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  1. Leader of the “Pay. The. Man” campaign, I’ve always been a staunch supporter of the Twins locking Buxton up long term. My follow-up to that suggestion has always been the need for a capable fourth outfielder. Jake Cave hasn’t been that for quite some time, and despite a brief renaissance period for Rob Refsnyder, he’s not that guy either. Minnesota needs someone with the ability to start in centerfield over two weeks and hold serve. Currently, there are only two potential options on the 40 man roster: Nick Gordon Earning himself run because of his versatility last season, Gordon played 73 games for the Twins. Despite having played solely on the dirt in the minor leagues, he looked comfortable in the outfield. The defense should improve as he settles into the role, but the bat is where things may break down. His .647 OPS last season isn’t going to get it done, and with minimal power to his credit, he’ll need to expand heavily upon his on-base profile. Steamer projects a .697 OPS in 2021, and while still not good enough, it’s worth noting that he’s improved at every level in year two. I don’t think he’s the guy, but I like the idea of Minnesota rostering him as he brings a speed threat that has otherwise been missing. Gilberto Celestino This is an interesting case in that Celestino was thrust into action during 2021 before being ready. Celestino was promoted as a 22-year-old after just 21 games in Double-A with no centerfield options available. He understandably was overmatched, posting a .466 OPS in 23 MLB games. The defense has always been his calling card, and that too looked out of sorts at times. Settling back in at Triple-A St. Paul, Celestino turned it on. In 49 games, he posted an .827 OPS and was back to being strong in the outfield. The additional time to settle in no doubt helped regain confidence, a talent that can translate to the highest level. Celestino will be just 23-years-old in 2022 and remains someone to watch for the future. Steamer projections have him at a .692 OPS in 2022, which would be a substantial jump from his debut. Handing him the fourth outfielder role on Opening Day may be a bit soon, but a repeat of the Triple-A numbers should suggest he’s ready. This could become an option sooner rather than later. If Derek Falvey wants to go beyond the organization, options exist there as well. Some of that has to do with how the Twins move forward in trading assets. Max Kepler is a defensive stalwart in right field and can undoubtedly cover in center should Buxton go down. That allows the fourth outfielder to be less of a center-mandated role. However, if he’s not in the picture, things get understandably more complicated. The high end of the free-agent market would be signing corner and sometimes center outfielder Kris Bryant. That’s a bat that has fit the Twins for a while but would seem like a longshot at best. The more economical veteran options are a who’s who of retreads. Names such as Kevin Pillar, Jake Marisnick, and Billy Hamilton are all there. However, if there’s someone I’ve got my eye on, it’s another former Cub, Albert Almora. Since his top prospect days, Almora's stock has dropped after playing strong defense and posting a .777 OPS in his first two seasons. He’ll be just 28 in 2022, though, and a trip to the American League could be good for him. With the Mets Triple-A club last season, he owned a .759 OPS, and Steamer projections have him at a .691 OPS in 2022. If there’s a guy with upside to bank on while still having done it already, this is where I’m looking. Minnesota signing Almora to a two-year deal, or one with an option, would make Byron Buxton’s over-under of 120 games less of a gamble. At the end of the day, the Twins should want to get back to an outfield defense similar to 2020. Before being 12th in defensive runs saved a year ago, Minnesota was third in 2020. Defenders that can prevent runs will be at a premium whether the staff lacks top-tier talent or throws out young arms. The more confidence you can feel from the top four outfielders, the better. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. Below is a rundown of the back half of the top-20 stories here at Twins Daily over the last calendar year. Take a look back at some of the most significant events and stop back later to look at the top-10 stories. 20. José Berríos Traded to Blue Jays Published: July 30 Author: Matthew Taylor After the season went south, the José Berríos trade was one of the biggest stories of the year. Not only did it impact the second half of the 2021 season, but the trade also has ramifications felt into the current off-season as the team looks to rebuild the pitching staff. Minnesota was able to get two top-100 prospects, and the Blue Jays eventually signed Berríos to a long-term deal. 19. Trade Deadline Tracker: Twins' News and Rumor Roundup Published: July 29 Author: Matthew Taylor There's no question that Twins fans were interested in the 2021 trade deadline as Minnesota had multiple big-league assets tied into the rumor mill. One of the day's biggest stories was the Brewers trading for old friend Eduardo Escobar. Rumors also swirled about a potential José Berríos trade that happened the next day. 18. Nelson Cruz Saga Illuminates Shrewdness of Falvine Published: February 5 Author: Nash Walker Last winter, one of the team's most significant decisions was whether or not to bring back Nelson Cruz. Minnesota's front office was patient, and the National League never added the designated hitter. This left few contending teams in need of Cruz's services. Falvine got Cruz to sign on their terms, and he'd be part of another big story later in the year. 17. Potential Trade Packages for José Berríos Published: May 29 Author: Matthew Lenz Even at the end of May, it was clear the Twins would be in sell mode before the trade deadline. Not only did Matthew connect the Blue Jays as a potential suitor for a Berríos trade, but he also hit on one of the prospects the team got as part of the return. 16. Are the Twins About to Build a Radically Unconventional Pitching Staff? Published: November 11 Author: Nick Nelson The Twins didn't sign any of the top-tier free-agent starting pitchers, and this article gives insight into what the team might be planning. Thad Levine and the front office may consider a nontraditional approach to filling the rotation. When the lockout ends, this approach will be something to keep an eye on as the roster comes together. 15. End of the Line for Brent Rooker? Published: September 25 Author: Cody Pirkl Brent Rooker finished his age-26 season, and he has yet to put it all together at the big-league level. He has little left to prove at Triple-A, and now the question remains as to what his future may hold with the Twins moving forward. Can he be a bench option for the Twins in 2022, or has he reached the end of the line? 14. Twins Trade Nelson Cruz to the Rays for Two AAA Starting Pitchers Published: July 22 Author: Seth Stohs Tampa Bay didn't wait around until the trade deadline to make their move as they wanted Cruz on their roster for an extra week and a half. Even with Cruz on an expiring deal, the Twins acquired two pitchers that are close to big-league ready. It was Minnesota's first big trade before the deadline, and it wouldn't be their last move. 13. Do the Twins Already Have the Next Brian Dozier? Published: March 1 Author: Cody Christie Brian Dozier was a late bloomer that came through the Twins system to have some monster seasons at the plate. Nick Gordon made his debut in 2021, and he also fits into the late-bloomer category. He may never develop Dozier's power, but he seemed to fit nicely into a utility role in the season's second half. 12. Twins Finalize Opening Day Roster Published: March 29 Author: Seth Stohs Minnesota was coming off of back-to-back AL Central titles, so there was plenty of hope associated with the Opening Day roster. One of the team's final decisions was to keep Kyle Garlick over Rooker. Garlick led the team in home runs throughout the spring, so it took an impressive showing for him to make the squad. 11. Ranking the Top-5 Remaining Free Agent Starters Published: December 1 Author: Cody Christie Minnesota had yet to acquire any starting pitching outside of Dylan Bundy, with the lockout looming. There were some clear names at the top of the free-agent rankings, but things dropped off in a hurry. One of the players has already signed, but the other four players are still available if Minnesota wants to pursue them for 2022. Stop back and check out the top stories of the year. Which of these stories will you remember the most? 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
  3. In 2021, 10 Twins made their Major League debuts with various amounts of success. Nonetheless, a lot of these guys could play major roles in contributing to the future success of the team. Let’s see how they did. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Even though Alex Kirilloff played a game in the playoffs in 2020, he didn’t officially make his major league debut until April 14, 2021. Kirilloff had a rough start at the plate, going 0-for-15 to start his career despite some bad batted-ball luck. In April, Kirilloff’s xSLG was an otherworldly .825 but his actual slugging percentage was only .400. His average exit velocity was 95.4 MPH in April and 93 MPH in May. However, on May 5, the Twins placed Kirilloff on the IL because of a wrist injury. Kirilloff returned to the lineup on May 21 and was not the same the rest of the season, only hitting .260/.316/.387 the rest of the year. On July 21, it was announced that Kirilloff would undergo season-ending wrist surgery. In 2021, Kirilloff hit .251/.299/.423 (.722) but a lot of that was impacted by his nagging wrist injury. Lately, Kirilloff has been taking batting practice and should be ready to go for the 2022 season. Kirilloff remains an extremely promising player and should be a middle-of-the-order bat for the Twins for years to come. Grade: B Ben Rortvedt, C After Ryan Jeffers started the season 5-for-34 with 18 strikeouts and only one extra base hit, the Twins called up left-handed hitting Ben Rortvedt to back up Mitch Garver. On April 30, Rortvedt made his major league debut against the Kansas City Royals, going 1-for-3 with a walk. He recorded his first major league hit in the bottom of the eighth inning, hitting an RBI single off of Wade Davis to drive in Andrelton Simmons. Rortvedt was unimpressive at the plate in 2021, hitting .169/.229/.281 (.510) with three home runs in 98 plate appearances. Behind the plate, Rortvedt was a very good catcher. In only 256 innings, Rortvedt was worth five Defensive Runs Saved. This ranked 19th in all of MLB, and nobody else in the top 30 had less than 300 innings. Rortvedt also has a very good arm, throwing out 7 of 16 potential base stealers (44 percent). That was fourth in all of MLB among catchers with at least 200 innings. Rortvedt was a very good defensive catcher with subpar offensive abilities. If he can take a step forward with his bat, he has the potential to be an important part of the Twins future, especially if the Twins decide to trade Garver or Jeffers to acquire starting pitching. Grade: C Nick Gordon, UTIL Growing up in a baseball family, Nick Gordon had lofty expectations since being drafted in the first round by the Twins in 2014. Since then, he has had struggles with health and he became a bit of an afterthought in terms of Twins prospects. So when he made his Major League debut on May 6th, it was a feel good story for all. In his first plate appearance, he walked and then stole second on the next pitch. In his next plate appearance, he roped a single to right field for his first major league hit and then stole second base five pitches later. Gordon struck out his next plate appearance before being lifted for Jorge Polanco in the 8th inning. Gordon finished the day 1-for-2 with a walk and two stolen bases. On June 4, Gordon hit his first big league homer with his dad in the stands. Gordon was below-average with the bat, hitting .240/.292/.355 (.647). As the season progressed, Gordon greatly improved offensively. In September and October, Gordon had an OPS of .752 and a wRC+ of 103, meaning he was slightly above average in those months. He also was hitting the ball harder as the season progressed. Below is a graph of his hard hit rate by month. All season, Gordon’s hard hit rate hovered around 45 percent but in September it jumped to 63 percent. This is very encouraging to see from a young player. Gordon also was very versatile and showed he could move around the diamond which can be very beneficial for a team. He played at least 10 games at shortstop, second base, left field, and center field. He was also a good baserunner, going 10-for11 on stolen bases. He was in the 71st percentile of all players in sprint speed. Gordon could be a valuable asset for the Twins going forward if he continues to build off of his strong September and continues to be versatile. Grade: C+ Trevor Larnach, OF Ever since they drafted Trevor Larnach with the 20th overall pick in the 2018 draft, the Twins have had high expectations for him. After an impressive 2019 season between High-A and AA, Larnach has looked ready for the big leagues. He finally got his wish on May 8th, when he was the starting left fielder against the Detroit Tigers. Larnach didn’t exactly have a debut to remember, going 0-for-4 with a hit-by-pitch. Larnach picked up his first hit on May 12, when he doubled off of former Twin Liam Hendriks. Larnach got off to a good start in the big leagues, hitting .262/.357/.436 with a 120 wRC+ through July 9. After that date, Larnach was abysmal at the plate. From that point on he had a wRC+ of 29 and struck out in 42 percent of his plate appearances. He was not a great hitter against offspeed pitches. Among all MLB hitters with at least 50 plate appearances, Larnach had the highest whiff rate against sliders (56 percent) and the highest whiff rate against changeups (52 percent). The good news is that Larnach hit .362 with a .667 slugging percentage against fastballs. Teams figured out he had issues against offspeed and started throwing over 50 percent of pitches as offspeed pitches. Larnach showed some flashes of being a great hitter (max exit velocity in the 97th percentile), so if he adjusts to offspeed pitches he will be a cornerstone of the Twins lineup for years to come Grade: B- Bailey Ober, RHP At 6 feet 9 inches, Bailey Ober is the third tallest pitcher in Twins history behind Jon Rauch and Aaron Slegers. Ober and his imposing presence first appeared in the big leagues on May 18 against the Chicago White Sox. Ober went four innings, allowing four runs on five hits and one walk. He gave up home runs to Jake Lamb and Yasmani Grandal and struck out four. He got a no-decision and the Twins ended up winning 5-4 behind three Miguel Sano home runs. Ober made 20 starts in his rookie season, going 3-3 with a 4.19 ERA. Ober threw 92 innings and had a team high 5.05 K/BB ratio. This ratio was fifth best in the American League. Ober was in the 94th percentile of all pitchers in terms of walk rate and in the 85th percentile in terms of chase rate. Ober hardly threw pitches outside of the zone but when he did, hitters chased them at a high rate. Ober’s average fastball in 2021 was only 92 miles per hour, but his big frame causes the batters to have less reaction time because the ball is being released at around 52 feet from home plate, almost a foot closer than the average pitcher releases it from. This creates the illusion that Ober’s fastball is moving faster than it actually is. Despite having below average stuff (percentile rankings below), Ober’s large frame elevates him to being a good pitcher (102 ERA+) and if Ober can improve his stuff in the coming years he could be a fantastic pitcher for the Twins. Grade: A- Gilberto Celestino, OF With injuries to Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Jake Cave, and Rob Refsnyder early in 2021, the Twins needed a center fielder. They decided to call up Gilberto Celestino from AA, and he made his major league debut on June 2 against the Orioles. Celestino had a rather uneventful debut, going 0-for-2 with a strikeout in a 6-3 loss. Celestino recorded his first major league hit on June 9 against the Yankees. Over the 2021 season, Celestino mightily struggled at the plate with the Twins, hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466). It was clear Celestino was overmatched at the big league level, so they sent him down to AAA St. Paul after 22 games, and he hit well at the AAA level, having a wRC+ of 125 in 49 games there. In retrospect, Celestino wasn’t ready for the big leagues but is still a good ball player. Having some big league experience under his belt will help him going forward, and he could be Byron Buxton’s primary backup going forward so we probably will be seeing Celestino in the big leagues again at some point in 2022. Grade: D Griffin Jax, RHP On June 8, Griffin Jax made history. He became the first Air Force Academy graduate to play Major League Baseball. Jax was used in a mop-up role against the Yankees in the 9th inning when the Twins were down 5-3. Jax did not have a very good debut, going one