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  1. It’s really weird to be providing a midseason update on Minnesota Twins prospects when not only has a Major League game not been played, but the Minor League season is all but cancelled as well. There hasn’t been anything of substance to look at, although my thoughts on a few players have shifted. I can’t say that I derived anything of considerable substance from the week I spent watching back fields action down in Fort Myers, but there’s also been a (very brief) Major League Baseball draft that put some fresh talent into the organization as well. 2020 has been anything but normal, so let’s embrace the goofiness and get underway with the rankings. 2016 Top 15 Prospects 2017 Top 15 Prospects 2018 Top 15 Prospects 2019 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Top 15 Prospects 2020 Twins Draft Picks 15. Wander Javier SS Losing a full season of Minor League Baseball may hurt no one in the Twins system more than it does Wander Javier. An elite talent who has fallen completely off the map since Rookie Ball, Javier is coming off a dismal .601 OPS with Cedar Rapids in 2019. He’s still just 21, but a year of missed development and wanting to distance himself from a season ago isn’t ideal. 14. Matt Canterino RHP I really like Canterino and think he can continue to push up these rankings as a relatively high floor prospect. He’ll be 23 next season, but he put in a very impressive showing to start his pro career. Working 25 innings after 99 in college is a nice taste, and clearly the Twins were impressed skipping him over the Appy League. He should start at High-A Fort Myers in 2021. 13. Gilberto Celestino OF Part of the package returned for Ryan Pressly, Celestino was originally viewed through the lens of being a plus defender. While that remains true, he reached High-A Fort Myers last season and posted a .759 OPS. The 10 home runs were a nice bit of power, and if that comes along with his speed and defensive abilities, he’ll rocket up this board. There’s clearly a reason why Minnesota wanted him on the 40 man this winter. 12. Matt Wallner OF I’m higher on Wallner than most I think, but he is a bit more than the traditional booming bat the Twins have. There’s athleticism here and he can play on the corners in the outfield. His arm is massive, so right field makes a lot of sense. He was already looking like an advanced hitter, so the wiping out of 2020 may not hurt him as much. There’s always fallback potential here that he could get on the mound. 11. Aaron Sabato 1B Continuing the mold of targeting thunderous bats, Minnesota went with arguably the best power hitter in the draft during 2020. Sabato can launch the baseball, and he’ll absolutely have to with little to now defensive value. The expectation is a big leaguer at worst here, with some serious thump as a consistent and regular producer. 10. Brent Rooker 1B/OF Rooker could see time on a taxi-squad for the Twins in 2020, and it’s not hard to wonder on as his bat is ready. There’s uncertainty as to where he’ll play given mixed reports on abilities in the outfield and at first base, but the bat should hold its own. He’s got a different build than Sabato, but all of the same power is there. 9. Keoni Cavaco SS Keeping Cavaco back for me is just how lost he looked at the plate in his debut season. The K/BB ration was nightmarish, and that’s the bigger story than where his slash line was for me. I think he really needed to get back on the diamond and in the swing of things for some positive steps forward. Obviously, this is still a first round talent, but it’s a wait and see approach for me. 8. Ryan Jeffers C One of the biggest movers nationally in the Twins system has been Jeffers. He went from a bat first player that may not be able to catch, and now is considered multi-faceted within the organization. The receiving and throwing skills have sharpened, and nothing has slowed down with the bat. Like Rooker, Jeffers could be on the taxi squad for the Twins, and probably is a better option behind Alex Avila in the hole than Willians Astudillo. 7. Blayne Enlow RHP Minnesota saved money on some earlier picks to grab Enlow given the promise they saw in him. So far that’s been greatly rewarded. He’s been a consistent arm, and while not dominant, has gotten it done at every level. Would like to see a few more strikeouts, but there’s a mid-rotation upside here. Another guy that could factor in depending on how big minor league depth goes for 2020. 6. Lewis Thorpe LHP 2020 was going to be a big year for Thorpe and it’s taken on quite a different shape. He was away from Spring Training getting reset for a couple of weeks and then look ticketed for Triple-A Rochester. With the situation as it is now, he could be an extra long man out of the pen. His stuff was better than the numbers said in 2019, and I think there’s legit stuff to dream on from the Aussie lefty. 5. Jhoan Duran RHP The way 2020 has gone, and the limited season may actually accelerate Duran’s pro debut. I assumed it would come this year, but that wasn’t a lock. Expanded taxi squads and roster could certainly make an arm this good worthy of a relief look. He’s going to start in a traditional year. The near triple-digit stuff plays from the get-go. Bring him in as a middle reliever might be a nice boost for Rocco Baldelli, however. 4. Trevor Larnach OF I’d bet heavily on Larnach showing up at the Major League level in 2020. He’s an advanced hitter and works the zone well. He’s held his own during Spring Training action and watching him launch a ball on his first big league at bat was a lot of fun. He’s the most likely of the Twins power prospects to remain in the outfield. Good athleticism, although it will play better on the corners. 3. Jordan Balazovic RHP This season will present somewhat of a weird spot for Balazovic. I think he’s best utilized as a starter and not sure how much his stuff plays up in the pen. He’s got a legitimate shot to be top half rotation arm and pairing him with Jose Berrios down the road could be lots of fun. The Canadian has received lots of praise in the past calendar year and the stuff absolutely warrants it. 2. Alex Kirilloff OF/1B Plenty can still make the argument that Minnesota’s top two prospects are interchangeable. I have Kirilloff second because once he moves off an outfield spot (as he already has) first base provides less value. He’s a pure hitter, he’s going to hit for average, and the power will be there as well. He was going to be ready at some point in 2020, and no we’ll likely see it sooner rather than later. 1. Royce Lewis SS Lots of ups and downs for Lewis on the farm last year, but he ended on fire as the Arizona Fall League MVP. There’s going to be concerns about the leg kick until he consistently puts it together, and plenty still wonder if he’s not better suited for centerfield. Regardless, he’s going to play a premium position and looks the part of a perennial All-Star. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  2. 5. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2019 MiLB Stats: 5-12, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 136 K, 40 BB, 115.0 IP The Twins might have stolen Duran from the Diamondback organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was never going to be part of the long-term solution in Minnesota and Duran could be one of the answers to some of Minnesota’s pitching woes. Duran throws multiple fastballs with a four-seamer that can reach triple digits and consistently sits in the high-90s and a two-seamer that acts like a splitter which hits over 90 mph. Last season, Duran really put himself on the prospect map by showing plus velocity and multiple pitches as a starter. He was almost two year younger than the average age of the competition in the FSL and that number jumped to 3.3 years younger in the Southern League. Even with the age gap, he struck out 10.6 batters per nine innings and his walk rate dropped from 3.6 BB/9 to 2.2 BB/9 after his promotion. 4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2019 MiLB Stats (A, A+): 8-6, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 129 K, 25 BB, 93.2 IP Balazovic is good. Like, really good. He has the chance to be better than any pitcher in the current Twins rotation and that’s something the Twins have struggled to produce from the farm system for many years. The kicker is… He was a fifth-round draft pick under the previous front office regime. Talk about a going away present. He can hit the high 90s with his fastball and there is some sinking action on the pitch to induce groundballs. Add in a change-up in the mid-80s and that’s a recipe for disaster as a hitter. He made hitters look foolish in the MWL last season as he struck out 33 batters in just over 20 innings. Yes, that is over 14 strikeouts per nine innings. He took the jump to the FSL in stride and struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings. In some organizations, he’d be the top prospect and that tells you how good the players are ahead of him. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF 2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .309/.384/.458, 13 HR, 30 2B, 124 K, 57 BB, 127 G In his second professional season, Larnach destroyed the baseball across two levels and an argument could be made for him to be the best prospect in the Twins organization. He’s had success in college and as a pro and that could help him to advance through the Twins system. Last season he was named the Twins Minor League Player of the Year and the Florida State League named him their Player of the Year. His 147 hits were the most in the Twins system and he seemed to get better as the season progressed. From August 2 through the season’s end, he had a .969 OPS with nine extra-base hits in 28 games. He’s added a lot of weight throughout college and his professional career and this will only help with his power numbers in the future. On the defensive side, he’s slotted in to be a corner outfielder and he seems likely to play that position throughout his professional career. 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF 2019 MiLB Stats (AA): .283/.343/.413, 9 HR, 18 2B, 76 K, 29 BB, 94 G Any prospect would have a tough time living up to the numbers compiled by Kirilloff in 2018. He dominated two levels of the minor leagues by hitting .348/.392/.578 with 71 extra-base hits in 130 games. The 2019 season was a different story as he missed time at season’s start with a wrist injury and then ended up back on the injured list with the same injury. From that point forward, he made his presence felt in the Southern League. In August, Kirilloff crushed the ball to the tune of a .311/.351/.500 slash-line with five home runs in and five doubles in 26 games. He really found his stride in the playoffs as he hit home runs in the Blue Wahoo’s first four playoff games and posted a 1.435 OPS during the team’s semifinal appearance. He and Larnach have been compared to each other but Kirilloff is younger and it’s scary to think about the outfield these two could occupy in the years ahead. 1. Royce Lewis, SS 2019 MiLB Stats (A+, AA): .236/.290/.371, 12 HR, 26 2B, 123 K, 38 BB, 127 G An argument can be made for any of the Twins top three prospects to be the best in the system. Lewis was the number one overall pick back in 2017 so it is going to be hard to ignore his prospect status no matter what he does in the minor leagues. Some might question the mechanics of his swing and some might question his eventual defensive position. His athleticism and skills are hard to ignore no matter what scouts might say about him. Even with a down season, the Twins sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League and he dominated over the course of 95 plate appearances. He hit .353/.411/.565 with 12 extra-base hits in 22 games. Because of other players on the roster, he was asked to play positions besides shortstop, and he lived up to the challenge. Kirilloff and Larnach might beat him to the big-leagues, but Lewis could be a once-in-a-generation talent. 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  3. Here is some background on the draft rules before getting into the results. There were 16 rounds in the draft with the draft order being randomly selected prior to starting. Players had to be picked at their primary position but if a player had 15 or more games at a position, they could be selected for that position as well. All players must have “prospect” or “rookie” status to be draft eligible. 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. After reading this, be sure to also click on some of the available links on each player for more on each.) Round 1 Seth Stohs - Royce Lewis, SS #1 spot, have to go with the #1 prospect, right? Teams want to be strong up the middle, and whether Lewis plays shortstop or center field, I feel good about having him on this roster. He’ll likely hit first, second or third for me too. (The Defensive Future of Royce Lewis) (Royce Lewis Is Putting It All On Display) Steve Lein - Alex Kirilloff, 1B I'll start with the best pure hitter in the organization, and also likely one of the best in the minor leagues. I'm going to play him at 1B for now because I think impact outfielders will be easier to come by. (Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Learning From Past Mistakes) (Alex Kirilloff Should Make his Twins Debut in 2020) Ted Schwerzler - Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Although I like that a clone of the second pick is available here, I think anchoring the rotation with a potential ace works out. (Have The Twins Fixed Their Velocity Problem?) (How MLB’s Delayed Start Could Impact Minnesota’s Rotation) Cody Christie - Trevor Larnach, OF I think I have the easiest pick in the draft. I’m happy with whomever Ted left for me. But please, let it be the player I want. Alex Kirilloff’s clone is available. I’ll take Trevor Larnach as the player that I think could have been the first pick in this draft and he could be the Twins best position player over the next 10 years. (Pending Prospects: Which Outfielder Will Be Called up First?) (Trevor Larnach Homers in First MLB Spring At-Bat) Jeremy Nygaard - Jhoan Duran, RHSP For me, there were five prospects in the top tier, and I was going to take whichever one fell. Getting arguably the top pitching prospect at this point is fine with me as I feel there is more position player depth than frontline pitching. (Get to Know Twins RHP Prospect Jhoan Duran) (Jhoan Duran Headlines Twins Roster Additions) Matt Braun - Ryan Jeffers, C A bit annoyed that I missed out on the guys who I believed to be truly elite, but Jeffers is no slouch. Not only will he be by far the best catching prospect available, his offense and defense both have trended upward since being drafted and he’ll look to potentially grow in the future. (Get to Know Ryan Jeffers) Round 2 Matt Braun - Lewis Thorpe, LHSP While there were a few other solid pitching options, Thorpe provides the immediate upside that few can match. His strikeout potential appears to be immense and the fact that he held his own at the major league level gives me great hope. (5 Questions with Twins Pitcher Lewis Thorpe) (What’s Next for Lewis Thorpe?) Jeremy Nygaard - Gilberto Celestino, OF I hoped that Jeffers would fall, and maybe that would have been the wiser pick at #5 considering Matt may not have taken two pitchers, but I stuck to my board. This pick was more difficult because there were a number of different trains of thought: Do I take the best prospect? Do I take the best player at a position of scarcity? At the end, though, I thought it would be smartest to take someone who could fill premium defensive (CF) and offensive (leadoff) positions. (Could Gilberto Celestino or Royce Lewis Cover Center if Byron Buxton Gets Injured?) Cody Christie - Blayne Enlow, RHSP I wanted a starting pitcher with this pick, and I’ve been high on Enlow for multiple years. I think he has the potential to be a top of the rotation starter. The Twins don’t have a ton of players that fit that mold and I wanted to make sure I had a player that could anchor my pitching rotation. (For Enlow and Other Minor Leaguers, “No One Is Safe” At Trade Deadline) Ted Schwerzler - Matt Canterino, RHSP Might as well stick with pitching here. Canterino was a 2nd round pick in 2019 and immediately made an impact on the pro mound. He’s got a quirky delivery, but there’s a bunch of strikeouts on the way and I think the ceiling