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  1. Missing all of 2021 thanks to a fluke ACL tear, Lewis effectively has been out of baseball action for two seasons. He was part of the 2020 alternate site and impressed, but that action doesn’t rival what game participation can provide. 2019 was a year to forget for the top Twins prospect, and that’s why the big league club is in this current position. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine need to find an answer at shortstop. Jorge Polanco is not it, and we have seen that plenty. He’s a strong asset at second base, and keeping him there should be the club’s focus. There’s plenty of question marks as to whether Lewis can stick at the position, but with Byron Buxton now locked up in center field, his secondary home is much less certain as well. First and foremost, however, Minnesota needs Lewis to rebound in a big way. Ever since he was taken first overall, Lewis has been a pillar of class. He’s a hardworking kid that has a strong head on his shoulders. It’s helped him ride the wave of success and failure while staying focused on getting better. Coming off a season in which he posted a .661 OPS and reached Double-A, it’s time that Lewis can flash what has always been assumed he’d produce. Had the injury not taken away his 2021 season, Lewis likely would be in the mix for Minnesota’s starting shortstop job on Opening Day. The questions on range will only be heightened now, and as good as the Twins may think they feel, no real answers are present until production gets underway. The hope is probably that a stopgap option can fill the void in 2022, but a long-term solution could be tempting if Lewis isn’t seen as likely to stick. There’s no doubt that the Twins need pitching help, and maybe parlaying Lewis into that winds up being part of the equation. That seems unlikely given his value being depressed and Minnesota being so close to utilizing their star prospect, but I suppose the possibility exists. Everything regarding how the Twins handle the shortstop hole and what they believe of Royce Lewis remains a mystery. The former will be answered as soon as business gets going again, but the latter won’t have clarity until significant game action has played out. It’s an unfortunate intersection of necessity and missed opportunity, but there’s no prospect more directly influencing Minnesota’s plans than the one who hasn’t played since 2019. Royce Lewis getting off to a fantastic start would be a great gift following the doldrums of this lockout. MORE TWINS CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  2. That seems like a silly question because the answer is undoubtedly yes; however, many of Minnesota’s most logical pieces to go have some very real warts. How does that position them with potential suitors, and what does it mean when it comes to crafting a package for a deal? Going through some of the expected names, it’s worth wondering who can overcome the drawbacks, and it will be interesting to see how Derek Falvey positions each asset. Max Kepler Kepler is probably the guy most expected to be moved. With a glut of corner-outfield talent behind him, Minnesota could try to open up an avenue for playing time and allow Kepler the opportunity to flourish somewhere else. Kepler is on a team-friendly deal and plays incredible defense, but the problem is his bat has never blossomed to be what was expected. After the 123 OPS+ in 2019, it dipped to 109 in 2020 and just 98 last year. There’s power from the left side, but a corner outfielder putting up an OPS in the low-.700’s isn’t exactly enticing. The value is likely on an upside play, and the hope that 29 is the year Kepler finally puts it all together for good. Luis Arraez Another popular name when constructing hypothetical trades for the Twins, Arraez is known for being one of the best pure hitters in the game. He has extreme plate discipline and is nearly impossible to strike out. Add in the career .313 batting average, and you’ve got a modern-day Tony Gwynn. Therein lies the problem, though, that skillset translates much differently today. Arraez doesn’t hit for power (just six homers in nearly 1,000 plate appearances), and he isn’t exactly fast either. He can play second base but is stretched there defensively, and both third and left field are adequate roles at best for him. Add in the bulky knees while being just 24-years-old, and that’s probably not something that’s going to get better with age. He’s a utility man with no true defensive home, and while he can be a table-setter, you best have the lineup behind him that can drive in runs. Royce Lewis If you want to start looking at prospects, it’s worth considering the best of the farm. Lewis is a former first overall pick and has been ranked as high as 5th on top 100 prospect lists. He’s now returning following an ACL tear before last season, and he hasn’t played in a minor league game since September 2, 2019. Following the .803 OPS in 2018 as a 19-year-old, Lewis sunk to just a .661 OPS in 2019. He needed to re-establish himself, and reports coming out of St. Paul from the alternative site in 2020 were fantastic. There’s plenty to be uncertain about at this point, though, and it’d be a pretty big misstep to flip such a talent at what could be his lowest value. The Prospect Arms Maybe you want to deal from the pool of depth that should be soon supplementing the big league rotation. Take your pick on the names Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Josh Winder. Each of them is near the top of Minnesota’s pitching prospects, and all of them missed time in 2021 due to injury. The lack of game action in 2020 wreaked havoc on so many this season, but the Twins got hit hard in this group especially. How healthy are they each expected to return, and how does the opposition view those internal beliefs when considering a swap? There’s a lot of boom or bust potential with regards to any of these talents. Mitch Garver Included last because he may currently be the Twins best trade asset, but also the one I least want to see go. Ryan Jeffers has hardly established himself as the next backstop, and while more playing time could aid that, Garver is coming off an .875 OPS. Playing through muscle strains in 2020, it was clear that the 2019 .995 OPS wasn’t simply an outlier. Garver was a late-blooming prospect, but at 31, he will be one of the best catchers in baseball. His bat is a catalyst in the Minnesota lineup, and that production would not be easy to replace. If there’s a struggle in flipping Garver for the right value, it’s probably because most organizations are not focused on upgrades behind the dish. Miami was considered the best suitor but recently addressed the position in acquiring Jacob Stallings from the Pirates. Unlike the rest of this group, Garver is the type of trade asset that looks the best on paper, but I’m all for him staying put. Deals are going to be halted for a while now, but when they resume, Minnesota will have to find a delicate balance between moving players for the right value and hanging onto the ones that they expect to benefit most from. 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. Below you will see Minnesota’s projected line-up and each player’s age during the 2025 campaign. Catcher: Ryan Jeffers (27) Ryan Jeffers struggled through parts of the 2021 season, but expectations are still high for him to become the team’s primary catcher in the years ahead. In 2025, he will be 27-years-old and be in his second year of arbitration eligibility. Backing up Jeffers will likely be Ben Rortvedt, who made his debut last season. First Base: Alex Kirilloff (27) Alex Kirilloff primarily split his time between the corner outfield and first base (22 OF starts, 21 1B starts) during his brief big-league career, but first base will be his eventual defensive home. He has a chance to be one of the league’s best defenders at the position. His bat will be above average no matter where he ends up on the defensive side of the ball. In 2025, he should be a regular in the middle of the line-up while powering Minnesota’s offense. Second Base: Jorge Polanco (31) Jorge Polanco is coming off his most valuable big-league season, so it is interesting to consider what the next handful of years can mean for his career. The 2025 campaign is the last season in which he is under team control from the contract he signed before the 2019 season. Last season, FanGraphs put Polanco’s value at $31.4 million, and he will make $12 million in 2025. Shortstop: Royce Lewis (25) This winter, Minnesota has an opportunity to take advantage of one of arguably the best free-agent shortstop classes in baseball history. However, Royce Lewis is one of the team’s top prospects, and they may have confidence in him holding down shortstop to start his big-league career. He hasn’t played a game in two seasons, so the 2022 campaign will go a long way to determining his eventual defensive home. Third Base: Jose Miranda (26) Josh Donaldson’s contract can run through the 2024 season, leaving third base wide open for Jose Miranda. Expectations are for Miranda to make his big-league debut in 2022, and he should start getting regular reps at third base in the upcoming campaign. He’s coming off a tremendous season at Double- and Triple-A, and the team just added him to the 40-man roster this winter. Left Field: Austin Martin (26) Austin Martin is an intriguing prospect, but his defensive future is still up for debate. He has spent most of his professional career playing shortstop or center field, and he played a lot of third base in college. With Buxton manning center, Martin can slide to a corner outfield position and provide above-average defense. Hopefully, Martin’s power tool improves in the years ahead, so he becomes a perfect corner outfield fit. Center Field: Byron Buxton (31) If the Twins hadn’t signed Byron Buxton to an extension, multiple prospects would be considered as the team’s center fielder of the future. Lewis and Martin have both seen time in the outfield, and Gilberto Celestino has played plenty in center. Those players can be secondary options because Buxton is one of baseball’s best players when he is healthy. In the years ahead, it is going to be interesting to see how Buxton ages. Some of his game relies on speed and athleticism. Will the team have to move him out of center field by 2025? Right Field: Trevor Larnach (28) There’s no question that Trevor Larnach struggled during the 2021 season, but he had only played 43 games above the High-A level entering last year. Larnach was Minnesota’s first-round pick in 2018 because of his college experience at Oregon State and his powerful bat. By 2025, he should be a solid everyday outfielder with plenty of pop. Designated Hitter: Miguel Sano (31) Designated hitter is an interesting position to try and project for the long-term. Minnesota has multiple prospects like Brent Rooker and Aaron Sabato that don’t have a defensive home. However, Miguel Sano has hit 30 home runs or more in two of the last three seasons. Will the team be willing to continue paying him $9-10 million or turn the position over to someone younger? Who do you think fits into the team’s 2025 line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. PREVIOUS YEAR’S PREDICTIONS — 2022 Line-Up — 2023 Line-Up — 2024 Line-Up
  4. I simulated the 2021 season (in which the Twins wound up winning the World Series, crazy) and then signed Buxton to his lucrative extension. With him in tow for the better part of the next decade, I then simulated every season and offseason through 2028 while allowing the computer to do its thing. This might not be surprising, but the man is pretty good. Before we dive into what took place, let’s catch you up to where we are now. Following the 2028 season, Buxton is 34 years old and an 86 overall player in the game. He began this process as a 90 overall player at age 28 and has only started to see a slight decline. In terms of relatable advanced analytics, MLB The Show uses its own calculation for WAR. In 2019, when Buxton posted an .827 OPS and 2.7 fWAR, The Show valued him at 2.9 WAR. That gives us a pretty even comparison. Now, let’s dive in. Even in real life, Buxton should never be expected to hit for a real high average (though he did over 61 games in 2021). That was true in The Show during the first year of his contract. Despite being worth 3.8 WAR, he posted just a .225 average. It translated to a .700 OPS with 17 dingers and seven triples. That’s where things took off. In each of the following three seasons, Buxton posted increasing WAR marks. Starting with a 4.6 effort in 2023, going to 4.7 in 2024, and topping out at 4.9 in 2025. He led the league with 19 outfield assists in 2023 and stole 24 bases. His 26 long balls were a new career-high, and he tallied eight triples. It was that 2025 season where the magic happened. Rewarded for his career year, the .261 average and .779 OPS were enough to earn him American League MVP honors. His 12 triples were a career-high, and the 17 homers added some nice thump to a decent Minnesota lineup. From 2022 through 2026, Buxton averaged 148 games per year, playing in all but three during the 2026 season. Injuries got him a bit the last two seasons of his deal, in which he played just 124 games in 2027 and 79 in 2028. Throughout the extension, Buxton compiled 24.2 WAR which Fangraphs valued as worth roughly $191.9 million, or just shy of double his contract. Accolades were often tallied for the