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  1. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Starters for May, there were some other strong starting performers that just missed the cut. You can certainly agree or disagree with the rankings. Let’s discuss the top starting pitchers in the organization in May. HONORABLE MENTION Brusdar Graterol - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 4 GS, 20.1 IP, 1.33 ERA, 1.08 WHIP. 15 H, 7 BB, 18 K Josh Winder - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 27.0 IP, 3.67 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 19 H, 8 BB, 19 K Bryan Sammons - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 4 GS, 20.0 IP, 1.35 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 19 H, 6 BB, 29 K Randy Dobnak - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 6 GS, 26.0 IP, 3.81 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 23 H, 8 BB, 27 K THE TOP FIVE STARTING PITCHERS #5 - RHP Austin Schulfer - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 7 G, 4 GS, 22.0 IP, 3.27 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 13 H, 10 BB, 32 K Schulfer was the Twins 19th round pick one year ago out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee where he was a four-year starter. He had an impressive professional debut. For Elizabethton, he went 3-0 with a 1.58 ERA. He began the 2019 season in the Kernels bullpen, but it was in long relief. Likely that was to help with his innings count over the season. In May, opponents hit just .165/.258/.266 (.524) off of him. He now appears to be in the Kernels rotation and pitching well. #4 - RHP Kohl Stewart - Rochester Red Wings - 4 GS, 1.93 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 18.2 IP, 15 H, 8 BB, 18 K For the second time this season, Kohl Stewart was called up by the Twins to make a spot start. On May 7th, Stewart made a start against Toledo. He went just two innings because the team knew he would be starting game 2 of the May 11th double header against the parent club of the Mudhens, the Detroit Tigers. Stewart gave up three runs in six innings to pick up the win. Those numbers aren’t included in his monthly total above. Stewart may have walked a few too many, but the former 1st-round pick continued to throw well and show that he is ready to pitch in the big leagues when summoned. #3 - LHP Devin Smeltzer - Rochester Red Wings - 4 GS, 1.82 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 24.2 IP, 20 H, 7 BB, 15 K Smeltzer was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month in April when he produced an impressive month in Pensacola. He was quickly promoted to the Red Wings in May and ended the month with six shutout innings against the Milwaukee Brewers in his big-league debut. Those numbers aren’t included in the above, but I’d say that big league time can be a tie-breaker. And, these numbers do tell us that Smeltzer was very deserving of The Call. Even at the highest level of the minor leagues, Smeltzer displayed calm. He doesn’t throw hard, but he knows how to pitch and is able to hit spots. His first start in June will also be with the Twins. Get to know him here. #2 - RHP Blayne Enlow - Cedar Rapids Kernels/Ft. Myers Miracle - 5 GS, 2.12 ERA, 1.01 WHIP, 29.2 IP, 22 H, 8 BB, 30 K There were a couple of rough starts for Enlow in April, but in May, Blayne Enlow was a terrific. After spending 2018 in Cedar Rapids, Enlow began 2019 as a Kernel again. He was pitching well in May. Well enough, in fact, that he was promoted to Ft. Myers and finished the month with a strong Miracle debut. He started with six shutout innings before giving up a leadoff home run in the 7th inning and coming out. For the month, opponents hit just .191/.244/.348 (.592) against him. The Twins 3rd-round pick in 2017 out of high school in Louisiana had a good fastball and can spin the ball well too. And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is: Ft. Myers Miracle - RHP Jordan Balazovic - 5 GS, 2.13 ERA, 0.67 WHIP, 24.0 IP, 12 H, 5 BB, 35 K Balazovic was the Twins 5th-round draft pick in 2016 out of secondary school in Mississauga, Ontario. He had some ups and downs in 2017, but he took off last year after being pushed up to Cedar Rapids. He made 11 starts for the Kernels and showed promise. Sure, he hoped to start 2019 in Ft. Myers, but he did spend the first month of the season back with the Kernels. He pitched well last month. In four starts, he went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA and opponents hit just .195 off of him. His first start in May came for the Ft. Myers Miracle, and it was rather memorable. In a game in Palm Beach, Balazovic tossed seven perfect innings. No runs. No hits. No errors. 21 up, 21 down. And ten of those outs came on strikeouts. In his second Miracle start, he struck out 12 batters in five innings. His fourth start was again seven shutout innings.His final start of the month went just over an inning because of a rain delay. Balazovic has really good stuff. He throws hard. He throws strikes. He has swing and iss stuff. Opponents hit just .140/.211/.163 (.373) off of him in May. He is certainly rising up the charts. Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of May, Ft. Myers Miracle right-hander Jordan Balazovic. Feel free to discuss and ask questions.
  2. What had seemed like a normal day in the land of the Twins’ minor league system was struck by an unfortunate slew of eventual IL stints and two major surgeries. But in some good news, a highly touted prospect was able to make his 2019 professional debut. All that and more in this edition of the Minor League Report.TRANSACTIONS -RHP Melvi Acosta promoted from A+ Fort Myers to AA Pensacola -RHP Randy Dobnak promoted from AA Pensacola to AAA Rochester -INF Wander Javier activated for A Cedar Rapids Injuries: RED WINGS REPORT Suspended vs Pawtucket The Red Wings got out to a quick 6-1 lead vs Pawtucket in support of Randy Dobnak’s first AAA start before the rain came in and forced a suspension in the bottom of the second. The game will be made up as a doubleheader tomorrow and the first game will continue as normal as a nine inning game while the second game will be a seven inning affair. The Red Wings were wearing Hustlers jerseys which became a feature on ESPN and the clip can be found here: BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 1, Tennessee 5 Box Score Melvi Acosta: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 70.8% strikes (46 of 65 pitches) HR: Travis Blankenhorn (7) Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-for-4), Ernie De La Trinidad (2-for-3) The Blue Wahoos could not get much going offensively outside of a leadoff home run from Travis Blankenhorn and fell to the Tennessee Smokies. The only other extra-base hit was a double from Jaylin Davis. After Melvi Acosta made his AA debut by throwing four innings to start the game, Adam Bray came in and continued his excellent season by firing off four scoreless innings that came with three punch outs and just one hit. Alex Kirilloff had a multi-hit game which was good to see, hopefully he’ll be back doing Alex Kirilloff things very soon. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 2, Daytona 0 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 66.3 % strikes (59 of 89 pitches) HR: Lewin Diaz (9) Multi-hit games: Lewin Diaz (2-for-4, HR, R, RBI), Aaron Whitefield (2-for-3, R, BB) Two weeks ago when I last wrote one of these, I typed in that Lewin Diaz had hit his third homer of the season, today he hit his ninth, that is quite the progression and it is great to see. In fact, Diaz tied the Miracle record for home runs hit in a single month. Jordan Balazovic took the mound for his fourth A+ start and the Daytona hitters most likely did not sleep the night before in terror of who was waiting for them on the mound today. The good news for Daytona is that they only struck out three times against him but the bad news is that they forgot to score and so Balazovic ended with seven shutout innings. Anthony Vizcaya took over after Balazovic and finished off the game with a pair of scoreless and hitless innings that came with two punch outs and it put a nice bow tie on the shutout for the Miracle pitching. Earlier on Saturday, the FSL All-Star rosters were announced and the Miracle had eight selections-the highest for any team in the FSL. Those players can be found here: KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 9, Peoria 8 Box Score Cole Sands: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 64.8% strikes (59 of 91 pitches) HR: Gilberto Celestino (2), Ben Rodriguez (3) Multi-hit games: Jared Akins (2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 R), Gilberto Celestino (3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI), Andrew Bechtold (3-for-3, R, RBI, BB), Gabe Snyder (2-for-3, 2 RBI, BB) Wander Javier made his 2019 professional debut along with his first game above of rookie ball today in the Kernels game vs the Chiefs. He started his day out with a HBP (stop hitting him please) and finished his day without a hit. The Kernels offense was popping all day as only three innings ended without the Kernels offense scoring a run and six different players collected at least one RBI in the game. The Kernels headed into the bottom of the eighth down a run but knotted the game at eight thanks to a Gilberto Celestino single before Ben Rodriguez launched the walk-off homer in the ninth to give the Kernels the win. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Gilberto Celestino PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 2-for-4, K #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Injured list #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, 3 K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, R, 2 K #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-for-3, 3 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Suspended game #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Tommy John surgery #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Suspended game #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - No IL yet but needs rest #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, 2K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did not play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured list #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - With the Twins-did not pitch #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Did not play #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Pawtucket @ Rochester Game 1: (4:05 P.M. Game 2 will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of game 1) Pensacola @ Tennessee (1:00 P.M.) Fort Myers @ Daytona (5: 35 P.M.) - RHP Jhoan Duran Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 P.M.) - RHP Josh Winder Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games. Click here to view the article
  3. TRANSACTIONS -RHP Melvi Acosta promoted from A+ Fort Myers to AA Pensacola -RHP Randy Dobnak promoted from AA Pensacola to AAA Rochester -INF Wander Javier activated for A Cedar Rapids Injuries: https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1132354488663183360 https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1132354794339872769 https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1132356067210518528 https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1132471728939180036 RED WINGS REPORT Suspended vs Pawtucket The Red Wings got out to a quick 6-1 lead vs Pawtucket in support of Randy Dobnak’s first AAA start before the rain came in and forced a suspension in the bottom of the second. The game will be made up as a doubleheader tomorrow and the first game will continue as normal as a nine inning game while the second game will be a seven inning affair. The Red Wings were wearing Hustlers jerseys which became a feature on ESPN and the clip can be found here: https://vimeo.com/338423235 BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 1, Tennessee 5 Box Score Melvi Acosta: 4 IP, 8 H, 5 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 70.8% strikes (46 of 65 pitches) HR: Travis Blankenhorn (7) Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-for-4), Ernie De La Trinidad (2-for-3) The Blue Wahoos could not get much going offensively outside of a leadoff home run from Travis Blankenhorn and fell to the Tennessee Smokies. The only other extra-base hit was a double from Jaylin Davis. After Melvi Acosta made his AA debut by throwing four innings to start the game, Adam Bray came in and continued his excellent season by firing off four scoreless innings that came with three punch outs and just one hit. Alex Kirilloff had a multi-hit game which was good to see, hopefully he’ll be back doing Alex Kirilloff things very soon. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 2, Daytona 0 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 7 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 66.3 % strikes (59 of 89 pitches) HR: Lewin Diaz (9) Multi-hit games: Lewin Diaz (2-for-4, HR, R, RBI), Aaron Whitefield (2-for-3, R, BB) Two weeks ago when I last wrote one of these, I typed in that Lewin Diaz had hit his third homer of the season, today he hit his ninth, that is quite the progression and it is great to see. In fact, Diaz tied the Miracle record for home runs hit in a single month. https://twitter.com/AndrewBern12/status/1132452002062118912 Jordan Balazovic took the mound for his fourth A+ start and the Daytona hitters most likely did not sleep the night before in terror of who was waiting for them on the mound today. The good news for Daytona is that they only struck out three times against him but the bad news is that they forgot to score and so Balazovic ended with seven shutout innings. Anthony Vizcaya took over after Balazovic and finished off the game with a pair of scoreless and hitless innings that came with two punch outs and it put a nice bow tie on the shutout for the Miracle pitching. Earlier on Saturday, the FSL All-Star rosters were announced and the Miracle had eight selections-the highest for any team in the FSL. Those players can be found here: https://twitter.com/Brandon_Warne/status/1132330902317674496 KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 9, Peoria 8 Box Score Cole Sands: 5 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 64.8% strikes (59 of 91 pitches) HR: Gilberto Celestino (2), Ben Rodriguez (3) Multi-hit games: Jared Akins (2-for-5, 2 2B, 2 R), Gilberto Celestino (3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI), Andrew Bechtold (3-for-3, R, RBI, BB), Gabe Snyder (2-for-3, 2 RBI, BB) Wander Javier made his 2019 professional debut along with his first game above of rookie ball today in the Kernels game vs the Chiefs. He started his day out with a HBP (stop hitting him please) and finished his day without a hit. The Kernels offense was popping all day as only three innings ended without the Kernels offense scoring a run and six different players collected at least one RBI in the game. The Kernels headed into the bottom of the eighth down a run but knotted the game at eight thanks to a Gilberto Celestino single before Ben Rodriguez launched the walk-off homer in the ninth to give the Kernels the win. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Gilberto Celestino PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 2-for-4, K #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Injured list #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, 3 K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, R, 2 K #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-for-3, 3 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Suspended game #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Tommy John surgery #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Suspended game #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - No IL yet but needs rest #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, 2K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did not play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured list #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-5, HR, 2 R, 3 RBI, K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - With the Twins-did not pitch #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Did not play #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4, K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Pawtucket @ Rochester Game 1: (4:05 P.M. Game 2 will start 30 minutes after the conclusion of game 1) Pensacola @ Tennessee (1:00 P.M.) Fort Myers @ Daytona (5: 35 P.M.) - RHP Jhoan Duran Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 P.M.) - RHP Josh Winder Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Saturday’s games.