inning while allowing three runs on home runs from Miguel Andujar and Gary Sanchez. He did record his first big league strikeout when he struck out Tyler Wade on a 2-2 slider. In 2021, Griffin Jax had a tough rookie season. He went 4-5 with a 6.37 ERA. He allowed 2.52 HR/ 9 innings which was the highest among all MLB pitchers (minimum 60 innings). That number is also the highest for a single season in Twins history (min. 60 IP). The big problem was his fastball. Jax’s fastball was the fifth worst fastball in all of baseball in terms of xSLG. Jax’s fastball got crushed in 2021, but he continued to throw it almost 50 percent of the time. Jax’s slider, on the other hand, could be a very good pitch. Jax’s .271 xwOBA against the slider is good and signals that it is a pitch he should be throwing more than just 30 percent of the time, maybe up to 50 percent. Despite a bad 2021, Jax could bounce back by relying more on his off-speed pitches and revamping his pitch arsenal going into 2022. Grade: D Charlie Barnes, LHP Charlie Barnes made his major league debut in the first game of a July 17 doubleheader with the Detroit Tigers. After the first batter he faced (Robbie Grossman) went deep, Barnes was very good. Barnes went 4 2/3 innings, allowing one run on four hits and a walk while striking out one. He recorded his first major league strikeout in the second inning when he struck out Zack Short on a changeup. In Barnes’s rookie season, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. Barnes made eight starts for the Twins and threw 38 total innings. Barnes bounced back and forth between the Twins and the minor leagues quite a bit, so he never really got the chance to establish himself at the big league level. On December 23, Barnes signed with the Lotte Giants in Korea, so we wish him the best of luck in Korea as he pursues professional baseball there. Grade: D Joe Ryan, RHP Any prospect who yields a player as good as Nelson Cruz should be good enough to make an impact in the big leagues for a long time. On September 1st, Joe Ryan gave us a taste of what he will be like for years to come. Ryan had a solid major league debut, going five innings, allowing three runs on three hits and a walk while striking out five batters. He got his first career strikeout in the first inning when he struck out Ian Happ with a high fastball. Ryan had a solid debut season for the Twins, only throwing 26 innings, but going 2-1 with a 4.05 ERA. However, Ryan had some bad luck, as his xERA was 2.99. He also had 10.1 K/9 and only 1.7 BB/9. This 10.1 K/9 rate is the highest by any rookie starter in Twins history (min. 25 IP). Ryan relied on a very good high fastball/slider combination to get strikeouts. Going into 2022, Ryan is one of three starters the Twins have in the rotation. His role on the team will depend on if the Twins make any more pitching acquisitions, but expect Ryan to be a fixture in the Twins rotation next year. Grade: A- Jovani Moran, LHP Jovani Moran was very limited in year one, but he should be a fixture in the Twins bullpen in years to come. Moran made his major league debut on September 12 and went 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs on two hits and two walks while striking out two batters. He collected his first major league strikeout when he got Nicky Lopez to chase a devastating changeup. Jovani Moran only threw eight innings for the Twins in 2021, and at first glance you wouldn’t think he was very good. He had an ERA of 7.88 and walked seven guys in eight innings. If you look deeper, Moran was unlucky. He had an xERA of 3.84, meaning he had some awful batted-ball luck. He also throws one of the best swing-and-miss pitches in the Twins organization, a disgusting changeup. His whiff rate on that pitch was an astounding 51.4 percent, meaning that over half of the swings on that pitch were misses. This changeup whiff rate was the fourth highest for any pitcher in the league. Moran was impressive in his limited work in 2021, and I am excited to see him and his changeup in the 2022 bullpen. Grade: B Final Thoughts Despite a rough season, the Twins gave us a glimpse into their future. We saw a lot to like out of some of the Twins young players in 2021 and if these players can take a step forward in 2022 and continue to develop, the Twins should be able to contend for the AL Central in the near future. What do you think of these grades? How would you grade these players for their rookie seasons? Which of these players are you most excited to watch in 2022? Who is the most likely of these players to succeed going forward? Let me know your thoughts in the comments! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  4. Current Shortstop: TBD If the season started today, Jorge Polanco might be the team's only option at shortstop. Minnesota doesn't want to move Polanco back to shortstop, so they need to add a veteran shortstop when the lockout ends. Carlos Correa and Trevor Story are two of the top available free-agent options, but it will take a ton of money to sign either of these players. Other players like Andrelton Simmons and Jonathan Villar are options on much cheaper deals to be placeholders to some of the team's top prospects. 40-Man Roster Options There are defensive question marks around both of the team's shortstop options on the 40-man roster. A former first-round pick, Nick Gordon played shortstop throughout his professional career. However, the Twins were hesitant to use him at that position throughout his rookie campaign. In 73 games last year, Gordon made eight starts at shortstop. He posted a .647 OPS with 10 steals in 11 chances. He has the opportunity to fill a utility role with the club, but being the team's starting shortstop seems out of the question. Royce Lewis could very well be the organization's shortstop of the future, but there have been questions about his defensive position throughout his professional career. He may have been able to put some of those questions to rest in 2021, but a knee injury leading into spring training cost him the entire season. The last time Lewis was on the field, he was winning MVP in the Arizona Fall League, but that was coming on the heels of a season where he posted to a .661 OPS. 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 shortstop depth. Minnesota has multiple shortstop options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. With Lewis working his way back, Minnesota has another top-prospect in Austin Martin in the upper minors. The Twins acquired Martin as part of the Jose Berrios trade, and he posted a .796 OPS in 93 Double-A games last season. Like Lewis, there are questions about his future defensive home as the Twins used him at shortstop and center field. At this point, it seems most likely for him to be an outfielder for the long term. Wander Javier is another familiar name to many Twins fans as he has been in the organization since he signed in 2015. At one point, he was considered one of the organization's top prospects, including being on Baseball America's Top-100 list leading into 2018. However, he has struggled through injuries and poor play as he moved up the organizational ladder. Last year at High-A, he hit .225/.280/.413 (.693) with 37 extra-base hits and 141 strikeouts in 96 games. Minnesota left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft, and a rebuilding team could take a flyer on him as a utility option. Will Holland played all of the 2021 season at Low-A, where he was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. He combined to hit .214/.336/.401 (.736) with 26 extra-base hits. Joining Holland at Fort Myers was former first-round pick Keoni Cavaco, who combined for a .598 OPS in 60 games. Holland should move up to High-A while Cavaco seems likely to return to Low-A. There are multiple teenage options in the organization's rookie leagues too. Noah Miller was the 36th overall pick in 2021 out of high school in Wisconsin. He played in 22 games for the FCL Twins and hit .238/.316/.369 (.685) with six extra-base hits. Danny De Andrade and Fredy Michel were both 2021 international signees that made their professional debuts in the Dominican Summer League. In 50 games, De Andrade hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits, while Michel posted a .583 OPS with 62 strikeouts in 43 games. Overall, Minnesota has question marks at the big-league level and with it's two biggest prospects. What do you think about the organization's shortstop depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base
  5. Current Second Baseman: Jorge Polanco Entering last season, Polanco struggled through parts of the 2019 and 2020 seasons. He dealt with ankle issues that required surgery in back-to-back offseasons. Minnesota shifted him to second base, putting together his most valuable season in his big-league career. In 152 games, he hit .269/.323/.503 (.826) with 35 doubles and 33 home runs. Defensively, he finished the season as the AL's fourth highest-ranked second baseman, according to SDI. Minnesota used him occasionally at shortstop, but it's in the team's best interest to keep him at second base. 40-Man Roster Options Luis Arráez and Nick Gordon are two potential second basemen on the 40-man roster. However, both players fit better into a utility role for the team. Last season, Arráez posted a 105 OPS+, and he was one of the league's best defenders at third base. Gordon, a former first-round pick, made his big-league debut in 2021, but he is already 25-years-old. He showed some defensive flexibility that may be valuable in a bench role, and he hit .240/.292/.355 (.647) in 73 games. Arráez and Gordon can fill in at second base to keep Polanco's ankles healthy if the need arises. 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 second base depth. Minnesota has multiple second-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Spencer Steer was a third-round pick in 2019, and he has shown defensive flexibility throughout his professional career, including playing over 40 games at both second and third base last season. In 2021, he split time between High- and Double-A while hitting .254/.348/.484 with 45 extra-base hits in 110 games. Next season, he will be 24 years old, and he should see time at Triple-A by the season's end. At Double-A, there are a pair of intriguing young options. Minnesota signed Yunior Severino for over $2.5 million after MLB penalized the Braves for infractions committed on the international market. Last year, he split time between Low- and High-A with a .802 OPS. At 21-years-old, he was young for both levels, but the Twins left him unprotected in the upcoming Rule 5 Draft. Edouard Julien made his professional debut last year and hit .266/.434/.480 (.914) between Low- and High-A. He collected 110 walks in 112 games and stole 34 bases while only being caught five times. Anthony Prato was the organization's 7th round pick in 2019, and he played at three different levels last season. As a 23-year-old, he was older than the average age of the competition at each level, and he was limited to 47 games due to a broken hamate. Minnesota drafted Alerick Soularie in the second round in 2020, but his pro-debut was delayed because of a broken foot. After returning from injury, he posted a .668 OPS in 28 games in Fort Myers. The Twins took Mikey Perez in the 15th round of the 2021 MLB Draft, and he went 16-for-30 with six extra-base hits in his pro-debut. Overall, Minnesota has multiple strong options at the MLB level with a few prospects that should move up the ladder during the 2022 campaign. What do you think about the organization's depth at second base? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base
  6. With the World Series having concluded, fans of teams that have been sitting out most of October have already begun their prediction lists for the upcoming free agent class. Minnesota Twins fans are a part of this yearly “tradition” and rumors have speculated that the Twins will once again be going after a shortstop in free agency to improve the left side of the infield’s defense. As nice as it would be for the Twins to land a player like Javier Baez or Trevor Story from the stacked 2021-22 free agent shortstop class, they don't necessarily need to pursue a shortstop. There are several reasons why the Twins should not pursue a shortstop this offseason, and the lessons learned from signing Andrelton Simmons last offseason is an example why they should not. As always, the top priority that the Twins need to pursue this offseason is top quality starting pitching. Going after another high-cost shortstop will take away needed funds for the Twins to get a top free agent starter, such as Marcus Stroman or Kevin Gausman, within their budget. Even a one-year, $10 million deal offered to the likes of Jonathan Villar or Chris Taylor could easily take away needed money for one starting pitcher. Another reason for the Twins not to pursue any free agent shortstops is that they already have enough shortstops within the organization to work with. Jorge Polanco is likely to be the everyday second baseman in 2022. There will be some days where Polanco might see action at shortstop. There are also a couple of top prospects that could be the long term shortstop for the Minnesota Twins; Royce Lewis and Austin Martin. Now, the timeframe in which either Martin or Lewis could be called up for their MLB debuts is still uncertain, yet the likelihood of them making their debuts in 2022 seems high. With the two top prospects in the Twins system (according to TwinsDaily) being shortstops, why would the Twins bother looking into signing a new one? On top of all these other factors, the infield depth for the Minnesota Twins is fairly stable as is without signing any of the shortstops in this year’s free agent class. Nick Gordon, finally made his MLB debut in 2021, proved he may be worthy of some starting time in 2022. Gordon was limited to 200 at bats this season, but if the Twins need someone to platoon at the position prior to calling up Martin or Lewis. The 2021-22 offseason is still in its infancy and there will be many transactions made between now and the hopeful Opening Day of 2022. One thing that the Twins could still do between now and then is sign another shortstop from free agency. The Twins have players from within the organization that could help fill the role of an everyday shortstop however, most of these players are not ones who are used to playing there every day anymore. As discussed before, Polanco looks to be the new everyday second baseman for the Twins, and Gordon a super utility player in training that looks to improve in 2022. MLB is now in the era of baseball where no player has the guarantee of remaining at one position for their entire career, let alone an entire season. Polanco is a perfect case of that along with Luis Arraez. Martin too could be seeing a role similar to Arraez where he could be platooning multiple positions when called up, and a position such as center field could take priority for Martin over shortstop. For the Opening Day roster (as of right now), the best move for the Twins might be to find a player within the organization that can start at the position. With Polanco set to be at second base every day and Arraez at third when Josh Donaldson DHs, the guy to go with at shortstop is Nick Gordon. The Twins first pick from the 2014 MLB Draft has put in years of work to finally make the big leagues, almost seven years after being drafted. It’s only fair that the Twins give him a chance to start his first Opening Day when their top priority isn’t finding a new shortstop this offseason. If the Twins do not decide to go with Gordon, there is one man who has been in the minor leagues much longer that is just as deserving as Gordon to deserve a spot on the Twins Opening Day roster in 2022; Drew Maggi. 11 seasons in the minors and getting the callup in September by the Twins only to not play a single game. It’s only fair that Maggi gets some consideration for Opening Day 2022. Of course, he is currently a minor league free agent, but the Twins could certainly bring him back. Do you agree? Should the Twins hand the starting shortstop job to an internal candidate such as Nick Gordon, or bring back Drew Maggi and give him an opportunity? Or, should they get a mid-tier shortstop? Or, should they just pony up and add an elite shortstop and forget about adding pitching? