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  1. Transactions: RHP Jharel Cotton outrighted to St. Paul OF Trevor Larnach begins MLB rehab assignment with Wichita SAINTS SENTINEL Omaha 11, St. Paul 2 Box Score The storyline here was the return of Royce Lewis to the St. Paul lineup. He was leading off and playing shortstop, which is the position Minnesota had suggested they wanted him to get consistent run at. On the mound was top pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic, but this one was a tough outing. Working just four innings, Balazovic gave up six runs on six hits. He did walk just one while punching out five. It didn’t take long for the storyline to take center stage. Lewis led off the game seeing just two pitches. The first he took, and the second he blasted over the centerfield wall for his fourth home run of the season. Unfortunately for the Saints, they didn’t score again until facing a 6-1 deficit. Kevin Merrell took his turn sending one out of the park when he hit his second dinger of the year. Omaha continued to add on in this one, bringing home runs in each of the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Two runs was all the Saints could muster tonight, despite getting seven hits. Lewis answered in a big way going 3-for-3 and looking every bit the star he appeared to be in the brief 11 game cameo with the Twins. It’s been a tough stretch for the Saints as they’ve now dropped 10 in a row. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 6, Springfield 5 Box Score So much to like in Wichita tonight with Simeon Woods Richardson making the start, and Trevor Larnach becoming the first major league player to play a rehab assignment for the Wind Surge. Throw in that it was alternate jersey day playing as the Turbo Tubs and you’ve got yourself a great time. Woods Richardson continued his strong campaign working five innings allowing just two runs. Although he did give up six hits, Woods Richardson walked just one and struck out four. His ERA on the season is now 2.39. After getting behind in the 3rd inning, Wichita evened things up during the bottom half. Spencer Steer, who has had a great 2022 season, ripped his 13th double to plate DaShawn Keirsey. After Springfield again too the lead in the 5th inning, the Turbo Tubs answered in the bottom half. Larnach blasted a three-run homer to right field scoring Keirsey and Austin Martin. Steer then continued to rake and crushed his 8th homer of the season. Unfortunately, Steven Klimek ran into trouble for Wichita during the 8th inning and surrendered three runs (two earned). That allowed Springfield to knot things at five and make this one a tight contest in the late innings. Not looking to be outdone, the Turbo Tubs got turbo charged in their half of the 8th inning. Minnesota native Matt Wallner stepped in and crushed one nearly to Forest Lake, 440 feet, to regain the lead. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 11, Lake County 2 Box Score Cade Povich took the ball tonight for the Kernels and was nothing short of dominant. He worked 5 1/3 innings allowing just two hits and blanking the opposition. Povich issued just a single free pass and punched out five. Cedar Rapids didn’t wait long to break this one open as Seth Gray crushed his third homer of the season in the bottom of the first, scoring Christian Encarnacion-Strand, to put the Kernels up early. In the second inning the good guys got another crooked number. Willie Joe Garry Jr. tallied his third triple scoring Jeferson Morales and then Wander Javier homered for the fourth time to drive them both in. Up 5-0 with Will Holland on base, Encarnacion-Strand recorded his sixth blast and made it 7-0. Waiting a couple innings to further the damage, recently promoted Kyler Fedko stepped in for the bottom of the 5th inning. With Aaron Sabato and Gray on board, Fedko crushed homer number two and made it a 10-0 game. Morales then added on his own, a solo shot to center, and it was an 11-0 laugher. Cedar Rapids gave back two in the 7th inning, but this one was well in hand and closed out by scoreless innings from Tyler Palm and Denny Bentley. The 11 hits matched the run total, and multi-hit efforts came from Sabato, Gray, Morales, and Garry Jr. The five home runs tonight were a season-high for Cedar Rapids. MUSSEL MATTERS No game Fort Myers is scheduled to play a doubleheader tomorrow against Clearwater. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB 5 K Hitter of the Day – Seth Gray (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR(3) 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: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-4, R #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 3-3, R, RBI, HR(4) #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 2-4, R, RBI, HR (7) #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B, HR(8) FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35PM CST) - RHP Mario Sanchez Wichita @ Springfield (7:05PM CST) - LHP Blayne Enlow Lake County @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Fort Myers @ Clearwater (DH @ 3:00PM CST) - RHP Steven Hajjar/TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  2. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 1, Omaha 5 Box Score The Saints were unable to mount much offense on Tuesday, finishing the game with just three hits and four walks, while striking out 14 times as a team against the Storm Chasers in Omaha to open their series. They were 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position, leaving only five men on base for the game. They scored their lone run in the fifth inning when Curtis Terry led off with a double, and came around to score later on a single from Kevin Merrell. Merrell finished 2-for-3, leaving the rest of the lineup not named Terry 0-for-22 on the night. St. Paul did get a decent pitching performance from starter Chi Chi Gonzalez, who went the first five innings. He allowed two runs (one earned) on five hits and two walks, along with picking up six strikeouts. Ronny Henriquez came on in relief to start the sixth and delivered a quick one-two-three frame on just eight pitches. The seventh was a different story, however. He walked the first three hitters, hit another batter, then surrendered a grand slam before his outing was ended. He was charged with five runs on two hits and three walks in 1 1/3 innings. Ian Hamilton was able to prevent any more damage in the frame, but allowed a run of his own in the eighth for Omaha’s final tally. WIND SURGE WISDOM Springfield 9, Wichita 11 Box Score Top pitching prospect Matt Canterino took the mound for the Wind Surge, looking to continue his streak of five starts without allowing a run to the opposition. He wasn’t able to come out unscathed in this one however, as there were fireworks from both lineups on a windy night in Wichita. The Cardinals and Wind Surge combined for 20 runs on 29 hits (14 for extra bases), and 14 walks between them. The right-hander did showcase his devastating stuff in his outing, sitting mid-90’s with his fastball and missing bats with all his pitches (11 swinging strikes total). But a few more than usual also connected with barrels, as he got tagged for some loud outs and hits, including his first home run allowed of the season. In 3 2/3 total innings, Canterino was charged with four runs on five hits and two walks, while punching out six. All that considered, he looked very good again to these amateur eyes, and I thought he might get a fifth inning with his pitch count where it was when he started the fourth inning. Down 4-0 after Canterino left the game, the Wind Surge lineup got to work, tying the game at five thanks in large part to an Alex Isola Grand Slam in the fifth. In relief of Canterino, Casey Legumina allowed four runs of his own pitching into the sixth. In 1 2/3 total innings gave the lead back to the Cardinals on two hits and four walks, while striking out one. With one out in the sixth inning, Kody Funderburk came on and got them through the seventh, allowing two hits, a walk, and striking out two. Down 8-5 heading into the bottom of the seventh, the Wind Surge lineup batted around en route to take their first lead of the game. Isola led off the frame with another double, and five hits and a walk later they were up 11-1. Dennis Ortega (in the game to replace an injured Edouard Julien) and Wallner each had a two-RBI single in the inning to account for most of the runs. Wichita had bases-loaded situations in several innings and were able to cash them in with some big hits to secure the win. Six of the nine hitters in their lineup collected multiple knocks, with Isola leading the way with a big 3-for-5 night including two runs scored, two doubles, the grand slam, and five RBI. Steven Cruz closed out the win with two innings, allowing three hits and a run in the ninth, but striking out five to pick up his first save of the season. KERNELS NUGGETS Lake County 5, Cedar Rapids 1 Box Score Fresh off of a 5-1 series win against the Peoria Chiefs last week where they outscored their opponent 47-12, the Kernels were unable to continue popping in this one, and instead were left with a bunch of Old Maids. They had just four hits as a team, and their one run came on a Willie Joe Garry Jr. home run in the third inning that gave them an early 1-0 lead. It remained that way until the sixth inning, as until that point starting pitcher Sean Mooney had stifled the Captains in a similar fashion. He allowed no runs in five total innings, allowing just one hit, walking three, and striking out six. He was a bit effectively wild, with just 46 of his 82 pitches going for strikes (56 percent), but got the job done. Bobby Milacki was brought on to start the sixth, and a pair of singles and a double led to the tying run. In the seventh Milacki got one out before a walk and a single ended his outing. He went 1 1/3 innings, allowing four hits, walking one, and striking out one. Orlando Rodriguez came on to escape that jam and also delivered a scoreless eighth inning. He struck out two and walked one in 1 2/3 innings pitched. In the ninth the Kernels brought on Andrew Cabezas, looking to keep the score tied and give his lineup a chance. Unfortunately, a one-out error seemed to derail his outing, and three batters later a three-run home run made the score 5-1 and put it out of reach. Cedar Rapids finished this one just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position, left only four men-on-base, and struck out 18 times as a team, including the last 11 outs of the game. They’ll look to get back to their winning ways on Wednesday with Aaron Rozek on the mound. MUSSEL MATTERS Game 1: Clearwater 5, Fort Myers 4 (11 innings, completion of game suspended on 5/1) Box Score This game was suspended before the top of the 11th inning got started over two weeks ago, with the score tied at four. Sonny Gray and Jordan Balazovic had both made rehab appearances on that day. When it resumed, something you’ll likely only ever see in the minor leagues happened. With the runner starting on second base, Fort Myers pitcher Matthew Swain was hit with consecutive balks to give the Threshers a 5-4 lead. He retired all three hitters he faced, including a pair of strikeouts, but whatever was the cause of those balks (likely rule changes being forgotten in the moment) the Mighty Mussels found themselves down. The lineup was unable to score one of their own, with Mikey Perez, Noah Miller, and Emmanuel Rodriguez going down in order to end the game. Miller (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI, SB) and Kyler Fedko (2-for-4, R, RBI, BB, K) had multiple hits able to become official to lead the team. There were no extra base hits for the Mighty Mussels, and they were unable to take advantage of 10 walks as they finished 1-for-16 with runners in scoring position, and left 13 men-on-base for the game. Game 2: Fort Myers 5, Clearwater 4 Box Score In their regularly scheduled contest, the Mighty Mussels got a quality effort out of their starting pitcher, right-hander Travis Adams. He went six innings, allowing three runs on five hits and a walk, while striking out six to pick up his third win of the season. Adams has gone at least five innings in all six of his starts so far this season, and the three runs allowed in this one are a season-high. He’s been the model of consistency for the Mighty Mussels, sporting a 2.03 ERA, 0.68 WHIP, and a 28:5 K-to-BB ratio in 31 innings thus far. Fort Myers got single runs in each of the first, third, and fourth innings to keep the game tied at three while Adams was on the mound. Emmanuel Rodriguez scored in the first on an error after reaching base on a hit-by-pitch. The Noah’s, Miller and Cardenas, each had doubles in the third for their second run. Kala’i Rosario tripled and scored on a Luis Baez singled in the fourth to account for those tallies. They took a 4-3 lead in the top of the seventh thanks to a double-steal after three batters had drawn walks in the frame, allowing Adams to be in line for the win. They added a needed insurance run in the top of the ninth, as an errant throw from the Threshers catcher on a steal attempt allowed pinch-runner Dylan Neuse to scamper home for a 5-3 lead. In relief of Adams, right-hander Juan Mendez went two scoreless innings, allowing one hit, walking two, and striking out two. Hunter McMahon was brought on for the save opportunity in the ninth, and although he made it a bit interesting allowing a single and run-scoring double to start the inning, was able to finish it off with a pair of K’s and groundout for his third save. The lineup didn’t get multiple hits from any batter, but drew five walks and only struck out five times. They also stole five bases as a team and two others were thrown out, so they were running all game. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Sean Mooney, Cedar Rapids Kernels (5 IP, H, 3 BB, 6 K) Hitter of the Day - Alex Isola, Wichita Wind Surge (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, GS (5), 5 RBI) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 2-for-4, 2B, HR (2), RBI #4 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - 0-for-4, 2 K #7 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - L, 3 2/3 IP, 9 H, 5 ER, 2 BB, K #9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, R #11 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, K #14 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 1 1/3 IP, 2 H 5 ER, 3 BB #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-for-6, 2 R, 2B, K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-for-2, BB, K (left game with injury) WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35 PM CDT) - RHP Jake Faria (0-2, 7.17 ERA) Springfield @ Wichita (7:05 PM CDT) - RHP Louie Varland (4-1, 3.69 ERA) Lake County @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CDT) - LHP Aaron Rozek (4-1, 4.73 ERA) Fort Myers @ Clearwater, Game 1 (11:00 AM CDT) - RHP Pierson Ohl (1-1, 5.50 ERA) Clearwater @ Fort Myers, Game 2 (makeup of 4/30 PPD) - RHP Mike Paredes (0-1, 3.31 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  3. Transactions: RHP Cole Sands added to Minnesota as 27th man OF Kennie Taylor promoted to Double-A Wichita OF Kyle Fedko promoted to High-A Cedar Rapids OF Luis Baez transferred to Single-A Fort Myers SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 7, St. Paul 4 Box Score Jacob Faria made the start for the afternoon tilt today. St. Paul got four innings of work from their starter and Faria allowed three runs, only one earned, on five hits while striking out four and walking one. Down early after a three-run 2nd inning for the Clippers, St. Paul knotted things in the 5th inning. Caleb Hamilton scored on an Ernie Yake ground out before Elliot Soto singled in both Yake and Jermaine Palacios. Giving a run back immediately in the bottom half of the 5th inning, the Saints saw the gap widen to four before answering with a run of their own in the 9th inning. Roy Morales drove in Kevin Merrell with a single, but that’s all the rally amounted to. Palacios was the lone Saints hitter to record two hits on the day, one of which was his fifth double. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 3, NW Arkansas 0 Box Score Following the fun outing against his brother last time out, Louie Varland was back for a more normal contest. He cruised through the first few innings before running into trouble in the 5th inning. In total, Varland worked six innings allowing seven hits and four runs. He picked up seven strikeouts and walked no one. Scoreless through the first two frames, the Wind Surge got their first run following a steal of third base by DaShawn Keirsey. With the ball getting away on the throw, he was able to move up ninety feet for the game’s first run. Matt Wallner then continued his hot stretch with a laced double to right scoring both Edouard Julien and Spencer Steer. Although Austin Martin hasn’t hit for Wichita this season, middle infielder Spencer Steer absolutely has. Crushing a solo blast in the 5th inning, Steer picked up his fifth of the season. Watching their lead be wiped out by the 6th inning, the Wind Surge got back to adding. In the 7th inning Alex Isola drove in Julien with a single before Andrew Bechtold added a double to plate Isola. Dennis Ortega followed with a double of his own to drive in Wallner and Bechtold, and then Leobaldo Cabrera cleared the bases with his second dinger of the season. Steven Cruz was great in relief of Varland giving the Wind Surge two scoreless innings allowing just one hit and picking up three strikeouts. Isola, Wallner, Cabrera, and Kerisey all had two hits tonight for Wichita. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 13, Peoria 1 Box Score It was Aaron Rozek on the bump tonight for the Kernels and he turned in nothing short of a dominant outing. Working five scoreless innings, Rozek allowed just three hits and no runs or walks while picking up nine punchouts. Backing up their starter, the Cedar Rapids bats put up a crooked number early. Seth Gray roped his fifth double of the season in the top of the 4th inning to plate Jeferson Morales and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Wander Javier then lifted a single to right field scoring Gray on the play. Adding again in a big way, the 5th inning featured another Kernels outburst and this one was a home run party. Gray clobbered his second of the season before Jair Camargo hit his fifth, and Javier launched his second. Then Encarnacion-Strand decided he’d keep the ball in the park, driving a single to bring home both Will Holland and Anthony Prato. Cedar Rapids picked up another run in the 8th inning with Holland scoring on a wild pitch. They did give that one back on a solo shot in the bottom half. It didn’t matter much however, as the 9th inning saw a four-run explosion in the form of a Camargo single to score Willie Joe Garry Jr. and Javier’s second homer of the night. Javier lifted a three-run shot and what was a big league became a laugher. The Kernels recorded 14 hits in this one and got multi-hit efforts from Prato, Encarnacion-Strand, Gray, Camargo, and Javier. MUSSEL MATTERS Postponed Fort Myers’ game against Palm Beach was postponed on Thursday night. It will be made up as a double-header tomorrow afternoon. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Aaron Rozek (Cedar Rapids) - 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K Hitter of the Day – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 3-5, 2 R, 5 RBI, 2 HR(3) 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: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - #2 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 1-4, K #3 - Jose Miranda (Minnesotal) - 0-4, 2 K #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - Did Not Pitch #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 3.1 IP, 6 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - Postponed #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-1, K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B, 2 K #13 - Cole Sands (Minnesota) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - Postponed #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (St. Paul) - Did Not Pitch #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-3, 2 R, RBI, HR(5), 2 BB, K #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-2, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K #20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Postponed FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35PM CST) - RHP Cade Povich Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (3:30PM CST) - TBD/TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  4. The Twins have won 14 of their past 17 games. Some of the organization's top prospects have found their way to the big leagues and contributed. All the while, three affiliates find themselves in first place. As we all know, Player Development is the most important aspect of minor league baseball. However, "winning" is not a bad thing either. Learning how to win and contribute to a team are part of the development process as well. Nothing wrong with learning how to win and making that a priority. Disclaimer (kind of): Be sure to use these weekly reports for what they are. A look at the week. We want to highlight deserving prospects. They have earned it. Celebrate the successes throughout the whole season. If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. TRANSACTIONS There have been no official transactions from later on Sunday and on Monday. RESULTS Previous Week in Review (4/26-5/2): Prospect Movement, Strong Performances, and Wins Tuesday: Dreary Tuesday on the Farm Wednesday: Headrick Fans Ten, Bats Burst in Lowertown Thursday: Stankiewicz Stays Hot, Miller Mussels Up Friday: Promotion Season is Here Saturday: Top Pitching Prospects Galore Sunday: Kernels Win in a Walk-off, Martin Homers on Mothers Day MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT The Next Twins Prospect Promotion Is It Time to Start Worrying About Austin Martin? Twins Promote Top Prospect Royce Lewis Prospect Retrospective: Royce Lewis Three Questions With… Mighty Mussels OF Kyler Fedko (Video) WEEK IN REVIEW Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week: 3-3, hosting Iowa Season: 15-13 overall, 3rd place in the International League West. They are 4 1/2 games behind Nashville (20-9) and Columbus (18-12). The Saints split their six games last week against the Iowa Cubs. The Cubs came to St. Paul with former Twins Stephen Gonsalves, Luke Farrell, John Hicks, Ildemaro Vargas, and Andrelton Simmons made his first rehab appearances for the Cubs too. Each team won three games. The Saints outscored the Cubs 31-29. Yet none of the games was settled by less than three runs. When the week started, and really up until the weekend, the Saints roster included Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff, but both were called up on Friday. Jose Godoy was called up Sunday after playing four games in St. Paul. Mark Contreras played in all six games. He went 8-for-21 and hit .381/.500/.714 (1.214) with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. He also walked four times. 