zak Kent Cedar Rapids @ Lake County (5:35 PM CST) - David Festa vs TBD Clearwater @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - Marco Raya vs TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday's games
  20. TRANSACTIONS None SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 5, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 3 Box Score Louie Varland had yet another solid outing for the Saints on Friday, striking out seven in 5 2/3 innings. Although he did surrender seven hits and three runs—only two earned—the RailRiders struggled to make consistent hard contact. Varland has now struck out 15 batters and walked two in 11 Triple-A innings. While two starts hardly provides definitive proof for upcoming sustained success, Varland’s immediate impact at the highest level of Minor League Baseball has to be appealing to the Minnesota Twins. He possesses a fastball that sits in the mid-90s with good ride and a slider with strong bite that would play well out of the Twins’ bullpen right now. His changeup remains a work in progress but when on, it has very similar shape to his fastball. He likely isn’t quite ready to make starts for the big-league club, but he could provide value out of the pen, particularly if Emilio Pagan continues to struggle or Trevor Megill turns into a pumpkin. Jermaine Palacios (3-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) and Chris Williams (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI) led the Saints offensively. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 3, Tulsa 0 Box Score The home crowd was witness to history on Friday evening as righty Daniel Gossett tossed the first no-hitter in Wind Surge history. He needed 120 pitches to do so, striking out 10 and walking three (two in the 9th inning). The only other Driller to reach base did so via error. Gossett is a 29-year-old journeyman who was a second-round pick in 2014 out of Clemson and last appeared in the Majors in 2018 as a member of the Oakland Athletics; he started in 23 games across two seasons in the Bay and posted a 5.91 ERA. He entered the game with a 3.48 ERA and had not struck out more than seven batters in a game this season before shutting down Tulsa. Gossett was clearly fatigued in the final inning as he walked two straight batters with two outs before getting Andy Pages to bite on a curveball in the dirt. He was caught on camera shouting, “One more. One more.” into the Wind Surge dugout just prior to the strikeout, seemingly trying to convince manager Ramon Borrego to leave him in. Gossett’s accomplishment won’t make headlines around the internet nor will it likely make SportsCenter, but throwing a no-hitter at any level is a monumental task and his effort should be recognized. Anthony Prato (2-for-4, 2 RBI) and Alex Isola (1-for-3, RBI) each hit home runs to lead Wichita’s offense. KERNELS NUGGETS Wisconsin 5, Cedar Rapids 0 (Suspended) Box Score The Timber Rattlers jumped out to an early lead on the Kernels before the game was suspended in the bottom of the fourth inning due to rain. The two will resume play on Saturday. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Palm Beach 1 Box Score Fort Myers 8, Palm Beach 1 Box Score The Mighty Mussels offense could not be contained and their pitching staff was lights out on Friday evening against the Cardinals as they swept the double-header to improve their record to 61-47. Pierson Ohl glimmered on the mound in Game 1, striking out seven and allowing only two Palm Beach batters to reach base across seven shutout innings. The game had been suspended after two innings on Thursday night, so Ohl started the third frame and finished the game In Game 2, Jonathan Lavallee was awarded the win with four shutout innings out of the pen. Overall, the Fort Myers pitching staff struck out 19 batters, walked one, and surrendered two runs in 18 innings. Misael Urbina led the Mighty Mussels offensively, going 5-for-8 with a double and three RBI. Some of the former top prospect’s shine has faded this season, but the 20-year-old is suddenly hitting .301 with an .886 OPS in 31 games at Low-A. He hasn’t produced much in the way of home runs, but he has hit a whopping 14 doubles, suggesting a power boom is right around the corner. Mix in his defensive tools and it’s easy to see why many around baseball think highly of his long-term prospects. Unfortunately, visa issues meant that he was unable to come to the States until June. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 4, FCL Red Sox 3 Box Score Old friend Randy Dobnak started on the bound for the FCL Twins, striking out three and allowing four hits across two innings of work. Dobnak has missed the entire 2022 season to date as he rehabs from a finger injury suffered last season. Wilfri Castro had a great afternoon at the plate, going 2-for-3 with a double, home run, and two RBI. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Cubs Blue 3, DSL Twins 2 Box Score Yasser Mercedes continued to rain terror on the DSL on Friday, going 3-for-4 with a double and RBI. Mercedes—who is just 17 years old—is hitting .361 with a .990 OPS in 39 games. The Twins will keep their burgeoning prospect at the DSL level for the remainder of the season, but it will be interesting to see what they do with him next summer. He’s proven to be advanced for his age and could likely succeed at the FCL level right now. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Daniel Gossett (Wichita): 9 IP, 0 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 10 K Hitter of the Day – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers): 5-for-8, 2B, 3 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-3, BB, R, SB (25) #7 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 0-for-4, RBI #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-for-1, 2 BB, R #12 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 7 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-2 #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 1-for-7, RBI #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, 2B, RBI SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (DH at 5:07 PM CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer, RHP Juan Minaya in Game 2 Wichita vs. Tulsa (7:05 PM CST) - LHP Kody Funderburk Cedar Rapids vs. Wisconsin (DH at 5:15 PM CST) - Completion of Friday game, followed by regularly-scheduled game. Fort Myers @ Palm Beach (5:00 PM CST) - TBD
  21. TRANSACTIONS 2B Jorel Ortega placed on the 7-Day IL (wrist). SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 5, Columbus 1 Box Score St. Paul native Louie Varland dominated during his Triple-A debut in front of the home crowd. Varland—Twins Daily’s number 12 Twins prospect—struck out eight and allowed only three Clipper batters to reach base across 5 ⅓ innings, marking arguably his best start of the season. While the Twins are developing Varland as a starter and have ever since he signed out of Concordia University, some talent evaluators believe he is best suited for the bullpen long-term. An athlete is only ever a couple of good outings away from the Majors once they reach Triple-A and should the Twins continue to need pitching help as the season winds down Varland’s name may begin to seriously come up in conversations. At the plate, Mark Contreras went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Roy Morales drove in the Saints other three runs, going 1-for-4 with a double. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 7, Corpus Christi 3 Box Score The Wind Surge got tremendous production from the bottom of their lineup on Friday as they took down the Hooks with relative ease. Will Holland, Anthony Prato, and Leobaldo Cabrera—Wichita’s 7-8-9 hitters—combined to go 5-for-8 with four RBI, three runs scored, and four walks; Prato led the charge by contributing a double and triple to raise his average to .307. Alex Isola also brought the boom, driving in two with his seventh home run of the season. Brent Headrick put together five solid innings, striking out six and allowing one earned run. Alex Phillips and Denny Bentley each struck out the side during the eighth and ninth innings, respectively. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 5, Quad Cities 0 Box Score Kyler Fedko (1-for-4, RBI, R) contributed Cedar Rapids’ lone extra-base hit on the night, but although offense was at a bit of a premium in Iowa, the Kernels ultimately came out on top with ease. Mikey Perez added the team’s lone multi-hit game, going 2-for-5 with two RBI. Brooks Lee went 0-for-3 but drew two walks. David Festa started on the bump for the Kernels but was removed after three shutout innings. Hunter McMahon was awarded the win after throwing 3 1/3 innings of hitless ball in relief. He struck out three and his ERA dropped to 0.65. MUSSEL MATTERS Jupiter 3, Fort Myers 1 Box Score It was a quiet night in Jupiter with no offensive hurricanes to be found. Noah Cardenas led the Mighty Mussels at the plate, going 3-for-4 with a double. Dillon Tatum (1-for-4) also contributed a double. The Fort Myers pitching staff also had a quiet night as they managed to strike out a meager two batters while walking four and surrendering three earned runs. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Red Sox 1, FCL Twins 0 Box Score The FCL Twins managed to pick up eight hits against the FCL Red Sox on Friday, but unfortunately, none were able to drive in any runs. Dalton Shuffield—the Twins 10th round pick out of Texas State—went 3-for-4 and picked up his first professional hits. Five pitchers—led by Pierce Banks—saw action for the Twins and struck out 12 while surrendering only a single run. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Twins 3, DSL Mariners 0 Box Score Bryan Acuna’s RBI double in the sixth inning gave the DSL Twins a 1-0 lead, an advantage they would never surrender. Jesus Peraza singled home two more in the seventh to extend the Twins lead. DSL Twins pitchers struck out eight while only walking two to earn the shutout. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Louie Varland (St. Paul): 5 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – Anthony Prato (Wichita): 2-for-3, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, BB, 2 R PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, 2 BB #7 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, BB #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-for-2, 2 BB #12 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 8 K #13 - David Festa (Cedar Rapids) - 3 IP, 3 H, 0 R/ER, 3 BB, 3 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-4 #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4 #20 - Kala'i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4 SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Columbus (7:07 PM CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (2-2, 4.98 ERA) Wichita vs. Corpus Christi (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett (1-1, 2.59 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Luis Rijo (0-1, 11,81 ERA) Fort Myers @ Jupiter (5:00 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (4-6, 4.13 ERA)
  22. TRANSACTIONS RHP Louie Varland is being promoted to Triple-A St. Paul per myself and Darren Wolfson INF Brooks Lee is being promoted to Single-A Cedar Rapids per Darren Wolfson COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Pirates 11, FCL Twins 6 Box Score Develson Aria drew the start today for the Twins and unfortunately it was a muted one. He went just 2 2/3 innings allowing nine runs (three earned) on six hits. Aria did strike out five and only walked two. An eight-run second inning for the Pirates ultimately did the Twins in, even though the Twins posted eight hits to the Pirates' nine. First-round pick Brooks Lee was the star of the show again today for Minnesota’s FCL team. He went 3-for-5 including a double. Batting .353 with an .824 OPS, it won’t be a shock if this is a quick stop, or he’s promoted directly to Cedar Rapids for their stretch run (Update: That's exactly what's happening). Ricardo Olivar also had a two-hit game, including a double, and the 20-year-old owns a 1.091 OPS this season in 116 at-bats. Other top picks from this year’s draft class playing today were Tanner Schobel (0-for-4, BB) and Jorel Ortega (0-1, 2 BB) DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Giants Orange 9, DSL Twins 2 Box Score Roger Duran made the start but acted as an opener going just one inning. He worked around two hits and a walk to escape damage. The Twins generated just four hits on the day, and Jose Rodriguez’s triple was the only of the extra-base variety. As he has done all season, Yasser Mercedes continues to pile up numbers and recorded another hit today. He’s got a .985 OPS and just missed out on being included in the recent Twins Daily Top 20 prospect update. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Wilker Reyes (FCL Twins) - 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – Brooks Lee (FCL Twins) - 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI DRAFT PICK UPDATE 1 - Brooks Lee - FCL Twins - 17 AB, .353 AVG, .824 OPS, 2 R, 6 H, 3 RBI Q&A Link 2 - Tanner Schobel - FCL Twins - 15 AB, .200 AVG, .517 OPS, 3 R, 3 H, RBI Q&A Link 6 - Jorel Ortega - FCL Twins - 4 AB, .000 AVG, .000 OPS, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI Q&A Link TRADED PROSPECT UPDATE Cade Povich - 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K in Aberdeen debut (Orioles High-A). Named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week Spencer Steer - 4 G 6-16, 2 R, 4 RBI, SB for Louisville (Reds Triple-A) Christian Encarnacion-Strand - 3 G 4-11, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI for Chattanooga (Reds Double-A) Sawyer Gipson-Long - 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K in Erie debut (Tigers Double-A) Steven Hajjar - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K in Dayton debut (Reds High-A) Brent Rooker - 4 G 7-15, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI for Omaha (Royals Triple-A) TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Columbus @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez Corpus Christi @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Kody Funderburk Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek Fort Myers @ Jupiter (5:30PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates and the two Complex Season affiliates back and playing.