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  7. As the season turned pear-shaped on the Rocco Baldelli led Twins, it became about building for the future. The hope would be a turnaround in 2022, but we have yet to see how the front office will architect the path forward. For now, these are a few key things that Minnesota fans can count as worthy of thanks. The Opportunity to Pay Byron Buxton There’s plenty of reason to be sad about Byron Buxton routinely falling short of completing an entire season. His injury issues have been well documented, and while some have been undoubtedly fluky, others are a microcosm of the tenacity with which he plays the game. Regardless of his health, it’s become wildly apparent that Minnesota’s centerfielder is among the best players in the game. He posted a 4.2 fWAR in just 61 games this season which totals out to an 11.1 fWAR per 162 game pace. Trea Turner’s 6.9 fWAR paced baseball this season, and only 19 players in history have ever surpassed 11.1 fWAR in a single season. The caveat on Buxton is availability, but that’s also the sole reason he’s even an option for the Twins future. If Buxton was healthy and playing at the level he is, a $300 million contract could be waiting for him from a host of suitors immediately upon hitting the open market. Derek Falvey is afforded the opportunity to get an otherworldly talent at a discount entirely because of his injury history. The Twins would have an option to trade Buxton whether they found themselves able to pay him or not, but retaining his services isn’t something this organization should be in a position to do. They are and would be wise to capitalize on it. The Development of Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan If there’s something that failed Baldelli this season, it was the pitching staff. Starters flopped, then the bullpen flopped, then they took turns. Minnesota has to see development going forward on the bump, and that process started with the emergence of both Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan. The former was an internal draft selection that had quietly risen the ranks and earned his due. Ober’s ability is not a mistake, and as he reached the upper levels, it became clear he had the stuff to compete in the big leagues. The latter was an absolute coup of a return in exchange for just months of Nelson Cruz. Ryan looked the part of a top-half starter, and Minnesota needs arms to restock the rotation. There has to be another wave coming for the Twins, and some of their top prospects find themselves housed in that group. Being able to benefit from previously unexpected sources is a massive boost. Either Ryan or Ober would be the front runner to start on Opening Day as things stand, but that should change before the regular season. The Debut of Nick Gordon I’m not sure what expectations should have been for Gordon at this point, but the debut in the big leagues was a feel-good story. As a former first-round pick, he’s lost luster as much more than a regular contributor. For the Twins, that may be a stretch, but he should have the chops to be a utility man at the very least. After suffering through stomach issues, Covid, missed action, and a plethora of other complications, seeing Gordon take the field in Minnesota was worthy of a big smile. He made a solid impression showing an ability to play all over the diamond, but there are still questions about his bat. His minor league track record has displayed an ability to improve in the second year of a specific level. If that can stick in the big leagues, expecting more in 2022 is a fair bet. Gordon will need to hit for average, and while power will never be his game, there’s also the speed asset on the base paths. A long-term home may not be in this organization, but he’s begun to carve out a Major League role. The Emergence of Jose Miranda It was supposed to be Royce Lewis, and then it was supposed to be Jhoan Duran or Jordan Balazovic. The Twins top prospects were all expected to show out after being hidden commodities during the lost season. None of those realities truly came to fruition, however, and Jose Miranda took the spotlight. This didn’t come entirely out of nowhere, as he was a second-round pick back in 2016. In 2019 though, Miranda posted just a .671 OPS across 119 games. After going unprotected in the Rule 5 draft, he turned on the rocket boosters. This season, Miranda picked up the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year award and continued his dominance through Triple-A. He looks big-league ready and should be able to contribute on both sides of the diamond. Power potential plays, as does a greatly-improved discipline at the plate, and while his path for playing time is cloudy, I wouldn’t bet against him forcing the Twins hand. The Health of Jorge Polanco In 2019, Jorge Polanco blasted 22 dingers and posted an .841 OPS while being miscast as a shortstop for the Twins. He flopped hard last season and struggled to the tune of a .658 OPS. Now with healthy ankles after another offseason surgery, Polanco has slid over to second base, and he turned in the most complete season of his career. Minnesota opted to bring in a true shortstop affording Polanco both health and defensive focus. He responded with an .826 OPS and a career-high 33 home runs. He’s still settling into the new position defensively, but it suits his arm strength much more favorably, and he’s among the best hitters in the majors at the position. In 2019, Minnesota extended Polanco, and now those vesting options in 2024 and 2025 look much more desirable than they did coming off of last season's results. Again, the season couldn’t have gone more awry than it did in the results column, but these are just a few takeaways that should have Twins fans thankful for 2022 and beyond. 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  8. JUDGE: It is my understanding that six different parties would like to have their petitions heard before us. Is that correct? COLLECTIVE MURMURING: Yah JUDGE [fidgeting with reading glasses]: Okay, first name I have here is ... Ryan Jeffers, catcher. [JEFFERS REP APPROACHES THE PODIUM, SHUFFLES PAPERS] JEFFERS REP: Ahem. Your Honor. Esteemed ladies and gentlemen of the jury. Good evening. My client Ryan Jeffers might have won this award last year, but dang it folks he deserves it once again. He still technically qualified as a rookie and he was a very reliable one, starting nearly half the team's games at catcher and putting up some very strong defensive metrics! Jeffers was also an offensive force, launching 13 home runs ... OPPOSING COUNCIL: Objection, Your Honor! [Glances at data sheet] Jeffers batted .199 with a .270 on-base percentage, negating much of the value from his power. JEFFERS REP: Ah, be that as it may ... OPPOSING COUNCIL [heightening intensity]: Furthermore, Your Honor, Jeffers struck out at the highest rate on the team and his OPS+ of 83 shows he was in fact substantially below-average as an offensive producer. JUDGE [banging gavel]: I've heard enough! Thank you Mr. Jeffers, but you've had your day in this spotlight, you may move along. Who's next? [LARNACH'S REP LOOKS UP FROM FILES, SLOWLY STEPS TO PODIUM AND BEGINS SPEAKING] LARNACH REP: Production speaks for itself folks. And my client, Trevor Larnach, is a producer, despite his lack of experience. He came up far earlier than expected and proved he's a major-league player. In his first 50 games with the Twins, Mr. Larnach batted .261 with a .361 on-base percentage and .445 slugging. By this time his advanced and mature approach at the plate was earning him regular appearances at the No. 3 spot in the batting order. A remarkable rookie effort without question, and as such, I rest my case. JUDGE [peering skeptically]: Mm-hm. And as for the period following this 50-game sample? LARNACH REP: Come again, Your Honor? JUDGE: Your case seemed to conspicuously exclude any results beyond July the 7th, when your client hit his last home run. I'm just wondering what happened afterward. LARNACH REP: ... Afterward? Well [chuckles nervously] OPPOSING COUNCIL: If I may, Your Honor, I have the numbers here. [Starts reading] Following the date of July 7th: 29 games, a .156 batting average and .188 slugging percentage, with 47 strikeouts and 11 walks. This stretch lowered Mr. Larnach's overall OPS to a decidedly sub par .672, prompting a demotion to Triple-A in mid-August. JUDGE [considers briefly]: Mmm, yes. A promising showing in some regards but not the stuff Rookies of the Year are made of. Thank you, Mr. Larnach, you may depart. [Glances at agenda] It sounds as if a Mr. Ryan would like to be heard? [SILENCE] JUDGE [gazes around room, looks back at list]: A Mister ... Joe Ryan? [INCREASINGLY AWKWARD SILENCE] JUDGE [taps finger impatiently]: Well, if Mr. Ryan's case is not ready ... [RYAN'S REP BURSTS THROUGH DOOR, SHIRT HALF-TUCKED AND TIE HANGING LOOSELY ASTRAY] RYAN REP: Your Honor! Fine people of the jury! How are you all doing. Listen, I know I'm a little late, and that's true of my client as well. Let's get down to brass tacks. Was Joe Ryan a member of the Twins organization in March? No he wasn't. Was he here in June? He was not folks! Was Mr. Ryan in the big leagues in August, even? [Locks eyes with random elderly woman in jury] Was he Doris? Was he?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY SHAKES HEAD] RYAN REP: He wasn't! My client did not receive an opportunity in the majors until the month of September! But that's only because he was busy representing our wonderful country in the world's greatest international competition, the Olympics. And you know what? He kicked some ass. For America! Do you love America or don't you, Doris?? [ELDERLY WOMAN SLOWLY NODS] RYAN REP: Then all he did was come back, acclimate instantly to a new organization, debut with amazing poise, flirt with a perfect game in his second MLB start, strike out seven straight men in his fourth, and altogether rack up six times as many walks as strikeouts. That fastball is something, ain't it! [SPORADIC APPLAUSE RISES FROM COURTROOM] JUDGE [bangs gavel]: Order, ORDER! You said your client made how many major-league starts this year? RYAN REP: I didn't, Your Honor, but thanks for inquiring! OPPOSING COUNCIL: Five starts, Your Honor. Twenty-six total innings. JUDGE: Too little volume for legitimate consideration I'm afraid, Mr. Ryan. But please, try again next year. Who do we have next? [GORDON REP STANDS, CLEARS THROAT] GORDON REP: What is a Rookie of the Year, really? Is it the player who has the best stats? The guy with the gaudy heralded status who brings all the buzz? Is this award made for the silver spoon prospect who's been on cruise control through the minors and into majors? Or are we trying to recognize the underdog who overcame the odds and silenced the doubters? The kid who went through hell and was written off, only to re-emerge as a legitimate factor in the team's plans. My client, Nick Gordon, did everything that was asked of him, even learning entirely new positions on the fly. He sat silently while less deserving players got opportunities. He fought and clawed his way to at-bats and increasingly made the most of them, posting a .752 OPS in September while earning the team's confidence at shortstop. He brought speed and athleticism to a team that was sorely lacking in both, stealing 10 bases on 11 tries. If that's not a Rookie of the Year, well I don't know what is. JUDGE [leans back in chair pensively]: You make a good argument, and recent trends work in your favor. The young man certainly looked more impressive as time passed. However, it is this court's duty to look at the full body of evidence and so we cannot ignore that a .647 overall OPS is rather lackluster. And while Mr. Gordon's versatility is noted, it doesn't seem clear to me that he truly excelled at any of these positions. I'm afraid that this worthy candidate cannot be our choice. Thus it comes down to the final two. [KIRILLOFF REP PACES BACK AND FORTH FOR A WHILE, FINALLY WALKS TO PODIUM, SETS STACK OF NOTES FACE-DOWN] KIRILLOFF REP: May I ask you a question, Your Honor? JUDGE [impatiently]: You may not. On with it, please. KIRILLOFF REP: Oh. Fine then. Well if I WERE to ask you a question I'd inquire about how well you could bang your little gavel there with a torn tendon in your wrist, and I bet the answer would be, not very well! My client, Alex Kirilloff, carried enormous expectations as the team's No. 1 prospect and he was sure making good on them before this whole wrist thing came along and threw a wrench. Prior to that he was launching missiles all over the field and lighting up the Statcast charts. Mr. Kirilloff slugged .500 in his first 18 MLB games and that's WITH an 0-for-14 start to his career! He looked good in left, and like an absolute natural at first base. Even while hampered by the wrist injury, he posted an OPS+ of 99 overall, meaning he was basically a league-average MLB hitter at age 23 despite no real experience at Triple-A. Pretty good, right? JUDGE: Pretty good indeed. There's a lot to like here. I just wonder about the lack of total volume combined with numbers that can only be described as ordinary. Fifty-nine games and an average OPS? What's special about this season? I'd like to hear the final case. [OBER'S REP STRIDES UP CONFIDENTLY] OBER REP: Good day Your Honor. And to all of you in the jury as well. What we have here is really an open-and-shut case. While many of the previous candidates we've heard from showed positive signs and offered heartwarming stories this year, could any of their seasons really be described as 'good'? Let's be honest with ourselves. The data is clear on this matter. [PULLS UP A POWERPOINT THAT SIMPLY LISTS TWINS ROOKIES AND THEIR WINS ABOVE REPLACEMENT FOR 2022] OBER REP: As we can see, according to the website FanGraphs.com, my client Bailey Ober was worth one full win above a replacement player this year, a mark that no other rookie came close to matching. After stepping into a needy rotation in early June, he took the ball every fifth day, becoming a stable and steadfast presence in a unit that otherwise lacked for one entirely. Mr. Ober's 5.05 K/BB ratio was one of the best in major-league history for a first-year starter. All this from a former 12th-round pick who wasn't on the prospect radar prior to this season. Whether you want to talk about situational impact, inspirational narrative, long-term implications, or simply pure performance, my client is the obvious choice for best Twins rookie. Thank you. JUDGE [deliberates briefly]: I don't think we're even going to need to send this one to the jury. I agree with the ultimately conclusion that Mr. Ober is a clear choice for this award. Congratulations sir on this well deserved honor. This court is now adjourned ... We'll see you all tomorrow when we convene to settle upon a Most Improved Twin of 2021. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Preorder the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/20 thru Sun, 9/26 *** Record Last Week: 4-2 (Overall: 69-87) Run Differential Last Week: +4 (Overall: -109) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (19.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 151 | MIN 9, CHC 5: Twins Notch 16 Hits in Wrigley Game 152 | MIN 5, CHC 4: Ryan Fans 11 as Kepler Powers Offense Game 153 | MIN 7, TOR 2: Gordon Goes Off, Twins Top Jays Game 154 | MIN 3, TOR 1: Ober and Bullpen Shut Down Toronto Game 155 | TOR 6, MIN 1: Ray Shuts Down Twins, Snaps Win Streak Game 156 | TOR 5, MIN 2: Bats Go Silent Once Again NEWS & NOTES Before he had a single chance to appear in a big-league ballgame, Drew Maggi was optioned back to Triple-A on Monday, sucking some steam out of the fun 32-year-old rookie narrative. Replacing him on the roster was Mitch Garver, fully recovered from a back strain. Garver's return also bumped Ben Rortvedt back to St. Paul, with Andrelton Simmons reactivated from the restricted list. John Gant's stay on the Injured List was brief, as the abdominal strain he suffered was evidently quite minor. He was activated on Saturday, just after the 10-day minimum, and started against the Blue Jays that night, allowing one earned run over three innings of work. HIGHLIGHTS Yet another highly encouraging week for the dynamic rookie duo in the Twins rotation. It's no exaggeration to say that, with all of the starting pitching setbacks Minnesota has experienced this year, the emergences of Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober have been season-saving developments. Ryan continues to flat-out dominate as a 25-year-old getting his first taste of MLB competition. On Wednesday against the Cubs, the right-hander struck out 11 over five innings of two-run ball, including the last seven men he faced. As usual, he relied on a fastball-heavy mix, with stellar command compensating for so-so velocity. The rookie now owns a 2.45 ERA, 0.59 WHIP and 25-to-3 K/BB ratio through 22 innings in his first four major-league starts. Simply incredible. Of course it bears noting that all of those starts have come against Cleveland or the Cubs, both sub par offenses. But we're talking about MLB hitters, and in both cases these teams have had the chance to see Ryan – and his ostensibly gimmicky approach – twice in a short span, while showing little improvement the second time around. On Friday, Ober got back on track following a bit of a rocky stretch in September (6.57 ERA through his first three turns). Taking on a potent Toronto lineup, the big righty allowed just one run on four hits over 5 ⅓ innings, striking out six with no walks. While Ober won't quite eclipse 100 innings – he'd need to throw 7 ⅔ in his final start this coming week – he's going to come very close, and most importantly, he's poised to finish the year strong and healthy. Ober and Ryan have essentially cemented roles for 2022 with their performances this year. Meanwhile, another less-expected rookie is angling to do the same with a breakout September. I've admittedly been a bit skeptical of Nick Gordon's value going forward given his limited profile – a versatile yet unspectacular defender who can't really