Twins centerfielder. He racked up five straight Gold Gloves from 2022-26 and was named to three All-Star teams. The roster was largely turned over, with names such as Logan Webb, Abraham Toro, and Carlos Correa welcomed. Still, Buxton remained the organization’s best player for the vast majority of his time. He didn’t get to play with a couple of top Twins prospects as Royce Lewis was shipped to the Cubs after the 2023 season, and Jordan Balazovic went to the Yankees in 2025. I found myself interested in how Buxton’s final years would go, so there was a need to play out the string of his career. When reaching free agency for the first time, Buxton was handed a qualifying offer from the Twins. He hit the market as the best available centerfielder. Buxton opted to remain with Minnesota on a one-year deal worth $9.5 million when the dust settled. Another year of regression for Buxton at age-35 had him playing in just 71 games and bottoming out to the tune of a .391 OPS. He now has dropped to an 81 overall talent and enters the free agency market with significantly depressed value. He’s competing for a payday against top players such as Gabriel Maciel, the Twins prospect who was traded to Kansas City in 2022 and put up a 4.6 WAR season in 2028. Maciel wound up signing a six-year $116.4 million deal with the Diamondbacks. Royce Lewis also hit free agency for the first time this season, and San Diego inked the 88 overall 29-year-old to a four-year deal worth $56 million. Despite having 26 and 33-year-old centerfielders who are better, the Los Angeles Angels gave Buxton a one-year deal worth $4.2 million for his age-36 season. Byron played just 25 games for the Angels before his release. He bounced back from the disastrous end in Minnesota and posted a .796 OPS, but the opportunities weren’t there. Now looking at free agency as a 37-year-old, Buxton had to convince a team he still had something in the tank with his overall dropping to 76. Unsigned heading into Opening Day, this looked like it could be the end of the road. Ultimately no suitor presented themselves, and after sitting out the 2031 calendar season, that’s where Minnesota’s mega-star would call it quits. Buxton retired following the conclusion of the World Series. For his career, Buxton compiled 14.160 years of service time and had a slash line of .232/.295/.422. He ripped 204 homers and stole exactly 200 bases while recording 62 triples. His 37.3 WAR would be good enough for 66th best among centerfielders all-time per Fangraphs. While not having a Hall of Fame-caliber resume, it’s certainly fair to deduce that MLB The Show sees Byron Buxton contributing as a star for many more years. Coincidentally, there was another superstar outfielder that retired in 2031 as well. He was an immediate induction into the Hall of Fame with 601 career homers. Congrats Mr. Trout. What do you think? Would you sign up for this type of trajectory Twins fans? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Top prospect Royce Lewis and 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year Jose Miranda headline the additions. In addition, starting pitchers Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Blayne Enlow and Chris Vallimont were also added to the roster. Despite missing the entire 2021 season with a torn ACL, Royce Lewis was an easy choice to add. The #1 pick in the 2017 draft (and current Twins Daily #1 prospect) remains a top prospect in the organization as well as in all of baseball. He participated at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul in 2020. Lewis should start the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita and from there we’ll just see how his knee and his swing and his glove respond. It's possible that Lewis ends the season with the Twins. Following the announcement, Lewis said he is excited. "It means a lot! I really appreciate any sort of opportunity." And after a lost season and lots of recovery, he added, "Always great to hear any good news!" Jose Miranda was a second-round pick in 2016 out of school in Puerto Rico. He’s always had good power potential and contact skills, but things really came together in 2021 when he hit a combined .343 with 30 doubles and 30 home runs between Wichita and St. Paul. Depending on other offseason moves, Miranda should start the 2022 season in St. Paul, hopefully continue mashing and be ready for an opening at third base, or second base, or first base with the Twins. Miranda was the Twins Daily #6 prospect in August. After hearing the news, Miranda told Twins Daily, "It means a lot, especially after a lost season last year. (I'm) excited and pumped for what the future holds, and this makes me want to work harder!" Josh Winder broke out in 2021 as well. After impressing coaches at Instructional League a year ago and at big-league spring training this year, he was fantastic in Wichita before starting out strong after his promotion to St. Paul. He pitched in the Futures Game before being shut down with shoulder issues. Assuming health, Winder may be competing for a big-league job in spring training. He’s likely to start in St. Paul but could be ready for The Call whenever needed. Winder is Twins Daily’s #11 prospect. Winder was the team’s seventh-round pick in 2018 from VMI. Two rounds earlier, the Twins selected Cole Sands out of Florida State. Although he missed a few starts with minor injuries, he had a terrific season in Double-A Wichita. Sands should start 2021 in St. Paul and could be ready by midseason. Sands is the #19 Twins Daily prospect. Chris Vallimont had an ERA over six and he walked far too many batters in 2021, but the former Marlins prospect was added to the 40-man roster because he has electric stuff. While there may be questions about if he’ll be a starter long-term, the worst case is he can be a strong bullpen arm. Vallimont is the Twins Daily #25-ranked prospect. Blayne Enlow was certainly a more difficult choice, but the team decided to believe in the future of their 2017 third-round pick. His potential, even as he continues to rehab from his May 2021 Tommy John surgery, remains very high. In 2021, he was throwing harder, mixed all of his pitches and was missing a lot more bats than he previously had. If all goes well, maybe he is making rehab appearances in June or July. If things go well and he continues to progress, he could debut by the end of the 2023 season. He ranked #17 on Twins Daily's prospect list. After hearing the news, Enlow told Twins Daily he's "just getting started." The goal, of course, is to avoid a situation like a year ago when the Twins lost Akil Baddoo to the Tigers and Tyler Wells to the Orioles. Both not only made their team out of spring training, but they both became important contributors. Last year, due to Covid, there were no minor league games in which to evaluate players. At least this year, they have game video and stats and more with which to do their evaluations. But, that doesn’t make all of the decisions easy. Here are several players at risk to be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Austin Schulfer is a potential Rule 5 pick. As a starter in 2021 in Wichita, he was touching 96 mph with good secondary pitches. Again, he might end up a reliever, but there is certainly potential in his right arm Others who could be at-risk to be selected in the Rule 5 draft include shortstop-turned-pitcher Jordan Gore who was Twins Daily’s Right-Handed Relief Pitcher All Star for his work in Cedar Rapids and Wichita in his first season on the mound. St. Paul Saints relievers Ian Hamilton and Ryan Mason are also now eligible to be Rule 5d next month. Both found success in Triple-A in 2021 and could contribute in the big leagues when called upon. Other relievers that could be selected include lefties Kody Funderburk and Zach Featherstone, along with recently-acquired Alex Scherff. Utility players are often taken in the Rule 5 draft. The Twins could potentially lose Jermaine Palacios (who re-signed with the Twins quickly this offseason), Michael Helman (who broke out power this year while playing six positions well), and Yunior Severino (former big-time prospect who hit well when he joined Cedar Rapids late in the season). In addition, Mark Contreras was left unprotected after hitting 30 doubles and 20 home runs, mostly in Triple-A St. Paul in 2021. He could be a team’s fourth outfielder right now if selected. For more information on the players added or left unprotected, click here. In order to make room, the Twins dropped several players from their 40-man roster. While the players added to the 40-man roster are very excited, the players removed from the 40-man roster are on the opposite end of the excitement spectrum. The Twins have signed OF Jake Cave to an MLB deal. They outrighted LHP Devin Smeltzer and outfielder Kyle Garlick to Triple-A St. Paul. Lefty Charlie Barnes and C/IF Willians Astudillo have been DFAd. The 40-man roster is now at 40. Jake Cave was a very productive fourth outfielder for the Twins in 2018 and 2019. Over those two seasons, he hit .262/.329/.466 (.795) with 27 doubles and 21 homers in 163 games. Over the past two seasons, he has played in 118 games and hit just .202/.263/.332 (.595) with nine doubles and seven homers. His OPS+ over those two seasons was just 64. As an arbitration-eligible player, it is likely that he agreed to a deal at the Twins terms. Willians Astudillo (aka, La Tortuga) has been a fan favorite since he was first called up to the Twins and his .355 in 29 games in 2018. He has spent time with the Twins each of the past four years, but taking out that first season, he hit just .251/.278/.382 (.659) in 138 games since the beginning of the 2019 season. That is an OPS+ of just 77, 23% below league average. Will he clear waivers? Will there be a team that thinks his ability to stand at five positions, as well as squat behind the plate, provides value? Kyle Garlick was claimed by the Twins before spring training in 2021. His ability to his left-handed pitching gave him and chance and he took full advantage of it. He hit well against southpaws, until he got hurt. He tried to rehab and come back, but he ended up having surgery on a sports hernia. He was drafted in 2015, so he could become a free agent. Devin Smeltzer made an impressive first impression in his debut in 2019. He tossed six shutout innings in his big-league debut against the Brewers and had a 3.86 ERA over 49 innings. Unfortunately, he pitched to an ERA over six in just seven games in the shortened 2020 season. In 2021, He was hurt after just one appearance and missed the rest of the season (though he did toss 4 2/3 scoreless innings). He cleared waivers. Charlie Barnes made nine appearances (8 starts) for the Twins in 2021, usually spot starts, he went 0-3 with a 5.92 ERA. However, he went 6-4 with a 3.79 ERA in 16 starts for the St. Paul Saints, so I'm sure the Twins hope that he passes through waivers unclaimed and they can outright him to Triple-A. Let's discuss the Twins additions and subtractions from the 40-man roster.
  6. For the second consecutive year, baseball will have an interesting offseason, filled with uncertainty. Along with the normal questions, such as: When will free agents sign? Will anything much happen before February? Which players will be non-tendered? Baseball’s current Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) expires at midnight on December 2nd. At that point, the offseason will come to a halt. For how long? That is the question. We obviously hope that a new, long-term, equitable deal can be reached before 2022 spring training is scheduled to start in mid-February, but we don’t know. If there is a work stoppage, will there be a Winter Meetings, and if not, will there be a Rule 5 draft? Certainly, but when? That is what we are here today to talk about.. The Rule 5 draft and which players the Twins may need to add to their 40-man roster or leave susceptible to the Rule 5 draft. Last year, the Twins lost both Akil Baddoo and Tyler Wells in the major-league portion, and the likes of Sam Clay, Jose Miranda, Griffin Jax and Charlie Barnes were left exposed as well. Teams have until Friday, November 19th, to add players to their 40 man roster. At the completion of the World Series, the Twins have been able to remove their free agents - Andrelton Simmons and Michael Pineda - from the 40-man roster. Alex Colome also became a free agent when the Twins declined their half of the mutual option for 2022. The Twins have claimed right-hander Jharel Cotton. The Twins are currently at 38 players on their 40-man roster. Several players will likely need to be removed in order to make room for this new group. The Twins still have to make decisions on several arbitration-eligible players as well. Offseason roster manipulation is incredibly fascinating from afar, but it has to provide most front offices with stress and headaches. With that as the backdrop, the Twins could potentially add as many as eight or even nine players from their system to their 40-man roster (pending others being removed from the 40-man), but it is more likely they add four to six players on Friday. So, here is a quick reminder of what players will be eligible for the 2021 Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2017 (during the minor league season). Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2018. Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again. Players drafted in 2015 became free agents after the World Series was complete. That list includes Aaron Whitefield (who quickly signed with the Angels), Trey Cabbage, Hector Lujan, Tyler Watson, Leobaldo Cabrera and more. So, let’s take a look at the eligible players: There are always a lot of difficult decisions as it relates to adding players to the 40-man roster. That said, there are usually some Givens, then some intriguing options due to injury or age or something else. When so few players get selected in the Rule 5 draft, is it necessary to protect as many players? Or, are so few players selected because more (or the right) players get added to 40-man rosters? While I have this group ranked by how I would consider adding them, I think the Twins should have a good conversation to consider each. (which they most certainly have) THE GIVENS SS Royce Lewis - After the Twins took him with the first overall pick in the 2017 draft out of JSerra Catholic High School in California, Royce Lewis moved pretty quickly up the organizational ladder through the 2019 season. He was the MVP of the Arizona Fall League after the season. Then came 2020, a missed season for minor leaguers, but Lewis was able to participate at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. He was excited for the 2021 season, but shortly after he arrived in Ft. Myers for spring training, he was diagnosed with a torn ACL and had season-ending surgery. His rehab has gone smoothly, and his elite tools are still very clear and his ceiling remains high. Lewis is an easy choice to add to the roster. IF Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Jose Miranda has hit some and always displayed a lot of power potential. In 2021, things came together for Miranda. He didn’t chase as many pitches outside the zone and made a lot of hard contact. He hit a combined .343 between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul with 30 doubles and 30 home runs. The Twins are lucky he wasn’t selected last year and he’s a certainty to be added this year. RH SP Josh Winder - He was the Twins seventh round pick in 2018 from Virginia Military Institute. After missing 2020, Josh Winder jumped straight to Double-A Wichita and posted a 1.98 ERA and had 65 strikeouts in 54 2/3 innings. He was promoted to Triple-A and carried a no-hitter into the sixth inning of his first game. He pitched in the Futures Game and was then shut down with some shoulder issues. He sits 95-97 with his fastball and has four pitches. Easy choice. RH SP Cole Sands - Sands was the team’s fifth round pick in 2018 out of Florida State. In 2019, he started in Low-A and ended the season with a start in Double-A. That’s where he spent the 2021 season. He went 4-2 with a 2.46 ERA. He struck out 96 batters in 80 1/3 innings. Cole Sands has a low-to-mid-90s fastball and a really good curveball. While he may not be a Given, he is more than Intriguing. I think the only chance he isn’t added is if the Twins only add three players. THE INTRIGUING RHP Blayne Enlow - The most interesting case for consideration. Enlow had Tommy John surgery in early June. Normally that would mean missing the rest of the season and all of the 2022 season. However, the success of Rich Hill’s elbow surgery procedure has given the Twins confidence in its success and Enlow had that surgery which puts him on the nine-to-12 month plan. Obviously the Twins will want to be extra cautious with a pitcher as talented as Enlow. His fastball velocity has improved, his changeup has become a solid third pitch, and he’s always had a really good breaking ball. In his brief 2021 season, he was starting to show the ability to miss bats which is very encouraging. If it was me, I would add Enlow. There are a lot of things to consider though. RH SP Chris Vallimont - Chris Vallimont was the Marlins fifth-round pick in 2018 out of Mercyhurst. The Twins acquired him with Sergio Romo at the 2019 trade deadline in exchange for first baseman Lewin Diaz. The hard-throwing right-hander made 21 starts for the Wind Surge in 2021. He went 5-7 with a 6.03 ERA. In 91 innings, he walked 61 (way too many) but struck out 130 batters (an impressive 12.9 K/9). “Control” is the key. In the past, he has had good control. The stuff is really good, but can he throw enough strikes? RH RP Jordan Gore - Gore was the Twins 19th round pick in 2017 out of Coastal Carolina, and he played shortstop until near the end of the 2019 season. That’s when he began the process of becoming a pitcher. In 2021, he finally got the chance to show what he could do. Jordan Gore was impressive. At Cedar Rapids, he had 58 strikeouts in 39 2/3 innings. He moved up to Wichita and struck out 30 batters in 28 innings. He combined to go 8-2 with a 2.39 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He had seven saves including six at Wichita. More importantly, while his fastball sat between 93 and 96, what was impressive is that he has a good changeup and a solid breaking ball. RH SP Austin Schulfer - Another college pitcher from the 2018 draft, Austin Schulfer was the team’s 19th round pick out of UW-Milwaukee. While he split time between starting and the bullpen in 2018 and 2019, he was a starter for Double-A Wichita in 2021. He went 6-8 with a 4.34 ERA. In 110 innings, he struck out 105 batters and walked 49. In 2021, Schulfer was hitting 96 and even 97 at times with a strong three-pitch mix. While not a known prospect, Schulfer is close to MLB ready and could work out of a big-league bullpen. RH RP Ian Hamilton - The former White Sox reliever (14 games between 2018 and 2020) was Chicago’s 11th round pick in 2016 out of Washington State. The Twins claimed him last offseason and later in the year they were able to pass him through waivers and outright him to St. Paul. Because it was his first outright, he could not yet become a free agent. But, while he has control and command concerns, Ian Hamilton has really good stuff and had 86 strikeouts in 59 innings this year for the Saints. He can pitch in the big leagues, and has, which might make the right team intrigued by his stuff. SS Jermaine Palacios - Palacios originally signed with the Twins in 2013. In 2017, he became a top shortstop prospect, and the Twins were able to trade him to Tampa for Jake Odorizzi. In 2018 and 2019, he really struggled offensively. He didn’t play in 2020, and while he was offered more by other teams, Palacios decided to sign with the Twins last summer. He responded with strong shortstop defense at Double-A and hit .259/.340/.439 (.779) with 17 doubles and 19 homers. He could have become a free agent after the World Series, but he re-signed with the Twins. At 25, Jermaine Palacios could fill a utility role somewhere. THE “SETH, YOU RANKED BAILEY OBER 11th LAST YEAR” CATEGORY RH RP Ryan Mason - Went 3-2 with six saves with Wichita. In 35 1/3 innings, he struck out 38 batters (9.7 K/9). He finished the season with 13 games in St. Paul. He was 1-0 with a save. In 18 2/3 innings, Ryan Mason walked ten and struck out 25 batters. While he profiles as a low-leverage reliever, he is ready now for a big-league opportunity. RH RP Steven Cruz - When it comes to big arms, this is the one. Steven Cruz (22) sat 96-100 for Ft. Myers this year. He also has a split-change and a slider that are both 90+ on the radar too. In 46 2/3 innings with the Mussels, he walked 30 and struck out 76 (14.7 K/9). Too many walks, and struggled late in the season in two games for Cedar Rapids. Great stuff, but probably too far away from being ready to stick on a roster. C Jair Camargo - He came to the Twins in the Kenta Maeda/Brusdar Graterol trade. So 2021 was his debut in the organization. In Cedar Rapids, he hit .236/.279/.418 (.697) with seven doubles and 13 homers. Jair Camargo is a solid catcher defensively and athletic with a strong arm. Offensively, he’s got power, but he doesn’t like to take too many pitches. 2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two seven-figure signing bonuses. He fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season and there was no 2020 season. Yunior Severino began 2021 with 63 games in Ft. Myers where he posted a .740 OPS. He moved up to Cedar Rapids and in 35 games, he hit .321/.414/.493 (.907). Combined, he had 29 doubles and eight homers. Beyond second base, he can also play third base. It’s hard to imagine he would be able to stick on a big-league roster. UT Michael Helman - The Twins selected Michael Helman in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. He took major strides forward in 2021 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. In 111 games, he hit .246/.336/.462 (.798) with 21 doubles and 19 homers. He also stole 21 bases. In addition, he can play three infield positions and had significant time at all three outfield positions in 2021. He is in the Arizona Fall League, continuing to play all over the diamond. One position that has been selected in past Rule 5 drafts are utility players. OF Mark Contreras - A ninth round pick in 2017 after four years at UC-Riverside. After winning a minor league Gold Glove, but struggling with the bat in 2019, 2021 was a big year. He played 19 games in Double-A before playing 95 games with the Saints. Combined, he hit .251/.338/.485 (.824) with 30 doubles and 20 home runs. Mark Contreras can be a fourth outfielder in the big leagues right now, but that profile isn’t what typically gets selected in the Rule 5. IF Jesus Feliz - Call me intrigued by Jesus Feliz. I was impressed with him when I saw him at spring training in 2020, so when he hit six doubles and seven homers in the less-than-hitter-friendly Ft. Myers league. He can play shortstop, but probably profiles more at third base. The power is real. He hit just .222/.289/.380, so he’s not in a position to stick on a big-league roster, but he’s one to watch. RH RP Alex Scherff - Alex Scherff has yet to pitch in the Twins organization after coming from the Red Sox in the Hansel Robles trade. Before that, he had pitched at High-A and Double-A and went 3-1 with four saves and a 2.45 ERA. In 29 1/3 innings, he struck out 46 (14.1 K/9) and walked 13. LH RP Kody Funderburk - A 15th round pick in 2018 out of Dallas Baptist, Kody Funderburk was a two-way player in college. He’s been a full-time pitcher since signing. He made 10 starts in Cedar Rapids and posted a 3.18 ERA. He moved up to Wichita and made seven bullpen appearances. He posted a 1.25 ERA in 21 2/3 innings. Combined, he struck out 82 batters in 67 innings (11.0 K/9). Right now, he’s pitching in the Arizona Fall League being seen by scouts from every organization. He’s got 19 strikeouts in 14 2/3 innings. LH RP Zach Featherstone - Another two-way player, the Twins drafted Zach Featherstone as a first baseman and outfielder in the 12th round in 2016 from Tallahassee CC. However, the southpaw was moved to the mound in 2017. Unfortunately, he hurt his elbow and had Tommy John surgery early in the 2018 season. He was ready to throw late in 2019, but a hurricane ended his chance. Then a missed 2020 season. In 2021, he pitched in 40 games out of the Kernels bullpen. He went 3-4 with nine saves and a 2.13 ERA. In 55 innings, he walked too many (42) and struck out 93 batters (15.2 K/9). He is now in the AFL and has seven walks and 12 strikeouts in 8 1/3 innings. He throws hard, sitting 92-96 mph with a good slider. IF Andrew Bechtold - Andrew Bechtold was the Twins fifth round pick in 2017 from Chipola College. From 2017 through 2019, he had hit 12 combined home runs. In 99 games for Wichita in 2021, he hit .239/.328/.459 (.786) with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. He can play third base and first base, and probably some second base. The fact that he is adding ‘Catching’ to his game makes him more versatile and more valuable to a team potentially. He is currently in the AFL as well. Others in their first year of eligibility: Luis Baez, Denny Bentley, Andrew Cabezas, DaShawn Keirsey, Landon Leach, Jeferson Morales, Danny Moreno, Zach Neff, Jon Olsen, Tyler Palm, Alexander Pena, Alex Phillips, Seth Pinkerton, Miguel Rodriguez, Evan Sisk, Gabe Snyder, Wander Valdez, Chris Williams. Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2021. Melvi Acosta, David Banuelos, Stevie Berman, Ernie De La Trinidad, Osiris German, Caleb Hamilton, Wander Javier, Jimmy Kerrigan, Gabriel Maciel, Josh Mitchell, Derek Molina, Daniel Ozoria, Luis Rijo, Bryan Sammons, Jesus Toledo. SUMMARY The Twins again have several interesting players to consider adding to the 40-man roster or potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Like the rest of the offseason, it’s hard to feel confident about anything that’s going to happen, including the Rule 5 draft, due to a potential December 2nd work stoppage. But it will happen at some point before the 2022 season begins... we think. PREDICTION It is pretty clear that the Givens to be added are (or should be) Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, Josh Winder and Cole Sands. I then think they will add two of the Enlow, Vallimont, Gore and Schulfer grouping, and based on my rankings, I would guess Enlow and Vallimont. The 40-man roster currently sits at 38 players. A quick glance tells me that as many as eight or nine more players could come off of it, if needed. Obviously not that many will be dropped at this time to allow for DFAs later in the offseason, as needed to make room for free agents. I think they’ll be busy in free agency and will want those roster spots available to them. They may be busy with trades too, including some of the mentioned players.. What do you think?
