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  1. Austin Martin was billed as a tremendous hitter with an unknown defensive future when he was taken 5th overall in the 2020 draft. Martin’s minor league career got off to a good but strange start offensively, and the defensive questions quickly grew before being traded to the Twins during the summer following his draft selection. A year and a half later, the Twins are left with more questions than answers. Martin was immediately placed in Double-A with Toronto due to what was seen as an advanced plate approach, and he rewarded them with a 133 wRC+ in his 56 games before being traded. His overall body of work looked like he not only belonged, but that he could shoot up the minors and debut in the MLB in short order. So why would Toronto trade such a player? Martin walked an incredible 14.8% of the time and only struck out 21.2% of the time with Toronto. His .281 batting average and .424 OBP were very impressive. If you’ve followed Twins prospects, however, you likely know the question with Martin was always his power. He slugged just .383 in his debut, a total power outage that was exacerbated by Toronto’s lack of belief in his ability to stick in the middle of the field defensively. He committed 10 errors in just 26 games at shortstop with Toronto before they started moving him around the diamond. The Twins saw an opportunity to buy a player who was losing the faith of the team that drafted him. They traded Jose Berrios for Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. They gave Martin the keys to shortstop in Double-A and began attempting to retool his swing. In his year and a half in the Twins system, Martin’s prospect stock has declined significantly. After finishing 2021 similarly to how he started, Martin completely cratered in 2022. His slash line of .241/.367/.315 was 11% below league average in Double-A. He stole an impressive 34 bases in 90 games, but his walk rate didn’t reach 2021 levels and his power declined even further. He committed 18 errors at shortstop in just 70 games, and by year’s end, it appeared the Austin Martin shortstop experiment had come to an end. He had dealt with hand issues throughout the season which surely held him back to some extent, but his struggles dropped him out of any top 100 prospects list you can find. So what could Austin Martin’s future hold? Of note, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time in 2022 and dominated to the tune of a .374/.454/.482 slash line, stealing 10 bases in just 21 games. It’s possible he was finally healthy and some of those swing changes finally showed themselves. If he can utilize his contact and walk ability and slug even .400, he’s likely to find himself at the door of the Major Leagues in short order at the age of 24. Still, significant questions persist. The Twins have yet to find a position that Martin can play well after spending nearly all of 2022 coming to the conclusion that shortstop isn’t an option. A rational pivot would be to move him across the bag to second base. Unfortunately for Martin, it’s hard to see him finding everyday playing time there in the near future between Jorge Polanco and a mix of prospects such as Edouard Julien, Brooks Lee, etc. who have all blown past Martin in their development. He also doesn’t appear to be a great candidate for any corner infield or outfield spots due to his lack of power and overall questions offensively. Look for the Twins to give Martin some legitimate run in centerfield in 2023. He was always viewed as a freak athlete, and perhaps this would translate better on the grass than it did in the dirt. With players like Gilberto Celestino failing to grab ahold of the job to back up Buxton, Martin could carve out a role for himself quickly if the Twins like what they see. If he can rebound offensively he can have a role in MLB very soon. The longevity of his career and how consistently he’s in the starting lineup will depend on where he can settle in defensively. It’s hard to say Austin Martin’s time in Minnesota has not gone as planned, and his outlook is at an all-time low for his young career. For now, he’s no longer anywhere close to one of the Twins top prospects with so many questions to be answered in his overall game. Still, his Arizona Fall League offered a look at the talent he still possesses and it’s fair to hold out hope for a rebound in 2023 based on health alone. Will 2023 be a rebound season for Martin? What level of MLB player do you think he’ll be at this point in his career? Let us know below!
  2. If you like, you can quickly catch up on the ground rules for this exercise in the first installment. The short version is this that we're attempting to rank Twins players and prospects through a big-picture lens in asking: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? Here in this second installment, breaking down my picks for #11 through #15, we find an interesting cross-section of rising and falling stocks. It feels like there's a lot at stake here; a couple of true breakthroughs at this level would profoundly impact the franchise's future fortunes. First, a recap of the list as it stands, from Part 1: 20. Matt Wallner, OF 19. Louie Varland, RHP 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 16. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 11 through 15 15. Ryan Jeffers, C 2022 Ranking: 10 Good major-league catchers are really hard to find. The offseason market is typically sparse; this year the Twins were happy to land a reliably average veteran in Christian Vazquez on a three-year deal that – while reasonable – could hardly be described as team-favorable. Even with Vazquez's addition, catching depth is sparse in the Twins system, which is why Jeffers remains a fairly vital if unexciting asset for the organization. Two straight sub-par offensive seasons have tempered expectations, but the defensively-acclaimed Jeffers remains heir apparent behind the plate, with the Twins surely hoping he'll have emerged as primary starter by the tail end of Vazquez's contract. 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 2022 Ranking: 12 Around this time last year, we were wondering if Larnach's fade during a promising rookie season in 2021 meant he was hitting a wall or merely enduring a speed-bump in his development. The good news is that he fueled the "speed-bump" narrative in 2022 ... at least for a while. Larnach emerged as one of the best hitters in the lineup, earning his way into the heart of the order by June, but a worsening groin/core injury tanked his performance leading up to surgery that ended his season halfway through. There's no reason to believe that particular issue will be a factor going forward, and Larnach in general stands out as a player who figures to benefit from a fresh leadership voice on the training staff. Last year's performance, when healthy, left little doubt as to his viability as a starting outfielder in the big leagues – but at the same time, he hasn't firmly established himself as such and turns 26 in February. 13. Austin Martin, SS/OF 2022 Ranking: 5 Martin's huge regression at Double-A was one of the top headlines for the Twins system in 2022. He'd emerged as arguably their top prospect – centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade and OBP wizard extraordinaire – but his bat went silent in a follow-up at the same level where he'd spent the entire previous year. While remaining true to his trademark calling card – namely, a knack for getting on base via the BB or HBP and then wreaking havoc as an aggressive runner – Martin batted just .241 with a .316 slugging percentage in his encore at Wichita. He managed two home runs in 90 games. Meanwhile, we gained no real clarity on his defensive future, as he continued to make nearly all of his starts at shortstop, where no one expects him to play in the majors. With all that being said, Martin is still the same player he was a year ago, when he ranked #5 on this list, as well as #1 on our top prospects list and consensus top-50 status on global lists. It feels rash to drop him more than eight spots here in response to one tough season at age 23. In the wake of said tough season, Martin did put together a very encouraging showing in the Arizona Fall League, slashing .374/.454/.482 with six doubles and a homer in 21 games. Something to build upon heading into a crucial 2023 campaign. 12. Connor Prielipp, LHP 2022 Ranking: NR The Twins need to hit big on a premium arm in the draft. It's been a persistent sore spot for this front office. Yes, they've managed to develop some late-round picks like Bailey Ober, Louie Varland and Josh Winder into capable big-league starters, but in seven years, they haven't jumped on a high-end pitcher at the top of the draft and developed him into a frontline stud – and that's really what it feels like this franchise most desperately needs. Prielipp has a real chance to finally break through as that guy. Easily enough said for a player who's yet to throw a professional inning, I realize. But in naming him Minnesota's most intriguing pick in last year's draft, The Athletic notes that before blowing out his elbow in the spring of 2021, "Prielipp was a consensus top-10 draft prospect with a chance to pitch himself into the No. 1 pick conversation." He was fully rehabbed from Tommy John surgery by the time Minnesota selected him 48th overall, but didn't see any official action last year. Baseball America already rates his slider as the best in the Twins system, even though he's yet to technically throw one as part of it. Obviously there's a fair amount of risk attached to Prielipp, and that's why the University of Alabama product lasted into the second round of the draft, but you won't find much more pure upside in a collegiate pitcher draft pick. The Twins really need this one to click. 11. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 2022 Ranking: 18 Earlier I mentioned that Martin's step backward was one of the top headlines in the Twins system last year. The flip side is that Woods Richardson's emergence was another of the top headlines, and – given he came over in the same trade package – it helps take some of the sting out of Martin's drop-off. Whereas Martin stumbled at Double-A after thriving there the previous year, Woods Richardson had the opposite experience. He found his footing in a second turn at Wichita, posting a 3.06 ERA over 70 innings, then pitched brilliantly after a promotion to Triple-A where he went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA in seven starts. It all culminated with a late-season MLB debut, making him the youngest pitcher to appear in the big leagues in 2022. He's very polished and it showed at every stop, but at the same time, Woods Richardson's stuff and approach don't quite scream "frontline starter." Not yet. He just turned 22 in September though, so there's plenty of room for growth. With his big 6-foot-3 frame and excellent demeanor for pitching, he's got much to work with.
