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  1. Jon Heyman was the first to report that the Twins are acquiring Jorge Lopez from the Orioles. The Twins will send four pitchers including Twins Daily Top 10 prospect Cade Povich, reliever Yennier Cano, and two more pitchers from the low-minors, Juan Rojas and Juan Nunez. Prior to this year, Lopez, 29, was a struggling starting pitcher. He debuted with two games with the Brewers in 2015 and then pitched in another 11 games with the Crew between 2017 and 2018. He went to the Royals and pitched in 47 games between 2018 and 2020. He went to the Orioles in 2020. That year, he posted a 6.34 ERA over 38 1/3 innings in nine games (six starts). In 2021, he went 3-14 with Baltimore with a 6.07 ERA over 121 2/3 innings. But this season, the O's moved him full-time into their bullpen and he became an All-Star. In 44 games, he is 4-6 with a 1.68 ERA. In 48 1/3 innings, he have given up 30 hits, 17 walks and struck out 54 batters. He has given up just three home runs, a couple to the Twins in back-to-back blown saves last month. Lopez throws hard, with a fastball averaging over 97 mph. As of right now, Lopez ranks as the second best reliever (behind Josh Hader) traded at the MLB deadline, though he’s likely to fall to at least third when Cubs closer David Robertson is dealt. He’s also under team control for two more seasons after this one. His worth is reflected in the quantity and quality of prospects the Twins gave up to acquire him. Twins Daily has learned that left-hander Cade Povich, their third-round pick in 2011 out of Nebraska, will be sent to the Orioles. Povich has spent the season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He became a top prospect with the organization when he arrived at instructional league last fall throwing 97 with a slider. Cano was signed after leaving Cuba. The 28-year-old has been impressive the past two seasons in Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. He has made 10 appearances for the Twins. In 13 2/3 innings, he has walked 11 and struck out 14 while posting an ERA of 9.22. He's got good stuff and a rubber arm and will do well with the Orioles. Juan Nunez, 21, signed with the Twins from the Dominican Republic. He pitched in 11 games in 2021 in the DSL. This season, he is 0-2 with a 4.85 ERA in eight games (7 starts). Over 29 2/3 innings, he has walked 10 and struck out 47 batters. Juan Rojas is 18 years old, signed out of Venezuela. He also pitched in the DSL in 2021. This season, he is 1-2 with a 3.60 ERA in eight games (5 starts). In 30 innings, he has 38 strikeouts and just four walks. So, the Twins need to make sure that Jorge Lopez 2022 is the Jorge Lopez they are acquiring, and not turn back into Jorge Lopez circa 2015-2021. Will Lopez be thrown into the closer's role? Most likely, Rocco Baldelli will be able to simply choose between Lopez and Jhoan Duran, along with Griffin Jax, in the late innings, and that is a positive. The Twins made one move... Will they make more? Let us know your thoughts and what more you would like to see in the comment section.
  2. There’s been no denying that Rocco Baldelli needs additional arms at the back of his bullpen. Whether it’s Wes Johnson or Pete Maki helping to set up the pecking order, it’s basically been pray on Jhoan Duran or hope for rain. Griffin Jax has stepped up, and Tyler Duffey has even trended in the right direction. Emilio Pagan has been a flop though, and Caleb Thielbar hasn’t posted numbers in line with his metrics. In Jorge Lopez, Minnesota gets an All-Star reliever that owns a miniscule 1.68 ERA along with a 2.99 FIP. His 10.1 K/9 will immediately be among the best in Minnesota’s bullpen, and his 19 saves reflect an ability to pitch in high leverage. Lopez may be ripe for some small regression as his xERA sits at 2.99 and his xFIP is 3.10. Both marks would be a substantial upgrade for the Twins unit, however. What we know about this version of Lopez presents a smaller sample size. He was claimed off waivers from the Kansas City Royals in 2020. Even with the stellar 2022, his career ERA sits at 5.51. With a career 35.6% hard hit rate, the 19.8% mark he’s posted in 2022 stands out as a massive leap forward. The major difference for Lopez is that he’s now working out of the pen rather than starting. He has jumped his average fastball velocity nearly two mph to 97.4 mph this season. Instead of continuing to throw a traditional fastball though, Lopez now has become primarily a sinker-curveball pitcher with the two offerings combining to dominate more than 70% of his arsenal. Minnesota is taking a gamble on 48 1/3 innings being reflective of who Lopez is now, which is to say one of baseball’s best relievers, but they’ll have time to see him settle in as well. Rentals aren’t of significant interest to the Twins during this deadline, and Lopez isn’t a free agent until 2025. Grabbing a reliever like this would always come with a relatively substantial cost. Minnesota was forced to part with 2021 3rd round pick Cade Povich. Drafted out of Nebraska, Povich is seen as a mid-to-back-end starter. The 4.46 ERA at High-A Cedar Rapids isn’t shiny, but he’s got a gaudy 12.2 K/9 and has allowed just 3.0 BB/9. Probably a bit underrated on Minnesota prospect lists, he has looked the part of a very solid selection. Providing some Major League-ready talent to Baltimore as well, Minnesota is sending Cuban Yennier Cano. Signed back in 2019 as an international free agent, Cano is now 28-years-old. The stuff has played wonderfully for him at Triple-A St. Paul, where he owns a 1.90 ERA across 23 2/3 innings. His 9.5 K/9 there also is something to be excited about translating. Unfortunately he’s been hit around in less-than-deal spots when called up to the Twins, and has routinely been on the shuttle back and forth across town. He’s been assigned to Triple-A Norfolk for the Orioles, but a consistent pen role the rest of the way could help him to settle in. Completing the deal is 18-year-old Juan Rojas and 21-year-old Juan Nunez. Rojas is a lefty making his stateside debut this season in the Florida Complex League. He owns a 3.60 ERA across 30 innings and owns an impressive 38/4 K/BB. Nunez is right-handed, also making his stateside debut, and owns a 4.85 ERA across 29 2/3 innings. While he’s given up more hits and run production, Nunez also has an impressive 47/10 K/BB while allowing just two homers. It’s hard not to see this deal as a win for both sides in significantly different ways. Trading a closer when you’re not seriously in contention makes a good deal of sense. The Orioles are working with found money in that their acquisition cost of Lopes was nothing more than a waiver claim. Minnesota then gets an arm that can immediately slot into the back end of their bullpen and help to shore up among the biggest deficiencies for this club. Povich is absolutely the headliner here, and he could wind up being something similar to Josh Winder or Bailey Ober. At least a couple of years from that promise, tying him to two complete lottery tickets and a project in Cano, there’s no reason the Twins should have any questions about looking back on this one. Should Lopez continue development as a reliever with the Minnesota coaching staff, he’ll be an easy candidate to tender deals to each of the next two winters. What is your assessment of this trade?