is very high. (Matt Canterino: Pitcher and Problem Solver) (Q&A with Matt Canterino) Steve Lein - Randy Dobnak, SP This may be the first pick that surprises, but it shouldn't. Dobnak has been the most consistent starter in the Twins organization since May 16th...of 2018. In that time he has a near 2.00 ERA and hasn't given up more than 4 runs in ANY outing, from A-ball to the majors. (5 Questions with Twins Pitcher Randy Dobnak) (Randy Dobnak Is Better Than You Think) Seth Stohs - Brent Rooker, OF You love getting to draft first, but then it’s a long wait while a lot of great players and prospects are taken. I thought I would take some pitching here, but instead, I’m going to just mash. Rooker put up some great numbers for nearly two months in Rochester in 2019 (May/June) before his season came to an early end. He’s also nearly big-league ready. (5 Questions with Twins Prospect Brent Rooker) (Brent Rooker Is ‘Ready to Go’ For a ‘Big’ Year) Round 3 Seth Stohs - Matt Wallner, OF Continuing the theme, I’ll take a Minnesota kid who was the Twins Competitive Balance pick in 2019. Wallner was Mr. Minnesota, drafted by the Twins as a pitcher (2016), went to Southern Mississippi, became an All-American outfielder with great power. (Get to know Matt Wallner) Steve Lein - Edwar Colina SP I may regret not taking a position player at this point, but after taking a rock for the rotation I'll go upside here. I watched Colina hit 100 MPH on the gun at Spring Training before baseball got shut down, and he has a good slider as well. (Triple-Digit Shoes to Fill) Ted Schwerzler - Keoni Cavaco SS This feels like a steal at where we are in the draft. Cavaco didn’t debut well in his first pro season, but he’s both young and raw while having immense tools. I’ll gamble on the upside here. (Cali Connection Jumps Draft Boards: Q&A with Keoni Cavaco) Cody Christie - Ben Rortvedt, C Catcher is a tough position to fill and I thought it was a great time to get the second-best catcher in the system. His AFL experience from last year will help him in the years ahead. Some might think it was a reach at this point, but I wanted to fill an up the middle position with one of the team’s top prospects. (Prospect Spotlight Video: Ben Rortvedt) Jeremy Nygaard - Devin Smeltzer LHSP My target list for this spot was wiped out with the previous picks, with the exception of Smeltzer. So I'll stick with my theme of 2018 Deadline acquisitions and complete my 1-2 Righty/Lefty punch. (Get to know Devin Smeltzer and his story) Matt Braun - Jose Miranda 3B This is kind of a weird portion of the draft now where I have to go with my gut. I love Miranda’s offensive upside and the fact that there are a limited number of other great third baseman available in the Twins’ system. (Get to Know Jose Miranda) Round 4 Matt Braun - Cole Sands RHSP Much like Miranda, there are a number of other great choices for a pitcher with solid upside. Sands is still somewhat of an unknown but he was a strike-throwing machine when healthy and could move quickly because of his status as a college arm. Jeremy Nygaard - LaMonte Wade Jr LF Had a hard time deciding what direction I wanted to go here. With Celestino and Wade locked into two outfield spots, I know I'm going to be giving up a power position, but Wade's ability to get on base was too much to pass on. Not sure with one of my outfielders will lead off now, but really like both of their ability to impact the game from the top of the lineup. (Get to Know LaMonte Wade, Jr.) Cody Christie - Misael Urbina, CF Much like my catcher pick earlier in the draft, I’m going for an up-the-middle player with this pick. Adding him with Larnach in the outfield could be a fun pair to watch. Urbina might have some of the highest upside of any player in the organization and he has all the tools to be an impact player. (Twins Tied to Misael Urbina, Expected to be “Aggressive” Internationally) Ted Schwerzler - Travis Blankenhorn 2B Up the middle should now be covered on my team by adding a guy that could debut for the Twins in 2020. Blankenhorn has positional flexibility, good bat skills, and should hit for doubles power at worst. (Get to Know Travis Blankenhorn) (5 Questions with Travis Blankenhorn) Steve Lein - Nick Gordon SS I was focusing on Gordon or Blankenhorn here, happy to get the one that can play SS. When healthy, he's also been a good hitter I can have set the table from the top of the lineup. Seth Stohs - Dakota Chalmers RH SP Chalmers completed his Tommy John rehab after coming to the Twins in an August 2018 deal. He possesses a big arm with upper-90s velocity. He's also got the makings of a couple of plus secondary pitches. Needs innings and time, but he has a high ceiling. (Get to Know Dakota Chalmers) We are hoping to do some fun things with the finalized rosters in the weeks ahead. After four rounds, who has the best roster so far? 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
  4. Jordan Balazovic and Jhoan Duran are extraordinarily talented, as documented, but the Twins have an under-the-radar arm that should excite you just as much. Special thanks to the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook for information and guidance in this article.The Astros drafted Sands in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft but his heart seemed set on pitching for Florida State in his hometown. You have to look deeper at his college numbers to fully appreciate them. In his first four starts for the Seminoles, Sands posted a tremendous 1.84 ERA in 14 ⅔ innings. His next six starts were not as pearly. He allowed 15 runs in 19 innings (7.11 ERA). He finished the season with a respectable 4.13 ERA but walks were an issue and strikeouts were few and far between. Sands finished his freshman year with a less-than-stellar 1.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sands flashed his formidable upside that summer in the Cape Cod League by striking out 18 in 14 innings. He allowed only seven hits and two runs (1.29 ERA). That wouldn’t exactly carry into his sophomore season at Florida State. His ERA jumped to 5.40 the following spring, but he boosted his strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.48), and his strikeouts (7.8) and walks (3.1) per nine rates were much improved. It was again a tale of multiple streaks for Sands. Here is how his sophomore season broke down: First 7 starts: 3.38 ERA Next 7 starts: 8.81 ERA Last 4 starts: 3.52 ERA Sands was a beast in the 2017 ACC Tournament, shutting down 15 straight Duke hitters and sending the 'Noles to the championship. He pitched three scoreless innings in the final and helped Florida State to Omaha. You can start to see the trend here. Sands has always had the ability, but struggled to consistently utilize his stuff in college. His junior season was no different. He started 4-0, dazzling and dominating to a sterling 2.45 ERA with 31 punchies and only five walks in 22 innings. In the two appearances after that, he allowed 14 runs, more than double as many as his first four starts combined (6). Of course, he bounced back with two consecutive seven inning quality starts against a great Louisville team and a winning Georgia Tech club. He threw over 100 pitches six times, including five consecutive starts in March and April. When the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of that draft, they elected to rest his arm and save his pro debut for 2019. And what a debut it was. Sands was excellent in his first start for Cedar Rapids, pitching five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. In three starts from April 19th to May 5th, Sands produced a 1.05 ERA and struck out 16 in 17 innings. He stymied hitters with a mid-90s fastball and a well-commanded curveball. He pitched very well against lefties all year long, holding them to a .621 OPS. His splits suggest that his changeup is indeed a quality pitch, and he can use it to get lefties out consistently. Sands made it to Fort Myers by June and further impressed there. He finished with a 2.25 ERA for the Miracle and opponents hit .199 off him. He struck out 53 and walked seven in 52 innings. The Twins sent him a message by moving him to Pensacola before the conclusion of the season. He struck out six in his lone four-inning start for the Blue Wahoos. He was likely set to spend much of the 2020 season in Pensacola’s rotation with quick ascension still in the cards. Sands’ fastball command has certainly developed over the years. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has skyrocketed since joining the Twins organization. His walk rate fell below 2.0 per nine last year and his WHIP (1.027) was lower than any of his three seasons at Florida State. His ground-ball rate was just 40%, which would’ve ranked as the 15th lowest in MLB last year. If you look closely, you can see the Twins stamp on him. Throwing up in the zone, pushing for fastball velocity, walking fewer batters and supressing home runs are all points of focus for pitching coach Wes Johnson and company. The Twins walked only 2.8 per nine last year, down from 3.6 in 2018. They struck out one batter per inning, an increase from 8.6 strikeouts per nine in 2018. They allowed an equal number of homers in 2019 as 2018 (198), but the league hit 1,191 more home runs. Sands is an exciting young pitcher with plenty of upside. Maintaining his fastball command, upping his velocity, and further blossoming his curveball and changeup will be important moving forward. Furthermore, with a somewhat violent delivery, avoiding elbow and shoulder complications will be vital. Sands missed some time during his junior year with biceps tendonitis. Nevertheless, there is a shining glimmer of a front-of-the-rotation starter here in the budding right-hander. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  5. The Astros drafted Sands in the 22nd round of the 2015 draft but his heart seemed set on pitching for Florida State in his hometown. You have to look deeper at his college numbers to fully appreciate them. In his first four starts for the Seminoles, Sands posted a tremendous 1.84 ERA in 14 ⅔ innings. His next six starts were not as pearly. He allowed 15 runs in 19 innings (7.11 ERA). He finished the season with a respectable 4.13 ERA but walks were an issue and strikeouts were few and far between. Sands finished his freshman year with a less-than-stellar 1.52 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Sands flashed his formidable upside that summer in the Cape Cod League by striking out 18 in 14 innings. He allowed only seven hits and two runs (1.29 ERA). That wouldn’t exactly carry into his sophomore season at Florida State. His ERA jumped to 5.40 the following spring, but he boosted his strikeout-to-walk ratio (2.48), and his strikeouts (7.8) and walks (3.1) per nine rates were much improved. It was again a tale of multiple streaks for Sands. Here is how his sophomore season broke down: First 7 starts: 3.38 ERA Next 7 starts: 8.81 ERA Last 4 starts: 3.52 ERA Sands was a beast in the 2017 ACC Tournament, shutting down 15 straight Duke hitters and sending the 'Noles to the championship. He pitched three scoreless innings in the final and helped Florida State to Omaha. You can start to see the trend here. Sands has always had the ability, but struggled to consistently utilize his stuff in college. His junior season was no different. He started 4-0, dazzling and dominating to a sterling 2.45 ERA with 31 punchies and only five walks in 22 innings. In the two appearances after that, he allowed 14 runs, more than double as many as his first four starts combined (6). Of course, he bounced back with two consecutive seven inning quality starts against a great Louisville team and a winning Georgia Tech club. He threw over 100 pitches six times, including five consecutive starts in March and April. When the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of that draft, they elected to rest his arm and save his pro debut for 2019. And what a debut it was. Sands was excellent in his first start for Cedar Rapids, pitching five scoreless innings with eight strikeouts. In three starts from April 19th to May 5th, Sands produced a 1.05 ERA and struck out 16 in 17 innings. He stymied hitters with a mid-90s fastball and a well-commanded curveball. He pitched very well against lefties all year long, holding them to a .621 OPS. His splits suggest that his changeup is indeed a quality pitch, and he can use it to get lefties out consistently. Sands made it to Fort Myers by June and further impressed there. He finished with a 2.25 ERA for the Miracle and opponents hit .199 off him. He struck out 53 and walked seven in 52 innings. The Twins sent him a message by moving him to Pensacola before the conclusion of the season. He struck out six in his lone four-inning start for the Blue Wahoos. He was likely set to spend much of the 2020 season in Pensacola’s rotation with quick ascension still in the cards. https://twitter.com/Nashwalker9/status/1250501028983836674?s=20 Sands’ fastball command has certainly developed over the years. His strikeout-to-walk ratio has skyrocketed since joining the Twins organization. His walk rate fell below 2.0 per nine last year and his WHIP (1.027) was lower than any of his three seasons at Florida State. His ground-ball rate was just 40%, which would’ve ranked as the 15th lowest in MLB last year. If you look closely, you can see the Twins stamp on him. Throwing up in the zone, pushing for fastball velocity, walking fewer batters and supressing home runs are all points of focus for pitching coach Wes Johnson and company. The Twins walked only 2.8 per nine last year, down from 3.6 in 2018. They struck out one batter per inning, an increase from 8.6 strikeouts per nine in 2018. They allowed an equal number of homers in 2019 as 2018 (198), but the league hit 1,191 more home runs. Sands is an exciting young pitcher with plenty of upside. Maintaining his fastball command, upping his velocity, and further blossoming his curveball and changeup will be important moving forward. Furthermore, with a somewhat violent delivery, avoiding elbow and shoulder complications will be vital. Sands missed some time during his junior year with biceps tendonitis. Nevertheless, there is a shining glimmer of a front-of-the-rotation starter here in the budding right-hander. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. I just read the ESPN prospect ratings by Kiley McDaniels and is was an interesting look from a new perspective. Riley came over from FanGraphs and he has a different style than Law and others I have read. What interests me is the Twins prospects ratings, of course, and he challenged some ideas. https://www.espn.com/mlb/insider/story/_/id/28820713/kiley-mcdaniel-top-100-prospects-2020 First of all he has Royce Lewis rated the highest at number 15 - a surprisingly high rating in my mind, but he also lists him as a CF. "His hitting mechanics still need a little work in terms of timing and quieting his hand movement, but scouts rave about his makeup, and the raw power and speed are still elite. I'm betting on Lewis figuring things out and becoming an above-average everyday player with some chance to become a star, possibly in the infield" Jhoan Duran was #54 - "The maturity and command look to be in place for a ground-ball-focused rotation workhorse with swing-and-miss stuff." This is really nice to see, I expected Balazovic to be above him. #58 Trevor Larnach, "He's a slightly better bet in my book than Alex Kirilloff to be an above-average everyday player, but they're in roughly the same area." So the argument about who is number one - Kiriloff or Lewis has a new twist. #63 is Alex Kiriloff, "Kirilloff's pitch selection leaves a bit to be desired, while he's moving down the defensive spectrum to first base and his wrist has been giving him trouble." #93 Jordan Balazovic, "He also doesn't have a bunch of plus pitches that he's learning to harness, rather a number of above-average offerings that he already has a good feel for mixing." It appears on all the lists that the top five prospects is the same (Graterol by the way is #92 "his command might be enough to start, but it's legit closer stuff"). Of course the question remains - who is the not on any list prospect who will be the next Arraez and throw the rankings out of the window. The second question - is it better to suddenly appear on the list and shoot to the top or to start your career with high expectations and high rating and then slowly slide down the list?