  3. Multiple names listed below had tremendous stretches during the 2022 season, which is why they are ranked so highly in 2023. Nearly every top-5 Twins prospect has a chance to impact the 2023 big-league roster if everything breaks right. Each player needs to set a resolution for the new year to reach those lofty goals. Royce Lewis , SS/3B/CF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 1 Unfortunately, Lewis won't be ready for spring training after ACL surgery ended his season for the second consecutive year. Expectations are that he will be able to rejoin the club near the middle of the season. Last year, he was electric in his big-league debut by hitting .300/.317/.550 (.867) with four doubles and two home runs in 12 games. There are questions about his long-term defensive home as the Twins moved him to multiple defensive positions last year. After missing out on Correa, the Twins hope Lewis can fill their shortstop void for multiple years. Resolution: Prove he can be a long-term big-league shortstop Brooks Lee , SS Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 2 Minnesota was elated when Lee fell to them with the eighth overall pick since he was arguably the best college bat in the 2022 draft class. He flew through the Twins system during his professional debut by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) across three levels. Lee finished the season at Double-A, where he is expected to begin the 2023 season. Many national prospect rankings have him ranked as the organization's top prospect, even though there are questions about his long-term defensive home. He will have plenty of pressure on his shoulders next season as he works his way through the upper levels of the organization. Resolution: Prove he is the team's top prospect Emmanuel Rodriguez , OF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 3 Rodriguez made his full-season debut in 2022 and had a breakout season. As a 19-year-old, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. Unfortunately, his season ended prematurely after he tore his meniscus, which required surgery. He is expected to be ready for the season's start and has all the skills to be a five-tool player. By this time next year, he will likely be the Twins' top prospect, and he has a chance to be an exceptional player for the long-term. Resolution: Prove that 2022 wasn't a fluke Connor Prielipp , SP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4 The Twins snagged Prielipp in the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft, but he wasn't always expected to fall that far. There was talk of him being a potential number-one overall pick, but he injured his elbow in the first start of his sophomore season. Leading into the draft, he pitched in front of evaluators multiple times to prove he was fully healthy. Prielipp has yet to make his professional debut, and the Twins will take it slow since he was limited to 28 collegiate innings. He still has unbelievable upside, and the Twins hope he is a long-term answer for the rotation in the years ahead. Resolution: Prove he can be a top-of-the-rotation starter Simeon Woods Richardson , SP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5 Woods Richardson broke out in 2022 after struggling for much of the 2021 season. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.053 WHIP with 9.6 K/9 at Double- and Triple-A. By season's end, he made his big-league debut, and the Twins hope he can build off that performance in 2023. Minnesota has yet to add to the rotation this winter, so Woods Richardson has a chance to earn a starting spot coming out of spring training. Other pitchers are ahead of him on the depth chart, so he will need a solid performance to come north with the club. Resolution: Prove he deserves a rotation spot during spring training. Do you agree with these resolutions? What other resolutions should the organization's other top prospects make? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. When the Minnesota Twins hired Derek Falvey to lead their baseball operations department after the 2016 season, they were enticed by the successful pitching pipeline that he helped foster in Cleveland. His former team had just won the American League pennant on the backs of star pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco, as well as depth starters Mike Clevinger, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin. Six years later, that type of pitching pipeline is still taking shape in Minnesota. Many expected to see that door fully opened heading into year number seven, but instead, it appears to be hanging off of two hinges. Those hinges are Simeon Woods Richardson (Twins Daily’s No. 5 prospect) and Louie Varland (No. 7 prospect). That doesn’t mean that the team will require two rookies to lead them to the World Series in order to be successful. But if they fall flat in 2023, or break down, the entire door comes down with them. Two factors work in the Twins’ favor when taking this into account. First, as of today, neither Woods Richardson nor Varland is penciled into the opening day starting rotation. The club isn’t relying on them to make an immediate impact, so they should be able to fine-tune their stuff in Triple-A St. Paul until the club deems them ready. However, there should be an expectation that they play an integral role with the big league club by the second half of the season if all goes well. Second, both pitchers are coming off of very successful and healthy seasons in 2022. Starting with Varland, expectations started to rise last off-season after he was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He went on to dazzle at Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul, twirling 126 innings of 3.06 ERA ball before getting the call to the major leagues. With the Twins, he made five starts, most of which were quite promising. The lone hiccup was a five-inning effort against Cleveland where he allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks. The other four starts were enough to deem his debut cup of coffee as a very promising start to a hopefully long career with the Twins. Woods Richardson wasn’t the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2021 trade deadline, but he was a significant selling point. Austin Martin had more prospect shine at the time, but Woods Richardson’s inclusion pushed the deal across the finish line. This past season was his first full campaign in the Twins’ organization, and he made a really solid impression with his new club. In 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A, the tall righty pitched 107 innings with a sterling 2.77 ERA and 115 strikeouts. That earned him a call to the major leagues in the season’s final week, where he allowed two earned runs across five innings in his MLB debut. So what are reasonable expectations for these promising young starters as we head into a pivotal season for this front-office regime? According to Baseball Savant, Varland’s pitches shared many of the same characteristics as Cleveland’s breakout starter, Cal Quantrill, albeit with a slightly adjusted repertoire. The Guardians’ righty had a terrific 3.38 ERA across 32 starts last year. Does that mean that Varland should be a lock for these results? Of course not. But it’s interesting to see the comparison to somebody currently producing at the end of the pitching pipeline that the Twins are trying to emulate. So in that same vein, is there another pitcher in the Cleveland rotation that could be a possible comparison for Woods Richardson? One of the biggest breakout pitchers in 2022 was Triston McKenzie, who dazzled in 30 starts, pitching to the tune of a 2.96 ERA across 191 innings. It’s hard to expect anything like that out of Woods Richardson in 2023, but he could continue to develop into that caliber of pitcher as his career progresses. Steamer projects him to have a 4.69 ERA, with a 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 2023. His strikeout projection feels low seeing as he had a 9.6 K/9 in the minors just last year, but aside from that, this projection looks rather similar to McKenzie’s first full season at the MLB level in 2021. That year, he had a 4.95 ERA across 24 starts, with a 10.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. While rather unexciting on the surface, that comp feels far more fitting for the 23-year-old rookie. Sure, the Quantrill and McKenzie comparisons are far from perfect, but if Varland and Woods Richardson can prove that they are in a similar mold, it could convince many that the door to an effective pitching pipeline still works. These two are hardly the only promising arms in the Twins’ system. Players such as Jordan Balazovic, David Festa, and Marco Raya all offer different levels of hope that they could turn into contributors at the big league level. But Varland and Woods Richardson are on the cusp of tightening the screws and solidifying themselves in the club’s pitching corps. If they fall flat or succumb to significant injuries much like Josh Winder and Bailey Ober, the door may just fall off the frame.
  5. 2022 was many things for a baseball fan and specifically fans of the Minnesota Twins. The year began with the players locked out by the owners. They reached an agreement in early March and spring training soon began. The Twins were incredibly busy after the lockout ended, signing players left and right. No one could have anticipated the Twins signing Carlos Correa to a record contract. The season began with some optimism, hoping that the 2022 season was the anomaly. Things started well. The team was fairly healthy and found themselves in first place. They remained in that spot until late August when things went downhill in a hurry and injuries caught up. But, we did starting seeing some quality pitching prospects emerge in 2022. Griffin Jax adjusted very well to the bullpen while Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder made the opening day squad. As the season progressed, we saw more and more pitchers debut. In addition, Luis Arraez got some notoriety. He was the AL Batting Average champion, went to his first All-Star game, was a nominee for a Gold Glove, and won his first Silver Slugger Award. Byron Buxton went to his first All Star Game, started and homered. And finally, the offseason has clearly been frustrating for many Twins fan so far. Fortunately, it can still be salvaged. Things went well for Twins Daily as well. After a few years of Covid, and then a lockout, it was difficult to drum up interest in the club. However, our fantastic writing staff put out a ton of excellent content all year and Twins fans found their way here. We had some nice numbers throughout the summer, but December has been a very good month. So, let's take a look back at the Twins 2022 season by looking at which articles were viewed by the most people. It's not an exact representation, but it does take a look at some hot-button topics, some intriguing questions, lots of transactions and analysis and much more that intrigued us all year long. With that, in part 1 we will look back at the articles ranked 16-20 according to Page Views. Share your thoughts and memories on them below. #20 Louie Varland will Make his MLB Debut for Twins on Wednesday September 5 Seth Stohs Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 when he put up great numbers in Low-A Ft. Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids. He began the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita. In early August, he was promoted to Triple-A and had the opportunity to pitch in his hometown, for the St. Paul Saints. He made a handful of starts for the Saints when the Twins had a need for a spot starter. We learned a couple of days ahead of time that Varland would be making his MLB debut for the Twins in Yankees Stadium. We were excited with the news. Twins fans were excited. And Varland came through with a fantastic debut against the Yankees. His first big-league strikeout victim was MVP Aaron Judge. His first big-league home run allowed was to MVP Aaron Judge. All things considered, it was a fantastic debut for Varland. He went 5 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven batters. He left the game with a runner on and one out in the sixth inning. Griffin Jax came on and got Judge to pop out, but Gleyber Torres homered to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. The Twins came back to tie the game and sent it to extra games. Unfortunately, the Yankees won 5-4 in 12 innings. #19 Minnesota’s Return for Berrios Continues to Look Better June 30 Ted Schwerzler As the trade deadline was approaching, Ted took a look back one year to when the Twins traded All Star right-hander Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson. While Martin hasn’t raced to the big leagues as quickly as many thought he might when he was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, but the talent and athleticism is certainly still there. He missed time with injury but made up for it with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Woods Richardson had a strange 2021 season, but after a normal offseason and spring training, he got off to a fast start in 2022. He didn’t give up an earned run for the first month of the season. He missed about a month due to Covid, but he came back strong. Late in the year, he was promoted to Triple-A, and he made one start for the Twins in the season’s final week. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks over five innings. However, he gave up two runs in a rough first inning and settled in well. On the other side of the spectrum, it was a tough season for Jose Berrios. He went 12-7 despite an ERA of 5.23 and a WHIP of 1.46. He made all 32 starts and worked 172 innings. He led the league in both hits allowed (199) and in earned runs allowed (100). That came after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension with the Blue Jays. He will be the team’s #4 starter heading into the 2023 season, but it is likely he will be much better as well. #18 Too Many Outfielders, Another Perplexing Acquisition for the Twins December 8 Sherry Cerny Sherry was writing for herself, expressing her frustrations with a few of the Twins offseason moves so far. Certainly the article resonated with a large quantity of Twins fans who are equally frustrated. First there was the trade of one of the team’s more consistent, productive and healthy players in Gio Urshela. Then they signed strikeout-prone outfielder Joey Gallo for a similar contract while they already have several left-handed hitting corner outfielders. Thankfully the offseason is not complete. It will be interesting to see how the roster looks in early March. But for now, it’s been difficult to see the direction. #17 What’s Next for Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli September 14 Ted Schwerzler It’s one of those questions that some fans feel the need to ask when their favorite team is not winning ballgames? Should the manager be fired? Forget the injuries? Forget the slumps and struggles? The reality is managers probably get too much credit when their team wins, and they certainly take too much blame when the team loses. The Twins were in first place into late August, but at that point their pitching staff was decimated. Max Kepler missed the final month. Byron Buxton was out. Ryan Jeffers was out, replaced by Sandy Leon. Along with Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle also ended the season on the Injured List. The Twins lineup often included Nick Gordon hitting cleanup. Gordon had a nice year, but that tells you a lot. Again, when things go bad, it’s obviously a question that has to be asked. #16 The Minnesota Twins Front Office Played Themselves December 15 Matthew Taylor No question, the Twins clear top priority this offseason was bringing back Carlos Correa. It sure appeared to be Plan A, Plan B and maybe Plan C. Sure, they were able to sign Christian Vazquez to a three-year contract, but while waiting for the Correa situation to play out, several quality pitchers signed elsewhere. You can question whether or not Scott Boras and Carlos Correa played the Twins, using them as leverage to get a bigger contract. Matthew also thinks that the Twins front office played itself this offseason. Judge for yourself. Hopefully you have enjoyed this look back at 2022. Be sure to check back tomorrow for articles that ranked 11-14th.