32-year-old veteran Elliot Soto played all six games too. He went 6-for-21 and hit .286/.423/.524 (.947) with a triple and a home run. He also walked five times. Curtis Terry had a nice week. In six games, he went 5-for-18 and hit .278/.500/.444 (.944) with three doubles. He also had eight walks to go with just two strikeouts. Great to see Jordan Balazovic back after starting the season on the Injured List with a knee injury. He made one rehab appearance in Ft. Myers and then started for the Saints on Saturday. He went 3 2/3 scoreless innings despite giving up five hits and two walks. He struck out four batters. Yennier Cano pitched in three innings over three games. He didn’t give up a run. He allowed just one hit, walked two and struck out four batters. JC Ramirez came out of the bullpen after Balazovic’s start. He gave up just one hit and walked one batter over 3 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four batters. Daniel Gossett threw three scoreless, hitless innings in a relief appearance. He walked one and struck out four. Devin Smeltzer has been that stalwart of the Saints’ staff all season. He finally had a rough start. He gave up six runs on eight hits over two innings in his start. What’s Next? The Saints travel to Columbus to take on the Clippers for the week. Pitching Probables (RHP Ronny Henriquez, RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Jordan Balazovic, TBD, TBD) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge Week: 3-2, hosting Tulsa Season: 16-10 overall, 1st place in the Texas League North Division with Tulsa. They are 1.0 game ahead of Tulsa (15-11). It was billed as the week when Louie and Gus Varland would make history as brothers pitching against each other in a minor-league game. They were supposed to match up on Tuesday and again on Sunday. Instead, the teams were rained out on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. They played doubleheaders on Friday and Sunday. The Varlands pitched against each other on Friday. The offense scored just over six runs per game. Here are some of the top performances for the Wind Surge this past week: Let’s start on the mound. Matt Canterino made another start. Previously he had been working three innings. This week, he went four shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked two, and struck out four batters. There were several really strong bullpen performances. Atop that list is Austin Schulfer who finished two games last week. In 2 1/3 innings, he gave up just one hit and struck out four batters. Bryan Sammons came out of the bullpen and gave up only a solo homer over three innings. He struck out three batters. Matt Wallner backed up last week’s player of the week performance with an even better week. In five games, he went 8-for-16 and hit .500/.579/1.063 (1.642) with three doubles, two homers and eight RBI. He also walked three times. Spencer Steer had a good week too. In five games, he went 8-for-20 and hit .400/.381/.900 (1.281) with a double, three homers and eight RBI. Edouard Julien played in four games and went 6-for-12. He hit .500/.563/.667 (1.230) with two doubles. He also had three walks and stole two bases. Michael Helman played in all five games. He went 6-for-15 and hit .400/.471/.600 (1.071) with a homer and two walks. He had three stolen bases. Andrew Bechtold played in three games. He went 3-for-10 (.300) with a double and a home run. Leobaldo Cabrera went just 2-for-12 (.167) in five games. Well, hey, a week ago, we wrote that he started the season 0-for-32. In the first game of a doubleheader on Tuesday, he got out the first two at-bats, but in the sixth inning, he hit a solid single to center, ending the hitless string at 34. Two hits are a start! What’s Next? The Wind Surge will travel to NW Arkansas. Pitching Probables (RHP Ben Gross, RHP Matt Canterino, RHP Louie Varland, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Casey Legumina) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week: 4-2, hosting Quad Cities Season: 19-8 overall, 1st place in the Midwest League West Division, 2.0 games ahead of Wisconsin (17-10). The Kernels have found a lot of ways to win games. Last week, they needed strong pitching and got it. They won four of the six games, but they only outscored Quad Cities 21-15. Offense has been a struggle for the Kernels the past couple of weeks. Five Kernels bullpen arms did not allow a run last week. Bradley Hanner worked twice and gave up just one hit and one walk over four innings. He struck out six batters. Andrew Cabezas had five strikeouts over 2 2/3 innings in two perfect appearances. John Stankiewicz made his High-A debut last week out of the bullpen. In five scoreless innings, he gave up only one hit and no walks. He struck out seven batters. In 26 2/3 innings, he has 38 strikeouts to go with just five walks. Brent Headrick went six shutout innings in his start. He struck out ten batters and one gave up one hit and one walk. On Sunday, Sawyer Gipson-Long worked 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He gave up three hits and struck out six batters without a walk. Cade Povich moved quickly past his first rough start. This past week, he gave up an unearned run on four hits over five innings. He walked one and struck out eight batters. Cody Laweryson also made his first start of the season. He went four shutout innings. He gave up two hits, walked none, and struck out four batters. Jeferson Morales went 5-for-10 (.500) in the three games he played. He had a double and a walk. Anthony Prato played in all six games. He went 6-for-22 and hit .273/.346/.636 (.982) with a triple, two homers, and five RBI. He also walked twice. On Sunday, he had a walk-off sacrifice fly. Aaron Sabato also had two homers and five RBI on the week. Alerick Soularie’s struggles continued. On the week, he went 0-for-15 and is now hitting just .137 in his first 21 games of the season. What’s Next? The Kernels will be traveling to Peoria to take on the Chiefs. Pitching Probables (LHP Brent Headrick, RHP Sean Mooney, LHP Aaron Rozek, LHP Cade Povich, RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, RHP Cody Laweryson) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Week: 3-3, at Lakeland Season: 14-10 overall, 1st place in the Florida State League West, but just 1/2 game ahead of Bradenton (15-12) and 1.0 game ahead of Clearwater (13-11). The Florida State League is typically not known for much offense. While the Mussels scored a combined four runs over their first two games last week, they scored 32 runs over the final four games. The team gave up 26 runs on the week. However, 12 of those came in just one game. The best start of the week for Ft. Myers came from RHP Pierson Ohl. He was charged with one run on four hits and a walk over five innings. He struck out four batters. Nine Mighty Mussels starters worked last week without giving up an earned run. Regi Grace, Hunter McMahon, Juan Mendez, Matthew Swain, and John Wilson each worked twice and worked between 2 2/3 innings and four innings. Steven Hajjar had an interesting start. In three innings, he did not give up a run or a hit. He struck out eight batters (in nine outs). But he also walked four batters. The worst start of the week came from Blayne Enlow. He gave up seven runs (3 earned) on five hits and a walk in just 1 2/3 innings. Sure, that’s a minimal negative, but it was Enlow’s first rehab start since he had Tommy John surgery last year. He got through it, and he felt good on Sunday. The better news? He is expected to make his next start for Wichita. Offensively, Noah Miller had a great week! In six games, he went 11-for-23 and hit .478/.556/.783 (1.339) with two doubles, a triple, a home run, and four walks. He also stole three bases. Jake Rucker also played in six games. He went 10-for-22 and hit .455/.500/.682 (1.182) with three doubles and a triple. He also walked four times and stole three bases. Daniel Ozoria played in five games and went 7-for-17 (.412) with two steals. Mikey Perez had four hits last week including one double and one home run. He added three walks. What’s Next? The Mighty Mussels will return to Hammond Stadium to take on the Palm Beach Cardinals. Pitching Probables (RHP David Festa, RHP Travis Adams, RHP Pierson Ohl, RHP Mike Paredes, RHP Marco Raya, LHP Steven Hajjar) PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week (April 26 - May 1). You may have noticed that the Prospect Tracker has been updated, and will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. #1 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 3 G, 3-for-12 (.250), 2-2B, 0-HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K (Season: 24 G, .310/.430/.563 (.993), 11-2B, 1-3B, 3-HR, 21 R, 11 RBI, 17 BB, 20 K) #1 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 3 G, 3-for-10 (.300), 1-2B, 0-HR, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K (Season: 3 G, .300/.300/.400 (.700), 1-2B, 0-3B, 0-HR, 0 R, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 1 K) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 5 G, 4-for-17 (.235), 0-2B, 1-HR, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 0 K (Season: 25 G, .242/.376/.337 (.713), 6-2B, 0-3B, 1-HR, 22 R, 8 RBI, 15 BB, 16 K, 14 SB, 0 CS) #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 4.2 IP, 2 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 3 K (Season: 5 GS, 27.2 IP, 5 R, 16 H, 7 BB, 28 K, 3-1, 1.63 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 9.1 K/9) #4 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5 G, 6-for-18 (.333), 2-2B, 1-HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1K (Season: 21 G, .256/.295/.442 (.737), 10-2B, 2-HR, 10 R, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 14 K) #4 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - Week: 6 G, 4-for-22 (..182), 2-2B, 1-HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K (Season: 7 G, .154/.214/.346 (.560), 2-2B, 1-HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K) #5 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - Week/Season: 1 GS, 3.2 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 2 BB, 4 K. #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 4 ER, 5 H, 1 BB, 6 K (Season: 5 GS, 27.0 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 12 H, 8 BB, 24 K, 2-0, 1.33 ERA, 0.74 WHIP, 2.7 BB/9, 8.0 K/9) #7 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 8 K (Season: 5 G, 2 GS, 22.1 IP, 5 R, 4 ER, 12 H, 4 BB, 20 K, 2-0, 1.61 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 1.6 BB/9, 8.1 K/9) #8 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 G, 2.2 IP, 2 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 5 K (Season: 10 G, 14.2 IP, 6 R, 10 H, 3 BB, 24 K, 0-1, 2 Saves, 3.68 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 14.7 K/9) #9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 1 GS, 4.0 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K (Season: 6 GS, 16.2 IP, 3 R, 7 H, 11 BB, 22 K, 0-1, 1.62 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 5.9 BB/9, 11.9 K/9) #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 5 G, 3-for-16 (.188) , 0-2B, 0 HR, 1 RBI, 9 BB, 6 K (Season: 22 G, .229/.450/.486 (.936), 3-2B, 5-HR, 17 R, 9 RBI, 27 BB, 28 K) #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 6 G, 11-for-23 (.478), 2-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 4 BB, 6 K (Season: 23 G, .287/.426/.379 (.805), 3-2B, 1-3B, 1 HR, 14 R, 6 RBI, 19 BB, 28 K) #12 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 H, 2 BB, 6 K (Season: 5 G, 4 GS, 25.2 IP, 12 R, 9 ER, 18 H, 11 BB, 28 K, 3-1, 3.16 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 9.8 K/9) #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 4 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 6 K (Season: 5 G, 4 GS, 15.2 IP, 15 R, 22 H, 5 BB, 18 K, 0-4, 8.62 ERA, 1.72 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 10.3 K/9) #13 - Cole Sands (Minnesota) - Season: 1 G, 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K #14 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 1 GS, 3.1 IP, 1 R, 6 H, 1 BB, 4 K (Season: 3 G, 2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 R, 9 H, 6 BB, 9 K, 0-1, 5.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP, 6.0 BB/9, 9.0 K/9) #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 2 G, 1 GS, 4.2 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 5 K, (Season: 4 G, 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 6 R, 4 ER, 11 H, 3 BB, 19 K, 2-1, 2.40 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 1.8 BB/9, 11.4 K/9) #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 5 G, 8-for-20 (.400), 1-2B, 3-HR, 8 RBI, 0 BB, 5 K (Season: 25 G, .320/.395/.570 (.965), 11-2B, 1-3B, 4-HR, 19 R, 21 RBI, 10 BB, 19 K) #17 - Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 4 H, 1 BB, 8 K (Season: 4GS, 19.0 IP, 9 R, 7 ER, 18 H, 5 BB, 31 K, 2-1, 3.32 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 2.4 BB/9, 14.7 K/9) #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 5 G, 4-for-18 (.222), 1-2B, 0-HR, 1 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K (Season: 25 G, .364/.423/.586 (1.009), 5-2B, 1-3B, 5-HR, 16 R, 25 RBI, 11 BB, 28 K) #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 4 G, 6-for-12 (.500), 2-2B, 0-HR, 3 BB, 4 K (Season: 17 G, .281/.394/.439 (.833), 4-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 11 R, 10 RBI, 12 BB, 15 K) #20 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (elbow): Rehab start with Ft. Myers. 1.2 IP, 5 H, 7 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. PLAYERS OF THE WEEK Hitter of the Week: Outfielder Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge Noah Miller was the Twins' choice for player of the week, and he had a big week. The 2021 first-round pick hit .478 with two doubles, a triple, and a home run. He posted a tremendous OPS of 1.339. However, Matt Wallner hit .500/.579/1.063 (1.642) with three doubles and two home runs in his five games. That 1.642 OPS is about as good as you can get. It has been a tale of two, two-week stretches for former first-round pick and Forest Lake alum, and that’s why we have to remember that it is a long season, and talent is talent. Matt Wallner is immensely talented. Experts will often say that Double-A is where a lot of players really struggle. If that’s the case, Matt Wallner figured some things out really quickly, and for the second straight week, he is the Twins Daily Hitter of the Week. First 2 weeks (4/8 - 4/24): 12 G, 5-for-45, .111/.222/.178 (.400), 0-2B, 1-HR, 13.0% BB%, 44.4% K% Past 2 weeks (4/26 - 5/8): 11 G, 15-for-35, .429/.535/.971 (1.506), 4-2B, 5-HR, 18.6% BB%, 27.9% K% Baseball is all about adjustments, and it’s pretty impressive that it appears Wallner has been able to adjust quickly. Few, if any, have as much power potential as Wallner. Pitcher of the Week: LHP Brent Headrick, Cedar Rapids Kernels Headrick was a solid candidate for his award last week after he tossed five shutout innings against Beloit. He had given up just three hits, walked none, and struck out seven batters. He was even better this past week in his start against Quad Cities. He threw six more scoreless innings. He gave up only one hit, walked one, and struck out ten batters. Overall, the 24-year-old has made five starts for the Kernels this year. He is 3-1 with a 1.90 ERA. in 23 2/3 innings, he has given up just ten hits, walked five, and struck out 38 batters. Those numbers result in a miniscule 0.63 WHIP and an impressive 14.5 K/9. Headrick was the Twins' ninth-round pick in 2019 out of Illinois State where he pitched for former Twins catcher Steve Holm. As a junior, he had gone 9-3 with a 3.47 ERA in 16 starts. He pitched in just three games for Elizabethton that summer. Like most, he missed the entire 2020 season. In 2021, he pitched in 15 games and made 14 starts. He went 3-5 with Ft. Myers with a 3.82 ERA. But this year, the southpaw has pitched at a new level.
  5. TRANSACTIONS SS Royce Lewis promoted to Minnesota Twins 1B/OF Alex Kirilloff activated from IL, promoted to Minnesota Twins RHP Cole Sands promoted to Minnesota Twins LHP Jovani Moran optioned to Triple-A St. Paul INF Kevin Merrell promoted to Triple-A St. Paul from Double-A Wichita SS Daniel Robertson placed on IL (concussion) SAINTS SENTINEL Iowa 6, St. Paul 2 Box Score The Saints suddenly found themselves without multiple key members of their offense on Friday as Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were sent across town to join José Miranda, Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino with the parent squad. As such, St. Paul struggled to drive home runs despite registering eight hits against the Cubs. Caleb Hamilton hit his first home run of the spring—on the same night Miranda hit his first MLB dinger; I guess you could say that neither athlete was going to miss their shot—and drove in the team’s only runs. Cole Sturgeon and Curtis Terry each contributed two hits, with all four being singles. Jake Faria tossed the first four innings for the Saints but struggled to keep the ball in the park. He surrendered two home runs and four earned runs in the loss. Juan Minaya, Jordan Gore, Trevor Megill, and Jharel Cotton struckout six and allowed only one earned run in five innings of relief. WIND SURGE WISDOM Game 1: Wichita 7, Tulsa 2 Game 2: Wichita 10, Tulsa 0 Game 1 Box Score Game 2 Box Score It finally stopped raining long enough in Kansas on Friday for the Wind Surge and Drillers to fit in two contests, with the Twins’ Double-A affiliate coming out on top in both. Game one featured brothers and Minnesota natives Louie and Gus Varland facing off against one another on the mound. Louie pitched five innings and struck out six, though he did give up two runs. Gus didn’t fare quite as well, allowing six earned runs in only three innings. Still, it was a night that neither brother nor the entire family will forget. Matt Wallner (1-for-2, 3 RBI) and Spencer Steer (2-for-4, 2 RBI) each went deep in the first contest while Edouard Julien (2-for-3, BB) drove in the Wind Surge’s other two runs. Alex Scherff and Evan Sisk each threw a scoreless inning in relief. Wallner topped his performance in the first game with an even more dominant showing in the second. He finished the game 4-for-4 with a home run, two doubles, and four RBI, raising his batting average to a respectable .243 and OPS to .896. He has now hit 14-for-29 with three doubles and five home runs since beginning the season 3-for-41. Andrew Bechtold clobbered his third home run of the season while Julien contributed another 2-for-3 game with two RBI and a walk. Matt Canterino pitched four scoreless innings with four strikeouts for Wichita. Ben Gross was credited with the win following 1 ⅔ scoreless innings in relief. Austin Schulfer pitched the final 1 ⅓ and picked up three strikeouts. KERNELS NUGGETS Quad Cities 6, Cedar Rapids 2 Box Score The Kernels mustered only three hits against the River Bandits, though two of them went for extra bases. Anthony Prato hit a solo home run—his third of the spring—and Jeferson Morales’ double drove in the team’s only other score. Aaron Rozek’s string of rough outings continued on Friday as the lefty served up two more home runs and surrendered five earned runs in four innings. Bradley Hanner and Melvi Acosta each pitched two innings in relief, striking out four and allowing one more run. Tyler Palm pitched a scoreless ninth. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 9, Lakeland 1 Box Score The Might Mussel’s bats exploded for nine runs on 15 hits on Friday to pick up the win. Noah Miller had himself a particularly good game, going 3-for-5 at the plate with a double, home run, and three RBI. Kyler Fedko (2-for-3, 2 BB, 2 R), Keoni Cavaco (2-for-5, RBI), Jake Rucker (2-for-5, 2 2B, RBI), and Daniel Ozoria (3-for-5) also put forth multi-hit efforts. The Fort Myers pitching staff—led by starter Pierson Ohl, who earned the win—pitched a gem, striking out five and allowing only six Flying Tigers to reach base. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – RHP Matt Canterino (Wichita): 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – RF Matt Wallner (Wichita): 5-for-6, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-6, SB #2 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 1-for-4 #3 - Jose Miranda (Minnesotal) - 1-for-3, HR, RBI, BB #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 4 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 3-for-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 1-for-4 #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 5-for-6, 2 2B, 2 HR, 7 RBI #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, 6 K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) -1-for-4, BB, R #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 3-for-8, HR, 2 RBI #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 4-for-6, 4 RBI, 2 BB SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Iowa( 2:07 PM CST) - RHP Mario Sanchez (1-0, 2.92 ERA) Wichita vs. Tulsa (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (2-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs. Quad Cities (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Cade Povich (1-1, 4.50 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Clearwater (5:00 PM CST) - TBD
  6. The Twins started the 2022 season by winning just four of their first 12 games. Since then, they have won 10 of 11 games and now have a 14-9 record. From a team perspective, a two-week struggle can quickly turn around. The same is true of individual players, hitters, or pitchers. Pitching once per week, a starting pitcher could have two rough innings that make the ERA look bad. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost season for that pitcher. The sample size of one week is just that, a one-week glimpse of the most recent small sample size. One of the Twins' top-hitting prospects had a rough first two weeks of the season. He had a huge week in Week 3. So be sure to use these weekly reports for what they are; a look at the week. We want to highlight deserving prospects. They have earned it. Celebrate the successes throughout the whole season. If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. Please note that the hyperlinks on player names will show you past articles in which that player has been tagged. Click around and see how much some of these players have been written about over the years. TRANSACTIONS With no Monday Minor League Report, here are the transactions from later on Sunday and Monday. Following Sunday’s game, RHP Cole Sands and C Jose Godoy were optioned to bring the Twins roster from 28 to 26. 