play short, and a hitter lacking for power or patience. The Twins face a tricky decision during the offseason because they'll be needy for 40-man spots, and Gordon's out of options next spring. But for me, he's doing enough to earn a shot. To their credit, the Twins are giving Gordon plenty of looks down the stretch, and he's stepping up to take advantage. Last week he started all six games, appearing in each of the three outfield positions and getting a nod at shortstop on Sunday. Gordon went 8-for-25 with two home runs, six RBIs, and two steals. He enjoyed the best game of his young career on Thursday, notching three hits including a homer while driving in four as the Twins won. I don't necessarily believe Gordon can be much of an asset with his current physical makeup, but he's still only 25 and he's gone through a lot over the past couple years. Given a relatively normal offseason ahead, it wouldn't surprise me if he showed up next spring bulked up and looking like a bit of a different player. His clutch moments are gaining him some early affinity. A few other performances worth highlighting: Following a nightmarish first full week in the big leagues, Jovani Moran reminded us why he's a relief prospect worth getting excited about. The lefty entered after a short start from Gant on Saturday and tossed two perfect innings, striking out four of the six batters he faced with nine swinging strikes on 19 pitches. His changeup was in full form. Pure dominance. Max Kepler went off at Wrigley, notching six hits in 12 at-bats during the two-game series against the Cubs. He homered twice in a 5-4 victory on Wednesday. With a .214/.311/.425 slash line as the end of the season nears, Kepler has basically turned back into the exact player he was before his 2019 breakout (slashed .233/.314/.418 from 2016 through 2018), which isn't a terrible thing but is rather disappointing. Garver had a strong return to action, notching three hits on Tuesday in his first game in nearly a month, then adding another three-hit game on Thursday. He doubled and walked on Sunday. While his ability to stay healthy will remain a question mark going forward, Garver has basically eliminated any concerns around his bat. If the Twins are going to field a decent bullpen in 2021, they'll likely need Tyler Duffey and Jorge Alcala to factor in as key right-handed arms. As such, it's good to see them each pitching well in the waning weeks of the season. Duffey fired three hitless innings last week and owns a 2.70 ERA in September. Alcala contributed 2 ⅓ shutout frames and has a 0.96 ERA this month. The two combined for nine strikeouts and zero walks. LOWLIGHTS While his fellow rookie rotation-mates continued to excel, things again didn't go so well for Griffin Jax in his two starts. He lasted only three innings against the Cubs on Tuesday, coughing up three runs on a pair of homers, and then gave up two more bombs in a loss to the Blue Jays on Sunday. Astoundingly, Jax has now surrendered 23 long balls in 77 major-league innings. In some aspects, Jax has looked pretty good. The slider in particular shows potential, with a 37.8% whiff rate and .182 xBA. But his proneness to home runs is a crippling weakness at this point it's there is no clear path to resolving it. Jax may have a big-league future in the bullpen, but there will be no counting on him in any capacity heading into 2022, and he turns 27 in November. Brent Rooker, unlike Gordon, is not doing much to build his case for filling a role next year. He started four of the team's six games and went 2-for-14, striking out twice after subbing in for Jake Cave on Sunday. Rooker is slashing .201/.294/.397 as a defensively limited rookie. Like Jax, he turns 27 in November. Short as his time as been, Rooker may already be reaching the end of the line in Minnesota. TRENDING STORYLINE As we segway into the offseason, Byron Buxton will take center stage – a critical crux point in the front office's strategy and vision for next year. Buxton has impressively played almost every day since returning from a broken hand, although his production hasn't remotely stacked up to the previous sample. (Buck is slashing .215/.282/.449 since returning from his latest IL stint, after putting up a .369/.409/.767 line in his first 27 games.) With that said, he's coming off an excellent week – 7-for-19 with two homers and two doubles – and if Buxton can stay hot through the final slate of games it'll do much to assuage any concerns around his diminished second-half output. The league is watching closely. If Buxton is truly on the trade market this winter he'll likely be its biggest prize. LOOKING AHEAD We're almost at the finish line. Ryan was on track to start two games in the final week – including the season finale next Sunday – but his schedule was disrupted a bit by traveling on bereavement leave for a few days, and the Twins are surely intent on playing it safe with workload. They announced he'll start on Thursday in the final home game. Without knowing how the schedule will adjust around him, I'm employing some guesswork in the probables listed below, but it should be close to accurate. TUESDAY, 9/28: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tyler Alexander v. RHP Michael Pineda WEDNESDAY, 9/29: TIGERS @ TWINS – RHP Casey Mize v. RHP Bailey Ober THURSDAY, 9/30: TIGERS @ TWINS – LHP Tarik Skubal v. RHP Joe Ryan FRIDAY, 10/1: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP John Gant v. RHP Jon Heasley SATURDAY, 10/2: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Griffin Jax v. LHP Kris Bubic SUNDAY, 10/3: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Michael Pineda v. RHP Jackson Kowar MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Box Score Pineda: 5 IP, 8 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home runs: Gordon (4) Top 3 WPA: Garver .245, Gordon .202, Buxton .180 Win Probability Chart (Via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Twins leaned on Michael Pineda on the mound tonight in what could be one of his final starts as a member of the organization. Big Mike provided a steady start for the Twins, tossing five innings, allowing just eight hits and two runs and striking out two. The first run the Blue Jays scored was right away in the top of the second inning when Lourdes Gurriel knocked an RBI double. The Twins quickly rebounded in the third inning, though, when they got a leadoff double from Byron Buxton followed by an RBI single from Jorge Polanco and later an RBI single from Mitch Garver. The Blue Jays quickly rebounded in the fourth inning when Teoscar Hernandez hit a solo home run off of Pineda to tie the game, his 30th home run of the season. After that, though, it was all Minnesota the rest of the way, highlighted by the bat of red-hot Nick Gordon who smashed a three-run home run in the bottom of the fifth inning and an RBI single in the seventh. The home run was Gordon’s fourth on the season, and his four-RBI game marks a career high for the long-time Twins prospect. Nick Gordon’s batting average is now up to .263 on the season with a respectable OPS of .711. Gordon continues to make a case for a roster spot on the 2022 team. The Twins’ bullpen was nails in relief of Michael Pineda as they received four scoreless innings from a combination of Nick Vincent, Caleb Thielbar, Luke Farrell and Ralph Garza, Jr. In the end, the Twins took the game 7-2 and won their third straight game to move their record to 68-85 on the season. Postgame Interviews What’s Next The Minnesota Twins will continue their four-game home series against the Blue Jays on Friday night, sending Bailey Ober to the mound to face off against former Twins’ ace, José Berríos. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN TUE WED THU TOT Barraclough 32 0 35 0 0 67 Vincent 0 40 0 0 13 53 Thielbar 0 22 16 0 14 52 Minaya 0 36 0 13 0 49 Moran 34 0 0 0 0 34 Farrell 0 34 0 0 19 53 Duffey 0 0 11 12 0 23 Alcalá 0 0 10 10 0 20 Colomé 0 0 7 24 0 31 Garza Jr. 17 0 0 0 16 33 Coulombe 0 0 17 0 0 17
  11. Mid-morning rays of the Minnesota sun christen the back of Marcus Campbell as he plays fetch with his dog Maverick. Birds are chirping, luscious green grass tickles the air with a carefree aroma, and there couldn’t be a worry in the world. A man, his dog, and... CHS Field. “Mav likes to run along the warning track with players. Last year he’d always run with Danny Coulombe, and he’s in the big leagues now,” Campbell chuckled while launching another saliva-glossed tennis ball towards the right-field corner of the Saints' ballpark. Maverick may serve as the unofficial conditioning coach for the Twins organization, Campbell serves as Director of Field Operations for the St. Paul Saints. And while fun moments with his shop dog make for moments of bliss and calm, Campbell and the hands of the Saints’ grounds crew have been nothing short of full in the inaugural season as Triple-A affiliates of the Minnesota Twins. Campbell, who has been with the Saints for a few years will tell you that this year has been pretty similar to prior years when St. Paul was an independent team. “I keep telling people that baseball is baseball. You might have better players but so does the other team. As far as operations go, not much has changed.” Don’t let the modest Minnesota-Crookston graduate fool you. This year has featured the most games, double-headers, and events that CHS Field has seen since its inception in 2015. Yet through all the late nights, early mornings, and constant demands, there couldn’t be a better team to garner CHS Field as one of the top facilities in all of professional baseball. Heck, they even have a bit of fun while doing it. Early to Bed, Early to Rise Walk through the back gates at CHS Field on a game day and you’ll catch nostalgia of a small town café crossed with a fully functioning hardware shop. A half pot of coffee sits on a counter below a TV with the news all in front of a lunch table filled with lunch bags, soft drinks...and more coffee. The caffeine is essential. After nights that keep Campbell and his team at the ballpark until unthinkable hours, the crew makes sure that 4-6 members are at CHS by 9:00 am the next morning to prep for that evening’s game. Day game? That’s a different story. "Turnaround games and doubleheaders are the most challenging days,” Campbell said. “We work all day for a 7 pm game, keep going until 2 am, and are back at 7 or 8 am for a 1 pm game. Lots of caffeine.” Regardless of the start time, the routine stays the same. Campbell’s right-hand man Cody Pamperin stirs a concoction of pearly-white paint that will be used to chalk the baselines. Cody and Marcus go back quite a ways. The two played college baseball together at Minnesota-Crookston and took different routes following graduation. A few years later Pamperin was on the job market and gave his old friend a call. “He had helped towards the end of season last year and was looking for work and I knew that he’d be a great addition to our team,” Campbell said. Campbell and Pamperin are short-staffed, as many of their interns have returned to college with the summer waning. The two and the rest of the full-time team start the day by patching both bullpens to mend the divots created by pitchers and catchers. When the clock strikes 10 am, Pamperin heads to the infield to garnish the mound with clay, a product that the crew purchased 40 pallets of last year. $11 per bag, you do the math. The top priority of every morning is keeping the grass lush and the infield moist; something that can be difficult during one of the driest summers in the past 30 years. “We’ve had to water quite a bit this season, even in our landscape areas,” Campbell said. “Normally we can get by with watering those just once a week but this summer it’s been 2-3 times a week.” Cody Pamperin waters the infield grass at CHS Field, something that is done every morning. (David Youngs) On top of keeping the field in top shape, the grounds crew also maintains all the flowers, plants, and greenery surrounding the ballpark. Not to mention the sidewalks, artscapes, and dog park that snuggle the boundaries of CHS Field. In fact, the acreage outside of the playing surface surpasses that of the field. After morning duties are completed, the mecca of ballparks takes place; mowing the outfield. After sharing childhood attempts to mow my backyard with the trademarked ‘crisscross outfield’ design (if you didn’t do this as a child you didn’t live) Marcus breaks down the process. And while the design was never mastered in my Fargo yard, Campbell delivers the process like he’s done it his whole life. “We change it up sometimes but it’s just a checkerboard,” Campbell said. “If you mow a pattern too much the ball will snake. We’ll test it sometimes by rolling a ball through the outfield. If the ball snakes, we‘ll change our pattern. The hallowed 'crisscross outfield' pattern. Often imitated, rarely duplicated. (David Youngs) In addition to mowing every day and testing the grass themselves, Campbell and his crew get constant feedback from Saints players on how the field is playing. "I’m posted in the dugout during the game so I communicate with the guys to see how the field is playing,” Campbell said. “We’ve changed things a few times from the feedback they’ve given us. There are certain things that I notice and things they notice because they’re the ones who are actually taking ground balls on the field.” As batting practice and first pitch approach the crew removes the tarp that covers home, still moist and freshly nourished from the night before. Tasks upon tasks keep the Saints crew busy until the last fan has left the stadium. Yet during the game, there’s one member of the staff that manages to make ‘fun good’ through 280 characters. For the Fans Field Operations Manager may be an official job title for Erik Franke. More importantly? He’s the heart and soul of the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter. Inspired by his extensive background in fan relations and marketing Franke debuted one of the most interactive accounts in professional baseball earlier this season. Yet it isn’t just his experience in working social media and marketing at places like Harvard and UMass that prompted Franke to put pen to paper. It was a best practice for showcasing the work that his team does. After stints in collegiate athletics marketing and fan promotions, Field Operations Manager Erik Franke gets to channel his creativity through the St. Paul Saints Grounds Crew Twitter account. (David Youngs) “So much of working grounds crew revolves around creating and showcasing the best product possible,” Franke said. “What better way to do that than a Twitter account?” From interacting with fans to showcasing new machinery to flat-out stunning shots of a pristine ballpark, Franke keeps one thing in mind when running the account. Fun. “Fan relations portion is so important and it’s been so fun interaction with fans through Twitter,” Franke said. “Sometimes I’ll just search ‘St. Paul Saints’ to see who is at the game so I can thank them for coming.” A Child’s Game Bound by the ‘fun is good’ mantra, the joy of the St. Paul Saints is perhaps perfectly personified by the Saints grounds crew. A group that crafts their skill to perfection, has fun doing it, and genuinely cares about the people that get to enjoy baseball with them. Franke first experienced the ‘fun is good’ culture as a Gameday Operations Intern in 2013 during his college days at St. Cloud State. Eight years later, the phrase couldn’t ring more true. “I knew how much fun the Saints were from prior experiences and it turns out that is just as true for the grounds crew,” he said. That doesn’t take away from the grueling hours, nasty elements, and ever-changing tasks that the team endures. For Campbell, it’s the people in the organization that leave him fulfilled at the end of the day. Not just his team, but everyone from the top to bottom, regardless of status. “One day Nick Gordon showed up on an off day at the box office to buy a ticket for a game,” Campbell recalls. “He could have just walked through the back door but bought a ticket to go watch his boys play but that just speaks for the type of guys in this organization.” And at the end of the day, Franke and Campbell just enjoy the pureness of being able to spend their days and nights around America’s pastime. “Watching the players, playing baseball my whole life, it doesn’t seem like work when you’re around a child’s game,” Campbell said. “You get to watch guys play a game that they love. There’s something about that that makes our job fulfilling.” And as someone who’s been to the coast and back, Franke couldn’t be happier to work for an organization that values the people. “There’s not one thing that makes the Saints special but there are a whole lot of small things the organization does on all levels,” Franke said. “We’re putting out a good product but at the end of the day, there are fans coming to these games. They're spending their money, time, and energy to be here. To make that experience the best that it can be is something that everyone in this organization understands.” The Saints begin their final homestand tonight against the Iowa Cubs at 7:05 pm. Purchase tickets here! And be sure to follow @STPGroundsCrew on Twitter!