  6. The Twins were very active at last year’s trade deadline, which saw the team acquire two relievers (Jorge Lopez and Michael Fulmer) and one starter (Tyler Mahle). Acquiring these players cost multiple prospects that were close to big-league ready. Minnesota may need to dip deeper into an already depleted farm system to acquire other players to improve the 2023 roster. Rising Stock: Edouard Julien Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 10 Earlier this week, MLB Pipeline named Julien as the most tradeable prospect. Last season at Double-A, Julien hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 39 extra-base hits in 113 games. He carried that performance to the Arizona Fall League, where he led the league in hitting (28-for-70, .400 BA). Julien did so well that he was named the AFL’s Breakout Player of the Year. Currently, there is no direct path for Julien to the big leagues, as his defensive future isn’t clear. Minnesota may decide that other better infield options can make Julien expendable. His stock is likely at its highest point, so the team may want to sell high. Top Talent: Brooks Lee Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 2 On most national rankings, Lee is considered the team’s top prospect entering the 2023 campaign. He was widely considered the best college bat in the 2022 MLB Draft, and the Twins were lucky he fell to them with the eighth overall pick. During his pro debut, he impressed by hitting .303/.389/.451 (.839) with ten extra-base hits in 31 games. Minnesota was also aggressive with him by pushing him all the way to Double-A for Wichita’s playoff run. The Twins will likely want to hang on to Lee, but the club might want to acquire a top of the rotation starter. Trading for that type of pitcher will require Lee to be included in the prospect package. Upside Starter: Simeon Woods Richardson Twins Daily Prospect Rank: 5 At this time last year, Woods Richardson saw his stock drop to the point where he fell off national top-100 prospect lists. He had a resurgent year in the upper minors with a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP on his way to making his big-league debut. Woods Richardson is entering his age-22 season, so it seems likely for him to reappear on top-100 prospect lists this winter. Woods Richardson seems the least likely to be traded out of the players on this list. He has multiple years of team control, and he is big-league-ready. Minnesota can include him in a trade for a top-tier starter, or the club can hold on to him and hope he continues to develop. Many fans get attached to top prospects because they offer unlimited hope for the future. Unfortunately, no prospects are guaranteed to succeed at baseball’s highest level. The Twins roster is far from complete for 2023, and trading prospects is undoubtedly one path the front office has to consider. Do the Twins want to go all-in for 2023 and trade other top prospects? Or should the team hang on to the names above and hope they can help the club in the years ahead? Will the Twins consider trading any of these prospects? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Minnesota has yet to have an AL Rookie of the Year winner since Marty Cordova took home the hardware in 1995. Other winners in team history include Tony Oliva (1964), Rod Carew (1967), John Castino (1979), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991). The five candidates below will attempt to end the Twins' nearly three-decade drought without a ROY winner. 5. Royce Lewis, SS Lewis is the highest-ranking prospect on this list, but his Rookie of the Year candidacy is complicated. Following his second ACL surgery, Lewis won't be on the field until the second half of 2022, and that's why he is lower on this list. He can return and significantly impact the line-up, especially if the team doesn't sign one of the top free-agent shortstops. If the Twins are in contention, Lewis can provide a second-half boost that might make it hard for voters to ignore. 4. Edouard Julien, 2B Julien was arguably Minnesota's highest-rising prospect during the 2022 season, and the team has already added him to the 40-man roster. In 113 games at Double-A, he hit .300/.441/.490 (931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His hot hitting continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.248 OPS with five doubles and five home runs in 21 games. He was named the AFL Breakout Player of the Year, and it looks like his bat is big-league-ready. Julien ranks lower on this list because other players are ahead of him on the depth chart, and he has yet to play at Triple-A. 3. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Woods Richardson is the organization's highest-ranked pitching prospect who projects to pitch significant big-league innings next season. In 107 1/3 innings last season, he posted a 2.93 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 115 strikeouts. He only faced younger batters in 14 plate appearances this season since he didn't turn 22 years old until September. He's been a step behind other pitchers in the organizational depth chart, and that's why he sits at this spot in the rankings. 2. Louie Varland, SP Last season, Varland became the Twins' first back-to-back Minor League Pitcher of the Year since Jose Berrios. In 24 minor league appearances, he posted a 3.06 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. Currently, Varland is scheduled to start the year at Triple-A, but there are questions about the health of other Twins starters. If others are healthy, it might be more challenging for him to accumulate the innings needed to put himself in the ROY conversation. 1. Matt Wallner, OF Wallner is an exciting name to consider when examining the Twins' future. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were considered better prospects than Wallner, but he may have passed them over the last year. His power profile comes with many swings and misses, with strikeouts in over 37% of his minor league at-bats last season. Still, Wallner's power is legitimate, as he combined for 35 doubles and 29 home runs between three levels last season. Wallner may not start the year in the big leagues, but he will be one of the team's first call-ups. Who has the best chance to win the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Award? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Read through our choices for each position. Check back at past Twins Daily Minor League All-Stars. Then discuss and cast your votes as well. Potentially more in 2022 than in most previous years, most of our All-Star selections spent time in the upper-levels of the minor league system. That is especially encouraging when you consider how many young players there are on the MLB roster. Now the key is to get everyone healthy and let them keep on working to earn more shots in the big leagues. Let’s get started. The Twins Daily 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Star Team Catcher: Noah Cardenas (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (8th Round) from UCLA 2022 Stats: .261/.421/.413 (.834) with 18 doubles, 9 home runs, and 43 RBI. In 2022, Cardenas was an on-base machine for the Mighty Mussels. Isolated Discipline is simply On-Base Percentage minus Batting Average. An Isolated Discipline of 0.160 is huge. He had 73 walks to just 70 strikeouts. However, he isn’t just a passive hitter, he bashed 28 extra-base hits around the diamond. He also does a nice job defensively and has taken to some of the new catching techniques well. He’s got a strong arm. To learn much more about Cardenas, please watch his recent Twins Spotlight interview. For more Twins Daily content on Noah Cardenas, click here. ETA - June 2025 First Base: Chris Williams (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson 2022 Stats: .246/.343/.500 (.843) with 21 doubles, 28 home runs, and 89 RBI. The Twins drafted Williams as a catcher, though he spent a lot of time at first base at Clemson after an elbow injury. He has continued to work as a catcher and can play there, but he has spent most of his time playing first base. In 2022, he made 81 starts at first base and 21 starts behind the plate. But Williams makes this team due to his powerful bat. He started the season with 75 games in Wichita where he hit .277/.372/.542 (.915) with 16 doubles and 18 home runs. He finished the season with 42 games in St. Paul. He hit .192, but he maintained the power. He had 10 more homers. There will be strikeouts, but there will also be walks, and there is the potential for a lot of power. For more Twins Daily content on Chris Williams, click here. ETA - July 2023 Second Base: Edouard Julien (Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (17th Round) from Auburn 2022 Stats:.300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, and 67 RBI The Quebec native had a breakout in his pro debut in 2021. Between Low-A and High-A, he played 112 games and hit .267/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles and 18 triples. He also had 34 stolen bases and his 110 walks led all of minor-league baseball. He played all over the place. In 2022 at Double-A, you can see that he was even better. His 98 walks ranked sixth and his .441 OBP ranked fourth in minor-league ball. He went to the Arizona Fall League and played in the Fall Stars game and was named the league’s Breakout Player. Earlier this week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. Want to see some bat speed? For more Twins Daily content on Edouard Julien, click here. ETA: May 2023 Third Base: Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent 2022 Stats: .278/.370/.536 (.907) with 17 doubles, 19 home runs, and 65 RBI. As a youth, Severino was such an impressive prospect, he received two seven-figure signing bonuses. In 2022, he was limited to 83 games by a midseason injury, but he put together a strong season. In 46 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .283/.398/.572 (.970) with nine doubles, two triples, and 11 home runs. He finished the season with 37 games in Wichita where he hit .273/.338/.497 (.834) with eight doubles and eight home runs. The Twins left him off of their 40-man roster, and after putting up solid numbers in Double-A, a team could have interest and think he’d be ready for some role. For more Twins Daily content on Yunior Severino, click here. ETA: July 2024 Shortstop: Jermaine Palacios (St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Signed as minor league free agent 2022 Stats: .252/.354/.456 (.810) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 16 homers, and 50 RBI Palacios became a Top 10 Twins prospect with the Twins, and then he was traded to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi. Before the 2021 season, he came back to the Twins as a minor-league free agent. He had a solid season at Wichita, hitting .259 with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. He quickly re-signed with the Twins. He spent most of the season with the Saints and did a nice job getting on base and showing some pop. He made his MLB debut on May 31st, playing shortstop in both games of a doubleheader. He made eight straight starts at short while Carlos Correa was on the Covid-IL. He earned a spot on the 40-man roster in September. In his first 16 games of the month, he went a combined 0-for-33 before a three-hit game in Detroit. He ended the season by hitting his first two homers in the final two games of the year. Following the season, he was claimed by the Tigers who then elected free agency. For more Twins Daily content on Jermaine Palacios, click here. ETA: May 2022 Left fielder: Anthony Prato (Cedar Rapids, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th round) from the University of Connecticut 2022 Stats: .285/.383/.444 (.827) with 30 doubles, 8 triples, 10 home runs, 64 RBI. The scouting report on Prato might tell us that he doesn’t have a lot of tools that immediately jump out, but when you watch him on a regular basis for a while, you start to realize that he can do a lot of things well. His approach is ideal for a top-of-the-lineup hitter. He knows the strike zone and is willing to take walks. But he also has an aggressive swing that produced nearly 50 extra-base hits this year. In 45 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .271/.349/.486 (.836). In 87 games in Wichita, he hit .294/.403/.419 (.822). He was a shortstop at UConn. In pro ball, he’s played several positions. In 2022, he played 60 games in left field, 34 games at second base, and 22 more games at third base. For more Twins Daily content on Anthony Prato, click here. ETA: August 2024 Center fielder: Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: Signed as international free agent in July 2019 2022 Stats: .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs and 25 RBI. Rodriguez was a big prospect out of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, he was unable to play in 2020 but the Twins pushed him to the FCL in 2021. He hit just .214 in 37 games, but he got on base 35% of the time and he had five doubles, two triples, and 10 home runs. He was certainly a prospect but in 2022, he broke out in a big way in Ft. Myers. He continued to strike out, but incredibly, he walked more than he struck out, and he got on base nearly 50% of the time. Just as impressive he hit for a lot of power in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee and surgery ended his season. In mid-September, he was the #1 overall pick of Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League and has hit a couple more home runs with them already. For more Twins Daily content on Emmanuel Rodriguez, click here. ETA: August 2024 Right fielder - Matt Wallner (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (1st Round, Comp Balance A) from Southern Mississippi 2022 Stats: .277/.412/.542 (.953), with 32 doubles, 4 triples, 27 home runs and 95 RBI. After missing a couple of months of the 2021 season with a broken hamate bone, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit six home runs in 18 games. If there were question marks surrounding the Forest Lake native entering the 2022 season, but less than a year later, it is clear he has a big-league future. He began with 78 games in Wichita where he hit .299/.436/.597 (1.033) with 15 doubles and 21 homers. He moved up to St. Paul in August. In 50 games, he hit .247/. 