  7. 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
  8. Back in August, Lucas Seehafer provided a comprehensive breakdown of some roster decisions facing the Twins. Some of those players have already made their big-league debuts, and others have completed their seasons. The 40-man roster "locks" category is where we can focus today, and the four names that will soon be elevated are worth noting. Jose Miranda, INF The Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year put up one of the most decorated seasons in recent prospect memory. Miranda posted a .973 OPS across 127 games at Double and Triple-A. I’m still not sure where he fits on the Opening Day roster for the Twins, but it is very evident that he’s ready to make an impact. Miranda could feel a further squeeze if and when Derek Falvey signs a shortstop, but on his own, you can bet he’ll keep pushing his way in. Josh Winder, RHP After a solid pro-debut season in 2019, Winder gained plenty of steam during Spring Training 2021. He did little to stop the hype train when he posted a 1.98 ERA in 10 Double-A starts before a promotion to Triple-A. Winder got just four starts for the Saints before being shut down due to injury. He’ll need to build back up this offseason and return with a clean bill of health, but barring those realities taking place, he should be expected to make starts in Minnesota in 2022. Cole Sands, RHP Another arm with an opportunity to take a further leap in 2022, Sands was a 5th round pick back in 2018. He made 18 starts for Double-A Wichita this season and turned in a 2.46 ERA. Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran drew the initial talk this season, but Sands posted the performance worthy of the hype. His 10.8 K/9 was impressive, and it’s another head-turning set of outcomes following his 2019 season. Like Winder, Sands should find himself as an option for Rocco Baldelli next season. Royce Lewis, SS Once Minnesota’s top prospect and among the best in baseball, Lewis has some work ahead of him. He slumped in 2019 and was set to break out in a big way before an ACL tear ended his 2020 season before it began. Whether it’s at shortstop or in the outfield, his skillset can potentially translate into a franchise cornerstone. Lewis is a high-character guy and will undoubtedly be an asset when it comes to roster construction. I’m not sure how his timeline will look having missed two consecutive seasons worth of games, but the talent could force Minnesota’s hand sooner rather than later. The Twins have more than a handful of options to add to the 40-man roster this offseason, and some of those on the fringes will be tough calls, but it’s this group of four that will certainly be added to the fold. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. Three of Twins' top position prospects have a chance to debut during the 2022 season. Minnesota's front office must consider each prospect's defensive future when making a blueprint to be competitive in 2022. Here is a look at how some of the team's top prospects stack up on the defensive side of the ball. Royce Lewis Current Position: SS One of the Twins' questions to decide this winter is what position Lewis will play for the long-term. If Minnesota feels like he is still a shortstop, there is no reason to spend big money on the current free-agent class. There were defensive questions about Lewis before this recent injury, and those questions will follow him moving forward. He is back on the field, but he hasn't taken any defensive reps in game action yet. He has the speed and athleticism that should make him an above-average player at multiple positions. Future Position: Center Field Austin Martin Current Position: CF/SS Martin played six different defensive positions in college before settling in at third base. During the 2021 season, he got reps at shortstop and center field. After being traded to the Twins, Martin finished the year playing at Double-A, and he logged more innings in center than at shortstop. There are questions about his infield arm, which might push him to the outfield for the long term. However, he has shown the ability to play multiple defensive positions, which can be valuable to a big-league team. Future Position: Outfield Jose Miranda Current Position: Infield During his breakout 2021 season, Miranda logged over 200 innings at first, second, and third. This defensive flexibility should help him to find a role at the big-league level. It was a little surprising he didn't make his MLB debut at the end of 2021, but he certainly cemented his place in the team's long-term plans. If Josh Donaldson is traded this winter, Miranda can slide into third base for the 2022 season. Even if Donaldson stays, nothing is saying he will be healthy for the entire season. This should give Miranda the chance to be part of the big-league roster at some point in 2022. Future Position: Third Base There are other off-season decisions tied to each of these players. Will Minnesota sign Buxton to a long-term extension? That can change the long-term plan for Martin or Lewis. Will the Twins trade Donaldson? That can open up third base for Miranda. Depth is essential when creating a big-league roster, and these prospects have the defensive flexibility to add long-term value to the team's outlook. Which player do you think has the best chance to stick at their current defensive position? 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
  10. In the Offseason Handbook (reaching your inbox in ONE WEEK if you preorder now!), we cover a wide array of options to address various needs via free agency and trade. However, before perusing these options, it's necessary to take a step back and figure out what the objectives are. Here are six questions the team must ask itself. The answers will bring focus to a presently hazy offseason agenda. #1: Are we grooming Royce Lewis to take over at shortstop, or do we need a long-term solution? With Andrelton Simmons' one-year deal expiring, the Twins are back to square one at shortstop. They seem disinclined to move Jorge Polanco back there, and Nick Gordon isn't a legit full-time option, so they'll be shopping this winter. The question is: to what degree? If they still believe in Lewis and his viability at the position, they'll likely aim at the lower end of free agency, seeking a short-term stopgap. In the Handbook, we divide the Free Agent SS class into two tiers, with the second featuring players who'd fit this purpose. But be warned: with the exception of Dodgers utilityman Chris Taylor, the second-tier names are not very appealing targets. If the Twins don't feel Lewis is the ultimate solution at short – either because his defense there isn't up to par or because his long layoff produces too much overall uncertainty – then they could try to get in on the high-end free agent action, with five different All-Star caliber shortstops hitting the market. It's rare that you see ever see this kind of talent up for grabs, which is why the Twins are under some pressure to make a call on Lewis. If he's not the guy, they might not get another chance like this to procure their next fixture on the open market. #2: Are we attempting to build a credible contending rotation, or are we intent on developing the pitching pipeline? There are plenty of intriguing names in the free agent starter class (we profile more than 50 in the Handbook), and the Twins will surely sign at least a couple. But again, the external approach here will be contingent on an internal decision, which directly links back to the overarching question cited at the outset. If the Twins are serious about investing and contending, they could be in play for someone like Justin Verlander or Noah Syndergaard, who offer proven ace potential and relative affordability coming off lost seasons. But they also carry a ton of risk. Only if guided by an adamant intention to contend would the Twins make a splash like that. Should they commit to a transitional year, it's very possible someone like Michael Pineda could be Minnesota's biggest rotation signing – more of a steady innings eater than a high-upside replacement for José Berríos and Kenta Maeda. In this scenario, the strategy would be more oriented toward building from within around Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober. The Twins do happen to have a ton of near-ready prospects to sort out, although health is a question mark with nearly all of them. Speaking of health question marks: #3: Do we trust Taylor Rogers to bounce back from his finger injury? In the Arbitration Decisions section of the Handbook, we break down a dozen different cases for arbitration-eligible players this year. No decision is tougher than Rogers, who's coming off an All-Star season that ended with a scary middle finger injury. He's projected to make around $7 million in his final year before free agency – a rather exorbitant price for a reliever, even without the looming uncertainty. If they're going to tender him, the Twins better have every confidence he can return to form next year, because that expense would deplete a sizable chunk of their resources. For a similar salary, you could likely land a more reliable closer from the free agent pool, such as Raisel Iglesias or Mark Melancon. And if Rogers is moving on, you almost need to go get a guy like that, because without him, the back end of this bullpen becomes a glaring weakness. #4: How much confidence do we have in controllable relievers who performed well last year? Lowering our gaze from the closer role, decisions around what's keepable from the 2021 mix will dictate the broader bullpen strategy. If the Twins have faith in a series of second-half performances that helped propel the Twins relief corps to a surprising 2.0 fWAR (11th in MLB) and 5.82 WPA (3rd in MLB) after the break, turnover in this unit could be fairly light. Alex Colomé is a critical crux point in this scenario. He posted a 3.51 ERA and 3.86 FIP after his nightmarish April, including 3.51/3.71 after the All-Star break. Not exactly a no-brainer to bring back on his $5.5 million option for 2022, even if you disregard the first month, but it's really a $4.25 million decision when you account for his buyout. If the Twins decide to move on from Rogers, they could theoretically just activate Colomé's option and plug him into the closer spot, although that's surely not a move that would generate much enthusiasm with fans. Then you've got Tyler Duffey, Caleb Thielbar and Jorge Alcalá. All three seem likely to return (Duffey and Thielbar are arbitration-eligible, Alcalá is still pre-arb so he'll cost around the minimum). But how will they be slotted into the hierarchy? Duffey was rather unreliable for much of the season but turned a corner after the trade deadline, posting a 2.05 ERA, 2.17 FIP and 28-to-6 K/BB ratio in 22 innings between August and September. The same pattern played out to a greater extreme with Alcalá, who entered August with a 5.27 ERA before putting up a 0.96 ERA, 1.78 FIP and 24-to-3 K/BB ratio in 18 ⅔ IP the rest of the way. Finally, there's Juan Minaya and Danny Coulombe. Both were minor-league signings who took opportunities and ran with them this year. Minaya posted a 2.48 ERA and 9.7 K/9 in 40 innings. Coulombe turned in a 3.67 ERA and 4.7 K/BB ratio in 34 ⅓. Each has a history of big-league success, so they're not total flashes in the pan. Each will also arbitration-eligible for the first time; it'll cost about $2 total million to bring both back. Theoretically, if the Twins decide to bring back all of the above players (Rogers, Colomé, Duffey, Thielbar, Minaya, Coulombe) they'd have six of eight bullpen spots filled, greatly reducing the work to be done this offseason. However, it's pretty easy to envision only three or four being retained, which would lead to a heightened reliance on the utter crapshoot known as relief free agency. #5: How will the designated hitter position be utilized going forward? For most of the past three years, the Twins have had a full-time DH in Nelson Cruz. He'll be available this winter (likely at a reduced cost following his post-trade drop-off in Tampa), as will a few other primary DH types like Kyle Schwarber. Internally, someone like Miguel Sanó or Brent Rooker might make sense. Of course, the Twins can also steer away from a regular designated hitter and leverage the position rotationally. This would open up a world of different possibilities, such as using Mitch Garver or Josh Donaldson as part-time DH, thus reducing their likelihood of getting injured while opening up more playing time for young players behind them (i.e., Jose Miranda and Ryan Jeffers). Using Luis Arraez there semi-regularly would be another option, protecting his balky knees and limiting his defensive exposure. #6: What to do with Byron Buxton? This is the biggest question of the coming offseason, no doubt. The Twins have three paths forward with regards to Buxton: trade him, extend him, or retain him with one year of service remaining. The last of those three seems least likely and the first seems most likely, based on the indicators we've received. But it's all on the table. Within the trade scenario, there is another decision that correlates directly with the "retool or rebuild" ultimatum: Are we looking to get back MLB-ready talent (maybe even a replacement center fielder) or seeking to increase the upside with younger, rawer prospects? Cody Christie has a feature story in the Handbook that breaks down the Buxton decision in depth. Suffice to say that it's a pivotal moment for the franchise and its future. Let's hear from y'all. Which way do you lean on these six questions, and which important ones did I miss? Share your thoughts in the comments. 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