  4. As we approach the trade deadline - What? It’s only a little over two months away - there are a number of moves the Twins could and possibly should consider to help enhance their ability to make a deep run into the playoffs. But before we jump into those names, let’s examine who (or what?) other teams will be asking about. Let’s assume, too, that the Twins will make top-5 prospect Royce Lewis, top-15 prospect Alex Kirilloff and top pitching prospect Brusdar Graterol off limits.Some other things to consider, in all the moves the Twins made last year - Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, Zach Duke, Lance Lynn, Brian Dozier and Fernando Rodney - they only took back three players (of 13) that were already on the 40-man. None of those three players remain on the 40-man and only one, Chase DeJong, who has been removed from the 40-man twice since being acquired, is still in the organization. Acting in such a way gives the sellers more opportunities to both evaluate their current roster and be active on the waiver wire. It would be fair to believe sellers in the current market would look at doing the same type of thing. As I mentioned in a Finer Points article, many of the Twins acquisitions came with one more year before needing to be added to the 40-man roster. The Twins could face a roster crunch in getting these players onto their 40-man in November. Could that lead to some of those players who were acquired last year being flipped? Or could it lead to more aggressively pursuing players as rentals, knowing that they can replace them with some of their better prospects? Those are questions we don’t have answers to, but when the Twins call or take a call, what names are they going to be hearing on the other end? SS Wander Javier Born: 12/29/1998 (20 years old) Current level: Extended Spring Training Why would he be targeted? Javier was a top prospect in the 2015 international class and, despite spending a significant amount of time injured, has enhanced his prospect status with his performance in the Appy League in 2017. Javier is expected to join the Kernels as soon as his body is ready. Why should the Twins consider moving him? With Jorge Polanco’s entrenched at shortstop and possessing a long-term deal, the Twins are good at one of the middle infield spots (whether you believe he can stick at shortstop or needs to move to second). Royce Lewis is higher up the organizational ladder and Luis Arraez is showing his bat plays at the major league level. Moving Javier would be dealing from depth. Javier is a player that would need to be added to the 40-man in November. Other thoughts: How much value does Nick Gordon have? He’s currently taking up a 40-man spot and hasn’t spent a lot of time on the field in 2019. Will Luis Arraez’s value ever be higher? Moving any of these three middle infielders doesn’t deliver a huge blow to the team’s depth. C Ben Rortvedt Born: 9/25/1997 (21 years old) Current level: Pensacola (AA) Why would he be targeted? Rortvedt is the highest-ceiling catching prospect in the system and he’s only two promotions from the big leagues. An outstanding defensive catcher, Rortvedt, at a minimum, is a future bench piece on a major league team. He’s progressing offensively, with a keen eye at the plate and a chance to have an average or better hit tool. Additionally, Rortvedt would not need to be added to the 40-man roster until November of 2020, when he should definitely be ready to compete for a big-league job. Why should the Twins consider moving him? Though Jason Castro is a free agent at year’s end, we have realized that Mitch Garver is the real deal. Garver also entered the year with just over a year of service time, so he can be the primary catcher for the next five years. There should be little worry about the position in the short-term, despite the overall lack of depth in the system currently. OF Trevor Larnach Born: 2/26/1997 (22 years old) Current level: Fort Myers (high-A) Why would he be targeted? Any team can look at the Twins outfield and know it’s going to be tough to break into the lineup there. Top outfield prospect, Alex Kirilloff, is getting work at first base. So where does that leave this outfield prospect? As an asset who doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man until after the 2021 season. Why should the Twins consider moving him? Mainly for the same reasons other teams would ask about him. He’s a luxury. Other thoughts: Luke Raley and Brent Rooker fit in the same category, for the most part. Both are currently on the injured list and Rooker has not had a good start to the his 2019 campaign. Raley would require a more immediate decision (2019 eligible) than Rooker (2020), but neither player has a clear path to the majors. Could Jake Cave be a trade chip? I think he proved last year that he is certainly capable of being an everyday centerfielder. P Jordan Balazovic Born: 9/17/1988 (20 years old) Current level: Fort Myers (high-A) Why would he be targeted? The prospect that would hurt the most to deal is going to be the one most coveted. That’s how this works. Balazovic went from “barely on the radar” to “whoa!” over the course of seven A-ball starts this season. It would be hard to leave him out of the organization's Top 6 or 7 prospects right now and he’s probably becoming a Top 70 prospect league-wide. That is, if he continues on this torrid streak. Why should the Twins consider moving him? The Twins know him better than anyone and if they feel this isn’t close to sustainable, they could sell high. In between Balazovic and a big-league rotation spot, there are a number of other starters, albeit with less ceiling. Other thoughts: Balazovic (2020 eligible) isn’t the only high ceiling pitching prospect in the stable. Pensacola pitcher Jorge Alcala (2019), Fort Myers’ pitcher Jhoan Duran (2019) and Kernels pitcher Blayne Enlow (2021) could all tickle someone’s fancy. Obviously, there are others that could be included as well. But the Twins have another pretty enormous trade chip too. Competitive Balance Round A Draft Pick #39 Pool allotment: $1,906,800 Part of the reason that I wanted to push this out well before the trade deadline is because the Twins only have a handful of days to use this asset in a trade. Competitive Balance picks are the only ones that can be traded and obviously have to be moved before the draft. Five of the 12 awarded picks for the 2019 draft have already been moved. The Yankees traded Sonny Gray and a prospect for pick #38 and a prospect. The #40 pick moved from the A’s to the Rays in the deal that netted the A’s Jurickson Profar. The Rangers traded bullpen piece Alex Claudio to the Brewers for pick #41. The Diamondbacks acquired a Comp Round B pick from the Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. The Marines also acquired a Comp Round B pick from the Indians in the their Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Santana/Tampa Bay trade. As you can see, there is plenty of value in a Comp Round A pick. But it’s more than just the pick itself, it’s the money that’s attached to it. Giving yourself an extra nearly $2 million can benefit teams in a number of ways. Want another really good prospect? You got it. Want to get more creative and push a guy down the board ala Sean Manaea or Dax Cameron? You got that too. (Yeah, I know, the Diamondbacks are kings of this draft and draft four times before pick #39… but maybe they want in on this action?) The Twins might not be able to get Will Smith straight up for this pick, but it would go a long way. The Reds definitely wouldn’t give up Rasiel Iglesias for just the pick, but again… it would be a nice piece. The Nationals and Sean Doolittle, now that’s reasonable. Or maybe they aim higher. What do you think? Click here to view the article
  5. Some other things to consider, in all the moves the Twins made last year - Eduardo Escobar, Ryan Pressly, Zach Duke, Lance Lynn, Brian Dozier and Fernando Rodney - they only took back three players (of 13) that were already on the 40-man. None of those three players remain on the 40-man and only one, Chase DeJong, who has been removed from the 40-man twice since being acquired, is still in the organization. Acting in such a way gives the sellers more opportunities to both evaluate their current roster and be active on the waiver wire. It would be fair to believe sellers in the current market would look at doing the same type of thing. As I mentioned in a Finer Points article, many of the Twins acquisitions came with one more year before needing to be added to the 40-man roster. The Twins could face a roster crunch in getting these players onto their 40-man in November. Could that lead to some of those players who were acquired last year being flipped? Or could it lead to more aggressively pursuing players as rentals, knowing that they can replace them with some of their better prospects? Those are questions we don’t have answers to, but when the Twins call or take a call, what names are they going to be hearing on the other end? SS Wander Javier Born: 12/29/1998 (20 years old) Current level: Extended Spring Training Why would he be targeted? Javier was a top prospect in the 2015 international class and, despite spending a significant amount of time injured, has enhanced his prospect status with his performance in the Appy League in 2017. Javier is expected to join the Kernels as soon as his body is ready. Why should the Twins consider moving him? With Jorge Polanco’s entrenched at shortstop and possessing a long-term deal, the Twins are good at one of the middle infield spots (whether you believe he can stick at shortstop or needs to move to second). Royce Lewis is higher up the organizational ladder and Luis Arraez is showing his bat plays at the major league level. Moving Javier would be dealing from depth. Javier is a player that would need to be added to the 40-man in November. Other thoughts: How much value does Nick Gordon have? He’s currently taking up a 40-man spot and hasn’t spent a lot of time on the field in 2019. Will Luis Arraez’s value ever be higher? Moving any of these three middle infielders doesn’t deliver a huge blow to the team’s depth. C Ben Rortvedt Born: 9/25/1997 (21 years old) Current level: Pensacola (AA) Why would he be targeted? Rortvedt is the highest-ceiling catching prospect in the system and he’s only two promotions from the big leagues. An outstanding defensive catcher, Rortvedt, at a minimum, is a future bench piece on a major league team. He’s progressing offensively, with a keen eye at the plate and a chance to have an average or better hit tool. Additionally, Rortvedt would not need to be added to the 40-man roster until November of 2020, when he should definitely be ready to compete for a big-league job. Why should the Twins consider moving him? Though Jason Castro is a free agent at year’s end, we have realized that Mitch Garver is the real deal. Garver also entered the year with just over a year of service time, so he can be the primary catcher for the next five years. There should be little worry about the position in the short-term, despite the overall lack of depth in the system currently. OF Trevor Larnach Born: 2/26/1997 (22 years old) Current level: Fort Myers (high-A) Why would he be targeted? Any team can look at the Twins outfield and know it’s going to be tough to break into the lineup there. Top outfield prospect, Alex Kirilloff, is getting work at first base. So where does that leave this outfield prospect? As an asset who doesn’t need to be added to the 40-man until after the 2021 season. Why should the Twins consider moving him? Mainly for the same reasons other teams would ask about him. He’s a luxury. Other thoughts: Luke Raley