  7. First and foremost, the Twins minor league academy has been a tremendous success for a number of reasons: First, they have been able to conduct camps throughout the offseason. In the fall, there are camps for position players to work on their speed and agility or other specific areas of their game. In January, there are pitch camps for control or velocity. Rehabbing players are also there a lot in the offseason. They are able to do that because there is comfortable lodging for the players without sending them to a hotel. And the players are taking advantage of it. Also, players have been coming to Ft. Myers well before spring training. By the first week in January, minor leaguers start to arrive. In fact, I was told by several people that only three or four of the minor leaguers have not already shown up to camp despite the fact that the official report day is still three or four days away. That is incredible. And the players are coming into camp in really good shape and ready to go. While the practices aren’t official, there is a real level of formality to it. Coaches are assigned. Conditioning is done. Stretching. Base running. Bullpens. Batting practice. Grounders are being taken and fly balls are being caught. It’s as if practice had already started. The only difference is they aren’t wearing uniforms. They’re dressed in warmup attire, which is really creating issues for me in identifying most of the new players. I’ll adjust, don’t worry. Anyway, what is impressive is that they aren’t just in early spring mode. They’re working on things. Infield coordinator Billy Boyer is working with the infielders on specific things, on taking grounders or throws to the bases from various positions, simulating their shift positions. Hitters aren’t just taking batting practice and crushing fastballs. They are already hitting nasty sliders off of the pitching machine. Pitchers are working on location and their pitches, but they’re doing it in a fun, competitive mode. For instance, here is a video of Blayne Enlow and Jordan Balazovic. They go back and forth and simulate an 0-2 count on a hitter. What will they throw? What will the location be? https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1233794708763299840 I did see Bailey Ober throwing some impressive breaking balls too. Here he is working along-side Enlow. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1234105413408370689 And Matt Canterino’s bullpen was very workmanlike. He was throwing all of his pitches; fastball, changeup, slider and curveball. All looked to have the potential to be plus pitches (based on this bullpen session, at least). https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1233795751567929345 By the way, one name to kind of keep in the back of your mind during the 2020 season is RHP Jon Olsen. He was the Twins 12th round pick in 2018 from UCLA. He had Tommy John surgery that spring and rehabbed from that and other arm issues in 2019. But he appears to be healthy and really had an impressive bullpen. On Saturday morning, I did a 25-minute radio spot on Bison 1660 in Fargo from the back field, trying to stay out of the wind. You can listen to that here. https://twitter.com/Bison1660/status/1233799305447776256 But following that interview, I walked to Bill Smith Field. That is the field behind the academy where the GCL Twins play. As I was approaching the field, I heard hollering. And then I see a ball launched out of the park. And then another ball well beyond the fence in left center field. That’s when I realized who was hitting in the cage. It was Twins 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco. For good measure, he hit the next ball even further. I had also seen him the day before fielding ground balls at shortstop. Very impressive defensively. And he is a big, strong kid. He has the hands and speed for shortstop, but he’s got the size to be a third baseman. Definitely one to watch progress. After his round of batting practice. He and fellow young prospect Jesus Feliz posed for a photo. Speaking of top picks, it was great to watch Forest Lake’s own Matt Wallner take some batting practice. The young man is impressive. He’s tall and strong, and he can hit the ball a long way. In just observing, he appeared to be very coachable as well. Later, he came up and introduced himself and it was a Minnesota Nice conversation. It was good to see Taylor Grzelakowski on the field and healthy. He had a tough year last year in Pensacola. He played through a lot of pain before finally having a second ankle surgery in June. He said that his offseason and rest really helped it recover. I tell you what, there are a lot of great stories to be told on the minor league side of the complex. Hopefully I can get to some of them. One name in camp that Twins fans will find interesting. Levi Michael is back in the organization. The 2010 first-round pick spent seven seasons in the Twins organization. He split time between AA and AAA with the Mets in 2018 and did the same in the Giants system in 2019. Alright, I’m sure there is more and there will continue to be more. But feel free to ask questions and I’ll try to answer, or I’ll try to watch that player/those players more closely.
  8. Twins minor league camp doesn’t officially start until the middle of this coming week, but I have spent parts of the past three days down on the minor league fields. Here are a handful of notes.First and foremost, the Twins minor league academy has been a tremendous success for a number of reasons: First, they have been able to conduct camps throughout the offseason. In the fall, there are camps for position players to work on their speed and agility or other specific areas of their game. In January, there are pitch camps for control or velocity. Rehabbing players are also there a lot in the offseason. They are able to do that because there is comfortable lodging for the players without sending them to a hotel. And the players are taking advantage of it. Also, players have been coming to Ft. Myers well before spring training. By the first week in January, minor leaguers start to arrive. In fact, I was told by several people that only three or four of the minor leaguers have not already shown up to camp despite the fact that the official report day is still three or four days away. That is incredible. And the players are coming into camp in really good shape and ready to go. While the practices aren’t official, there is a real level of formality to it. Coaches are assigned. Conditioning is done. Stretching. Base running. Bullpens. Batting practice. Grounders are being taken and fly balls are being caught. It’s as if practice had already started. The only difference is they aren’t wearing uniforms. They’re dressed in warmup attire, which is really creating issues for me in identifying most of the new players. I’ll adjust, don’t worry. Anyway, what is impressive is that they aren’t just in early spring mode. They’re working on things. Infield coordinator Billy Boyer is working with the infielders on specific things, on taking grounders or throws to the bases from various positions, simulating their shift positions. Hitters aren’t just taking batting practice and crushing fastballs. They are already hitting nasty sliders off of the pitching machine. Pitchers are working on location and their pitches, but they’re doing it in a fun, competitive mode. For instance, here is a video of Blayne Enlow and Jordan Balazovic. They go back and forth and simulate an 0-2 count on a hitter. What will they throw? What will the location be? But following that interview, I walked to Bill Smith Field. That is the field behind the academy where the GCL Twins play. As I was approaching the field, I heard hollering. And then I see a ball launched out of the park. And then another ball well beyond the fence in left center field. That’s when I realized who was hitting in the cage. It was Twins 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco. For good measure, he hit the next ball even further. I had also seen him the day before fielding ground balls at shortstop. Very impressive defensively. And he is a big, strong kid. He has the hands and speed for shortstop, but he’s got the size to be a third baseman. Definitely one to watch progress. After his round of batting practice. He and fellow young prospect Jesus Feliz posed for a photo. Speaking of top picks, it was great to watch Forest Lake’s own Matt Wallner take some batting practice. The young man is impressive. He’s tall and strong, and he can hit the ball a long way. In just observing, he appeared to be very coachable as well. Later, he came up and introduced himself and it was a Minnesota Nice conversation. It was good to see Taylor Grzelakowski on the field and healthy. He had a tough year last year in Pensacola. He played through a lot of pain before finally having a second ankle surgery in June. He said that his offseason and rest really helped it recover. I tell you what, there are a lot of great stories to be told on the minor league side of the complex. Hopefully I can get to some of them. One name in camp that Twins fans will find interesting. Levi Michael is back in the organization. The 2010 first-round pick spent seven seasons in the Twins organization. He split time between AA and AAA with the Mets in 2018 and did the same in the Giants system in 2019. Alright, I’m sure there is more and there will continue to be more. But feel free to ask questions and I’ll try to answer, or I’ll try to watch that player/those players more closely. Click here to view the article
  9. We've spent the past couple weeks profiling our picks for the Top 20 (and beyond) prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization. Now, as spring training gets underway in earnest, these exciting young talents will bring the team's minor-league complex to life. Let's step back and take stock of the Twins' system as it stands entering the 2020 season.Twins Daily's Top 20 Twins Prospects of 2020 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B: Strong infield D and contact swing keep him on Top 20 radar. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Tremendous pro debut in 2019 with 5-to-1 K/BB ratio in A-ball. 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF: The innate power is finally starting to show up in games. 17. Misael Urbina, OF: Standout athlete flashing every tool as an unrefined teenager. 16. Edwar Colina, RHP: Big arm, wicked slider. If he keeps sharpening control, watch out. 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Freshly drafted righty shows big potential with funky delivery. 14. Matt Wallner, OF: Former MN prep star fared well during first exposure to pro ranks. 13. Wander Javier, SS: Disastrous 2019 season doesn't fully diminish shortstop's shine. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Skills came together during spectacular second half in A-ball. 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Keeps missing bats at the highest levels. His upside endures. 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Progression has been gradual, but steady. Could turn a corner. 9. Brent Rooker, OF: Immense power just might offset K's and lack of defensive value. 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS: All projection at this point, but toolsy teen offers plenty to dream on. 7. Ryan Jeffers, C: Two-way standout at catcher has impressed at every stop through AA. 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Hard-throwing whiff machine could impact 2020 Twins as a reliever. 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Sturdily built sterling performer has makings of a long-term SP. 4: Brusdar Graterol, RHP: The now-departed young flamethrower was an ultra-rare talent. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF: Hits for average and power, shaping up as prototypical star RF. 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Remains one of the best pure hitters in the minors. Handled AA at 21. 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Pure ability too blinding to look past, but there is work to be done. POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C: 1 IF: 5 OF: 6 RHP: 7 LHP: 1 Two obvious areas of deficiency in the breakdown above: catcher and left-handed pitching. That's not by coincidence – they are notoriously tough spots to amass impact talent – but I don't see these scarcities as particularly alarming for the Twins. Pitching is pitching. Yeah, it might be nice to have a few more southpaws in the mix, but a righty-heavy staff isn't such a detriment right now for the Twins, and the MLB-ready Thorpe looms large as a lefty threat. As for the catcher position, Ben Rortvedt is right on the fringe of this list in our honorable mentions, and in the Graterol trade, the Twins acquired a 20-year-old catcher named Jair Camargo who is at least kind of intriguing. Oh, yeah... Graterol. THE LOSS OF GRATEROL After tabulating votes two weeks ago, we had our Top 20 list fully compiled and finalized. Rollout on the site was already underway when news of the Kenta Maeda trade surfaced. At that point, our options were to reset on the fly, or just run the rankings as planned. We chose the latter, because it seemed valuable to provide context as to what the Twins gave up for Maeda. Graterol was, from our panel's view, the organization's No. 1 pitching prospect before departing. But those rankings didn't necessarily reflect a future in the bullpen, which now seems firmer than ever. And even with all the noise filtered out, Graterol wasn't separated from Balazovic or Duran by much. The Twins have developed three upper-echelon – albeit not quite elite – pitching prospects, giving them the luxury to part with an undeniably stellar talent like Graterol. And, if you're wondering which player now slides into our Top 20, with everyone else bumping up a spot in his absence? It's Rortvedt, who was just mentioned. FEELING THE DRAFT Graterol wasn't the only valuable asset Minnesota lost in the Maeda trade. The Twins also forfeited their Comp B pick in the coming MLB Draft (67th overall), and based on how they've drafted as of late, this could deprive them of a pretty special player. Scouting director Sean Johnson is running a ridiculously effective unit for Minnesota. The top three players on our prospect list (Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach) are first-round picks from successive years (2016-2018). All are consensus Top 100 guys. That says a lot. The Twins have also shown some ability to unearth gems beyond the first wave, like prospect No. 10 Enlow (76th overall), No. 9 Rooker (39th), and No. 7 Jeffers (59th). Add in the fact that signing Josh Donaldson cost the Twins their third-round pick (99th overall), and the toll taken on this year's draft class by these win-now moves is considerable. You won't find me complaining, but it's something to keep in mind. WATCH THE THRONE The top two spots on our list remain unchanged from last year, but Lewis and Kirilloff have definitely loosened their grips – especially Lewis at No. 1. His youth, athleticism, pedigree, and makeup were enough to keep the shortstop locked in as the leader and our list, and he's still in a healthy position on most national rankings. But between the scant production last year – .236/.290/.371 with poor plate discipline – and the echoing questions concerning defense and swing mechanics, there's vulnerability here. Any number of players from the list could plausibly take over that top billing a year from now. Kirilloff, Larnach, Balazovic, and Jeffers feel most viable to me, if Lewis were to slip. Of course, there's also a plenty good chance Lewis rebounds in a huge way to re-stake his claim among the game's elite young talents. WHERE THEY STAND Baseball America released its ranking of MLB farm systems last week and had the Twins eighth. Bleacher Report has them sixth. By just about any measure, Minnesota boasts a top-10 system in the game, with a majority of its best talents rapidly approaching MLB-readiness. With the Twins bursting through their contention window, the timing could not be better. Strap in folks. Fun times are ahead. On a final note, I'd like to say that while I was researching and compiling entries for this series, two of my most invaluable resources were Tom Froemming's YouTube channel and Twitter page. If you enjoy Twins minor-league coverage and aren't following both, I highly recommend doing so. Tom puts together so much awesome video content and analysis. PAST TWINS DAILY TOP PROSPECT LISTS: TD 2019 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2016 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2015 Minnesota Twins Top 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 Click here to view the article