376/.463 (.839) with 17 doubles, three triples and six homers. He hit for the cycle in one game. He was named the Twins and Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year. He ended the season with 18 games for the Twins in which he hit .228/.323/.386 (.709) with three doubles and two homers. Is he a finished product? Not at all, which is really exciting if you are a Twins fan. For much more Twins Daily content on Matt Wallner, click here. ETA: September 2022 Designated Hitter: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2021 Draft (4th Round) from Oklahoma State 2022 Stats: 302/.374/.612 (.987) with 25 doubles, 4 triples, 25 home runs, and 85 RBI Matt Wallner was the easy choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year, but if Encarnacion-Strand had not been traded at the deadline, it could have been a very tight race. Drafted from Oklahoma State, where his head coach was Robin Ventura and his hitting coach was Matt Holliday, he is a hitting machine. In 74 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .296/.370/.599 (.968) with 23 doubles and 20 home runs. He was our Hitter of the Month in both April and June. He moved up to Wichita and in just 13 games he hit .333/.400/.685 (1.085) with two doubles, a triple, and five home runs. After being traded to the Reds and in 35 games, he hit ..309/.351/.522 (.874) with six doubles and seven homers. While it is likely he will wind up at first base, he continues to play at the hot corner. He was traded to the Reds in the Tyler Mahle deal in early August. For more Twins Daily content on Christian Encarnacion-Strand, click here. ETA: August 2023 Utility Player: Michael Helman (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2018 Draft (11th Round) from Texas A&M 2022 Stats: .258/.337/.432 (.769) with 23 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs, and 60 RBI Something clicked for Michael Helman in Cedar Rapids in 2021, and he added some pop to his game. He also began playing all over the diamond. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season to continue the progress. He began 2022 with 39 games in Wichita where he hit .278/.368/.472 (.840) with six doubles and six homers. He moved up to St. Paul where he finished the season with 96 games played. He hit .250/.325/.416 (.741) with 17 doubles and 14 home runs. In addition, he stole a combined 40 bases in 45 attempts. On the season, he played 43 games in center field, 41 games at second base, 29 games at third base, and 11 games at first base. In 2021, he made 64 starts between left field and right field. He has become an intriguing utility player with some right-handed pop and speed as well. For more Twins Daily content on Michael Helman, click here. ETA: May 2023 Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (15th Round) from Concordia-St. Paul 2022 Stats: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 12.4 K/9 Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 after pitching in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. Despite moving up, Varland pitched all in both Wichita and St. Paul not only earned him the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year again in 2022, but he earned a handful of big-league starts late in the season. In 20 games (19 starts) with Wichita, he went 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. In 105 innings, he struck out 119 batters with just 39 walks. He moved up to his hometown St. Paul Saints and made five starts. In five starts, he went 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA. It was at that point that he made his MLB debut in Yankees Stadium, and on the final day of the season, he earned his first MLB win. For much more Twins Daily content on Louie Varland, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Blue Jays with Austin Martin for Jose Berrios (July 2021) 2022 Stats: 5-3, 2.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 107.1 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.6 K/9 2021 was a strange season for Woods Richardson, but he returned in 2022 and had a fantastic season. He began 2020 as a 20-year-old in Double-A, but early on he was named to Team USA and then went to the Olympics where he earned a Silver Medal. While in Japan, he was traded to the Twins. Woods Richardson got off to a strong start in Wichita. In 16 games (15 starts), he went 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA. He had 77 strikeouts (and 26 walks) in 70 2/3 innings. He moved up to St. Paul where he made seven starts and went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA. He had 38 strikeouts (to just 10 walks) in 36 2/3 innings. When the Saints season finished, Woods Richardson was called up to the Twins for one start in which he gave up three runs (2 earned) in five innings. For more Twins Daily content on Simeon Woods Richardson, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: David Festa (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (13th Round) from Seton Hall 2022 Stats: 9-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 2/3 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 Last offseason, reports surfaced that Festa was hitting 97 mph in the Instructional League. He began his first full pro season with the Mighty Mussels, but he needed just five starts to prove he was ready to move up to Hi-A. He went 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA. In 24 innings, he had 33 strikeouts to go with just six walks. He pitched in 16 games (13 starts) for Cedar Rapids and went 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA. He added 75 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. As impressive, he was clocked over 99 mph on several occasions and even his secondary pitches showed improvement. He is another good example of the scouting department finding guys in the later rounds and the Twins pitcher development working with them to make them intriguing prospects. For more Twins Daily content on David Festa, click here. ETA: June 2024 Starting Pitcher: Brent Headrick (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th Round) from Illinois State 2022 Stats: 10-5, 3.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 108.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 11.3 K/9 Headrick stands 6-6. He’s long and lean, and a lefty. After missing some time in 2021 with some shoulder issues, Headrick began the 2022 season in Cedar Rapids. In 15 starts, he went 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. He was promoted to Wichita where he made 10 appearances (8 starts). He went 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. However, most of the damage came in his Double-A debut when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Over his final nine appearances, he went 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA. He had at least six strikeouts in each of his final seven starts. Headrick sits 90-92 with the fastball, though he can hit 94 at times. He’s found an ability to miss bats despite throwing a ton of strikes. Last week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. For more Twins Daily content on Brent Headrick, click here. ETA: July 2024 Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (14th round) from the University of Maine 2022 Stats: 6-0, 1 save, 1.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 10.6 K/9 He ended the season by making starts in Double-A, but Laweryson spent most of the season working out of the bullpen. In all, he pitched in 35 games and made 10 starts. He pitched in 16 games for the Kernels and went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He ended the season with 19 games in Wichita (8 starts) and went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. As you can see, Laweryson throws strikes, but he’s also got an unusual delivery and misses a lot of bats. He played in the Arizona Fall League in 2021 and pitched very well. For more Cody Laweryson content at Twins Daily, click here. ETA: August 2024 Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Evan Sisk (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Cardinals with John Gant for J.A. Happ (July 2021) 2022 MiLB Stats: 5-1, 1 save, 1.57 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.9 K/9 Fair to say that when the Twins got anything at the July 2021 trade deadline for J.A. Happ. John Gant came to the Twins and was able to eat up some innings at the end of a long, frustrating season, but they also got Sisk, a Double-A left-handed reliever too. After 13 games with Wichita, the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League. He began 2022 with 19 more games for the Wind Surge. He went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He moved up to Triple-A and was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 31 appearances. In 63 combined innings, he had an impressive 76 strikeouts. His 29 walks were too many, but then he gave up just 5.0 hits per nine innings which is incredible. Sisk sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but it is his breaking stuff that makes him really good. He throws from an angle that could make left-handed batters think that the ball starts behind them, but then breaks over the strike zone. He can be devastating against same-siders. He was left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft and is certainly someone that the Twins could lose at that time. For more Evan Sisk content from Twins Daily, click here. ETA: June 2023 ------------------------------------------------------------------ PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker, RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos. Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2019 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Jaylin Davis, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff Looking Back: 2021 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Jeferson Morales, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Trey Cabbage, BJ Boyd, Mark Contreras, DH: Edouard Julien, UT: Michael Helman, SP (4): Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic, RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran.
  9. Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Josh Winder all made their MLB debuts during the 2022 season. Winder was the only one of the trio to exceed his rookie status this season. Right now, the Twins projected 2023 Opening Day rotation is made up of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, and Bailey Ober, dependent largely on health. There is the possibility the Twins could roll out a six-man rotation as they did this season, but it is too early to tell if that will be the case for 2023. All three of these pitchers will likely make starts for the Twins during the 2023 season whether by earning a spot in the rotation or filling in for an injured starter. Based on what was seen from these pitchers during the 2022 season, here is my ranking of who will make the most starts. 1. Louie Varland The Twins two-time Minor League Pitcher of the Year showed great promise in his five late-season starts in September. Varland posted a 3.81 ERA in 26 innings and earned his first big-league win on the season's final day. Earning the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award will also help Varland’s case to start the season with the Twins either as the Twins fifth/sixth starter or long reliever. If Varland is not in the back end of the Twins' starting rotation for Opening Day, he will surely be the first guy to be added in for another due to injury. Varland made 23 minor-league starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He remained healthy and made the most starts of any pitcher on this list. With how many injuries the 2022 Twins suffered, it would not be a surprise if the front office gives the North St. Paul native a similar role as Bailey Ober/Chris Paddack had as the team’s sixth starter to start the season. To put an estimation on how many starts Twins fans could expect from Varland in 2023, it’s safe to guess he will take anywhere from 10-15 starts along with a few appearances out of the bullpen. 2. Simeon Woods Richardson Twins fans were fortunate to see one start from Woods Richardson before the regular season ended. He had five innings of work in his start against the Detroit Tigers and allowed two earned runs. Woods Richardson also missed time last year due to COVID-19. He made 22 minor-league starts prior to his one with the Twins. His best stretch came during his stint in St. Paul, where he made seven starts and posted a 2.21 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, striking out 38 batters in 36 2/3 IP. Woods Richardson turned 22 on September 27, meaning age is on his side to start his 2023 season at Triple-A St. Paul. His best chance of making the Opening Day roster appears to depend on the health of others. It is likely he will make anywhere between eight and 12 starts this upcoming season, maybe more.. 3. Josh Winder Josh Winder struggled the most out of these three pitchers this season as he was just one of the many Twins who missed time due to injury. He exceeded his rookie status with his 67 big-league innings pitched. As a starter, Winder struggled at both the major league and minor league levels. He posted a 4.79 ERA across 50 2/3 IP in his 11 starts with the Twins. In the minors, he posted a 5.00 ERA across six starts (one rehab in Ft. Myers) with the Saints. Winder’s injuries affected his performance this season and given his workload and results, it’s possible the Twins could convert him into a full-time long reliever. They would likely make him a long relief man with the opportunity to turn into a high leverage reliever as Griffin Jax was this season for the Twins. Winder’s pitch usage is also similar to that of Jax’s during the 2021 season as both were throwing mostly fastballs, 40.1% for Winder in 2022 compared to 45.9% for Jax in 2021. With the slider as their go-to breaking ball, 33.3% for Winder in '22 compared to 31.1% for Jax in '21, Jax turned his slider into his go-to pitch throwing it 48.4% of the time this year according to FanGraphs. The Twins may have a second reclamation project with a former top prospect in Winder as they did in Jax this year. If the Twins opt for this route, then don’t expect any starts from Winder, but since that is only speculation as of now, expect five or fewer starts from Winder in 2023. Three Other Options Three young pitchers to keep an eye on to possibly be added into the Twins rotation at some point in the season are Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, and Cole Sands. However, given the depth ahead of them on this list, it is looking unlikely they serve more than relief roles if and when they pitch for the 2022 Twins. Balazovic struggled mightily throughout the 2022 season with the Saints and only began to see success toward the end of the year after battling a nagging knee injury all year. He will surely start his 2023 season with the Saints. Both Henriquez and Sands saw time with the Twins this year, mainly as long relievers. Sands had a stretch of three starts for the Twins from May 31 to June 12, but pitched much more effectively as a reliever. Henriquez only pitched out of the bullpen in three relief appearances for the Twins. He made 14 starts with the Saints over the summer but was found to be more effective piggybacking with the starter. Balazovic is the most likely to make a start for the Twins next season. If the Twins see great success in either Henriquez or Sands, they will be given another chance as a starter. However, it is more likely that if those two are making starts, the rotation depth is in dire straits. Conclusion All three of these young pitchers will play more important roles with the Twins pitching staff in 2023 than they did in 2022. Twins fans can expect to see them all at different points of the season. And hopefully, when Varland, Winder, and Woods Richardson arrive on the Twins roster, it is because of their earning a spot rather than constantly replacing an injured teammate.