1B Miguel Sano and OF Kyle Garlick were placed on the IL. Taking their roster spots are IF Jose Miranda and LHP Jovani Moran. The Twins released RHP Brandon Lawson from the Wichita roster. LHP Zach Featherstone was transferred to the Development List. RHPs Osiris German and Casey Legumina were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. RHP Orlando Rodriguez joined the Kernels from the Florida Complex. RESULTS Previous Week in Review: Pitching, Pitching Everywhere Pitching Tuesday: Kirilloff Rehabs, Pitching Staff’s Stifle Wednesday: Miranda is Heating Up, Lewis with the Walk-Off Thursday: Mack Attack Keeps Rolling Friday: Pitching, Defense Shine, Runs at a Premium Saturday: Rain, Rain Go Away Sunday: Rain, Rain, Go Away, Let the Twins Affiliates Play MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT Kirilloff, Smeltzer Hope to Rejoin Twins Soon Kernels Mack and Legumina Start Hot in April Cold What the Twins Can Expect from Jose Miranda Prospect Retrospective: Cole Sands Prospect Retrospective: Jose Miranda Three Questions With… RHP John Stankiewicz (Video) Three Questions With… C Jair Camargo (Video) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS FOR APRIL Hitter of the Month: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cedar Rapids Kernels Starting Pitcher of the Month: John Stankiewicz, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Relief Pitcher of the Month: Tyler Viza, Wichita Wind Surge WEEK IN REVIEW Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week: 2-3 vs. Nashville Season: 12-10 overall, 5th place in the International League West. They are 3 1/2 games behind Nashville (16-7). The Saints came into the week trailing only Nashville in the division. The Saints won the first two games of the series, 4-1 and 3-2. Nashville won the next game, and then there were games suspended, finished, suspended again, and then Sunday’s game was postponed too. For no reason other than that, Jose Miranda got called up to the big leagues; we’ll start with the Saints’ hitters. It was a good week for the slugging infielder, even before he learned he was headed to the big leagues. He played in five games and went 6-for-20. He hit .333/.350/.611 (.961) with two doubles and a homer. Royce Lewis was again the star of the week. The shortstop played in five games and went 7-for-22. He hit .438/.591/.750 (1.341) with two doubles and a home run. In addition, he had six walks to just three strikeouts. He came to the plate four times in one game and walked each time. For good measure, he was 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts. Nine Saints pitchers worked out of the bullpen last week without giving up a run. Jharel Cotton was the only pitcher in that group who threw twice. He worked 2 1/3 innings. Lefty Devin Smeltzer had the best Saints start of the week. He gave up one run on three hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out three batters. You might be able to argue that Dereck Rodriguez was even better in his start. He went just 4 2/3 innings and gave up one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out six batters. It was a rough week for a few Saints, though it’s just, though, a rough outing or two. Even just one rough inning can make a week’s stats look rough. Ronny Henriquez made his first Triple-A start and struggled. He was charged with four runs on three hits (two homers) and four walks in 2 2/3 innings. Drew Strotman worked twice last week and gave up seven runs on three hits and six walks in three innings. Jake Faria made a start and gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks in two innings. What’s Next? The Saints come home to host the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of the, you guessed it, Chicago Cubs.. (Go to SaintsBaseball.com for tickets!) Pitching Probables (LHP Devin Smeltzer, RHP Ronny Henriquez, RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Mario Sanchez, RHP Dereck Rodriguez) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge Week: 5-1 at Arkansas Season: 13-8 overall, tied for 1st place in the Texas League North Division with Tulsa. They are 2.0 games behind Tulsa. Last week, the Wind Surge scored 52 runs on their way to a 5-1 week. They scored “just” 29 runs this past week but had another strong 5-1 week. They lost the first game of the series in Arkansas 10-4. Over the five other games, they gave up just 12 more runs. For the Wind Surge pitching staff, they continued to have a lot of solid performances. Matt Canterino made one start last week. He went three innings. He gave up no runs, no hits, walked one, and struck out four batters. He had twice thrown three scoreless, hitless innings in the previous three weeks. So, he’s got a quality streak of nine straight hitless innings. From what I've heard, he will likely remain at three innings for a few more starts before bumping up to four innings and then see where that takes him. Louie Varland had a strong start. He gave up just three hits and a walk over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four batters. Simeon Woods Richardson completed a 0.00 ERA month. The right-hander tossed five more scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked three, and struck out four batters. That pushed him to 21 2/3 innings on the season, and he has allowed just one unearned run. Tyler Viza came out of the bullpen twice. He tossed five scoreless innings. He gave up just two hits, walked two, and struck out six batters. Steven Klimek, Alex Scherff, Austin Schulfer, and Evan Sisk also pitched twice and didn’t allow a run. On the other side, Chris Vallimont made two starts. Combined, he gave up nine earned runs on 13 hits and six walks in 7 1/3 innings. While he is scheduled to make another start this coming week, you have to think that he may be moved to the bullpen at some point if things don’t turn around. The stuff is still good. His arm is strong. He has good innings, but the bad has often turned really bad. The offensive production was down from a fantastic previous week, but three guys carried a large chunk of the offense last week. Matt Wallner led the offense. In six games, he went 7-for-19 and hit .368/.500/.895 (1.395) with a double and three home runs. He also walked five times. (https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1520586633946542080) Outfielder Cole Sturgeon played in four games and went 4-for-12. He hit .333/.471/.833 (1.304) with two home runs. He also walked three times. Finally, Alex Isola went 4-13 over four games last week. He hit .308/.438/.846 (1.284) with a double, two home runs, and three walks. No one else had an OPS over .637. In his four games, Andrew Bechtold, who had a great previous week, went 0-for-13, who had a tremendous previous week, went 0-for-13. Kevin Merrill was 1-for-13 (.077). Finally, Leobaldo Cabrera went 0-for-10 with six strikeouts (and two walks). That puts him at 0-for-32 to start the season. 14 strikeouts in 36 at-bats, but certainly some bad luck mixed in. Last year, he played 52 games for Wichita and hit .235/.335/.482 (.817) with seven doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs. And, while the below video was from the previous week, I have to post something positive about him, right? What’s Next? Matt Wallner, Louie Varland, and the Wind Surge will be hosting Minnesotans Gus Varland, Michael Busch, and the Tulsa Drillers this week. Pitching Probables (RHP Louie Varland, RHP Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Ben Gross, RHP Louie Varland) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels Week: 3-3 at Beloit Season: 15-6 overall, 1st place in the Midwest League West Division, 3.0 games ahead of Wisconsin and Peoria. The Kernels won the first three games last week in Beloit. In those games, the Kernels outscored the Sky Carp 8-1. Then they lost the final three games and were outscored 9-23. Yet, they were able to increase their lead in the division by two games. The starters from those first three games were very good. Lefty Brent Headrick threw five scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, but he struck out seven batters without walking. Sean Mooney also had a strong start. He struck out eight batters over five scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit and walked two batters. Casey Legumina went five innings in his start. He had eight strikeouts over five scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit and walked one. He was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Week by the Twins. Will he be the same for Twins Daily too? See below. Cody Laweryson also pitched well in his first start of the season, though he was limited to just three innings. Not only did he not allow a hit, but he didn’t give up a run either. He walked two and struck out three batters. Melvi Acosta, Andrew Cabezas, Osiris German, Bobby Milacki, and Derek Molina combined to work 12 innings without giving up an earned run. On the other side, a couple of pitchers who received consideration for pitcher of the month struggled in their final appearance of the month. Cade Povich gave up six runs on eight hits (two homers) and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. Aaron Rozek has been fantastic since joining the Twins last summer. For the first time this season, he came out of the bullpen. In 2 2/3 innings, he was charged with four runs on six hits (two walks) and a walk. The Kernels had just one hitter who had an OPS over. 800 for the week. Jair Camargo played in three games. He went 4-for-12, hitting .333/.385/.417 (.802) with a double and a walk. Next up was our Minor League Hitter of the Month, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who hit .300 (6-for-20). He had six singles and six walks during the week. On the other side, Willie Joe Garry went 1-for-16 (.063) with two walks over five games. Also, Aaron Sabato played all six games. He went 2-for-21 (.095), though the hits were a double and a home run. He also walked four times. What’s Next? The Kernels will be hosting Quad Cities at Perfect Game Field this week. Pitching Probables (RHP Cody Laweryson, LHP Brent Headrick, RHP Sean Mooney, LHP Aaron Rozek, LHP Cade Povich, RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Week: 1-2, hosting Clearwater Season: 11-7 overall, 2nd place in the Florida State League West, but just 1/2 game behind Bradenton. Rain was the winner in Ft. Myers. The teams played the first three games as scheduled. Then Friday’s game was postponed. They scheduled a doubleheader for Saturday, and that was postponed. Then they played on Sunday. In fact, they completed ten innings, but the score was still tied at 4-4 when the rains came again, so that game was suspended too. The sample size of any week can be enough to get a person talked about and excited. It should also never be a big deal that a guy has a rough week (meaning several) over the course of a year. Two Mighty Mussels played all three games this week, Kyler Fedko (2-for-10, 1 BB, 3 K) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (1-for-9, 2 BB, 5 K). Catcher Noah Cardenas went 3-for-7 (.429) with a triple. Mikey Perez went 2-for-6 with a double and a walk. John Stankiewicz had another great start. He went 5 2/3 innings. He gave up an unearned run on five hits. He walked one and struck out three batters. Plus, he was named the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month and earned his promotion to Cedar Rapids. What’s Next? The Mighty Mussels are headed north for the week to take on Lakeland. The pitching matchups are below. You’ll notice the TBD for Saturday. I doubt Sonny Gray would get a second rehab start, but it’s possible Jordan Balazovic could get this start after making his first rehab appearance on Sunday following Gray. Pitching Probables (RHP Marco Raya, RHP David Festa, RHP Travis Adams, RHP Pierson Ohl, TBD, LHP Steven Hajjar) PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week (April 26 - May 1). You may have noticed that the Prospect Tracker has been updated and will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. #1 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 5 G, 7-for-16 (.438), 2-2B, 1-HR, 2 RBI, 6 BB, 3 K (Season: 21 G, .320/.441/.587 (1.028), 9-2B, 1-3B, 3-HR, 17 R, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 18 K) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 5 G, 3-for-17 (.176), 1-2B, 0-HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (Season: 20 G, .244/.375/.321 (.696), 6-2B, 0-3B, 0-HR, 17 R, 6 RBI, 12 BB, 16 K, 12 SB, 4 CS) #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 K (Season: 4 GS, 23 IP, 3 R, 10 H, 6 BB, 25 K, 3-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 9.8 K/9) #4 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5 G, 6-for-18 (.333), 2-2B, 1-HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1K (Season: 21 G, .256/.295/.442 (.737), 10-2B, 2-HR, 10 R, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 14 K) #4 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - Week/Season: 1 G, 0-for-4 (.000), 0-2B, 0-HR, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K #5 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 1 rehab appearance in Ft. Myers. 1 G, 2.0 IP, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K (Season: 4 GS, 21.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 H, 7 BB, 18 K, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.5 K/9) #7 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K (Season: 4 G, 1 GS, 16.1 IP, 4 R, 9 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 1-0, 2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 6.6 K/9) #8 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 G, 3.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K (Season: 8 G, 12.0 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 19 K, 0-0, 1 Save, 3.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 14.3 K/9) #9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K (Season: 5 GS, 12.2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 9 BB, 18 K, 0-1, 2.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9, 12.8 K/9) #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 3 G, 1-for-9 (.111) , 0-2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K (Season: 17 G, .241/.440/.574 (1.014), 3-2B, 5-HR, 13 R, 8 RBI, 18 BB, 22 K) #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 2 G, 1-for-6 (.167), 0-2B, 0-HR 1 BB, 2 K (Season: 17 G, .219/.383/.234 (.617), 1-2B, 9 R, 1 RBI, 15 BB, 22 K) #12 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K (Season: 4 G, 3 GS, 20.2 IP, 10 R, 7 ER, 14 H, 9 BB, 22 K, 2-1, 3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 9.6 K/9) #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 2 G, 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 10 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 0 K (Season: 4 G, 3 GS, 12.2 IP, 11 R, 14 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 0-3, 7.82 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.5 K/9) #13 - Cole Sands (Minnesota) - Week/Season: 1 G, 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K #14 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 4 BB, 1 K (Season: 2 G, 1 GS, 5.2 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 5 BB, 5 K, 0-1, 6.35 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7.9 BB/9, 7.9 K/9) #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - Was on IL last week (wisdom teeth), (Season: 2 GS, 10.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 14 K, 1-0, 1.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 0.9 BB/9, 12.2 K/9) #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 5 G, 5-for-21 (.238), 2-2B, 0-HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K (Season: 20 G, .300/.398/.488 (.885), 10-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 15 R, 13 RBI, 10 BB, 14 K) #17 - Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 6 K (Season: 3 GS, 14.0 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 14 H, 4 BB, 23 K, 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 14.8 K/9) #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 6 G, 6-for-20 (.300), 0-2B, 0-HR, 1 RBI, 6 BB, 4 K (Season: 20 G, .395/.444/.654 (1.099), 4-2B, 1-3B, 5-HR, 14 R, 24 RBI, 8 BB, 22 K) #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 6 G, 3-for-23 (.130), 6 BB, 7 K (Season: 13 G, .222/.346/.378 (.723), 2-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 7 R, 5 RBI, 9 BB, 11 K) #20 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (elbow): still on plan to be making starts in May. PLAYERS OF THE WEEK Hitter of the Week: Outfielder Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge Top prospect Royce Lewis certainly deserves consideration this week. Fellow Wind Surge outfielder Cole Sturgeon had a huge week too. However, this week, the player of the week is Matt Wallner. Coming into the week, Wallner struggled to a .111/.222/.178 (.400) with five hits and one home run. However, even with an 0-for-4 on Sunday, he ended the week by hitting .368/.500/.895 (1.395) with a double and three home runs. Such a strong week boosted his overall numbers to .188/.308/.391 (.698) with one double and four home runs. Still not great, but definitely, a big step in the right direction and, hopefully, maybe likely, will spur him toward a big season. The Twins drafted Wallner as a pitcher in the 32nd round of the 2016 draft after his senior season at Forest Lake High School, where he was Mr. Baseball that year. Instead of signing, he went to Southern Mississippi and quickly became an All-American, power-hitting outfielder. In 2019, the Twins selected him with the 39th overall pick. In 66 games last year at Cedar Rapids, he hit .264/.350/.508 (.858) with 14 doubles and 15 home runs. He missed two months with a broken hamate bone. He went to the Arizona Fall League, and in 18 games, he hit .303/.405/.606 (1.011) with two doubles and six home runs. The key to success for Wallner will be found in his ability to make contact. Right now, he’s got 32 strikeouts in 78 plate appearances this year (41%). Last week, he had five walks and eight strikeouts in 24 plate appearances (33% K-Rate). Still not great, but a step in the right direction. Pitcher of the Week: Casey Legumina, Cedar Rapids Kernels There were several strong pitching performances this week in the minor leagues. You could make a strong case for Louie Varland or Simeon Woods Richardson in Wichita. If we consider “prospects,” Josh Winder and Joe Ryan certainly should be considered, but we aren't considering big-league pitching performances in the minor league report. We can even argue over Cedar Rapids starting pitchers drafted in 2019: Brent Headrick: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.60 WHIP, .175 BAA Sean Mooney: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 0.60 WHIP, .063 BAA Casey Legumina: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.40 WHIP, .067 BAA In this case, we will agree with the Twins and name Casey Legumina the Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Week. All of these pitchers deserve to be recognized. Casey Legumina was the Twins 8th round pick in 2019 out of Gonzaga University. It was the third time he had been drafted. He had Tommy John surgery during that 2019 season, so he didn’t pitch that year and spent the Covid season rehabbing and getting stronger. He made his professional debut in 2021. After going 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 14 games (8 starts), he finished the season with one start in Cedar Rapids and a playoff start. He has made three starts for the Kernels so far this year and is now 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA. In 13 1/3 innings, he has walked four and struck out 16 batters. On Monday, he was promoted to Double-A Wichita.
  7. TRANSACTIONS RHP Cole Sands promoted to Minnesota Twins RHP John Stankiewicz promoted to High-A Cedar Rapids C Chance Sisco placed on IL (left knee strain) SAINTS SENTINEL Game 1: Nashville 7, St. Paul 3 Game 2: Nashville 12, St. Paul 3 (Final, 5 innings) Game 1 Box Score Game 2 Box Score The Saints wrapped up the game from the previous evening and got demolished through five innings of the one scheduled for Saturday before the rain mercifully ended their misery. The Sounds launched four home runs off the St. Paul pitching staff, who surrendered 19 total runs—all of them earned. The only member of the Saints with a notable performance at the plate was top prospect Royce Lewis. Across the two games, Lewis walked five times, stole his fifth base of the season, and drilled his third home run to raise his slash line to .320/.441/.587 with a 6:5 K:BB ratio in 21 games. With Lewis’s sustained elite performance out of the gate, the conversation now turns from “Is he still good?” to “When will he be called up?” While his play has certainly warranted said conversation, the fact of the matter is that he likely won’t appear in a Twins uniform any time soon. There are a few reasons for this, the most important being that the Twins likely want him to get as many reps as possible. Prior to the season, Lewis had not appeared in a game since he dominated the Arizona Fall League in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a torn ACL. He’s accumulated only 93 plate appearances thus far since his return, which is a miniscule amount in the grand scheme. Additionally, the Twins—who have won eight of their last nine contests—would have no place to play him regularly. Lewis has only appeared at shortstop and designated hitter for St. Paul and the Twins currently have those positions locked up by Carlos Correa and a bevy of hitters. Lewis could theoretically play in any of the three outfield positions—though he has only ever played six games in the outfield, all in center, during his minor league and fall league career—but as of this writing Trevor Larnach and Max Kepler are crushing baseballs, Alex Kirilloff is on the verge of returning from the IL, and Byron Buxton is the best baseball player on the planet. There just isn’t room for Lewis on the soon-to-be 26-man roster at the moment. Lewis will get his time in the sun, just don’t expect it to be anytime soon, barring catastrophe. Let him rip, let him get comfortable, he’ll be a Major Leaguer soon enough. TJ White hit his fifth homer of the young season. Corey Ray and Mark Mathias each hit their first home runs for Nashville. Brice Turang added a double. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 9, Arkansas 4 Box Score The Wind Surge scored five runs in the first inning to propel them to victory over the Travelers. Matt Wallner smashed two home runs and drove in three runs to lead Wichita offensively. The Forrest Lake native began the season on a freezing cold 3-for-42 streak, but has 10 hits in his last 19 at-bats with three home runs and nine RBI. Wallner possesses the most raw power in the Twins system having hit 27 home runs in 150 minor league games. He’s likely destined to be a designated hitter at the MLB level should he reach that point as his defense in right field remains suspect at best; in many respects, he profiles similar to that of former Twin Brent Rooker. Alex Isola (1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI) and DaShawn Keirsey (1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) were the only other Wichita athletes to convert extra base hits. Ben Gross started on the bump for the Wind Surge but was knocked out after three innings. He surrendered four runs—three earned—and issued four walks. Luckily for Wichita, Kody Funderburk, Bryan Sammons, Steven Cruz, and Austin Schulfer shut down the Arkansas offense, striking out 10 and allowing only six runners to reach base. KERNELS NUGGETS Beloit 7, Cedar Rapids 1 Box Score The Kernel’s hot offense was quieted and their pitching was hit relatively hard Saturday night as Cedar Rapids fell convincingly to the Sky Carp. Sawyer Gipson-Long got the start for the Kernels and while he wasn’t at his sharpest, he did perform better than his rather pedestrian stat line (4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). The Beloit batters had a difficult time making hard contact against Gipson-Long’s fastball-slider mix with only a handful of balls reaching the outfield. Gipson-Long—one of the most underrated pitching prospects in the Twins system—has posted a 20:3 K:BB ratio to go along with a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings this spring. Aaron Rozek came on in relief for Gipson-Long and pitched uncharacteristically poorly, serving up two home runs in 2 2/3 innings and issuing only his second walk of the season. Tyler Palm pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and allowed only one hit and run. Christian Encarnacion-Strand (2-for-4) and Seth Gray (2-for-4) were the lone Kernels to register multiple hits. Wander Javier (1-for-4, 2B, R) provided the team’s sole extra-base knock. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers vs. Clearwater, Rained Out x2 While the Mighty Mussels games were canceled on Saturday, that didn’t stop the team from announcing some good news. Jordan Balazovic will be making a rehab start for the team on Sunday. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (Cedar Rapids): 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – RF Matt Wallner (Wichita): 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-3, HR, RBI, 5 BB, SB #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-6, 2B, RBI #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL (Will pitch Sunday for Fort Myers) #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson - Did Not Pitch #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, BB, R #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI #13 - Cole Sands (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (St. Paul) - Did Not Pitch #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5 #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-3, 2 BB #20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Nashville ( PM CST) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez (1-0, 0.77 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (1:35 PM CST) - RHP Chris Vallimont (0-2, 12.19 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (1:05 PM CST) - LHP Cade Povich (1-0, 0.93 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Clearwater (1:00 PM CST) - RHPs Sonny Gray and Jordan Balazovic will be making rehab starts.