  3. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 3 IP, 3H, 6R, 6ER, 6BB, 2K (78 pitches, 36 strikes, 46.1%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (9), Kyle Garlick (8) Bottom 3 WPA: Chris Archer (-.309), Jharel Cotton (-.191), Luis Arraez (-.067) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Things did not look good at all for Minnesota after the first inning of this game. Reigning National League Cy Young Award winner Corbin Burnes cruised through the top of the inning on 16 pitches, with the only Twins baserunner coming after a fielding error on the outfield. Then, Chris Archer struggled badly, allowing each of the first four batters he faced to reach. After a Christian Yelich leadoff walk and a single by Willy Adames, Rowdy Tellez crushed the first pitch he saw for a three-run home run. The Twins provided a quick response, though. At the top of the second, José Miranda homered off Burnes in the very first pitch of the inning, putting Minnesota on the board, and starting Burnes’ nightmare inning. The Twins lineup made the All-Star starter work twice as hard to get through the second inning – it took him 32 pitches to complete the frame. After the Miranda home run and an Alex Kirilloff groundout, Minnesota’s bottom third of the lineup got three consecutive hits that scored two more runs and tied the game. Kyle Garlick doubled to right and scored after Nick Gordon did the same thing. Gordon himself scored too on a Gary Sanchez liner to center. The Twins were back at the top of the lineup with only one out and a man on, but they couldn’t capitalize. In fact, Burnes really settled down starting right there, in the second inning. He struck out Luis Arráez and Carlos Correa to get out of the jam, but that wasn’t all. Those two strikeouts began a hot streak for the Crew’s ace, as he went on to retire thirteen straight Minnesota batters. Archer, bullpen give up seven runs on two home runs Archer tossed a couple of scoreless innings, in the second and in the third, but the Brewers ambushed him again in the fourth, and he was done. Despite facing the bottom half of the Milwaukee lineup, he struggled to throw strikes and surrendered three consecutive walks. Jharel Cotton took over, trying to put out the fire, but he ultimately couldn’t do it. After a strikeout, he gave up a loaded bases walk to Yelich that gave the Brewers the lead. Then, Adames hit a sac-fly to left to score Luis Urias from third, making it 5-3 Milwaukee. He was one out away from keeping the game open. Then, Tellez happened. Again. After a hard-fought seven-pitch at-bat, the big man destroyed a changeup at the heart of the plate (111.8 MPH exit velocity) for a three-run dong that blew the game wide open. Making his first appearance since July 14, Yennier Cano took over in relief of Cotton in the fifth. Since being sent down to Triple-A Saint Paul, Cano improved very much, maintaining a 3.85 ERA through eleven appearances and allowing only one earned run in five appearances (six innings) in July for the Saints. He got called up last Friday and got his first look back at majors today. He retired Hunter Renfroe to start the fifth, but he was really shaky for the remainder of the inning. Kolten Wong hit a double off him, and Urías blasted a two-run shot to make it 10-3 Milwaukee, basically putting the game out of reach. Cano continued in the game for the sixth inning, and things looked much smoother for him. He tossed a scoreless frame on 16 pitches, pitching around a leadoff walk to Tellez. Twins get one back but can’t spark a rally Minnesota’s second home run of the afternoon was also leadoff fashion. Garlick took Jake McGee deep in the first pitch of the seventh inning, cutting the Brewers’ lead to six. Following that homer, Gordon drew a four-pitch walk off the same McGee, with the top of the lineup coming up. But the Milwaukee reliever managed to retire the next three batters faced to end the threat. Miranda got his third hit of the afternoon in the eighth inning, making it three-consecutive games with at least three hits. His season numbers are now up to .281 AVG and .799 OPS, but he’s even better in his recent games, slashing .377/.431/.642 (1.073) in his last 15 games. The YouTube broadcast fellows said he doesn’t stand a chance at winning rookie of the year. Could they be wrong? What’s Next? Tomorrow the Twins have their second off day this week as they head for South California, where they’ll start a three-game set against the Padres in San Diego. Game one is scheduled to start at 8:40 pm CDT on Friday, with Joe Ryan (2.89 ERA) taking the mound for Minnesota and Blake Snell (4.75 ERA) toeing the rubber for the Padres. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Moran 28 0 0 0 21 49 Cano 0 0 0 0 46 46 Cotton 0 11 0 0 33 44 Duran 11 0 0 32 0 43 Duffey 11 0 0 25 0 36 Smith 0 16 0 17 0 33 Jax 0 13 0 12 0 25 Pagán 2 0 0 20 0 22 Megill 7 0 0 0 10 17
  4. Box Score SP: Dylan Bundy: 2 ⅓ IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (67 pitches, 42 strikes (63%)) Home Runs: Polanco (6) Bottom 3 WPA: Dylan Bundy -.463, Byron Buxton -.061, Mark Contreras -.049 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Game Notes The Minnesota Twins’ bats picked up where they left off on Friday night as they got off to a quick start on Saturday afternoon. Luis Arraez kicked off the game with a leadoff single to set up Jorge Polanco for a 2-run home run, his sixth of the 2022 season. Coming into today’s game, José Berríos owned a 5.62 ERA in 2022. The quick damage from the Twins in the first inning made it seem like the old friend’s nightmare start to the 2022 season would continue. Following the first inning, though, Berríos settled down in a big way and quieted the Twins’ bats in a big way. After getting two hits and two runs in the first inning, the Twins were only able to muster one more hit over Berríos’ seven-inning start right-hander turned in one of his best starts of the season, potentially turning around his disastrous start. On the Twins’ side of the mound, Dylan Bundy’s start went about as poorly as possible. Bundy couldn’t even make it through the third inning as the Blue Jays pounded him at every opportunity. In just 2 ⅓ short innings, Bundy allowed eight hits and five earned runs, including home runs to Bo Bichette and Alejandro Kirk. After a stellar night for the Twins’ bullpen on Friday, the reliever group was terrible for the Twins on Saturday afternoon. As a group, the bullpen allowed six earned runs over 5 ⅔ innings, striking out only three batters. Each of Ian Hamilton, Yennier Cano and Juan Minaya were tagged for multiple hits and at least one earned run. Overall it was a day to forget for the Minnesota Twins. Every pitcher who appeared in the game for the Twins looked bad, and after a promising first inning, the bats were completely silent all game (aside from a meaningless run in the 9th), making a poorly performing José Berríos look like prime Johan Santana. In the end the Twins ended up on the losing side, 12-3, dropping their record to 31-24. What’s Next? The beautiful part of baseball is that the Twins get a chance at redemption tomorrow. The Minnesota Twins will wrap up their three game series against the Blue Jays in a rubber match on Sunday afternoon. The Twins will trot Devin Smeltzer out to the mound to face off against AL Cy Young candidate, Kevin Gausman. Game time is 12:37pm central time. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet
  5. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Chris Archer, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 5 R, 4 ER, 3 BB, 2 K (75 pitches, 42 strikes, 56%) Home Runs: none Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Offense shows some encouraging signs early, but Archer can't come through Apparently, not having to face Justin Verlander makes a huge difference – who knew? Contrary to Tuesday night, when Minnesota’s first hit of the game came only in the eighth inning, the bats were off to a good start early. Max Kepler doubled to deep right in the Twins’ second at-bat of the game and scored moments later when Jorge Polanco hit a double to the right corner. Starting this game with a couple of good, extra-base hits was a relief for this offense. The Twins hadn’t scored a run since the third inning of the final game of the Oakland series. Polanco hit an RBI single on Sunday, and the Twins went on to hit .137 since. But the Twins needed their starting pitcher to pick up as well, and that didn’t come close to happening tonight. Making his sixth start of the season, Chris Archer hadn’t given up more than two runs in any of his previous five starts, but things were about to change. After a long 1-2-3 first inning, Archer struggled with his command and very quickly gave up the Twins' one-run lead. Yordan Álvarez and Yuli Gurriel hit back-to-back singles to open the second inning, and both of them scored later on, on a sac fly and a single. José Altuve hit a leadoff home run to right to open the third, and then things definitely spiraled out of control for Archer. He gave up back-to-back walks after the home run, then loaded the bases with a two-out walk to Kyle Tucker. Jeremy Peña hit a liner to right to score two more runs, making it 5-1 Houston. That concluded Archer’s night, making it the fourth consecutive game in which a Twins starter pitches four innings or less. A storm breaks out, and the game gets suspended, set to resume on Thursday A Royce Lewis single to lead off the bottom of the third brought some hope that the Twins could build some momentum offensively, with the top of the order coming next. But José Urquidy retired the side on 13 pitches to end the threat and… the night at Target Field. Before the fourth inning started, with Yennier Cano warming up to make his big league debut, a storm broke out, and the game went into a weather delay. Fans were evacuated from the stands into the concourses and had to wait until the announcement of the game suspension came, roughly one hour after the interruption of the game. Here we go again... After a 15-hour weather delay (aka, suspended game), the Twins and Astros resumed play at 12:10. Big-League Debuts Technically, Yennier Cano made his MLB debut on Wednesday night because he was announced. However, the reality is that he actually made his MLB debut when the game resumed on Thursday. Cano, who had all night to think about it, was impressive. He struck out the first batter he faced, catcher Martin Maldanado. Then he got Jose Altuve and Michael Brantley quickly. In the fifth inning, he got through Alex Bregman, Yordan Alvarez and Yuli Guerriel without breaking a sweat. He went out for a third inning. Kyle Tucker hit a high home run over the wall in right field to lead off the sixth frame. He got one out in that inning but after a couple of singles, Cody Stashak came on and allowed both inherited runners to score. So in his 2 1/3 innings, he was charged with three runs on three hits. That line is so much worse than how Cano performed. The Twins had a second player make his MLB debut in the game too. When play resumed, Gilberto Celestino had moved from left to