  10. Defining what constitutes an ace is something fans have debated throughout baseball history. Some might view it as baseball's top 10-15 pitchers, while others might characterize it as the top pitcher for each team. As Nick wrote about earlier this week, Sonny Gray currently represents the top of Minnesota's rotational threshold, and some might not call him an ace. He is the team's best starting pitcher, and an off-season acquisition should be better or equal to him. So, does Minnesota currently have a pitcher in the system with ace potential? It could be easy to look at the Twins' prospect rankings and gauge ace potential by those rankings. However, pitching prospect development rarely follows a linear path. At this point last season, Simeon Woods Richardson saw his stock drop as he struggled at Double-A. Now, he is back on the prospect radar and has the potential to be an ace. Below there are five candidates that have varying levels of ace potential. Connor Prielipp, LHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4th ETA: 2025 Ace Potential: High Prielipp has the best chance to be an ace out of all the pitchers in the Twins organization. Minnesota was lucky to have him fall to them with the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball and slider are both MLB-ready pitches, and his changeup also projects to be above average. The Twins were confident enough in his pre-draft workouts to go over slot value to sign him. Minnesota will work him back slowly in 2023, but he has all the traits necessary to be an ace pitcher. (Click here for more Connor Prielipp articles at Twins Daily.) Marco Raya, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 9th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Medium Raya made his organizational debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. He impressed with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 65 innings. Over 82% of his at-bats came against older batters, which he held to a .571 OPS. According to MLB.com, he has four pitches that grade at 50 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale. The biggest thing holding him back from being an ace is his size, as he is six feet tall and weighs around 165-pounds. Players like Jose Berrios and Marcus Stroman have shown ace potential while being his size, so there is plenty of hope for him to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. (Click here for more Marco Raya articles at Twins Daily.) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Medium Woods Richardson has the best potential to be an ace pitcher out of the prospects in the mix for 2023. He turned 22 in September, and he already made his big-league debut. Woods Richardson struggled mightily during the 2021 season but bounced back nicely in 2022. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 115-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 107 1/3 minor league innings. He likely starts next season at Triple-A, where he only made seven starts this season. His age, pitch mix, and prospect status give him a shot at becoming an ace. (Click here for more Simeon Woods Richardson articles at Twins Daily.) Louie Varland, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 7th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Low Varland has been named the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in back-to-back seasons. For most organizations, a pitcher winning that award multiple times would point to ace potential. However, it might also result from other pitchers in the organization not performing well. Varland dominated the upper minors on the way to making an impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He has three above-average pitches, which can help him fit into the Twins' rotation for multiple years. It still seems unlikely for him to ever be considered the best pitcher in a rotation, even if he reaches his ceiling. (Click here for more Louie Varland articles at Twins Daily.) Matt Canterino, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 14th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Low Canterino's potential has been hard to project throughout his professional career because he hasn't stayed healthy. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August, so he will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season. Minnesota hopes this surgery can get Canterino back on track, as he was one of the team's top pitching prospects entering the season. When on the mound, Canterino has dominated with a true four-pitch mix and a fastball in the upper-90s. He arguably has the best stuff in the system, so his ace potential is tied to his ability to stay healthy, and remaining a starter. (Click here for more Matt Canterino articles at Twins Daily.) Who do you think has the best chance to be an ace? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022. Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022) Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024) Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery. Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024) The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season. Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025) In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success. Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  12. It was clear that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine planned for the pitching pipeline to start producing big-league talent in 2022. There have been some breakthrough performances, but some question marks remain heading into the offseason. Look back at the seven pitchers that made their debut this year. Consider how they may fit into the team's plan in 2023 and beyond. Jhoan Duran 2022 Stats (57 G): 1.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 89 K, 16 BB, 67 2/3 IP Duran has been unbelievable for the entire season. He quickly evolved into one of baseball’s most dominant bullpen weapons. It can be easy to forget that he wasn’t used as a reliever until spring training this season. Duran is also going to set the rookie record for most Win Probability Added (WPA) by a Twins pitcher since 1990, which puts him in elite company. There aren’t enough words to describe what Duran has meant to the Twins bullpen this season, and he is a vital part of the team’s long-term plans. MLB Debut (April 8): 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 K, 1 BB Josh Winder 2022 Stats (14 G): 4.31 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 45 K, 17 BB, 64 2/3 IP Minnesota’s rotation was full to start the 2022 season, but the team decided it needed Winder on the big-league roster. He pitched well to start the season with a 1.61 ERA while holding batters to a .464 OPS in his first five appearances. Unfortunately, shoulder issues started bothering him again, and he was limited to three big-league appearances from May 18 through September 10. He’s made four September starts where he has allowed 12 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. It’s nice that he has been able to prove he is healthy before the season ends. MLB Debut (April 12): 1 IP, 1 ER, 0 H, 1 K, 2 BB Cole Sands 2022 Stats (11 G): 5.87 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 28 K, 13 BB, 30 2/3 IP Sands didn’t make the Opening Day roster, but the Twins needed him at the big-league level by the beginning of May. During the 2021 season, he was terrific at Double-A with a 2.46 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 19 appearances. That performance hasn’t followed him to the 2022 campaign as his ERA rose by over three runs in sporadic opportunities at Triple-A. Sands missed time this season with a right elbow contusion after taking a line drive off the bat of Yuli Gurriel. Sands is only 24 years old, and the Twins hope he can see more of his 2021 performance in the future. MLB Debut (May 1): 2 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB Yennier Cano 2022 Stats (10 G): 9.22 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 14 K, 11 BB, 13 2/3 IP Cano’s path to the big leagues was unique. He signed as a 25-year-old from Cuba in 2019. This season, he pitched well in the minors with a 1.90 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in St. Paul. His first taste of the big leagues hasn’t gone perfectly as he has allowed 21 earned runs in 11 appearances. Minnesota included Cano as part of the package to acquire Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline. MLB Debut (May 11): 2 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB Louie Varland 2022 Stats (5 G): 3.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 21 K, 6 BB, 26 IP Varland has dominated the minor leagues over the last two seasons as he was recently named the TD Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season. Minnesota put him in a tough spot for his big-league debut. He took the mound at Yankee Stadium. He performed well as he pitched into the sixth inning and held the Yankees' line-up to two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts. There have been a few hiccups in his other starts as he has allowed four home runs, including two homers by the Angels. Varland has inserted himself into Minnesota’s long-term pitching plans even with these blemishes. MLB Debut (September 7): 5 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 7 K, 1 BB Ronny Henriquez 2022 Stats (3 G): 2.31 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9 K, 3 BB, 11 2/3 IP Henriquez can sometimes be one of the forgotten players from Minnesota’s flurry of trades this past winter. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade because he was an intriguing pitching prospect. At Triple-A this season, he split time as a starter and reliever with a 5.66 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He is only 22 years old and is considered one of the team’s top 30 prospects. This season was his first pitching over 100 innings. The club will need to decide if he is a starter or reliever, but with his youth, they don't need to decide that for a while. MLB Debut (September 19): 4 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 2 BB Simeon Woods Richardson 2022 Stats (1 G): 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 K, 2 BB, 5 IP Woods Richardson made his much-anticipated debut last weekend and performed admirably even with some poor defense behind him. After struggling at Double-A in 2022, he dominated in the upper minors this season. He posted a 2.77 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP, including 115 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings. Only Varland finished ahead of Woods Richardson in the TD Minor League Pitcher of the Year balloting. Many rankings have Woods Richardson as a higher-rated prospect than Varland, so it will be fun to track their development in the years ahead. MLB Debut (October 2): 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB Which pitching prospect are you most excited about moving forward? Who has the highest ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  13. Box Score SP: Simeon Woods Richardson 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (91 pitches, 61 strikes (67 strike %)) Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Gio Urshela -0.188, Nick Gordon -0.123, Simeon Woods Richardson -0.118 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Better Late Than Never for Woods Richardson's Debut Sunday brought about the Major League debut for Simeon Woods Richardson, a long-awaited one for Twins fans over the dismal month of September. Woods Richardson’s first inning of work in the majors was a mountain to climb as he walked the leadoff hitter who later came into score on a fielding error by Jose Miranda at first. Then a single by Miguel Cabrera advanced the runner to third and he scored on a wild pitch to Jonathan Schoop. Fortunately, that was the end of troubles for Woods Richardson in the first as he retired Schoop on a double play. From the second inning on, Woods Richardson’s only trouble that followed as a solo home run he gave up to Tigers catcher Eric Haase in the third to put the Tigers up 3-0. He did also have base runners reach in the second and fourth that did not end up getting beyond first. Woods Richardson’s final inning was his best retiring the minimum in the fifth. Woods Richardson allowed five base runners (three hits, two walks), two earned runs, and three strikeouts for his MLB debut. His top velocity on a pitch for the day was a strike at 92.6 MPH to start off Haase’s second at-bat of the game when he hit a home run. Correa Hits But That’s it As common as ever this season the Twins bats didn’t show up beyond one-hitter in the lineup. Today it was Carlos Correa who went 2-for-3 with an RBI walk. The Twins' two runs were mounted on walks and a sacrifice fly from Nick Gordon in the fifth but couldn’t mount a bases-loaded opportunity to more runs. Luis Arraez did not play on Sunday against a lefty in Joey Wentz in addition to the hamstring issues he has been facing of late. Aaron Judge was 0-for-2 with a walk through six innings on Sunday afternoon. Strange Injuries Toward the End Today the Twins used a reliever who never threw a pitch in the game. Trevor Megill was called in to pitch the seventh but was removed after throwing a warmup pitch that ended up spiking in the dirt and having the seams land into Ryan Jeffers neck. Jeffers was okay and remained in the game but whatever Rocco Baldelli and the trainer saw from that spiked pitch. It was concerning enough to them to remove Megill from the game. Looked like an oblique or side injury. What’s Next? Twins go to Chicago’s Southside to end the season with a three-game series against the White Sox. Bailey Ober will be on the mound for the Twins Monday night against Johnny Cueto. First pitch is scheduled for 7:10 p.m. CT. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Sheet
  14. The above graph plots the effectiveness of a pitcher's first start (measured by game score) and their career wins above replacement with Minnesota for the notable Twins pitchers to make their first start since 2000. The size of the point corresponds to career starts in a Twins uniform. The figure only includes pitchers whose Twins career has finished and those who were primarily starters. A few things stand out: The pitchers with the most impressive first starts are not exactly Twins Hall-of-Famers. Nick Blackburn, Anthony Swarzak, Boof Bonser, and Fernando Romero are the only starters with initial game scores above 60. Jose Berrios, quite memorably, had one of the worst Twins debuts in recent memory. He turned out alright. Where would the 2022 debutants fit in the list of game scores? Josh Winder: 76 ... six shutout innings with a single walk against the Rays, topping the list Louie Varland: 60 ... a memorable debut at Yankee Stadium and one of the better debuts in the last 20 years Simeon Woods Richardson: 56 ... a better first start than Johan Santana, he's well on his way! Cole Sands: 36 ... one of the worst first starts in recent years, allowing four runs in four innings in Detroit The moral of the story? Don't get too high or too low on a pitcher's career after one start. Maybe even after one year. Randomness abounds!