and Brent Rooker fit in the same category, for the most part. Both are currently on the injured list and Rooker has not had a good start to the his 2019 campaign. Raley would require a more immediate decision (2019 eligible) than Rooker (2020), but neither player has a clear path to the majors. Could Jake Cave be a trade chip? I think he proved last year that he is certainly capable of being an everyday centerfielder. P Jordan Balazovic Born: 9/17/1988 (20 years old) Current level: Fort Myers (high-A) Why would he be targeted? The prospect that would hurt the most to deal is going to be the one most coveted. That’s how this works. Balazovic went from “barely on the radar” to “whoa!” over the course of seven A-ball starts this season. It would be hard to leave him out of the organization's Top 6 or 7 prospects right now and he’s probably becoming a Top 70 prospect league-wide. That is, if he continues on this torrid streak. Why should the Twins consider moving him? The Twins know him better than anyone and if they feel this isn’t close to sustainable, they could sell high. In between Balazovic and a big-league rotation spot, there are a number of other starters, albeit with less ceiling. Other thoughts: Balazovic (2020 eligible) isn’t the only high ceiling pitching prospect in the stable. Pensacola pitcher Jorge Alcala (2019), Fort Myers’ pitcher Jhoan Duran (2019) and Kernels pitcher Blayne Enlow (2021) could all tickle someone’s fancy. Obviously, there are others that could be included as well. But the Twins have another pretty enormous trade chip too. Competitive Balance Round A Draft Pick #39 Pool allotment: $1,906,800 Part of the reason that I wanted to push this out well before the trade deadline is because the Twins only have a handful of days to use this asset in a trade. Competitive Balance picks are the only ones that can be traded and obviously have to be moved before the draft. Five of the 12 awarded picks for the 2019 draft have already been moved. The Yankees traded Sonny Gray and a prospect for pick #38 and a prospect. The #40 pick moved from the A’s to the Rays in the deal that netted the A’s Jurickson Profar. The Rangers traded bullpen piece Alex Claudio to the Brewers for pick #41. The Diamondbacks acquired a Comp Round B pick from the Cardinals in the Paul Goldschmidt trade. The Marines also acquired a Comp Round B pick from the Indians in the their Edwin Encarnacion/Carlos Santana/Tampa Bay trade. As you can see, there is plenty of value in a Comp Round A pick. But it’s more than just the pick itself, it’s the money that’s attached to it. Giving yourself an extra nearly $2 million can benefit teams in a number of ways. Want another really good prospect? You got it. Want to get more creative and push a guy down the board ala Sean Manaea or Dax Cameron? You got that too. (Yeah, I know, the Diamondbacks are kings of this draft and draft four times before pick #39… but maybe they want in on this action?) The Twins might not be able to get Will Smith straight up for this pick, but it would go a long way. The Reds definitely wouldn’t give up Rasiel Iglesias for just the pick, but again… it would be a nice piece. The Nationals and Sean Doolittle, now that’s reasonable. Or maybe they aim higher. What do you think?
  6. As the Kernels begin a four-game commuter series against the Clinton Lumberkings on Thursday night, they’re pretty well entrenched deep into the lower half of the Midwest League’s eight-team Western Division standings with a 17-22 record. They sit in seventh place, eight games behind Division-leading Quad Cities and six games behind second place Burlington, which is important because the top two finishers in each division during the league’s first half will qualify for the postseason. The Kernels have won just three of the season’s first 13 series and none since they won back-to-back series against Beloit and Wisconsin in mid-April. Their .219 team batting average and .654 OPS place them 14th in each of those offensive categories among the 16 teams in the MWL. There isn’t much in those numbers that shouts “success,” with just over four weeks remaining in the season’s first-half race and, to be sure, Kernels fans and the local front office would love to start seeing more productivity on the field and, frankly, more wins. But when you’re talking about the Class-A minor league level, success is as much, if not more, about developing young ballplayers and preparing them for the challenges awaiting them at the next rung on the professional baseball organizational ladder. And that’s one area where manager Brian Dinkelman and his coaching staff can take justifiable pride in their squad’s success this year. “You like to keep guys here as long as possible to try to win games,” Dinkelman said earlier this week, “but once they’re developed and feel like they’re ready for the next level, then that’s the thing for them to get up to the next level and get them closer to the big leagues.” Already this year, five of the players who came north out of spring training as part of the Kernels’ Opening Day roster have been promoted. Shortstop Joe Cronin is now playing Class Double-A ball with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, while outfielder Trey Cabbage, relief pitcher Joe Record and starting pitcher Jordan Balazovic are all playing key roles with Class High-A Fort Myers. The most recent promotion was catcher David Banuelos, who got his plane ticket to Fort Myers earlier this week after doing excellent work behind the plate for the Kernels and showing some power with seven extra-base hits on his stat line. Banuelos had one hit in four at-bats in his first game with the Miracle. Cronin is still trying to find his groove at the plate in Pensacola after putting up a 1.106 OPS for Cedar Rapids, but all three of the other players the Kernels have sent to the Miracle in Fort Myers have immediately become among their new team’s statistical leaders. In Cedar Rapids, Cabbage was hitting .313 with an OPS of 1.029 and six home runs (which is still good enough to tie him for fourth place in the Midwest League, a full two weeks after his departure from the Kernels) when he was promoted. In his nine games with the Miracle, he’s hit .344 with an OPS of .964. He’s yet to go yard for the Miracle, but he’s knocked four doubles and a triple. “I was happy for Trey,” Dinkelman said. “He’d been (in Cedar Rapids) a couple of years and he got off to a great start for us, was hitting the ball well. We knew it was time for him to move on up there and see what he can do at the next level.” Joe Record didn’t allow even one earned run during his seven appearances out of the Kernels’ bullpen, while notching five saves as the club’s closer and striking out almost two batters per inning pitched. While he can’t boast the same perfect 0.00 ERA in Fort Myers, he’s kept his WHIP down to just 0.95, while continuing to strike out just under one batter per inning. And then there’s Jordan Balazovic. The 6’ 4” 20-year-old pitched well in his four pre-promotion starts for Cedar Rapids, notching a 2.18 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, holding hitters to a .195 batting average and striking out 33 batters in his 20 2/3 innings. All he did in his Miracle debut was throw seven perfect innings. His second outing only lasted five innings and he gave up a pair of earned runs, but he also struck out 12 batters. Those performances impressed his former manager. If he keeps having performances like he had his first two outings, he may not be (in Fort Myers) long,” a smiling Dinkelman said of Balazovic. “Ten strikeouts and 12 strikeouts, something like that. It’s good to see those guys go up there and play well.” And it’s unlikely the flow of talent through the Cedar Rapids-to-Fort Myers pipeline is going to stop any time soon. Their record may not show it, but there are still several individual success stories being written in Cedar Rapids. First baseman Gabe Snyder wasn’t on the Kernels’ Opening Day roster this year, but he arrived just a week into the season and he’s hit .319 with a dozen extra-base hits, including three home runs. The Cedar Rapids rotation misses Balazovic, obviously, but other members of that group have continued to keep the Kernels in games through the first several innings, anyway. “I feel like our starting pitching is giving us a chance,” Dinkelman said. “Now they’re going five or six innings a game, keeping us in the ballgame, giving our offense a chance to put some runs on the board. Starting pitching in baseball is the key. If you can get a starter to go out there and give you six, seven strong innings, keep your team in the game, give you a chance to win, that’s all you can ask for.” Dinkelman is getting that kind of result from several of his starting pitchers. Cole Sands has a 2.59 ERA through six starts, striking out 36 batters in 31 1/3 innings. He has yet to surrender a home run this season. Josh Winder has a 2.97 ERA, also through six starts. He’s notched a 1.05 WHIP while striking out 32 batters in 36 1/3 innings. Andrew Cabezas’ 1-3 record belies his actual performance. His 1.10 WHIP and 30 strikeouts through 32 2/3 innings are among the team’s leaders. His most recent performance, in a start on Wednesday against division-leading Quad Cities, was his best of the year. In seven shutout innings, he surrendered just one hit and issued no walks while striking out nine. Blayne Enlow is the lone top-10 rated organizational prospect in the Kernels roster and, while he’s had a couple of tough outings among his six starts, he’s also shown glimpses of the talent that scouts have been impressed with. In his most recent start on May 9, he struck out six over six innings of work, without surrendering an earned run. (He is scheduled to start Thursday night’s game in Clinton.) It won’t be easy for the Kernels to catch up to the division leaders in time to lock up a postseason berth during the season’s first half, but that’s the beauty of the minor league split-season format. They get to start over on June 20. The locals are hoping that uber-prospect Wander Javier will prove himself healthy enough to provide some spark to the Kernels’ lineup well before that date. So far, however, the young shortstop has not been able to stay on the field long enough for the Twins to feel comfortable sending him to Cedar Rapids. In the end, regardless of what we see in the standings, we can be certain there will be plenty of individual success stories coming through Cedar Rapids during the summer. Kernels Notes Hitting: Gabe Snyder leads all qualifying hitters in the MWL in OPS (.957), is tied for 4th in BA (.319), 2nd in SLG (.542), 5th in OBP (.414) Yeltsin Encarnacion had a 7-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday. Pitching: (We covered the starting pitching pretty thoroughly in the article, but there are a couple of relief arms that are also performing well this month.) Derek Molina has not surrendered an earned run since April 15. In his last 8 appearances, totaling 10 IP, while not giving up an earned run, he has struck out 14 and walked 3. Zach Neff has surrendered just 1 earned run in his last 5 appearances out of the bullpen covering 8 2/3 innings, striking out 14 while walking just 1 in that stretch. Want to read more about the Kernels? Click on these links for stories from The Gazette’s Kernels beat reporter, Jeff Johnson. Kernels coach and former Twins infielder Luis Rodriguez is thinking about Venezuela. RHP Cole Sands was impressive in earning his first professional win. RHP Andrew Cabezas keep hitters off balance with a variety of windups. (This article from JJ includes an imbedded video of one of Cabezas’ most interesting windups this season.)