center field. Mark Contreras took over in left field. Contreras came to the plate with runners on first and third and nobody out. He swung at the first pitch and hit a ball 105 mph to center. It was caught just in front of the warning track, but the run scored, so Contreras was awarded an RBI on the sacrifice fly. In his next at-bat, Contreras saw a handful of pitches before hitting a bounding grounder up the middle. Astros shortstop Jeremy Pena misplayed it for an error. Contreras later came around to score a run too. His final at-bat ended with a fielder's choice. The Twins are off to a very nice start to their season, but playing against a strong, veteran Astros team without Carlos Correa, and with young pitchers, was always going to be a bit of a reality check. Again, consider the amount of MLB time and at-bats that Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Gilberto Celestino, Royce Lewis, Mark Contreras, and even Ryan Jeffers have. Yet each of them contributed something in this game and are holding their own. So, you can say it's a reality check to see the Twins lose by a big margin, and that's fair. You can also be really excited about the future of this club, not only this year when Correa and Byron Buxton are back at full strength but for years to come. Along with the pitching pipeline that we are starting to see contribute to the Twins, there are hitters too. It's also OK to acknowledge both. Speaking of firsts... Nick Gordon has played all over the place since joining the Twins last summer. On Thursday, he made his pitching debut. The son of the former All-Star and long-time reliever Tom Gordon, Nick came in to face the Astros with the Twins down 11-3. And, he kept the score right there. For the most part, he lobbed in pitches at 70 mph or so. That said, he hit 87 with one pitch and 88 with another. He got a little help from Gio Urshela, but threw a scoreless frame. What’s Next? In approximately 30 minutes, Josh Winder (1.61 ERA) will try to snap the sequence of bad starts as he takes the mound for the third and final game of this series, facing Luis Garcia (3.45 ERA). Postgame Interview No postgame interviews due to the quick turn-around. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SUN MON TUE WED THU TOT Stashak 34 0 0 0 46 80 Cotton 0 0 58 0 0 58 Cano 0 0 0 0 36 36 Coulombe 0 0 29 IL IL 29 Pagán 28 0 0 0 0 28 Thielbar 20 0 3 0 0 23 Smith 12 0 0 0 0 12 Duffey 9 0 0 0 0 9 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0 Jax 0 0 0 0 0 0
  6. Minnesota signed Yennier Cano back in June 2019 as an international free agent. He was a 25-year-old Cuban native who had pitched multiple years in the Cuban National Series. From age 19-to-21, he made 76 relief appearances in the CNS and posted a 2.12 ERA with a 1.10 WHIP. During those outings, he pitched over 161 innings, so his team used him for multiple innings. Cano posted a 5.0 K/9, but he was over 5.5 years younger than the average age of the competition in the CNS. His international experience was one of the traits that intrigued teams interested in signing him. He pitched in the Caribbean World Series, Pan Am Games, and Premier 12. Cano helped his team win the championship in the Serie Nacional 54 as he amassed six saves on the way to the title. It was clear that he was a reliever, but he had the potential to be a fast riser in any organization. Cano made his first affiliated appearances during the 2019 season with the GCL Twins before moving up to Fort Myers. He made eight appearances (13.0 IP) with the Miracle and posted a 2.77 ERA with a 1.46 WHIP. One of the most promising signs was his increase in strikeout rate as he struck out a batter per inning. His walk rate was too high (8.4 BB/9), but it was a small sample size. He had the opportunity for the 2020 season to push himself closer to the big leagues. Unfortunately, the pandemic wiped out the 2020 minor league season. Cano's next time on the mound was in the Puerto Rican Winter League, where he made seven appearances. He posted a 1.08 ERA with a 0.60 WHIP and an 11-to-2 strikeout to walk ratio. From there, Cano could transition those successes to the Double-A level. Cano started the 2022 campaign at Triple-A, where he pitched 12 innings. He has yet to allow an earned run, and he has cut his walk rate from 5.1 BB/9 to 3.0 BB/9. He struck out 14 batters and posted an excellent 0.83 WHIP. Injuries are certainly one of the reasons Cano is getting a big-league chance, but his 2022 performance has also warranted this opportunity. As far as a scouting report, Cano has four pitches, including a fastball, changeup, slider, and a splitter. His fastball sits in the mid-90s, but he can rear back and hit the upper-90s. His fastball also has a lot of sink to it, but his splitter is the pitch that generates the most swings and misses. His slider is his highest-graded secondary pitch, which FanGraphs ranks as a 50 currently and a 55 future grade. His low-slot angle will provide a unique look for batters, especially with the amount of velocity he can generate. Cano may get an extended look at the big-league level depending on Minnesota's injuries. What are your expectations for Cano? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Tuesday evening saw the St. Paul Saints kick off their season against the Louisville Bats down in Kentucky, and it’s hard not to drool at the top of their lineup that started with Jose Miranda, Royce Lewis, and Trevor Larnach. They've got pitching too, with Jordan Balazovic (though he's on the IL to start the year), Cole Sands, Jovani Moran, and Drew Strotman some of the names to watch or that you already know. The biggest story in this one is, without a doubt, the return of Lewis to official game action. The last time he was seen on a minor-league diamond, was all the way back in 2019 when he ended the year mashing in the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a Most Valuable Player award. He definitely made his presence known in this one, and in each phase of the game, which we will get to. TRANSACTIONS With it being Opening Day in Triple-A and the other affiliates kicking off their seasons on Friday, there will likely be a lot of roster movement in the next few days, so be sure to check out this section moving forward. Outfielder Elijah Greene, who was signed this spring, was released. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Louisville 2 Box Score Taking the mound for the Saints to start the year, was offseason signee Mario Sanchez and he was solid for the first four innings, allowing just one hit, one walk, and striking out one. He threw 59 pitches, with a whopping 42 of them going for strikes (71%). Up to that point he was matched by Bats starter Ben Lively, who had held the St. Paul lineup hitless through the first four frames. Outfielder Derek Fisher changed that with a leadoff double to start the fifth inning and would later score the first run of the season for Twins affiliates on an RBI groundout from catcher David Banuelos. After a nice play at shortstop to end a threat from the Bats in the bottom of the inning, Lewis led off the top of the sixth with a single through the hole into left field. After a Trevor Larnach flyout, Lewis then demonstrated he still has his speed, taking second base for his first steal of the season. He would then come around to score on a Jake Cave single and 2-0 lead for the Saints. Wladimir Pinto was the first reliever for St. Paul, pitching the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out four. Trevor Megill then came on and worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless seventh inning, before serving up a home run to JT Riddle in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 2-1 and before it was said and done Yennier Cano would be summoned to end a two-out threat to tie the score. He got a flyout to keep the Saints out front heading into the ninth. Megill went 1 2/3 innings total, allowing three hits, walking one, and striking out two. In the top of the ninth, catcher David Banuelos added a needed insurance run with the first home run of the 2022 season, a 431-foot blast to left-center: Cano stayed in the game with a chance at his first save of the year, and it got interesting. A check swing led to a leadoff infield single and was followed by a double into the right-field corner that put the tying run in scoring position. An awkward passed ball led to a run (I could swear it was a foul tip, and Cano complained about it…), before he got a big strikeout and a lineout into left field for two outs. With the game on the line, Louisville brought on a pinch hitter, and Jose Miranda proceeded to make a game-saving play diving to his left to get the final out, and secure the first win of the 2022 minor league season! The Saints lineup managed just five hits, were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and left eight men on base for the game. Miranda went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts, Trevor Larnach was 0-for-3 with a walk and one K, and as a team, they struck out twelve times. In his first action since the 2019 season, Royce Lewis finished 1-for-4 with a single, walk, run scored, and a stolen base. He also struck out twice, but what stood out to me was there are no ill-effects from his knee surgery. He made a couple of nice plays in the field, showed his speed on the base paths, and there wasn’t any type of leg kick I’d call even remotely excessive in his swing. Most of all, I am sure it felt great for him to be back in action! Be sure to take a look at the Saints Roster Preview. WIND SURGE WISDOM The Wind Surge will begin their season on Friday at home against the Tulsa Drillers. While the Wind Surge have yet to name their opening day starter, the Tulsa Drillers have a prospect named Gus Varland scheduled for them. This is notable, as he’s the older brother of Twins Daily’s #14 Prospect Louie Varland, who is on the Wind Surge roster to start the year. If Wichita and Twins brass know what’s good for them, they’ll make this brotherly battle happen to start the year! In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wind Surge roster preview. KERNELS NUGGETS The Kernels open their season at home as well, facing off against a former Twins affiliate, the Beloit Snappers. You can also get a look at the Cedar Rapids roster in advance of their opener on Friday. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers hits the road to Clearwater to open their 2022 season against the Threshers on Friday. There should be quite a few of the Twins 2021 draft picks on their roster, which has yet to be officially announced. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Wladimir Pinto, St. Paul Saints (W, 2 IP, H, BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, R, BB, SB (1), 2 K #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-for-5, 2 K #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - Injured List (knee strain) #11 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-2, 2 BB, 2 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Louisville (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s game!