  15. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 9/26 through Sun, 10/2 *** Record Last Week: 3-3 (Overall: 77-82) Run Differential Last Week: +9 (Overall: +10) Standing: 3rd Place in AL Central (13.0 GB) Last Week's Game Results: Game 154 | MIN 4, CWS 0: Ober Dominates Sox with 10 Ks Game 155 | MIN 8, CWS 4: Heart of the Order Comes Through Game 156 | CWS 4, MIN 3: Late Defensive Lapse Costly in Loss Game 157 | MIN 7, DET 0: Ryan Masterful in Another Shutout Game 158 | DET 3, MIN 2: Missed Opportunities Mount In Motown Game 159 | DET 5, MIN 2: Bats Quiet Again in SWR's Debut NEWS & NOTES Not many of the Twins' injured players are going to make it back this year. But to his credit, Ryan Jeffers did. His rehab and recovery from a fractured thumb to longer than expected, and the catcher position was an offensive black hole in his absence, but ultimately Jeffers did make it back for the end of the season and that means something. Jeffers got plenty of action in his first week back, starting three times and appearing twice as a substitute. He went 3-for-15 with a triple and a couple of RBIs. On Sunday, Jeffers was behind the plate for the major-league debut of pitching prospect Simeon Woods Richardson, who had just completed a stellar season in the minors between Double-A and Triple-A (107.1 IP, 2.77 ERA). Five days removed from his 22nd birthday, the right-hander got the nod for Minnesota's series finale in Detroit, with his hilariously long last name wrapping fully around the No. 78 on his newly minted Twins jersey. It was an altogether strong outing for Woods Richardson, who allowed three runs (two earned) over five innings of work. He settled in pretty nicely after a shaky 29-pitch first inning and showed impressive poise – especially considering he became the youngest pitcher to appear in the majors this year (narrowly edging Ronny Henriquez who was optioned to make room for SWR). HIGHLIGHTS Joe Ryan ended a strong rookie campaign on a high note, with six innings of shutout ball against the Tigers on Friday night. In a season that brought his weaknesses to light – namely, a proneness to homers and vulnerability against high-caliber offenses – Ryan also cemented himself as a quality mid-rotation MLB starter. The flip side to his struggles against postseason teams is that Ryan was sublime when facing lesser lineups. Against sub-.500 competition he went 10-2 with a 2.42 ERA and 10.3 K/9 rate. Let's not act like this doesn't have value. Succeeding to that extent against any major-league lineups is impressive, and in particular Ryan was hyper-effective versus divisional opponents, against whom he finished 10-0 with a 1.23 ERA. He might not be the kind of starter you want toeing the rubber in a postseason game – not in his current state, which isn't to say he can't change that – but at the very least Ryan is proving to be a big regular-season asset. And currently, he is the club's sturdiest long-term asset in the rotation, coming off a mostly healthy and complete season. The same unfortunately cannot be said for Bailey Ober, otherwise he'd be right there in the conversation with Ryan as the stablest building block. Ober's start against Chicago on Tuesday night was just his 10th here in a season that was torpedoed by a major groin injury. But at least the big righty is finishing strong and setting the foundation for a fuller campaign in 2023. Kicking off the final home series at Target Field, Ober delivered the best performance of his young career, striking out 10 over 7 ⅓ shutout innings. The Sox legit had no chance against him as his late release point seemed to be stymying hitters more than ever. When he's been able to take the mound this year, the 27-year-old has been arguably the team's most effective starter, posting a 3.18 ERA, 2.74 FIP and 47-to-10 K/BB ratio with just three home runs allowed in 51 innings. Something to carry forward into next season, even if he won't have much of a workload base to build off in 2023. With Ryan and Ober finishing on high notes, Woods Richardson and Louie Varland getting late-season tastes of the majors, and Josh Winder making it back onto the field for a handful of starts, there are at least some positive youthful signs in a rotation closing out the year with its three top veterans on the injured list. The Twins lineup, meanwhile, is also severely diminished as they play out these final games. But it was nice to see some of the remaining bats step up and carry the load over the past week. Standout performers included Jake Cave (7-for-19, three RBIs) and Matt Wallner (double, homer, and five RBIs). Gio Urshela, who's capping off a solid season with a spectacular September, kept it rolling as the driving force in the offense, finishing the week 10-for-23 with some timely hits in big spots. Urshela has the fifth-best Win Probability Added on the team this year, and since the All-Star break he is second only to Carlos Correa. While the decision of whether or not to tender Urshela a contract in his coming final season of arbitration was once up in the air, his stellar finish probably seals it, although it remains possible the Twins could trade him if there's interest. LOWLIGHTS Nick Gordon's breakthrough season at the plate has been a big positive for the Twins in a year full of negatives. The past week saw him batting third in the lineup several times, albeit failing to live up that billing with a 3-for-20 sample. Regardless, Gordon's ability to hit is no longer really in question. His defensive versatility, on the other hand? The 26-year-old has been pressed into more into more intensive action at second base with Jorge Polanco sidelined, and it hasn't gone very smoothly. Gordon's been very susceptible to misplays at the position, including a costly dropped pop-up on Thursday that led to the decisive run scoring in a 4-3 loss. Looking ahead to next year, some have speculated that Gordon could be considered as a short-term plug at shortstop until Royce Lewis is ready to rejoin the fold. I don't think so. In fact, I genuinely wonder if what they Twins have seen from Gordon as an infielder late in this season will convince them that his future should exclusively be in the outfield. TRENDING STORYLINE At this point, the only remaining Twins storyline of intrigue is Luis Arraez's pursuit of his first batting title – or, as the rest of the baseball world might view it, his quest to deprive Aaron Judge of a triple crown. The Twins helped Arraez's chances over the weekend by sitting him against both of Detroit's left-handed starters. This favorable usage helped the infielder bat .389 (7-for-18) on the week, concluding play on Sunday with a 4-point edge over Judge (.315 to .311) after the latter went 0-for-3 on Sunday. LOOKING AHEAD The Twins have three games remaining, all against right-handed starters, so presumably Arraez will be in there for the entire series against the White Sox, looking to make a closing statement of his own and wrap up the 2022 AL batting title. Judge and the Yankees wrap their season in Texas with three games against the Rangers. MONDAY, 10/3: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Bailey Ober v. RHP Johnny Cueto TUESDAY, 10/4: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Josh Winder v. RHP Lucas Giolito WEDNESDAY, 10/5: TWINS @ WHITE SOX – RHP Louie Varland v. RHP Davis Martin
  16. Simeon Woods Richardson has had a whirlwind professional career as he has been part of three different organizations and two blockbuster trades. His professional journey started in the Mets organization when they took him with a second-round pick in 2018 out of high school in Texas. After signing, he split time between the GCL and the Appalachian League, posting a 1.56 ERA and a 1.10 WHIP in seven appearances. New York was aggressive with him to start 2019 as they sent him to Low-A, where he was nearly four years younger than the average age of the competition. Woods Richardson allowed 37 runs in 78 1/3 innings with a 1.21 WHIP and 97 strikeouts. At the trade deadline, Woods Richardson was dealt along with Anthony Kay to the Blue Jays for Marcus Stroman. Toronto was even more aggressive with Woods Richardson by sending him to High-A. He improved in his six starts following the trade as he lowered his ERA to 2.54 and posted a 29-to-7 strikeout to walk ratio. His stock rose as the 2020 season began, with Baseball America and MLB.com including him in their top-100 prospects. Unfortunately, the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season, and Woods Richardson couldn’t build off his success from the end of 2019. The Blue Jays continued to be aggressive with Woods Richardson in 2021 by sending him to Double-A. He was so young for the level that he only had four at-bats versus younger batters for the entire season. There were struggles throughout the season as he adjusted to one of baseball’s highest levels. He posted a 6.55 ERA and a 1.50 WHIP in his first 11 starts. From there, he headed to Japan to represent the United States in the Olympics, but his opportunities were limited on the international stage. While he was overseas, the Twins traded for Woods Richardson and Austin Martin in a deal that sent Jose Berrios to Toronto. Woods Richardson only made four appearances in the Twins organization after the trade deadline and allowed six earned runs in eight innings. It was a disappointing end to a season where he never seemed to get his feet under him at Double-A. With his sub-par performance, Baseball America and MLB.com dropped Woods Richardson from their top-100 prospects entering the 2022 season. Minnesota had him repeat the Double-A level, where he continued to be 3.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. In 16 appearances (70 2/3 innings), he posted a 3.06 ERA with a 1.16 WHIP and a 77-to-26 strikeout to walk ratio. By the middle of August, the Twins had seen enough and called him up to Triple-A. Woods Richardson’s performance improved after the promotion. He had a 2.21 ERA with a 0.85 WHIP in seven starts with the Saints. He struck out more than a batter per inning while continuing to show command of the strike zone. His performance was so good that he finished runner-up for the TD Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He has pitched well in the upper levels of the minors, and now the Twins hope he can translate that success to the big-league level. What stands out most to you about Woods Richardson’s professional career? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  17. TRANSACTIONS None SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 10, Omaha 6 Box score Woods Richardson Dominates Simeon Woods Richardson made his final start with the Saints Monday night, and he went all out with one of his best performances of the season. Woods Richardson dominated the Royals Triple-A hitters as he threw six innings of one-hit shutout baseball allowing only three walks and striking out seven on 91 pitches and 56 strikes. Having seven starts with the Saints for the season, Woods Richardson’s final numbers in Triple-A for the season include a 2.21 ERA, 38 strikeouts, and 10 walks in 36 2/3 innings of work. In total, Woods-Richardson posted a 2.76 ERA and has thrown 107 1/3 innings of work in 21 starts and one relief appearance for the 2022 Minor League season at both Double-A and Triple-A. Rehab Updates Only one of the three Twins hitters on the Saints roster for rehab assignments was in the lineup Monday night, and that was Ryan Jeffers. Jeffers played well. He went 3-4 and hit a two-run home run in his first at-bat to put the Saints up 2-0 in the first inning. Jeffers's double in the bottom of the seventh put the Saints up 6-0. Jeffers’s only mistake in the game was a fielding error in the top of the seventh which allowed Storm Chasers designated hitter Jackson Reetz to reach first base. With a healthy game for Jeffers Monday night, it is very likely he could be returning to the Twins lineup as early as Tuesday night. Trevor Larnach and Jorge Polanco were both off Monday night. Saints Bats Keep Up with Woods Richardson Jeffers was not the only hitter at the plate delivering for the Saints Monday night. Elliot Soto also went 2-for-3 with two doubles and drove in the Saints' fifth run of the game. Runs three and four came courtesy of an Andrew Bechtold two-run homer in the bottom of the fourth. Bechtold had just hit a homer in the Saints game on Friday night against Indianapolis, making it his second home run in just three games. Just when it looked as if the Saints were done scoring in the seventh, they put up five more runs on the Storm Chasers with Jeffers double and a grand slam from Cole Sturgeon to give the Saints a 10-0 lead. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Simeon Woods Richardson 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K (91 pitches, 56 strikes (61.5 strike %)) Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers - 3-for-4, 2-Run HR, 2B, 2 R, 3 RBI. PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 3 BB, 7 K What’s next? The Saints play the second of their final three games on the season tomorrow against the Omaha Storm Chasers. First pitch is at 7:07 p.m. CT with Jordan Balazovic on the mound for the Saints against Angel Zerpa of the Storm Chasers.
  18. Derek Falvey has been tasked with building a pipeline of pitching talent since he was brought over from Cleveland to head up the front office. Minnesota has been intentional in targeting arms with upside that they can mold into solid workhorses. There were plenty of strong performances this season the farm, but only one took the title of Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Before getting to the winner, here are some others that were in contention: Honorable Mention- Pierson Ohl (Fort Myers) - 20 G 91.2 IP 3.53 ERA 1.178 WHIP 9.9 K/9 1.3 BB/9 Jaylen Nowlin (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 71.0 IP 3.80 ERA 1.352 WHIP 14.1 K/9 4.6 BB/9 Travis Adams (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 100.2 IP 3.93 ERA 1.162 WHIP 9.7 K/9 2.3 BB/9 #5 Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - 19 G 65.0 IP 3.05 ERA 1.077 WHIP 10.5 K/9 3.2 BB/9 Raya was taken in the 4th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from United South High School in Laredo, TX. With the Covid shutdown and injuries over the past couple of years, 2022 was his professional debut. Skipping the Complex League entirely, Raya pitched as a 19-year-old for the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Across 19 games and 17 starts, he was nothing short of dominant. Arguably the staff ace, Raya racked up strikeouts in bunches while doing a good job to limit damage. He’s got mid-90s stuff and is someone Minnesota could mold into a number three starter or better. #4 Brent Headrick - (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 25 G 108.1 IP 3.32 ERA 1.080 WHIP 11.3 K/9 2.1 BB/9 Selected in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft out of Illinois State University, Headick has really seen the ceiling for his stuff grow. Last year was his first full professional season and he put up strong numbers for Low-A Fort Myers. Splitting time between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita this year, Headrick has become an anchor on the staff at whatever level he plays. Headrick has continued to rack up strikeouts in bunches, and has shown a very strong ability to command the baseball. He gave up a few more homers after the promotion to Double-A, but was every bit as dominant. When the Wind Surge advanced to the Texas League postseason, it was Headrick tabbed as the Game 1 starter. #3 David Festa - (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) 21 G 103.2 IP 2.43 ERA 1.090 WHIP 9.