  7. How do you define success? When the subject is a minor league baseball team, that can sometimes be a thorny question. By most traditional measurements, you’d have to twist yourself into a few knots to come up with a way to describe the first six weeks of the Cedar Rapids Kernels’ 2019 campaign as a success.As the Kernels begin a four-game commuter series against the Clinton Lumberkings on Thursday night, they’re pretty well entrenched deep into the lower half of the Midwest League’s eight-team Western Division standings with a 17-22 record. They sit in seventh place, eight games behind Division-leading Quad Cities and six games behind second place Burlington, which is important because the top two finishers in each division during the league’s first half will qualify for the postseason. The Kernels have won just three of the season’s first 13 series and none since they won back-to-back series against Beloit and Wisconsin in mid-April. Their .219 team batting average and .654 OPS place them 14th in each of those offensive categories among the 16 teams in the MWL. There isn’t much in those numbers that shouts “success,” with just over four weeks remaining in the season’s first-half race and, to be sure, Kernels fans and the local front office would love to start seeing more productivity on the field and, frankly, more wins. But when you’re talking about the Class-A minor league level, success is as much, if not more, about developing young ballplayers and preparing them for the challenges awaiting them at the next rung on the professional baseball organizational ladder. And that’s one area where manager Brian Dinkelman and his coaching staff can take justifiable pride in their squad’s success this year. “You like to keep guys here as long as possible to try to win games,” Dinkelman said earlier this week, “but once they’re developed and feel like they’re ready for the next level, then that’s the thing for them to get up to the next level and get them closer to the big leagues.” Already this year, five of the players who came north out of spring training as part of the Kernels’ Opening Day roster have been promoted. Shortstop Joe Cronin is now playing Class Double-A ball with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, while outfielder Trey Cabbage, relief pitcher Joe Record and starting pitcher Jordan Balazovic are all playing key roles with Class High-A Fort Myers. The most recent promotion was catcher David Banuelos, who got his plane ticket to Fort Myers earlier this week after doing excellent work behind the plate for the Kernels and showing some power with seven extra-base hits on his stat line. Banuelos had one hit in four at-bats in his first game with the Miracle. Cronin is still trying to find his groove at the plate in Pensacola after putting up a 1.106 OPS for Cedar Rapids, but all three of the other players the Kernels have sent to the Miracle in Fort Myers have immediately become among their new team’s statistical leaders. In Cedar Rapids, Cabbage was hitting .313 with an OPS of 1.029 and six home runs (which is still good enough to tie him for fourth place in the Midwest League, a full two weeks after his departure from the Kernels) when he was promoted. In his nine games with the Miracle, he’s hit .344 with an OPS of .964. He’s yet to go yard for the Miracle, but he’s knocked four doubles and a triple. “I was happy for Trey,” Dinkelman said. “He’d been (in Cedar Rapids) a couple of years and he got off to a great start for us, was hitting the ball well. We knew it was time for him to move on up there and see what he can do at the next level.” Joe Record didn’t allow even one earned run during his seven appearances out of the Kernels’ bullpen, while notching five saves as the club’s closer and striking out almost two batters per inning pitched. While he can’t boast the same perfect 0.00 ERA in Fort Myers, he’s kept his WHIP down to just 0.95, while continuing to strike out just under one batter per inning. And then there’s Jordan Balazovic. The 6’ 4” 20-year-old pitched well in his four pre-promotion starts for Cedar Rapids, notching a 2.18 ERA, a 0.92 WHIP, holding hitters to a .195 batting average and striking out 33 batters in his 20 2/3 innings. All he did in his Miracle debut was throw seven perfect innings. His second outing only lasted five innings and he gave up a pair of earned runs, but he also struck out 12 batters. Those performances impressed his former manager. If he keeps having performances like he had his first two outings, he may not be (in Fort Myers) long,” a smiling Dinkelman said of Balazovic. “Ten strikeouts and 12 strikeouts, something like that. It’s good to see those guys go up there and play well.” And it’s unlikely the flow of talent through the Cedar Rapids-to-Fort Myers pipeline is going to stop any time soon. Their record may not show it, but there are still several individual success stories being written in Cedar Rapids. First baseman Gabe Snyder wasn’t on the Kernels’ Opening Day roster this year, but he arrived just a week into the season and he’s hit .319 with a dozen extra-base hits, including three home runs. The Cedar Rapids rotation misses Balazovic, obviously, but other members of that group have continued to keep the Kernels in games through the first several innings, anyway. “I feel like our starting pitching is giving us a chance,” Dinkelman said. “Now they’re going five or six innings a game, keeping us in the ballgame, giving our offense a chance to put some runs on the board. Starting pitching in baseball is the key. If you can get a starter to go out there and give you six, seven strong innings, keep your team in the game, give you a chance to win, that’s all you can ask for.” Dinkelman is getting that kind of result from several of his starting pitchers. Cole Sands has a 2.59 ERA through six starts, striking out 36 batters in 31 1/3 innings. He has yet to surrender a home run this season. Josh Winder has a 2.97 ERA, also through six starts. He’s notched a 1.05 WHIP while striking out 32 batters in 36 1/3 innings. Andrew Cabezas’ 1-3 record belies his actual performance. His 1.10 WHIP and 30 strikeouts through 32 2/3 innings are among the team’s leaders. His most recent performance, in a start on Wednesday against division-leading Quad Cities, was his best of the year. In seven shutout innings, he surrendered just one hit and issued no walks while striking out nine. Blayne Enlow is the lone top-10 rated organizational prospect in the Kernels roster and, while he’s had a couple of tough outings among his six starts, he’s also shown glimpses of the talent that scouts have been impressed with. In his most recent start on May 9, he struck out six over six innings of work, without surrendering an earned run. (He is scheduled to start Thursday night’s game in Clinton.) It won’t be easy for the Kernels to catch up to the division leaders in time to lock up a postseason berth during the season’s first half, but that’s the beauty of the minor league split-season format. They get to start over on June 20. The locals are hoping that uber-prospect Wander Javier will prove himself healthy enough to provide some spark to the Kernels’ lineup well before that date. So far, however, the young shortstop has not been able to stay on the field long enough for the Twins to feel comfortable sending him to Cedar Rapids. In the end, regardless of what we see in the standings, we can be certain there will be plenty of individual success stories coming through Cedar Rapids during the summer. Kernels Notes Hitting: Gabe Snyder leads all qualifying hitters in the MWL in OPS (.957), is tied for 4th in BA (.319), 2nd in SLG (.542), 5th in OBP (.414)Yeltsin Encarnacion had a 7-game hitting streak snapped on Wednesday.Pitching: (We covered the starting pitching pretty thoroughly in the article, but there are a couple of relief arms that are also performing well this month.)Derek Molina has not surrendered an earned run since April 15. In his last 8 appearances, totaling 10 IP, while not giving up an earned run, he has struck out 14 and walked 3.Zach Neff has surrendered just 1 earned run in his last 5 appearances out of the bullpen covering 8 2/3 innings, striking out 14 while walking just 1 in that stretch.Want to read more about the Kernels? Click on these links for stories from The Gazette’s Kernels beat reporter, Jeff Johnson. Kernels coach and former Twins infielder Luis Rodriguez is thinking about Venezuela.RHP Cole Sands was impressive in earning his first professional win.RHP Andrew Cabezas keep hitters off balance with a variety of windups. (This article from JJ includes an imbedded video of one of Cabezas’ most interesting windups this season.) Click here to view the article
  8. While only three of the Minnesota Twins four full season affiliates were in action on Monday, two of them had doubleheaders on the schedule thanks to the weather that’s been wreaking havoc seemingly every day so far this season. A pair of starting pitchers had solid outings, including one who set a personal strikeout record, and a top prospect hitter finished his day with four hits. An under-the-radar reliever also continued an impressive scoreless streak to start 2019. To find out who those players were, and how the rest of your favorite Twins prospects performed on Monday night, read on!TRANSACTIONS Hopefully Tyler Duffey hadn’t already boarded a plane back to Rochester, NY after being the 26th man on Saturday and officially being returned yesterday, as he was recalled Monday.To make room on the 25-man roster, Jake Cave was optioned to Rochester.RED WINGS REPORT Scheduled Day Off The Red Wings got the day off on Monday to travel as they end six-day homestand where they went 2-3 and had another game rained out that will be made up on June 21st against the Toledo MudHens. They begin a three-game series on Tuesday against the Charlotte Knights with righthander Zack Littell on the mound, coming off a six-inning scoreless outing his last time out. BLUE WAHOOS BITES Game 1: Pensacola 1, Chattanooga 0 Box Score Starter Jorge Alcala was brilliant for 5 2/3 innings to pick up his fifth win of the year and needed to be as his offense was able to scratch across just one run on the game. Alcala retired nine men in a row from the third through the sixth inning, but a two-out single after consecutive strikeouts to open the sixth inning brought an end to his outing. He allowed just two hits and two walks, struck out four, and threw 49 of his 82 pitches for strikes, including seven swinging. The Blue Wahoos scored the only run of the game in the fourth inning after Taylor Grzelakowski drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on an Ernie De La Trinidad double, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Tanner English. Luis Arraez had three of their eight total hits on the game, a trio of singles but never got farther than second base as Pensacola was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Ryan Mason finished the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing a two-out double in the seventh to make it somewhat interesting, but bookending that with a pair of strikeouts to pick up his seventh save of the year. For those keeping track, Mason has now appeared in 11 games, totaling 16 1/3 innings pitched, allowing zero runs on eleven hits and two walks, while striking out 23. That means his ERA is a perfect 0.00, and his WHIP a stellar 0.80 so far on the year. He’s also struck out multiple hitters in his last nine appearances. Game 2: Pensacola 4, Chattanooga 5 (9 innings) Box Score The Blue Wahoos got on the scoreboard first in the fifth inning, taking a 2-0 lead after a couple of walks were followed by consecutive two-out RBI singles from Joe Cronin and Jaylin Davis. They extended that lead to 4-0 in the seventh when Luis Arraez drove in two with a two-out bases-loaded single. Those insurance runs wouldn’t be enough however, as in their final chance the Lookouts got one big swing of the bat to extend the game. After Alex Phillips loaded the bases, lefty Tyler Jay was brought in from the bullpen to face Chattanooga’s cleanup hitter, and he sent an 0-1 pitch into the seats for a game-tying grand slam. Jay was later saved from losing the game by a ground-rule double for escaping to send it to extra innings. He would remain in the game and delivered a scoreless eighth, but the first hitter of the ninth snuck a base hit into center field and the winning run came home. Pensacola took a bullpen approach to game two, with Adam Bray making the start and getting through 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and struck out three. Sam Clay pitched the next 1 2/3 giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one. Phillips was responsible for most of the comeback, as he was charged with three runs on two hits and three walks in 1 1/3. He struck out one. Jay allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in his 1 2/3 innings, striking out two. The lineup for the Blue Wahoos tallied just six singles and three walks on the day and were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position. MIRACLE MATTERS Bradenton 2, Fort Myers 8 Box Score Fort Myers poured it on late to put away the Marauders, but before that newly minted pitching phenom Jordan Balazovic chewed through his opposition. For his second start in a row, Balazovic struck out double-digit hitters, but in this one also set a new career high for K’s in a game with 12. He did run up a bit of pitch count to get there, as he only finished five innings with his 94 pitches and also walked four, but is hard to complain about two runs allowed when it’s all said and done with that amount of punchouts. He struck out three hitters in a row on two separate occasions and all three outs via K’s in two other frames. Of his 59 strikes, an astounding 22 were of the swing and miss variety. Calvin Faucher and Anthony