  11. After Jorge Polanco limped through 2020 with an ankle injury that required a second surgery, it became more than apparent that Rocco Baldelli needed a different option at shortstop. Before Royce Lewis was shelved with a torn ACL, the big league club needed a stabilizing presence at the most critical position on the infield. Casting a wide net made the most sense for the Twins. Marcus Semien was arguably the best option, and despite finishing a close runner-up for his services, the former Athletics infielder has posted an otherworldly season for the Blue Jays. Many players would qualify as fringe options, having one or more holes in their games. Falvey opted for a pact with Gold Glove-winning fielder Andrelton Simmons. The former Angels shortstop always carried a light bat, but his defense got the job done. Welcome to 2021. It’s not as though Simmons’ defense has fallen off a cliff; he’s still been a valuable commodity in the field for Minnesota. His 11 defensive runs saved rank third in baseball at the position, and he’s behind only Nick Ahmed and Francisco Lindor when it comes to outs above average at shortstop. Simmons has induced many highlight-reel plays this season behind Twins pitching, but his blunders have always been highly noticeable. Simmons has been miscast for a guy who needs to make an impact defensively to hide his bat, given the results Minnesota has generated on the season as a whole. He carries value for a good team that can afford to have a complete non-factor in the lineup. Given the Twins inability to pitch and often hit, the marginal defensive upgrade he has been only amplified the awful season of production. At -0.4 fWAR, Simmons has been Minnesota’s third-worst position player behind Willians Astudillo and Gilberto Celestino. Without finding a trade partner for him at the deadline, the Twins have allowed Simmons to play in 116 games despite being a free agent at year’s end. He’s being paid $10.5 million in 2021 and has been worse than a non-factor offensively. His .561 OPS is dead last in baseball among 154 hitters with at least 400 plate appearances. He has a .286 OBP and has a whopping 14 extra-base hits. The most divisive contribution Simmons has made to the Twins clubhouse may have been a medical one. Just days after being outspoken regarding his stance on vaccines, the shortstop tested positive, and Minnesota soon experienced an outbreak. Without attributing fault to any one person, Simmons' brash nature and desire to publicly share his opinions on Twitter were undoubtedly met with backlash given how the season began to spiral. Over the years, plenty of front offices have missed when it comes to spending money on players leaving other organizations. Sometimes those players move on for the sake of a big contract. Other times it happens because the club is moving on before getting caught holding the bag. This may be more of the latter when considering the Angels situation, and Minnesota felt the wrath of a decision gone wrong. You could make a case for Tsuyoshi Nishioka or Ricky Nolasco when considering previous Twins missteps. Still, nothing about how Andrelton Simmons has fared in Minnesota is good, and it’s a shock he’ll survive the year without a DFA. Back to the drawing board at shortstop for 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects 30. Marco Raya, RHP: Four-pitch mix has the Twins excited about his future. 29. Jovani Moran, LHP: Dominant change-up has him close to the big leagues. 28. Steve Hajjar, LHP: 2021 Second Round Pick that led the Big 10 in Ks. 27. Wander Javier, SS: Five-tool potential that hasn’t put it all together yet. 26. Alerick Soularie, 2B: One of the best athletes in the Twins system. 25. Chris Vallimont, RHP: Has dynamic stuff, but can his command improve? 24. Louie Varland, RHP: Had dominant stretches at Low- and High-A this season. 23. Nick Gordon, UTL: May have a bright future as a true utility man. 22. Aaron Sabato, 1B: 2020 First Round Pick, whose power is now showing up. 21. Edouard Julien, INF: An on-base machine with some pop and defensive flexibility. 20. Spencer Steer, INF: Powerful infielder with college experience. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Striking out nearly 12 batters per nine at Double-A. 18. Misael Urbina, OF: Showcasing advanced approach even against older competition. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Tommy John surgery will keep him out until 2022. 16: Brent Rooker, OF: Already 26-years old, but has the system's best power tool. 15. Noah Miller, INF: 2021 Compensation Pick that will take time to develop. 14. Drew Strotman, RHP: Intriguing repertoire of major league quality pitches. 13. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Rushed to the MLB level this year but has plenty of tools. 12. Matt Wallner, OF: High strikeout guy with light-tower power. 11. Josh Winder, RHP: He struck out more than 30% of batters he faced at Double-A. 10. Keoni Cavaco, SS: 2019 First Round Pick with five-tool athleticism. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: 2021 First Round Pick with an electric fastball. 8. Matt Canterino, RHP: Recently returned from injury and racking up strikeouts. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP: Acquired for Cruz, he figures to be in the mix for the 2022 rotation. 6. Jose Miranda, 3B: Likely the organization’s minor league player of the year. 5. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Has immense potential if he can stay healthy. 4. Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP: Newly acquired pitcher is very young for Double-A. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Strikeout rate is improving. Triple-A might be his horizon. 2. Austin Martin, SS/CF: Newly acquired prospect is an OBP machine, but will the power come? 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. DEBATE AT THE TOP Austin Martin will be ranked higher than Royce Lewis on many national prospect lists, especially with Lewis missing the entire 2021 season. Both players have tremendous potential, but they each come with their own flaws. Martin’s stock might have been low when the Twins dealt for him. He has been getting on-base over 40% of the time this season, but the power he showed in college hasn’t shown up during his pro career. Defensively, he has a lot of flexibility, but that also means there are some questions about his defensive future. Lewis dominated the 2019 Arizona Fall League, but this came on the heels of a season where he struggled offensively at High-A and Double-A. He made strides at the team’s alternate site in 2020, and then a fluke injury put him on the sidelines for all of 2021. Like Martin, there are questions about his defensive future, but he has the athleticism to play in multiple spots. Overall, Lewis may have the higher ceiling, and Martin has the higher floor. MOVEMENT ON THE LIST Because of the influx of new prospects, most prospects on this list dropped from their midseason rankings. Jordan Balazovic and Jose Miranda are two prospects that have seen their stock rise the most during the 2021 season. Miranda has been dominating the upper levels of the minors this season, and he should make his big-league debut before the season’s end. Balazovic started the year on the IL, but he has been healthy since then, and his strikeout rate continues to rise. One of the most significant drops this season has been Aaron Sabato. When the Twins drafted him in 2020, scouting reports touted his powerful swing and advanced approach. His power hadn't made much of an appearance in his first professional season as he was limited to four home runs entering August. Now, he's clubbed six home runs in eight August games. If he continues this powerful pace, there's certainly potential for him to move up this list during the offseason. TOP 30 POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C- 0 IF- 10 OF- 5 RHP- 13 LHP- 2 Back in February, Nick identified two deficiencies in the Twins system, high-level infield talent, and left-handed pitching. Minnesota has seen some changes in those two categories this season. Austin Martin adds to the team’s high-level infield talent even if he ends up at second base. Jose Miranda’s emergence also adds to the team’s long-term infield plans. As far as left-handed pitchers, there weren’t any on the Twins Daily Top-20 list entering the season, and there weren’t any in the top-20 listed above. However, Jovani Moran (29th) looks like he can be a dominant big-league reliever. Steve Hajjar brings in college experience with the potential to move quickly through the minors. What are your thoughts on the changes to the team’s top prospects? How do you feel about the system as a whole? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion
  13. The Twins will be faced with several decisions during the offseason concerning the makeup of their roster, beginning with who's placed on and removed from the 40-man. While it may seem as though the team will be confronted with many impossible decisions, the fact of the matter is that the Twins are well-positioned to add critical prospects to the 40-man without losing much in the way of established talent and productivity. Below is a discussion of the Twins 40-man roster, primarily regarding their top prospects. Twins Daily's most recent Top 30 prospect list was used for reference. Already on the 40-man Jordan Balazovic, RHP Jhoan Duran, RHP Drew Strotman, RHP Gilberto Celestino, OF Edwar Colina, RHP Brent Rooker, OF/DH Nick Gordon, UTIL Of the players listed above, only Rooker's future with the team appears to be dubious. Perhaps Gordon's as well. If the Twins were to try to drop them from the 40-man — something that I don't consider to be particularly likely — they both would be claimed. While Rooker and Gordon may not remain as Twins for the long haul, Minnesota likely won't just give them away for free. The remainder of the athletes above will probably fill critical roles with the Twins, if not next summer, then in the summers to follow. Not eligible for Rule 5 Draft or Minor League Free Agency Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Austin Martin, OF/SS Aaron Sabato, 1B/DH Keoni Cavaco, INF Misael Urbina, OF Matt Wallner, OF/DH Alerick Soulaire, UTIL Will Holland, INF Marco Raya, RHP Spencer Steer, INF Steve Hajjar, LHP Louie Varland, RHP Noah Miller, INF Chase Petty, RHP All of these guys are going to be sticking around for at least one more season, if not longer. To be eligible for the Rule 5 Draft, a player must have spent at least five seasons with the same team if they were signed or drafted during or after high school or at least four seasons if drafted out of college. To be eligible for minor league free agency, an athlete must have spent at least six full seasons with the same team. None of the players above meet the criteria, so they aren't going anywhere unless traded. Additionally, save for perhaps Austin Martin and Matt Canterino, it's unlikely that any of the above athletes will be promoted to the majors at any point next season. The majority are still fairly young or lack professional experience, meaning some more seasoning in the minor leagues is more than warranted. 40-man Locks Jose Miranda, INF Joe Ryan, RHP Josh Winder, RHP Cole Sands, RHP Royce Lewis, SS/OF Jovani Moran, LHP There's no chance that the Twins will risk losing any of these guys. Miranda has been the most impressive minor league player in the system — if not all of MiLB — and will likely slot in somewhere in the infield next season. Joe Ryan and Josh Winder will probably be among those competing for a starting rotation spot next spring. Cole Sands has dominated the minors when healthy. Royce Lewis is a potential franchise cornerstone. Jovani Moran is already an MLB-caliber reliever. While all five athletes may not make the Opening Day roster, they will all accumulate service time beginning next summer, if not sooner. 50/50 Chance Blayne Enlow, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Yennier Cano, RHP Ian Hamilton, RHP Yunior Severino, INF Jermaine Palacios, INF Here's where the Twins need to make some decisions. Enlow was a third-round pick in 2017 out of high school and has been phenomenal during his minor league career. However, he will miss a good chunk of next season — if not the entire season — after undergoing Tommy John surgery earlier this summer. While that may seem to disqualify him from Rule 5 consideration, a team could select Enlow and easily keep him on the 60-day IL for the entire season. Doing so would save his 40-man roster spot for another athlete and effectively eliminate the chance for Enlow to be returned to the Twins. Because of this, I would not be surprised if the Twins placed him on the 40-man rather than risk losing him for nothing. As I have discussed frequently, Vallimont is an enigma. He has fantastic raw stuff and strikeout numbers, but he lacks command and gives up too many free passes and runs. While he may eventually become an MLB pitcher, he isn't particularly close to being one at the moment. For this reason, I think it would be unlikely that a team would select him in the Rule 5 Draft, and, as such, I could see the Twins keeping him off their 40-man. Cano is an electric bullpen arm that dominated the lower minor leagues but has struggled a little bit since being promoted to Triple-A. That said, he has the raw stuff to carve out a major league career. He's already 27-years-old, but has only spent two seasons in the minors after signing as a free agent in 2019. So while he isn't eligible for the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, one figures that if he's going to make it to the big leagues, he'll likely have to do it soon. I'd be surprised if we don't see him in Minneapolis at some point next season. Odds are that he won't be added to the 40-man until next season if he isn't by the end of this one. Both Severino and Palacios were former highly-touted prospects who failed to live up to expectations, though both have been performing exceptionally well as of late. As was the case with Vallimont, neither are ready to face MLB pitchers consistently. However, both still have a fair amount of potential, especially if their recent output remains. Palacios would be eligible for free agency if he is not rostered, while Severino would be exposed to the Rule 5 Draft. If I'm the Twins, I place Severino on the 40-man and hope I can re-sign Palacios. Hamilton's situation is akin to that of Palacios. He's a former highly-regarded prospect who will be eligible for free agency if not added to the 40-man. He's shown promise this season at the Triple-A level, hitting 100 mph with his fastball on multiple occasions. Frankly, it's a little surprising that the Twins haven't given him a shot to this point, and, who knows, maybe they'll do so before the summer is over. Regardless, Hamilton has shown that he still has MLB talent and simply letting him walk could prove to be a poor decision. Rather Unlikely Notable Prospects Wander Javier, SS Trey Cabbage, OF/DH Both Javier and Cabbage will be eligible for minor league free agency following the season, though I doubt that the Twins will use that fact as motivation to put them on the 40-man. Javier has been too inconsistent at the plate to justify a roster spot, while Cabbage is a power-hitting corner outfielder/1B/DH-type. Cabbage is in the midst of a career year and does have some value; however, the Twins are loaded with young, power-hitting outfield talent. He could probably fetch something like a potential bullpen arm in a trade, but the odds of a team trading for him when they could try to sign him away from the Twins are low. Impending Free Agents Michael Pineda, RHP Alexander Colome, RHP Andrelton Simmons, SS The Twins may try to re-sign Pineda and Colome this coming winter, but Simmons seems highly unlikely to return, especially with Lewis's arrival right around the corner. I'd put the over/under on open 40-man roster spots from this group at 1.5. 40-Man Spots That May Be Up For Grabs Charlie Barnes, LHP Devin Smeltzer, LHP Beau Burrows, RHP Danny Coulombe, LHP Luke Farrell, RHP Edgar Garcia, RHP Ralph Garza Jr., RHP Juan Minaya, RHP Cody Stashak, RHP Lewis Thorpe, LHP Nick Vincent, RHP Derek Law, RHP Willians Astudillo, UTIL Jake Cave, OF Kyle Garlick, OF Rob Refsnyder, OF The Twins have a bevy of bullpen arms, bench players, and trade candidates that could be on the move this offseason. As such, the team has at least 16 40-man spots — and that may be an underestimate — to play with. Add in the impending free agents, and that number jumps to 19. Subtract the locks, and that number falls to 14. So while it may seem as though the Twins are on the cusp of a roster crunch at first blush, the reality is that the team has plenty of room to play with this coming winter. If the team loses anyone to the Rule 5 Draft or minor league free agency, it's because the team determined that they were of little value to them moving forward. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here