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Festa made quick work of Fort Myers after starting the season there following his 13th-round selection out of Seton Hall during the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. Pitching substantially for Cedar Rapids this season, he made adjustments to continue strong outings while the strikeouts took a slight dip. Just 22 years old, Festa has done a great job avoiding big innings by limiting the longball. In just over 103 innings this season, he allowed opposing batters to leave the yard only six times. For a late-round pick, the immediate development here has been incredibly encouraging. Runner-Up Simeon Woods Richardson - (Wichita/St. Paul) 21 G 2.93 ERA 1.080 WHIP 9.7 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Acquired alongside Austin Martin from the Toronto Blue Jays when Minnesota sent Jose Berrios north of the border, Woods Richardson has been nothing short of dominant this season. Not being interrupted by the Olympic appearance as he was last season, Woods Richardson has settled into a routine. His 2.55 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul is even better than it was with Double-A Wichita, and he continues to average over a strikeout per inning. This is a top-half-of-the-rotation arm that Minnesota could call upon as soon as 2023. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year - Louie Varland - (Wichita/St. Paul) - 24 G 126.1 IP 3.06 ERA 1.259 WHIP 10.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Winning this award for the second season in a row is none other than Concordia St. Paul product Louie Varland. A St. Paul native, Varland was a 15th-round pick by the Twins during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. After dominating Single-A in 2021, Varland continued his roll by earning a promotion to Triple-A late this season. After a 3.34 ERA across 105 innings with Wichita, Varland posted a dominant 1.69 ERA in four starts for the Saints. As has been the case over the duration of his professional career, Varland has been a strikeout arm. This season he’s tallied 146 strikeouts while ceding just 42 walks. Once working in the low-90s, Varland has put in the offseason work to push his fastball in the mid-90s on a consistent basis with the ability to top out near 97 mph. When Minnesota needed an arm for a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, it was Varland who was called on to make his big league debut. Brother, and Dodgers prospect, Gus Varland was in the stands to see Louie punch out Aaron Judge for the first strikeout of his career. Varland will continue to grow at the big league level, but he has looked the part of an arm with intrigue. He’s a hard thrower that works quick and isn’t afraid to trust his stuff. Although the Twins may not have immediate room for Varland in the 2023 Opening Day rotation, there should be no doubt that he’ll make a handful of starts and be ready to make an impact when his number is called. Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2021 winner - Louie Varland 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen
  19. Last winter, it was clear to anyone looking at the Twins roster that the team needed frontline starting pitching. There were other off-season needs, but they only had Joe Ryan and Bailey Ober penciled into the rotation and many other question marks. Minnesota had the financial flexibility to sign frontline starting pitching, but the club decided to go in a different direction. With the pending lockout, the Twins front office watched most frontline free agent starters ink contracts with other organizations. Minnesota's lone signing before the lockout was Dylan Bundy, who figured to fit into the rotation's back half. It was tough to decipher how the Twins expected to fill the rotation, but the team's plan became clear as spring training inched closer. Following the lockout, Sonny Gray was the Twins' biggest offseason pitching acquisition. He was a clear frontline starter and pitched that way during the 2022 season. The team added Chris Archer to join Bundy at the back of the rotation, and Chris Paddack joined the club in a last-minute deal before Opening Day. All these arms impacted the 2022 Twins, but the club wanted to rely on the young pitching in the system to supplement the veteran arms. Derek Falvey was brought to Minnesota because of his experience with the Cleveland organization. During his Cleveland tenure, one of his calling cards was cultivating young pitching, which has been a staple of the Guardians organization. Minnesota was going to start the 2022 campaign with Ryan and Ober in the rotation, but there were expectations that other young pitchers would join their ranks. Unfortunately, that hasn't been the case, and Minnesota's pitching pipeline may have taken a step back this season. As the season began, it looked like the Twins had plenty of pitching prospects in the upper minors that had the potential to impact the roster. Minnesota had five upper minors starting pitchers ranked in their top-10 prospects, and others rounded out their top-20 list. Ryan had an up-and-down season as a rookie, but he is on pace to set the team's rookie record for strikeouts. Josh Winder and Cole Sands have combined to pitch just over 80 big league innings, with both missing games due to injury. Louie Varland saw his stock rise the most out of this group as he pitched well in the upper minors before making his big league debut in September. Matt Canterino and Jordan Balazovic were arguably the team's top pitching prospects entering the 2022 campaign, but it was a lost season for both. Canterino dominated on the mound in 13 appearances, but he needed Tommy John surgery before the season's end. Balazovic was on pace to debut in 2022, but he struggled at Triple-A and is now getting back on track. Besides Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson helped his stock the most this season, and he deserves to make some starts for the Twins down the stretch. Many will blame injuries for the Twins' failures during the 2022 season. However, the lack of contributions from the pitching pipeline is also concerning. Not every pitching prospect can be successful throughout their professional careers, and there is hope that some of these arms will get healthy in the offseason. As Minnesota's focus turns to 2023, the front office might not be able to rely as heavily on the pitching pipeline when building next year's roster. Did the pitching pipeline plan fail in 2022? Is there hope for improvement in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  20. TRANSACTIONS Ahead of St. Paul’s game with Indianapolis, RHP Melvi Acosta was promoted from Wichita, and RHP Matt Mullenbach was also called up from Cedar Rapids. In addition to those moves, RHP Dereck Rodriguez was also outrighted to Triple-A. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 7 Box Score On Tuesday the St. Paul Saints kicked off their penultimate series of the season, against the Tulsa Drillers with right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson on the bump. His lineup gave him some run support before he even took the mound when Michael Helman led off the game with a single. He advanced to third after a fielder’s choice (no out recorded) and double-play ball, before a passed ball allowed him to scamper home. With the early lead, Woods Richardson came out ready to go. He delivered a one-two-three first inning, before striking out five hitters over his next two innings. Through five innings he had scattered four hits and kept Indianapolis off the scoreboard. Back out for the sixth, he finally ran into his first real trouble. A leadoff single was followed by a walk to put multiple runners on base, then three stolen bases allowed two consecutive sac flies to put the home team out front 2-1. Woods Richardson delivered a quality outing, allowing two earned runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five. He threw 85 pitches, with 61 going for strikes (72%), including 16 swinging. The Saints lineup picked him up in the top of the seventh, with a leadoff walk from Andrew Bechtold that was followed by a Dalton Shuffield home run, of the inside-the-park variety, to retake the lead. Just as quickly, however, the bullpen let their starter down. Devin Smeltzer gave up the game-tying home run in the seventh, then wasn’t able to record an out in the eighth before being replaced by Mario Sanchez. Smeltzer was charged with a blown save and loss, allowing three runs (two earned) in one-plus innings on two hits. He struck out one. Sanchez was then hit for two earned runs of his own, allowing four hits in his inning. St. Paul’s lineup was led by multiple hits from Bechtold (2-for-3, R, BB, K) and Shuffield (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI. Trevor Larnach was 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout, while Ryan Jeffers was 0-for-4 in their rehabs. Wander Javier was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. As a team, the Saints were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Catcher Jose Godoy got some revenge on his former team and organization, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI to lead Indianapolis. Number six Pirates prospect (per MLB.com) Endy Rodriguez, was 2-for-3 with an RBI double, batting fifth as the DH. WIND SURGE WISDOM - Texas League Division Series (Game 1 of Best of 3 Series) Tulsa 1, Wichita 17 Box Score The Wind Surge never died down in this one, as they battered the Drillers from start to finish to take game one of their Division Series. A five-run second inning got the damage started, and before it was over they scored at least four runs in two other innings. They took advantage of nine walks by crushing three separate three-run homers among seven extra-base hits in the game. Those home runs came off the bats of DaShawn Keirsey Jr., Edouard Julien, and Anthony Prato. Austin Martin added a solo shot of his own, and Keirsey Jr. also added an RBI triple. Left-hander Brent Headrick got the start for Wichita and was fantastic for the first five innings, never letting the Drillers build any momentum in the blowout. He scattered six hits and allowed just an unearned run. He punched out eight hitters, including multiple in each of the first, third, and fourth innings. The recently fast-tracked Brooks Lee, got the party started with an RBI single in the second inning, and two batters later Keirsey Jr. delivered the first three-run blast of the game. After an RBI single from Prato in the third, a Jair Camargo RBI double and Alex Isola sac fly in the fourth, Wichita was already rolling 8-0. A four-run fifth included an RBI triple from Keirsey Jr., and then the Julien blast to make it 12-1. Martin led off the seventh with his home run, and later Prato slugged the Wind Surge’s third big blast of the night, giving them the final score of 17-1. After Headrick’s exit, relievers Osiris German, Jordan Gore, Blayne Enlow, and Casey Legumina combined to keep the Drillers stuck at one run to finish the final four innings, pitching one frame apiece. German struck out the side in the sixth, Gore two in the seventh, Enlow one in the eighth, and Legumina two in the ninth. As a staff, they combined for 16 K’s to just one walk. Martin (2-for-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 SB), Julien (2-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB), Camargo (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Lee (3-for-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI), Prato (2-for-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), and Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5, 2 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI) all had multiple hits in the blowout victory. Game 2 of the Texas League Division series will be on Thursday in Tulsa, with right-hander (and no-hitter throwing) Daniel Gossett getting the starting nod for Wichita. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Brent Headrick, Wichita Wind Surge (W, 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 8 K) Hitter of the Day - Edouard Julien, Wichita Wind Surge (2-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 3-for-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 SB #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB #15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 1 IP, BB, K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (12:35 PM CDT) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (0-6, 7.47 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  21. Last season, the Twins relied relatively heavily on Bailey Ober as a regular starting rotation arm. Then after acquiring Joe Ryan for aging-slugger Nelson Cruz, the former Rays pitcher wound up making five starts down the stretch for Rocco Baldelli’s club. There’s not time for either of those two exposure levels, but Simeon Woods Richardson could be worth giving a turn to. Logistically, there are a few things to work through. The St. Paul Saints regular season schedule goes through a final home game on September 28. They’ll obviously need arms to make those starts, and while they aren’t lined up for a postseason berth, the goal isn’t to minimize those games. There’s also the reality that Woods Richardson doesn’t currently have a spot on the Minnesota 40-man roster. That’s more than easily worked around, but would generate an increase in pay and start his Major League service time. From an individual perspective, it’s hard to suggest that Woods Richardson hasn’t earned the opportunity. Acquired by the Twins from Toronto when they sent Jose Berrios north of the border, the former second-round pick has a 2.93 ERA this season between Double and Triple-A. Only five of his starts have come with the Saints, but Woods Richardson owns a strong 9.7 K/9 and a manageable 3.0 BB/9. If there’s concern about a workload, the most bringing Woods Richardson to the Twins would add is an additional turn. Minnesota plays through October 5th, and should they wait to give him a single game, he could start in the season’s final series against the Chicago White Sox. Pitching just 53 1/3 innings last year after playing for Team USA in the Olympics, Woods Richardson has built back up to 95 1/3 innings this year and did throw 106 2/3 innings as an 18-year-old in the Mets system during 2019. There’s certainly no urgency to push Woods Richardson up a level, and we’re hardly going to learn much from a single start. That said, he should be expected to contribute next season, and given the amount of depth Minnesota needed this year, his having knowledge of The Show this offseason could benefit his preparation. You’d probably be hard-pressed to find a scenario where Woods Richardson is in the Twins Opening Day rotation to start 2023. This is not like Ryan starting on Opening Day coming off just five starts. You could make a good case that he’ll generate at least ten starts for Minnesota in 2023, however, and giving him a look with a few months to prepare for what that looks like seems reasonable. While the Twins were in the division race through the bulk of the season, even leading it most of the way, making the most out of the final games should be the goal. There’s not really a feel-good organizational guy to get an opportunity for, so showcasing the young talent and allowing them further to assert themselves could be a good way to put a bow on things.