Vizcaya combined to toss four innings of scoreless relief (two innings apiece), allowing four hits and a walk while striking out five between them. Faucher notched his fourth hold, while Vizcaya picked up his fourth save. The Miracle took the lead 3-2 in the fourth after a solo home run from Michael Helman, extended it to 4-2 after a Trevor Larnach RBI-double in the seventh, then blew it open with a four run eighth. Helman (single), Royce Lewis (double), Larnach (single), and Ryan Jeffers (double) all drove in a run in the inning. On the game Larnach led the charge by going 4-for-5 with two RBI, while Helman and Ryan Costello each also added two hits to the effort. Lewis scored three runs by chipping in a walk and two stolen bases to go along with his double in a 1-for-4 night at the dish. After hitting just .209 in the month of April, Lewis is at .292 so far in May with five multiple hit games in his last eleven. KERNELS NUGGETS Game 1: Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 9 Box Score Righthander Josh Winder took the mound for the Kernels in game one and followed his eight-inning gem on May 6th with a complete game in this one. Because of the doubleheader it was *only* seven innings, but he kept the River Bandits in check when it mattered, finishing by allowing four earned runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out three. Of his 102 pitches on the game, 65 went for strikes (64%). The Cedar Rapids lineup put things at ease for Winder with two big innings, including the bottom of the first. Three of the first four batters of the game for the Kernels reached by via walk or a hit-by-pitch, then an RBI groundout from Gabe Snyder, an RBI single Gilberto Celestino, and two-RBI single by Gabriel Maciel made it 4-0. In the fourth, a three-run bomb from Snyder and two-RBI double from Andrew Bechtold added five more runs for the home team’s final tally. Game 2: Quad Cities 7, Cedar Rapids 0 Box Score Cedar Rapids wasn’t able to continue their offensive barrage from the first game of the day, as they were being no-hit through 4 2/3 innings. Gabriel Maciel broke that bid up in the fifth with a two-out single, but that would basically be it for the home team on the game. They had just four chances with runners in scoring position and were unable to capitalize. Gabe Snyder added his fifth double of the year and Yeltsin Encarnacion added a single to account for their three hits in the nightcap. Austin Schulfer got the start for the Kernels and finished three innings. He was hit for three runs in the third after a two-run triple and an RBI single to end his day. He allowed those three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out one. Carlos Suniago chipped in two scoreless innings, striking out three to keep his team within striking distance, but Jose Martinez followed by allowing three more runs in the sixth on two hits and three walks to make it 6-0 Quad Cities. Moises Gomez came on for the final frame, and a leadoff triple led to a sac fly before finishing the game. He struck out one. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic, Fort Myers Miracle (W, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 K) Hitter of the Day – Trevor Larnach, Fort Myers Miracle (4-for-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, 3 R, 2B (6), BB, K, 2 SB (8) #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 2-for-8, K (2 games) #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 4-for-5, R, 2B (12), 2 RBI #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - No game #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - No game #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Did not play #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - No game #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured list #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, 2B (5), RBI BB, K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did not play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-6, 2 R, BB, K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - No game #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - No game #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - W, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-5, RBI WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Charlotte (6:04PM CST) – RHP Zack Littell (2-2, 3.82 ERA) Pensacola @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) - RHP Brusdar Graterol (4-0, 1.91 ERA) Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:30PM CST) – RHP Edwar Colina (0-1, 11.57 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Luis Rijo (0-3, 4.05 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games! Click here to view the article
  9. TRANSACTIONS Hopefully Tyler Duffey hadn’t already boarded a plane back to Rochester, NY after being the 26th man on Saturday and officially being returned yesterday, as he was recalled Monday. To make room on the 25-man roster, Jake Cave was optioned to Rochester. RED WINGS REPORT Scheduled Day Off The Red Wings got the day off on Monday to travel as they end six-day homestand where they went 2-3 and had another game rained out that will be made up on June 21st against the Toledo MudHens. They begin a three-game series on Tuesday against the Charlotte Knights with righthander Zack Littell on the mound, coming off a six-inning scoreless outing his last time out. BLUE WAHOOS BITES Game 1: Pensacola 1, Chattanooga 0 Box Score Starter Jorge Alcala was brilliant for 5 2/3 innings to pick up his fifth win of the year and needed to be as his offense was able to scratch across just one run on the game. Alcala retired nine men in a row from the third through the sixth inning, but a two-out single after consecutive strikeouts to open the sixth inning brought an end to his outing. He allowed just two hits and two walks, struck out four, and threw 49 of his 82 pitches for strikes, including seven swinging. The Blue Wahoos scored the only run of the game in the fourth inning after Taylor Grzelakowski drew a leadoff walk, moved to third on an Ernie De La Trinidad double, and scored on a sacrifice fly from Tanner English. Luis Arraez had three of their eight total hits on the game, a trio of singles but never got farther than second base as Pensacola was 0-for-6 with runners in scoring position. Ryan Mason finished the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing a two-out double in the seventh to make it somewhat interesting, but bookending that with a pair of strikeouts to pick up his seventh save of the year. For those keeping track, Mason has now appeared in 11 games, totaling 16 1/3 innings pitched, allowing zero runs on eleven hits and two walks, while striking out 23. That means his ERA is a perfect 0.00, and his WHIP a stellar 0.80 so far on the year. He’s also struck out multiple hitters in his last nine appearances. Game 2: Pensacola 4, Chattanooga 5 (9 innings) Box Score The Blue Wahoos got on the scoreboard first in the fifth inning, taking a 2-0 lead after a couple of walks were followed by consecutive two-out RBI singles from Joe Cronin and Jaylin Davis. They extended that lead to 4-0 in the seventh when Luis Arraez drove in two with a two-out bases-loaded single. Those insurance runs wouldn’t be enough however, as in their final chance the Lookouts got one big swing of the bat to extend the game. After Alex Phillips loaded the bases, lefty Tyler Jay was brought in from the bullpen to face Chattanooga’s cleanup hitter, and he sent an 0-1 pitch into the seats for a game-tying grand slam. Jay was later saved from losing the game by a ground-rule double for escaping to send it to extra innings. He would remain in the game and delivered a scoreless eighth, but the first hitter of the ninth snuck a base hit into center field and the winning run came home. Pensacola took a bullpen approach to game two, with Adam Bray making the start and getting through 3 1/3 scoreless innings. He allowed four hits and struck out three. Sam Clay pitched the next 1 2/3 giving up a hit and a walk while striking out one. Phillips was responsible for most of the comeback, as he was charged with three runs on two hits and three walks in 1 1/3. He struck out one. Jay allowed two runs on four hits and two walks in his 1 2/3 innings, striking out two. The lineup for the Blue Wahoos tallied just six singles and three walks on the day and were 3-for-13 with runners in scoring position. MIRACLE MATTERS Bradenton 2, Fort Myers 8 Box Score Fort Myers poured it on late to put away the Marauders, but before that newly minted pitching phenom Jordan Balazovic chewed through his opposition. For his second start in a row, Balazovic struck out double-digit hitters, but in this one also set a new career high for K’s in a game with 12. He did run up a bit of pitch count to get there, as he only finished five innings with his 94 pitches and also walked four, but is hard to complain about two runs allowed when it’s all said and done with that amount of punchouts. He struck out three hitters in a row on two separate occasions and all three outs via K’s in two other frames. Of his 59 strikes, an astounding 22 were of the swing and miss variety. Calvin Faucher and Anthony Vizcaya combined to toss four innings of scoreless relief (two innings apiece), allowing four hits and a walk while striking out five between them. Faucher notched his fourth hold, while Vizcaya picked up his fourth save. The Miracle took the lead 3-2 in the fourth after a solo home run from Michael Helman, extended it to 4-2 after a Trevor Larnach RBI-double in the seventh, then blew it open with a four run eighth. Helman (single), Royce Lewis (double), Larnach (single), and Ryan Jeffers (double) all drove in a run in the inning. On the game Larnach led the charge by going 4-for-5 with two RBI, while Helman and Ryan Costello each also added two hits to the effort. Lewis scored three runs by chipping in a walk and two stolen bases to go along with his double in a 1-for-4 night at the dish. After hitting just .209 in the month of April, Lewis is at .292 so far in May with five multiple hit games in his last eleven. KERNELS NUGGETS Game 1: Quad Cities 4, Cedar Rapids 9 Box Score Righthander Josh Winder took the mound for the Kernels in game one and followed his eight-inning gem on May 6th with a complete game in this one. Because of the doubleheader it was *only* seven innings, but he kept the River Bandits in check when it mattered, finishing by allowing four earned runs on five hits and four walks, while striking out three. Of his 102 pitches on the game, 65 went for strikes (64%). The Cedar Rapids lineup put things at ease for Winder with two big innings, including the bottom of the first. Three of the first four batters of the game for the Kernels reached by via walk or a hit-by-pitch, then an RBI groundout from Gabe Snyder, an RBI single Gilberto Celestino, and two-RBI single by Gabriel Maciel made it 4-0. In the fourth, a three-run bomb from Snyder and two-RBI double from Andrew Bechtold added five more runs for the home team’s final tally. Game 2: Quad Cities 7, Cedar Rapids 0 Box Score Cedar Rapids wasn’t able to continue their offensive barrage from the first game of the day, as they were being no-hit through 4 2/3 innings. Gabriel Maciel broke that bid up in the fifth with a two-out single, but that would basically be it for the home team on the game. They had just four chances with runners in scoring position and were unable to capitalize. Gabe Snyder added his fifth double of the year and Yeltsin Encarnacion added a single to account for their three hits in the nightcap. Austin Schulfer got the start for the Kernels and finished three innings. He was hit for three runs in the third after a two-run triple and an RBI single to end his day. He allowed those three runs on four hits and three walks while striking out one. Carlos Suniago chipped in two scoreless innings, striking out three to keep his team within striking distance, but Jose Martinez followed by allowing three more runs in the sixth on two hits and three walks to make it 6-0 Quad Cities. Moises Gomez came on for the final frame, and a leadoff triple led to a sac fly before finishing the game. He struck out one. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic, Fort Myers Miracle (W, 5.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 12 K) Hitter of the Day – Trevor Larnach, Fort Myers Miracle (4-for-5, R, 2B, 2 RBI) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, 3 R, 2B (6), BB, K, 2 SB (8) #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 2-for-8, K (2 games) #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 4-for-5, R, 2B (12), 2 RBI #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - No game #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - No game #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Did not play #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - No game #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured list #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, 2B (5), RBI BB, K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did not play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-6, 2 R, BB, K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - No game #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - No game #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - W, 5.2 IP, 2 H, 2 BB, 4 K #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-5, RBI WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Charlotte (6:04PM CST) – RHP Zack Littell (2-2, 3.82 ERA) Pensacola @ Chattanooga (6:15PM CST) - RHP Brusdar Graterol (4-0, 1.91 ERA) Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:30PM CST) – RHP Edwar Colina (0-1, 11.57 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) – RHP Luis Rijo (0-3, 4.05 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games!