  14. 5. RHP Jhoan Duran (23 years old) Season Stats (AAA): 16.0 IP (5 G), 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12.4 K/9. 7.3 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 2, 2021 Preseason: 5 Duran is one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins system in quite some time. He can consistently hit triple digits with his fastball while mixing in a splitter, curveball, and changeup. One of his pitches sometimes referred to as a splinker, is similar to another big-leaguer. His biggest concerns are control and staying healthy. Currently, he is out with an elbow strain, and he also dealt with a trapezius issue earlier in the year. When he went on the IL at the end of June, the recommendation was for him to be shut down for 5-6 weeks, and surgery will not be needed for the time being. Minnesota can hold its collective breath and hope Duran doesn’t need to go under the knife and miss significant time in 2022. 4. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (20 years old) Season Stats (AA): 45.1 IP (11 G), 5.76 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about Woods-Richardson as he was acquired as part of the José Berríos trade. He showcases a traditional mix of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, all four pitches already grade at a 55 (20-80 scale) or higher. Toronto was aggressive with sending him to Double-A as a 20-year old, and the Twins have assigned him to the same level as he returned from the Olympics. Minnesota will be his third organization since being drafted in 2018, and it should be the organization where he will make his big-league debut. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 63.1 IP (13 G), 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 3, 2021 Preseason: 6 Minnesota snagged Balazovic back in 2016 in the fifth round out of Canada. Balazovic started the year on the IL, so his first game action didn’t come until the beginning of June. After shaking some dust off, he had a terrific month of July as he posted a 2.86 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has allowed three runs or fewer, including seven appearances with no runs allowed. His strikeout rate is higher than his career mark, and he faces older batters over 80% of the time. Will he get a shot at Triple-A before the season’s done? 2. SS/CF Austin Martin (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 62 G, .291/.438/.391 (.829), 2 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B,19.4 K%, 15.2 BB% Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline While most will have Martin in the #1 spot among Twins prospects, he slots in at #2 here as the organization might have bought low on him. There are a lot of similarities between Lewis and Martin which means they both have immense potential. Since he is new to the organization, here are a few things to learn about him. Martin may be able to play shortstop, but he can also play other infield and outfield positions as needed. He played a lot of third base in college, but the Twins will have him focus on center field. He will hit for average and get on base. The remaining question is how much power he’ll be able to provide. 1. SS Royce Lewis (22 years old) Season Stats: Out for the season after ACL surgery Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 1, 2021 Preseason: 2 Eight out of ten Twins Daily Minor League Writers agree, Royce Lewis returns to the #1 spot in our Twins Top Prospect rankings. He made strides in 2020 at the alternate site. He’s begun some baseball activities recently after spring training ACL reconstruction. Lewis has power. He has speed. He has the potential to stick at shortstop but can be versatile. Other players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft have started to perform, so some might question whether Lewis was the right choice. Martin might have a higher floor than Lewis, but Lewis has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Prospects 6-10 -Prospects 11-15 -Prospects 16-20 -Prospects 21-25 -Prospects 26-30
  15. Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were consensus top 100 prospects. However, outfielder Trevor Larnach, catcher Ryan Jeffers, and pitchers Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic also found their names among the league's most exciting future players depending on which prospect rankings site one preferred. Royce Lewis lost a second straight campaign after he tore his ACL. Kirilloff, Larnach and Jeffers graduated thanks to a bevy of injuries and poor play from the MLB club. Duran and Balazovic missed time at the beginning of the season with arm injuries and slow starts. (Balazovic has turned it on as of late, while Duran was shut down with an elbow injury.) The sheen on the Twins' top 12-15 farm system became far duller by mid-June despite the encouraging progress shown by the likes of utility infielder Jose Miranda and pitcher Josh Winder. Before Friday's trade deadline, the Twins' system lacked a level of potential high-end talent that most of the teams inside the top 10 had, and some teams, like the Tampa Bay Rays and Los Angeles Dodgers, had in spades. However, that all changed when the Twins dealt Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for shortstop Austin Martin and pitcher Simeon Woods Richardson. Martin is a consensus top 60 prospect who hits for average, gets on base at a high clip, and has projectable power, despite his low home run output this year at Double-A. His long-term fit at shortstop is dubious, with most experts believing he'll eventually find a home at either second base or center field. Woods Richardson is a consensus top 75 prospect who boasts four legit pitches and substantial strikeout numbers but struggles with command, though, to be fair, what 20-year-old doesn't? When paired alongside pitchers Joe Ryan and Drew Strotman, who the Twins acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz, the Twins added four prospects to their top 10 and two to their top five over the last two weeks to more than replenish their future talent cupboard. Their farm system metamorphosed from good to excellent, from deep to DEEP, from top 15 in the league to arguably top 5 in a brief amount of time. But a stockpile of minor league talent does nothing for a franchise unless it's developed adequately and positively impacts the major league team or tapped into to bring in quality MLB talent. No team gets to hang a banner for having the best farm system in place. Now the ball is in Derek Falvey, Thad Levine, and the various Twins coaching staffs' court. It is on their shoulders to make the Twins' newfound prospect currency count. The Twins possess the most depth at starting pitcher, with the majority of their top 20 prospects - Balazovic, Woods-Richardson, Canterino, Duran, Winder, Ryan, Strotman, Blayne Enlow, Chase Petty, Cole Sands, and Chris Vallimont - having the potential to one day slot into the team's starting rotation. Of course, not all of them will, but the more fish in the barrel, the more likely one is to snag a catch. The Twins need to develop at least two or three of their starting pitching prospects into legitimate No. 2 or 3 starters. They would also be wise to dangle a few of them as trade bait to bring in impact MLB talent, particularly if the likes of Byron Buxton, Josh Donaldson, and Jorge Polanco find themselves on new teams in the coming years. However, their talent extends beyond the mound. Miranda has exploded onto the scene and is far more likely to be considered a top 100 prospect now than entering the season. Similarly, relatively unknown prospects Matt Wallner, Edouard Julien, Jermaine Palacios, and Yunior Severino have had strong seasons, boosting their prospect status. Despite trading the best arm the franchise has employed since Johan Santana, the Twins still see themselves as a team that can contend for a playoff spot in the not-too-distant future, and perhaps as early as next year. "The future is very bright," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli told reporters following the Twins' trade of Berrios. "We have the pieces already here that we're trying to supplement right now with some of the moves that we're making in order to get to a point where we are a playoff baseball team again. And I don't think we're very far away." Falvey largely echoed Baldelli's sentiment. "Our view of this is sustainability," Falvey said of the trade. "[This year] has not been what we wanted. But we still feel, even as Jose walked out the door here, and that's not easy, don't get me wrong, that we feel we have a lot of talent in that clubhouse coming back in '22 and '23 and beyond and so how do you build a sustainable group? You've got to retool it sometimes." The only way the Twins can find themselves back in the playoff hunt next year and beyond is if the franchise capitalizes on their current wealth of young assets. Despite their current 100-loss pace, doing so is not an unrealistic goal. They simply need to go and make it happen. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. 5. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA/AAA): .350 AVG, .409 OBP, .614 SLG, 16 HR, 46 RBI 2021 Ranking: 19 When we ranked him No. 19 on our preseason top prospects list, the short synopsis on Miranda was a familiar one: "High-contract righty-swinging infielder needs to find power stroke." The former second-round draft pick has long sat on the fringes of our top-20 rankings because of his many intriguing traits, but the production just wasn't there to justify ranking him much higher. Through his first 379 games in the minors, he slugged .394 with 37 home runs. This year, he found his power stroke. Miranda came out of the gates red-hot at Double-A, opening with a seven-game hitting streak that included three home runs, and he never really slowed down. Miranda slashed .345/.408/.588 with 13 home runs in two months at Wichita, then earned a late-June promotion to St. Paul, where he put together an unforgettable Triple-A debut: 5-6, 3 HR, 6 RBIs. It all came together in a hurry for Miranda and there's not much reason to think his breakthrough isn't legit. He's got a smooth, compact swing from the right side that was always produced high contact rates, and he's clearly turned a corner with his ability to drive the ball. He projects as a third baseman in the big leagues, and perhaps pretty soon, depending on what happens with Josh Donaldson. 4. Matt Canterino, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A+): 18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 1.14 FIP, 51.5 K%, 4.4 BB% 2021 Ranking: 9 Canterino drew considerable hype coming into this season after reports emerged of him touching 100 MPH in a side session. A second-rounder out of Rice University in 2019, he made a strong impression by dominating in his first stint as a pro (1.44 ERA, 11.2 K/9 between rookie and A-ball), but plenty of highly-drafted collegiate players have done that. Taking the next step is the differentiator. Canterino's velo jump, and the behind-the-scenes work it reflected, were seemingly positive indicators. The righty needed to show it on the field. He has. Canterino was brilliant through four starts for Cedar Rapids, now the Twins' High-A affiliate. I mean, we're talking stupid good numbers. Thirty-five strikeouts in 18 innings? A 17.5 K/9 rate?? Canterino was striking out literally more than half the batters he faced. Beyond overpowering. He was likely in line for an imminent promotion to Double-A, but unfortunately the 23-year-old developed a sore elbow and hasn't pitched since May. He is currently on the comeback trail and the Twins hope he'll be able to return to the mound soon – probably in Wichita once he's fully back on track. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA): 21 1/3 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 29.5 K%, 7.1 BB% 2021 Ranking: 6 After getting a late start to his season while healing from injury, Balazovic's results through six starts at Double-A have been ... uneven. His 4.44 ERA is nothing to write home about, and he has yet to get through six innings in an outing. With that said, he's been building up – his best, and longest, start was also his most recent – and the signs of that big potential have been on display. In 24 ⅓ innings, he has piled up 33 strikeouts with a 14% swing-and-miss rate. While hitters have had success against him at times, they haven't hit for much power (3 HR and 7 XBH total) and Balazovic's control hasn't really eluded him at any point. For now the key is to continually advance his workload and consistency. 2. Jhoan Duran, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A/AA): 34 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.64 FIP, 38.2 K%, 9.0 BB% 2021 Ranking: n/a Like Balazovic, Duran's start to the 2021 campaign was delayed by injury following a lost pandemic season. When he took the mound on May 22nd at CHS Field, it was Duran's first time pitching in a minor-league game since August 29th of 2019. He was worth the wait. Unleashing triple-digit heat, Duran dazzled, striking out six over three innings of one-run ball. His next time out he allowed only one hit while fanning eight over four scoreless frames. However, things took a downward turn at this point, as Duran was tagged with losses in his next three appearances (one a long-relief outing), surrendering 8 earned runs with an 8-to-12 K/BB ratio in nine innings. Then, he went on the Injured List with an elbow strain. For now, the Twins hope and believe he'll avoid surgery. Duran has the best stuff in Minnesota's system and some of the best in the minors. He's the real deal talent-wise and the Twins have done a stellar job in targeting, acquiring, and developing him. His biggest barriers are control and health, and we've seen both fully presented this year, with the latter currently sidelining him indefinitely. He's as boom-or-bust as they come, but the ceiling is game-changing and within reach. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats: n/a 2021 Ranking: 2 Losing two consecutive full seasons – one to a global pandemic and the next to a torn ACL – in the very crux of one's development is an ordeal many baseball prospects would be unable to overcome. I'd bet on Royce Lewis not being one of them. His much-lauded character and makeup have always positively affected the view and evaluation of Lewis, in certain intangible ways, but these qualities can have a very real impact in how he responds to this challenge. He'll be more than two years removed from playing competitively when he takes the field next spring – or maybe this winter – but has the natural talent to get back up to speed quickly. And "speed" really is the key word: even after knee surgery, he'll be one of the fastest and most athletic prospects in the game. Lewis is a dynamic talent who will likely end up at one of the most important defensive positions on the field – shortstop or center – and should be relatively productive at one of those spots even if his offensive shortcomings are not fully resolved. If the Twins do hope to rebound back into contention next year, they may need to ask quite a bit of their No. 1 prospect, as well as the other four we just profiled. One commonality you will notice among this reshaped top five: They're all 22 or 23 years old, with ETAs of 2022. These players are all verging on big-league ready and in most cases, health is the only significant barrier to surpass. 