  8. TRANSACTIONS There was just one transaction on the day heading into a new series for each affiliate, but it was a notable one for Twins fans. Twins RF Alex Kirilloff was sent on a rehab assignment with the Saints. He batted second as the designated hitter in their game. SAINTS SENTINEL Nashville 1, St. Paul 4 Box Score Making his second appearance back with the Saints after being with the Twins briefly, starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez was stellar for the first 4 2/3 innings. He allowed just one run on five hits and a walk, while snuffing the Sounds with six strikeouts. St. Paul had a 2-1 lead when he exited the game as they were able to score a run in each of the third and fourth innings. After a Royce Lewis double to put runners on second and third, Nashville’s pitcher uncorked a wild pitch to score their first run of the game, but they were unable to push Lewis across. In the fourth, three consecutive singles from Curtis Terry, Derek Fisher, and Daniel Robertson got them the second run, but the threat was stifled again when Fisher was thrown out at third on the relay. The teams traded zeroes for three innings after that, with Mario Sanchez delivering 2 1/3 scoreless innings after Rodriguez. He walked one and struck out two. Jharrel Cotton pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out one, and Trevor Megill closed it out for his first save of the season, allowing a single, striking out one, and getting a double-play ball to end the game. The Saints added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth when four consecutive hitters drew a walk to score one. That was followed by a sac fly from Chance Sisco for the second run. Lewis (2-for-5, 2B) and Terry (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, BB) each had two hits in the win. In his return to the lineup for his rehab assignment, Alex Kirilloff reached base all four times he came to the plate with three walks and a single, batting second behind Lewis as the designated hitter. (Please check out the Brewer Fanatic report on the Nashville/St. Paul game). WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 4, Arkansas 10 Box Score On the road in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Wind Surge started their series with right-hander Chris Vallimont going against the Travelers. He pitched around a pair of singles in the first inning, before being greeted with a home run to open the second that put Arkansas out front early. They added another run in the second before a one-two-three third inning, then broke it open in the fourth with four more before Vallimont was lifted. In all, he lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out five batters. Evan Sisk was the first reliever summoned, and he escaped the fourth with no further damage along with delivering a scoreless fifth. He walked two and struck out three. Bryan Sammons and Zach Featherstone combined to allow two runs each on five hits and two walks over the final three innings to account for all the Travelers runs in the game. Sammons struck out over his two innings, and Featherstone one in the eighth. In the top of the fourth Wichita was able to cut Arkansas’ early 2-0 lead in half thanks to Matt Wallner’s second home run of the season. That would be as close as they would get, however. In the eighth inning, Spencer Steer and Wallner each drove in a run with a double, and in the ninth they added one more via an Edouard Julien RBI groundout to make the final score 10-4. Wallner was the only Wind Surge hitter with two hits (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K), and Julien drew three walks in the game to lead the way for the offense. As a team, they were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Beloit 0 Box Score The Kernels got a stellar outing out of their pitching staff in this one, led by starter Cody Laweryson and reliever Andrew Cabezas. They each pitched three innings, with Laweryson giving up just two walks with three K’s, and Cabezas just one hit while striking out four. Bradley Hanner added two scoreless innings, allowing two hits, a walk, and striking out three. Derek Molina was credited with his first save of the season with a one-two-three ninth inning to close out the win. Cedar Rapids took a 1-0 lead in the top of third when Aaron Sabato drove in Anthony Prato with a sac fly. They made it 2-0 in the seventh thanks to a wild pitch that allowed Wander Javier to scamper home after he had doubled to lead off the inning. Their third run was courtesy of an RBI double from Sabato in the eighth that scored Christian Encarnicion-Strand, who had singled in front of him. Hits were in short supply for both teams in the game, as the Kernels had just six versus the Sky Carp’s three. Neither team had a hit with runners in scoring position and they combined to strand just eleven baserunners on the game. Encarnacion-Strand was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Sabato 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI. MUSSEL MATTERS Clearwater 7, Fort Myers 3 Box Score The Mighty Mussels fell behind early, as starter Steve Hajjar was jumped on by the Threshers for three runs in the first frame. This was largely due to a pair of throwing errors from Hajjar himself. A two-run double and one of those errors led to three runs. He settled down from there and was able to finish four innings with no further damage. In all, he allowed seven hits and two walks along with striking out five batters. The Fort Myers lineup was able to get two of those runs back in the second inning after an RBI single from Ernie Yake, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Rucker. Clearwater answered back after Hajjar’s exit, scoring three more in the fifth against reliever Jackson Hicks on three hits and a walk. Hunter McMahon pitched two innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out three. Lefty John Wilson got the final two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out three Threshers. Outfielder Kyler Fedko continued his hot hitting to start the season, collecting two singles to lead the way for the Mighty Mussels and was the only hitter with more than one hit. Emmanuel Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a run scored and drew a walk. As a team, they did not have an extra-base hit, had only four at-bats with runners in scoring position, and left just six men on base. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Andrew Cabezas, Cedar Rapids Kernels (W, 3 IP, H, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-4 #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, 2B #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-4 #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 2-for-4, R, 2B, HR (2), 2 RBI, K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, R, BB, 2 K #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, K #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB #20 - Steve Hajjar (Fort Myers) - L, 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 5 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Nashville @ St. Paul (1:07 PM CDT) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-1, 1.29 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35 PM CDT) - RHP Louie Varland (1-1, 4.11 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (11:05 AM CDT) - RHP Casey Legumina (0-1, 6.48 ERA) Clearwater @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CDT) - RHP Pierson Ohl (0-0, 7.71 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  9. TRANSACTIONS There were no transactions in the Twins' minor leagues on Sunday. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 5, Indianapolis 1 Box Score SP: Jake Faria - 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 5 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Royce Lewis (2-4, R, RBI (5)), David Banuelos (2-3, 2B, R, RBI (3)) The Saints finished their first homestand against the Indianapolis Indians winning 5-1 Sunday thanks to a strong start from Jake Faria and five scoreless innings from the bullpen. The offense cooled off from Saturday’s 16-13 victory over Indianapolis. The scoring started for the Saints with an RBI double from catcher David Banuelos in the bottom of the third driving in second baseman Elliot Soto. Two at-bats later, Royce Lewis drove in Banuelos to make it a 2-1 Saints lead. In the bottom of the sixth, the Saints were able to tack on two more runs thanks to a groundout from left fielder Jake Cave that scored Lewis. In the next at-bat, designated hitter Chance Sisco reached base on an error that scored first baseman Curtis Terry, making it a 4-1 Saints game. The final run of the game came again from the bat of Cave as he had another ground out that scored center fielder Mark Contreras, tallying the final run of the Saints 5-1 victory. Faria showed great improvement in his second start for the Saints Sunday, decreasing the number of walks he surrendered from five last Sunday against Louisville to two today. After completing four innings, Faria was once again replaced by Chi Chi Gonzalez. Gonzalez took on the next three innings for the Saints keeping Indianapolis hitless and only allowing two base runners on walks. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 5, Northwest Arkansas 1 Box Score SP: Brandon Lawson - 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 1 K HR: Matt Wallner (1), Michael Helman (1) Multi-hit games: Kevin Merrell (2-4, 2 RBI (3), K) After starting the season 0-3, the Wind Surge have gone 4-2 and won this week's series against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals. The final score for the Wind Surge on Sunday was the exact same as the Saints with the 5-1 victory over the Naturals. The Wind Surge had a strong outing from starter Brandon Lawson. He provided the rotation 3 2/3 innings pitched against the Naturals allowing nine base runners but somehow giving up only one run. The Wind Surge bullpen only allowed three base runners in the remaining 5 1/3 innings of the game. On the offensive side, Wind Surge right fielder Matt Wallner and third baseman Michael Helman each hit their first home runs of the season to give the Wind Surge insurance runs. Shortstop and Wind Surge newcomer Kevin Merrell had his first multi-hit game of the season going 2-for-4 and driving in a couple of runs. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Quad Cities 2 Box Score SP: Aaron Rozek 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Charles Mack (3-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI (5)), Anthony Prato (2-5, 2 RBI (10) 2 K), Kennie Taylor (2-3, R, 3B (1), BB, K) The Kernels took home their seventh win of the season on Sunday to finish out their series against the Quad Cities River Bandits. Aaron Rozek made his second start of the season for the Kernels and pitched a phenomenal five innings allowing only three base runners, and one unearned run while striking out seven batters. Even with Christian Encarnacion-Strand out of the lineup for the Kernels on Sunday, their bats were still able to produce a high-scoring game. The hitting surge for the Kernels was led by Charles Mack who went 3-for-4 and brought his batting average for the season up to .533 in 15 at-bats. Also keeping up his hot streak for the Kernels was Anthony Prato who had two hits and two runs batted in to bring his RBI total to ten in the Kernels' first nine games. The bullpen pitched an effective game after Rozek’s departure having four different relievers come in for an inning each. The Kernels bullpen totaled four innings pitched, four hits, one run, five strikeouts and no walks Sunday afternoon. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Jupiter 4 Box Score SP: Travis Adams 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K HR: Jake Rucker (1) Multi-hit games: Mikey Perez (2-4, R, K), Ernie Yake (2-4, R, K) The Mighty Mussels were the only Twins affiliate to drop a game on Sunday. The Mussels were trailing the Jupiter Hammerheads 4-1 going into the bottom of the ninth. They were able to score two runs and make it a close game until the final out. Mussels starter Travis Adams once again had a great start for his teammates going five innings, allowing only three base runners, and striking out seven. The Hammerheads were able to score three runs against Mussels reliever Jaylen Nowlin in his second inning of work in the top of the seventh. Coming out of the bullpen for the Mussels after Nowlin was Regi Grace who only gave up one run in his 2 1/3 innings pitched. On the offensive side Mussels' third baseman Jake Rucker hit his first home run of the season, a two-run shot in the bottom of the ninth that brought the Mussels a run away from tying the game. :Left fielder Kyler Fedko went hitless during Sunday’s game but reached base twice on walks, maintaining his OPS at 1.238 for the season. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Travis Adams (Ft. Myers) - 5 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 7 K Hitter of the Day – Charles Mack (Cedar Rapids) - 3-4, 2 R, 2B, RBI (5) 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: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-5, SB (6), K #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-4, R, RBI (5) #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-3, BB #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, 2 BB, 3 K, SB (2) #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-3, R, HR (1), RBI (2), BB, K #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-4 TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS All Twins Minor League Affiliates are off on Monday and will resume their games on Tuesday, April 19. The only Monday in which there will be minor-league games is July 4th (and some for the Saints in September). St. Paul @ Toledo (5:35 PM CST) - Midland @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Matt Canterino Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - Fort Myers @ Dunedin (6:30 PM CST) - Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games as the second weekend of the minor and major league seasons has concluded.
  10. In 2021, the Wind Surge joined the Twins family of affiliates and had a really strong roster. The team had the league’s best record during the regular season and finished second in the postseason tournament. Several return to Ramon Borrego’s roster from last year, and this should again be a very strong roster. His coaching staff is different, but starting a roster with seven top prospects and some other very intriguing prospects is a great place to start. Here we will introduce you to the 2022 Wichita Wind Surge Opening Day roster with a tweet-length bio. For much more on each player, click the hyperlink with the name and see all of the Twins Daily stories in which each player is tagged. There are some terrific prospect on this roster, and there are some great stories as well. COACHING STAFF Manager: Ramon Borrego Hitting Coach: Derek Shomon Pitching Coaches: Pete Larson, Dan Urbina Catcher Coach: Joe Mangiameli PITCHERS RHP Argenis Angulo (28) - signed as free agent this offseason after posting a 7.33 ERA in 43 innings at AAA Las Vegas (A’s). Spent 2014-2020 with the Cleveland organization. RHP Matt Canterino (24) - Twins Daily’s #6 prospect may have the best pure stuff. Healthy after throwing in just five games at Cedar Rapids in 2022. Could move quickly. RHP Steven Cruz (22) - Young. Hits 100 at times. Control questionable at times. Probably a bullpen arm, pitched at Ft. Myers last year and just two games at High-A Cedar Rapids. LHP Zach Featherstone (26) - drafted as a hitter, and then had Tommy John. Came back last year and was strong as Kernels closer. Pitcher in Arizona Fall League in 2021. LHP Kody Funderburk (25) - another college two-way player, Funderburk has spent time as a starter and reliever. RHP Ben Gross (24) - 10th round pick in 2019 from Duke. Graduated from Princeton in three years. Also has a nice three-pitch mix and throws strikes. RHP Steven Klimek (28) - Pitched in Orioles’ system since drafted in 2015. Spent 2021 at AA Bowie. Bullpen depth. RHP Brandon Lawson (27) - Has pitched in Rays, Giants and Astros organizations. Last season at Astros’ AA affiliate in Corpus Christi. Can eat innings. LHP Bryan Sammons (26) - 8th round pick in 2017, Sammons split the 2021 season between Wichita (3-4, 6.44 ERA) and St. Paul (1-3, 6.61 ERA). Very starter with four pitches. RHP Alex Scherff (24) - Came to Twins from Red Sox organization in deadline deal of Hansel Robles. Rehabbed the rest of 2021. Former prospect slowed by injuries. Has a chance. RHP Austin Schulfer (26) - 19th round pick in 2018, he led Twins minor leaguers with 110 innings pitched in 2021, all for Wichita. He went 6-8 with a 4.34 ERA. 105 strikeouts. LHP Evan Sisk (24) - Came to Twins at 2021 deadline in the J.A. Happ / John Gant trade. Lefty reliever pitched in the AFL after the 2021 season. RHP Chris Vallimont (25) - Hard-thrower came to Twins in the Lewin Diaz / Sergio Romo trade in 2019. Struggled to 6.03 ERA in 21 Wichita starts last season, but struck out 130 batters in 91 innings (also 61 walks). Added to Twins 40-man roster after season. RHP Louie Varland (24)- Twins Daily’s #14 prospect was the Twins and Twins Daily’s Minor League Pitcher of the year in 2021 after dominant numbers in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. St. Paul native struck out 142 batters in 103 innings. RHP Tyler Viza (27) - Signed with Twins just last week. He spent 2013-2019 in Phillies organization, reaching AAA. Last year, started for Independent Kane County before ending season with five starts for AA San Antonio (Padres). RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (21) - Twins Daily’s #8 prospect came to the team in the 2021 deadline deal from Toronto with Austin Martin for Jose Berrios. Hard thrower has a strong repertoire of pitches. Last year was strange, started at AA, went to the Olympics but didn’t pitch, traded, and came to the Twins. Will get a chance to start fresh in 2022. CATCHERS Alex Isola (23) - 29th round pick in 2019, he spent 2021 with the Kernels where he showed a good approach at the plate and some power. Good defensive catcher. Dennis Ortega (24) - Venezuelan backstop joined the Twins this spring after spending 2014-2021 with the Cardinals organization. Reached AAA in 2021 and hit .231 over 57 games. Chris Williams (25) - 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson, Williams struggled at the season’s start in Cedar Rapids. Moved up to Wichita and produced nine extra base hits in 28 games. INFIELDERS Andrew Bechtold (25) - 5th round pick in 2017, Bechtold broke out with the Wind Surge in 2021. He hit .239/.328/.459 (.786) with 23 doubles and 18 homers. Corner infielder also did work behind the plate and hopes to add that versatility to his game. Michael Helman (25) - 11th round pick in 2018 from Texas A&M. In Cedar Rapids last year, he hit .246/.336/462 (.798) with 21 doubles, four triples and 19 home runs. Went to Arizona Fall League. The infielder also played all three outfield spots (and well) in 2021. Edouard Julien (22) - Twins Daily’s #19 prospect, Julien led minor league baseball in walks in 2021. In Ft. Myers, he showed a great eye and plate discipline while rediscovering base stealing. In Cedar Rapids, he added the power that made him an intriguing draft prospect. Austin Martin (23) - Martin was the #5 overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Vanderbilt. He came to the Twins in the Jose Berrios deal. He played 37 games for the Wind Surge in 2021 and returns in 2022, likely to play some shortstop and see if his offseason work will help him add power to his game. He ranked as the Twins #1 prospect heading into this season. Spencer Steer (24) - The Twins 18th-ranked prospect, Steer busted out with 24 home runs between Cedar Rapids (10) and Wichita (14) in 2021. Able to play three infield positions, Steer is an intriguing prospect heading into 2022. OUTFIELDERS Leobaldo Cabrera (24) - The Twins signed Cabrera last spring out of the Empire League. He was known for a strong arm and some power potential. After getting part-time play in Ft. yers and Cedar Rapids, he moved up to Wichita and hit 11 home runs in 52 games. Still young enough to be intriguing. DaShawn Keirsey (24) - 4th round pick in 2018 from Utah, Keirsey played 45 games in Cedar Rapids in 2021. He had several stints on the Injured List and was unable to get into a flow. However, he had four doubles, four triples and seven home runs. He is a terrific defensive center fielder and incredibly fast and athletic. Here’s to his health in 2022! Cole Sturgeon (30) - former 10th round pick of the Red Sox in 2014, he remained in their organization through 2019. He has played for three independent teams over the past two seasons. The Twins signed him in the offseason and he provides quality depth. Matt Wallner (24) - Another Minnesotan, Wallner in the #12 prospect at Twins Daily heading into the season. He got off to a fast start in Cedar Rapids, but he lost two months with a broken hamate bone. Finished the season with 15 homers in 66 Kernels games. Went to AFL and hit six homers in 18 games. What are your thoughts on this roster? Who will move up quick? Who will jump up the prospect rankings?