  12. Box Score Luke Farrell: 1.0 IP, 7 H, 5 ER, 1 K (70.5-percent strikes) Homeruns: Rortvedt (3) Bottom 3 WPA: Farrell (-.332), Kepler (-.099), Cave (-.097) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) José Berríos Stifles Twins Lowly Offensive Attack The big storyline headed into today was the Twins bad offense against “old friend” José Berríos who’s having the best second half of his career. Despite pitching well for Toronto over the last month and half, today’s start by the former Twins pitcher was reminiscent of his time in Minnesota. Over the first three innings of the game, Berríos was on point by allowing just one hit, a 1st inning double to Byron Buxton, but only struckout one hitter. The Twins were able to put together a little rally in the fourth when Berríos hit Josh Donaldson which was followed up by back-to-back doubles from Miguel Sano and Nick Gordon to give the Twins their first runs of the game. Berríos settled back by getting 10 of the next 11 Twins batters out and allowing a lone walk to Donaldson in the top of the 6th. He’d go out for the 7th but wouldn’t be able to finish the inning as he allowed a solo homerun to Ben Rortvedt, who was batting ninth for the Twins today. The Twins didn’t have the baserunners or runs to show it but they were actually able to hit their former teammate pretty hard today generating 11 balls with exit velocities of 95 miles per hour or greater. For reference, the Twins bullpen game generated 12 hard hits over the same amount of innings. The three runs against Berríos were the only runs the Twins would get as they weren’t able to muster up a hit after the Rortvedt homer. Bullpen Needs Relief Early The Twins elected to use a bullpen game today, which typically means that each relief pitcher used will try and give the club two to three innings. Unfortunately, Luke Farrell got clobbered in the first inning giving up seven straight hits, including a double and two-run homerun, and five earned runs. Farrell was relieved by Nick Vincent at the start of the second inning who was able to silence the best offense in baseball with two innings of shutout work giving up only a hit and a walk while striking out one. Juan Minaya came on in the fourth allowing a walk and a hit but striking out the nine, one, and four hitters in the Blue Jays high powered offense. He continued his strong appearance with two more strikeouts in the fifth and generated 15-percent whiff rate on his fastballs over the two innings pitched. Caleb Thielbar was up next on the merry-go-round giving up one hit while striking out one. Danny Coulumbe finished up the last two innings of the game by striking out two and allowing just one hit. WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Moran 34 0 0 34 0 68 Barraclough 0 0 0 32 0 32 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0 Colomé 0 0 14 0 0 14 Vincent 21 0 0 0 40 61 Alcalá 0 0 13 0 0 13 Garza Jr. 0 0 0 17 0 17 Duffey 0 0 16 0 0 16 Minaya 0 0 0 0 36 36 Farrell 0 0 0 0 34 34 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 22 22
  13. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Barnes 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Homeruns: Jeffers (13) Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .323, Gordon .211, Sano .129 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) After the fret surrounding Joe Ryan’s injury had somewhat subsided, the Twins had the second game of a doubleheader against Cleveland to attend to. Here’s how the Twins lined up for game two. Charlie Barnes was recalled from St. Paul to be the extra man on the roster for the Twins Tuesday double header. After issuing a leadoff walk to Myles Straw, Barnes settled in. He retired the next seven Cleveland hitters to bring the game into the top of the third scoreless. Barnes was solid, if not spectacular, working relatively efficiently without dominating or overpowering hitters. With the wrist contusion to his throwing arm, Joe Ryan’s rotation spot into question. Barnes may find himself sticking around through the rest of the 2021 season. Barnes ran into trouble in the top of the third inning. An Oscar Mercado single, back-to-back doubles from Amed Rosario and Jose Ramirez, and an RBI single from Franmil Reyes gave Cleveland a 3-0 lead. Barnes returned in the fourth to complete a scoreless inning, and give the Twins bullpen some much-needed length after the trip to New York on Monday. The Twins fought back in the fourth inning. Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano contributed singles before Ryan Jeffers ripped a two-run double down the left field line to cut the lead to 3-2. Willians Astudillo followed up with a double of his own to right center field to tie the game, before a Nick Gordon single to center field gave the Twins their first lead at 4-3. The Twins bullpen held the lead in the latter stages of the game. Kyle Barraclough and Juan Minaya threw back-to-back scoreless innings in the fifth and sixth, giving up just a hit between them. In the bottom of the sixth, the Twins added to their lead. Rob Refsnyder doubled down the left field line before Ryan Jeffers clubbed a 426-foot, two-run home run to increase the lead to 6-3. Alexander Colome closed the game in the seventh, bringing the Twins record on the season to 64-82. Encouraging performances from Nick Gordon and Ryan Jeffers will compound the highlight of the day, no serious injury for Joe Ryan. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Minaya 40 0 17 0 13 70 Coulombe 0 23 0 0 27 50 Colomé 12 0 0 27 11 50 Duffey 11 0 0 38 0 49 Farrell 0 12 0 34 0 46 Barraclough 0 0 0 23 16 39 Moran 0 0 37 0 0 37 Thielbar 0 26 0 11 0 37 Alcalá 9 0 18 0 8 35 Garza Jr. 0 0 11 6 0 17 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins continue their series with Cleveland. Griffin Jax will take on Cal Quantrill. First pitch is at 6:40 CST. Postgame Interviews - Coming soon
  14. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ryan 7.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Homeruns: Sano (25) Top 3 WPA: Ryan (0.479), Gordon (0.101), Thielbar (0.58) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Joe Ryan Take Perfect Game into Seventh in Second Career Start Apart from one rough inning in his MLB debut last week against the Chicago Cubs, Joe Ryan looked pretty impressive and left an overall good first impression, at least in this writer’s eyes. Well, that strong first impression only got stronger after tonight’s start, as Ryan retired the first 19 hitters Cleveland sent to the plate. Joe Ryan had the fly ball out working in his favor early in the game tonight, as he gave up a number of deep fly balls that looked scary off the bat, but they all would eventually die harmlessly at the warning track for routine outs. Joe Ryan also did a good job keeping his pitch count low, as he completed seven shutout innings with just 85 pitches. While having just four strikeouts aided in that effort, the main reason was Joe not only avoided the walk, but he didn’t really work deep into many counts as he threw nearly 72% of his pitches for strikes. The perfect game, and the no-hitter, came to an end with one out in the seventh, when Amed Rosario laced a hard-hit ball between short and third for a one out single. Rosario would advance to second on a pickoff attempt throwing error from Ryan. However, Ryan would focus in and get out of the inning without allowing a run to score. Twins Get on the Board First in the Fifth The first few innings of this game were rather uneventful. The most action came from a Josh Donaldson leadoff double in the 2nd that was originally ruled an out, but after a Twins challenge Donaldson was awarded second base after it was determined that the ball made contact with the outfield wall just before it fell into the glove of Cleveland outfielder Harold Ramirez. The fifth inning started like most of the other innings early in this ballgame, as the Twins made two outs to begin the inning. Rob Refsnyder got the two out rally started by working the count full before drawing a two out walk. Then, with Nick Gordon up, Refsnyder stole second base to get in scoring position. Gordon then promptly delivered with a double, bringing Refsnyder around to score the first run of the game. Miguel Sano Goes Way Deep in the Seventh After putting up a run with two outs in the fifth, the Twins got another two out run in the seventh, this time via a more conventional way, a Miguel Sano bomb. Now I must preface this by saying, for Sano this was just another oh hum home run, but for any average MLB hitter this would certainly be classified as a bomb that traveled 449 feet to the opposite field. Twins Tack on Insurance Run in Eighth With the perfect game in the rearview mirror, the focus was shifted back on the original goal, winning the ballgame. The Twins bats aided in the bullpen’s quest to lock down the win by giving them a bigger cushion to work with. Ryan Jeffers got the inning started with a one out double into the left-center field gap. Luis Arraez followed with a single to left field that seemed like it should have scored Jeffers, but he was held up by third base coach Tony Diaz, despite the throw coming back into second. Byron Buxton then delivered on what should have been a TaylorMade double-play, but with Buxton’s speed those do not exist, as he beat it out allowing the run to score. Bullpen Usage Chart SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Colomé 11 23 9 17 0 60 Thielbar 0 28 0 25 8 61 Minaya 21 0 0 21 0 42 Alcalá 0 15 0 19 0 34 Garza Jr. 23 0 0 0 0 23 Duffey 0 10 8 0 17 35 Coulombe 0 0 0 0 0 0 What's Next The Twins will go for the rare four-game sweep vs Cleveland on Thursday night, as they will send Randy Dobnak to the mound to face Cleveland pitcher Cal Quantrill. First pitch is scheduled for 5:10pm CDT. Postgame Interviews
  15. Box Score Griffin Jax: 4.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (55-percent strikes) Homeruns: none Top 3 WPA: Gordon (.364), Colomé (.194), Arraez (.171) Win Probability Chart (via Fangraphs) Jax Bounces Back After Two Abysmal Starts Jax entered today giving up 15 earned runs in his last two starts combined, and was able to have a passable start given his recent struggles. From the start, Jax was benefiting from some near misses starting with the leadoff batter hitting a deep fly ball into the right field corner, another deep flyball to start the second inning, and then a ball off of the bat of Yandy Diaz that had an xBA of .690 to end the second. Regardless, he was able to get through the first two innings unscathed although that would be a sign of things to come for the end of his day. The luck of the near misses through the first two innings were balanced out by three different batted balls, two off the glove of Luis Arraez and one off of Nick Gordon, that would have undoubtedly made for shorter innings and less damage against Jax. Although none of these balls were considered errors, they were plays that gloves of Donaldson and Polanco would likely have vacuumed up for outs. Luckily, the Twins bullpen was most fresh after pitching just one inning on Friday, as Jax only lasted 4 ⅔ innings when the Rays started making consistent hard contact off of the rookie right hander. Coming into today, Jax had given up nine home runs and 11 walks in 27 innings in the month of August. As previously mentioned, there were some close calls today but outside of the homerun to Brandon Lowe he kept the ball in the ballpark and made the Rays earn their bases only giving up one walk. Even on the homerun to Lowe, Glen Perkins had some interesting insight as to how Lowe pulled a low and away breaking ball 365 feet. Clutch Two-Out Rallies Lift the Twins to Victory Luis Arraez started off the game for the Twins getting robbed of a line drive single by Wander Franco in what would foreshadow Luis Patiño’s day against the slumping Twins offense. After a quick first inning, the Twins would score three two-out runs with hitters six thru nine all reaching base, including Willians Astudillo’s first walk since drawing back-to-back walks on June 16th. The Twins would tack on a fourth run in the third inning after aggressive baserunning by Josh Donaldson creating a balk to get to second and taking third on a ball in the dirt. The headsy baserunning would pay off after a bloop two-out single by Jake Cave allowed Donaldson to score easily, giving the Twins a 4-0 lead. The Twins put together another threat in the fourth after an Arraez single and a Buxton double that would have been a run-scoring triple had it stayed in the ballpark. Alas, it was ruled a ground-rule double (bounced off the foul pole and back into play) and the next batter, Jorge Polanco, would hit a line drive to Wander Franco who flipped it to third to double off Arraez. After getting 1-2-3 innings in the fifth and sixth, the bottom of the line up would come through again with Nick Gordon tying the game at five runs apiece with another two-out RBI hit. And that wouldn't even be the end of Nick Gordon's career day. After more aggressive baserunning by Donaldson and with one out in the ninth and runners on 1st and 3rd, Gordon punched a single up the middle to give the Twins the 6-5 lead and ultimately the win. If you were paying attention closely, you realized that five of the six Twins runs were scored with two-outs and Nick Gordon was responsible for half of the runs scored today. Bullpen Usage Chart The Twins made the right call in pulling Griffin Jax but, in what seems like the “Twins Way” this year, the inherited runner was allowed to score when Caleb Thielbar immediately gave up a two-run homerun to Austin Meadows. Thielbar finished the fifth but wasn’t able to finish the sixth after a lead off walk and a comebacker fielder's choice, and was relieved by righty Jorge Alcala. After a first pitch swinging strike by Mike Zunino, he got the backstop to ground into an inning ending double play and would get through the seventh only allowing a double to Franco. Tyler Duffey came on in the eighth and pitched a 1-2-3 thanks to Ryan Jeffers gunning down a would-be base stealer before handing over the save opportunity to Alex Colomé in the ninth. As usual, Colomé would make things very interesting in the ninth but ultimately earned the saved after a 23 pitch inning. TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Gibaut 0 24 0 0 47 0 71 Minaya 24 11 0 0 21 0 56 Garza Jr. 17 0 0 8 23 0 48 Colomé 0 0 0 0 11 23 34 Thielbar 26 0 0 0 0 28 54 Alcalá 0 0 0 0 0 15 15 Duffey 16 0 0 0 0 10 26 Coulombe 0 10 0 0 0 0 10
  16. TRANSACTIONS INF Anthony Prato added to A+ Cedar Rapids following rehab assignment RHP Matt Canterino activated from IL at A+ Cedar Rapids RHP Ralph Garza Jr. recalled by Minnesota Twins Saints Sentinel St. Paul 4, Indianapolis 7 Box Score Starter: Beau Burrows: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K HR: Tomás Telis (8), Nick Gordon (3) Multi-hit games: Nick Gordon (2-for-4, HR, R, 3 RBI), Tomás Telis (2-for-4, HR, R, RBI), Damek Tomscha (2-for-4, R) St. Paul lost their momentum on Saturday. It began with some Beau on Beau action as both starting pitchers were named “Beau” (seriously). Burrows (or BB, as the cool kids call him), held Indianapolis scoreless over his three innings of work with five strikeouts. Burrows then passed the baton to Jovani Moran who, as usual, shut it down. He struck out three over two innings of work, and could be heard muttering “what else did I have to do to get called up?*” *I cannot confirm this. Offensively, St. Paul jumped out in front first. Tomás Telis plopped his eighth homer of the year in the first inning to give the Saints a quick 1-0 lead. Nick Gordon was not to be outdone, and he sent his third home run of the year over the right field wall. Now, usually I don’t point out defense in these games because, well, who cares. But Nick Gordon played at third base while Jose Miranda played in left field. I assume that this was done out of necessity, but if both players can play at those positions in just a passable manner, then their value to the major league club will be just that much more. This game revealed one of the problems that can arise in a bullpen game. Burrows and Moran did their part well, but Ryan Mason struggled and it allowed Indianapolis to tie the game in the 7th inning. Indianapolis then jumped on Ian Hamilton in the 8th with a bases-clearing double, and that ended up being all she wrote. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 2, Tulsa 5 Box Score Starter: Cole Sands: 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K HR: B.J. Boyd 2 (11, 12) Multi-hit games: B.J. Boyd (2-for-4, 2 HR, 2 R, 2 RBI), Ernie De La Trinidad (2-for-3, BB) The Wind Surge lost on Saturday. ...But not due to Cole Sands. The righty was on his game on Saturday. Of the 17 outs he netted, 10 came via strikeouts. Yeah, that’ll work. It was his first start of the season with double-digit punch outs, and it was also his seventh start allowing one or fewer walks. They also did not lose because of B.J. Boyd. The free agent signee has been nothing short of elite in his time with Wichita. His OPS on the season is now above .900, and I imagine that one more game like this will finally force Wichita to build a statue in his honor. It was not enough to top the Drillers, though. Tulsa took out their frustration on Erik Manoah Jr., and put the game out of reach after the 7th inning. Oddly enough, Tulsa only had one more hit than Wichita. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 3, Peoria 7 Box Score Starter: Sawyer Gipson-Long: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 9 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-4, 2 R) The Kernels lost to a rehabbing major leaguer on Saturday. Miles Mikolas started for the Chiefs and was excellent. He held the Kernels to three runs over seven innings of work with eight strikeouts to boot. Come on man, go pick on players your own age (I’m sure he will soon). Sawyer Gipson-Long’s line is misleading. Two of his earned runs came via a two-run homer, while another run scored due to a throwing error by his catcher (not sure why it counts as an earned run, actually). No matter the runs, striking out nine batters over five innings of work is impressive. The bats were a bit quiet on Saturday. Every run was scored off the bat of Matt Wallner (a first inning DP, and a 6th inning two-run single), and Edouard Julien was the only batter to net multiple hits. Of course it was Julien. I swear he gets on base twice every time I check the box score. The game slipped away in the 7th inning as the Chiefs ambushed Osiris German to the tune of three earned runs. Much like how the Saints lost, this proved to be too back-breaking for the Kernels to overcome. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 1, Bradenton 2 Box Score Starter: Bobby Milacki: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K HR: Aaron Sabato (10) Multi-hit games: Misael Urbina (2-for-5, 2B) Fort Myers lost in extra-innings on Saturday. Bobby Milacki started the Mighty Mussels off right with an excellent start on Saturday. His six strikeouts tied a personal single-game record, and it was his sixth outing in 2021 that ended without a walk. Not bad for a 38th round pick who the Twins signed out of independent ball. John Stankiewicz, Zaquiel Puentes, and Aaron Rozek carried the weight the rest of the way with five combined innings, and just a single hit allowed. They struck out three in total. Offensively, things were a bit tough. Misael Urbina was the lone hitter to drop in multiple hits, and just one other batter had an extra-base hit. But that one batter was Aaron Sabato who, unsurprisingly now, bopped his 10th homer of the year. He had just four home runs coming into the month of August. It has been great to see Sabato turn the corner like this. No prospect dropped as much as him when we at Twinsdaily updated our top prospect list, and a monster August to cap off his season would go a long way towards regaining his old 1st-round pick status. Will he do it? I suppose we shall see. Unfortunately, the Mighty Mussels got Manfred-ed and the very first opposing batter in the bottom of the 10th singled home a run to end the game. I’m sure that they didn’t mind getting out of the way of the tropical storm, though. Complex Chronicles The FCL Twins game was suspended on Saturday, and will be finished on Sunday. A quick scan of the box score reveals that Zander Wiel was in the starting lineup working through a rehab assignment. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cole Sands Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – B.J. Boyd PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-3, 2 K #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-3, BB #7 – Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #9 – Chase Petty (Complex) - #10 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 1-5, K #11 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, 2 RBI, K #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-3 #14 – Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 – Noah Miller (Complex) - #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI #17 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #18 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 2-5, 2B #19 – Cole Sands (Wichita) - 5 ⅔ IP, 5 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 10 K #20 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - Did not play SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (11:35 AM) LHP Andrew Albers Wichita @ Tulsa (12:05 PM) RHP Jordan Balazovic Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (12:35 PM) RHP Matt Canterino Fort Myers will not play on Sunday in anticipation of Tropical Storm Fred.