  10. Twins Daily's Top 20 Twins Prospects of 2020 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B: Strong infield D and contact swing keep him on Top 20 radar. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Tremendous pro debut in 2019 with 5-to-1 K/BB ratio in A-ball. 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF: The innate power is finally starting to show up in games. 17. Misael Urbina, OF: Standout athlete flashing every tool as an unrefined teenager. 16. Edwar Colina, RHP: Big arm, wicked slider. If he keeps sharpening control, watch out. 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Freshly drafted righty shows big potential with funky delivery. 14. Matt Wallner, OF: Former MN prep star fared well during first exposure to pro ranks. 13. Wander Javier, SS: Disastrous 2019 season doesn't fully diminish shortstop's shine. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Skills came together during spectacular second half in A-ball. 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Keeps missing bats at the highest levels. His upside endures. 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Progression has been gradual, but steady. Could turn a corner. 9. Brent Rooker, OF: Immense power just might offset K's and lack of defensive value. 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS: All projection at this point, but toolsy teen offers plenty to dream on. 7. Ryan Jeffers, C: Two-way standout at catcher has impressed at every stop through AA. 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Hard-throwing whiff machine could impact 2020 Twins as a reliever. 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Sturdily built sterling performer has makings of a long-term SP. 4: Brusdar Graterol, RHP: The now-departed young flamethrower was an ultra-rare talent. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF: Hits for average and power, shaping up as prototypical star RF. 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Remains one of the best pure hitters in the minors. Handled AA at 21. 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Pure ability too blinding to look past, but there is work to be done. POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C: 1 IF: 5 OF: 6 RHP: 7 LHP: 1 Two obvious areas of deficiency in the breakdown above: catcher and left-handed pitching. That's not by coincidence – they are notoriously tough spots to amass impact talent – but I don't see these scarcities as particularly alarming for the Twins. Pitching is pitching. Yeah, it might be nice to have a few more southpaws in the mix, but a righty-heavy staff isn't such a detriment right now for the Twins, and the MLB-ready Thorpe looms large as a lefty threat. As for the catcher position, Ben Rortvedt is right on the fringe of this list in our honorable mentions, and in the Graterol trade, the Twins acquired a 20-year-old catcher named Jair Camargo who is at least kind of intriguing. https://twitter.com/jimcallisMLB/status/1227029116152668167 Oh, yeah... Graterol. THE LOSS OF GRATEROL After tabulating votes two weeks ago, we had our Top 20 list fully compiled and finalized. Rollout on the site was already underway when news of the Kenta Maeda trade surfaced. At that point, our options were to reset on the fly, or just run the rankings as planned. We chose the latter, because it seemed valuable to provide context as to what the Twins gave up for Maeda. Graterol was, from our panel's view, the organization's No. 1 pitching prospect before departing. But those rankings didn't necessarily reflect a future in the bullpen, which now seems firmer than ever. And even with all the noise filtered out, Graterol wasn't separated from Balazovic or Duran by much. The Twins have developed three upper-echelon – albeit not quite elite – pitching prospects, giving them the luxury to part with an undeniably stellar talent like Graterol. And, if you're wondering which player now slides into our Top 20, with everyone else bumping up a spot in his absence? It's Rortvedt, who was just mentioned. FEELING THE DRAFT Graterol wasn't the only valuable asset Minnesota lost in the Maeda trade. The Twins also forfeited their Comp B pick in the coming MLB Draft (67th overall), and based on how they've drafted as of late, this could deprive them of a pretty special player. Scouting director Sean Johnson is running a ridiculously effective unit for Minnesota. The top three players on our prospect list (Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach) are first-round picks from successive years (2016-2018). All are consensus Top 100 guys. That says a lot. The Twins have also shown some ability to unearth gems beyond the first wave, like prospect No. 10 Enlow (76th overall), No. 9 Rooker (39th), and No. 7 Jeffers (59th). Add in the fact that signing Josh Donaldson cost the Twins their third-round pick (99th overall), and the toll taken on this year's draft class by these win-now moves is considerable. You won't find me complaining, but it's something to keep in mind. WATCH THE THRONE The top two spots on our list remain unchanged from last year, but Lewis and Kirilloff have definitely loosened their grips – especially Lewis at No. 1. His youth, athleticism, pedigree, and makeup were enough to keep the shortstop locked in as the leader and our list, and he's still in a healthy position on most national rankings. But between the scant production last year – .236/.290/.371 with poor plate discipline – and the echoing questions concerning defense and swing mechanics, there's vulnerability here. Any number of players from the list could plausibly take over that top billing a year from now. Kirilloff, Larnach, Balazovic, and Jeffers feel most viable to me, if Lewis were to slip. Of course, there's also a plenty good chance Lewis rebounds in a huge way to re-stake his claim among the game's elite young talents. WHERE THEY STAND Baseball America released its ranking of MLB farm systems last week and had the Twins eighth. Bleacher Report has them sixth. By just about any measure, Minnesota boasts a top-10 system in the game, with a majority of its best talents rapidly approaching MLB-readiness. With the Twins bursting through their contention window, the timing could not be better. Strap in folks. Fun times are ahead. On a final note, I'd like to say that while I was researching and compiling entries for this series, two of my most invaluable resources were Tom Froemming's YouTube channel and Twitter page. If you enjoy Twins minor-league coverage and aren't following both, I highly recommend doing so. Tom puts together so much awesome video content and analysis. PAST TWINS DAILY TOP PROSPECT LISTS: TD 2019 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2016 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2015 Minnesota Twins Top 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
  11. Who is the best pitching prospect in the Twins system? That answer has changed several times over the past few years as promising arms have jockeyed for top billing on this list and others. From Jose Berrios to Fernando Romero to Brusdar Graterol... Now, a new contender emerges.Position: RHP Age: 21 (DOB: 9/17/1998) 2019 Stats (A/A+): 93.2 IP, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 ETA: 2022 2019 Ranking: NA National Top 100 Rankings BA: 95 | MLB: 86 | ATH: 61 | BP: NA What's To Like The numbers speak for themselves. You can see above, his sterling results from 2019, adding to a pro career in which Balazovic has compiled a 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 rate with 16 homers allowed in 227.2 IP. Those are immaculate numbers for a guy who turned 21 last September and has always been young for his level. He dominates in the most straightforward and reliable of fashions: attacking the zone and making hitters miss. Among players to throw 20+ innings in the Midwest League, Balazovic's 39.8% K-rate in four starts there ranked third (the two higher numbers were from players three and four years older). After a very quick promotion to the Florida State League, Balazovic's K-rate dropped a bit to 32.8%, but that was good for third among pitchers with 50+ IP. He achieves this level of domination in the most straightforward and reliable of fashions: commanding a mid-90s fastball and mixing it expertly with the offspeeds. Balazovic is a technician, riding a consistent delivery and deep release point to keep opponents from finding any kind of rhythm. His slider and developing changeup aren't viewed as especially great pitches on their own, but the 6-foot-5 righty plays them up significantly with his power fastball and tunneling technique. In , Twins Daily's Tom Froemming shares highlights from one of Balazovic's better 2019 performances – a four-frame outing fresh off his appearance in the Futures Game – and Tom breaks down his deceptive pitch sequences in action. While this outing came in relief, due to a disruption in his normal schedule, all but three of the former fifth-rounder's 31 appearances since reaching full-season ball have been starts. And this is a key factor that differentiates Balazovic from other big arms like Jhoan Duran at the top end our prospect list: he seems more likely than any other to remain a starting pitcher long-term. It's apparent enough from his build: a big and sturdy guy with broad shoulders and smooth mechanics. His changeup is coming along well enough to project as a viable MLB offering. For these reasons and more, Patrick Reusse recently wrote in a Star Tribune profile that Balazovic "has starter written all over him." Starter with colossal upside. A crucial asset indeed. What's Left To Work On A huge year lies ahead for Balazovic. While all signs have mostly been good since he joined the organization as a 17-year-old out of high school in 2016, he's got a couple big hurdles left to clear. First, there's the high minors. According to Reusse's column, the Twins are gearing up to start Balazovic at Class-AA Pensacola this season, and he'll find the competition there much stiffer after mowing down Single-A batters last summer. Sharpening his breaking-ball command and refining the changeup will be essential to maintaining his results in the upper tiers. Secondly, there's proving his durability. While he possesses the aforementioned qualities of a starting pitcher, Balazovic needs to make good on the field. He missed time in 2018 due to nerve irritation in his elbow, limiting him to 62 innings at Cedar Rapids, and in 2019 he totaled just 94 innings as his workload was stringently managed. (After May 25th, Balazovic had only one start where he pitched into the sixth or threw even 90 pitches.) For comparison, Berrios threw 103 and 140 innings in his first two full pro seasons, at the same ages. It's smart to be cautious with such a critical young arm, but at some point – probably this year – the Twins are going to need to loosen the reins and stretch Balavovic out, with deeper outings and a program that puts him on track for 150 innings at least. What's Next If Reusse's projection is accurate, Balazovic will open in Double-A at age 21, which is a fairly aggressive but well-warranted assignment. Last year only four pitchers 21 or younger logged 100+ innings in the Southern League, which is the realistic aspiration for Balazovic. His workload baseline doesn't really set up for him to be pitching past August, so the idea of Balazovic impacting the big-league club down the stretch may not be feasible, barring a scenario like Graterol's last year where early missed time leaves Balazovic with innings left to throw toward the end. Of course, that'd hardly be ideal, in the sense that his durability remains an open question. The best-case scenario for Balazovic this year would seem to be a fully healthy, productive, and convincing summer in the Pensacola rotation, perhaps punctuated by a late promotion to Triple-A cementing his readiness to contend for an MLB job in 2021. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Check back tomorrow for #4! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  12. Position: RHP Age: 21 (DOB: 9/17/1998) 2019 Stats (A/A+): 93.2 IP, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 12.4 K/9, 2.4 BB/9 ETA: 2022 2019 Ranking: NA National Top 100 Rankings BA: 95 | MLB: 86 | ATH: 61 | BP: NA What's To Like The numbers speak for themselves. You can see above, his sterling results from 2019, adding to a pro career in which Balazovic has compiled a 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 10.0 K/9, and 2.7 BB/9 rate with 16 homers allowed in 227.2 IP. Those are immaculate numbers for a guy who turned 21 last September and has always been young for his level. He dominates in the most straightforward and reliable of fashions: attacking the zone and making hitters miss. Among players to throw 20+ innings in the Midwest League, Balazovic's 39.8% K-rate in four starts there ranked third (the two higher numbers were from players three and four years older). After a very quick promotion to the Florida State League, Balazovic's K-rate dropped a bit to 32.8%, but that was good for third among pitchers with 50+ IP. He achieves this level of domination in the most straightforward and reliable of fashions: commanding a mid-90s fastball and mixing it expertly with the offspeeds. Balazovic is a technician, riding a consistent delivery and deep release point to keep opponents from finding any kind of rhythm. His slider and developing changeup aren't viewed as especially great pitches on their own, but the 6-foot-5 righty plays them up significantly with his power fastball and tunneling technique. In , Twins Daily's Tom Froemming shares highlights from one of Balazovic's better 2019 performances – a four-frame outing fresh off his appearance in the Futures Game – and Tom breaks down his deceptive pitch sequences in action. While this outing came in relief, due to a disruption in his normal schedule, all but three of the former fifth-rounder's 31 appearances since reaching full-season ball have been starts. And this is a key factor that differentiates Balazovic from other big arms like Jhoan Duran at the top end our prospect list: he seems more likely than any other to remain a starting pitcher long-term. It's apparent enough from his build: a big and sturdy guy with broad shoulders and smooth mechanics. His changeup is coming along well enough to project as a viable MLB offering. For these reasons and more, Patrick Reusse recently wrote in a Star Tribune profile that Balazovic "has starter written all over him." Starter with colossal upside. A crucial asset indeed. What's Left To Work On A huge year lies ahead for Balazovic. While all signs have mostly been good since he joined the organization as a 17-year-old out of high school in 2016, he's got a couple big hurdles left to clear. First, there's the high minors. According to Reusse's column, the Twins are gearing up to start Balazovic at Class-AA Pensacola this season, and he'll find the competition there much stiffer after mowing down Single-A batters last summer. Sharpening his breaking-ball command and refining the changeup will be essential to maintaining his results in the upper tiers. Secondly, there's proving his durability. While he possesses the aforementioned qualities of a starting pitcher, Balazovic needs to make good on the field. He missed time in 2018 due to nerve irritation in his elbow, limiting him to 62 innings at Cedar Rapids, and in 2019 he totaled just 94 innings as his workload was stringently managed. (After May 25th, Balazovic had only one start where he pitched into the sixth or threw even 90 pitches.) For comparison, Berrios threw 103 and 140 innings in his first two full pro seasons, at the same ages. It's smart to be cautious with such a critical young arm, but at some point – probably this year – the Twins are going to need to loosen the reins and stretch Balavovic out, with deeper outings and a program that puts him on track for 150 innings at least. What's Next If Reusse's projection is accurate, Balazovic will open in Double-A at age 21, which is a fairly aggressive but well-warranted assignment. Last year only four pitchers 21 or younger logged 100+ innings in the Southern League, which is the realistic aspiration for Balazovic. His workload baseline doesn't really set up for him to be pitching past August, so the idea of Balazovic impacting the big-league club down the stretch may not be feasible, barring a scenario like Graterol's last year where early missed time leaves Balazovic with innings left to throw toward the end. Of course, that'd hardly be ideal, in the sense that his durability remains an open question. The best-case scenario for Balazovic this year would seem to be a fully healthy, productive, and convincing summer in the Pensacola rotation, perhaps punctuated by a late promotion to Triple-A cementing his readiness to contend for an MLB job in 2021. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP Check back tomorrow for #4! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Position: RHP Age: 21 (DOB 8/26/1998) 2019 Stats (AA/MLB/AAA/A-): 70.2 IP, 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 9.1 BB% ETA: Debuted in 2019 2019 Ranking: 3 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 60 | MLB: 83 | ATH: 49 | BP: 32 I was very slow to come around on Graterol as a top prospect. Two years ago, I had him 17th on my list, eight spots lower than anyone else at Twins Daily. Seth called that out in the comments, I responded by saying “I try not to rank relief pitchers inside my top 10.” So here’s where I take my victory lap, right? Nope. Brusdar Graterol can be a starter. Well, as long as the organization who controls him has enough patience to see that path through. The triple-digit fastball obviously is the headliner, but Graterol’s slider is also a true plus pitch and his changeup shows enough potential. One of the things I find most amusing about prospect rankings is what I like to call the Proximity Penalty. Generally, the closer a guy is to the big leagues, the more pessimistic his overall outlook becomes. It’s easier to dream on an 18-year-old in rookie ball than a guy who’s moved up a bit and has been exposed to advanced hitters. Graterol is only 21-years-old, eight months younger than Matt Canterino, the Twins’ top pitching selection in last year’s draft. He’s also younger than Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Jhoan Duran and he’s about the same age as Jordan Balazovic. Painting Brusdar into a corner seems extremely shortsighted at this point. He has time to develop pitches, adjust his mechanics and stretch out his arm. He just needs to be afforded that time. Prior to being shut down in late May, Graterol pitched to a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .188/.282/.279 (.561 OPS) batting line in 47 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in Double A. That’s not a failed starter. Well, at least in terms of performance. The gorilla in the room is, of course, his health. Graterol has a lengthy injury history, but it seems strange to me a guy as young as him could be written off as not being able to shoulder (literally) a starter’s workload. We’re not sure exactly what Boston saw on the medicals that scared them off, but I’m confident of this: If Graterol had a significant injury, the Twins would have completely shut him down last season. I find it hard to believe they’d risk further injury by having him pitch a bunch of low-leverage innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year. There’s also the fact that he was sitting triple-digits at Yankee Stadium in early October. Seemed fine to me. Graterol was going to be in the bullpen for the Twins, and I’d assume that’s also where he’ll be with the Dodgers. But what if Los Angeles flips him to a non-contender willing take the time to develop him as a starter? Does he magically become a better prospect? I don’t know, maybe I was right back in 2018. In my writeup, I went out of my way to point out that a lot of people believe in the mantra “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” and called Graterol one of the highest ceiling/lowest floor prospects in all of baseball. I also said he definitely has true ace potential, and still believe that (pending medicals). Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP Check back Monday for #3! Graterol may be gone, but you can learn more about 170 Twins minor leaguers in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $14.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $9.99) MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Brusdar Graterol is a Dodger, of course, but we passed the point of no return in terms of adjusting our list. Instead of our usual breakdown of what’s to like, what’s left to work on and what’s next, I thought it would be more interesting to have a conversation about ranking prospects in general.Position: RHP Age: 21 (DOB 8/26/1998) 2019 Stats (AA/MLB/AAA/A-): 70.2 IP, 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 9.1 BB% ETA: Debuted in 2019 2019 Ranking: 3 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 60 | MLB: 83 | ATH: 49 | BP: 32 I was very slow to come around on Graterol as a top prospect. Two years ago, I had him 17th on my list, eight spots lower than anyone else at Twins Daily. Seth called that out in the comments, I responded by saying “I try not to rank relief pitchers inside my top 10.” So here’s where I take my victory lap, right? Nope. Brusdar Graterol can be a starter. Well, as long as the organization who controls him has enough patience to see that path through. The triple-digit fastball obviously is the headliner, but Graterol’s slider is also a true plus pitch and his changeup shows enough potential. One of the things I find most amusing about prospect rankings is what I like to call the Proximity Penalty. Generally, the closer a guy is to the big leagues, the more pessimistic his overall outlook becomes. It’s easier to dream on an 18-year-old in rookie ball than a guy who’s moved up a bit and has been exposed to advanced hitters. Graterol is only 21-years-old, eight months younger than Matt Canterino, the Twins’ top pitching selection in last year’s draft. He’s also younger than Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Jhoan Duran and he’s about the same age as Jordan Balazovic. Painting Brusdar into a corner seems extremely shortsighted at this point. He has time to develop pitches, adjust his mechanics and stretch out his arm. He just needs to be afforded that time. Prior to being shut down in late May, Graterol pitched to a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .188/.282/.279 (.561 OPS) batting line in 47 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in Double A. That’s not a failed starter. Well, at least in terms of performance. The gorilla in the room is, of course, his health. Graterol has a lengthy injury history, but it seems strange to me a guy as young as him could be written off as not being able to shoulder (literally) a starter’s workload. We’re not sure exactly what Boston saw on the medicals that scared them off, but I’m confident of this: If Graterol had a significant injury, the Twins would have completely shut him down last season. I find it hard to believe they’d risk further injury by having him pitch a bunch of low-leverage innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year. There’s also the fact that he was sitting triple-digits at Yankee Stadium in early October. Seemed fine to me. Graterol was going to be in the bullpen for the Twins, and I’d assume that’s also where he’ll be with the Dodgers. But what if Los Angeles flips him to a non-contender willing take the time to develop him as a starter? Does he magically become a better prospect? I don’t know, maybe I was right back in 2018. In my writeup, I went out of my way to point out that a lot of people believe in the mantra “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” and called Graterol one of the highest ceiling/lowest floor prospects in all of baseball. I also said he definitely has true ace potential, and still believe that (pending medicals). Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP Check back Monday for #3! Graterol may be gone, but you can learn more about 170 Twins minor leaguers in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $14.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $9.99) MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  15. Admittedly, so much can and will happen between now and November. There will be spring training, a 162-game regular season and a 140-game minor-season. There will likely be trades. The 26-man active roster will be enacted for the first time. There will be injuries. There will be breakouts. And there will be players who struggle adjusting as they move up the ladder. So primarily this is a fun exercise, an opportunity for you to read and see listed the players who need to be added. However, every year we also try to consider if there will be a logjam on the 40-man roster, and maybe some players who will be eligible could be considered as trade candidates. So, here is a quick reminder of what players will be eligible for the 2020 Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2016 (during the minor league season). Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2017. Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again. Players drafted or signed during the 2014 season became free agents after the World Series was complete. But back to the players needing to be added or risk losing to the Rule 5 draft,.. In 10 months. I’ll break them into a few categories. The Givens are players that I think have to be added or there is a high likelihood that they will be selected by another team. The next category will be Possibly. I think there is a chance these guys could be added depending upon how many players the team chooses to add. Because we are so far out, I chose to add more names, so I included some that may be On the Bubble at this point. And then of course I jotted down the other players that are eligible. The final group is comprised of the players will be free agents at the conclusion of the World Series unless added before then. The Givens If I had written this article one year ago, I certainly would have had Wander Javier in the Givens category. Injuries can certainly alter perspective. The numbers game, mid-season acquisitions and other players stepping up can also be a factor. In addition, some of these guys could get called up before the season ends and won’t be on the list. OF Alex Kirilloff - 1st round pick in 2016 from high school in Pennsylvania. Top prospects are going to get protected. They won’t be non-tendered. Kirilloff won’t be non-tendered. In fact, there is a decent chance he gets called up during the season. RHP Jordan Balazovic - 5th round pick in 2016 from secondary school in Ontario. A Top 100 prospect coming into the 2020 season. Should spent most of 2020 in Pensacola. OF/1B Brent Rooker - Competitive Balance A pick in 2017 from Mississippi State. Likely to be called up in-season, but if not, he is likely to be added. RHP Edwar Colina - Signed from Venezuela in late September 2015. Colina wasn’t a big prospect when he was signed, now he’s hitting triple-digits and has the pitches to potentially be a starter. Possibles SS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster this offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. Again, by season’s end, he’s a candidate for the Givens section. C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the season at Pensacola before a knee injury. Terrific defensively and very strong. 3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles to third base. OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and a great power-speed combination. RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up fantastic numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance. RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020. RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5. LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, if not 2020. RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He’ll rehab most of the year which means he’ll be closer to his return. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level? -------------------- To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too. -------------------- On the Bubble OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense. LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches. 2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup. LHP Lachlan Wells - Wells was well on track to be added a couple of years ago but Tommy John surgery cost him some development time. He missed the 2018 season and returned in the second half of 2019. Can he return to form in his first full season back? LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester). RHP Tom Hackimer - Twins 4th round pick in 2015 from St. Johns, the side-winder had surgery after the AFL in 2018. He pitched briefly for the Miracle before finishing the season in Pensacola. 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. If he takes another step, he could be added. 1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He should get a shot in 2020 during that season. Others in their first year of eligibility: Tyler Benninghoff, Matt Jones, Kidany Salva, Jared Akins, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Petru Balan, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Taylor Grzelakowski, Jimmy Kerrigan, Fernando Martinez, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Frandy Torres, Janigson Villalobos. Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020. Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Joe Cronin, Miguel De Jesus, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone, Moises Gomez, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Alex Schick, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Aaron Whitefield, Malique Ziegler. These players will become free agents at the conclusion of the 2020 World Series unless added to the 40-man roster. Sam Clay, Andro Cutura, Randy LeBlanc, Jose Martinez, Jake Reed. Again, this is mostly an exercise in looking ahead, information for you to consider throughout the 2020 season. It’s also something where, as the Twins talk trades and potentially see a 40-man roster crunch next offseason, maybe this information comes into play. And frankly, it will just be kind of fun to see which of these players move up or down the list and how this list looks different in November. ---------------------------------------------------------- To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too.
  16. Normally we consider which players will need to be added to the 40 man roster after the season, leading up to the decision becoming official in mid-November. But let’s look ahead to that decision as it may affect decisions throughout the season. Plus, it never hurts to know who is playing for spots on the 40-man roster.Admittedly, so much can and will happen between now and November. There will be spring training, a 162-game regular season and a 140-game minor-season. There will likely be trades. The 26-man active roster will be enacted for the first time. There will be injuries. There will be breakouts. And there will be players who struggle adjusting as they move up the ladder. So primarily this is a fun exercise, an opportunity for you to read and see listed the players who need to be added. However, every year we also try to consider if there will be a logjam on the 40-man roster, and maybe some players who will be eligible could be considered as trade candidates. So, here is a quick reminder of what players will be eligible for the 2020 Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2016 (during the minor league season).Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2017.Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again.Players drafted or signed during the 2014 season became free agents after the World Series was complete.But back to the players needing to be added or risk losing to the Rule 5 draft,.. In 10 months. I’ll break them into a few categories. The Givens are players that I think have to be added or there is a high likelihood that they will be selected by another team. The next category will be Possibly. I think there is a chance these guys could be added depending upon how many players the team chooses to add. Because we are so far out, I chose to add more names, so I included some that may be On the Bubble at this point. And then of course I jotted down the other players that are eligible. The final group is comprised of the players will be free agents at the conclusion of the World Series unless added before then. The Givens If I had written this article one year ago, I certainly would have had Wander Javier in the Givens category. Injuries can certainly alter perspective. The numbers game, mid-season acquisitions and other players stepping up can also be a factor. In addition, some of these guys could get called up before the season ends and won’t be on the list. OF Alex Kirilloff - 1st round pick in 2016 from high school in Pennsylvania. Top prospects are going to get protected. They won’t be non-tendered. Kirilloff won’t be non-tendered. In fact, there is a decent chance he gets called up during the season.RHP Jordan Balazovic - 5th round pick in 2016 from secondary school in Ontario. A Top 100 prospect coming into the 2020 season. Should spent most of 2020 in Pensacola.OF/1B Brent Rooker - Competitive Balance A pick in 2017 from Mississippi State. Likely to be called up in-season, but if not, he is likely to be added.RHP Edwar Colina - Signed from Venezuela in late September 2015. Colina wasn’t a big prospect when he was signed, now he’s hitting triple-digits and has the pitches to potentially be a starter.PossiblesSS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster this offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. Again, by season’s end, he’s a candidate for the Givens section.C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the season at Pensacola before a knee injury. Terrific defensively and very strong.3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles to third base.OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and a great power-speed combination.RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up fantastic numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance.RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020.RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5.LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, if not 2020.RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He’ll rehab most of the year which means he’ll be closer to his return. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level?--------------------To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too. -------------------- On the Bubble OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense.LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches.2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup.LHP Lachlan Wells - Wells was well on track to be added a couple of years ago but Tommy John surgery cost him some development time. He missed the 2018 season and returned in the second half of 2019. Can he return to form in his first full season back?LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester).RHP Tom Hackimer - Twins 4th round pick in 2015 from St. Johns, the side-winder had surgery after the AFL in 2018. He pitched briefly for the Miracle before finishing the season in Pensacola.1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. If he takes another step, he could be added.1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He should get a shot in 2020 during that season.Others in their first year of eligibility:Tyler Benninghoff, Matt Jones, Kidany Salva, Jared Akins, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Petru Balan, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Taylor Grzelakowski, Jimmy Kerrigan, Fernando Martinez, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Frandy Torres, Janigson Villalobos.Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020.Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Joe Cronin, Miguel De Jesus, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone, Moises Gomez, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Alex Schick, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Aaron Whitefield, Malique Ziegler.These players will become free agents at the conclusion of the 2020 World Series unless added to the 40-man roster.Sam Clay, Andro Cutura, Randy LeBlanc, Jose Martinez, Jake Reed.Again, this is mostly an exercise in looking ahead, information for you to consider throughout the 2020 season. It’s also something where, as the Twins talk trades and potentially see a 40-man roster crunch next offseason, maybe this information comes into play. And frankly, it will just be kind of fun to see which of these players move up or down the list and how this list looks different in November. ---------------------------------------------------------- To learn more about all of these prospects, and about 150 more, purchase your copy(ies) of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. From Melvi Acosta to Malique Ziegler and everyone in between, learn about their backgrounds, their 2019 seasons, their scouting reports and a forecast for 2020. Available in paperback ($17.99) and as a PDF ebook ($12.99). 145 pages of Twins prospect content. And hey, if you want the previous 11 Twins Prospect Handbooks, you can get them too. Click here to view the article
  17. After covering Nos. 11 through 20 in Part 1 and Part 2 of these rankings, we're now venturing into the Top 10. These are foundational pieces in what the Twins are trying to accomplish; ranking these players against one another wasn't easy. Read on to see how it shook out.First, to reiterate the parameters and stipulations: Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally).Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we're using here. But for the purposes of this list, we're analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors. (Sorry Willians.)The idea is to assess their importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this regard, it's not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that's dependent on another team's situation and needs. (For instance, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr. would be more valuable to many other teams than they are to the Twins, who are rich with short-term and long-term corner outfield depth.)This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2019.Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion?Any questions or quibbles, holler in the comments. Let's continue the countdown. TOP 20 MINNESOTA TWINS ASSETS OF 2020 (6-10) 10. Luis Arraez, 2B 2019 Ranking: NR Last offseason, the Twins briefly considered exposing Arraez to the Rule 5 draft but thought better of it, adding him to the 40-man roster one day after doing the same for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade, Jr. It was a wise decision to say the least. The scrappy and perpetually overlooked Arraez raked everywhere in 2019. He batted .342 at Double-A, .348 at Triple-A, and most impressively, .342 during a 92-game major-league debut that saw him finish sixth for AL Rookie of the Year. At age 22, Arraez was a disciplined OBP force, bringing balance to an aggressive and power-laden lineup. He showed solid defense at second and even looked capable in left. The upward trend with his power – he hit four homers with the Twins after totaling six in 367 minor-league games – hints toward offensive upside yet to be tapped. 9. Alex Kirilloff, OF 2019 Ranking: 4 Kirilloff didn't have a bad year in 2019. Taking on Double-A as a 21-year-old, he batted .283 with a .756 OPS in 94 games. Perfectly solid numbers given the context. But he didn't nearly match the excellence of his breakout 2018 campaign, and lost extensive time to a wrist injury, which is a tough developmental blow for a young player who missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John. Kirilloff remains the best pure hitting prospect in the organization, but the luster has worn off slightly and his indispensability has diminished somewhat with the continued rise of Trevor Larnach and others. This explains why Kirilloff ranks as a Top 10 asset rather than a Top 5 asset this time around, but he's still plenty valuable and exciting. 