  11. Projected Starter: Max Kepler Likely Backup: Alex Kirilloff Depth: Trevor Larnach, Jake Cave Prospects: Matt Wallner, Kala'i Rosario THE GOOD It's the same story as usual with Max Kepler in right field: stellar defense and so-so offense. It's easy to focus on the latter, especially in the wake of a truly lackluster season at the plate, but the value of Kepler's glove should not be ignored. Statcast had him in the 95th percentile for Outs Above Average last year, ranking second among right fielders (behind only Manuel Margot) with eight. FanGraphs had him sixth at the position in Defensive Runs Saved, with nine. No matter the source or metric, Kepler is a top-tier defensive player in right, bringing a center fielder's range to the position along with a solid arm and good instincts. When both he and Buxton are in the outfield, it's extremely difficult for opposing hitters to land a fly ball anywhere in their expansive territory, which will certainly be appreciated by young fly-ball pitchers like Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. At the plate, Kepler is not great – especially given the offense-oriented position he plays – but far from horrible. His 2021 season was frustrating because it harkened back to his unfulfilling pre-2019 norm, but not because it was abjectly terrible. Kepler's baseline is "slightly below average hitter" (he's posted an OPS+ between 95 and 98 in four of five full seasons), but that's also been his floor. Even at his worst, he'll contribute enough home runs and walks to be reasonably productive. At his best, Kepler is a legitimate star. He hit 36 home runs in 2019 while holding his own against left-hander pitchers. With a 4.5 fWAR he was our pick for team MVP. It'd be easier to gravitate toward the possibility of that upside returning if we'd ever seen it outside of one brilliant, juiced-ball-aided season. Alas, he's still only 29. THE BAD In his first four MLB seasons, Kepler's home run totals jumped from 17 to 19 to 20 to 36. It appeared he had turned a corner, especially when he opened up the very next one with homers in first two at-bats against Lucas Giolito. And yet, since that first game of 2020, Kepler has managed only 26 home runs with a .410 slugging percentage in 169 games. Among 29 right fielders with 600+ PA over this span, Kepler ranks 25th in wOBA and wRC+. He's a poor hitter at a position with a high offensive bar, and unfortunately Rocco Baldelli has magnified the negative impact by routinely having Kepler hit at key spots in the lineup, as well as by starting him against lefties. Over the past two seasons, the outfielder has slashed .148/.236/.235 against southpaws. He needs to be platooned. Unfortunately, the Twins don't have a natural fit to platoon with Kepler in right. Brent Rooker could theoretically fill that role, but Baldelli doesn't like using Rooker in the outfield and seems to prefer him in left when he does. Also, Rooker has hardly shown to be a lefty masher, with a .222/.325/.375 line in 83 plate appearances. Kyle Garlick was supposed to fill a role like this for the Twins last year, and it's very possible he could resurface quickly, although he's not currently on the 40-man roster. Otherwise, as you look through the right field depth, both short-term and long-term, you find a whole lot of lefty bats: Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Jake Cave, Mark Contreras, Matt Wallner, Willie Joe Garry. THE BOTTOM LINE The shortage of viable platoon-mates means the Twins are probably staying committed to Kepler as an everyday starter for the time being. As long as he keeps providing premium defense in right field, the team can live with his sub-par offensive production at the position. He's under contract for $6.5 million this year, and $8.5 million in 2023, with a $10 million team option for the following year. I'd be very surprised if he plays through the end of his contract in Minnesota. Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop Position Analysis: Left Field Position Analysis: Center Field
  12. Scouts and front office personnel use a 20-80 scale to evaluate a player’s tools. This ranking system is also used to project how those tools will improve as the player continues to develop. Below you will see the top five Twins prospects regarding current and future power potential. 5. Keoni Cavaco, SS Current Power/Future Power: 55/60 Cavaco’s power hasn’t fully shown up in-game action, but scouting reports have his raw power having some of the best potential in the system. Last season at Low-A, he posted a .598 OPS, which was 128 points higher than his professional debut. Cavaco added muscle to his frame during the canceled 2020 season, but that hasn’t shown up in-game action. Now he needs to prove he can make consistent contact to showcase his power on a more regular basis. He will be entering his age-21 season this year, and his stock has fallen in relation to prospect rankings. His power might make him a candidate to bounce back in 2022. 4. Jose Miranda, 3B Current Power/Future Power: 55/55 Miranda is coming off one of the best offensive seasons in Twins history, and he is on the verge of breaking into the big leagues. Minnesota’s front office has been touting Miranda’s potential for multiple offseasons, and he was finally able to put it all together in 2021. Between Double- and Triple-A, he hit 32 doubles and 30 home runs on his way to being named the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. He’s proven his power potential in the upper minors, and he needs to prove that he can transition that power to the big-league level. His 2021 campaign clearly puts him in the team’s long-term plans. 3. Royce Lewis, SS/OF Current Power/Future Power: 60/70 Like Cavaco, Lewis has seen his stock drop over the last two years, but that’s directly related to the fact that he hasn’t been on the field. One of the reasons for optimism surrounding his power potential is the amount of time he has been able to add weight to his already athletic frame. When the Twins drafted him, he weighed 185 pounds, but now he has added at least 30 pounds to his 6-foot-1 frame. There are many questions about what version of Lewis will be on the field this season, especially with his previous swing concerns. 2. Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Current Power/Future Power: 60/60 Sabato was an intriguing choice by the Twins when they took him in the first round of the 2020 MLB Draft. He crushed the ball in college with a 1.158 OPS in 85 games. A player with his skillset needs to see that power transition to his professional career because he adds minimal defensive value. Last season at Low-A, he struggled to make consistent contact as he struck out 117 times in 85 games. However, he improved as the season progressed and played his final 22 games at High-A. Overall, he hit .253/.402/.613 (1.105) with eight home runs after the promotion. In 2022, he needs to prove that his power surge wasn’t a mirage. 1. Matt Wallner, OF Current Power/Future Power: 70/70 Scouts considered Wallner’s power some of the best in the 2019 draft class, and he has proven his power potential throughout his professional career. He posted an .854 OPS at High-A last season, but he missed time with a broken hamate. After the season, Minnesota sent him to the AFL, and he compiled a 1.011 OPS. There are still questions about Wallner’s future defensive position, but his bat has enough power to make him a dangerous option no matter where he is on the field. He struck out 100 times in 66 games last season, so his strikeout rate will be something to watch as he continues to move up the organizational ladder. Who do you think has the best power in the Twins system? Should someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. After a last-place finish, Minnesota has a top-eight draft pick in 2022. There’s certainly a chance the Twins look to the college ranks for their first-round selection, so it is essential to keep an eye on college action this spring. The organization has drafted players with college experience in recent years, but the top players on this list were acquired via trade. 5. Matt Wallner, OF TD Top Prospect Rank: 13 Minnesota selected Wallner, a Minnesota native, with the 39th overall pick in 2019. During his three seasons at Southern Mississippi, he crushed the ball as he became the school’s career home run leader. He ended his collegiate career with a 1.113 OPS and a 153 to 141 strikeout to walk ratio. Since turning pro, his strikeout rate has increased significantly, which has evaluators wondering if he can make consistent contact as he moves up the ladder. Last season, he posted an .854 OPS in 68 games, but he struck out 100 times. Also, he’s on the 40-man roster, so he won’t be able to play until the lockout ends. 4. Josh Winder, RHP TD Top Prospect Rank: 10 Winder spent three years at the Virginia Military Institute before the Twins took him with a seventh-round pick in 2018. His college numbers weren’t awe-inspiring as he posted a 4.52 ERA, including a 5.40 ERA during his junior season. Minnesota saw some positive signs in him, and the organization worked with him on some changes after he signed. He led the Midwest League in ERA and WHIP during his first full professional season. During the 2020 shutdown, he made vast improvements to his physical make-up, and those results showed on the mound in 2021. He dominated Double-A with a sub-2.00 ERA and 10.7 SO/9. A shoulder injury was likely the only thing that kept him from debuting last season. 3. Matt Canterino, RHP TD Top Prospect Rank: 6 Back in 2019, the Twins took Canterino with their second-round pick from Rice University. His ERA, WHIP, and HR/9 dropped in each collegiate season. Rice had been known for pumping out top pitching prospects, but that has changed in recent years. Many Rice pitching products have struggled to stay healthy in their professional careers due to overuse during their college tenure. Canterino has been limited to 48 professional innings since being drafted, but he has been dominant when on the mound with a 1.13 ERA and 76 strikeouts. Can he buck the trend associated with Rice pitchers? 2. Joe Ryan, RHP TD Top Prospect Rank: 5 Ryan’s path to Minnesota’s rotation is unique, which fits his overall personality. He wasn’t selected in the MLB Draft during his junior season because he dealt with some muscle and shoulder injuries. He transferred to Cal State Stanislaus, a Division II school, for his senior year. In 98 1/3 innings, he posted a 1.65 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP and 127 strikeouts. The Rays selected him in the seventh round in 2018, and he rose to Double-A in his first full professional season. Minnesota received Ryan along with Drew Strotman as the return for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. His unique arm-angle on his fastball makes him an intriguing arm that projects to be in Minnesota’s rotation for the majority of the next decade. 1. Austin Martin, SS/OF TD Top Prospect Rank: 1 Martin was arguably the best collegiate player in the 2020 MLB Draft. His sophomore season at Vanderbilt firmly established him as a top draft prospect. During the 2018 season, he hit .392/.486/.605 (1.091) with 33 extra-base hits in 65 games. His first professional games came in 2021 as he spent the entire year at Double-A with a .796 OPS. One of his biggest concerns has been his power production, but he was tweaking his swing last season while also dealing with a hand/wrist injury. Since he isn’t on the 40-man roster, Martin is in Fort Myers working with Twins coaches, which may set him up for better success in 2022 and beyond. How would you rank these former college players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. A pair of stellar arms, a couple of hometown boys, and a couple of flashy gloves. The following group of Twins prospects, Twins Daily's 11-15 prospects, is pretty exciting. Take a look at some of the top names that will be playing at Target Field in just a few years. Big velocity. Big spin. Big strikeouts. Big Power. Big speed, and range. There is some Big potential in this group, Twins Daily's Twins prospects 11-15. 15. RHP Louie Varland Age: 24 2021 (-A, +A): 18 starts, 103 IP, 2.10 ERA, 34% K, 7% BB Arguably the most exciting pitching in the Twins farm system, Louie Varland's electric 2021 season earned him accolades as Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year and Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. A product of the Twin Cities, Varland was promoted from Low-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids after just eight starts and emerged as the Kernels' ace. Varland relies heavily on a high fastball and shared that he is honing in on his off-speed pitches on Twins Spotlight with Seth Stohs. A truly dominant arm, Varland averaged 12.4 strikeouts and only 2.6 walks per nine innings in 2021. Expected to get his feet wet in Cedar Rapids, don't be surprised to see the Concordia-St. Paul alum scales the ranks of the Twins organization in 2022. 14. RHP Cole Sands Age: 23 2021 (AA): 18 starts, 81 IP, 2.46 ERA, 29% K, 10% BB The 2018 fifth-round draft pick for the Twins did not disappoint in his second full season with the Twins organization. After bouncing between three levels in 2019, Cole Sands was a rock for the Wind Surge last season, posting a 4-2 record and averaging only 3.6 walks per nine innings. Sands isn't necessarily the high-velocity, deep-inning pitcher that fills seats; that doesn't matter, the Florida State alum gets outs. Sands keeps the ball on the ground and only gave up six homers last year and averaged 0.7 HR/9 on his sophomore campaign. Efficiency produces results; like Varland, 2022 could be a huge breakout year for Sands. 13. OF Matt Wallner Age: 24 2021 (A+): .265/.350/.504, 14 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 9% BB, 33% K A mid-season injury didn't stop Minnesota native Matt Wallner from having an excellent season last year. In his second full season with the Twins organization, the Southern Miss alum proved to be a sparkplug for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. A true cleanup hitter, Wallner's power at the plate is inevitable. Wallner's biggest area of growth will come in plate discipline, given his 100 strikeouts in 2021. The reason that isn't talked about frequently is because of the game-changing power in his powerful right-handed swing that helped lead the Kernels to the High-A Central Championship Series. Changing those mountains and valleys to high-level plateaus will be key for the Forest Lake native to take his offense to the next level. 12, OF Gilberto Celestino Age: 22 2021 (AA, AAA, MLB): .206/.274/.355, 21 2B, 9 HR, 4/5 SB, 10% BB, 22% K It almost feels like Gilberto Celestino has been a Minnesota Twin for an eternity. Yet the talented outfielder is only 22 years old and saw MLB playing time for the first time last season after four previous seasons in the minors between the Twins and Astros organizations. The Dominican Republic native was signed by Houston at the ripe age of 17 and acquired by the Twins in 2019. The Astros clearly saw something in him to sign him so young and it appears the Twins do too. Celestino's stat line is bogged down by his MLB numbers. He was quite impressive with the Saints and Wind Surge in 2021, slashing .277/.371/.423 with 18 doubles and seven homers in 70 games. Time is a friend of Celestino and 2022 should provide him more of an opportunity to get his feet wet at the game's highest level. 11. SS Noah Miller Age: 18 2021 (Rk): .238/.316/.369, 2 2B, 3B, 2 HR, 9% BB, 27% K Chosen with the 38th pick of the 2021 Draft, Noah Miller is one of the top young prospects to graze Twins Territory. A stand-out hitter on both sides of the plate, Miller is as solid as it gets with his glove at shortstop. Tabbing Brandon Crawford as his favorite shortstop growing up, Miller's sleek defense was a marquee factor in the Twins using their second draft pick (Competitive Balance) on him. Miller had a brief chance to get his feet wet at the pro level in 2022 with 96 plate appearances in the Florida Complex League. Expect him to start at Low-A in 2022 and get ready to watch what could be one of the organization's best draft picks in recent history. Read more on Miller's high ceiling courtesy of Twins Daily's JD Cameron. Previous Rankings Honorable Mention Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 Prospect #10: Coming Monday
  15. Prospects come in all shapes and sizes, and players develop at different paces. This list shows that. The player in this group of five that has been around the longest is still very young, but because he signed at 16, he may seem older than he is. In fact, that player is actually younger than players drafted out of college the last couple of seasons. Brent Rooker went to Mississippi State and red-shirted as a freshman. He wasn't yet ready at that time. At 20, he was certainly ready for the SEC and became a top pick, drafted at 22-years-old. That really brings up two points about age and prospects. First, age in important to consider when looking at level of competition and stats. However, age really isn't that important when it comes to a potential big leaguer. If he's ready at 22, great. If he's ready at 26, that's OK too. Of course, with the lost 2020 season due to the pandemic, age becomes less important relative to both points. With that in mind, this group of five prospects has a few players who signed at 16 or 17 years old, and a couple of powerful college draft picks. Continue reading to see who made today's list. #15 SS Wander Javier 2021 STATS: .225/.280/.413, 15 2B, 10 3B, 12 HR, 53 RBI, 34.3 K%, 6.1 BB%, 1/4 SB It’s been discussed before, but the Twins prospect most hurt by a lost 2020 season may have been Wander Javier. Signed to the largest international free agent contract in team history in July 2015, he began the trek up the ladder. Unfortunately, He missed much of the DSL season in 2016 with injury. He played well for Elizabethton in 2017. Then a shoulder injury cost him the 2018 season and the first half of the 2019 season. He struggled in Low-A Cedar Rapids, hitting just .177 in 80 games. Then came the missed 2020 season. In 2020, he spent the season with High-A Cedar Rapids. The positive is that he remained healthy until the final weeks of the season. He certainly showed flashes of offensive potential, but overall the batting average was low, and so was the on-base percentage. He continued to strike out a lot. There are still several positives that make me (and many) unwilling to give up on him. Javier is a really good athlete. He is quick and he has good strength. He had 37 extra base hits, showing home run power and triples speed. On the positive is Javier’s shortstop defense. Similar to Jermaine Palacios defensively. He has good range. He’s got a big arm. He just sometimes struggles with routine plays, so he will need to continue working on being more consistent. Javier has one more season in the Twins organization before he can become a minor league free agent. He just turned 23 in late December, so being patient is wise. #14 3B Christian Encarnacion-Strand 2021 STATS: .391/.424/.598, 2 2B, 2 3B, 4 HR, 18 RBI, 28.3 K%, 5.4 BB%, 2/2 SB The Twins drafted Christian Encarnacion-Strand in the fourth round of the 2021 draft, and it’s fair to say he made a great first impression. As you can see above, he hit for average and showed some of the power that made him intriguing in the draft. He played in 22 games for Ft. Myers and had at least one hit in 21 games. He had at least one hit in the first 20 games. At one point, he had three hits in three straight games and four out of five games. Big and strong, he has a lot of power potential. He didn’t walk a lot with the Mighty Mussels, but he has shown a good approach at the plate. In his one season at Oklahoma State, he hit .361/.442/.661 (1.103) with 17 doubles and 15 home runs in 56 games. The California native had previously been drafted in 2019 in the 34th round when he was playing at Yavapai College in Arizona. In college, he played almost exclusively at third base. In Ft. Myers, with Jesus Feliz and fellow-2021 draft pick Jake Rucker playing third base, Encarnacion-Strand played 17 games at first base. He will be 22 years old throughout the 2022 season. There is a chance that this ranking is a little high simply due to his first impression on me, so it will be interesting to see what he does in 2022. #13 SS Keoni Cavaco 2021 STATS: .233/.296/.302, 7 2B, 2 HR, 26 RBI, 34.1 K%, 7.0 BB%, 6/8 SB Javier is the player likely hurt most by the missed 2020 season. It was also unfortunate for Keoni Cavaco. He was the Twins first-round draft pick in the 2019 draft and struggled in 25 games in the GCL that season. Despite limited pro time, the Twins pushed him to Ft. Myers despite having just turned 20 in early June. He started out well and showed glimpses of his immense potential. Unfortunately, he had some rough patches too. He also missed time with a couple of injuries including a concussion. We have seen how playing in Ft. Myers can (and does) negatively impact offense, so despite his numbers, it is far too early to be too worried yet. He is big, strong and quick and should develop doubles and home run power in time. While he played third base in high school because his Eastlake teammate was shortstop Marcelo Mayer who was the fourth overall pick in the 2021 draft. However, he has the size, speed, hands and arm strength to potentially play shortstop so that’s where the Twins played him in 2021 and will continue to do so. He certainly needs to be more consistent, but the tools are there. He won’t be able to legally drink until early June. #12 OF Misael Urbina 2021 STATS: .191/.299/.286, 12 2B, 4 3B, 5 HR,52 RBI, 18.7 K%, 12.3 BB%, 16/22 SB Back in July 2018, the Twins signed a 16-year-old Misael Urbina from Venezuela to a $2.75 million signing bonus. He made his professional debut in the DSL where he hit .279/.382/.443 (.825) with 14 doubles, five triples and two homers over 50 games. He also stole 19 bases and walked more than he struck out. After missing the 2020 season, he was set to begin the 2021 season in Extended Spring Training at the Complex. However, less than a week later, he was moved up to the Mighty Mussels and put right into their lineup. As you can see from his stat line, it was a struggle for him. However, he was more than two years younger than league average. He had a low batting average, but he took a lot of walks, showing an ability to control the strike zone (in a league with an electronic strike zone). He also was a good base stealer. He is generally a solid young outfielder who split his time between center field and left field. Urbina would benefit from another season in Ft. Myers to help his tools develop and he can find more success, even if it’s just for a half-season. He won’t even turn 20 until the end of April. #11 OF Matt Wallner 2021 STATS: .265/.350/.504, 14 2B, 2 3B, 15 HR, 47 RBI, 33.3 K%, 9.3 BB%, 0/1 SB In 2016, Matt Wallner was Mr. Minnesota in baseball and the Twins drafted him in the 32nd round as a pitcher. He didn’t sign and instead headed south to play at Southern Mississippi where he developed into one of the best power hitters in college baseball. In 2019, the Twins drafted him again, this time with the 39th overall pick. He spent that summer in Elizabethton before ending the season in Cedar Rapids. After a lost 2020 season, Wallner returned to Cedar Rapids, now the Twins High-A affiliate. In his first 17 games, he hit .333/.384/.621 (1.005) with nine extra base hits. Unfortunately, he hurt his wrist and ended up having surgery on a broken hamate bone. Two months later, he returned to the Kernels for another 54 games. In that time, he hit just .220, but he walked 10% of the time and hit 11 doubles and 11 home runs. Following the season, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit .303 with two doubles and six homers in just 18 games. When he has control of the strike zone, Wallner can be immensely productive. If he can do that, he should hit for average. And when he makes contact, he has as much power as anyone in the Twins system, power to all fields. He’s tall and strong and a pretty good athlete with decent speed once he gets going. Defensively, he is a solid corner outfielder. Since he spent time in college as a closer, you might know that he has a cannon for an arm. He will likely spend most of the 2022 season with the Wichita Wind Surge. He will be 24 throughout the season. I think this is a really interesting group of prospects. There are three very high-ceiling, multi-tooled prospects in this group who signed at a very young age. Javier has struggled on the field and staying on the field in his time. Cavaco and Urbina have all the tools, but they struggled. Both would have benefited from being able to play in a league between the Complex League and Low-A. Wallner and Encarnacion-Strand are college draft picks with big-time power potential who could move up the ladder more quickly. It should be a fun list to discuss. Discuss these players, their rankings and feel free to ask questions. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15