  8. It was already over by May 1st. The futility of the Twins 2021 season was summed up by the first-half performance of its pitching staff. The Twins hurlers collected a pitifully sad 4.4 fWAR in the first half of the season, good for 29th in MLB. For the sake of comparison, the White Sox, who had the best first half, came in at 16.1 fWAR. The bullpen itself finished 26th. This is one of the occasions where the eye test and the numbers match up. We all remember April, Alexander Colome being sent out night after night, like an unsuspecting contestant in ‘Red Light, Green Light’ from Squid Game. It ended the same on almost every occasion, a sad, predictable massacre. There was an improvement, however. The Twins finished middle of the pack by most metrics in the second half, although their outcomes belied some of the processes, with a cumulative K/9 in the bottom third of the league and vastly better BaBIP, the Twins bullpen is an important area of focus if the team is to compete in 2022. Similarly to last week, when I wrote about starting pitching free-agent options, I’m choosing to make some assumptions for the sake of looking at some targets in this piece. The Twins have some strong pieces in place. Assuming their return, Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Caleb Thielbar provide the bullpen with a strong spine. They have some effective pieces in place, a couple of high-leverage arms, and are all set on lefties. The Twins have strong options at AA and AAA. Jovani Moran and his deadly changeup made their major league debut in September. The Twins have additional high-quality, high-velocity arms that performed well at AAA, including Yennier Cano, Ian Hamilton, and Ryan Mason. Those three alone combined for 235 strikeouts in 183 MiLB innings in 2021. In addition to Moran, that’s a group that should be counted on for 1-2 spots in the 2022 season. 2021 will not scare the front office away from waiver wire pickups. The Twins did not show an ability to tweak or develop any waiver-wire pickups in 2021, a la Matt Wisler in 2020. That doesn’t mean that they should, or will, stop looking for value. The Twins need to try and add some stability to the bullpen through free agency. The organization is presented with a difficult challenge, then. Add stability to the solid bullpen foundation already in place with some consistent, reliable free-agent additions. Relief pitchers are notoriously fickle, so fleshing out the bullpen will present a tricky off-season challenge. There is no shortage of options available in the relief pitching market. I counted 92 free agent relief pitchers, with two-thirds of those having positive 2021 seasons. So who are some possibilities the Twins may target? Kendall Graveman Graveman made just $1.25 million in 2021 with the Mariners and Astros, so is due for a solid raise in advance of the 2022 season. He made all kinds of breakthroughs this season with his average fastball velocity climbing from 94.2 mph to 96.5 mph and his K/9 increasing from 7.23 to 9.80. Graveman finished the season with an xERA of 3.65 in 56 innings pitched and was acquired by the Astros at the deadline. Archie Bradley Bradley was a popular addition candidate with Twins fandom in 2020. He signed for Philadelphia on a 1-year, $6 million deal and should get a similar AAV in 2022. Bradley has strong velocity in the mid-90s but did see some concerning drop-offs in 2021. His K/9 fell to 7.1 (from a previous high of 10.9) and his control was inconsistent. It’s also worth noting that Philadelphia seems to be where relief pitching goes to die. Bradley would be a strong possibility for the Twins if the front office sees something they can tweak in his approach, as the stuff and the track record is there. Corey Knebel Knebel rebounded in 2021 after a dreadful 2020. Unsurprisingly, it was the Dodgers who helped him find his best stuff again. Knebel put together a 2.96 xERA in 25 2/3 innings, maintaining a healthy 10.5 K/9. Knebel is a true two-pitch reliever (fastball/curveball) who can run it up into the high 90s. The Dodgers trusted him to open a critical Game 5 of the NLDS against the Giants. Knebel was tied to the Dodgers on a 1-year, $5.25 million deal in 2021. Which of these candidates do you like or not like for the Twins bullpen? Which other free-agent relief pitchers would you like to see the Twins target?
  9. Understandably, much of the discourse between Twins fans this offseason has surrounded the lack of pitching upgrades, a frustration compounded by a stagnant lockout. Since Derek Falvey arrived in Minnesota in 2016 the organization has made an enormous commitment to maximizing player development. The Twins were on the front end of hiring college coaches for their MLB staff (Wes Johnson). Additionally, they catapulted their front office staff from near the bottom of the proverbial pile to a modern, sophisticated, and extremely expertly staffed group. While Twins fans spend most of their time sweating the status of the rotation and the potential competitiveness of the MLB roster in 2022, I’d argue that the outcomes of the Wichita Wind Surge and St. Paul Saints will have a greater impact on any retrospective of Falvey’s tenure than anything the MLB club does in 2022. The Twins are completely committed to developing their own pitching pipeline to achieve the ‘sustainable success’ Falvey spoke of when he first arrived in Minnesota. With this in mind, here are three critical St. Paul Saints' storylines to watch closely in 2022. The Development of the Twins’ Starting Pitching Pipeline This has to be the year Twins starting pitching prospects breakthrough and show what they can do at the MLB level. The majority of Joe Ryan’s development should be credited to the Rays. Bailey Ober was an exceptional surprise in 2021 but is likely a mid-back end of the rotation guy. In 2022, the Twins need to see a pitcher breakthrough who shows the potential to start a playoff game at the MLB level. There is certainly no shortage of possibilities! Chris Vallimont, Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic all finished 2021 at Double-A Wichita and should all see time in St. Paul in 2022. Sands is a particularly unheralded Twins prospect, striking out 96 in just 80 1/3 innings in 2021 while producing a 2.46 ERA. Josh Winder and Jhoan Duran spent time in St. Paul in 2021 and should start there in 2022. It will, in particular, be a critical season for Duran who lost the majority of his 2021 to injury. Owner of perhaps the nastiest stuff in the Twins system (along with Chase Petty), Duran needs to stay healthy in order to show some sustained success at Triple-A. Coaching Staff Turnover This storyline goes hand-in-hand with the development of the Twins' incredibly deep farm system. One inevitable price you pay when developing excellent infrastructure is it will constantly be poached. St. Paul Saints Triple-A hitting coach, Matt Borgschulte was hired by the Orioles to be their co-MLB hitting coach this offseason. Additionally, Mike McCarthy, who was gracious enough to interview with me in 2021 for Twins Daily, took a Triple-A pitching coach job with the Padres. It’s unusual to lose both hitting and pitching coaches in one offseason and particularly challenging with such a pivotal developmental season for so many prospects ahead in 2022. I’d argue that these are two absolutely critical hires for 2022 and beyond. This will be worth paying attention to when they are announced. Bullpen Help is on the Way The Twins bullpen was a horror show in the first half of 2021. Despite significant improvement in the second half, Minnesota was already out of contention. There will be a significant turnover in the bullpen in 2022. Jovani Moran made the leap to the MLB level at the end of 2021 (pay attention to his changeup). Additionally, the Twins have three MLB-ready relief prospects in Yennier Cano, Ian Hamilton, and Ryan Mason. In 182 minor-league innings in 2021 (AA and AAA), the three combined for a 3.34 ERA and 235 strikeouts. All three will likely see the majors in 2022. The Twins front office has hitched their wagon to developing their own talent over the last five years. 2022 should be the year when it comes to fruition for the major league team with more consistency. While the Twins MiLB system doesn’t have the same elite-level prospects as some other top systems, they have some of the best depth in baseball. Do yourself a favor and get to CHS Field as often as you can in 2022. Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. We jump into the Top 25 pitching prospects today and find a couple of relievers with unique stories, a couple of intriguing 2019 draft prospects and a 2021 College World Series champion. Get to know these five prospects and then discuss them in the Comments below. #25 - RHP Jordan Gore 2021 STATS: 8-2, 2.39 ERA, 39/0 G/GS, 0.95 WHIP, 88/28 K/BB, 67.2 IP Drafted as a shortstop in 2017 from Coastal Carolina, Jordan Gore worked all the way up to Double-A in 2019 at that position. But then late in the year, the transition began. Gore was blessed with a strong arm, and because of it got an opportunity on the mound. Unfortunately, there was no 2020 season, so no one knew what to expect from him. He began at Cedar Rapids and pitched well. He earned a second-half promotion to Double-A Wichita where he continued to pitch great through the end of the season. While he threw 95 mph, he also had developed a solid change up and slider over the previous year and used all of his pitches. In addition, listen to his Twins Spotlight interview after the season, and he has a great mentality for working late innings. Gore will spend most of the 2022 season at the age of 27. #24 - RHP Cody Laweryson 2021 STATS: 2-5, 4.91 ERA, 15/14 G/GS 1.33 WHIP, 73/19 K/BB, 58.2 IP Cody Laweryson was the Twins 14th round pick in 2019 out of the University of Maine. That summer, he pitched at Elizabethton and was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. After the missed 2020 season, Laweryson was slowed in spring training by a minor injury. In early June, he joined the Kernels starting rotation. He had ups and downs but ended the season strong. He was able to get extra innings in the Arizona Fall League. He struck out 18 batters in 14 innings. He also represented the Twins in the Fall Stars game. He will turn 23 in May. #23 - RHP Yennier Cano 2021 STATS: 5-3, 3.23 ERA, 42/1 G/GS, 1.38 WHIP, 86/34 K/BB, 69.2 IP After defecting from Cuba, Yennier Cano became an international free agent, and in June 2019, the Twins were able to sign him. That year, he got some time in the GCL and then for the Miracle. He began the 2021 season in Double-A Wichita and went 3-1 with a 1.47 ERA over 18 1/3 innings. He had 28 strikeouts and just five walks. He moved up to St. Paul and posted a 3.86 ERA. In 51 1/3 innings, he struck out 58 batters, but he also walked 29. Cano has a rubber arm and wants to pitch all the time. He has a mid-to-upper ‘90s fastball as well as a good slider. He will turn 28 in March and should debut in 2022. #22 - RHP Sean Mooney 2021 STATS: 0-2, 2.79 ERA, 13/12 G/GS, 1.07 WHIP, 71/23 K/BB, 42.0 IP The New Jersey native headed to St. Johns where he went 19-5 with ERAs of 1.71 and 2.56 over his freshman and sophomore seasons. As a junior in 2019, he went 2-1 with a 2.17 ERA, but after nine starts, he hurt his elbow and needed Tommy John surgery. The Twins really liked him and took him with their 12th round pick in 2019. He rehabbed in 2019 and may not have pitched much in 2020 either. So 2021 was his professional debut. In 10 games (9 starts) with Ft. Myers, he went 0-1 with a 1.24 ERA. In 29 innings, he struck out 52 batters! He moved up to Cedar Rapids and made three starts. He had 19 strikeouts in 13 innings. Mooney has an advanced pitching makeup and four pitches. He profiles as a starter at least for now. 2022 could be a big year if he can stay healthy throughout the season and really get to develop. Mooney will be 23 throughout the 2022 season. #21 - LHP Christian MacLeod 2021 STATS: 0-0, 0.00 ERA, 1/0 G/GS, 1.80 WHIP, 2/5 K/BB, 1.2 IP 2021 was a big season for MacLeod. He became a weekend starter at Mississippi State. He went to the College World Series and helped the Bulldogs to their first national championship. The Twins drafted him in the fifth round of the 2021 draft. He signed, took some time away from pitching in games and ended the season with one outing in the FCL And after Instructional League, he was a guest on Twins Spotlight. OK, that last one may not be on the same level as the rest, but I know Twins Daily readers enjoyed it. Again, he will get a chance to start the 2022 season, probably in Ft. Myers, and have the opportunity to move up to Cedar Rapids by midseason. MacLeod will turn 22 in April. He’s got a good fastball, has typically shown good control and has secondary pitches that have potential. This is an interesting group. You’ve got a couple of older relief pitchers, though both have circumstances that make it understandable, and both showed well in 2021. There were two 2019 draft picks, both of whom have missed some time with injury, but both have had success to note when healthy. Finally, there is a 2021 draft pick who helped his team to the College World Series championship and is just beginning his career. Discuss... and keep coming back every day throughout the holiday season as we continue to discuss these prospects. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30
  11. Understandably, much of the early off-season Twins conjecture has surrounded trades and free-agent additions the Twins can make to boost their beleaguered pitching staff. The promotion of Jovani Moran and his dynamic changeup is indicative of another direction the organization will have to succeed at if they are to compete in 2022, promoting from within. Twins fans have bemoaned the organization's poor returns on developing its own pitching for as long as I can remember. 2022 will be the year that narrative begins to change. It’s well known that the Twins have a stable (sorry PETA) of young arms in AA and above, with Josh Winder, Jhoan Duran, Cole Sands, Chris Vallimont, Jordan Balazovic approaching major league consideration. What about bullpen options? Here are three names Twins fans should be familiar with who will likely feature in the major league bullpen during the 2022 season. Ian Hamilton Ian Hamilton is perhaps the best known of the trio to Twins fans. A former White Sox top prospect, Hamilton has made a remarkable recovery from a minor car accident and being struck in the face by a batted ball in 2019. Hamilton struck out 33.5% of hitters he faced in 2021 (13.1 K/9) and has enough velocity to be a high-leverage arm. Control was Hamilton’s issue in 2021, with a 15.2% BB%. Hamilton spoke of the challenges of regaining confidence in his mechanics after his injuries. If he can return to the type of command he showed in the 2018 season 5.1% BB%, he could be a huge boon to the Twins bullpen in 2022. Ryan Mason Conversely, Ryan Mason is the name on this list least well known by Twins fans. It’s time to pay attention. Mason was drafted in the 13th round of the 2016 draft out of UC-Berkley. The 6’6 California native was promoted to the Saints at the end of July, after impressing at AA Wichita. Mason combined for 54 innings across two minor-league levels with the Twins and got better when he was promoted to St. Paul. He struck out 29.4% of the batters he faced at AAA (12.1 K/9) and managed a 3.47 FIP. Similarly to Hamilton, it’s control that will be a decisive factor for Mason. At AAA in 2021, he walked 11.8% of hitters (4.8 BB/9). Also like Hamilton, he has a history of good control prior to a pandemic-lost 2020 season (1.6 BB/9 in 92 2/3 innings between 2018-2019). Mason is another MLB-caliber arm to watch out for in 2022. Yennier Cano Cano is an unusual bullpen prospect. The 27-year-old out of Cuba throws in the mid-to-upper 90s and offers a fastball, slider, splitter combination which he executed to great effect in St. Paul in 2021. Cano’s ascent through the Twins MiLB ranks is impressive. He has moved from Rookie ball to AAA in just two seasons, with a season off in-between due to the pandemic. Cano struck out 25.7% of hitters he faced in 51 AAA innings (10.2 K/9). Cano struggled with his control at AAA with a 12.8% BB%, compared to just 6.2% at AA. Similar to Hamilton and Mason, Cano has shown the stuff and performance to be a high-leverage arm, if he can arrive at a greater level of consistency. These three internal options for the Twins bullpen have striking similarities. Excellent arms, excellent stuff, and a need to develop more consistent control. Whether that need arose through injury, or simply missed development time, it’s critical the Twins begin to show the type of success developing their own relievers as many have predicted for their starters in forthcoming seasons. While there is work to be done for all three, make no mistake. Help for the major-league arm barn is on the way from St. Paul.