8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2019 Ranking: NR The same thought process that led to Jhoan Duran ranking 13th applies here: "Pitching prospects with high ceilings that are close to the major leagues are valuable to every franchise, and especially to the Twins in this moment." Balazovic is a bit further from the majors than Duran, having finished at High-A in 2019, but he's on a higher prospect tier. In fact, Balazovic is the best pitching prospect in the system who has yet to reach the majors. Duran has great stuff, but he lacks the consistent results to back it up. This is where Balazovic separates. Since joining the organization as a fifth-round pick in 2016, the right-hander has simply performed, registering a 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9 rate through his first 228 innings as a pro. At 6'5" and 214 lbs, he's a big sturdy athlete with a mid-90s fastball and advanced command. He was absolutely sensational in 2019, with a 2.69 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 12.4 K/9 rate between two levels of A-ball at age 20, so his stock is riding high. Can he build upon it? 7. Byron Buxton, OF 2019 Ranking: 3 A healthy Buxton can be one of the most impactful difference-makers in Major League Baseball. This was the premise for ranking him No. 1 two years ago, and No. 3 last year. It was reinforced in 2019 when he was on the field, as the center fielder accrued 2.7 fWAR in just 87 games with an .827 OPS, 44 extra-base hits, 14 steals, and almost unparalleled defensive value. Alas, the overriding story of Buxton's season was, once again, injury. And it's one that spills over into 2020, as the 26-year-old is currently in the process of rehabbing from significant shoulder surgery. He's opened four different seasons with the Twins and played 100 games in only one of them. The mounting physical uncertainties make it impossible to trust his reliability going forward, making him feel like more of a bonus factor than centerpiece crux. And while free agency is still three years away, it's no longer a tiny blip on the horizon. With that said, if he can find a way to make it happen, a full healthy and productive season from Buxton will be more pivotal to Minnesota's championship hopes than any ace pitcher the Twins could sign or trade for. I firmly believe that. 6. Mitch Garver, C 2019 Ranking: 11 Is Garver the best catcher in baseball? Is he one of the best offensive backstops in MLB history? Will he be an MVP contender for years to come? Based entirely on the sample of his 2019 season, the answer to all those questions would be "yes," and he'd be No. 1 in these rankings with a bullet. But that sample amounts to only 93 games, and is so wildly out of line with his previous track record that it's tough to know exactly how to weight it. Garver has shown a knack for improving himself and disproving doubters, transforming from ninth-round draft pick to fringy catching prospect to bona fide big-league starter, but the leap last year was drastic by any standard. Thirty-one homers and a .995 OPS in 93 games, from a CATCHER (one with noticeably improved defense), is nuts. But it remains to be seen whether Garver was playing out of his mind for six months with a juiced ball, or setting a new norm. It bears noting that he turns 29 next week, making him the oldest player in this Top 10 by a sizable margin, and the only one who's not on the front end of his physical prime. Regardless, Garver has clearly established himself as a long-term building block, with four years of team control remaining. RECAPPING THE RANKINGS SO FAR: 20. Ryan Jeffers, C 19. Eddie Rosario, OF 18. Michael Pineda, RHP 17. Nelson Cruz, DH 16. Tyler Duffey, RHP 15. Jake Odorizzi, RHP 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 13. Jhoan Duran, RHP 12. Taylor Rogers, LHP 11. Miguel Sano, 3B 10. Luis Arraez, 2B 9. Alex Kirilloff, OF 8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 7. Byron Buxton OF 6. Mitch Garver, C Check back in tomorrow for Part 4. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. First, to reiterate the parameters and stipulations: Things that are factored into these rankings: production, age, upside, pedigree, health, length of team control, favorability of contract, positional scarcity (within the system, and generally). Players are people. Their value to the organization, and its fans, goes well beyond the strictly business-like scope we're using here. But for the purposes of this list, we're analyzing solely in terms of asset evaluation. Intangible qualities and popularity are not factors. (Sorry Willians.) The idea is to assess their importance to the future of the Minnesota Twins. In this regard, it's not exactly a ranking in terms of trade value, because that's dependent on another team's situation and needs. (For instance, Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade, Jr. would be more valuable to many other teams than they are to the Twins, who are rich with short-term and long-term corner outfield depth.) This is a snapshot in time. Rankings are heavily influenced by recent trends and where things stood as of the end of 2019. Current major-leaguers and prospects are all eligible. The ultimate goal here to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? Any questions or quibbles, holler in the comments. Let's continue the countdown. TOP 20 MINNESOTA TWINS ASSETS OF 2020 (6-10) 10. Luis Arraez, 2B 2019 Ranking: NR Last offseason, the Twins briefly considered exposing Arraez to the Rule 5 draft but thought better of it, adding him to the 40-man roster one day after doing the same for Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade, Jr. It was a wise decision to say the least. The scrappy and perpetually overlooked Arraez raked everywhere in 2019. He batted .342 at Double-A, .348 at Triple-A, and most impressively, .342 during a 92-game major-league debut that saw him finish sixth for AL Rookie of the Year. At age 22, Arraez was a disciplined OBP force, bringing balance to an aggressive and power-laden lineup. He showed solid defense at second and even looked capable in left. The upward trend with his power – he hit four homers with the Twins after totaling six in 367 minor-league games – hints toward offensive upside yet to be tapped. 9. Alex Kirilloff, OF 2019 Ranking: 4 Kirilloff didn't have a bad year in 2019. Taking on Double-A as a 21-year-old, he batted .283 with a .756 OPS in 94 games. Perfectly solid numbers given the context. But he didn't nearly match the excellence of his breakout 2018 campaign, and lost extensive time to a wrist injury, which is a tough developmental blow for a young player who missed all of 2017 due to Tommy John. Kirilloff remains the best pure hitting prospect in the organization, but the luster has worn off slightly and his indispensability has diminished somewhat with the continued rise of Trevor Larnach and others. This explains why Kirilloff ranks as a Top 10 asset rather than a Top 5 asset this time around, but he's still plenty valuable and exciting. 8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2019 Ranking: NR The same thought process that led to Jhoan Duran ranking 13th applies here: "Pitching prospects with high ceilings that are close to the major leagues are valuable to every franchise, and especially to the Twins in this moment." Balazovic is a bit further from the majors than Duran, having finished at High-A in 2019, but he's on a higher prospect tier. In fact, Balazovic is the best pitching prospect in the system who has yet to reach the majors. Duran has great stuff, but he lacks the consistent results to back it up. This is where Balazovic separates. Since joining the organization as a fifth-round pick in 2016, the right-hander has simply performed, registering a 3.32 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, and 10.0 K/9 rate through his first 228 innings as a pro. At 6'5" and 214 lbs, he's a big sturdy athlete with a mid-90s fastball and advanced command. He was absolutely sensational in 2019, with a 2.69 ERA, 0.99 WHIP and 12.4 K/9 rate between two levels of A-ball at age 20, so his stock is riding high. Can he build upon it? 7. Byron Buxton, OF 2019 Ranking: 3 A healthy Buxton can be one of the most impactful difference-makers in Major League Baseball. This was the premise for ranking him No. 1 two years ago, and No. 3 last year. It was reinforced in 2019 when he was on the field, as the center fielder accrued 2.7 fWAR in just 87 games with an .827 OPS, 44 extra-base hits, 14 steals, and almost unparalleled defensive value. Alas, the overriding story of Buxton's season was, once again, injury. And it's one that spills over into 2020, as the 26-year-old is currently in the process of rehabbing from significant shoulder surgery. He's opened four different seasons with the Twins and played 100 games in only one of them. The mounting physical uncertainties make it impossible to trust his reliability going forward, making him feel like more of a bonus factor than centerpiece crux. And while free agency is still three years away, it's no longer a tiny blip on the horizon. With that said, if he can find a way to make it happen, a full healthy and productive season from Buxton will be more pivotal to Minnesota's championship hopes than any ace pitcher the Twins could sign or trade for. I firmly believe that. 6. Mitch Garver, C 2019 Ranking: 11 Is Garver the best catcher in baseball? Is he one of the best offensive backstops in MLB history? Will he be an MVP contender for years to come? Based entirely on the sample of his 2019 season, the answer to all those questions would be "yes," and he'd be No. 1 in these rankings with a bullet. But that sample amounts to only 93 games, and is so wildly out of line with his previous track record that it's tough to know exactly how to weight it. Garver has shown a knack for improving himself and disproving doubters, transforming from ninth-round draft pick to fringy catching prospect to bona fide big-league starter, but the leap last year was drastic by any standard. Thirty-one homers and a .995 OPS in 93 games, from a CATCHER (one with noticeably improved defense), is nuts. But it remains to be seen whether Garver was playing out of his mind for six months with a juiced ball, or setting a new norm. It bears noting that he turns 29 next week, making him the oldest player in this Top 10 by a sizable margin, and the only one who's not on the front end of his physical prime. Regardless, Garver has clearly established himself as a long-term building block, with four years of team control remaining. RECAPPING THE RANKINGS SO FAR: 20. Ryan Jeffers, C 19. Eddie Rosario, OF 18. Michael Pineda, RHP 17. Nelson Cruz, DH 16. Tyler Duffey, RHP 15. Jake Odorizzi, RHP 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 13. Jhoan Duran, RHP 12. Taylor Rogers, LHP 11. Miguel Sano, 3B 10. Luis Arraez, 2B 9. Alex Kirilloff, OF 8. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 7. Byron Buxton OF 6. Mitch Garver, C Check back in tomorrow for Part 4. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. No award may be more fun to hand out than the starting pitcher of the year award. Up and down the minor league system there are arms full of life and promise who have just one goal in mind; make hitters miserable. That they did this year, as every affiliate ranked highly in their respective leagues for pitching strikeouts and high impact starters made their presence known on each squad. Here we will appreciate and celebrate those individual starters who had the best seasons in 2019.Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 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 Previous 2019 Winners: 2019 minor league relief pitcher of the year-Anthony Vizcaya 2019 short-season pitcher of the year-Cody Laweryson 2019 short-season hitter of the year-Matt Wallner The Twins’ minor league system has seen some large advancements recently in player development and the most impacted area has arguably been the starting pitching. New players have come in and seen their velocity gain a tick or two, recent draft picks have flourished quickly at each level, and great performances have come from unexpected areas. It has become almost astounding to look to each affiliate’s starting rotation and see how much talent there is in every single rotation. There were many great choices here and I know that I personally found this vote the most challenging one to make. Six Twins Daily Minor League writers voted for the various awards this year. For the starting pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Others receiving votes: Luis Rijo - 19 GS, 5-8, 2.86 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 107 IP, 89 H, 23 BB, 99 KJhoan Duran - 22 GS, 5-12, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 115 IP, 97 H, 40 BB, 136 KDevin Smeltzer - 19 GS, 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 104 ⅓ IP, 87 H, 22 BB, 104 KJosh Winder - 21 GS, 7-2, 2.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 125 ⅔ IP, 93 H, 30 BB, 118 KStarting Pitcher of the Year: Here are the top five vote-getters voted on by the Twins Daily minor league crew. T-#4 - Cole Sands, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 18 GS, 7-3, 2.68 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 97 ⅓ IP, 81 H, 19 BB, 108 K Sands was taken by the Twins in thefifth round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Florida State University. He did not pitch in the Twins’ system that year which isn’t rare for college pitchers, so 2019 was his first year in professional baseball and what an impression he made. Splitting time between three levels of the minors, Sands dazzled with a 9.99 K/9, a 1.76 BB/9, and a 2.45 FIP. Injuries limited him to 97 1/3 innings pitched in 2019 but a strong season on the field made Sands one of the premier starters in the system and he may be up in the majors as soon as next year. T-#4 - Griffin Jax, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings: 23 GS, 5-7, 2.90 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 127 ⅓ IP, 117 H, 27 BB, 94 K Jax was a graduate of the Air Force and was granted the ability to pitch in the Twins system full-time in 2018 under the military’s World Class Athlete Program which allows active-duty personnel to to train full-time for the Olympics. Jax backs up his cool story with some cool pitching as he threw the third most innings in the Twins’ system in 2019 and held the third lowest ERA among those in the system with at least 100 innings pitched. Jax ended the season at AA, had a taste of AAA, and will need to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the rule 5 draft, so he may factor into the Twins’ starting rotation in 2020. #3-Bailey Ober, GCL Twins, Fort Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 13 GS, 8-0, 0.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 78 ⅔ IP, 55 H, 9 BB, 100 K Ober unfortunately was not able to throw as many innings as the other names on this list, but his numbers were absolutely eye-popping in 2019. Out of every minor league pitcher who had at least 70 innings pitched in 2019, Ober had the lowest ERA with his 0.69 mark (second place was 1.10). Ober’s K-BB% of 30.7% would be the second highest mark among qualified MLB starting pitchers with Gerrit Cole being the only starter with a better percentage. Really, this is all just me saying that Ober had a fantastic year and when healthy he is one of the best pitchers in the entire system. He discussed his 2019 season, his pitches and more in a Twins Daily interview earlier this week. #2-Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Myers Miracle: 18 GS, 8-5, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 93 ⅔ IP, 67 H, 25 BB, 129 K As a cold-weather pitcher before the draft, Balazovic was a prime candidate for developing quickly when placed into a professional system...and that he did. Balazovic had a good 2018 and then followed it up with an absolutely phenomenal 2019 that saw his prospect stock rise to the top of the Twins’ system. Balazovic’s K% of 33.9% in 2019 would be the fifth highest among qualified MLB starters this year and his batting average allowed of .191 would the third lowest among qualified MLB starters. His 2019 was mostly spent at Fort Myers but he was promoted late in the season and was able to make a single playoff start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in which seven of the 14 outs he made were by strikeout. #1-Randy Dobnak, Fort Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings 21 GS, 12-4, 2.07 ERA, .98 WHIP, 135 IP, 104 H, 28 BB, 109 K Dobnak is the only starter in the top five to pitch for the Twins in 2019 and he very well may be the only one to pitch at four different levels in 2019 if you consider MLB as its own “level”. Nevertheless, Dobnak was an absolute horse in 2019 as he was first among all Twins’ minor league pitchers in innings pitched and his 2.07 ERA was the lowest among starters in the Twins’ system with more than 80 innings pitched. Dobnak was undrafted out of college and went to pitch in independent ball to start in 2017. Not long after the start of his career for the Utica Unicorns, Dobnak was picked up by the Twins on a minor league deal and he pitched for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids that year. Beyond baseball, Dobnak was an Uber driver as recently as spring training in 2019 and he apparently was excellent as he had a rating of 4.99 stars out of 5. Man, these advanced stats are getting pretty weird even for me. Luckily for Dobnak, the major league paycheck is just a touch higher than the minor league one so he can retire from his Uber career. Dobnak’s professional career so far has been nothing short of incredible but he is much more than just a story. Dobnak’s wonderful 2019 season earned him a promotion to the majors where has allowed just two earned runs so far over his 11 major league innings. With some question marks in the Twins’ starting rotation at the moment, Dobnak will certainly get a few opportunities to prove that he belongs in the majors and that one’s draft position (or lack thereof) does not necessarily dictate how successful they will be in baseball. Dobnak has had a great 2019 in the minors and hopefully he will continue to have a great 2019 in the majors. The Ballots: Seth Stohs: 1) Randy Dobnak 2) Bailey Ober 3) Jordan Balazovic 4) Josh Winder 5) Luis Rijo Tom Froemming: 1) Jordan Balazovic 2) Randy Dobnak 3) Cole Sands 4) Bailey Ober 5) Luis Rijo Cody Christie: 1) Randy Dobnak 2) Griffin Jax 3) Devin Smeltzer 4) Jhoan Duran 5) Josh Winder Matt Braun: 1) Bailey Ober 2) Jordan Balazovic 3) Cole Sands 4) Jhoan Duran 5) Luis Rijo Ted Schwerzler: 1) Randy Dobnak 2) Bailey Ober 3) Griffin Jax 4) Jordan Balazovic 5) Devin Smeltzer Steve Lein: 1) Jordan Balazovic 2) Randy Dobnak 3) Josh Winder 4) Bailey Ober 5) Cole Sands Feel free to discuss our ballots! Who was completely wrong? Who needs a shout out because they were overlooked? What would your ballot look like? Click here to view the article