  17. From 2013-2018 Brian Dozier played in nearly 900 games and blasted 161 homers for the Twins as their primary second basemen. He took time to settle into the role and changed his approach at the plate, but became an All-Star in 2015 and earned top-15 votes each of the next two seasons. In 2016-17 Dozier combined to hit 76 dingers with an .871 OPS. For a position often seen as an afterthought in the infield, he’d become a beacon of strength. Fast-forward to where we are now, and the Twins have successfully passed the torch to a new pair of talents. Signed to an extension in 2019, Jorge Polanco is potentially under team control through the 2025 season. He dealt with an ankle injury that changed his abilities drastically, but now with a clean bill of health, he looks like one of the best in baseball at the position. Since June 1 this season, Polanco owns a .926 OPS. He was a first-time All-Star in 2019 and has posted an .806 OPS over the past three seasons, even with the dismal 2020 factored in. There were always legitimate concerns regarding Polanco’s range and arm at shortstop. It was a position he had played often, but one he was ultimately miscast in. Sliding over to second base full time this season, Twins coaches talked up the fact that not only would his bat play, but his glove may find gold there. It’s safe to say the experiment has been wildly successful, and the return to offensive prowess is a welcomed shot in the arm. Recently turning 28-years-old, it’s fair to assume Polanco’s best seasons are still ahead of him, and for a Twins team looking to rebound, that’s a great thing to dream on. Then there’s the opposite but an equally successful type of player at second base for the Twins. Luis Arraez may be the second coming of Rod Carew, and he’s here to challenge for a batting title on an annual basis. Nagging knee injuries have kept him off the field at times, but the bat has remained intact when he’s out there. A .317 average this season marks a career-low, but it’s continued to rise, and the .325 mark across his first 205 big-league games is nothing to scoff at. Arraez will never play with the power that either Dozier or Polanco has, and he’s more Dozier (Gold Glove’s are offensive awards sometimes) than Polanco with the leather, but calling second his primary home helps to push this narrative. Luis has done well for himself by establishing utility around the diamond, but make no mistake that the pipeline Minnesota has pushed here is impressive. Add in that Nick Gordon is beginning to realize some of his potential in the big leagues, a converted shortstop moving to the first base side, and this situation continues to be worth monitoring. Spencer Steer is another name down on the farm that’s pushing his way towards the top and watching the Twins develop these athletes is exciting. Second base is often considered the fallback for a shortstop with a lackluster arm. Be that what it may, but Minnesota isn’t simply throwing out good defenders that have little other tools at the position. Rocco Baldelli has employed lineups that can do damage, and even before the current skipper got here, second base has become an area of strength in the system. Maybe Jorge Polanco pushes for the best in baseball title down the line, but even if he doesn’t, he’s currently headlining an impressive position group within this organization. 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. 25. RHP Chris Vallimont (24-years-old) Season Stats (High-A + Double-A): 4-4, 4.76 ERA, 64 1/3 IP, 102 K, 40 BB, 6 HR Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 20, 2021 Preseason: NR Chris Vallimont has the physical profile of a modern day pitcher. He stands nearly 6-foot-6-inches tall with an athletic 220 pound frame that he uses to generate fastballs in the mid-90s to go along with a hammer curve (as well as the occasional slider and changeup). When he's on, there's a strong argument to be made that he has some of the most dynamic stuff in the Twins' system. However, he is a bit of an enigma. His peripheral numbers suggest that he is a better pitcher than what the surface-level stats say, the main anchor dragging him down being his walks. If he hones his command, it's not out of the realm of possibility that he develops into, say, a No. 3 starter. If he doesn't, he may wind up in the bullpen long-term. There are few prospects in the Twins' system with more future outcome variance than Vallimont. 24: RHP Louie Varland (23-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): 6-2, 1.70 ERA, 69 IP, 98 K, 25 BB, 2 HR Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NR Louie Varland is one of those Twins prospects who has shot up the rankings this season due to sustained dominance. Varland was an unknown prospect when the Twins selected him in the 15th round of the 2019 draft out of Concordia-St. Paul. He started out the 2021 season with the Low-A Fort Myers Mighty Mussels before earning a promotion to the High-A Cedar Rapids Kernels where he rattled off nearly 20 straight innings of scoreless ball to begin his run at that level. Varland primarily relies on a fastball-curveball pitch mix. His fastball plays well both up and low in the zone; it presents with decent rise when elevated and greater sinking action when down. His most likely future role is as a reliever, but he has the raw stuff — and performance, to this point — to suggest he'll be effective in the high minors and, possibly, the big leagues. 23: UTIL Nick Gordon (25-years-old) Season Stats (MLB): .250/.301/.333, 37 G, 3 2B, 3 3B, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 5 SB, 26/5 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: NR, 2021 Preseason: NR To say that Nick Gordon was an after thought on the minds of Twins' fans entering the 2021 season would be an understatement. However, a strong showing at Triple-A combined with a fast start when promoted to the parent squad quickly got him back into people's minds. Gordon primarily played shortstop in the minors; however, the rash of injuries suffered by Twins' outfielders thrust Gordon into some minutes in centerfield. While he didn't provide Gold Glove caliber defense, he did show enough to suggest that he may have a brighter future as a true utility man than most thought. Gordon doesn't do anything great, but also doesn't do anything well-below average. He may not be an everyday-type of player, but he should find himself with a role in the majors — though perhaps ultimately not with the Twins — for years to come. 22: 1B/DH Aaron Sabato (22-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A): .181/.365/.309, 75 G, 13 2B, 6 HR, 32 RBI, 101/67 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 9, 2021 Preseason: 8 The tale of Aaron Sabato is virtually the opposite of that of Varland and Gordon. Sabato was known as a bopper with a good eye at the plate when the Twins selected him with the 27th overall pick in the 2020 draft but so far only his peepers have translated. Sabato has struggled to keep pace with Low-A pitching. His strikeout numbers are through the roof and his power has evaporated compared to what he displayed while with the Tar Heels. To put it bluntly, not many minor leaguers have struggled as much as he has to date and proceeded to carve out a productive major league career. Sabato's walk totals are encouraging, but he needs to show more the rest of the way. 21: INF Edouard Julien (22-years-old) Season Stats (Low-A + High-A): .251/.423/.449, 78 G, 21 2B, 1 3B, 10 HR, 47 RBI, 25 SB, 98/73 K:BB Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: Honorable Mention, 2021 Preseason: NR Alright, back to being positive. Edouard Julien is an on-base machine with some pop who has displayed the ability to play multiple positions defensively, though he is probably best at second base. He's also stolen far more bases this year than many thought possible when he came out of Auburn University. Julien's overall productivity has declined some since his promotion to Cedar Rapids — and, thus, the removal of Robo-umps — however, he has done more than enough to justify his placement on this list. Not bad for a former 18th round pick. What do you think of this set of five prospects? Future big-leaguers? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. We still have a ways to go, and while there is no August waiver trade period in 2021, Rocco Baldelli’s roster should continue to get a shake-up over the next few weeks. Cycling in different hitters and pitchers when attempting to find future opportunities, this club can also look back on what has been and begin making assessments for 2022 and beyond. While not all the biggest storylines, here are five key takeaways from what we’ve seen to this point: Miguel Sano is inconsistently consistent Through 21 games to start the year, Sano owned a .119/.280/.209 slash line. Over his next 38 games from May 15 through June 30, he held a .233/.280/.549 slash line. Then, in July, he’s owned a .246/.325/.478 slash line across 20 games. He’s got a .737 OPS in 79 games this year and has paired that with 17 homers and a .291 OBP. If you’re looking for Miguel Sano to be the mega-prospect he once was considered, that’s probably on you at this point. The slash line still leaves plenty to be desired, but he’s got a 103 OPS+ and has not wavered on a solid sense of plate discipline. Timing continues to elude him for frustrating stretches, but he’s also capable of going on an absolute power tear. Should the Twins find themselves back in a position of strength throughout their lineup, a bat like that in the bottom half is hardly something to scoff at. He’s owed $9.25 million in 2022, and that’s an overpay but not to the extent of being ultimately damaging and acting as a primary designated hitter; that may be the role he’s always been destined for anyways. Nick Gordon has utility I was convinced that opportunity had passed the Twins former first-round pick by for quite a while. I knew he could play at the big-league level but wasn’t sure it would happen in a Minnesota uniform. Now I’m more convinced that it needs to continue. He’s still the same player he’s been throughout the minors. A soft-hitting speedster that will occasionally run into one, this is a singles hitter that has the instincts to swipe bases. Add in the utility he’s provided by learning centerfield on the fly, and there’s no reason he shouldn’t be on the Opening Day roster in 2022. Gordon may find a bit more success in year two when it comes to batting average; he’s made a career out of taking steps forward after acclimating to a level. Even if he doesn’t, though, speed on the bench is something Minnesota hasn’t had, and the combination of being a lighter version of Chris Taylor is a good thing for any roster to have. Mitch Garver can still mash To say that 2020 was disastrous for Mitch Garver would be putting it lightly. The Twins Silver Slugger winning catcher posted a terrible .511 OPS and hit just two homers in 23 games. Things started slow for him in 2021, with a .517 OPS being toted through 17 games. In his last 29 games since April 28, with a severe injury mixed in there, Garver has slashed .299/.449/.740 with nine homers and a 20/19 K/BB. The life-altering foul tip he took was incredibly scary, but as rehab progressed and healing took place, he’s been back behind the dish and picked up where he left off. Even after being plunked by a pitch on his hand recently, it’s fair to dream of the production that will soon return. Garver is a late-blooming prospect, so he’s going to age relatively quickly, but this is the anchor of a tandem behind the dish that Twins fans were hoping for. The pitching staff needs an overhaul Minnesota owns the fourth-worst pitching staff in baseball by fWAR in 2021. The starters rank 24th, and the relievers are 25th. The entire unit has been a complete abomination. With the uncertain status of Jose Berrios’ future and veterans like J.A. Happ and Michael Pineda being done this offseason, the rotation will be in flux. Taylor Rogers sapped his trade value with a finger injury just days ago, but whether he was dealt or not, the rest of the bullpen remains a complete question mark. None of the signings made by the front office have worked out, and while they were short-term pacts, a re-do is less exciting when considering just how many times they missed over the winter. Derek Falvey has long been lauded for his ability to develop and identify pitching. Minnesota has a farm system rich with names attached to arms, but none have begun to bear fruit, and plenty are currently injured. For this organization to thrive at the highest level, it’s going to need to start on the mound once again, and they’re going to be doing so from next to nothing for 2022. Corner rookies are real In a season where winning takes a back seat, the best way to prevent it from becoming lost is by watching your youth thrive. Alex Kirilloff is done for the year after having wrist surgery, but it’s pretty realistic to call his rookie campaign a success. The top prospect came up early and handled his own. He’s not an ideal fit in the outfield, but he’ll play at first base, and the bat is every bit as advertised. Trevor Larnach joined Kirilloff sooner than expected, but it’s hard to pick apart much of what he’s done this season. Even while slumping of late, the 24-year-old owns a .322 OBP and has shown plenty of power potential. He’ll run into more baseballs as his career progresses, and the discipline in the box has been a sight to behold. These are both pillar players that Minnesota needs to see as foundational cornerstones of future lineups, and early returns should suggest they are both capable of doing just that. 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. Box Score Happ: 6.0 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K (62.5% strikes) Home Runs: none Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .512, Rogers .169, Polanco .104 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Happ struggles early but settles in nicely Eight pitches. Eight pitches were all it took for this game to have its first runs on the board. Happ was off to a horrendous start, which is not news. Coming into tonight’s game, 21.3% of all earned runs given up by the southpaw in the season happened during the first inning of games. That became a little worse when Phil Gosselin doubled and then scored on a Jose Iglesias’ single. Then it became a lot worse a few moments later when old friend Kurt Suzuki hit a two-out, two-run bomb to the left field corner, making it 3-0 Angels. Facing righty Alex Cobb, the offense loaded the bases during the bottom of the first inning but couldn’t capitalize. They went down in order in the second frame, but not before Happ had given up yet another home run in the top of the inning to Jack Mayfield, extending the Angels’ lead to four. With the four early runs allowed, the Twins’ starter took the lead of Robbie Ray for most earned runs allowed by any left-handed pitcher in the American League. Minnesota got one run back in the third inning with Jorge Polanco keeping his hot streak alive and well with a double, and being pushed across by a single from Trevor Larnach. Fortunately, that was also the inning when Happ had started to settle in. After the awful first two innings, he went on to pitch four scoreless frames. Before he departed, the Twins manufactured another run in the bottom of the fifth inning. Max Kepler hit a bullet to lead off the inning (110 MPH exit velocity), then Polanco singled to move him to third. With men on the corners, a fantastic defensive play from Mayfield at third prevented the Twins from maybe scoring a couple of runs. Instead, Josh Donaldson grounded into a double-play, but that was enough to score Kepler from third and cut Los Angeles’ lead to 4-2. Offense keeps pushing for a rally The Twins continued to peck their way into this game. Cobb came back to the mound for the bottom of the sixth, but he left the game with a blister before throwing a single pitch. With Steve Cishek pitching, Miguel Sanó led off the inning with a double, and Nick Gordon singled to right to bring the big man home, putting Minnesota within a run. Minnesota kept hitting the ball hard. After Alexander Colomé delivered a scoreless seventh inning, Donaldson hit a single in the bottom of the inning, the Twins’ 11th hit of the night. However, they couldn’t add on, thanks to Mayfield’s impressive defensive display at the hot corner. While the Twins were able to produce baserunners, most of them were stranded by the Angel defense. Juan Minaya worked out of a jam in the top of the eighth to keep this a one-run game. Then, with a series of great at-bats, the offense came through in the home half. Sanó worked an eight-pitch at-bat to draw a leadoff walk, prompting a pitching change. Joe Maddon brought in star closer Raisel Iglesias to try to keep the Angels ahead. After he got the first out of the inning, Gordon responded with a single, his second of the night. Then Ryan Jeffers came through with his most clutch hit yet! A single to left, just out of the reach of Mayfield, was enough to score Sanó from second. After an errant throw home, Suzuki tried to catch Gordon advancing to third base, but he was way off the mark, allowing the Twins’ rookie to score sliding and give the Twins their first lead of the night, 5-4. Taylor Rogers came in to pitch the ninth inning and, despite giving up a bloop single to David Fletcher, managed to retire the side and secure the Twins win. This was his ninth save of the season, the 50th in his career. He's now even closer to enter the top 10 in career saves in Senators/Twins franchise history, ranking 13th at the moment. Postgame Interviews Nick Gordon Ryan Jeffers Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Colomé 0 26 22 0 11 59 Duffey 16 0 38 0 0 54 Alcala 23 24 0 0 0 47 Coulombe 0 5 0 32 0 37 Rogers 19 0 0 0 18 37 Thielbar 0 17 16 0 0 33 Robles 19 7 0 0 0 26 Minaya 0 0 0 0 20 20