  23. SAINTS SENTINEL Saints 3, Storm Chasers 9 Box Score The Saints had trouble offensively in Thursday’s loss to the Storm Chasers. They struck out 15 times and recorded seven hits, two of which came from the new Saint Nash Knight. Elliott Soto homered in the fifth, his fifth of the season. Caleb Hamilton also went deep in the eighth, his 11th long-ball of the year. Jordan Balazovic started and gave up five runs on six hits in three innings. Balazovic walked two and struck out four. His ERA is 10.75 in 37 ⅔ innings for the Saints. Ronny Henriquez struggled in relief, allowing four runs in four innings. Henriquez walked one and struck out six. The Saints had won four straight and six of their last seven. They fell to 49-51 with the loss on their trek to .500. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wind Surge 4, Missions 3 Box Score The Wind Surge, after giving up their lead in the ninth, won the game in the 10th on an RBI single from Anthony Prato and a scoreless outing from Steven Cruz. Cruz entered the game with a runner at third and one out in the bottom of the 10th. He got a key strikeout and forced a flyout to end the game. Louie Varland started for the Surge and pitched six scoreless innings, allowing seven hits and two walks with three strikeouts. Varland has a 3.34 ERA on the season, his follow-up from an outstanding Minor League Pitcher of the Year season in 2021. Andrew Bechtold had a two-hit, two-walk night, including his 14th homer of the season. Prato, the hero in the top of the 10th, notched two hits on the night and drew a walk. He’s hitting .308 with an .808 OPS in 49 games for the Surge. Edouard Julien hit his 13th homer, continuing a scorching hot streak. Wichita is 52-46. KERNELS NUGGETS Kernels 4, Sky Carp 5 Box Score The Kernels scored their first two runs on wild pitches in the first and second innings, jumping to an early lead. Seth Gray made it a 3-1 game with a double in the fifth, his 12th double and 51st RBI of the season. Gray went 2-for-4 on the day. Orlando Rodríguez started for the Kernels and pitched well. Rodríguez struck out six of the 13 batters he faced, allowing three hits and one run in 3 2/3 innings. The Kernels blew the lead in the sixth, giving up a game-tying two-run homer and a two-run single. The Kernels battled with two outs in the bottom of the ninth with three straight singles to pull within one run. They had the tying run on third and the winning run on second but couldn’t cash in. The Kernels are 59-40. They’ve lost three straight to Beloit and five of their last six. MUSSEL MATTERS Mighty Mussels 7, Marauders 4 Box Score The Mighty Mussels built a 7-0 lead behind a tremendous start from Jordan Carr. Carr pitched six scoreless innings, allowing just three hits with four strikeouts and zero walks. Misael Urbina and Rubel Cespedes each hit solo homers to give the Mussels a 2-0 lead. Urbina entered the game hitting .290/.333/.548 with 11 extra-base hits over his last 69 plate appearances. Daniel Ozoria added an RBI double in the fourth, his fourth on the season. Cespedes and Urbina had multi-hit nights, as did Noah Cardenas. Nelson Roberto added a double and came around to score. The Mussels gave up four runs in the eighth and ninth innings, but Jackson Hicks ultimately shut the door to secure the win. The Mussels are 55-40. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 8, FCL Pirates 5 Box Score Brooks Lee made his much-anticipated debut Thursday, leading off and playing shortstop for the FCL Twins. Lee went 1-for-4 with his first professional hit, a single to left. Lee, the Twins’ first-round pick mere weeks ago, should be fun to watch down the stretch. Brayan Medina started for the Twins and pitched four solid innings, allowing just one run with five strikeouts and one walk. It was a massive day for Rafael Cruz, who went 2-for-4 with a triple, a homer, and five RBI. Dennis Ortega notched two hits as he rehabs on route back to Wichita. The FCL Twins are inching back toward .500, improving to 20-21 with the win. They’ll face the FCL Red Sox Friday morning in Fort Myers at the historic JetBlue Park. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Twins 6, DSL Dodgers 2 Box Score The DSL Twins took down the DSL Dodgers Thursday, thanks to stellar performances from Yasser Mercedes, José Rodríguez, and the pitching staff. Mercedes went 3-for-4 with a double, and Rodríguez went 2-for-4 with a three-run homer, his 10th of the season. Both Mercedes and Rodríguez have crushed DSL pitching this summer. Anthony Narváez struck out seven over his three-inning start, allowing only one run and walking none. Orlando Rubio and Bianger Liedo combined to allow zero earned runs over four innings, locking down the victory. It was a strong day. The DSL Twins improved to 27-18 with the win and will return to play the DSL Tigers Friday at 10 a.m. CT. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Minor League Hitter of the Day - José Rodríguez (2-for-4, HR, 3 RBI) Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland (6 IP, 7 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 3 K) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY #7 Jordan Balazovic - 3 IP, 6 H, 5 R/ER, 2 BB, 4 K #11 Louie Varland - 6 IP, 7 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 3 K #12 Matt Wallner - 1-for-4, 2B #14 Ronny Henríquez - 4 IP, 4 H, 4 R/ER, BB, 6 K