  12. MINOR LEAGUE END OF THE YEAR AWARDS There have been quite a few bright spots around the Twins' farm system throughout the 2021 season. Yet through all the ups, downs, wins, and losses there were a number of players who distinguished themselves as crowned jewels. Congrats to all of our 2021 Minor League Award winners! Twins Daily 2021 Minor League Hitter of the Year: Jose Miranda Twins Daily 2021 Starting Pitching of the Year: Louie Varland Twins Daily 2021 Relief Pitcher of the Year: Jovani Moran Short Season Awards Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Hitter of the Year: Kala'i Rosario Twins Daily 2021 Short Season Pitcher of the Year: Samuel Perez TRANSACTIONS The Saints placed catcher Ben Rortvedt on the IL with a concussion. SAINTS SENTINAL St. Paul 2, Toledo 0 Box Score A late-inning blast and dominant pitching led to a gutsy win for the Saints on Thursday night at Fifth Third Field. After six innings of a stalemate, the Saints struck the scoreboard in the top of the seventh. Leadoff man Jose Miranda reached on a hit by pitch and eventually moved his way to third on a groundout and wild pitch. He may as well stayed at first. Moments later, Mark Contreras launched a 1-0 pitch over the right field wall to give the Saints a 2-0 lead. The blast was Contreras' 18th on the year and fifth in September. Starting pitcher Derek Law was rock solid on the night, tossing three innings of scoreless ball. Law allowed three hits and two walks while striking out four. And while Law kicked off the party, the guest of honor title belonged to the St. Paul bullpen. The duo of Chandler Shepherd and Yennier Cano rattled off six innings of scoreless ball to hold the lead for the Saints. Shepherd was nearly perfect through four innings, giving up one hit, zero walks, and striking out three. Cano entered in the eighth and put the nail in the coffin for St. Paul. After a smooth eighth, Cano gave up a one-out double to Mud Hen shortstop Ryan Kreidler. It didn't matter. Cano regained the momentum and struck out the next two batters to seal the deal for the Saints. The Mud Hens outhit St. Paul 5-2, with a Jose Miranda single playing as the only other hit for the Saints in addition to Contreras' blast. Yet when it came to crunch time, Toledo couldn't convert, going 1-for-11 with runners in scoring position. The Saints are now 5-2 in the Final Stretch of the season. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Mark Contreras (St. Paul)- 1-for-3, HR, R, 2 RBI, K Pitcher of the Day: Chandler Shepherd (St. Paul)- W, 4.0 IP, 0 R, 0 ER, H, 5 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #6- Jose Miranda (St. Paul)- 1-for-3, R #7- Joe Ryan (Minnesota)- Game in progress #13- Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul)- 0-for-4, K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota)- Game in progress FRIDAY'S PROBABLE STARTER St. Paul @ Toledo (6:05PM CST) RHP Beau Burrows (4-5, 5.16 ERA)
  13. TRANSACTIONS RHP Orlando Rodriguez of Fort Myers placed on the 7-day IL. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 7, Indianapolis 5 Box Score Lewis Thorpe: 5.2 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 5 K Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (3-for-5), Tomas Telis (2-for-5, HR), Mark Contreras (2-for-5), Gilberto Celestino (2-for-5, 2B), Jimmy Kerrigan (2-for-4) HR: Kerrigan (16), Telis (7) Lewis Thorpe looked comfortable and confident tonight. He was throwing his curveball and changeup early in counts, then working in high fastballs to try to finish hitters off. He threw 50 of his 78 pitches for strikes (64.1%) and was efficient enough to record two outs in the sixth inning. This was a jump up from the 58 pitches he threw in his last outing for the Saints. The Twins are clearly viewing Thorpe as a starting pitcher at this point. It would make sense for him to make another start with the Saints, stretching out another 15-20 pitches, but with Michael Pineda exiting his start early, Thorpe may be looked upon as a potential replacement. The St. Paul lineup was patient with 36-year-old knuckleballer Steven Wright, who threw 97 pitches in four innings. Along with the five batters who had multiple hits listed above, Nick Gordon also reached twice, drawing a pair of walks, and stole a base. He played center field tonight. Yennier Cano had an eventful ninth inning, giving up a run on three hits, but locked down the save by striking out the final two batters he faced, stranding runners at second and third base. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 4, Wichita 1 Box Score Austin Schulfer: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 4 K Multi-hit games: B.J. Boyd (2-for-4), Jermaine Palacios (2-for-3) HR: None The Surge were scheduled to play a doubleheader today but more inclimate weather resulted in the first game being postponed, leaving one seven-inning game left to be played. Neither team scored through seven, however, so this one went into “extra” innings. B.J. Boyd singled home the Wichita bonus runner in the top of the inning. The Wind Surge were an out away from victory but a ground ball got by first baseman Andrew Bechtold for a game-tying single and the next batter hit a walk-off home run. Tyler Beck was turning in an impressive Double-A debut before things fell apart with two outs in the eighth inning. He was attempting to cover the final four frames, and had struck out five of the first 15 batters he faced. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Peoria 3 Box Score Jon Olsen: 4.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 BB, 3 K Multi-hit games: Yunior Severino (4-for-5, 2B), Jefferson Morales (2-for-4) HR: Matt Wallner (10) Yunior Severino and Jeferson Morales have been huge boosts to the Kernels since being called up from Fort Myers. After a four-hit night, Severino is hitting .439 with a 1.147 OPS in his first 15 games with the club. Morales hasn’t been around as long, this was just his fourth game with Cedar Rapids, but he has a .563 average with a 1.463 OPS. Matt Wallner hit the go-ahead home run in the seventh inning. It was his 10th homer of the year and 18th as a pro, just the fourth that’s come against a lefty. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 9, Bradenton 1 Box Score Casey Legumina: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K Multi-hit games: Keoni Cavaco (2-for-6), Jesus Feliz (2-for-5, 2B), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-4, BB) HR: Will Holland (8) Every member of the Fort Myers lineup reached base and everyone but Jesus Feliz also struck out. The team combined for 10 hits, eight walks and 14 strikeouts. Keoni Cavaco had a multi-hit game, but he also struck out four times. Here’s his two-run single in what was a big five-run inning for the Mussels. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher: Lewis Thorpe, St. Paul Hitter: Yunior Severino, Cedar Rapids PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – DNP #4 – Matt Canterino (Fort Myers) – DNP #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 3-for-5, R #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 2-for-6, 2 RBI, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 2-for-5, 2B, RBI, R #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – DNP #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-6, RBI #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-3, HR, BB, HBP, 2 RBI, R #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – DNP #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – DNP #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 4-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – DNP #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-3 #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5 #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – DNP #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – DNP SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Fort Myers at Bradenton, 11 am CT: Bobby Milacki St. Paul at Indianapolis, 6:05 pm CT: Beau Burrows Cedar Rapids at Peoria, 6:35 pm CT: Sawyer Gipson-Long Wichita at Tulsa, 7:05 pm CT: Cole Sands
  14. Some possible solutions to the rotation were found with the return from the Nelson Cruz trade on Thursday. Still, the front office has their work cut out for them to improve the pitching staff as a whole. More trades are surely on the way and a fair share of the available payroll will likely be spent on arms. There are three relievers at AAA however who we may see by season’s end that could put a massive patch in the sinking ship that is this pitching staff. Ian Hamilton Nick summarized just about every reason to have hope for Hamilton in one tweet. Hamilton was drafted in the 11th round in 2016 and quickly proved to be an exciting up and coming bullpen arm in the White Sox system. Unfortunately Hamilton’s career was thrown off course by two freak accidents. He struggled thereafter and eventually bounce around waiver claims before the Twins claimed him (and then successfully DFAd him) this spring. Hamilton has spent the entire season in St. Paul which is by no means an indicator of his effectiveness. Instead, it almost seems like the Twins are developing the 26-year-old as if he was a prospect as he weathers his first full season of professional baseball since 2018. This plan appears to have paid dividends, as Hamilton has posted a 34% K rate with a 0.58 HR/9 so far and has sorted out his early season walk issues. He should get a chance by season’s end to showcase his high 90s fastball at Target Field in an attempt to earn a place for 2022. Yennier Cano Signed in 2019 as an international free agent out of Cuba, Cano is a bit different than most prospects in the Twins top 30 as he’s 27 years old. Cano has moved a bit more slowly through the system than expected when he was signed, but he appears to be on the precipice of the Major Leagues after debuting at AA ball this year and getting called up to St. Paul a few weeks ago. Cano got hit around a bit in his AAA debut allowing three Earned Runs in 1 2/3 innings. He’s settled down since then, dropping his ERA to 4.50 with a 3.05 FIP. He’s struck out 28.4% of the hitters he’s faced. He has a pitch mix that profiles extremely well with a mid 90s fastball