  21. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/31 through Sun, 6/6 *** Record Last Week: 3-4 (Overall: 24-35) Run Differential Last Week: -13 (Overall: -35) Standing: 5th Place in AL Central (12.5 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 53 | MIN 3, BAL 2: Twins Edge O's Behind Strong Berríos Effort Game 54 | BAL 7, MIN 4: Orioles Snap Losing Streak Against Twins Game 55 | BAL 6, MIN 3: Twins Sink to New Low, Drop Series in Baltimore Game 56 | KC 6, MIN 5: Bats Unable to Overcome Happ's Poor Start Game 57 | KC 14, MIN 5: Okay, Now THIS Was a New Low Game 58 | MIN 5, KC 4: Home Runs Power Minnesota to Narrow Victory Game 59 | MIN 3, KC 2: Strong Effort from Staff Aids Another Close Win NEWS & NOTES This team is absolutely ravaged. A nonstop barrage of injuries has forced the Twins to reach into the deepest corners of their minor-league depth, routinely fielding lineups populated by guys playing out of position or above their appropriate competition level. Not only have the injuries been plentiful, but also astoundingly inconvenient and untimely. For example, our last Week in Review column noted that "the biggest bright spot on offense right now has got to be Mitch Garver, who suddenly looks like his old Silver Slugger self." Naturally, in the first inning of the first game last week, Garver went down. The catcher experienced a brutal mishap that no one would wish upon their worst enemy, taking a foul tip directly in the groin and requiring emergency surgery that night. He'll be sidelined for the foreseeable future. In last week's column we also noted "Rocco Baldelli's made no secret of the fact that he'll be riding Rob Refsnyder hard in the short-term, and the manager will have to hope his opportunistic 30-year-old can stay hot (and healthy)." Naturally, in the same game where Garver got hurt, Refsnyder ran into the outfield wall in Baltimore and soon after went on the shelf with a concussion. With Refsnyder joining Byron Buxton, Max Kepler and Jake Cave on IL, the Twins had little choice but to call up prospect Gilberto Celestino, their only available center fielder on the 40-man roster. The 22-year-old, who'd played less than two dozen games above Single-A in the minors, has looked like a player that belongs nowhere near the big leagues, and I don't think the Twins would even deny that. But their alternative options are basically non-existent. Also hitting the Injured List this past week: relievers Caleb Thielbar (groin strain) and Shaun Anderson (blisters). Juan Minaya was designated for assignment and Dakota Chalmers was claimed off waivers by the Cubs. Griffin Jax and Bailey Ober were recalled, with the latter making an impressive start in Kansas City on Sunday. HIGHLIGHTS In a season where postseason hopes have been effectively snuffed out by early June, you have to focus on the smaller individual storylines to find fulfillment as a fan – especially those with potential to impact the long-term outlook as this team aims to pick up the pieces and remake itself with help from the internal pipeline. Ober is an intriguing asset from this standpoint. In a spot start on Sunday, he tossed four innings of one-run ball with four strikeouts and no walks. He induced an impressive eight swinging strikes on 51 pitches, flashing 93-94 MPH on the gun repeatedly with his four-seamer. Despite an intimidating 6-foot-9 frame, Ober has generally been viewed as having a limited ceiling, due mainly to his middling fastball velocity as a starter. While coming up as a prospect he usually worked in the high 80s or low 90s. The increase we're seeing now plays up his secondary stuff, and when you add strong command to the mix, you've got a pitcher with some real upside. He has a 21-to-5 K/BB ratio in 16 innings at Triple-A and now an 8-to-1 K/BB ratio in eight innings with the Twins. He should stick in the rotation and get a long look this summer. Another prospect taking advantage of his unexpected opportunity and running with it: Nick Gordon, who provided a rare heartwarming highlight amidst a barrage of uninspiring performances for the Twins last week. With his father Tom "Flash" Gordon watching from the stands on Friday, Gordon went 3-for-4 with his first major-league home run. In total, Gordon made four starts and went 7-for-16 (.438) with two RBIs and a stolen base. He's slashing .400/.429/.550 in his young big-league career, and dating back to 2019 he now has a .312 batting average and .474 slugging percentage in 340 at-bats between Triple-A and the majors. He's 22-for-26 on steal attempts during that span. Through all the tribulations he's faced over these past few years, Gordon has stepped it up on the field and really produced when given a chance. This season is a giant bummer, obviously, but if the Twins can take the opportunity to get extended looks at fringe-type prospects like Ober and Gordon, and find that maybe they actually have something in them, that's a big win with possible implications going forward. LOWLIGHTS It needs to be stated: The front office completely whiffed on nearly every significant pitching acquisition during the offseason. Starters, relievers, free agents, trades ... they've almost all panned out poorly. None worse than Matt Shoemaker, who received a $2 million deal to plug in as Minnesota's No. 5 starter and has been a total disaster. His start on Friday was one of the worst ever seen from a Twins pitcher, as the right-hander surrendered nine runs (eight earned) on eight hits and two walks while recording one out. The catastrophic performance inflated his ERA to 7.28 and tagged him with his league-leading seventh loss. Shoemaker absolutely deserves to be out of the rotation but that's not happening at this point, due to the aforementioned lack of bodies. The Twins can't afford to give away any of their MLB depth, no matter how atrocious it may be. Fellow free agent starter J.A. Happ hasn't been quite as bad as Shoemaker, but he sure hasn't been good. Happ gave up five earned runs on nine hits (three home runs) in five innings against Kansas City the previous night. He now owns a 5.61 ERA to go along with a 4.77 FIP. That includes a 10.17 ERA over his past five turns, during which opponents have slashed .360/.405/.680 against the veteran, who looks pretty cooked by now. Bullpen pickups have been similarly disappointing, just about across the board. Centerpiece free agency addition Alex Colomé gave up a two-run homer in Baltimore; his modest momentum built up in early May has now completely evaporated. Colomé has a 9.00 ERA in his past six outings and opponents are slashing .389/.450/.889. The team's lone trade acquisition of the winter, Anderson, pitched badly in his only appearance of the week before going back on IL. We've already seen Derek Law and Brandon Waddell pass through with lackluster stints. What happened to the mojo and moxie of this front office and coaching staff when it comes to identifying and developing arms? It's the top story of the season, in my opinion. Entering play on Sunday, the Twins had the third-worst ERA in the American League (ahead of only the Orioles and Angels) and the second-worst pitching WAR in the major leagues (ahead of only the Diamondbacks). The bats have their issues and the lineup is decimated but this lousy pitching staff gives the team no real shot at getting on any kind of sustained run. TRENDING STORYLINE It appears the Twins may be getting back two of their most critical pieces in the near future. Buxton, who has now missed a full month and counting since straining his hip on May 6th, completed a baserunning program without issue and will likely head on a rehab stint in the days ahead. It wouldn't be shocking to see him back in the outfield for next weekend's series against Houston. Meanwhile, Kenta Maeda went through a 35-pitch bullpen session on Sunday morning and came out of it fine. He too is on the verge of a rehab assignment, which presumably would entail one or two starts with the Saints. Will the time off prove an elixir for his woefully underwhelming performance up to this point? The Twins are probably in too deep of a hole, and plagued by too many flaws on the roster, for an historical comeback thrusting them back into contention to be realistic. If such a thing was ever going to happen though, getting back their best player and best pitcher at full strength will absolutely need to be a part of the equation. LOOKING AHEAD Well, here we go. After going 7-6 during their two-week soft patch against the Orioles and Royals, the Twins are about to see the difficulty level steepen sharply. The dreaded Yankees and Astros are coming to town. This could get ugly. (Uglier, I should say.) TUESDAY, 6/8: YANKEES @ TWINS – LHP Jordan Montgomery v. RHP Michael Pineda WEDNESDAY, 6/9: YANKEES @ TWINS – RHP Gerrit Cole v. RHP Randy Dobnak THURSDAY, 6/10: YANKEES @ TWINS – TBD v. LHP J.A. Happ FRIDAY, 6/11: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP José Urquidy v. RHP José Berríos SATURDAY, 6/12: ASTROS @ TWINS – RHP Luis Garcia v. RHP Bailey Ober SUNDAY, 6/13: ASTROS @ TWINS – LHP Framber Valdez v. RHP Michael Pineda
  22. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/3 through Sun, 5/9 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 12-20) Run Differential Last Week: -5 (Overall: -2) Standing: 4th Place in AL Central (7.0 GB) Last Week's Game Recaps: Game 27 | MIN 6, TEX 5: Strong Defense and Kirilloff Power Twins Game 28 | TEX 6, MIN 3: Bullpen Gives Away Late Lead Once Again Game 29 | TEX 3, MIN 1: Twins Go 0-for-9 with RISP as Bats Sleep Game 30 | TEX 4, MIN 3: Another Blown Lead and Extra-Inning Loss Game 31 | MIN 7, DET 3: Bats Awaken Against Detroit's Relievers Game 32 | DET 7, MIN 3: In Unpredictable Twist, Bullpen Implodes NEWS & NOTES There were a ton of moves in the past week, most of them brought on by unfortunate events. Before we dive into the in-game highlights and lowlights, let's run through all the turnover this roster has experienced over the past seven days. The week started with Randy Dobnak being optioned to Triple-A, just in time for the start of the minor-league season. Dobnak had earned the demotion on merit, with an 8.16 ERA through seven appearances, but this decision seems more aimed at getting him back on a starting regimen. So far so good: Dobnak hurled four scoreless innings with five strikeouts in his debut for the Saints. The rotation may need him soon. Called up to replace Dobnak on the roster was Brandon Waddell, who went on to have an unbelievably disastrous second stint with the Twins. He pitched on Monday and Tuesday, allowing six runs (5 ER) while recording three totals outs. Waddell was subsequently optioned and designated for assignment; he was claimed Sunday by the Orioles. So much for that once-promising experiment. Supplanting Waddell on the roster was Devin Smeltzer, recalled to function as a long reliever. He hasn't since made an appearance. Lewis Thorpe came up for another spot start on Wednesday, tossing five innings of three-run ball against Texas, and was sent back to St. Paul afterward. Cody Stashak was optioned to Triple-A after coughing up three runs against the lowly Tigers on Friday night. He was replaced by Derek Law, a minor-league signing during the offseason who impressed during spring training. (Then again, so did Waddell.) To make room on the 40-man roster for Law, the Twins designated former third-round pick Travis Blankenhorn for assignment. The worst news of the week is that the Twins lost three absolutely critical players to injury. Luis Arraez suffered a concussion during a home plate collision on Monday and went on the 7-day Injured List. A day later, Alex Kirilloff was placed on the shelf due to an ominous wrist injury. Then Byron Buxton came up limping at first base on Thursday, and was diagnosed with Grade 2 hip strain that figures to sideline him for at least a month. You'd be hard-pressed to select anyone the Twins could LESS afford to lose from their lineup than these three. But that's just the nature of this gut-wrenching 2021 season. Filling in the roster spots of these lost fixtures were Nick Gordon, Miguel Sanó and Trevor Larnach. HIGHLIGHTS Well, let's start with Gordon. He made his major-league debut on Thursday and – setting everything else aside – it was just a really nice moment. The former first-round draft pick has gone through hell over the past few years and it probably seemed at times like this opportunity would never come. He made the most of it, reaching base twice – a single and a walk – and stealing second both times. He became the first player in Twins history to steal multiple bases in his MLB debut. Despite his draft position and pedigree, Gordon is not considered a top-flight prospect, but there's a bit of intrigue there. His outstanding athleticism was noticeable on Thursday, especially in contrast with a relatively slow and old surrounding cast. I'd love to see Gordon get some significant tread in the months ahead, because at this point, why not? Other highlights were sparse during this dreary week of play, but it was nice to see some signs of life from the likes of Mitch Garver, Jorge Polanco and Max Kepler. The continuing lack of production from this trio has been core to the offense's inconsistency and unevenness dating back to 2020. Garver seems to be coming around. After launching three home runs in the previous week, he added another on Tuesday, and more importantly his plate approach is growing much sharper. Garver drew four walks in 14 plate appearances against just three strikeouts; in his first 20 games he had three walks and 28 strikeouts. Sunday's rainout might've been a fortunate twist for the catcher, who is healing up some minor shoulder inflammation. Polanco went through perhaps his ugliest stretch of the year in games 2 and 3 against the Rangers, striking out six times in seven at-bats, but otherwise he was very productive, tallying seven hits including three doubles, a triple and a homer. He had more extra-base hits in these six games (6) than he had in his first 24 (5), raising his slugging percentage from .286 to .373. Kepler too snapped free from an extended power outage, hitting his first home run of the year against Texas on Thursday and then adding his second the following day. It wasn't a great week overall for Kep – he slashed .192/.250/.423 in 28 PAs – but he was making some legitimately hard contact, and even managed to take a lefty deep. Now, I will add the important caveat that all this success came against two of the worst teams in the league. It's way too early to be getting excited about these small sparks from foundational players who've been sputtering along for months. But, it's something. And the Twins need to see a whole lot more of it. It is extremely difficult to envision this team doing much of anything if Polanco, Kepler and Garver continue to play the way they did in the first month and throughout much of 2020. LOWLIGHTS This team is just not very good. That feels clearer than ever after a week in which they struggled to keep pace with two of the worst opponents they'll face all year. There's simply no resilience, no fight. After mounting a modest hot streak by winning four of five, Minnesota blew the second game against Texas and let it devolve into another cascade of collapses, with a woeful 1-3 stretch all but erasing their progress. The Twins have not come back and won a single game this year in which they've trailed by more than one run. No fight. The past week represented a critical opportunity to get right against bad competition ahead of a grueling stretch of the schedule. The Twins failed to take advantage, letting the last-place Rangers and Tigers win four of six. What's wrong with this team? Where to begin? The bullpen is a total disaster and it's difficult to fathom exactly where the solutions are going to come from. Alex Colomé has tossed four scoreless innings in May after a catastrophic month of April, but he's not at the point of being trusted in anything resembling a high-stakes situation. Waddell's meltdown led to his departure from the organization, subtracting one of the front office's key offseason gambles. Another one, Law, inspired no confidence in his first appearance on Saturday. Stashak's been brutal. Tyler Duffey, a pivotal crux in this bullpen's construction, is a shell of his former self. I've argued that the Twins