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  17. Minnesota’s Front Office Philosophy Thad Levine and Derek Falvey were brought together in Minnesota four winters ago. In that time, the front office has been able to rebuild an organization that had lost 92+ games in five of the previous six seasons. They have been shrewd to hang on to their top prospects with Brusdar Graterol’s trade being the lone exception and the Twins are likely happy with their return in that deal. Having one of baseball’s best farm systems is a key to sustainable contention. Minnesota’s current crop of regulars was moving through the farm system back in 2015-16, which saw them ranked as one of MLB’s top-five farm systems. Since the new front office took over, the Twins have moved back into the top 10 with prospects like Alex Kirilloff, Royce Lewis, and Jhoan Duran ready to make a big-league impact. Even with those players getting close, other key pieces like Byron Buxton and Jose Berrios can reach free agency in the coming years so it becomes a roster balancing act. Entering the 2019 season, Thad Levine was asked about signing one of the big free agent options (Bryce Harper and Manny Machado), but he felt those moves are for teams trying to put their “foot down” and not “trying to wrench a window of opportunity open.” Last winter, the window was open, and the Twins spent big money on Josh Donaldson. Now the Twins can look to the not-so-distant past for a glimpse into their own future. Kansas City’s Approach Kansas City is a lower revenue team, and in recent memory they saw their window open and jumped at the opportunity. KC’s front office used a slash and burn approaching by trading away pieces from one of baseball’s top farm systems. The results are hard to argue with as Kansas City won back-to-back AL pennants along with taking home the 2015 World Series crown. As the old adage goes, flags fly forever, but what are the long-term costs? Looking back on those seasons, Kansas City wasn’t sure how long their window would be open. “You owe it to your fans and your city,” said Royals General Manager Dayton Moore. “You owe it to your ownership and all the people who’ve worked so hard to get your franchise to a certain point.” He capitalized at the right time, but things haven’t gone as smooth in recent years. Since their title run, Kansas City has yet to post a .500 record and things aren’t exactly looking bright for 2021. Their farm system ranks in the middle of the pack with some top tier talent, but they are still trying to rebuild after trading away pieces for their title run. Would Twins fans want the front office to follow a similar approach and go all-in for one or two seasons of success? Baseball’s Harshly Cyclical Nature Kansas City isn’t the only team to see their window close after multiple winning seasons but not all teams end up walking away with a title. Detroit won the AL Central for four consecutive seasons from 2011-14 and they made World Series runs in 2006 and 2012. During that time, they handed out big contracts and traded away top prospects to keep their window open. The team was trying to end a title drought that stretches back further than the Twins (1984). Recently, Detroit has struggled to be relevant again as they have posted sub-.400 winning percentages for four consecutive seasons. "At some point, some teams get into an all-win-now mode because they're right there," Tigers general manager Al Avila said. "It's very hard to get into the playoffs. It's very hard to get into the World Series, much more even to win it. When you feel you have that chance, you've got to go for it." Toronto made back-to-back ALCS runs in 2015-16 with sluggers like Jose Bautista, Josh Donaldson, and Edwin Encarnacion anchoring their line-up. The Blue Jays added veterans like David Price and Troy Tulowitzki to try and get them over the hump, but they never made it to the Fall Classic. Since then, they have lost 86+ games for three straight seasons before finishing above .500 in 2020. Forbes baseball writer Maury Brown believes MLB expects windows to be open for roughly five years. Low revenue clubs can expect to be a little shorter and higher revenue clubs can expect to be a little longer. Multiple prospects need to hit at the same time and the organization needs to make appropriate supplemental moves, but he feels confident the league likes to tout five years as a bit of a “standard.” Minnesota’s revenue is considered in the middle to lower end of baseball, so the time might be now for the Twins to act. The Twins window is clearly open, but it might close faster than fans would like. How long do you think Minnesota’s window will stay open? Should the team go all-in? 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
  18. There are a lot of pressures that come with having the draft’s first pick and that pressure was felt by the newly hired front office duo of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Multiple names were in the conversation for first overall pick and two of the top-five picks have already made their big-league debuts. Let’s see what the Twins passed over to take Lewis. Royce Lewis, Pick 1- Minnesota Twins Lewis is out for all of 2021 after needing to undergo ACL surgery this spring. That being said, he is only 22 years old, and his future still looks promising. When he was last on the field, he won MVP honors in the Arizona Fall League after hitting .353/.411/.565 (.975) with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. This was on the heels of a 2019 season that saw him reach Double-A, but he also struggled offensively as he combined for a .661 OPS. He entered the 2021 season as a top-35 prospect on all three major national rankings. At Twins Daily, he was ranked as the organization’s number two overall prospect behind Alex Kirilloff. Hunter Greene, Pick 2- Cincinnati Reds Leading into the draft, Greene was on the cover of Sports Illustrated comparing him to Lebron James and Babe Ruth. No pressure, right? As a teenager, he could hit over 100 mph so there was plenty to be excited about. His first two professional seasons didn’t exactly go perfectly as he struggled with command while striking out a ton of batters. Then an elbow injury struck, and he underwent Tommy John surgery which means this year was his first back on the mound since 2018. At Double-A this season, Greene is almost four years younger than the average age of the competition. He’s also living up to his high draft status for the first time. In six starts (35 innings), he has a 2.31 ERA with a 51 to 10 strikeout to walk ratio. Greene has yet to face a batter younger than himself and he has held hitters to a .541 OPS. MLB.com was the only major prospect ranking to include Greene coming into the season and that will likely change heading into 2022. MacKenzie Gore, Pick 3- San Diego Padres Gore didn’t make the cover of Sports Illustrated as an amateur, but he might wind up being the best high school pitcher taken in 2017. Entering the 2021 season, Gore was considered a top-12 prospect in baseball by all three major rankings. In his last full season (2019), he split time between High-A and Double-A. For the season, he posted a 1.69 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP while striking out 12 batters per nine innings. So far in 2021, he has made four starts at Triple-A and there have been some struggles as he has allowed 11 earned runs in 16 2/3 innings. He’s also dealing with a blister issue that has kept him from making all his turns in the rotation. It’s early in the season and he is a 22-year-old getting his first taste of Triple-A. His future still looks bright. Brendan McKay, Pick 4- Tampa Bay Rays McKay was an intriguing amateur as he was a two-way player during his collegiate career at Louisville. When it came to the draft, some teams saw him as a pitcher and other’s saw him as a hitter. As the draft approached, he was interested in going to an organization that would continue to allow him to continue be a two-way player. There have been some mixed results, so far in his professional career. As a hitter, he has combined for a .679 OPS throughout his minor league career. At the big-league level, he has gone 2-for-10 with a home run and a walk. McKay was a powerful hitter in college as he posted a .966 OPS in three collegiate seasons, so his bat hasn’t lived up to the hype. As a pitcher, he has posted a 1.78 ERA with a 0.84 WHIP with 226 strikeouts in 172 minor league innings. His big-league appearances (13 games) have resulted in a 5.14 ERA and a 1.41 WHIP. He has yet to make a pitching appearance this season after having season-ending shoulder surgery in August 2020. Obviously, it is going to take years to know if Lewis was the right pick. With the Twins pitching struggles, some of the other arms look intriguing in retrospect. Twins fans can hope that Lewis ends up being a multi-time All-Star that is the face of the franchise. If you could go back and make the pick, would Lewis be your first choice? 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
  19. 5. Misael Urbina, OF Current/Future Speed: 60/50 Urbina was the Twins top international signee back in the 2018 and he has continued his physical development since joining the organization. He currently comes in at 6-foot-0 and 175 pounds, which is stocky when it comes to the speed tool. Most scouting reports peg him as being a plus runner and he has shown the ability to steal bases and play terrific outfield defense. He has yet to make his debut in a stateside league, but that will likely change in 2021. 4. Keoni Cavaco, SS Current/Future Speed: 60/55 When the Twins drafted Cavaco, his athleticism was something that saw him rise quickly into the first round. He flashed plus speed entering the draft and those skills translated to his first professional season. According to reports out of the instructional leagues, Cavaco spent last year’s shutdown working on his conditioning and physical make-up. Now he is leaner this should only help his athleticism. It’s also scary to think what that could mean for his plus running skills. His body is going to continue to grow, and this can lead to him to losing some speed. The Twins are going to try and keep him at shortstop, but his size might result in a shift to third base. 3. Gilberto Celestino, OF Current Speed: 60/60 Celestino is a name Twins fans will get very familiar with in the coming years, especially since Byron Buxton’s future is up in the air. Celestino can be the heir apparent to Buxton since the team’s current centerfielder only has two more years of team control. Celestino’s stock has really taken off since coming to the Twins as part of the Ryan Pressly deal. He uses his speed to exhibit plus range in the outfield and he can play all three outfield positions. As gets more experience, his ability to steal bases should improve and he continues to add speed as he has grown into his body. Out of the players on this list, he has the best chance to keep his current speed ranking long-term. 2. Will Holland, SS Current/Future Speed: 65/60 Holland fell to the Twins in the fifth round of the 2019 Draft, but it might have been a blessing in disguise for the organization. He dropped in the draft because of a poor performance during his junior season at Auburn and his pro debut didn’t go much better. His speed helps him on both sides of the ball as his physical tools allow him to play shortstop and second base. Currently, Holland might be the fastest player in the organization because the top player on this list will be out for all of 2021. He has worked with his swing throughout the minor league shutdown, so he has plenty to prove when the new season gets underway. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Current Speed: 70/60 Twins fans may have gotten spoiled with Buxton as he is one of the fastest players at the big-league level. Lewis might not be quite at the same level as Buxton, but he still has blazing fast speed (see Tom’s highlight video below). His recent knee injury might be cause for concern because he might lose a step or two as he recovers. Even considering his injury, he is head and shoulders above the rest of the players on this list when it comes to speed. His best runs times from home to first are under four seconds and there are few players that can do that in professional baseball. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Hit Tool Prospects -Power Tool Prospects 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. Top Minnesota Twins prospect Royce Lewis slipped on some ice when a freak snowstorm hit his home state of Texas. When he got to Spring Training, he was diagnosed with a torn ACL. The Injury Gods took notice. “This took them by surprise too,” said a source close to the Gods, who requested anonymity in order to avoid being catapulted into the Swamp of Dread and Biting Things. “A snowstorm in Houston was not on their radar, and bear in mind they trapped Marty Cordova in a tanning bed because they were bored on a Thursday.” This bonus misfortune is said to be spurring the Injury Gods to inflict even greater anguish on long-suffering Twins fans. “When something like that falls in your lap you can really build an avalanche of pain and perfect grief,” said the source. “If They play this right, the agony promises to be even more exquisite than last year’s playoff exit. “You don’t expect to see Jontu of the Poison Wind smiling. He’s older than time itself. But He’s like a kid out there, just looking at Minnesota’s deep roster of young talent and noting how fragile their tendons and ligaments truly are.” While it’s impossible to know what the Old Ones have planned in specific, a second source tells Twins Daily to expect the unexpected. “Look, it’s not going to be a pulled hamstring running out a grounder,” said the source. “It’s not going to be a pitcher feeling something tighten when he throws a fastball. That is played out. This is Minnesota. They’re going to make it hurt and make it confusing. Why did a Dodge Charger just fall on Alex Kirilloff? He’s standing in the dugout. How’d a car even get in there? Why is the stereo playing ‘Butterfly’ by Crazy Town? You’ll go to your grave never knowing. Alex will retire at 28 to become a gardener and his left elbow will always hurt when it rains.” The source also speculated that They would not limit their attention to the state’s baseball team. “Oh, They’re quite aware of the Minnesota Vikings,” said the source. “Torvald the Bleak calls them His finest work. Who do you think guaranteed all that money to Kirk Cousins?”
  21. This was supposed to be a critical year for Royce Lewis. Back in 2019, he struggled for the first time in his professional career as the Twins were aggressive and pushed him up to Double-A. He was projected to head back to that level in 2021 with a chance to make his big-league debut before season’s end. Unfortunately, that won’t be the case and Lewis will go over 900 days without getting a professional at-bat. Minnesota is no stranger to top prospects being hit by the injury bug. Alex Kirilloff, Twins Daily’s highest rank Twins prospect, missed the entire 2017 campaign due to Tommy John surgery. Even with the missed season, he came back with a vengeance in 2018 as he was one of MiLB’s best hitters that season. Obviously, Kirilloff was able to recover and put himself back on the prospect map, which is something Twins fans can hope for with Lewis. Before Lewis and Kirilloff, Byron Buxton was widely considered the team’s top prospect and many national rankings had him as one of the baseball’s best prospects. Buxton’s injury history has been well documented as he was limited to 103 combined games between his third and fourth professional seasons. Those injury woes have followed him to the big-league level as he as he has only had one season where he has played more than 95 games. Prior to Buxton, Miguel Sano was the team’s top prospect, and he was widely considered one of baseball’s top-10 prospects. He was forced to miss all his age-21 season after needing Tommy John surgery. It still didn’t stop him from making his big-league debut the very next year and he’s been with the Twins ever since. Kyle Gibson had a short stint as the Twins’ best prospect, and he seemed to be rocketing to the MLB level. Entering the 2011 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-55 prospects. Unfortunately, he had Tommy John surgery in November 2011 and wouldn’t be back until the end of the 2012 season. Going further back, there certainly more examples of prospects hit by the injury bug. Francisco Liriano famously blew out his elbow while the 2006 Twins seemed like they would have been unstoppable in the playoffs. Joe Mauer’s career started on a bad note as he needed knee surgery shortly into his rookie campaign. One player some people might forget is Jason Kubel. He seemed destined to be a middle of the order power bat that could bring above average defense at multiple outfield positions. Entering the 2005 season, Baseball America ranked him as baseball’s 17th overall prospect. He was able to return from injury and have a decade long big-league career, but his outlooked was significantly changed after his leg injury. Many of the players on this list went on to have solid big-league careers, but there will also be questions about what could have been. How good could Kubel have been? Would the Twins have won the 2006 World Series with a healthy Liriano? How much better would Mauer’s numbers look with another full season? Lewis finds himself among some of the best Twins players in recent memory, but it is a list that he never wanted to join. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. MLB.com tried to identify the top players under 25 under an interesting premise. “If you were starting a team today, and you were able to choose only from players under 25 years old -- that’s Major League stars and Minor League prospects, just so long as they aren’t past their age-24 season in 2021 -- who would you pick?” It can be a tough exercise, especially with Minnesota’s deep farm system. 5. Royce Lewis, SS (21-years old) Lewis might be the team’s second-best prospect, but his recently announced knee surgery puts a hold on his development. There were already questions about his swing and his long-term defensive position. Those questions will remain, especially after not playing a professional game in 2020 or 2021. The potential is there, the work ethic is there, and he projects to be a building block piece in the future. For now, the Twins are going to be left looking for other shortstop options as they wait for Lewis to return to the field. 