to go with a great slider and a splitter to equalize left-handed hitters. It’s honestly a bit surprising that Cano hasn’t received The Call already, but it’s easy to foresee him in Minneapolis very soon. Jovani Moran Moran was Cano’s partner in crime when it came to terrorizing opposing lineups out of the AA bullpen to start the year. Moran has long had the reputation of having nasty stuff but has struggled with control thus far in his career. After having 14% walk rates at both levels in 2019, it was encouraging even to see those numbers drop to 10% at AA to start the season. Moran is a left-handed pitcher with a low-to-mid 90s fastball, but his changeup is likely one of the best the Twins system has seen since Johan Santana as Lucas points out (tweet above). The pitch allows him not only to avoid big lefty/righty splits, but is also his go-to weapon for swings and misses. He seems to have the right idea, as he’s struck out 46% of AA hitters and 44.4% of AAA hitters thus far. His late arrival to AAA makes him a bit more questionable to debut with the Twins this season, but it’s certainly a possibility depending on how the trade deadline shakes out. Skepticism is warranted after this season, but it’s been a long time since the Twins in particular have developed arms with such high octane, can’t miss stuff. While far from a sure thing, we should get a look at at least a few of them this year. At the very least it’s a bit of excitement in what will be an inconsequential finish to 2021. At best, we just might get a glimpse into a more effective stable of arms for 2022. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  15. Rocco Baldelli came into this season expecting to compete for a third straight division title. Between injuries and ineffectiveness, that reality isn’t going to play out. The second half now should be about evaluation for Minnesota. As 40-man and 26-man roster spots open up, it will be imperative for the Twins to look at fresh faces and see what they have. On the pitching side, here are some names to consider: Before individual deep dives, I think the trio of Josh Winder, Jordan Balazovic, and Cole Sands all fit here. Winder needs to debut, having already made his way to Triple-A. I can understand not starting the clock on Balazovic and Sands missed time due to injury. Of the names in this article, though, these are all the premier prospect types. There's also the recent call ups and guys with little time that need extended run. Throw Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax, and now Charlie Barnes into this category. Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe (when healthy) would join them as well. Beau Burrows A former first-round pick and solid prospect for the Tigers, Burrows is now a reclamation project for the Twins. He was blown up in his Major League debut, and he was awful at Triple-A Toledo. Still just 24, Burrows is the exact type of prospect a team like the Twins should be taking a flier on. Strikeouts haven’t ever followed him in large quantities, but a new development infrastructure could bear fruit. He’ll need to accumulate a more substantial sample size at Triple-A St. Paul before getting a call but putting him out there with a tweaked repertoire may make for an interesting acquisition. Yennier Cano Signed by Minnesota back in 2019, Cano is now 27 and not a prospect. He was slow-played but has finally made his way to Triple-A St. Paul. The stuff has been legit at each professional level, and he’s currently rocking a 2.37 ERA across 30 1/3 innings between Double and Triple-A this season. With a 12.5 K/9 and just a 3.3 BB/9, that’s shaping up like an arm both Wes Johnson and Rocco Baldelli could utilize in relief. There’s not much reason to continue holding him back at this point, and Cano could resemble a late-blooming pen arm. Ian Hamilton Having been through injury, a car accident, and many hurdles halting his big league career, Hamilton is one of the few waiver claims from this winter that hasn’t shown up in Minnesota. He owns a 1.08 ERA across 25 innings for the Saints, but it comes with a gaudy 18 walks. The strikeouts are there (35), and he’s allowed just three homers which have helped limit the damage. With a high-velocity fastball, this is an arm the Twins need to take a look at before allowing him a new landing spot in 2022. Hector Lujan A 35th round pick back in 2016, Lujan has earned every single opportunity he’s been provided in pro ball. Now at Double-A Wichita, the 26-year-old owns a 2.49 ERA in 25 1/3 innings. His strikeout numbers are modest by today’s standards, but he’s been tremendous at limiting free passes (1.8 career BB/9). He pitched at Double-A back in 2019 and should already be getting run for the Saints. Maybe there isn’t a ton of upside here, but there’s also a seemingly safe floor that could factor in as a nice middle relief piece. Ryan Mason Picked in the 13th round of the 2016 draft, Mason has consistently climbed the ladder for the Twins. He’s at Double-A now and has compiled a 2.67 ERA in 30 1/3 innings. It’s been time for a promotion to Triple-A, and the 4.2 BB/9 in 2021 is uncharacteristic for a guy with a 1.9 BB/9 career mark. He gets his strikeouts, and Mason has never had an ERA north of 2.77 as a reliever. He’ll be 27 in 2022 and is already well above the average age of his current level. You’re probably not getting a high leverage guy here, but there’s no reason Mason can’t be seen as a middle innings gap guy. Jovani Moran Drafted out of school in Puerto Rico back in 2015, Moran is now 24 and playing at Double-A Wichita. It’s his second turn through the level, and he’s been dominant with a 1.91 ERA across 37 2/3 innings. He’s striking out over 15 batters per nine, and the career 4.1 BB/9 is workable in relief. Moran should get a bump to Triple-A in short order, and with some final tweaks, it could be a nice success story through a longer progression for the Twins. Chris Vallimont Minnesota acquired Vallimont alongside Sergio Romo back in 2019. He was a former 5th round draft pick and is now 24 at Double-A. The strikeout stuff has always been good, and while the walks are higher than you’d like for a starter, he’s done well to avoid damage. Vallimont owns a 3.96 ERA for Wichita this year, and despite throwing less than 40 innings, a promotion to Triple-A could make sense soon. Maybe he debuts in the bullpen for Minnesota, but I think this is an arm you’d like to see get some big-league run. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. Keoni Cavaco, SS (Low-A) Cavaco was a player that had shot up draft boards when the Twins drafted him back in 2019. He didn’t make many appearances at the big prep events leading into the draft and so there were questions about how he would fare against tougher professional competition. His first professional season fed into those concerns as he hit .172/.217/.253 (.470) with 35 strikeouts in 87 at-bats. As an 18-year-old, he looked overmatched and missing development time last year only added more questions. He has started the 2021 season on a rampage at Low-A as he entered play on Thursday hitting .355/.444/.516 (.916) with three extra-base hits in 31 at-bats. He is still striking out in over 22% of his at-bats, but he seems more than comfortable on the offensive side of the ball. Cavaco is over a year younger than the average age of the competition at his level, and he has faced older pitchers in 86% of his plate appearances. Yennier Cano, RHP (Double-A) Cano was a late signing back in the 2019 international signing period as they inked him to a $750,000 bonus. At the time, MLB.com had him ranked as the second-best international prospect in his class. When he signed, he was 25-years old, which is old for a prospect, but that also means he came with plenty of professional experience. He joined the Twins with five different pitches and the ability to pitch multiple innings each time out. Now, Cano is 27-years old and pitching out of Wichita’s bullpen. So far this year, he has posted a 1.59 ERA with a 1.06 WHIP. Those numbers are great, but his strikeout numbers are what truly make him standout. He has struck out 11 of the 24 batters he has faced for a 17.5 SO/9. He’s old for his current level, but he has only pitched 15 innings since signing with the Twins. Look for him to move quickly if he continues to strikeout batters at a high rate. Melvi Acosta, RHP (High-A) Acosta is entering his fifth professional season after joining the Twins as an international signee out of Venezuela in 2015. During the 2019 season, he split time as a starter and reliever. There were some positive signs in his transition to the bullpen as he saw his strikeout rate improve from 5.8 SO/9 to 9.9 SO/9. The 2020 season would have allowed him to prove that he was a potential weapon out of the bullpen, but that obviously didn’t happen. Fast-forward to 2021 and Acosta will get the opportunity to pitch out of the bullpen on a regular basis. He’s made three appearances for Cedar Rapids and posted a 1.42 ERA with seven strikeouts in 6 1/3 innings. His strikeout rate (9.9 SO/9) has continued to stay high, and batters are having a tough time reaching base against him as he’s posted a 0.79 WHIP. Like Cano, he is old for his level, but maybe he will have the opportunity to follow in Cano’s footsteps as he moves up the organizational ladder. What prospects have stood out to you so far this year? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. 5. Blayne Enlow Current/Future Slider: 50/50 The last time Enlow appeared in a professional game, he was pitching well at High-A as a 20-year-old. Now he is 22-years old, and he has made some adjustments. His fastball sits in the low-90s, but he has a ton of spin on it, which can make it tough for hitters to make solid contact. When he locates his slider, it can be his best pitch. Some refer to his slider as a cutter because he gets similar action on the pitch. He should be pitching in the upper levels of the minors this year as he continues to improve his repertoire. 