  20. Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 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 Previous 2019 Winners: 2019 minor league relief pitcher of the year-Anthony Vizcaya 2019 short-season pitcher of the year-Cody Laweryson 2019 short-season hitter of the year-Matt Wallner The Twins’ minor league system has seen some large advancements recently in player development and the most impacted area has arguably been the starting pitching. New players have come in and seen their velocity gain a tick or two, recent draft picks have flourished quickly at each level, and great performances have come from unexpected areas. It has become almost astounding to look to each affiliate’s starting rotation and see how much talent there is in every single rotation. There were many great choices here and I know that I personally found this vote the most challenging one to make. Six Twins Daily Minor League writers voted for the various awards this year. For the starting pitcher of the year, we each voted for five players. The player who was voted as #1 received five points, #2 received four points and so on with the #5 vote receiving one point. Results were tabulated and can be found below. Others receiving votes: Luis Rijo - 19 GS, 5-8, 2.86 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 107 IP, 89 H, 23 BB, 99 K Jhoan Duran - 22 GS, 5-12, 3.76 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 115 IP, 97 H, 40 BB, 136 K Devin Smeltzer - 19 GS, 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 1.04 WHIP, 104 ⅓ IP, 87 H, 22 BB, 104 K Josh Winder - 21 GS, 7-2, 2.65 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 125 ⅔ IP, 93 H, 30 BB, 118 K Starting Pitcher of the Year: Here are the top five vote-getters voted on by the Twins Daily minor league crew. T-#4 - Cole Sands, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 18 GS, 7-3, 2.68 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 97 ⅓ IP, 81 H, 19 BB, 108 K Sands was taken by the Twins in thefifth round of the 2018 MLB draft out of Florida State University. He did not pitch in the Twins’ system that year which isn’t rare for college pitchers, so 2019 was his first year in professional baseball and what an impression he made. Splitting time between three levels of the minors, Sands dazzled with a 9.99 K/9, a 1.76 BB/9, and a 2.45 FIP. Injuries limited him to 97 1/3 innings pitched in 2019 but a strong season on the field made Sands one of the premier starters in the system and he may be up in the majors as soon as next year. T-#4 - Griffin Jax, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings: 23 GS, 5-7, 2.90 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 127 ⅓ IP, 117 H, 27 BB, 94 K Jax was a graduate of the Air Force and was granted the ability to pitch in the Twins system full-time in 2018 under the military’s World Class Athlete Program which allows active-duty personnel to to train full-time for the Olympics. Jax backs up his cool story with some cool pitching as he threw the third most innings in the Twins’ system in 2019 and held the third lowest ERA among those in the system with at least 100 innings pitched. Jax ended the season at AA, had a taste of AAA, and will need to be added to the 40-man roster to protect him from the rule 5 draft, so he may factor into the Twins’ starting rotation in 2020. #3-Bailey Ober, GCL Twins, Fort Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos: 13 GS, 8-0, 0.69 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 78 ⅔ IP, 55 H, 9 BB, 100 K Ober unfortunately was not able to throw as many innings as the other names on this list, but his numbers were absolutely eye-popping in 2019. Out of every minor league pitcher who had at least 70 innings pitched in 2019, Ober had the lowest ERA with his 0.69 mark (second place was 1.10). Ober’s K-BB% of 30.7% would be the second highest mark among qualified MLB starting pitchers with Gerrit Cole being the only starter with a better percentage. Really, this is all just me saying that Ober had a fantastic year and when healthy he is one of the best pitchers in the entire system. He discussed his 2019 season, his pitches and more in a Twins Daily interview earlier this week. #2-Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids Kernels, Fort Myers Miracle: 18 GS, 8-5, 2.69 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 93 ⅔ IP, 67 H, 25 BB, 129 K As a cold-weather pitcher before the draft, Balazovic was a prime candidate for developing quickly when placed into a professional system...and that he did. Balazovic had a good 2018 and then followed it up with an absolutely phenomenal 2019 that saw his prospect stock rise to the top of the Twins’ system. Balazovic’s K% of 33.9% in 2019 would be the fifth highest among qualified MLB starters this year and his batting average allowed of .191 would the third lowest among qualified MLB starters. His 2019 was mostly spent at Fort Myers but he was promoted late in the season and was able to make a single playoff start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in which seven of the 14 outs he made were by strikeout. #1-Randy Dobnak, Fort Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings 21 GS, 12-4, 2.07 ERA, .98 WHIP, 135 IP, 104 H, 28 BB, 109 K Dobnak is the only starter in the top five to pitch for the Twins in 2019 and he very well may be the only one to pitch at four different levels in 2019 if you consider MLB as its own “level”. Nevertheless, Dobnak was an absolute horse in 2019 as he was first among all Twins’ minor league pitchers in innings pitched and his 2.07 ERA was the lowest among starters in the Twins’ system with more than 80 innings pitched. Dobnak was undrafted out of college and went to pitch in independent ball to start in 2017. Not long after the start of his career for the Utica Unicorns, Dobnak was picked up by the Twins on a minor league deal and he pitched for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids that year. Beyond baseball, Dobnak was an Uber driver as recently as spring training in 2019 and he apparently was excellent as he had a rating of 4.99 stars out of 5. Man, these advanced stats are getting pretty weird even for me. Luckily for Dobnak, the major league paycheck is just a touch higher than the minor league one so he can retire from his Uber career. Dobnak’s professional career so far has been nothing short of incredible but he is much more than just a story. Dobnak’s wonderful 2019 season earned him a promotion to the majors where has allowed just two earned runs so far over his 11 major league innings. With some question marks in the Twins’ starting rotation at the moment, Dobnak will certainly get a few opportunities to prove that he belongs in the majors and that one’s draft position (or lack thereof) does not necessarily dictate how successful they will be in baseball. Dobnak has had a great 2019 in the minors and hopefully he will continue to have a great 2019 in the majors. The Ballots: Seth Stohs: 1) Randy Dobnak 2) Bailey Ober 3) Jordan Balazovic 4) Josh Winder 5) Luis Rijo Tom Froemming: 1) Jordan Balazovic 2) Randy Dobnak 3) Cole Sands 4) Bailey Ober 5) Luis Rijo Cody Christie: 1) Randy Dobnak 2) Griffin Jax 3) Devin Smeltzer 4) Jhoan Duran 5) Josh Winder Matt Braun: 1) Bailey Ober 2) Jordan Balazovic 3) Cole Sands 4) Jhoan Duran 5) Luis Rijo Ted Schwerzler: 1) Randy Dobnak 2) Bailey Ober 3) Griffin Jax 4) Jordan Balazovic 5) Devin Smeltzer Steve Lein: 1) Jordan Balazovic 2) Randy Dobnak 3) Josh Winder 4) Bailey Ober 5) Cole Sands Feel free to discuss our ballots! Who was completely wrong? Who needs a shout out because they were overlooked? What would your ballot look like?
  21. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 3, Biloxi 2 (Biloxi leads best of five series 2-1) Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 73.2% strikes (52 of 71 pitches) HR: Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Costello Multi-hit games: Kirilloff (2-for-4, HR) Facing elimination tonight, Pensacola turned to a pair of pitchers making their Double-A debuts. The element of surprise paid off. Jordan Balazovic struck out seven batters in his 4 2/3 innings of work, allowing two runs on three hits. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1170147185297678336 Dakota Chalmers finished off the fifth inning for Balazovic and ended up pitching 3 1/3 no-hit innings while striking out four batters. Quite the first impressions in Pensacola for Balazovic and Chalmers. https://twitter.com/matthew_btwins/status/1170146789753647104 ALex Kirilloff opened the scoring with a solo home run in the third inning, his third homer in as many postseason games for the Blue Wahoos. https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1170135891937046534 Ryan Costello added a solo homer of his own in the fourth inning. Biloxi tied the game in the top of the fifth inning, but Travis Blankenhorn delivered a key two-out, go-ahead single that plated Royce Lewis and would prove to be the difference in this game. Anthony Vizcaya struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn the save and keep the Blue Wahoo’s 2019 season alive. They still trail in the series 2-1, so they’ll have to win the next two games in order to advance. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2 (Cedar Rapids wins series 2-1) Box Score Josh Winder: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 71.4% strikes (55 of 77 pitches) HR: Gabe Snyder Multi-hit games: Snyder (2-for-4, HR, 2B), Wander Javier (2-for-4, 3B), DaShawn Keirsey (2-for-4, 2B) Behind big efforts from familiar faces, the Kernels won Friday night to advance in the Midwest League playoffs. Starting pitcher Josh Winder and first baseman Gabe Snyder set the tone in this game. Winder provided Cedar Rapids with six shutout innings. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. This is the fourth time in 2019 Winder has gone at least six innings and surrendered zero runs. Winder was pitching with a lead the entire night thanks to Snyder’s home run in the top of the first inning. He added a double in the fourth inning and came around to score on a Chris Williams hit. Winder led the Kernels in virtually every pitching stat while Snyder was the top dog on the team in nearly every hitting stat, so it seemed fitting those two were the catalysts who pushed Cedar Rapids' season into the next round. Wander Javier had a two-hit night that included a triple and an RBI single. DaShawn Kerisey led off the top of the ninth inning with a double and scored a huge insurance run on a Tyler Webb RBI single. Austin Schulfer pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to earn the save. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Josh Winder, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Gabe Snyder, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Prospects performed: 1. Royce Lewis (PNS): 1-for-4, R, K, E (fielding) 2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 2-for-4, HR, R, RBI 4. Trevor Larnach (PNS): 1-for-3, 3B, BB, K 5. Wander Javier (CR): 2-for-4, 3B, R, RBI, K, E (fielding) 6. Jordan Balazovic (PNS): 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 73.2% strikes (52 of 71 pitches) 13. Ryan Jeffers (PNS): 0-for-4 15. Matt Wallner (CR): 0-for-4, 3 K 20. Travis Blankenhorn (PNS): 1-for-3, BB, RBI SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Pensacola at Biloxi, 6:35 pm CT (TBD) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.
  22. They’re alive! Both Pensacola and Cedar Rapids were facing elimination tonight, but both Twins affiliates managed to survive. A couple of new faces shined in their Double-A debuts for the Blue Wahoos to force a game 4 in the Southern League semifinals. Meanwhile, a few familiar faces pushed the Kernels ahead to clinch a series victory in the Midwest League Quarterfinals.BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 3, Biloxi 2 (Biloxi leads best of five series 2-1) Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 73.2% strikes (52 of 71 pitches) HR: Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Costello Multi-hit games: Kirilloff (2-for-4, HR) Facing elimination tonight, Pensacola turned to a pair of pitchers making their Double-A debuts. The element of surprise paid off. Jordan Balazovic struck out seven batters in his 4 2/3 innings of work, allowing two runs on three hits. Ryan Costello added a solo homer of his own in the fourth inning. Biloxi tied the game in the top of the fifth inning, but Travis Blankenhorn delivered a key two-out, go-ahead single that plated Royce Lewis and would prove to be the difference in this game. Anthony Vizcaya struck out the side in the ninth inning to earn the save and keep the Blue Wahoo’s 2019 season alive. They still trail in the series 2-1, so they’ll have to win the next two games in order to advance. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Quad Cities 2 (Cedar Rapids wins series 2-1) Box Score Josh Winder: 6.0 IP, 6 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 71.4% strikes (55 of 77 pitches) HR: Gabe Snyder Multi-hit games: Snyder (2-for-4, HR, 2B), Wander Javier (2-for-4, 3B), DaShawn Keirsey (2-for-4, 2B) Behind big efforts from familiar faces, the Kernels won Friday night to advance in the Midwest League playoffs. Starting pitcher Josh Winder and first baseman Gabe Snyder set the tone in this game. Winder provided Cedar Rapids with six shutout innings. He struck out seven and did not walk a batter. This is the fourth time in 2019 Winder has gone at least six innings and surrendered zero runs. Winder was pitching with a lead the entire night thanks to Snyder’s home run in the top of the first inning. He added a double in the fourth inning and came around to score on a Chris Williams hit. Winder led the Kernels in virtually every pitching stat while Snyder was the top dog on the team in nearly every hitting stat, so it seemed fitting those two were the catalysts who pushed Cedar Rapids' season into the next round. Wander Javier had a two-hit night that included a triple and an RBI single. DaShawn Kerisey led off the top of the ninth inning with a double and scored a huge insurance run on a Tyler Webb RBI single. Austin Schulfer pitched the final 2 1/3 innings to earn the save. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Josh Winder, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Gabe Snyder, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Prospects performed: 1. Royce Lewis (PNS): 1-for-4, R, K, E (fielding) 2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 2-for-4, HR, R, RBI 4. Trevor Larnach (PNS): 1-for-3, 3B, BB, K 5. Wander Javier (CR): 2-for-4, 3B, R, RBI, K, E (fielding) 6. Jordan Balazovic (PNS): 4.2 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 73.2% strikes (52 of 71 pitches) 13. Ryan Jeffers (PNS): 0-for-4 15. Matt Wallner (CR): 0-for-4, 3 K 20. Travis Blankenhorn (PNS): 1-for-3, BB, RBI SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Pensacola at Biloxi, 6:35 pm CT (TBD) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games. Click here to view the article
  23. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Six Starters for August, there were some other strong starting performers that just missed the cut. There are two pitchers in the Honorable Mention category who had K:BB ratios of 30:2 and 23:3! You can certainly agree or disagree with the rankings. Let’s discuss the top starting pitchers in the organization in August. HONORABLE MENTION Kohl Stewart - Rochester Red Wings - 6 G, 5 GS, 27.2 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 18 H, 11 BB, 21 K Dakota Chalmers - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 20.1 IP, 1.77 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10 H, 13 BB, 29 K Blayne Enlow - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 22.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 16 H, 10 BB, 17 K Cole Sands - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 2.55 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 22 H, 2 BB, 23 K Andrew Cabezas - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 27.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 21 H, 12 BB, 15 K Luis Rijo - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 29.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12 H, 2 BB, 30 K Donny Breek - GCL Twins - 4 G, 2 GS, 17.1 IP, 0.52 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10 H, 5 BB, 21 K Niklas Rimmel - GCL Twins - 3 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 0.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 8 H, 1 BB, 13 K THE TOP SIX STARTING PITCHERS #6 - RHP Chris Vallimont - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 22.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 15 H, 4 BB, 28 K Chris Vallimont came to the Twins in the trade deadline deal with the Marlins in which the Twins also received Sergio Romo and Cash in exchange for Lewin Diaz. Vallimont had a strong first month in the Twins organization despite a rough first start in which he gave up six earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings. However, in three starts since, he has been remarkable. His next two starts came against his former teammates, the Jupiter Hammerheads. In both games, he had a no-hitter into the late innings and completed seven in both games. So, while his ERA is a bit high because of the first start, his ability to limit base runners and that strikeout-to-walk ratio are both quite impressive. We caught up with Vallimont for this story shortly after his trade to the Twins. #5 - RHP Josh Winder- Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 25.2 IP, 1.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 20 H, 6 BB, 28 K Winder was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month in June, and he’s been really consistent all season with the Kernels. He was the Twins seventh-round pick in 2018 out of Virginia Military Institute. In August, he worked innings, limited runs and base runners. He also missed bats. Opponents hit just .206 with a .528 OPS against him. Overall this season, Winder went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP over 21 starts and 125 2/3 innings. Steve Buhr wrote about Winder earlier this season. #4 - RHP Jordan Balazovic - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 19.1 IP, 2.33 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 12 H, 5 BB, 28 K Balazovic began the month in Lima, Peru, where he helped Team Canada to a silver medal at the Pan Am Games. He returned to the MIracle and was very good. In his first start back, he struck out nine batters in five shutout, two-hit innings. In his final start of the month, he struck out nine batters in five shutout, two-hit innings. Along with the above numbers (which are very impressive), opponents hit just .169 off of him (with a .460 OPS). The lanky right-hander was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Ontario. #3 - RHP Cody Laweryson - Elizabethton Twins - 5 GS, 24.0 IP, 1.13 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 12 H, 4 BB, 34 K We all remember that 15 strikeout game that Laweryson tossed last week for the E-Twins, but the Twins 14th-round pick from the University of Maine in June was good all month. He began with a spot start in Cedar Rapids where he tossed five shutout innings. In his four E-Twins starts, he gave up earned runs in just one of them. Opponents hit just .143 with a .414 OPS against him in the month. Pretty good first impression for the right-hander. #2 - RHP Matt Canterino - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 20.0 IP, 1.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 6 H, 7 BB, 25 K Canterino was the Twins’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Rice University. After tossing 99 1/3 innings this spring for the Owls, the Twins have wisely eased him into pro ball. After some time away from the mound, he went to the GCL where he worked five innings over two games. He moved up to Cedar Rapids at the beginning of the month and they continued to monitor his innings. He averaged just four innings per start and hasn’t thrown more than 72 pitches in any outing. Nevertheless, he has been really impressive. He gave up just three runs, recorded strikeouts and opponents hit just .091 off of him in the month. Learn more about Canterino in this week’s article from Steve Buhr. And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - RHP Bailey Ober - 4 GS, 27.0 IP, 0.67 ERA, 0.56 HIP, 13 H, 2 BB, 39 K Bailey Ober has put up eye-popping numbers in 2019. Overall, he is 8-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP. In April, he was a very close runner up in our monthly Starting Pitcher of the Month voting. Unfortunately, he ended the month on the Injured List and didn’t return until early July when he made a couple of rehab appearances before rejoining the Ft. Myers Miracle. However, after just four starts there, he earned his promotion to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in early August. He continued to dominate. In his first start, he gave up two hits and one run over seven innings. In his second Blue Wahoos start, he struck out 12 batters over seven shutout innings. His third start? 11 strikeouts and only an unearned run in seven innings. In his final start of the month, and of the regular season, he gave up one hit over three innings in preparations for the playoffs. For the month, opponents hit just .141 with a .351 OPS against him. Ober was the Twins 13th-round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. In college and as a pro, he has been very good on the mound when healthy. The 6-9 right-hander has a strong four-pitch mix and is certainly one to watch in 2020! Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of August, Pensacola Blue Wahoos right-hander Bailey Ober. Feel free to discuss and ask questions.