4. Jhoan Duran, RHP (23-years old) Minnesota’s front office was confident Duran would debut in 2020, but then the pandemic shortened the season. He worked at the Twins alternate site last season and reports continue to be positive. Here at Twins Daily, Duran is the organization’s highest ranked pitching prospect. With a fastball that hits triple-digits and a unique splinker pitch, Duran is one of the most intriguing prospects to come through the Twins organization. He has the making of four above average pitches and the Twins hope he is a pitcher they can build their rotation around for years to come. 3. Ryan Jeffers, C (23-years old) Jeffers is half of one of baseball’s best catching duos and he’s six and a half years younger than Mitch Garver. Because Garver was a late bloomer, the Twins have team control of both players for multiple seasons. Jeffers was Twins Daily’s number four overall prospect and it’s clear to see why people should be excited about him. He has some of the best catch framing skills in baseball and it is going to be intriguing to see how his numbers play over the course of 162-games. Jeffers needs to prove his offensive numbers weren’t a fluke from 2020, but he was known as a hitter out of college. 2. Luis Arraez, UTL (24-years old) Arraez is moving to a utility role for 2021, but there’s no question that Rocco Baldelli will find way to insert him into the line-up on a regular basis. Even though he was hobbled in 2020, he still managed to post a .321 batting average, which means he has a career .331 batting average in 124 big-league games. On many other teams, Arraez would be in the everyday starting line-up, but he’s only one injury away from finding himself back in a fulltime role. FanGraph’s ZiPS projects him to win the AL batting title and it will be Baldelli’s job to make sure he gets enough plate appearances to qualify. 1. Alex Kirilloff, OF (23-years old) Kirilloff is the type of player any team would like to build their franchise around. He had tremendous make-up and a sweet swing that is hard to ignore. MLB.com will likely include him on their top-25 list entering next season after baseball gets a longer look at Minnesota’s top prospect. One of the few questions that remains is whether or not Kirilloff will be on the Opening Day roster. Minnesota’s winning window is open and that’s one of the strongest reasons to have Kirilloff be in the line-up from day one. How good can he be in his age-23 campaign? Other Potential Names (Ages): Jordan Balazovic (22), Trevor Larnach (24), Aaron Sabato (21), Gilberto Celestino (22), Matt Canterino (23), Edwar Colina (23) Would you put any of these other names on the list? Should Lewis drop off because of his injury? 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
  23. Royce Lewis was the Twins top pick in the 2017, the #1 overall pick out of JSerra Catholic High School. He had a strong pro debut that year in the GCL and at Cedar Rapids. He began the 2018 season on an immensely-talented Kernels team. Shortly after the All Star break, he was promoted to Ft. Myers where he helped the MIracle to a Florida State League title. In 2019, he split the season between Ft. Myers and Double-A Pensacola. Following the season, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he was named the league's MVP. Lewis has been the Twins Daily Twins Top Prospect the past three years, and you'll find out next week if he retains that title. This week, he was named as a Non-Roster invite to Twins spring training for the third time. He has been a frequent guest on podcasts and was a guest in December on a Twins Spotlight discussing the impact Torii Hunter has had on him and our other guests that night (Jacque Jones, Niko Guardado). Check that out here. Join us live at 5:30 tonight to watch, and participate by sending your questions. We'll cover a ton of topics and take your questions as well. ------------------------------------------------------------------- Please watch LIVE at 5:30 pm (central time) Thursday night on the Twins Daily Twitter, Facebook or YouTube pages live. Also feel free to ask questions in the comments below or on those platforms during the show and we'll ask them. Subscribe to the Twins Daily podcast on Libsyn, Apple iTunes or anywhere you download podcasts. Here is the YouTube link where you can watch the show. For More on Royce Lewis: Follow Royce on Instagram at @roycelewis. You can also follow his YouTube page. Previous Episodes Click here to see more previous episodes of Twins Spotlight. Episode 13: Edwar Colina Episode 14: Tyler Wells Episode 15: Sawyer Gipson-Long Episode 16: Adam Bray Episode 17: Chris Vallimont Episode 18: Ben Gross Episode 19: Regi Grace Episode 20: Louie Varland Episode 21: Max Smith Episode 22: Zander Wiel Episode 23: Blayne Enlow Episode 24: Royce Lewis
  24. As per usual, the team’s non-roster invitations are an interesting combination of veterans competing for jobs at Triple-A and to make an impression should a need come later in the season, and prospects, who are getting seen by the big-league coaches and trying to just make an impression. Some of the players will be participating in what's being called the Depth Camp. Because there is MLB camp and the MLB and AAA seasons will be starting in about six weeks and Double-A and down won't start their spring training until MLB camp is over, they are bringing in extra players. (At the end of each profile, we will point out if the player is a Non-Roster Invite (NRI) or a minor league Depth player (Depth).) THE MINOR LEAGUE VETERANS C Tomás Telis (29) - Telis has played in 122 games in the big leagues for the Rangers and Marlins between 2014 and 2018. With the Rochester Red Wings in 2019, he hit .330/.3364/.490 (.854) with 21 doubles and eight homers. He spent the 2020 season in St. Paul. (NRI) SS Tzu-Wei Lin (27) - Lin signed with the Red Sox out of Taiwan in June of 2012 and played in 101 games for Boston from 2017-2020. He hit just .223/.298/.316 (.614) with nine doubles, three triples and a home run over 2018 plate appearances. He is known for his defense at shortstop. (NRI) IF Drew Maggi (31) - 2019 was Maggi's tenth season in pro baseball. Between Pensacola and Rochester, he hit .258/.380/.407 (.788) with 23 doubles and 11 homers. He was a non-roster invite of the Twins in 2020 as well. (Depth) IF JT Riddle (29) - The slick-fielding infielder debuted with the Marlins in 2017 and played in 223 games for them over the next three seasons. In 2020, he played in 23 games for the Pirates. He has hit a combined .222/.261/.355 (.616) with 31 doubles and 19 homers in his MLB time. He is tremendous with the glove at shortstop, something the Twins brass clearly has prioritized this offseason. (NRI) OF Keon Broxton (30) - The speedy centerfielder has played in 376 big league games between 2015 when he debuted with seven games with the Pirates and 2019 with Seattle. In between, he played with the Mets, Orioles and 269 games with the Brewers. In 2017, he played in 143 games in Milwaukee and hit .220 with 15 doubles, 20 homers and 21 stolen bases. (NRI) OF Rob Refsnyder (29) - Refsnyder has played in 181 games over parts of five MLB seasons between 2015 and 2020. He has played at least 30 games at second base, left field, first base and right field. He has played in the big leagues for the Yankees, Blue Jays, Rays and Rangers (2020). (NRI) LHP Andrew Albers (35) - The Twins signed Andrew Albers way back in 2012 out of independent league baseball. He made his MLB debut in 2013 and tossed 17 ⅓ scoreless innings to start his career. He pitched in Korea in 2014. Then he pitched in a game for Toronto in 2015. He returned to the Twins in 2016 and pitched in six games. In 2017, he went 5-1 with a 3.51 ERA in nine games with the Mariners. He has now spent the past three years pitching in Japan. He signed back with the Twins last week. (NRI) LHP Danny Coulombe (31) - Coulombe made his MLB debut in 2014 with the Dodgers and spent part of 2015 with them too. He was traded to the A’s and pitched out of their bullpen through the 2018 season. He was injured and didn’t pitch in 2019. The Twins signed him before the 2020 season and he pitched in two games (2.2 scoreless innings) for the team last summer. (NRI) LHP Brandon Waddell (26) - Waddell was the Pirates fifth round draft pick from the U of Virginia in 2015. He made his MLB debut in 2020, pitching 3 1/3 innings over two games. The Twins claimed him shortly after the end of the 2020 season and DFAd him last week. He cleared waivers and will remain in the organization. (NRI) RHP Luke Farrell (29) - Farrell is the son of former Blue Jays and Red Sox manager John Farrell. He has pitched for the Royals, Reds, Cubs and Rangers over the past five seasons. He has pitched in 63 innings and 43 games in the big leagues. (NRI) RHP Ian Hamilton (25) - Hamilton was the White Sox 11th round pick in 2015 from Washington State. He debuted with ten games in 2018, and then after some injury and bad luck in 2019, he pitched in four games for Chicago in 2020. Since the end of the season, he has been DFAd by the White Sox and claimed by the Mariners, DFAd by the Mariners and claimed by the Phillies, DFAd by the Phillies and claimed by the Twins, DFAd by the Twins, cleared waivers and will stay in the Twins organization. RHP Derek Law (30) - Law did not pitch in the big leagues in 2020, but he was a frequently-used bullpen arm the previous four seasons. In 2016, he debuted with 61 games for the Giants. He pitched in 41 games the following year. He pitched just seven games in 2018, but then he went to the Blue Jays in 2019 and pitched in 58 games. He has 164 career strikeouts in 166 1/3 innings. (NRI) RHP Robinson Leyer (27) - Leyer made his MLB debut with the Red Sox in 2020. He gave up 11 runs on 12 hits, eight walks and nine strikeouts in 4 2/3 innings. (Depth) RHP Juan Minaya (30) - Minaya pitched in 125 games for the White Sox between 2016 and 2019. He has 142 strikeouts over 128 1/3 innings in his MLB career. He even has ten saves. He signed with the Twins before the 2020 season and spent the summer at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. In fact, he was called up to the Twins active roster once, but he didn’t get into a game. He re-signed with the team. (NRI) RHP Chandler Shepherd (28) - Shepherd worked 19 innings in 2019 for the Baltimore Orioles and posted a 6.63 ERA. (Depth) RHP Glenn Sparkman (28) - Another veteran pitcher, half of Sparkman’s 52 career MLB games have been starts. Most of them came in 2019 when he went 4-11 with a 6.02 ERA in 31 games (23 starts). He pitched in four games out of the Royals bullpen in 2020. (NRI) THE PROSPECTS C David Banuelos (24) - Banuelos came to the Twins from the Mariners for international spending dollars in late 2017. A very strong defensive catcher, he split 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. (NRI) C Caleb Hamilton (26) - The Twins 23rd round pick in 2016 from Oregon State, he transitioned to the catcher position, though he can also play all around the diamond. He spent 2019 with the Blue Wahoos, though he also played 11 games in Rochester. He was invited to big-league camp a year ago and participated throughout the summer in St. Paul. (NRI) C Alex Isola (22) - Isola was the Twins 29th round pick in 2019 out of Texas Christian University. He split that summer between Elizabethton (7 games) and Cedar Rapids (18 games) and hit a combined .309 with five doubles and three homers. (Depth) C Kyle Schmidt (23) - Schmidt was the Twins 33rd round pick in 2019 from the U. of Richmond. He played that summer in the GCL, at Elizabethton and in Cedar Rapids. He is a defense-first catcher. (Depth) C/1B Chris Williams (24) - Williams was the Twins eight-round pick in 2018 out of Clemson. He was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Hitter of the Year that year. In 2019, he split time between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers and hit 11 homers. He went to Twins Instructional League in 2020. (Depth) SS Royce Lewis (21) - The top pick in the 2017 draft, Lewis finished the 2019 season at Double-A Pensacola and then was the Arizona Fall League MVP. He spent 2020 in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. This is his third big league spring training. (NRI) IF Jose Miranda (22) - Miranda was the Twins second, second-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Puerto Rico. He has consistently moved up one level each year. In 2019, he played in Ft. Myers before going 3-for-5 in his one game at Pensacola. He went to Instructional League in 2020 and then hit .302/.377/.472 (.849) with six doubles and a homer in Puerto Rico this winter and participated in the Caribbean Series. (Depth) 1B Aaron Sabato (21) - The Twins top pick a year ago from North Carolina can mash. In his 83 college games over the past two seasons, he hit a combined .332/.459/.698 (1.158) with 31 doubles and 25 homers. (Depth) 1B Zander Wiel (28) - Wiel was the Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. In 2019 at AAA Rochester, he hit .254 with 40 doubles, five triples and 24 home runs. He earned an invitation to Twins spring training last year and participated in the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. (Depth) OF Trevor Larnach (23) - The Twins first-round pick in 2018 from Oregon State, Larnach also spent 2020 working at CHS Field, the Twins alternate site. In 2019, he was the Twins (and Twins Daily) Minor League Hitter of the Year. He also was the Florida State League MVP. This is his second spring training at big-league camp. (NRI) LHP Charlie Barnes (25) - The southpaw was the Twins 4th round pick in 2017 out of Clemson. In 2019, he pitched at Ft. Myers, Pensacola and Rochester. He earned an invitation to big-league camp a year ago and ended 2020 with a couple of weeks at the alternate site in St. Paul. (NRI) LHP Andrew Vasquez (27) - Vasquez was the Twins 32nd round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College. He had an incredible 2018 season, pitching at four levels and ending the season with five innings in the big leagues. He made one appearance in 2019 before being DFAd. (Depth) RHP Matt Canterino (23) - Canterino was the Twins second-round pick in 2019 out of Rice University. He debuted with two games in the GCL before making five starts in Cedar Rapids (1-1, 1.35 ERA in 20 innings). He participated in St. Paul last summer for a couple of weeks before going to Ft. Myers for Instructional League. (Depth) RHP Griffin Jax (26) - Jax was the Twins third-round pick in 2016 out of the Air Force Academy. His story has been well chronicled. He pitched in Pensacola in 2019 and also made three starts in Rochester. Combined, he posted a 2.90 ERA in 127 1/3 innings. He was invited to big-league camp in 2020. (NRI) RHP Tom Hackimer (26) - Hackimer was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2016 out of St. John’s. After missing much of the 2018 season with biceps surgery, he returned in 2019 and went 6-2 with a 2.54 ERA in 36 games between Ft. Myers and Pensacola. He went to Instructional League in 2020. Depth) RHP Ryan Mason (26) - Mason was the Twins 13th round pick in 2016 out of Cal-Berkeley. In 2018, between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, he went 10-3 with seven saves and a 2.77 ERA. In 2019, he pitched in just 15 games for Double-A Pensacola. He went 2-0 with seven saves and a 2.35 ERA, but missed time due to some injury. (Depth) RHP Josh Winder (24) - Winder was the Twins seventh-round pick in 2018 from Virginia Military Institute. He made 21 starts in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 125 2/3 innings. He impressed at Instructional League last year, flashing a 97 mph fastball. (Depth) Combining the 40-man roster players with the invites, here are the players who will be participating in Twins Spring Training. https://twitter.com/Nashwalker9/status/1361365233395097600
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