  16. Current Corner Outfielders: Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff Max Kepler is under team control for the next three seasons, and he is coming off a three-year stretch where he has a 111 OPS+. He provides defensive flexibility with the ability to play centerfield occasionally. This might make him one of the team's most valuable trade assets. Minnesota needs starting pitching, and trading Kepler can open a corner outfield spot for one or more of the names discussed below. Alex Kirilloff got off to a tremendous start to his rookie campaign before a wrist injury sapped his power. He tried to play through the injury, but he was clearly impacted and underwent surgery to repair a ligament tear in his right wrist. Minnesota's best option with Kirilloff is to move him to first base because he is a superior defender compared to the team's other options. Chances are Kirilloff will still get some time in the outfield, but he will get plenty of reps at first base too. 40-Man Roster Options Besides Kirilloff, the Twins turned to another rookie outfielder in 2021. Trevor Larnach showed some positive signs before ending up in a slump that sent him to St. Paul for the remainder of the season. Entering the 2021 season, Larnach had never appeared in a game above the Double-A level, so he was likely pushed a little faster than the organization planned. He should still be in the team's long-term plans, even coming off a poor year. Brent Rooker also had an interesting 2021 campaign. It looked like he had a chance to win a backup outfield job during spring training, but his lack of defensive positions pushed him back to the minors. At 26-years-old, this was intriguing, especially since he had little left to prove at Triple-A with a career .932 OPS. Rooker got over 200 big-league plate appearances in 2021 and posted a 75 OPS+. With his age-27 season looming, he has an uncertain future with the Twins. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's corner outfield depth. Minnesota has multiple corner outfield options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. After signing Derek Fisher, the Twins have eight outfielders projected at the Triple-A level. Obviously, this is more than the team will need at one level. Jake Cave and Kyle Garlick are more veteran options at Triple-A, with big-league experience. Mark Contreras, Jimmy Kerrigan, and Ernie De La Trinidad are all over age-25 and Rule-5 eligible this offseason. Some of these players may shift to Double-A with an overload of Triple-A outfielders. Matt Wallner is projected for the Double-A level, and he is one of the most exciting prospects on this list. Minnesota selected Wallner with the 39th overall pick in 2019, and he's coming off a 1.011 OPS in the Arizona Fall League. Joining Wallner at Double-A will be Leobaldo Cabrera and Michel Helman. Last winter, the Twins signed Cabrera as a minor league free agent, and he combined for a .786 OPS at three different levels. Helman was an 11th round pick in 2018, and he posted a .798 OPS in 111 games at High-A in 2021. In the lower levels of the minors, Kala'i Rosario is an intriguing name to keep an eye on. He was the team's fifth-round pick back in 2020 out of Hawaii. Last year, he made his pro-debut with the FCL Twins and hit .277/.341/.452 (.794) with 19 extra-base hits in 51 games. Rosario should make his full-season debut in 2022. Overall, Minnesota has corner outfield depth that is ready to impact the big-league level. What do you think about the organization's corner outfield depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop — Center Field
  17. In 2017, the Twins selected Brent Rooker 35th overall out of Mississippi State. He was a stud from a strong SEC conference. Rooker was coming off a ridiculous 1.306 OPS and power that was expected to translate. However, he was immediately tabbed as a bat-only prospect, and his greatest path to the big leagues was in being able to hit. We’ve seen him struggle in the outfield, and reports are that his footwork at first base is worse. Rooker may have a future yet, but he’s now 27 and has just 234 plate appearances to the tune of a .713 OPS under his belt. That’s not going to earn time as a regular. This isn’t a piece to knock Rooker though, Minnesota’s hope undoubtedly is that a guy under team control through 2027 will find it. Instead, the player you may have been expecting could instead come from 2019 39th overall pick Matt Wallner. Wallner is a Minnesota native from Forest Lake. He played his college ball at Southern Mississippi, and his 1.127 OPS out of college was plenty impressive in its own right. Wallner both pitched and hit for the Golden Eagles. He has a cannon from the outfield and an arm on the bump that can run it up in the mid-90s. The .810 OPS was a solid start in his 2019 pro-debut, but the pandemic shelved him. Without an invite to the Twins alternate site in St. Paul, Wallner kept himself ready while 2020 was shelved for Minor League Baseball. In 2021, he played at High-A Cedar Rapids and posted an .858 OPS with 15 dingers in just 68 games. Having been placed on the Injured List with a broken hamate bone which required surgery, Wallner missed nearly half of the season. Participating in the Arizona Fall League, he could have been in contention for league MVP with a 1.011 OPS if a hit-by-pitch in the face didn’t limit him to just 18 games. Even with the time on the shelf, production suggests the recently-turned 24-year-old is putting it together. Wallner is much more of an athlete than Rooker before him, and he’s average at worst in the outfield. Pitching could be a fallback option for him, but that’s probably never going to be part of the story. I’d be pretty surprised if Minnesota isn’t aggressive with the former Southern Miss star in 2022. Starting at Double-A wouldn’t be a shock, and making it to Triple-A or better is potentially in the cards. This time last year, Jose Miranda was left unprotected in the Rule 5 draft and became the biggest no-brainer addition. Wallner’s status didn’t necessitate a 40-man roster move this winter, but his production certainly could by next year... or sooner. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. In a bit of a scheduling quirk with the AFL, the Scottsdale Scorpions played only three games in the final week of the season, going 1-2 to finish with an overall record of 12-18, good for second place in the East Division and fifth overall. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 4-for-8, R, HR (6, tied for 4th in AFL), 2 RBI, BB, 2 K; .303/.405/.606 (1.011 OPS) overall. Wallner got the start in two games on the week, batting fifth in both contests and one game each in the opposite corners of the outfield. In Tuesday’s 9-7 loss at the Surprise Saguaros, he was in right field and led the team with three hits on the day. Down 8-4 at the time and in his third at-bat, Wallner picked up the first of those three hits with a single the opposite way that put runners on first and second with no outs. Unfortunately that’s as far as he’d make it as their rally attempt was snuffed out with three consecutive outs after that. He’d add another single in the seventh inning with a line drive to right field, and this time ended up stranded on third. With the score 9-5 going into the top of the ninth, Wallner followed a leadoff single with his sixth home run of the AFL season, a blast into right field that made it the final of 9-7. Wallner finished off his time in the AFL playing left field in Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox. He grounded out to first base in his first at-bat in the second inning, then singled in the fourth with a ground ball into right field. The Scorpions took a 1-0 lead in the inning on four total singles and a sac fly, but Wallner ended up stranded on third after reaching there with only one out. After a double, single, and another sac fly made it 2-0 in the fifth, he drew a walk to put runners on first and second. They extended the lead to 3-0 with another single before a double-play ball ended any further threat. Leading 3-2 in the seventh and final inning of the contest, Wallner went down swinging before the Solar Sox clubbed two home runs in the bottom half to walk it off. The power hitting outfielder ends his time in the AFL with an outstanding .303/.405/.606 batting line, good for a 1.011 OPS that led the Scorpions roster and was 10th overall in the league. His six home runs were tied for third in league play while his 15 RBI also led the Scorpions and ranked 10th in the league. For comparison, Royce Lewis won the AFL MVP award during the 2019 season with a .353/.411/.565 line and .975 OPS, having 85 at-bats compared to Wallner’s 66. In 18 total games, Wallner walked 9 times and struck out 27 times, batting primarily in the middle of the Scorpions lineup. Despite his 2021 season being limited to 66 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, I’d fully expect Wallner to begin the 2022 season in the middle of the Wichita Wind Surge’s lineup. Zach Featherstone: 1 appearance, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K; 8.10 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 10 IP overall. Featherstone made his lone appearance on the week in Friday’s walk off loss to Mesa, being tabbed as the first relief pitcher summoned to start the third inning. With the game still scoreless, he delivered a one-two-three inning, getting a groundout and a pair of fly outs on just 12 pitches (7 for strikes). The left-hander made appearances in 11 of the Scorpions 30 games on the season, totaling 10 innings pitched with a 12-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed 9 earned runs on 13 hits and finished with a 2.20 WHIP, 8.10 ERA, and .310 batting average against. Featherstone spent all of the 2021 season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen, amassing 107 K’s in 73 1/3 innings pitched that was good for a 2.13 ERA, but as was apparent in the AFL needs to continue working on limiting free passes. I’d expect him to be with Wichita to begin the 2022 season. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-3, R, RBI, BB, 0 K; .237/.333/.305 (.638 OPS) overall. Bechtold saw action in two of the Scorpions three games on the week, getting the start at first base in one while entering as a pinch hitter and designated hitter in the other. His first game of the week came in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Salt River Rafters, where he came on as a pinch hitter for the leadoff man in the fifth inning and got a rally started by drawing a one-out walk. After an error he was on third base and scored their second run of the game on a single two batters later. Before the inning was over the Scorpions would tie the game at three. In the bottom of the sixth Bechtold delivered the most important at-bat of the game for Scottsdale, with a sacrifice fly into right field that scored the go-ahead and winning run. While Bechtold did not have a home run in AFL play, he did collect four doubles in 16 games after hitting 18 home runs and 23 doubles with the Wind Surge in 99 games. Depending on offseason roster moves Bechtold could be back in double-A, but with further improvement in his average and on-base percentage should see time with the St. Paul Saints in 2022. Kody Funderburk: Did not pitch; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. With just three games on the week Funderburk’s spot in the rotation did not come up to close out the AFL season, but he finished his time there very strong with wins in his final three starts. Those three wins led the Scorpions pitching staff and was also the second most among all AFL pitchers. His 17 2/3 IP also ranked third on the roster, while his 22 strikeouts ranked second on the team and seventh in the league. His final ERA, WHIP, and BAA numbers are skewed by his first few starts where he gave up some runs in bunches, but the 22-to-6 K-to-BB ratio is a good stat to hang his hat on, as was his excellent finish. Funderburk pitched at two levels during the 2021 season, starting ten games with Cedar Rapids before finishing with seven appearances out of the bullpen with Wichita. I’d expect him to be back in double-A to begin the 2022 season as part of the Wind Surge’s starting rotation, looking to build on his limited innings in 2021. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, BB, 0 K, SB; .216/.355/.255 (.610 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw playing time in two of three games on the week, with one of those appearances coming as a pinch hitter part of the way through. In Tuesday’s loss at Surprise, Helman entered the game as a pinch hitter for the DH in the seventh inning with runners on first and third after Wallner delivered a single. His ground ball toward second base turned into an error and allowed a run to score, closing the gap on the scoreboard to four runs. After Wallner’s home run in the ninth, Helman grounded out to short for the first out as their comeback attempt came up short. In Wednesday’s win over Salt River Helman batted ninth in the lineup and played center field. He popped out in the second inning, grounded out to short to leadoff the fifth, then drew the second of two consecutive walks in the sixth inning that loaded the bases with one out. Bechtold followed him with his sac fly that gave the Scorpions the lead and with second base open, he stole his seventh base of the AFL season. Those seven steals led the Scottsdale roster and was good for fourth in the league. He was not caught stealing once during the season, and had three games where he stole two bases. In 16 games in the AFL, Helman scored 10 runs and played all around the diamond, including plenty of run in center field as he continued to expand his positional versatility. He spent all of 2021 with Cedar Rapids, and should move up to Wichita in 2022. Like Bechtold, he didn’t hit a home run during AFL play, but was among organizational leaders with 19 during the regular season. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 18 K, 7 BB, 14 IP overall. After pitching in the Fall Stars Game during week five, Laweryson finished his AFL season with a lone appearance in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Salt River. With his team down 3-1 going into the fifth, he came on as the second relief pitcher to start the inning. He allowed a one-out single but retired the other three hitters he faced, including ending the inning with a swinging strikeout after a good battle with MLB.com’s #45 overall prospect, Brett Baty of the New York Mets. Laweryson pitched in eight games with the Scorpions, including one start, and for the most part was asked to go multiple innings as he finished with 14 total innings. He held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average against, allowing 10 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 18 hitters. That K total ranked fourth on the Scorpions pitching staff. After missing the first few months of the 2021 season, the right-hander started fourteen games with Cedar Rapids but totaled just 58 2/3 innings. It’s possible he begins the 2022 season in double-A, but also would not surprise me to see him back with the Kernels looking to lengthen his outings as a starter. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 14 K, 9 BB, 10 2/3 IP overall. Like his other relief pitching teammates, Sisk made just one appearance in the season’s final week, getting the ball in Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to the Surprise Saguaros. With the score 8-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Sisk was summoned to start the inning as the third reliever of the game for Scottsdale. He bookended a strikeout with a pair of walks, before a balk then moved both runners into scoring position. A single to the next hitter scored one before a mound visit got him back on track. He picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning without any further damage, but did put an end to his scoreless inning streak at 6 total innings pitched. Like Funderburk, Sisk had a bit of a rough start to his time in the AFL, but finished strong. After allowing eight earned runs total in his first five appearances, he allowed just one over his final five to end the season. Over those final five games, Sisk allowed just two hits, walked three, and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings. As he’s new to the Twins organization, I’d expect him to begin the 2022 season back in the bullpen in double-A looking to improve upon his control, much like Featherstone. Thanks for following the 2021 AFL season along with me, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who were there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Week 5 was the first of the season where the Scottsdale Scorpions put together a winning record, with three wins compared to two losses. Going into the last week of play their record sits at 11-16, good for second in the East division standing, 3.5 games behind Mesa. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-13, 2 R, 2B, HR (5), 2 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K; .276/.386/.569 (.955 OPS, leads team) overall. The power hitting lefty was back to full participation in Week 5, getting the start in four games. He came out hot in Monday’s 11-10 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox, getting the nod at designated hitter and batting sixth. He drew a walk in the first inning that loaded the bases, and the hitter after him delivered a two-run single for an early 3-0 lead for the Scorpions. Leading off the third, Wallner clubbed his fifth home run of the AFL season the opposite way into left-center to kick start an inning where his team batted around. That of course means Wallner came up again, and in addition to starting it, he also finished the scoring in their six-run barrage with an RBI double that made it 10-0 Scottsdale. Unfortunately for them, that was the end of their scoring on the game, and the Solar Sox came scorching back with 11 runs of their own the rest of the way to steal a victory. Wallner was also hit by another pitch in the 5th inning, meaning he reached base four times on the day in six plate appearances. He was back in action for Tuesday’s 2-1 victory at home versus the Surprise Saguaros, taking left field and again batting sixth. With his team down 1-0 going into the bottom of the ninth inning, Wallner led off their last at-bat with a line drive single into right field on the first pitch he saw. Teammate Kole Cottam followed his lead, and took the very next pitch deep to right center, giving the Scorpions a walk-off win after being held to just three hits as a team before the ninth. After a day off Wallner was moved up in the lineup for Thursday’s 4-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, batting third and playing in right field. His team again had some trouble collecting hits, but he had one of their four on the game with a single in the sixth inning. He also drew a walk in this one, and had two strikeouts in his other plate appearance to finish 1-for-3. In the team's final game of the week on Friday, Wallner was again in right field and batting fifth for their 4-2 win over the Glendale Desert Dogs in a seven inning affair. He extended his hitting streak to five games with a single in the third inning but ended up stranded at second base. His team was already up 4-0 and was more than enough the rest of the way for the Scorpions. He ended the game 1-for-3 with a pair of strikeouts, but otherwise had another strong week and currently tied for the team lead with five home runs, and leads the squad with 14 RBI and a .955 OPS on the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1.2 IP, H, ER, 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 2.44 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 9 2/3 IP overall. Featherstone made his first appearance of the week to start the fifth inning in Wednesday’s 6-1 win over the Salt River Rafters. He was credited with his second hold of the AFL season as he delivered a scoreless frame. He struck out the first hitter he faced before allowing a walk, but a groundout and caught stealing attempt erased any threat. 12 of his 21 pitches in the inning went for strikes, including four swinging. In their win against Glendale on Friday, Featherstone was brought into the game with one out in the sixth inning and a runner on second base. A walk to the first hitter he faced this time came back to bite him. With two runners on and two outs a batter later, he had an epic 12-pitch battle he ultimately ended up losing after the hitter fouled off six different pitches. The two-run double that resulted made the final score of 4-2. After another walk triggered a mound visit, Featherstone finally put an end to the threat by getting a pop out to the infield to keep his team in front. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 1-for-9, R, 6 K; .214/.313/.286 (.598 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the catcher for the first game of the week for Scottsdale on Monday, and batting eighth in the lineup. In their six-run third inning that Wallner led off with a bomb, Bechtold later delivered a loud and long single before trotting around the bases on another home run from teammate Jordan Qasar. He’d finish the game 1-for-5 with three strikeouts as the Scorpions collapsed after jumping out to a big lead early. In their shutout loss to the Peoria Javelinas on Thursday, Bechtold batted cleanup playing first base, and finished 0-for-4 with another three strikeouts. In a game where his team had just four hits it’s a little hard to feel bad about such a performance, then you also take a look at how other players did and come to the conclusion it was just one of those days. Maybe there was a bad glare around the batter's eye as despite the win, Peoria’s leadoff hitter was 0-for-5 with five K’s for the infamous “platinum sombrero,” another who was 0-for-4 with the “golden” variety (4 K’s), and finally another who matched Bechtold with the boring regular sombrero. All in all the teams combined to strike out 27 times in the game, or exactly half the outs recorded. Yikes. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, W, 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. After a two-win Week 4 Funderburk continued his rebound from a bit of a rough start with another win in his lone start of Week 5. He got the nod in Friday’s scheduled seven inning game, and completed a perfect first three innings, retiring all nine hitters he faced. He picked up a strikeout in each inning and needed just forty pitches in his time on the mound. 26 of those pitches went for strikes, and included five of the swinging variety. That’s three straight wins for the left-handed starting pitcher and in that time he’s allowed four runs on eleven hits, walked only one, and struck out 15 batters in 10 2/3 IP. His ERA is down from above 10 to 6.11, and his WHIP down nearly a whole point to 1.75, in that timeframe, coming on strong for the Scorpions starting staff as the end of the season approaches. He is second on the team in innings pitched and strikeouts in AFL play. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .234/.368/.277 (.649 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw action in only two of the five games one week, getting the start in Wednesday’s and Friday’s wins. Batting leadoff and playing center field in their 6-1 win over Salt River, Helman reached base in three of five plate appearances. He picked up an RBI in the second inning when his bases loaded ground ball to short ended with no out being recorded for a fielder’s choice play. He drew a walk in the fifth inning and came around to score on a single that gave the Scorpions a 2-0 lead. He added another base on balls in the sixth and finished the game 0-for-3 with a run scored. In Friday’s win over Glendale, Helman was inverted to ninth in the lineup, and this time playing left field. He was hit by a pitch in his first plate appearance, and subsequently stole second base, ending up on third when the throw went into center field. He scored on a sacrifice fly from the next batter to give them a 4-0 lead at the time. He led off the fourth inning with a walk and as he has done so far in the season, took off for second base again, picking up another stolen base. This is the third time in AFL play he has stolen two bases in a game and his six total steals lead the team and is tied for third in the league. He’d end this game 0-for-1 with a run scored, walk, and strikeout. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (including Fall Stars Game), 2 1/3 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 ER), 3 BB, 2 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 17 K, 7 BB, 13 IP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, though only one of those was with the rest of his Twins teammates as he was their only selection to play in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday. In Monday’s game where Scottsdale blew a 10-run lead, Laweryson unfortunately got charged with the loss. He began his outing in the fifth inning with the score 10-6, and he delivered a scoreless frame on 12 pitches, picking up a strikeout in the process. A leadoff single was erased when he got an inning-ending double play ball. Back out for the sixth inning, it then went downhill for him and the Scorpions. A single and two walks loaded the bases with one out, before he gave up a grand slam that tied the game at 10. Another walk put an end to his day, and that runner later came around to score on an error to complete the epic comeback for the Solar Sox. In 1 1/3 innings pitched, Laweryson was charged with five runs (four earned) on three hits and three walks. It was a different story in Saturday’s Fall Stars Game, where Laweryson got the invite after piling up strikeouts and in the season’s first half. With his East squad up 5-2, he got the ball to start the fifth inning and set the opposition down in order. He was credited with a hold and punctuated his outing with a swinging strikeout to end the inning. The East team won the game 6-5 powered by home runs from the game’s MVP JJ Bleday of the Miami Marlins, and Hunter Bishop from the San Francisco Giants. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 BB, 3 K; 7.45 ERA, 1.45 WHIP, 12 K, 7 BB, 9 2/3 IP overall. The left-handed Sisk made his first appearance of the week in Tuesday’s walk-off win against Surprise, called upon for the seventh inning with his team down 1-0. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out one and getting a pair of ground balls on fifteen pitches. Continuing his surge in AFL play Sisk was next called upon as a fireman in their shutout loss to Peoria on Thursday. After two runs had already scored in the inning, Sisk entered the game with two outs and runners on the corners in the sixth. He ended the rally with a big strikeout to keep the score at 3-0, then also delivered a scoreless seventh, allowing just a single before striking out his last hitter on three pitches. In his last five appearances, Sisk has pitched a total of 5 2/3 scoreless innings, giving up just one hit, walking none, and striking out seven. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Overall the Scottsdale Scorpions had their first .500 or better record over their six games, going 3-3 while facing the same team three days in a row to close it out. They’ll look to continue that upward trend as a squad in Week 5. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 1-for-9, 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K; .269/.381/.596 (.977 OPS) overall. Wallner didn’t see his first action of the week until Thursday, in the Scorpions 6-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, as he recovered from being hit in the face by a pitch last week. He batted sixth in the lineup and played left field in the game. He flew out to center field in the second inning, was called out on strikes in the fifth and eighth innings, and grounded out in the ninth for the final out of the contest to finish 0-for-4. On defense, he collected an outfield assist by cutting down a runner at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. There were few opportunities for Scottsdale in the game, as they finished just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left only six men on base as a team. His second game of the week came in Saturday’s 11-7 win over Peoria, where he was the cleanup hitter and on the other side of the outfield in right. He got the Scorpions started with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at two. It was his first double of the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 9.82 ERA, 2.45 WHIP 7 1/3 IP) overall. The left-hander made two relief appearances on the week with the first of those coming in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Surprise Saguaros. With his team out front by five runs, he was summoned to finish the game for the Scorpions in the ninth. He walked the first man he faced in the frame but then got two quick outs, including a strikeout, before a single and another walk loaded the bases to make it a little interesting. But he recovered on the next hitter, getting a fly out to finish the game in the win column for Scottsdale. His second outing of the week was in Friday’s 12-1 loss to the Javelinas. With the score 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Featherstone got the call as the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions. A pair of one-out singles put runners on base before he allowed a three-run home run to Jose Cabellero that broke the game open for Peoria. He then retired the next two hitters he faced, including a strikeout to end his inning, but the homerun he allowed was a bit of a catalyst for Peoria as they scored six more runs in the final two innings. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 3-for-13, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 5 K; .231/.333/.308 (.641 OPS) overall. Bechtold played in three games last week, playing a different position on the field in each as he continues to display his versatility around the infield. In Tuesday’s 10-9 win in extra-innings over Salt River Bechtold batted seventh and served as the catcher. Though he finished 0-for-5 in this one, his RBI groundout in a four-run eighth inning helped the Scorpions take a 9-8 lead going into the final frame. As the catcher, he also threw a runner out at second base on a steal attempt in the seventh inning after the Rafters had taken an 8-4 lead with a two-run home run. Bechtold was at first base and batting cleanup in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Mesa, where he finished his day 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s. With the score tied at one in the third inning, Bechtold came to the plate with runners on second and third, and drove an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single and 3-1 lead for his team. His other at-bats included a fly out and two strikeouts, and on defense he had a throwing error attempting to deliver the ball to the pitcher covering first base. The final action of the week for Bechtold came in the Scorpions 11-7 win on Saturday against Peoria, where he was back to batting seventh but on the other side of the diamond at third base. He drew a walk to lead off the second inning and scored Scottsdale’s first run of the inning three batters later that gave them a 3-2 lead. In the third inning his one-out double got a rally started and trotted home again on a three-run home run from teammate Will Wilson. Bechtold then capped the Scorpions scoring on the game with a two-run single in the eighth inning that was too hot to handle for the shortstop, as he could only deflect the ball into center field. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double, walk, two runs scored, and two RBI for a strong finish to his week. Kody Funderburk: 2 starts, 7 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, BB, 12 K; 7.36 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (14 2/3 IP) overall. Funderburk was tabbed for two starts on the week, and he collected the win in both of them, evening his win-loss record in AFL play to 2-2. In his 3 2/3 IP in Monday’s 8-3 win over Surprise, Funderburk was charged with two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six Saguaros. As you can tell from that pitching line, he dealt with a lot of baserunners, but was able to limit some of the damage with big strikeouts. In the first frame, a single and a walk put multiple runners on base, but he bore down and struck out two hitters to end the threat. In the second he allowed one run after a double and an RBI single, but after another single he got another strikeout to keep the Saguaros tally at just one. In the third inning it was a one-out triple that led to another run, but he got the other three hitters he faced out, including another K to end the inning. In the fourth he got two quick strikeouts before a pair of singles ended his outing, but it was enough to be awarded the win by AFL/exhibition rules and encouraging outing compared to his first few weeks. He continued that upward trajectory in Saturday’s 11-7 win over the Peoria Javelinas, striking out another six hitters while this time finishing four innings. In all he allowed two runs on four hits and walked none. The Javelinas got to him early with a pair of runs in the first on three hits, but he got out of the jam by picking off a runner at first base. He allowed only a single in the second inning, then the third and fourth frames were both of the one-two-three variety, including two strikeouts in each. When his day was done his team was up 8-2 and the win would again be his. Michael Helman: 4 games, 5-for-15, 2B, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .256/.347/.302 (.649 OPS) overall. Helman saw the most action of any Twins player this week, playing in four games and collecting five hits in total. On Monday, his 2-for-5 effort came out of the leadoff spot in the batting order while he played center field. He doubled to lead off the third inning, stole third base, and then scampered home on another double for a 3-1 lead. In the fourth, he singled and stole second base before being left stranded after two runs had already scored. The double was his second of the AFL season and is the second time he’s stolen two bases in a game thus far. Back in action again on Thursday against Peoria, Helman was flipped in the order to batting ninth, and was back roaming center field. Though his team was shutout in the game, Helman collected two of their seven total hits with singles in each of the sixth and eighth innings, finishing 2-for-3 on the day. He played for a third day in a row on Friday, again against Peoria in another blowout loss. He again batted ninth and played center field, closing his week with an 0-for-3 effort. His plate appearances included a ground out to first, pop out to short, and fly out to right field as the Scorpions had only five hits and three walks in the game as a team. On defense he also had a throwing error trying to gun down a runner at home in the seventh inning. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 2/3 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (13 IP) overall. After impressing in the the first half of the AFL season Laweryson saw action in just one game during Week 4, though he did go multiple frames. His lone appearance came in Thursday’s shutout loss to the Javelinas and he was summoned in the middle of the second inning after four consecutive walks had led to one run and the bases were still loaded. He got a ground ball that should have ended the threat there, but a throwing error from the shortstop allowed one more run to score and extended the inning. On his next pitch he got another groundball and this time the shortstop didn’t misfire. Laweryson went on to retire seven men in a row, including three strikeouts through the third and fourth innings. He even came out for the fifth, but a leadoff walk and ground out put an end to his day after 44 pitches. Overall he struck out three, including two in the fourth inning, in his 2 2/3 innings pitched. He was charged with an earned run as the next reliever gave up an RBI double to the first hitter he faced that made the score 5-0 Peoria. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K; 8.64 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (8 1/3 IP) overall. Sisk saw action in two of the Scorpions wins on the week, pitching middle innings in both Tuesday’s and Saturday’s games. In the first, he was called in from the bullpen with two outs in the fifth inning after a bases-clearing double. He got his batter to fly out to right field to end the inning without any further damage. Back out for the sixth he retired the side in order, including a strikeout to punctuate his perfect outing. In the second game on Saturday, Sisk was brought on to start the seventh inning, and needed just 11 pitches to retire the side. He got two groundballs and a strikeout to complete a perfect week and lower both his ERA and WHIP on the AFL season substantially. After a rough introduction to the AFL, Sisk has retired all ten hitters he has faced in his last three outings, including four of them via strikeout. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Overall on the week the Scottsdale Scorpions had just two wins in six games and are now 5-11 on the season. They will look to put together their first winning record of the AFL campaign in Week 4. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 2-for-9, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K; .278/.400/.611 (1.011 OPS) overall. While Wallner only had two hits on the week, they were both big ones and raised his OPS during the AFL season over .100 points from Week 2 to Week 3. Wallner played right field and batted sixth in the lineup in Scottsdale’s first game of the week, a 7-6 loss to Glendale on Monday. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Wallner drew a walk that put runners on first and second base before another walk loaded the bases. He then trotted home on Jeter Downs’ grand slam that pulled the Scorpions within one run. He was the final out of the game when he grounded out to the pitcher with the tying run on first base. He finished this one 0-for-4 with one walk, the run scored, and one strikeout. In Tuesday’s 11-2 loss to Surprise Wallner was one of the few bright spots for Scottsdale as he scored both of their runs and as a team managed just five hits. In his first at-bat with one out in the second inning, Wallner blasted a moonshot solo home run to right field. His third home run of the AFL season made the score 2-1. He also drew a walk in the ninth inning and came around to score on a single three batters later. In the game Wallner was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, the home run, a walk, and one strikeout. He played left field and again batted sixth. The final action of the week for Wallner came in Thursday’s 11-4 win over Mesa where he batted fifth in the lineup and was back in right field. He struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat but didn’t waste any time in his second one to lead off the third inning. He took a big hack at the first pitch he saw and drove it over the fence the opposite way, giving his team a 5-1 lead at the time. The game got a little interesting for Wallner from there. In the fifth and sixth innings he was hit by pitches in both at-bats. The second of those resulted in an RBI, but hit him in the face. He was subsequently removed from the game, requiring some stitches but avoiding anything serious. In total, he reached base three times in the win, finishing with a 1-for-2 batting line with the home run, one strikeout, and two HBP’s and finished his week tied for second in the league in home runs with four in 36 at-bats on the season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; 8.44 ERA, 2.25 WHIP (5 1/3 IP) overall. Featherstone established a bit of a theme for Twins relief pitchers in AFL games this week with a forgettable first appearance that was followed by a rebound effort. He was the first reliever out of the bullpen in Monday’s loss to Glendale to start the fifth inning. He struck out the first hitter he faced and then got out number two on a liner to center. But from there it was walk, single, single, single, and another walk before he was pulled with two runs already in and responsible for the bases being loaded. Two more runs would be charged to him before the inning was over and Scottsdale was down 5-1 after five. Back in action for the Scorpions 11-4 win over the Solar Sox on Thursday, Featherstone was tabbed this time to pitch the eighth inning with his team up by seven. It was a one-two-three effort requiring thirteen pitches, with the final two hitters going down swinging. In 5 1/3 innings thus far for Featherstone, he has a 9:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio he’ll look to improve upon in the season’s final three weeks. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 0-for-9, R, 6 BB, 3 K; .235/.366/.324 (.689 OPS) overall. Although Bechtold didn’t collect a hit on the week as he was moved up in the lineup, he did draw an impressive six walks in his three games, raising his OBP on the AFL season to .366. In their 7-6 loss to the Desert Dogs on Monday, Bechtold was 0-for-3 but drew the first two of those free passes while serving as the DH and batting fifth in front of Wallner. He drew those walks in the fourth and sixth innings but made it no farther than first base. Playing third base and moving up to third in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Salt River, Bechtold drew three walks and struck out twice in his five plate appearances. After drawing a free pass in the first inning and being among those to load the bases, Bechtold got to third base with just one out, but Scottsdale was only able to score one run in front of him for an early lead. His other walks came in the third inning (stranded on second) and the ninth (that put the tying run in scoring position), but was unable to notch a run scored on the game. Bechtold’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 6-5 win over Glendale, where he batted cleanup and played catcher. He was 0-for-4 on the game, but drew his final base on balls of the week in the eighth inning and later scored on a two-run double that ended up being big runs for the Scorpions as the game went to extra innings before they were able to win it in the eleventh. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; 10.29 ERA, 2.71 WHIP (7 IP) overall. The left-handed Funderburk was tabbed to start Tuesday’s game against Surprise, which they ended up losing big. He was saddled with his second loss of the AFL season. The Saguaros got to him early with the first three hitters of the game reaching base, the third with an RBI single to open the game’s scoring. Another RBI single later in the frame put the Scorpions in a 2-0 hole before their first at-bat. The second inning was much easier for Funderburk. He needed just six pitches to record three outs in one-two-three fashion, picking up a swinging strikeout to end the frame. The third inning was more like the first, except this time the hits came more in the form of doubles. After a leadoff single Funderburk got his second strikeout of the outing, but the consecutive doubles that followed led to two more runs. To finish the inning and his outing, he did notch his fourth strikeout (swinging) on three pitches. Michael Helman: 3 games, 0-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K; .214/.333/.250 (.583 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman did not have a hit in his three games, but due to a few base on balls did score a couple of runs in his time on the field in Week 3, including a game winner. He had to wait until Wednesday’s game against Salt River to see some action. He batted eighth and played left field. His at-bats included a pair of pop-outs to the infield, a lineout to center, and one strikeout. His next game was on Friday in the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale. His two walks in five plate appearances helped them win the game. The first of those free passes came in the seventh inning, and he would score the second run of the inning to tie the game at three. In the eighth his second walk loaded the bases before a Christian Koss double scored two to put the Scorpions ahead 5-4 at the time. After lining into a double play to end the 10th inning, Helman started the 11th on second base with the game still tied, after a (intentional?!) balk moved him to third, Helman was able to trot home for the walk-off winning run on a Koss single to right field. He played second base this time around and again batted eighth in the lineup. Helman was again in the lineup, batting sixth and playing center field, for the Scorpions in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to Surprise. It was an 0-for-4 effort a game the Scorpions outhit the Saguaros 10-7 as a team. He reached base on an error to leadoff the second inning, grounded out to third in the fourth, popped out to first in the sixth, and flew out to center in the seventh to account for all his plate appearances. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (9 IP) overall. After impressing with strikeouts in the season’s first two weeks, Laweryson got his job done in different fashion in Week 3, lowering his ERA to 1.00 on the AFL season in the process with just one strikeout in two appearances. In Wednesday's 3-2 loss against Salt River, Laweryson was brought on to start the sixth inning with the score already 3-2. The first batter reached base on an error, but he was able to retire the next three hitters with a strikeout and two more grounders to keep his team in front. He threw 15 pitches, with nine going for strikes (2 swinging) in this outing. With his team down 6-1 after a bases loaded two-run single in the seventh, Laweryson was summoned with runners on first and second base and two outs in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Saguaros. Looking to limit the damage in the frame any further, Laweryson did allow his first big hit of the AFL season, a two-run double to the first batter he faced that made it 8-1, but he was not responsible for those runners. He got a lineout to end the inning after that and with a clean slate in the eighth delivered a scoreless frame. He allowed two hits in his 1 1/3 innings in this one and will look to get back to punching out hitters in Week 4. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 14.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (5 IP) overall. Like Featherstone before him, Sisk had a rough first appearance followed by a solid second in Week 3 of AFL action. In their big loss on Tuesday, Sisk was brought in from the bullpen to start the fifth inning with the score already 7-1 Surprise. He got the first two outs on a grounder and flyout around a walk, before a single put runners on first and second, and a double to the next hitter brought them both home for a 9-1 Saguaros lead. Another walk prompted a mound visit before he got the final out of the inning on a fly ball to center field. In the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale on Friday, Sisk was tabbed for the sixth inning with the score 2-1 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He made quick work of the hitters he faced, retiring them in order with the first of those two outs coming via strikeouts on foul tips that teammate Bechtold held onto as the catcher. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Overall on the week, the Scottsdale Scorpions went just 1-5 and gave up runs in bunches in several of their games. They will look to rebound as a team in week three. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-16, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K; .296/.375/.519 (.894 OPS) overall. Wallner started off week two just as he finished week one, with a home run in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Salt River. His second blast of the fall season led off the second inning and put Scottsdale up 1-0 early in the game. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Wednesday, hitting third and playing right field in the Scorpions 11-9 loss to the Solar Sox. His first four at-bats included a pop-out to the catcher and three strikeouts, but helped start their attempt at a comeback with a single on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth. He would later come around to score the Scorpions final run of the game. In Thursday’s 17-2 loss to Surprise Wallner in left field and batting third again. You can tell from the score there wasn’t much going right for the Scorpions in this one, but Wallner contributed one of their two runs batted in with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. For the game he was 0-for-2 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Wallner’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 10-8 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. As the cleanup hitter in this one, he would finish 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. He singled in the fifth inning and drew a walk to load the bases in the ninth, but would end up stranded in scoring position both times. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, H, 1 BB, 2 K; 2.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP overall. The left-hander saw action in two games on the week, with his first appearance coming in Tuesday’s 12-4 win over the Desert Dogs. He was the first reliever summoned and pitched a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed a single and struck out two hitters in the outing. In Thursday’s blowout loss to the Saguaros, Featherstone was the last reliever called upon and got the final two outs of the game for the Scorpions. After six of the first seven hitters of the eighth inning reached base and four runs had already scored, he was brought in with runners on first and second. He got a flyout then walked one to reload the bases before a pair of wild pitches got away from him and two more runs came across home plate for Surprise. He got a groundout later in that at-bat to finally end the onslaught. Andrew Bechtold: 4 games, 6-for-17, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K; .320/.346.440 (.786 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the designated hitter and batted sixth in Monday’s loss to the Rafters, but like Wallner, he had a big game as they combined for five of the Scorpions 10 hits on the day. Bechtold finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. His double in the fourth inning put Scottsdale in front 2-1, and he scored his run on a double a batter later. Leading off the sixth inning Bechtold clubbed another double to center field, but ended up stranded on second base. He also drew a walk in the second inning. In Wednesday's game against Mesa, Bechtold moved up into the cleanup spot behind Wallner.. He played first base in this one and had another two-hit day. He singled in both the first and eighth innings and scored a run in the eighth when the Scorpions cut the Solar Sox lead to 9-7. Bechtold’s third game of the week was on Thursday and he was the catcher, batting fifth. He finished 1-for-4 to collect one of the Scorpions four hits on the game. He singled in the second inning and was left on base. He also grounded out in the fourth, flew out in the sixth, and struck out in the ninth. Behind the dish he allowed one passed ball and three bases were stolen by the Saguaros. In Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Salt River Bechtold was at third base and again hitting cleanup in the lineup. He extended his hitting streak to his first six games in the AFL with a 1-for-4 effort. He singled in the first inning to drive in the Scorpions only run of the game. Unfortunately, in his other three at-bats, he struck out but has otherwise been impressive thus far in Arizona with a .320 batting average. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Funderburk made the start in Wednesday’s loss to Mesa after allowing three unearned runs in his two innings. He walked the first two batters of the game but came back with a strikeout before inducing a double-play ball for a scoreless inning. In the second, it was a walk and single followed by an error on Bechtold at first base that allowed the first unearned run to score. An RBI groundout and RBI single later in the inning accounted for the other two before Funderburk got the final out on a grounder to third to cap his outing. In his two innings he allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out one. Michael Helman: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB; .353/.450/.412 (.862 OPS) overall. Helman saw action in three games on the week, playing third base, second base, and center field in the games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He batted ninth in all three contests and collected three more hits to keep his batting average in AFL play above .350 thus far. Against Mesa on Wednesday Helman picked up singles in the third and eighth innings. He led off the third inning with his first of the game, and would score from first on a double from the next batter to cut the Mesa lead to 3-2 at the time. His second single in the eighth was of the RBI variety and made the score 9-6 Solar Sox. In all he finished 2-for-5 with one strikeout as a hitter, but also had two errors in the field. In the all-around clunker of a game against Surprise on Thursday Helman was 0-for-3 with a lineout, fly out, and groundout, his first AFL game without a hit so far on the season. Against Peoria on Friday, Helman got back to his hitting ways, and also caused some havoc on the base paths. In his first at-bat in the third inning he drew a walk and promptly stole second base. He would then score Scottsdale’s first run of the game on a single before they took a 3-1 lead on a home run from early standout Jeter Downs. In the fourth Helman delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1 and he again took second base to get himself into scoring position, though he wouldn’t make it any farther around the bases. He finished this game 1-for-3 with the run scored, an RBI, walk, and the two stolen bases for a nice finish to his week. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (1 start), 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K; 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, including a start in Friday’s loss to the Javelina’s. His first game of the week was in Tuesday’s win over Glendale where he pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed a single to the first hitter he faced, but then retired the other six he faced in a row, including two strikeouts. In his start on Friday he was sharp for the first two innings, striking out four hitters and allowing only two baserunners after an error from his third baseman and a walk in the second inning. Back out for the third he surrendered a single and a double around a lineout before being replaced by the bullpen. In his 2 1/3 innings he was charged with one run on two hits and a walk while striking out four. So far on the season Laweryson leads the Scorpions pitching staff in innings pitched (6 2/3), and strikeouts, and his 12 K’s rank second among all pitchers in the AFL. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Sisk made two relief outings on the week and was roughed up a little in each, though strikeouts came in bunches in one of those outings. In Monday’s loss to Salt River Sisk was unable to record an out in the sixth inning and by the time it was over the Rafters had taken a 5-4 lead. A leadoff double was followed by two walks and a hit batter before he was removed. Responsible for the bases being loaded, three more runs would end up being charged to him and the Scorpions were not able to fully recover the rest of the way. On Thursday Sisk was the first reliever summoned after the Scorpions starter went 3 1/3 innings and he struck out the first hitter he faced. But that was then followed by a single and a two-run home run that put Surprise out front 6-2. He then hit a batter before picking up his second strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth it was a lot better for the lefty to end week two on a high note as all three hitters went down swinging on pitches up in the zone. In his 1 2/3 innings in this one, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk, but all five of his outs came on K’s. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K; .273/.385/.545 (.930 OPS) overall. After missing about half of the 2021 minor league season with a hand injury, Matt Wallner is looking to make up development time in the AFL. He got off to a pretty good start. In the AFL season’s opening game that Scottsdale lost to Glendale 4-3, Wallner batted third in the lineup (which is a good indication of his talent level on a team with Marco Luciano and Triston Casas in the same lineup) and played in right field. He finished the game 1-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, but notched a single in the third inning that put runners on the corners for a Scorpions scoring threat they didn’t cash in. His other at-bat was a lineout to left field in the fifth. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Friday for the Scorpions first win, a reverse of their opener where they defeated the Desert Dogs 4-3. Wallner batted fifth and switched sides in the outfield, getting the nod in left in this one. He finished 0-for-2, but drew a pair of walks and was on base when Curtis Mead clubbed the deciding three-run homer in the top of the seventh. In his final game of the week, an 8-2 victory over Peoria, Wallner was again batting fifth and was the designated hitter. Down 1-0 after three innings, Wallner stepped to the plate with two outs and a runner on first before putting the Scorpions ahead for good with one swing of the bat. His homer to left-center field made the score 2-1. He got another RBI opportunity in the ninth, and delivered a run-scoring single to account for the Scorpions eighth and final run. It was an exclamation point game for the slugger to end his first week of action on a high note. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.50 WHIP overall. Zach Featherstone was an excellent part of the Cedar Rapids Kernels bullpen during the 2021 season, amassing 93 strikeouts in 55 innings with a 2.13 ERA and nine saves. He came in third in Twins Daily’s 2021 MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting. While he definitely walked too many (42 batters) and is likely part of the reason he’s in Arizona, hoping to learn some new tricks when it comes to his command and control. He appeared in two games on the week, the first of which came in the season opener against Glendale. He was tabbed for the sixth inning and struck out the first two hitters he faced before allowing a double and single that put runners on the corners. He recovered nicely, striking out the next hitter on three pitches for a scoreless frame and a nice start to his AFL ledger when it comes to strikeouts. His second appearance of the AFL season came in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas. He was the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions and came on to start the fifth inning. It wasn’t as clean as his first game, as he allowed a leadoff single where the runner ended up coming around to score on a double three batters later. He walked one and struck out one in his inning, being credited with a hold, and will look to continue racking up strikeouts in week 2. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-8, 2B, 0 BB, 3 K; .250/.250.375 (.625 OPS) overall. Andrew Bechtold was the Twins fifth round pick in the 2017 draft after an excellent season at Chipola College. He was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 minor league season with 18 in 99 games for Wichita. One interesting development for Bechtold that he will continue in the AFL, is the Twins working with him at the catcher position, where he advanced enough during the year that they got him in a single game there late. Bechtold had to wait for the Scorpions third game to get his first AFL action, and he was tabbed to play third base and bat seventh in the lineup in their 4-3 win over Glendale. He finished the game 1-for-4, clubbing a two-out double in the fifth inning before being stranded. His other three at-bats included three ground balls, including two that ended in double-plays. In Saturday’s 8-2 win, Bechtold again was batting seventh and got the start behind the dish for the Scorpions. I’m sure he’d like to have been better than his first three at-bats in his first game as the catcher for the Scorpions that all ended in strikeouts, but he got another chance in the eighth, where he singled to put a runner in scoring position. As the catcher, Bechtold allowed one stolen base with an errant throw, but later also threw a runner out at second. Scorpions pitchers walked eight Javelinas and had two wild pitches, but Bechtold surely contributed to them scoring just two runs calling the game as they were 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left 11 men on base. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, BB, 2 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.50 WHIP overall. After finishing the 2021 season as a reliever with Wichita, Kody Funderburk is tabbed as a starter for the Scorpions in the AFL. He did make 10 starts for Cedar Rapids before his promotion to Wichita where he was used only as a reliever. However, he was a long reliever and averaged more than three innings per appearance. He also had a sub 1.00 WHIP with Wichita and is likely in Arizona in part due to his limited innings as a professional, as he’s thrown just 155 innings since being drafted in 2018. Funderburk was on the mound to start Scottsdale’s second game of the season on Thursday, a game they lost big. You might think Funderburk was the biggest reason for that after you see he allowed four runs on six hits in his two innings, but those that followed him on the mound were infinitely worse as the Scorpions lost 13-5 behind a nine-run third inning after Funderburk’s day was over. He pitched a scoreless first inning, allowing only an infield single, but with a 4-0 lead after the top of the second, Funderburk wasn’t able to keep runners off the bases in the bottom half. Two doubles, three singles, and a walk in the inning led to the score being tied at four, but he did end his outing with his second strikeout of the frame and his outing. When I used that term “infinitely” above I was being quite literal, as the next two pitchers for Scottsdale in the third inning didn’t record a single out and were charged with nine earned runs. Michael Helman: 2 games, 3-for-6, 2 R, 2B, 2 BB, 0 K; .500/.625/.667 (1.292 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Michael Helman was among the organization's leaders in home runs during the 2021 season, slugging 19 with the Kernels in 111 games. He was an infielder when drafted and played mostly second base in his first two seasons, but in 2021 was primarily an outfielder (all three positions) with some middle-infield mixed in. He’ll likely play all around the diamond in Arizona, but I’ll be watching for his opportunities in center field especially. His first game of the week came in Thursday’s big loss to Mesa, but it wasn’t because of anything he did as he reached base three times and scored a run. He batted eighth in the lineup and played third base, finishing 1-for-2 with two walks. He drew his first base on balls in the second inning and later scored on a Jeter Downs single. In the fourth inning, he singled to right field and was on third base when the bases were loaded, but was forced out at home on a comebacker to the pitcher. His second walk of the game came in the eighth inning, but he was again the force out on a double-play ball that ended the inning. Helman was tabbed for center field in Saturday’s 8-2 win over the Javelinas, and batted eighth in the lineup behind his organizational teammate Andrew Bechtold. He singled in the fifth inning and later scored Scottsdale’s third run of the game on a double. In the seventh inning, his first double of the AFL season put a runner on third that later scored on a sacrifice fly from the next hitter. He finished the game 2-for-4 and his first week with an excellent batting line. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 2 BB, 6 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.86 WHIP overall. After a strong debut season in 2019 in which he struck out 63 batters in 46 innings with a 0.80 WHIP and 1.57 ERA, Cody Laweryson missed some time to start the 2021 and wasn’t back to pitching until June. The strikeouts were still there as he racked up 73 in just 58 2/3 innings with the Kernels over 15 games (14 starts), but the missed 2020 season and injury loomed large as his ERA was 4.91 with a 1.33 WHIP. He’s looking to make up some innings and gain confidence in the AFL. Laweryson’s lone appearance on the week came in Thursday’s 13-5 loss to Mesa. After his team fell behind so big he was one of the stabilizing forces, along with another of his organizational teammates, as he entered the game in the middle of the fourth inning with the bases loaded and only one out. He struck out both hitters he faced to squash that threat, and followed that up by striking out all three hitters in the fifth. Back out for the sixth he got two more outs, including another strikeout, before losing some steam and walking his final two hitters before being removed. I say that last bit a little tongue in cheek, as if you believe the data available, he should have gotten his seventh strikeout of the night on multiple pitches in the at-bat resulting in the first of those walks: In all, Laweryson struck out six hitters and walked two in his 2 1/3 scoreless innings, and if this game is any indication his confidence should be sky high moving forward. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 1 1/3 IP, H, 2 BB; 0.00 ERA, 2.25 WHIP overall. Evan Sisk is new to the Twins organization, coming over from the St. Louis Cardinals in the trade of J.A. Happ during the 2021 season. He pitched in 14 games with the Wichita Wind Surge that resulted in a 4.87 ERA and 1.82 WHIP. Like Featherstone he’ll need to work to cut down his walks and the AFL gives him a good opportunity to hone those skills against top competition. Sisk’s only outing of the week also came in the Scorpions blowout loss to Mesa, but he was the pitcher who picked up where Laweryson left off after those walks in the sixth inning. He did issue another walk to the first hitter he faced to load the bases, but got a fly out to escape that jam. Back out for the seventh, Sisk gave up a leadoff single and a walk later in the inning, but otherwise got three ground ball outs to finish his game with a scoreless outing. In total, he allowed no runs on one hit and two walks in 1 1/3 innings. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  24. The Scottsdale Scorpions team contains seven players from the Twins, Giants, “Guardians,” Rays, and Red Sox. As was announced just last week, the Twins are sending four pitchers and three position players. Right-hander Cody Laweryson and lefties Kody Funderburk, Zach Featherstone, and Evan Sisk will get some extra innings on the mound. Outfielder Matt Wallner, infielder Andrew Bechtold, and utility man Michael Helman will get more opportunities at the plate and in the field. For the Twins representatives, it is their first time playing in the league. Most of them hadn’t even been to Arizona for the Fall League as a fan. The lone exception is Kody Funderburk, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and frequented the ballparks in the Fall. The southpaw was a two-way player at Dallas Baptist, but he has been solely a pitcher since joining the Twins as their 15th round draft pick in 2018. He began this season at High-A Cedar Rapids, where he made ten starts and was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings, he had 59 strikeouts. He moved up to Double-A Wichita, and all seven of his appearances came out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.25 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Ryan Smith has earned praise for his terrific work as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wind Surge, the same role he will have for Scottsdale. Smith noted, “Prior to last week, I had never been in Arizona!” The Twins prospects finished the season in either Cedar Rapids or Wichita. Both teams made the playoffs. They got a couple of weeks off before heading to Arizona for a week of practice. Each player has things they want to work on during their time in the Fall League. Likewise, Smith intends to continue to improve himself during his time there. He said, “ I’d like to continue to sharpen my communication (and Spanish-speaking) skills with this new group of players.” For Evan Sisk, the Fall League provides him with an opportunity to work on pitches and such. He came to the Twins at the trade deadline from the Cardinals in the J.A. Happ trade and spent the final two months working in the Wind Surge bullpen. He will also get to know these Twins teammates better. Minnesota native Matt Wallner missed about two months of the 2021 season because of a broken hamate bone. This time will allow him to get some of those missed at-bats back. He noted, “Working on seeing and being more comfortable against the better arms in this league.” Kernels starter Cody Laweryson missed time early in the season. His season began in June, and he made 14 starts. In 58 2/3 innings, he had 73 strikeouts. For him, it is mainly about working on his confidence. “My biggest thing to work on is keeping my confidence high no matter how my outings are going.” Like Funderburk, Zach Featherstone was a two-way player in college. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft as a first baseman/outfielder. He spent that first year in the organization as a hitter. However, he quickly moved to the mound. Unfortunately, after just a handful of innings in 2017, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was ready for a rehab appearance when a hurricane shut down the GCL season. Like others, he did not pitch in 2020. So you can imagine what it meant for him to get back on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021. And he was terrific. By season’s end, he was the Kernels closer, and his pitches were much sharper. He noted, “I’m going to be working on getting ahead of hitters more often, attacking the strike zone with all three of my pitches.” Featherstone throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider that can be devastating at times. Michael Helman was drafted as a middle infielder in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. His power arrived in 2021. In 121 pro games between 2018 and 2019, he had 19 doubles and seven homers. In 111 games for the Kernels in 2021, he hit 21 doubles and 19 home runs. Helman did so while spending time playing all over the diamond. Having played one pro game in the outfield over his first two pro seasons, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, and 26 games in center field. He played 20 games in the middle infield. He pointed out, “I would like to become more of a complete player all around both on the offensive and defensive sides. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing more outfield or infield. I guess it just depends on where they want to work me in.” In the season’s first half, he split his time between first base and third base. After the Twins promoted Jose Miranda to St. Paul, Bechtold played more third base. In 99 games, he hit 23 doubles and 18 home runs. The day after the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, Bechtold played his first game as a catcher. It is something he had been working on for about a month. “I’m definitely going to be continuing to work on my catching. Catching for me was a project the last month or so of the season, and we put in a lot of work. I was able to catch in a game in Double-A this year because of how well the progression we were working on worked. I know catching is a valuable tool for me to have. I’m excited to continue to work on it and continue to get more experience. Along with catching, I want to continue to develop as much range as possible at third base and continue to fine-tune my approach at the plate.” The Arizona Fall League is something that baseball fans should include on their bucket list. And for players, the opportunity to play in the league is tremendous. The players should be excited about this opportunity, and they all are. Bechtold said, “I’m most looking forward to playing against guys you may not normally see, whether that’s because of the league they are in or level. I think the AFL is a great opportunity to see guys first-hand and see how you compare to some of the other organizations’ top talents. I think playing with high-caliber players for an extended period of time pushes you and forces you to play your best baseball, so I’m looking forward to that.” It is about testing yourself against prospects from around baseball. Featherstone said, “I’m looking forward to getting to compete against some of the best minor league competition from this year.” Laweryson explained, “I would say I’m most looking forward to the competition I’m going to face and the great players I’m going to be playing with.” Wallner echoed the sentiment, “ Looking forward to competing against upper-level competition that’s out here.” And so did Helman, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against some great competition.” One of the great things about the Fall League and playing with coaches and players from other organizations is the chance to learn from others. Maybe try something that will click for them and help them achieve another level of success. Smith is undoubtedly looking forward to that. “I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with coaches and players from other organizations, as well as enjoying the great fall weather out in AZ. ” To summarize, Bechtold said, “I’ve heard a lot about it just being a baseball fan growing up, and I always knew it was something I would want to play in one day if given the opportunity. I think the Twins have a good group of guys here, so I’m excited to experience it with them and really take it all in and enjoy my time here.” In the past, I have chatted with players after the AFL season is complete to hear their experiences. Most are just thrilled to have had the opportunity to have met such great players and people from other organizations. It’s fun to see if they were able to accomplish some of the things they wanted to. Each week throughout the AFL season, Twins Daily will update how the Twins prospects have performed.
  25. The Arizona Fall League started in 1992 as an off-season league where some of baseball’s best up-and-coming prospects can take the field together. Six teams make up the AFL, and each club plays a 30-game schedule. According to MLB.com, “Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with the league boasting 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, eight World Series MVPs, 103 Silver Sluggers, 96 Gold Gloves and 32 Rookies of the Year.” Will any of the names mentioned below be able to add to the accolades mentioned above? Here are the top five Twins prospects heading to the 2021 Arizona Fall League: 5. Michael Helman, 2B/OF 2021 Stats: .246/.336/.462 (.798), 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B, 87 K, 51 BB (111 G) Helman ended the 2019 season at High-A, and he spent all of 2021 at the same level. He was over 2.5 years older than the average age of the competition at that level. During the 2021 season, he was among the organization leaders in homers. He is listed as a second baseman on the AFL rosters, even though he primarily played in the outfield this season. This might be an opportunity to get him more reps in the infield. 4. Kody Funderburk, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 82 K, 28 BB (67.0 IP) Minnesota selected Funderburk with their 15th round pick back in 2018. During the 2019 season, he struggled at Low-A as he posted a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 13 appearances (10 starts). Funderburk posted strong numbers between High- and Double-A this season while being used as a starter and a reliever. He has only pitched 155 innings as a professional, so this is likely an opportunity for him to get more innings under his belt. 3. Zach Featherstone, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K, 42 BB (55.0 IP) Entering 2021, Featherstone was limited to 18 1/3 innings since the Twins drafted him as a position player in 2016. None of those innings came above the rookie leagues. Minnesota pushed him to High-A this season, where the 25-year old was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. Featherstone posted an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 out of the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, he also walked nearly seven batters per nine. This is likely an opportunity to get Featherstone some more innings so he can work on his control. 2. Andrew Bechtold, 3B 2021 Stats: .239/.328/.459 (.786), 18 HR, 23 2B, 131 K, 45 BB (99 Games) Originally, Bechtold was a fifth-round pick by the Twins back in 2017. His college experience at Maryland helped him post an .829 OPS at Elizabethton. He struggled in 2018 at Low-A as his OPS dropped by 236 points. The Twins sent him back to Low-A in 2019, and he split time between Low- and High-A with a .738 OPS. Like Helman, he was among the organization leaders in homers this season. Defensively, he continues to play at third base with some time at first. 1. Matt Wallner, OF 2021 Stats: .265/.350/.504 (.854), 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 100 K, 28 BB (68 Games) Wallner strikes out a bunch, but he has light-tower power, which puts him at the top of this list. He came in as the organization’s 12th best prospect in the most recent Twins Daily prospect rankings. A broken hamate bone limited him to 68 games, so sending him to the AFL to recoup some last at-bats makes sense. In a third of his plate appearances this season, he struck out, so that will be something to watch in Arizona. How would you rank these players? What will you be looking for in the AFL? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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