need to take action on their bullpen quickly if they want to have any hope of resurrecting their fast-fading championship aspirations. It has become rapidly evident they are undermanned, and while fringy arms like Law are worth taking a look at, this relief corps needs an infusion of a much higher caliber. And I'm not sure even a slam-dunk acquisition would make enough difference at this point. With that said, the failures of the bullpen are magnified by a continued absence of any late-game offense, or ability to rally from deficits. Relievers have a collective 1-11 record, and while they've earned it with their performance – they're on pace to blow away the worst bullpen WPA in baseball history – a W/L that lopsided doesn't happen on its own. The lineup bears its share of blame. Topping the list of present concerns: Miguel Sanó is fast becoming an untenable option. While Polanco, Kepler and Garver show small signs of emerging from their prolonged slumps, Sanó's performance offers no real cause for encouragement. He has a decent idea of what he's doing at the plate, and continues to draw walks at a solid clip, but Sanó simply can't hit. Last week he went 3-for-17 with nine strikeouts, and his slash line for the season has sunk to .129/.299/.226. The one thing you could always reliably count on from Sanó in the past, even during the down times, was crushing the ball when he made contact. But this calling card has gone amiss in a sea of pop-ups and grounders. Here's where he has ranked over the past five years among MLB hitters in terms of average exit velocity: 2017: 96th percentile 2018: 95th percentile 2019: 100th percentile 2020: 100th percentile 2021: 17th percentile Sanó looks about as discombobulated and as he did in 2018, when the Twins opted to send him down to Single-A for a full-on reset in Fort Myers. That's not so much an option anymore. For an ostensibly healthy 28-year-old who's been in the big leagues for six years, breakdowns of this severity are very tough to accept and painful to navigate. Surely the Twins would love to be playing him less frequently at this point, but sadly they don't have much choice. The absences of Kirilloff and Buxton mean they need Sanó, not just from a "body on the field" standpoint, but also due to the (however faint) possibility of tapping his offensive potency. The first baseman has looked so poor at the plate this year, and down the stretch last year, that it can be easy to forget how dominant he was for a lengthy period beforehand: From the start of 2019 through the end of last August, Sanó hit .247/.346/.571 with 41 homers and 94 RBIs in 137 games. Is that player still within him? Can it be coaxed back out? It behooves the Twins to find out, when the alternative is running out Willians Astudillo every day at first base, but in the meantime Sanó's at-bats are just killing this team. They need more from him. They need it. Add that to the list. Urgency is building because the ultimate lowlight of the past week is one that leaves this offense in a dire state going forward. Buxton's hip injury carries a timeline of multiple weeks at least, according to Rocco Baldelli. The news might even be grimmer for Kirilloff, who plans to test his strained wrist by taking swings in the coming week. Said the manager: "If it's an unplayable situation for Alex, I think having surgery is an option." Even if Kirilloff CAN play through the injury, it's worth asking whether he SHOULD. And if you don't have him or Buxton in this lineup you don't have much. Not with Andrelton Simmons hurtling back to Earth (.451 OPS in his past 15 games after batting .450 in the first seven) and Jake Cave continuing to be a total offensive black hole (2-for-13 with five strikeouts last week, .507 OPS on the year). The Twins need Sanó to suddenly figure out how to hit the ball again. They need Kepler, Polanco and Garver to build upon their fledgling hints of positive momentum. They need Larnach, who went 0-for-4 in his debut but didn't look bad by any means, to catch on very quickly, despite his relative lack of minor-league experience. They need basically all of this to happen, because the Twins must play .600+ ball from here on out to even have a shot at the playoffs. And you know what? I could kind of see it. These are talented hitters who've been oddly out of whack for what ultimately equates to less than one full season, and they've all been misfiring simultaneously. Who's to say they couldn't all find a rhythm and start clicking in lockstep? We've seen it before, and not that long ago, in 2019. The talent is there. What I can't see is this bullpen turning around to the drastic extent necessary for a "2019 Nationals" type surge. (An example that many people love to point to as if it's a typical precedent, rather than a once-in-a-century event.) And that's why I personally have lost faith in this team as a true contender. But they've got plenty of time left to prove me wrong. TRENDING STORYLINE For the first time since 2019, minor-league baseball games were played last week! The Twins' reconfigured family of affiliates are all underway, which means that nightly Minor League Reports have returned to Twins Daily. This is exciting not just because it gives fans a diversion from the lackluster big-league product, but also because the system and pipeline will now be poised to influence the Twins far more significantly. With prospects able to actually play in games and make on-field cases for promotions, we'll have much more robust narratives and storylines to follow. One that I'm already keeping an eye on: Matt Canterino, TD's ninth-ranked prospect who's opened a lot of eyes with his ascendant arsenal. In his season debut for the Cedar Rapids Kernels on Sunday, Canterino tossed three scoreless innings and struck out six. With Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic sidelined to open the season, Canterino is the top active pitching prospect, and perhaps the Twins staff's best hope for a high-impact minor-league jolt this summer. LOOKING AHEAD After failing to make any hay against a soft patch in the schedule, the Twins are now shifting into a gauntlet, where the stakes will be high and the competition stifling. First, they're off to Chicago for their first meeting of the year with the first-place White Sox, who've won 12 of 17 and lead the major leagues in run differential. Afterward, the Athletics come to Target Field, looking to follow up on their trouncing of the Twins in Oakland three weeks ago. The A's have won 21 of 29 games since starting the season 0-6. These are two red-hot, high-quality teams. The Twins will be facing them without two of their best players. I'm bracing for the worst but if they can find a way to win four of six this week it would go along way in providing some semblance of a reason to believe. TUESDAY, 5/11: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Kenta Maeda v. RHP Dylan Cease WEDNESDAY, 5/12: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – LHP J.A. Happ v. LHP Dallas Keuchel THURSDAY, 5/13: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Michael Pineda v. LHP Carlos Rodon FRIDAY, 5/14: ATHLETICS @ TWINS – RHP Frankie Montas v. RHP Matt Shoemaker SATURDAY, 5/15: ATHLETICS @ TWINS – LHP Cole Irvin v. RHP José Berríos SUNDAY, 5/16: ATHLETICS @ TWINS – RHP Chris Bassitt v. RHP Kenta Maeda 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. Returning home after one of the worst road trips imaginable, the Twins are shorthanded, with at least three regulars sidelined. Miguel Sanó (hamstring) joins Andrelton Simmons and Max Kepler (COVID) on the injured list, while the status of hobbled Nelson Cruz is uncertain. The good news, for both the Twins and their newly promoted prospects, is that Kirilloff and Gordon can functionally fill the gaps quite well. There will be no shortage of opportunity right away for these guys. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1385437285420871684 Our John Bonnes was on hand at CHS Field in St. Paul on Thursday for what proved to be a final tune-up for the two prospects, and tweeted a thread. Gordon homered to straightaway center in the scrimmage. Kirilloff was playing first base, and it's likely we'll see him there quite often with the Twins in Sanó's absence. https://twitter.com/TwinsGeek/status/1385298528218517504 Kirilloff can also help in the outfield corners to offset the losses of Kepler and Kyle Garlick. I would expect him to be playing almost everyday. Of course, that was always been the plan in some form, because Kirilloff is the team's top prospect and he is ready. Since being selected 15th overall in 2016, the 23-year-old has hit, hit, hit (with a brief Tommy John intermission). He now has a chance to emphatically cement his big-league status. The future of Gordon is much murkier. Drafted fifth overall two years earlier, his acclimation to the professional ranks has been much less smooth and successful. Once viewed as an exciting prospect, Gordon's stock faded over the years as he failed to develop any real standout skills. He's also been the victim of some rotten luck. Gordon was finally clicking at Triple-A in 2019, with a .298/.342/.459 slash line in 70 games, when a pitch directly into his back knee ended his season in early August. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1157471405597974528 Last summer, while Kirilloff was dazzling everyone at the alternate site, eventually earning a postseason promotion, Gordon was recovering from a scary and prolonged bout with COVID. He missed the entire season, which is a true shame because he undoubtedly would've gotten a shot with the injury-ravaged Twins grasping for reinforcements. They now find themselves doing so again, very early, in 2021. And this time Gordon is ready to answer the call. He's not a guy who's been on the radar for some time, and it might feel easy to downplay his addition, but I will say this: The Twins front office has stuck with this guy, and they sure didn't need to. They had no real attachment to him, as an underperforming draft pick of the former regime, but they've steadfastly kept him on their 40-man roster – sometimes at the expense of quality players that got away. (At the moment, Akil Baddoo comes to mind.) They see something in Gordon. He's always been a talented and innately gifted ballplayer, infused with big-league DNA, and now he'll finally get to step onto the big stage, with a mire of misfortune hopefully behind him. I'm excited for Kirilloff, but I also have a baseline idea of what to expect from him. I'm deeply intrigued by Gordon because I have no idea what to expect. I do know this much: if he can make any kind of impact off the bat, playing time is available at second base right now. 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. Dozier’s Path to Late Bloomer Minnesota took Brian Dozier in the eighth round of the 2009 MLB Draft out of the University of Southern Mississippi. With his college experience, he only spent parts of four seasons in the minors. He showed very little power throughout the early professional career as he never hit double digit home runs in the minors. In fact, his highest OPS in any minor league season was .890 when he spent part of the season as an older player in the Florida State League. He wouldn’t debut until his age-25 season and his first full season was a year later (2013). Twins fans are well aware of what Dozier was able to accomplish in his time at the big-league level. He clubbed 18 or more home runs from 2013-2017 including 42 home runs in 2016 and 34 home runs in 2017. His 42 home runs are an AL record for home runs by a primary second baseman in a single season. Dozier was clearly a late bloomer, but the Twins were able to allow him to develop because the team was in the midst of multiple losing seasons. Now the Twins have a variety of options around the infield which might be blocking the next Brian Dozier from emerging. The Next Brian Dozier Nick Gordon wasn’t exactly a late round pick or a player with college experience, but he’s at the point in his career where it might be a surprise if he makes a significant contribution at the big-league level. Gordon has seemed to be on the fringes of the 40-man roster for multiple seasons. There must be a reason the front office has kept him around. Last year, Gordon went through a life changing experience as he was hospitalized after contracting COVID-19. He’s a young, health athlete and the virus still took its toll on him. Now he will enter the 2021 season with something to prove to himself and the Twins organization. Minnesota is easing Gordon into the new season, but it doesn’t mean he won’t get the chance to contribute. In 2019, he played 70 games at Triple-A where he was nearly four years younger than the average age of the competition at that level. Even in a small sample size, he was able to post some impressive numbers. He hit .298/.342/.459 (.801) with 36 extra-base hits. Out of his 87 hits, a third of them were doubles which is impressive when all put 24 of his at-bats came against older pitching. Gordon should spend the year in St. Paul and his continued inclusion on the 40-man roster means he has a chance to make his big-league debut during the 2021 campaign. Unfortunately, he is behind multiple players on the depth chart and the Twins aren’t in the same place they were when Dozier made his debut. Also, it’s tough to know what Gordon will look like as the season begins with no game action last season and his extended COVID battle. Injuries can happen to any player and Gordon will need to be ready to take advantage of the opportunity if it is presented to him. Do you think Gordon can be a late bloomer like Dozier? Will he be given the opportunity? 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
  25. Current Shortstop: Jorge Polanco Polanco is signed thru the 2023 season when he would be age-29, but the team has a $10.5 million option for 2024 and a $12 million for 2025. After signing his extension, Polanco rewarded the Twins with a tremendous first half to the 2019 campaign as he hit .312/.368/.514 with 41 extra-base hits in 85 games. He’d be named as the starter for the AL All-Star team, but things have changed over the last calendar year. In the second half of 2019, his OPS dropped by nearly 100 points and there have been some defensive concerns throughout his professional career. The 2020 campaign didn’t go much better as he posted a career worst .658 OPS. In each of the last two offseason, Polanco has been forced to have surgery on his right ankle. So, what does this mean moving forward? 40-Man Options With Ehire Adrianza hitting free agency, there’s only one other 40-man option with significant shortstop experience. Nick Gordon was the team’s first round pick back in 2014 and he spent the 2019 season at Triple-A where he hit .298/.342/.459 in 70 games. Unfortunately, he spent much of the 2020 season trying to recover from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis. He was never able to report to the team’s alternate site camp in St. Paul. By the time he recovered, he spent the rest of the season recovering in Fort Myers. While Gordon has shortstop experience, the 2019 season was the first time he spent roughly half his defensive innings at second base. The lack of a minor league season and his battle with COVID-19 really hurt Gordon’s chances to make improvements in 2020. He already turned 25 and he has yet to make his big-league debut. On the Farm Options Outside of Gordon, there are other shortstop options in the minor leagues including some of the team’s top prospects. Lewis has been considered the organization’s top prospect and he spent the entire 2020 season at the team’s alternate site. He struggled through parts of 2019 at High- and Double-A before going to the Arizona Fall League and being named the league’s MVP. Questions have been raised about his long-term ability to stick at shortstop, but he still should be knocking on the door to the big leagues in 2021. Lin was picked up on a minor league deal at the beginning of December. He was a former top-20 prospect for the Red Sox before serving in a utility role over the last four seasons. For his career, he is a .223/.298/.316 with 13 extra-base hits in nearly 220 big-league plate appearances. He has also shown the ability to play nearly every defensive position. Javier and Holland have taken different routes to this point in their career. Javier signed for $4 million as an international free agent back in 2015, but he has been limited to 130 games as a professional. Holland was drafted out of Auburn University in 2019 after posting an .812 OPS over three collegiate seasons. Both have a chance to reach Double-A next season. Cavaco will be one of the more intriguing names to watch on this list since he was a first-round draft pick under the current front office regime. Coming into the draft, he was viewed a late riser, but the Twins liked the tools he possessed. Will the Twins bump him up to Low-A as a teenager? What do you think about the future of shortstop in Minnesota? 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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