  24. TRANSACTIONS RHP Brad Peacock signed by Minnesota Twins and assigned to Triple-A St. Paul RHP Jake Petricka released by Minnesota Twins RHP Wladimir Pinto released by Minnesota Twins OF Gilberto Celestino recalled by Minnesota Twins SAINTS SENTINEL Iowa 5, St. Paul 4 (F/10) Box Score The Saints went with former top prospect Jordan Balazovic tonight. As has been the case much of the season, he struggled. Allowing three runs across just 2 2/3 innings, Balazovic was tagged for five hits and two walks. He struck out four but gave up two dingers. St. Paul was down 2-0 after the first half, but Curtis Terry singled to halve the lead in the bottom of the first when Spencer Steer crossed the plate. Dereck Rodriguez was great in relief working 5 1/3 innings with just three hits and one run. Rodriguez gave up a single free pass but grabbed three strikeouts, Down 3-1 in the 7th inning, Jermaine Palacios tied things when he hit his 8th homer of the season. He then answered again in the 9th inning when it was 4-3, by blasting his 9th of the year and tying things at 4. With Juan Minaya taking over in the 10th inning, he uncorked a wild pitch allowing a go-ahead run. St. Paul couldn't answer despite Jake Dave up with the bases loaded and they fell a run short. WIND SURGE WISDOM NW Arkansas 3, Wichita 2 Box Score Louie Varland has been great this year for the Wind Surge, and despite runs against him tonight, he repeated that performance. Working five innings, Varland allowed seven hits but just one of three runs scored were earned. He generated eight strikeouts and walked none. Getting down 3-0 in the 2nd inning, Wichita needed to do work. The Wind Surge answered back in the bottom of the 3rd inning when Leobaldo Cabrera blasted his 7th homer of the season. Still trailing by two, at least Wichita was on the board. Trying to mount a comeback, Edouard Julien drove in Cabrera with a 9th inning ground out. Unfortunately, that’s where the adding ended. Wichita tallied eight hits on the night, but only Anthony Prato and Cabrera had two. KERNELS NUGGETS Wisconsin 4, Cedar Rapids 0 Box Score The Kernels turned to Cade Povich tonight and he kept them in it through five innings. Allowing five hits and three runs, Povich also posted eight strikeouts while giving up just a single free pass. Matt Mullenbach followed him with two scoreless innings striking out two. Unfortunately for Cedar Rapids, only two hits were generated on the night, coming from Jake Rucker and Wander Javier. Both were singles and neither plated a run. The Kernels walked four times and had just a total of six runners tonight. MUSSEL MATTERS Postponed The Mighty Mussels and Tampa Tarpons game was postponed due to inclement weather. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on Saturday. Both games will be seven innings. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 2, FCL Red Sox 1 Box Score Ben Heller started this one and worked two innings of hitless ball while striking out two. Regi Grace also tallied a scoreless inning with a strikeout. Ricardo Olivar had the lone two-hit game for the Twins and recorded both his third triple and dinger of the season. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Rockies 10, DSL Twins 5 Box Score Cristian Jimenez drew the start for the Twins and while he gave up three runs, none were earned. He did allow just three hits and punched out four with zero walks. Bryan Acuna kept hitting and had another two-hit game today, this time including a double. Anderson Nova crushed his first professional homer and has a .966 OPS. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5.0 IP, 7 H,, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – Jermaine Palacios (St. Paul) - 2-4, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR(9) PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #6 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 0-2, R, 3 BB, K #7 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2.2 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 2 HR #10 - Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB #11 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R,1 ER, 0 BB 8 K #12 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-4, BB, 2 K #15 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-3, RBI, BB #16 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Wichita) - 0-5, 3 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands NW Arkansas @ Wichita (6:05PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick Cedar Rapids @ Wisconsin (6:40PM CST) - TBD Tampa @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Friday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates and the two Complex Season affiliates back and playing.