  22. Yesterday we assessed the damage from the most upsetting negative developments in the Twins system this year, with three of the organization's top six prospects experiencing calamitous setbacks that have sent them spiraling out of the Twins' plans. As a chaser to cleanse all those bad vibes, today we'll highlight some hugely positive developments on the farm, each propelling ascendent prospects more directly into the team's future. Best of all, we couldn't limit this list to just three. These five players have tremendously improved their stocks this year, setting the stage to potentially help the major-league team in the very near future (if they haven't already). Louie Varland backs up a big year. We've already seen the early returns on this breakout prospect star. Varland didn't exactly come out of nowhere – he was named the organization's minor-league pitcher of the year in 2021 – but there was still an air of skepticism around him, a former 15th-round draft pick out of a D-II college. Sure, he was amazing in A-ball last year, but plenty of collegiate draft picks have dominated those low levels only to get a reality check in the high minors. For Varland, that check never came. He translated his excellence to Double-A without missing a beat, earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A that quickly turned into a major-league debut. Stepping out under the lights of Yankee Stadium, Varland excelled and made a big impression. Things didn't quite as well his next time out, in Cleveland on Saturday, but this is a guy whose stated goal for this year was to reach St. Paul. He blew past it, and as a consequence, will find himself squarely in the MLB depth picture heading into next season. Matt Wallner mashes past his contact issues. Wallner is another prospect whose monster campaign has already paved the way for a sooner-than-expected MLB debut. And like Varland, he's a local kid, native to Forest Lake, MN. Unlike Varland, Wallner was not a late-round draft pick who emerged from low expectations to achieve top prospect status. He was a bona fide stud coming out of college, selected 39th overall in 2019. But he had his own set of doubts coming into this season, relating mainly to his contact and discipline issues. Even for someone with as much raw power as Wallner, it's really tough to project big-league success for a bat-first player who strikes out 33% of the time and barely walks – at Single-A as a 23-year-old, no less. Would upper-level pitchers chop him to bits? Turns out, it's been the other way around. Wallner obliterated Double-A pitching, posting a .299/.436/.597 slash line with 21 homers in 74 games. That earned him a trip to the Futures Game and a promotion to Triple-A soon after. Wallner got off to a slow start with the Saints, batting .105 with zero extra-base hits in his first 10 games. Then he flipped a switch. Since the beginning of August he's slashing .289/.414/.564. Walks are up, strikeouts are down, and that has a been an overall trend for him this year as he's shown the ability to actively improve his strike zone control and evolve his game. The huge breakout season, combined with desperation for help at the big-league level, led to Wallner getting called up in Cleveland this past weekend. He homered off Shane Bieber in his first MLB game. Wallner felt like a bit of a longshot at this time last year, but now looks like a guy you can confidently write into the team's plans going forward. The idea of both he and Varland, as hometown boys, turning into fixtures for the Twins over the next five years is pretty fun. Simeon Woods Richardson shows his true colors. A former second-round draft pick of the Mets, Woods Richardson has widely been viewed as one of the more prestigious pitching prospects in the minors, making both Baseball America's and MLB.com's Top 100 lists in 2020 and 2021. The Twins were thrilled to get him alongside Austin Martin in the trade that sent José Berríos to Toronto last summer. Looking at his 2021 season in isolation, fans might have been asking ... why? He had a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts with the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate, and then put up a 6.75 ERA in a brief eight-inning September stint with Wichita. It was a weird year that saw him get aggressively assigned to Double-A at age 20, then take a bunch of time away from his team for the Olympics, where he didn't even pitch. The 6-foot-3, 210 lb right-hander has fully gotten back on track this year. He didn't allow a run in his first four starts en route to a 2.92 ERA over 71 innings at Wichita before moving up to St. Paul in mid-August. There he has continued to excel with a 2.55 ERA in 24 ⅔ frames. Between both levels, Woods Richardson has averaged well over a strikeout per inning, cut down significantly on the walks, and allowed only six home runs in 21 outings. Opponents have batted .206 against him. He's about three years younger than the average player at Triple-A. This reaffirming turnaround from Woods Richardson has been huge for two reasons, both tying to yesterday's article. First, it keeps the Berríos trade looking like a winner even with Martin falling off, and second, it keeps another high-caliber and near-ready pitching prospect in the wings even with Balazovic getting derailed. Emmanuel Rodriguez blossoms into prospect stardom. Unlike the others highlighted in this article, Rodriguez is probably not in line to make an MLB debut in the especially near future. He's a teenager who hasn't appeared above Low-A and his timeline was further delayed by a season-ending knee injury suffered in June. In spite of all that, his performance prior to that injury was so magnificent, and so incredibly encouraging, that he has to be included in this piece. Rodriguez ranked 15th on our preseason top prospects list, characterized as an intriguing yet distant international talent coming off an impressive showing in rookie ball. His follow-up at Single-A left no doubt as to the outfielder's sky-high potential: in 47 games before going down, he slashed .272/.493/.552 with nine homers, 11 steals, and 57 (!) walks. Yes, you read that right – nearly a .500 OBP and more walks than games played from a 19-year-old in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Realistically, even if he comes back with gusto next year, Rodriguez is probably looking at a 2024 debut at the earliest, but his spectacular first half puts him in the "blue chip prospect" conversation and that's a hugely positive development for this system. Brooks Lee arrives and thrives. I honestly believe this will go down as THE biggest boost to the farm system over a span of many years: Lee, widely viewed as one of the premier talents in this year's MLB draft, somehow sliding to the Twins at No. 8 overall, where they were more than happy to take him. They may have landed a new franchise player. Quickly signed to a $5.7 million bonus, Lee has handled every assignment so far with aplomb. He went to rookie ball briefly where he batted .353 to earn a promotion to Single-A. Five weeks at Cedar Rapids was enough to convince the Twins he was ready for the next level, so over the weekend, Lee was called up to Wichita, reaching Double-A exactly two months after he was drafted. Touted for his "otherworldly bat-to-ball skills," Lee was one of the top hitters in college, an exceedingly advanced talent, and the Twins could barely contain their excitement when he fell into their laps. "It’s hard to say who made who fall to our pick," said scouting director Sean Johnson, "but regardless of who caused it, [for] the domino to trickle, we’re ecstatic." Their actions have backed up their words. Advanced talent or not, pushing a player to Double-A two months after drafting him makes an aggressive statement. Presumably billed to open back at Wichita in 2023, Lee will be in position to make a case for a big-league promotion next summer. It's almost as if the Twins are planning around that possibility.
  23. TRANSACTIONS Catcher David Banuelos placed on the 7-day IL retroactive to September 13 (concussion) SAINTS SENTINEL Louisville 5, St. Paul 1 Box Score Simeon Woods Richardson made the start tonight for the St. Paul Saints and was dominant. He worked six scoreless innings allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out four. He kept Louisville off the scoreboard. Lifted after six strong innings for reliever Drew Strotman, the Saints allowed a run after their new pitcher gave up a hit and a walk. The 7th inning Louisville single broke up the scoreless tie. Answering in the bottom of the 7th inning, Nash Knight ripped a line drive single to drive in Mark Contreras and even the score at one. Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t hold the tie and in the 8th inning, a Bats single from Cristian Santana drove in two putting the good guys behind 3-1. Louisville then added another two runs in the 9th inning and pushed the lead up to 5-1. WIND SURGE WISDOM Postponed Due to inclement weather, Wichita and Midland were postponed tonight. KERNELS NUGGETS No Game The Kernels are off tonight as they prepare for game two of the Midwest League Championship Series. They trail 1-0 and Travis Adams will start tomorrow night at home. MUSSEL MATTERS No Game The Mighty Mussels are off tonight as they prepare for game two of the Florida State League Championship Series. They trail 1-0 and Marco Raya will start tomorrow night at home. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER,1 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – Nash Knight (St. Paul) - 2-4, RBI, K PROSPECT SUMMARY We will keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER,1 BB, 4 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-3, BB THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic Wichita @ Midland (7:00PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  24. TRANSACTIONS INF/OF Dalton Shuffield promoted from Cedar Rapids to St. Paul C Dillon Tatum promoted from Fort Myers to Wichita C Ricardo Olivar promoted from FCL Twins to Fort Myers Wind Surge placed C Kyle Schmidt on the Injured List SAINTS SENTINEL Mud Hens 5, Saints 2 Box Score The Saints had trouble getting their offense going in a 5-2 loss to the Mud Hens Thursday. Simeon Woods Richardson started and allowed two runs over five strong innings. Woods Richardson struck out seven and walked three. It's been a wonderful bounce back season for SWR, who now owns a 3.12 ERA across both levels of the upper minors. Opponents are hitting just .212/.286/.307 off SWR this season and he's six years younger than his average competition at Triple-A. The Saints tallied five hits on the night, including four doubles from Matt Wallner, Mark Contreras, Elliot Soto, and John Andreoli. The game was tied at two after an RBI groundout from Michael Helman in the fifth. The Mud Hens took the lead in the sixth and never looked back. The Saints are 65-66 on the season. WIND SURGE WISDOM Naturals 6, Wind Surge 3 Box Score The Wind Surge took a tough loss in the late innings Thursday night. Leobaldo Cabrera tied the game on an RBI single in the second. In the fifth, Austin Martin hit his second homer of the year to tie the game at three. Martin entered the game hitting .304/.467/.348 (.815 OPS) in 30 September plate appearances. It's been a down year for Martin but a strong finish could provide momentum for 2023. DaShawn Keirsey Jr. went 2-for-3 with a double and a walk, while Aaron Sabato also doubled. Francis Peguero was outstanding in relief, pitching 1 1/3 innings with one hit and no runs allowed. It was all Naturals from that point on. They scored one in the eighth and two in the ninth, securing the victory. Despite notching nine hits and drawing five walks, the Surge couldn’t score more than three. They left 25 men on base. The Surge are 71-57. KERNELS NUGGETS Kernels 2, Cubs 1 Box Score Travis Adams was terrific in his start for the Kernels in Thursday’s win. Adams allowed one run over five innings. The Kernels followed that up with four scoreless from the bullpen, including scoreless innings from Bobby Milacki, Sean Mooney, and Miguel Rodríguez. The trio struck out seven in a masterful pitching performance. Brooks Lee’s defense also helped. Trailing 1-0 in the fifth, Jeferson Morales blasted a go-ahead two-run homer to left. It was Morales’ seventh homer of the season. The Kernels had only five total hits, but the swing from Morales was enough to seal the victory. Willie Joe Garry Jr. tallied two hits in the win. The Kernels are 73-56. MUSSEL MATTERS The Mussels’ doubleheader was rained out Thursday. TWINS MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Minor League Hitter of the Day - Austin Martin (2-for-4, HR, BB) Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Simeon Woods Richardson (5 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 7 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 Brooks Lee - (1-for-3, BB) #4 Austin Martin - (2-for-4, HR, BB) #6 Simeon Woods Richardson - (5 IP, 3 H, 2 R/ER, 3 BB, 7 K) #9 Matt Wallner - (1-for-4, 2B, R) #14 Edouard Julien - (0-for-3, 2 BB) FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Saints - Jordan Balazovic Surge - Brent Headrick Kernels - TBD Mussels - TBD (Doubleheader) QUESTIONS OR COMMENTS? LEAVE THEM BELOW!
  25. SAINTS SENTINEL Omaha 11, St. Paul 9 Box Score The Saints’ late charge fell just short Friday night. St. Paul scored seven of their nine runs in the bottom of the eighth inning after surrendering nine in the seventh and eighth combined. Jermaine Palacios (2-for-5, RBI) and Mark Contreras (3-for-5, RBI) each hit two doubles, which account for all of St. Paul’s extra-base hits. Michael Helman (2-for-6) and Chris Williams (1-for-5) each drove in two runs. Simeon Woods Richardson performed admirably on the mound, striking out three and not surrendering an earned run in five innings. He now has a 3.29 ERA in 13 2/3 Triple-A innings. Devin Smeltzer and Brad Peacock surrendered nine runs in 2 2/3 innings of relief. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 6, Springfield 2 Box Score The Wind Surge brought home all six of their runs in the top half of the sixth inning to earn the win over the Cardinals. Edouard Julien (1-for-3) and DaShawn Keirsey Jr. (1-for-3) each picked up two RBI. All five of Wichita’s hits were singles, and as a team, they drew 10 walks. Five Wind Surge pitchers combined to throw nine innings with Alex Phillips earning the win. Aaron Rozek started and struck out six in 3 2/3 innings. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Dayton 4 Box Score The Kernels clinched the win early as their bats drove in all six runs in the top of the first inning. The Dragons scored three in the bottom of the ninth when the game was already out of reach. Eighth hitter Charles Mack went 1-for-4 with a home run and two RBI. Wander Javier (1-for-4) also contributed two RBI. Travis Adams threw the first six innings and struck out six while giving up only one run. Bradley Hanner and Tyler Palm combined to throw the final three innings, striking out four and not allowing an earned run. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Bradenton 0 Box Score Keoni Cavaco’s three-run home run in the top of the second inning was all the Mighty Mussels need to pick up the win over the Marauders on Friday. Cavaco (2-for-4, 2B, HR) was the lone Fort Myers batter to contribute multiple hits. Kala’i Rosario (1-for-3) also doubled. Marco Raya tossed the first three innings and struck out five while ushering two walks and a hit. Regi Grace was awarded the win after throwing three hitless innings in relief, striking out five and walking none. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Travis Adams (Cedar Rapids): 6 IP, 5 H, 1 R/ER, 1 BB, 6 K Hitter of the Day – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers): 2-for-4, 2B, HR, 3 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-3, 2 BB #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-3, RBI, BB #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 5 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3K #7 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, BB #8 - Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R/ER, 2 BB, 5 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-for-4, BB #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-for-3, 2 RBI #18 - Tanner Schobel (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3 #20 - Kala’i Rosario (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, 2B SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Omaha (7:07 PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (0-6, 9.06 ERA) Wichita @ Springfield (6:05 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (2-2, 4.75 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Dayton (6:05 PM CST) - LHP Jaylin Nowlin (1-1, 3.27 ERA) Fort Myers (6:30 PM CST) - TBD
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