  24. Earlier this week, Twins Daily named Zander Wiel the Hitter of the Month for August. Today, we announce our choice for the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month. While the choice was ultimately pretty easy, I was in awe of how much strong pitching there was in the season’s final month. It’s really exciting to see. Next week, we will start handing out our 2019 season awards, but let’s take a quick look back at the Twins Minor League Starting Pitchers of the Month from earlier this season. Previous 2019 Starting Pitchers of the Month: April - Devin Smeltzer - Pensacola Blue Wahoos May - Jordan Balazovic - Ft. Myers Miracle June - Josh Winder - Cedar Rapids Kernels July - Edwar Colina - Pensacola Blue Wahoos August -Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Six Starters for August, there were some other strong starting performers that just missed the cut. There are two pitchers in the Honorable Mention category who had K:BB ratios of 30:2 and 23:3! You can certainly agree or disagree with the rankings. Let’s discuss the top starting pitchers in the organization in August. HONORABLE MENTION Kohl Stewart - Rochester Red Wings - 6 G, 5 GS, 27.2 IP, 2.93 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 18 H, 11 BB, 21 KDakota Chalmers - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 20.1 IP, 1.77 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 10 H, 13 BB, 29 KBlayne Enlow - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 22.0 IP, 2.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, 16 H, 10 BB, 17 KCole Sands - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 3 GS, 15.0 IP, 2.55 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 22 H, 2 BB, 23 KAndrew Cabezas - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 27.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 21 H, 12 BB, 15 KLuis Rijo - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 29.1 IP, 3.68 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 12 H, 2 BB, 30 KDonny Breek - GCL Twins - 4 G, 2 GS, 17.1 IP, 0.52 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 10 H, 5 BB, 21 KNiklas Rimmel - GCL Twins - 3 G, 2 GS, 13.0 IP, 0.69 ERA, 0.69 WHIP, 8 H, 1 BB, 13 KTHE TOP SIX STARTING PITCHERS #6 - RHP Chris Vallimont - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 22.1 IP, 3.63 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 15 H, 4 BB, 28 K Chris Vallimont came to the Twins in the trade deadline deal with the Marlins in which the Twins also received Sergio Romo and Cash in exchange for Lewin Diaz. Vallimont had a strong first month in the Twins organization despite a rough first start in which he gave up six earned runs in just 2 1/3 innings. However, in three starts since, he has been remarkable. His next two starts came against his former teammates, the Jupiter Hammerheads. In both games, he had a no-hitter into the late innings and completed seven in both games. So, while his ERA is a bit high because of the first start, his ability to limit base runners and that strikeout-to-walk ratio are both quite impressive. We caught up with Vallimont for this story shortly after his trade to the Twins. #5 - RHP Josh Winder- Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 25.2 IP, 1.40 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 20 H, 6 BB, 28 K Winder was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month in June, and he’s been really consistent all season with the Kernels. He was the Twins seventh-round pick in 2018 out of Virginia Military Institute. In August, he worked innings, limited runs and base runners. He also missed bats. Opponents hit just .206 with a .528 OPS against him. Overall this season, Winder went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA and a 0.98 WHIP over 21 starts and 125 2/3 innings. Steve Buhr wrote about Winder earlier this season. #4 - RHP Jordan Balazovic - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 19.1 IP, 2.33 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 12 H, 5 BB, 28 K Balazovic began the month in Lima, Peru, where he helped Team Canada to a silver medal at the Pan Am Games. He returned to the MIracle and was very good. In his first start back, he struck out nine batters in five shutout, two-hit innings. In his final start of the month, he struck out nine batters in five shutout, two-hit innings. Along with the above numbers (which are very impressive), opponents hit just .169 off of him (with a .460 OPS). The lanky right-hander was the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school in Ontario. #3 - RHP Cody Laweryson - Elizabethton Twins - 5 GS, 24.0 IP, 1.13 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 12 H, 4 BB, 34 K We all remember that 15 strikeout game that Laweryson tossed last week for the E-Twins, but the Twins 14th-round pick from the University of Maine in June was good all month. He began with a spot start in Cedar Rapids where he tossed five shutout innings. In his four E-Twins starts, he gave up earned runs in just one of them. Opponents hit just .143 with a .414 OPS against him in the month. Pretty good first impression for the right-hander. #2 - RHP Matt Canterino - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 20.0 IP, 1.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 6 H, 7 BB, 25 K Canterino was the Twins’ second-round pick in 2019 out of Rice University. After tossing 99 1/3 innings this spring for the Owls, the Twins have wisely eased him into pro ball. After some time away from the mound, he went to the GCL where he worked five innings over two games. He moved up to Cedar Rapids at the beginning of the month and they continued to monitor his innings. He averaged just four innings per start and hasn’t thrown more than 72 pitches in any outing. Nevertheless, he has been really impressive. He gave up just three runs, recorded strikeouts and opponents hit just .091 off of him in the month. Learn more about Canterino in this week’s articlefrom Steve Buhr. And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - RHP Bailey Ober - 4 GS, 27.0 IP, 0.67 ERA, 0.56 HIP, 13 H, 2 BB, 39 K Bailey Ober has put up eye-popping numbers in 2019. Overall, he is 8-0 with a 0.69 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP. In April, he was a very close runner up in our monthly Starting Pitcher of the Month voting. Unfortunately, he ended the month on the Injured List and didn’t return until early July when he made a couple of rehab appearances before rejoining the Ft. Myers Miracle. However, after just four starts there, he earned his promotion to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos in early August. He continued to dominate. In his first start, he gave up two hits and one run over seven innings. In his second Blue Wahoos start, he struck out 12 batters over seven shutout innings. His third start? 11 strikeouts and only an unearned run in seven innings. In his final start of the month, and of the regular season, he gave up one hit over three innings in preparations for the playoffs. For the month, opponents hit just .141 with a .351 OPS against him. Ober was the Twins 13th-round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. In college and as a pro, he has been very good on the mound when healthy. The 6-9 right-hander has a strong four-pitch mix and is certainly one to watch in 2020! Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of August, Pensacola Blue Wahoos right-hander Bailey Ober. Feel free to discuss and ask questions. Click here to view the article
  25. A couple of minor league seasons drew to a close today on the Minnesota Twins' farm, but there was plenty of action to tune into. Stud prospect Jordan Balazovic continued his strong season, and recently promoted Jorge Alcala shined for Rochester. Rehabbing Willians Astudillo looks primed to help the big league club and walkoff action happened for the Kernels. Check it all out below.TRANSACTIONS Rochester LHP Lewis Thorpe optioned by Minnesota (August 26) INF Ivan De Jesus Jr released RHP Sean Poppen begins rehab assignment. Was scheduled to throw today with GCL. Game was cancelled, as well as the rest of their season. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 10, Buffalo 2 Box Score Rochester isn’t making the postseason, but with just five games left after tonight they’re all about finishing strong. Going with a committee tonight, they did just that. Five pitchers combined to throw nine innings of two-run baseball while striking out 13 and walking just three. Jorge Alcala is the stud prospect eyeing a September call up, and he turned in two scoreless with four strikeouts. La Tortuga himself started things off with his fourth Triple-A dinger in the top of the first. Rochester added another in the second before a five-run fourth innings really got things going. Two singles and a sac fly did the damage and the Red Wings posted a crooked number. Insurance runs came across in both the sixth and ninth to give the away team nine runs of breathing room. A nine-inning tally by Buffalo was inconsequential in this one and Rochester was able to slam the door. BLUE WAHOOS BITES No Game Scheduled Pensacola had a scheduled off day today. However, both Royce Lewis and Alex Kirilloff were confirmed as going to the Arizona Fall League to play for Salt River on behalf of the Twins. Tomorrow the Wahoos are schedule to start a series against the Montgomery Biscuits. Rays prospect Blake Bivens lost his wife and one year old son in a tragic and senseless act of violence a couple of days ago. A memorial has been set up in their honor. You can see that here. MIRACLE MATTERS Dunedin 2, Fort Myers 1 (Game 1, 7 innings) Box Score Jordan Balazovic took the ball for the Miracle in this one and he was nothing short of exceptional. Turning in five innings of two-hit ball, he allowed no runs and just one free pass while striking out nine. The effort lowered his Single-A ERA to 2.84 in 2019. Although both clubs generated the same number of hits (five), it was the Blue Jays that got the extra run. A Trey Cabbage single accounted for Fort Myers' only tally in the top of the 6th, but two Dunedin runs in the bottom half were enough for the victory. Dunedin 4, Fort Myers 3 (Game 2, 9 innings) Box Score Another tightly contested game that wound up being a one-run loss saw the Miracle turn the game over to the bullpen. Four Miracle pitchers combined to throw nine innings in the regularly scheduled seven-inning affair. Recently named to the Arizona Fall League roster for the Twins, Moises Gomez gave up an unearned run with one out in the final frame that allowed the Blue Jays to walk it off. A Yeltsin Encarnacion double plated Brian Schaled and Jose Mirande in the fourth to open the scoring. After giving one back, Fort Myers and Dunedin traded runs in the fifth after Trey Cabbage homered for the ninth time this season. The Blue Jays evened the score in the bottom of the seventh before their eventual walkoff. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 0 Box Score Matt Canterino was making his fifth start for the Kernels in this one and he was excellent. Going five strong while allowing just one hit, no free passes, and striking out seven, Minnesota continues to be impressed with their 2019 draft pick. These two clubs combined for just six hits on the evening, but it was the final one that mattered most. Jared Akins came up in the bottom of the ninth and delivered an RBI single to score Spencer Steer and walk this one off for the Kernels. E-TWINS E-NOTES Greenville 7, Elizabethton 3 Box Score The E-Twins turned to Ryley Widell in this one and he gave them six innings of four- run ball. Widell allowed seven hits but just one walk while striking out seven. Even though Elizabethton won in the hit column (10 to 9) they couldn’t generate the necessary run production. Greenville took an early three-run lead in the second and the E-Twins answered with just one. It was 4-1 before Charles Mack hit his eighth homer of the year, a two-run shot in the fifth. Down by one into the eighth, that’s where Greenville pulled away and Elizabethton couldn’t mount a rally. Unfortunately the loss also ended the season and Elizabethton finished at 33-34 in 2019. GCL TWINS TAKES Doubleheader today was cancelled and the remainder of the season followed suit due to the incoming hurricane. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Willians Astudillo (Rochester) 2-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR(4) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - No Game #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - No Game #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - No Game #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, 2 K #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Ft. Myers) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 9 K #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL Twins) - Season Complete #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Did Not Play #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - No Game #10 - Blayne Enlow (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (lower leg contusion) #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - No Game #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - #15 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Injured List #17 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Injured (Tommy John) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 4 K #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL Twins) - Season Complete #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - No Game THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Buffalo (6:05PM CST) - LHP Lewis Thorpe (5-4, 4.63 ERA) Pensacola @ Montgomery (6:35PM CST) - TBD Ft. Myers @ Dunedin (5:30PM CST) - RHP Blayne Enlow (4-3, 3.20 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Tyler Palm (3-9, 4.02 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the Wednesday games or any other minor league topics you would like. Click here to view the article
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