4. Yennier Cano, RHP Current/Future Slider: 50/55 Cano might be the least recognizable name on this list as the team signed him out of Cuba back in 2018. His fastball can reach the high-90s but his arm slot allows him to throw a slider, sinker, and splitter. He has experience on the Cuban National Team and in the Puerto Rican Winter League. He’s already 26-years old and he has never pitched higher than High-A. That being said, his fastball and slider combination might be enough for him to earn a middle relief job at the big-league level. 3. Edwar Colina, RHP Current/Future Slider: 50/55 Colina is going to be used in the bullpen and he will likely be relying on two pitches, an overpowering fastball and a slider. His slider is hard for batters to make strong contact because of how hard he throws it. He commands his slider better than his fastball and he can rely on the pitch in almost any count. Colina’s stocky build and starter experience might give way to him becoming a multi-inning reliever in the years to come. Either way, he is a very intriguing relief prospect. 2. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Current/Future Slider: 50/55 Like the top name on this list, Balazovic was a late addition to the team’s alternate site and reports were good. Out of the team’s top two pitching prospects, Balazovic is the only one that throws a slider, and it is his second-best pitch overall. This is the pitch he uses to miss bats and his mechanics allow it to play up against right-handed hitters. As he continues to develop, his slider should also be a weapon against lefties, especially with the presence of his ever-improving changeup. 1. Matt Canterino, RHP Current/Future Slider: 55/60 During last season, Canterino was a late addition to the team’s alternate site, but he is clearly one of the team’s top pitching prospects. His slider and his changeup both project to be plus pitches and his fastball can hit the mid-90s. His four-pitch mix gives him a chance to be a big-league starter and his slider projects to be the best pitch. Since being drafted, he has slowly moved up Twins prospect lists and he can end the 2021 season in the team’s top-5 prospects. How would you rank these players? Does someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Fastball Prospects -Speed Tool Prospects -Hit Tool Prospects -Power Tool Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. If you missed the first round rounds, you can view them here. A brief primer: We're taking 16 players with "prospect" or "rookie" status. Positions on each team included: Catcher, first base, second base, third base, shortstop, three outfielders, a bench player/hitter, three starting pitchers, three relief pitchers, and an extra pitcher. (Please note that comments under the picks were made by the person making the selection.) Round 9 Seth Stohs - DaShawn Keirsey, OF 2019 was a tough season for Keirsey. He struggled and he just wasn’t able to stay on the diamond for an extended period of time. But, he is as athletic as anyone in the organization, and he can play a very good defensive centerfield. Steve Lein - Moises Gomez, RP Happy to land the guy I voted for as Twins Daily's 2019 Relief Pitcher of the year. He led Twins minor leaguers in K/9 rate at 13.3 and held hitters to an average under .150. He finished his season by being sent to the Arizona Fall League. Ted Schwerzler - Chris Williams, C The bat wasn’t what it was in 2018 with Elizabethton, but Chris Williams put on a show during his pro debut year. He swatted 15 dingers right out of the gate, and even in a down 2019, reached double digits. Lots to like here, and while he may not be the ideal defender behind the plate, I’m banking on the offense. Cody Christie - Jacob Pearson, OF I’ve been a big fan of Pearson since the Twins acquired him from the Angels. The organization has been aggressive with him and he put up some of his best offensive numbers after getting to the FSL last season. If the Twins continue to be aggressive with him, I think there will be positive results. Jeremy Nygaard - Yennier Cano, RP The Twins signing MLB.com’s #2 international free agent didn’t make big news as it came at the close of the 2019 IFA period and amidst the Twins division pennant run. Cano struggled with control during his American debut, but has the chance to move very quickly (and be a steal at this point in the draft.) I should also note Thievin’ Ted took the other two guys I targeted for this pick. Matt Braun - Yeltsin Encarnacion, SS I needed a shortstop like a plant needs water. Encarnacion fills the role with a passable bat for the position and the opportunity to move as Royce Lewis moves through the minor league system. Plus, his name is “Yeltsin”, what isn’t to love? Round 10 Matt Braun - Gabe Snyder, 1B Snyder provides the standard 1st base pop that was needed in my lineup. He isn’t as flashy of an option as someone like Zander Wiel but a 131 wRC+ at Cedar Rapids is great no matter how you slice it. Jeremy Nygaard - Anthony Prato, 2B Had to reverse course after plans to add power in Julien or Wiliams was foiled. Prato, who lacks power, makes up for it with speed and on-base skills. Between the top three of Celestino-Prato-Wade, there will be plenty of guys on base (who can also pose a threat to steal) for Wiel. Now just need to find more power bats... Cody Christie - Charles Mack, 2B The Twins took Mack out of high school back in 2018 and he played all last season with the E-Twins. He’s been young for both levels he has played at so far and he has been able to hold his own. Defensively, he has split time between third and second base. I’ll pencil him at second since I already have Steer at third. Ted Schwerzler - Max Smith, OF Smith was a late round pick in 2019, and while he was old for the Appy League, he showed up nicely. Power isn’t something I’d expect from him, but he did put seven balls over the fence. Add in that he can play all three outfield positions and this is where I’ll build that group from. Steve Lein - Caleb Hamilton, C Lot of reliever arms still left I like here, but pitchers need someone to throw to, right? Hamilton has played all over the diamond, but I'll keep him at catcher to utilize his leadership. Hamilton also gets on base and flashes power. Seth Stohs - Jovani Moran, LHRP He struggled a bit in 2019, primarily with control, but Moran has a track record of dominance. In 34 innings in 2019, he struck out 50 batters. Then he struck out 14 batters in nine innings in the AFL. From a roster construction standpoint, it will be good to have a lefty in the bullpen too. Round 11 Seth Stohs - Wander Valdez, 3B In the GCL last summer, Valdez hit .323 with six doubles and four home runs. This spring training in Ft. Myers, Valdez was one of the most impressive young prospects that I saw. He’s big, strong and athletic and looks to have a ton of power potential. Steve Lein - Tom Hackimer, RP The sidewinding righty has been phenomenal in the Twins system thus far with a 2.77 ERA and K/9 rate north of 10 as a pro. Surgery held him back for most of the 2018 season, slowing his rise, but rebounded in 2019 and could be an option for the Twins bullpen in the near future. Ted Schwerzler - Ernie De La Trinidad OF Acquired in the Eduardo Escobar trade with the Diamondbacks, De La Trinidad brings it across the board. None of the tools are flashy, but all have a chance to be average or better. Another strong outfield type, he’ll fit nicely out there on my team. Cody Christie - Victor Heredia, 1B Heredia showed some power during his time in the DSL but that power didn’t follow him last year as he made his debut with the GCL Twins. With another year of experience under his belt, I think the power will return and he completes the right side of my infield. Jeremy Nygaard - Zach Neff, LHRP Neff was a late-round pick in 2018, but has impressed enough to get a post-2019 invite to the AFL. He’s not great against right-handed batters, but dominates lefties and has posted over 9.00 K/9s both seasons as a pro. Matt Braun - Hector Lujan, RHRP Lujan had an odd year in 2019 as he struck out less hitters than usual at Fort Myers but then walked more hitters than usual at Pensacola. He’s been remarkably consistent so far in his career and his miniscule homerun rate made him an attractive candidate for my first reliever spot. Round 12 Matt Braun - Ryan Shreve, RHRP Everyone has “their guy” in the system and Shreve is certainly mine. He struck out 29.9% of batters in rookie ball for his first taste of professional baseball and that will work at any level. Once his BABIP is under control, he should move quickly through the system. Jeremy Nygaard - Drew Maggi, 3B Adding a 31-year-old to provide veteran leadership to an infield that includes two guys making their full-season debut. Good for getting on base, I also expect Maggi to bring double digits home runs and stolen bases to the lineup. Cody Christie - Anthony Escobar, RHRP I need to fill up a bullpen with the rest of my picks and Escobar is a good starting point. The 19-year old made his GCL debut last season and was asked to finish games for the first time in his career. His strikeout numbers aren’t there yet, but he doesn’t walk a ton and he has the potential to add to his small frame. Ted Schwerzler - Jimmy Kerrigan, OF Kerrigan was undrafted and has spent time in Indy Ball, but he’s also flashed at different stops in the Twins system. There’s both power and speed potential here, and rounding out my outfield this is a safe pick. Steve Lein - Jordan Gore, SS Ted sniped me above with Kerrigan, but I've also been planning to start shuffling some prior picks around the diamond to accomodate what is left. I like Gore's defense at SS a bit more than Gordon's, so I'll shift Nick to 2B. There's not been much bat here yet, but is a switch hitter with some speed and arguably the best hair in the organization. Side Note - Gore has been moved to the mound and is 100% a pitcher in 2020, so Steve has a true dual threat on his hands! Seth Stohs - Michael Helman, 2B Helman had a fantastic college career, and the Twins made him their 11th round pick in 2018. After signing, he quickly moved up to Cedar Rapids. He was pushed very aggressively to Ft. Myers to start 2019 and really struggled with the bat until a season-ended wrist injury. But he could hit, and he is a terrific middle-infield glove. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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