  10. Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS RHP Zack Weiss was activated from the Injured List. If you missed the late-Saturday night Twins transactions, here you go:v yler Duffey, the 26th man in the double header, was sent back to Rochester. Kohl Stewart was optioned to Rochester with Martin Perez coming back from the paternity list. Also, Willians Astudillo was activated from the Injured List and Romero was optioned to Rochester. AWARDS The Twins announced their weekly Hitter and Pitcher of the Week: Hitter of the Week: Trevor Larnach, Ft. Myers Miracle. It t was a big week for the Twins 2018 first-round draft pick out of Oregon State In six games, he hit .440 (11-for-25) with two double and two home runs, his first two of the season. Pitcher of the Week: Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle - Called up from Cedar Rapids, Balazovic made his first start for Ft. Myers… and threw seven perfect innings. He also had 10 strikeouts in the game. He was the Twins 5th round pick out of secondary school in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2016. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6, Durham 4 Box Score The Red Wings were the only Twins affiliate to get their game in on Sunday. However, the weather was cold and drizzly throughout the game, so the Red Wings are actually treating the game like a rain check and allowing fans who were there to get another ticket later in the season. Very nice. Lewis Thorpe made the start for the Red Wings. He gave up three runs on five hits. He didn’t walk any batters and struck out seven. The three runs came on back-to-back home run balls. Things were interesting for the Red Wings offense right from the start. Nick Gordon doubled to lead off the winning, but a couple of pitches earlier, he may have tweaked a muscle. He left the game in the 3rd inning. Two batters later, LaMonte Wade took a called third strike and didn’t like it. He was ejected and replaced by John Andreoli. Luke Raley got the scoring started in the third inning. He singled in Miguel Sano to give the team a 1-0 lead. Durham got their three runs in the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, MIguel Sano came up with the bases loaded and walked. That was followed by the fourth home run of the season for John Andreoli, a grand slam that gave the Wings a 6-3 lead. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/1127648294103060482 Addison Reed came on for Thorpe in the eighth inning. He gave up one run on three hits, but he received some help from his defense. A two-out single would have scored a second run and cut the lead to one, but Brent Rooker charged and made a strong throw to the plate to get the third out. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/1127675782279716864 (I watched that eighth inning. From reports I’ve heard, Reed is sitting 87-89 mph with the fastball, certainly not where it was while he was one of the better relievers in baseball. His slider actually didn’t look too bad. But he will need, likely, the full 30 days of rehab and then see where he is at. It’s possible that he could continue to rehab, or the optimist’s view would be that he finds that velocity and is able to be a late-inning cog for the Twins. That feels a little bit optimistic, even more me, at this point.) Preston Guilmet came on for the ninth inning. He allowed two base runners, but recorded a strikeout to end the game. Thorpe improved to 3-2 and Guilmet recorded his fourth save. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola, Chattanooga Box Score Jorge Alcala was supposed to pitch for the Wahoos on Sunday, but instead he will make a start on Monday. In fact, the game was suspended due to poor weather and field conditions and a double header will be played on Monday. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers Box Score The Miracle did not have a game on the schedule for Mother’s Day. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids Box Score The Kernels did not have a game on the schedule for Mother’s Day. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Lewis Thorpe, Rochester Red Wings Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – John Andreoli, Rochester Red Wings PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Rained Out. #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Rained Out. #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled. #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-4, HBP, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (100 pitches, 70 strikes) #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - No Game Scheduled #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - No Game Scheduled #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch. #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 0-1, K (ejected) #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Rained Out. Will Start Monday. #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester - No Game Scheduled. Pensacola @ Chattanooga (DH @ 5:15 CST) - RHP Jorge Alcala (4-1, 4.81), RHP Brusdar Graterol (4-0, 1.91 ERA) Bradenton @ Ft. Myers (5:30 CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (DH @ 5:30 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-1, 2.45 ERA), RHP Austin Schulfer (3-1, 2.38 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  11. Happy Mothers Day! The Midwest League and the Florida State League did not have games scheduled on Mothers Day. Pensacola was in Chattanooga, but the rains came and wiped out their game. The weather in Rochester, NY, was not good, but they were able to get their game in. Find out how Miguel Sano, Lewis Thorpe and the Red Wings did. Also, who were the choices for Twins Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week?Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS RHP Zack Weiss was activated from the Injured List.If you missed the late-Saturday night Twins transactions, here you go:v yler Duffey, the 26th man in the double header, was sent back to Rochester. Kohl Stewart was optioned to Rochester with Martin Perez coming back from the paternity list. Also, Willians Astudillo was activated from the Injured List and Romero was optioned to Rochester.AWARDS The Twins announced their weekly Hitter and Pitcher of the Week: Hitter of the Week: Trevor Larnach, Ft. Myers Miracle.It t was a big week for the Twins 2018 first-round draft pick out of Oregon State In six games, he hit .440 (11-for-25) with two double and two home runs, his first two of the season.Pitcher of the Week: Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle -Called up from Cedar Rapids, Balazovic made his first start for Ft. Myers… and threw seven perfect innings. He also had 10 strikeouts in the game. He was the Twins 5th round pick out of secondary school in Mississauga, Ontario, in 2016. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6, Durham 4 Box Score The Red Wings were the only Twins affiliate to get their game in on Sunday. However, the weather was cold and drizzly throughout the game, so the Red Wings are actually treating the game like a rain check and allowing fans who were there to get another ticket later in the season. Very nice. Lewis Thorpe made the start for the Red Wings. He gave up three runs on five hits. He didn’t walk any batters and struck out seven. The three runs came on back-to-back home run balls. Things were interesting for the Red Wings offense right from the start. Nick Gordon doubled to lead off the winning, but a couple of pitches earlier, he may have tweaked a muscle. He left the game in the 3rd inning. Two batters later, LaMonte Wade took a called third strike and didn’t like it. He was ejected and replaced by John Andreoli. Luke Raley got the scoring started in the third inning. He singled in Miguel Sano to give the team a 1-0 lead. Durham got their three runs in the fourth inning. In the bottom of the fourth, MIguel Sano came up with the bases loaded and walked. That was followed by the fourth home run of the season for John Andreoli, a grand slam that gave the Wings a 6-3 lead. (I watched that eighth inning. From reports I’ve heard, Reed is sitting 87-89 mph with the fastball, certainly not where it was while he was one of the better relievers in baseball. His slider actually didn’t look too bad. But he will need, likely, the full 30 days of rehab and then see where he is at. It’s possible that he could continue to rehab, or the optimist’s view would be that he finds that velocity and is able to be a late-inning cog for the Twins. That feels a little bit optimistic, even more me, at this point.) Preston Guilmet came on for the ninth inning. He allowed two base runners, but recorded a strikeout to end the game. Thorpe improved to 3-2 and Guilmet recorded his fourth save. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola, Chattanooga Box Score Jorge Alcala was supposed to pitch for the Wahoos on Sunday, but instead he will make a start on Monday. In fact, the game was suspended due to poor weather and field conditions and a double header will be played on Monday. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers Box Score The Miracle did not have a game on the schedule for Mother’s Day. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids Box Score The Kernels did not have a game on the schedule for Mother’s Day. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Lewis Thorpe, Rochester Red Wings Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – John Andreoli, Rochester Red Wings PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Rained Out. #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Rained Out. #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled. #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-4, HBP, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - 7 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K (100 pitches, 70 strikes) #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - No Game Scheduled #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - No Game Scheduled #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch. #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 0-1, K (ejected) #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Rained Out. Will Start Monday. #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester - No Game Scheduled. Pensacola @ Chattanooga (DH @ 5:15 CST) - RHP Jorge Alcala (4-1, 4.81), RHP Brusdar Graterol (4-0, 1.91 ERA) Bradenton @ Ft. Myers (5:30 CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (DH @ 5:30 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-1, 2.45 ERA), RHP Austin Schulfer (3-1, 2.38 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games. Click here to view the article
  12. Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the awards and transactions of the day. AWARDS Every Sunday, the Twins announce their Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week. Here are this week’s winners. Hitter of the Week: Chris Williams, C/1B, Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Twins eighth-round pick in 2018 out of Clemson, Williams his .333 (6-for-18) with three homers. He also walked six times. Pitcher of the Week: Jorge Alcala, RHP, Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Acquired last July from the Astros, Alcala made one start last week. He threw five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, no walks and struck out eight. In case you missed any of them, Twins Daily named it’s Award winners for April. Hitter of the Month - Trey Cabbage Starting Pitcher of the Month - Devin Smeltzer Relief Pitcher of the Month - Ryan Mason TRANSACTIONS RHP Ryan Mason was activated from the injured list. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester, Pawtucket Box Score It was raining which caused this game to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 7th. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 9, Biloxi 2 Box Score Things started out really well for the Wahoos on Sunday. The team’s first two hitters, Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff, each singled. Then Miguel Sano followed with a long, three-run home run. The team added a fourth, first-inning run on Jaylin Davis’s fourth home run of the year. https://twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall/status/1125116147538509827 Griffin Jax started the game. He gave up two unearned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings of work. Ryan Mason, fresh off the IL, worked the final 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run. He struck out three. Jax improved to 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA while Mason recorded his fifth save and kept his ERA at 0.00. Jaylin Davis went 2-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home urn of the year. Caleb Hamilton gave some extra cushion in the eighth inning when he hit a bases-clearing double, his sixth double of the year. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 0 Box Score Jordan Balazovic was promoted to the Miracle over the weekend, and on Sunday, he made his Florida State League debut. It is hard to imagine that it could have possibly gone any better. Balazovic, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school near Toronto, threw seven perfect innings. Not just scoreless. Not even just hitless. Perfect. He needed 97 pitches to complete seven innings. No hits. No walks. And he struck out ten batters. His catcher, 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers, was impressed. “He (Balazovic) did amazing. He was in complete control from the beginning and he didn’t even really have his offspeed for the first couple of innings.” Jeffers continued, “He definitely settled in after one or two innings. He had his curveball, his changeup. He had it all working. We were able to throw any pitch in any count, and he was executing all day. It was something special for me to watch as a catcher. I’m putting down the signs, and he’s the one executing all the pitches. All credit to him for putting on such a great performance today.” Because of the pitch count, he was removed after seven innings and replaced by RHP Anthony Vizcaya. After getting the first out in the eighth frame, Vizcaya gave up a double off of the wall in left field to end the perfect game and no-hitter. He issued a walk after that, but he finished that inning with two strikeouts to end the threat. He worked a perfect ninth inning to complete the shutout. It was Vizcaya’s second save of the season. Jeffers was instrumental in the near-perfecto, but he also led the offense on Sunday afternoon. Jeffers started the season by going 1-for-17 (.059), but after going 4-for-4 on Sunday, he is now hitting .295. He added his second homer of the season as well. His approach throughout the early slump is part of what helped him start to take off since those early struggles. “Team-wide, we started out a little slow, but we are all starting to settle in, put good at-bats together and string them together. We’re putting up a lot of runs and hits consistently.” Of course, hitting in the Florida State League is never an easy thing. Big ballparks and high humidity have a tendency to subdue offensive production. Jeffers noted, “You just try to eliminate it from your mind. There’s nothing you can do about how big the parks are and how the ball doesn’t fly. You just continue to do what you do. You find consistent barrels and it will eventually drop. You’re going to find holes, and you’re going to find gaps.” Jeffers’ homer gave the Miracle a 1-0 lead. In the seventh inning, the Miracle added on. Royce Lewis doubled in Jeffers and Malique Ziegler to give them a 3-0 lead. In the top of the ninth, they added another on an RBI double off the bat of Jose Miranda. Lewis and Trevor Larnach each went 2-for-5 with a double. Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-4 with a double. The Miracle are now 20-10 on the season, and Jeffers is excited to be a part of this talented young team. “We feel really good right now as a team. We trust everyone on this team, everybody and the plate and everybody that we roll out on the mound. We’re just playing well and we want to keep it rolling.” KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Dayton 0 Box Score Most days, the pitching line from Cole Sands’ Sunday start would easily make him the Pitcher of the Day. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a terrific line. The right-hander from Florida State used 99 pitches to complete seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six batters. Before today, Sands' previous career high for innings pitched in a game was five. His catcher today, David Banuelos, noted that the only other time that the two had worked together this season was Sands' first start of the year, his first pro start. In that game, Sands threw five no-hit innings with eight strikeouts. Banuelos could tell early that Sands had his good stuff. "From the bullpen, I could see everything was working well. From when the first inning started, it was going to be a good day. He was throwing strikes, getting guys out with every single pitch. He was just attacking guys, getting ahead early and stuck with it through the whole game. Both our guys did well, him and Schulfer pitched well today. Our staff has done pretty well this entire year." Austin Schulfer worked the final two innings to complete the shutout. The Kernels got things going right away in the first inning. Chris Williams knocked in the first run with his first of two doubles on that day. He then scored on a Gilberto Celestino single. The next inning, Gabriel Maciel singled in Banuelos to give the team an early 3-0 lead. Banuelos added some insurance in the seventh inning when he hit a solo home run. It was his second long ball of the year. Banuelos said he's feeling good at the plate too. "I feel confident, trying to take it one day at a time and not press, and try to build off of it." TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Ft. Myers Miracle PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(3), 2 RBI, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, R #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(10), K #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Rained Out #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Rained Out #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 4-4, HR(2), 2 R, RBI #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, RBI #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Rained Out #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, BB, 2B(6), RBI, K MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester - No Game Scheduled. Pensacola @ Mississippi (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.57 ERA) Ft. Myers @ Charlotte (5:30 CST) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-0, 2.53 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  13. Most days, the pitching lines from Cedar Rapids RHP Cole Sands or Pensacola RHP Griffin would garner Pitcher of the Day consideration. And based on the previous sentence, it was given some thought. But what Jordan Balazovic did in his Miracle debut on Sunday afternoon was really impressive. Three Twins affiliates played and all three won on a great day for the Twins' minor league affiliates.Find out everything that happened happened in the Twins system on Sunday, starting with the awards and transactions of the day. AWARDS Every Sunday, the Twins announce their Minor League Hitter and Pitcher of the Week. Here are this week’s winners. Hitter of the Week: Chris Williams, C/1B, Cedar Rapids Kernels. The Twins eighth-round pick in 2018 out of Clemson, Williams his .333 (6-for-18) with three homers. He also walked six times.Pitcher of the Week: Jorge Alcala, RHP, Pensacola Blue Wahoos. Acquired last July from the Astros, Alcala made one start last week. He threw five shutout innings. He gave up five hits, no walks and struck out eight.In case you missed any of them, Twins Daily named it’s Award winners for April.Hitter of the Month - Trey CabbageStarting Pitcher of the Month - Devin SmeltzerRelief Pitcher of the Month - Ryan MasonTRANSACTIONSRHP Ryan Mason was activated from the injured list.RED WINGS REPORTRochester, Pawtucket Box Score It was raining which caused this game to be postponed. It will be made up as part of a doubleheader on June 7th. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 9, Biloxi 2 Box Score Things started out really well for the Wahoos on Sunday. The team’s first two hitters, Luis Arraez and Alex Kirilloff, each singled. Then Miguel Sano followed with a long, three-run home run. The team added a fourth, first-inning run on Jaylin Davis’s fourth home run of the year. Griffin Jax started the game. He gave up two unearned runs on five hits. He walked one and struck out five in 6 2/3 innings of work. Ryan Mason, fresh off the IL, worked the final 2 1/3 innings without allowing a run. He struck out three. Jax improved to 2-0 with a 0.53 ERA while Mason recorded his fifth save and kept his ERA at 0.00. Jaylin Davis went 2-for-3 with a walk and his fourth home urn of the year. Caleb Hamilton gave some extra cushion in the eighth inning when he hit a bases-clearing double, his sixth double of the year. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 4, Palm Beach 0 Box Score Jordan Balazovic was promoted to the Miracle over the weekend, and on Sunday, he made his Florida State League debut. It is hard to imagine that it could have possibly gone any better. Balazovic, the Twins fifth-round pick in 2016 out of high school near Toronto, threw seven perfect innings. Not just scoreless. Not even just hitless. Perfect. He needed 97 pitches to complete seven innings. No hits. No walks. And he struck out ten batters. His catcher, 2018 second-round pick Ryan Jeffers, was impressed. “He (Balazovic) did amazing. He was in complete control from the beginning and he didn’t even really have his offspeed for the first couple of innings.” Jeffers continued, “He definitely settled in after one or two innings. He had his curveball, his changeup. He had it all working. We were able to throw any pitch in any count, and he was executing all day. It was something special for me to watch as a catcher. I’m putting down the signs, and he’s the one executing all the pitches. All credit to him for putting on such a great performance today.” Because of the pitch count, he was removed after seven innings and replaced by RHP Anthony Vizcaya. After getting the first out in the eighth frame, Vizcaya gave up a double off of the wall in left field to end the perfect game and no-hitter. He issued a walk after that, but he finished that inning with two strikeouts to end the threat. He worked a perfect ninth inning to complete the shutout. It was Vizcaya’s second save of the season. Jeffers was instrumental in the near-perfecto, but he also led the offense on Sunday afternoon. Jeffers started the season by going 1-for-17 (.059), but after going 4-for-4 on Sunday, he is now hitting .295. He added his second homer of the season as well. His approach throughout the early slump is part of what helped him start to take off since those early struggles. “Team-wide, we started out a little slow, but we are all starting to settle in, put good at-bats together and string them together. We’re putting up a lot of runs and hits consistently.” Of course, hitting in the Florida State League is never an easy thing. Big ballparks and high humidity have a tendency to subdue offensive production. Jeffers noted, “You just try to eliminate it from your mind. There’s nothing you can do about how big the parks are and how the ball doesn’t fly. You just continue to do what you do. You find consistent barrels and it will eventually drop. You’re going to find holes, and you’re going to find gaps.” Jeffers’ homer gave the Miracle a 1-0 lead. In the seventh inning, the Miracle added on. Royce Lewis doubled in Jeffers and Malique Ziegler to give them a 3-0 lead. In the top of the ninth, they added another on an RBI double off the bat of Jose Miranda. Lewis and Trevor Larnach each went 2-for-5 with a double. Aaron Whitefield went 2-for-4 with a double. The Miracle are now 20-10 on the season, and Jeffers is excited to be a part of this talented young team. “We feel really good right now as a team. We trust everyone on this team, everybody and the plate and everybody that we roll out on the mound. We’re just playing well and we want to keep it rolling.” KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 4, Dayton 0 Box Score Most days, the pitching line from Cole Sands’ Sunday start would easily make him the Pitcher of the Day. Instead, he’ll have to settle for a terrific line. The right-hander from Florida State used 99 pitches to complete seven shutout innings. He gave up three hits, walked none and struck out six batters. Before today, Sands' previous career high for innings pitched in a game was five. His catcher today, David Banuelos, noted that the only other time that the two had worked together this season was Sands' first start of the year, his first pro start. In that game, Sands threw five no-hit innings with eight strikeouts. Banuelos could tell early that Sands had his good stuff. "From the bullpen, I could see everything was working well. From when the first inning started, it was going to be a good day. He was throwing strikes, getting guys out with every single pitch. He was just attacking guys, getting ahead early and stuck with it through the whole game. Both our guys did well, him and