  25. TRANSACTIONS INF Christian Encarnacion-Strand Re-Instated from IL RHP Ryan Shreve was activated from IL at Cedar Rapids. LHP Aaron Rozek was activated from IL at Cedar Rapids. INF Austin Martin was placed on Wichita IL (left elbow) C Frank Nigro added to AA Wichita from AAA St. Paul Saints Sentinel St. Paul 4, Louisville 6 Box Score Cole Sands: 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K HR: Jake Cave (11) Multi-hit games: Tim Beckham (2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI) The Saints lost a messy game on Wednesday. The match started quietly; after 4 innings, the Saints held a 2-1 lead after Tim Beckham doubled home two runs to inflate rehabbing-big leaguer Justin Dunn’s ERA. Cole Sands was surgical in the early innings, cutting up and down the Bats’ lineup at will before his reign crumbled in the 5th inning. A barrage of doubles mixed with a single from technically old friend Taylor Motter shot Louisville’s run total up to four; Sands suddenly had a loss on his hands. The Saints stormed back. After the Bats tacked on another run in the 6th inning, Jake Cave Did the Darn Thing, swinging at a 3-0 pitch and blasting a Grand Slam to left field to give St. Paul a slight 6-5 edge. His on-base streak is now 48 games. Louisville did not acquiesce to the sudden deficit; a Stuart Fairchild homer knotted the game at 6. The game moved into extra innings, where the Bats won off of what appears to be a double fielding error from Michael Helman. St. Paul’s bats must have been smaller than usual; they struck out 17 times total, with five players facing the K multiple times. Let’s hope that Thursday is a more blessed day. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 2, Amarillo 4 Box Score Louie Varland: 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-5), Andrew Bechtold (3-for-4, 2B, RBI) Louie Varland gritted out six effective innings in his start. The antiquated “quality start” deems an outing like his worthy of its title, so Varland will take that and run. The damage could have been less severe; two of his runs came from a 6th inning homer, indicating a “careful, Icarus” moment, to steal a term from another baseball site. Wichita’s bats were up to the task on Wednesday, but poor coordination resulted in just two runs off of 12 hits. In all but three innings, the Wind Surge had a man on base, and they often had multiple players ready to score on a moment’s notice, but they could only plate runs in the 1st and 3rd innings. Perhaps better luck would have altered this game in their favor; Wichita left 18 men stranded. Cody Laweryson continued his AA shutout streak, allowing one hit over two innings while striking out a pair. Jordan Gore struck out two in his single inning of work. Matt Wallner threw another baserunner out on Wednesday. Since minor league fielding stats are basically impossible to find, let’s say it was his 50th gunned down runner of the year; that’s how history works. (Editor/Seth Note: I don't want to mess with history, or a fun narrative, but it is Wallner's 8th assist of the season.) Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 3, Quad Cities 5 Box Score Cade Povich: 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Pat Winkel (3-for-4) The Kernels lost an atypical game on Wednesday. Cade Povich submitted his attempt at one of the weirder pitching lines you’ll see. His 11 strikeouts reflect domination, a complete ability to miss bats at an elite level; his seven hits and three earned runs represent mistakes the River Bandits jumped on. For helping win the game, the start was not the best; for showing promise as an overpowering arm, this is an incredible start. Cedar Rapids’ bats were locked out of hits, only securing five of them despite walking more times than they struck out (7 to 5); either their BABIP luck failed to materialize, or their batted balls were not ideal. Maybe they should have mimicked Pat Winkel, as he netted 60% of their total hits. Hunter McMahon and Bobby Milacki cleaned up an impressive 16 strikeout showing from the Kernels’ pitching staff on Wednesday. While Povich shouldered much of that effort, Milacki’s four strikeouts over two innings are also impressive. Despite only knocking in five hits, every batter in the Kernels lineup reached base; this was a deeply weird ballgame. The number 9 hitter (Jake Rucker) picked up three RBIs. Mussel Matters Rain washed away Fort Myers’ match against the Tampa Tarpons; the teams will play double-headers on the 7th. (Also in Ft. Myers, there were no games in the FCL on Wednesday) Dominican Dailies DSL Twins 6, DSL Cardinals 5 Box Score Ledwin Taveras: 5 IP, 1 ER, 1 BB, 5 K HR: Jose Rodriguez (5), Rafael Cruz (2) Multi-hit games: Rafael Cruz (2-for-4, HR, 2B, R, 2 RBI), Jesus Peraza (2-for-2, 2 RBI, BB) The DSL Twins won a game in which they committed six errors; you don’t see that every day. DSL games are notorious for being sloppy, but that error total is one of the higher totals you’ll ever see outside of tee-ball or drop-dead-drunk beer league softball. Ledwin Taveras led the way with solid innings of work, and his relievers—Oscar Paredes and Anthony Narvaez—combined for four frames without an earned run. The DSL Twins’ offensive output was even, with every batter in their starting lineup reaching base. Rafael Cruz stood out from the group, hitting both a homer and a double. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cade Povich, Cedar Rapids Kernels Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Rafael Cruz, DSL Twins PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #6 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 1-4, R, BB, K #10 - Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 5 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 11 K #11 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 6 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 6 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-4, R, BB, 2 K #15 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-5, 3 K #16 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, BB, K #17 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 5 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 7 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Louisville (6:05 PM) - RHP Jordan Balazovic Amarillo @ Wichita (7:05 PM) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM) - RHP David Festa Fort Myers @ Tampa (3:00 PM) - LHP Jaylen Nowlin Fort Myers @ Tampa (Game 2) - RHP Malik Barrington
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