Schulfer pitched well today. Our staff has done pretty well this entire year." Austin Schulfer worked the final two innings to complete the shutout. The Kernels got things going right away in the first inning. Chris Williams knocked in the first run with his first of two doubles on that day. He then scored on a Gilberto Celestino single. The next inning, Gabriel Maciel singled in Banuelos to give the team an early 3-0 lead. Banuelos added some insurance in the seventh inning when he hit a solo home run. It was his second long ball of the year. Banuelos said he's feeling good at the plate too. "I feel confident, trying to take it one day at a time and not press, and try to build off of it." TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Ft. Myers Miracle Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Ft. Myers Miracle PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(3), 2 RBI, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-4, R #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2B(10), K #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - Injured, early May return #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Rained Out #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Rained Out #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List, late-May return possible #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 4-4, HR(2), 2 R, RBI #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-3, RBI #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Did Not Pitch #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - Rained Out #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, BB, 2B(6), RBI, K MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester - No Game Scheduled. Pensacola @ Mississippi (6:35 CST) - RHP Sean Poppen (2-1, 2.57 ERA) Ft. Myers @ Charlotte (5:30 CST) - TBD Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05 CST) - RHP Josh Winder (1-0, 2.53 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games. Click here to view the article
  14. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Six Starters for April, there are some terrific starting performers that just missed the cut. In fact, I find this month’s rankings really difficult, especially at the top, so I’m going to rank a Top 6 instead of five. You can discuss who should rank higher or lower. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Brusdar Graterol - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 5 GS, 27.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP. 16 H, 12 BB, 28 K RHP Josh Winder - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 21.1 IP, 2.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 18 H, 6 BB, 23 K RHP Cole Sands - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 19.0 IP, 2.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 15 H, 9 BB, 22 K RHP Sean Poppen - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 4 G/3 GS, 17.0 IP, 1.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 13 H, 8 BB, 27 K THE TOP SIX STARTING PITCHERS #6 - LHP Bryan Sammons - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 0.40 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 16 H, 12 BB, 25 K Bryan Sammons was the Twins eighth-round pick in 2017 out of Western Carolina. Last year, he spent most of the season with Cedar Rapids but made a handful of starts for Ft. Myers and even one start in AA. He was the Miracle Opening Day starter this year and has been good. He has had plenty of bend (1.25 WHIP) but didn’t break (2 R, 1 ER in 22.1 IP) in the season’s first month. The southpaw has a solid four-pitch mix and knows how to pitch. #5 - RHP Jordan Balazovic - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 20.2 IP, 2.18 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 15 H, 4 BB, 33 K In 2016, the Twins drafted four high school hitters with their first four draft picks. Fast-forward to the sixth round and they took a high school pitcher from Canada, Jordan Balazovic. He slowly worked through the Twins rookie leagues and joined Cedar Rapids last summer where he impressed in 12 games. He returned to the Kernels to start 2019 and continued to pitch well. He has had good pitchability since signing, but he’s added velocity in the last two years and now gets a lot of strikeouts. He could be a promotion candidate. #4 - RHP Randy Dobnak - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 0.40 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 18 H, 4 BB, 14 K Dobnak is a bit of an old school pitcher. He stands on the mound, takes the sign, mixes a few pitches, but generally just attacks the strike zone. So, he isn’t going to get a ton of strikes, but he is able to avoid hard contact. But that isn’t to minimize his stuff. He sits in the low-90s but can pump it up to 95 when needed. He mixes in a good breaking ball and an improved changeup. Dobnak went undrafted after four solid years at Alderson-Broaddus College (WV). He was set to play independent ball when the Twins called him. He was promoted from the Miracle to the Blue Wahoos on May 1st. #3 - RHP Griffin Jax - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 5 GS, 0.66 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 27.1 IP, 19 H, 9 BB, 20 K Speaking of that 2016 draft, the Twins first college player picked was Jax, a third-rounder from Air Force. About this time last year, he learned that he would be able to start playing baseball full-time, and he has done quite well. Last year, he pitched for the Miracle and then worked in the Arizona Fall League. Jax isn’t overpowering, but like Dobnak can add a couple of ticks to his low-90s fastball at times. He’s got a really good slider that can induce weak contact. #2 - RHP Bailey Ober - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 24.0 WHIP, 24.0 IP, 18 H, 3 BB, 26 K Bailey Ober was the national freshman of the year his first year of college. Unfortunately since then, he has fought a lot of injuries. He’s had Tommy John surgery, some back issues and other ailments that have certainly slowed his progression. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. Last year when he got to Cedar Rapids, he started pitching quite well but an elbow injury ended his season a month early. His April was really good. He provided length in his starts, he threw a lot of strikes, he missed a lot of bats. I mean, things were going so well for Ober that his high school catcher got drafted by the Vikings in the first round. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, he was placed on the 7 Day IL retroactive to 4/29 with right ulnar nerve subluxation. Hopefully it’s just precautionary or a way to control innings. And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is: Pensacola Blue Wahoos - LHP Devin Smeltzer - 5 GS, 0.60 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 30.0 IP, 19 H, 3 BB, 33 K Smeltzer was the Dodgers fifth-round pick in 2016 out of a junior college. He pitched in AA last year and halfway through the season they moved him to the bullpen. That’s where he pitched for Chattanooga last year and then in the Arizona Fall League. But this spring, he was given another opportunity to start and it has proven to be a good decision. Smeltzer had a terrific first month of starts. He didn’t give up a run until his third start. In his second start, he threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings, only removed because he hit 85 pitches. He averaged six innings per start even though he only threw four innings in his third start. He was hit in the head by a line drive, but even that didn’t slow him. He made his next start on schedule. What a month. As you can see, he limited base runners. He threw a lot of strikes, not hurting himself with walks. And he also missed bats, striking out more than a batter per inning. Smeltzer doesn’t throw real hard, topping out around 92. But he mixes his pitches well, has a good breaking ball, and a little deception in his delivery. While Smeltzer’s story - overcame childhood cancer - is a great one, people also need to recognize that he is a really good pitcher with a big league future. Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of April, Pensacola Blue Wahoos left-hander Devin Smeltzer. Feel free to discuss and ask questions.
  15. Yesterday, we announced our choice for Twins Minor League Hitter of the Month. Today, we will look at a large group of starting pitchers who had strong starts to their season. The rankings were really difficult, so be sure to add your rankings as well.Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Six Starters for April, there are some terrific starting performers that just missed the cut. In fact, I find this month’s rankings really difficult, especially at the top, so I’m going to rank a Top 6 instead of five. You can discuss who should rank higher or lower. HONORABLE MENTION RHP Brusdar Graterol - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 5 GS, 27.1 IP, 2.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP. 16 H, 12 BB, 28 KRHP Josh Winder - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 21.1 IP, 2.53 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 18 H, 6 BB, 23 KRHP Cole Sands - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 19.0 IP, 2.37 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 15 H, 9 BB, 22 KRHP Sean Poppen - Pensacola Blue Wahoos/Rochester Red Wings - 4 G/3 GS, 17.0 IP, 1.59 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 13 H, 8 BB, 27 KTHE TOP SIX STARTING PITCHERS #6 - LHP Bryan Sammons - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 5 GS, 0.40 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 16 H, 12 BB, 25 K Bryan Sammons was the Twins eighth-round pick in 2017 out of Western Carolina. Last year, he spent most of the season with Cedar Rapids but made a handful of starts for Ft. Myers and even one start in AA. He was the Miracle Opening Day starter this year and has been good. He has had plenty of bend (1.25 WHIP) but didn’t break (2 R, 1 ER in 22.1 IP) in the season’s first month. The southpaw has a solid four-pitch mix and knows how to pitch. #5 - RHP Jordan Balazovic - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 4 GS, 20.2 IP, 2.18 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 15 H, 4 BB, 33 K In 2016, the Twins drafted four high school hitters with their first four draft picks. Fast-forward to the sixth round and they took a high school pitcher from Canada, Jordan Balazovic. He slowly worked through the Twins rookie leagues and joined Cedar Rapids last summer where he impressed in 12 games. He returned to the Kernels to start 2019 and continued to pitch well. He has had good pitchability since signing, but he’s added velocity in the last two years and now gets a lot of strikeouts. He could be a promotion candidate. #4 - RHP Randy Dobnak - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 0.40 ERA, 0.99 WHIP, 22.1 IP, 18 H, 4 BB, 14 K Dobnak is a bit of an old school pitcher. He stands on the mound, takes the sign, mixes a few pitches, but generally just attacks the strike zone. So, he isn’t going to get a ton of strikes, but he is able to avoid hard contact. But that isn’t to minimize his stuff. He sits in the low-90s but can pump it up to 95 when needed. He mixes in a good breaking ball and an improved changeup. Dobnak went undrafted after four solid years at Alderson-Broaddus College (WV). He was set to play independent ball when the Twins called him. He was promoted from the Miracle to the Blue Wahoos on May 1st. #3 - RHP Griffin Jax - Pensacola Blue Wahoos - 5 GS, 0.66 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 27.1 IP, 19 H, 9 BB, 20 K Speaking of that 2016 draft, the Twins first college player picked was Jax, a third-rounder from Air Force. About this time last year, he learned that he would be able to start playing baseball full-time, and he has done quite well. Last year, he pitched for the Miracle and then worked in the Arizona Fall League. Jax isn’t overpowering, but like Dobnak can add a couple of ticks to his low-90s fastball at times. He’s got a really good slider that can induce weak contact. #2 - RHP Bailey Ober - Ft. Myers Miracle - 4 GS, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP, 24.0 WHIP, 24.0 IP, 18 H, 3 BB, 26 K Bailey Ober was the national freshman of the year his first year of college. Unfortunately since then, he has fought a lot of injuries. He’s had Tommy John surgery, some back issues and other ailments that have certainly slowed his progression. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round in 2017 out of the College of Charleston. Last year when he got to Cedar Rapids, he started pitching quite well but an elbow injury ended his season a month early. His April was really good. He provided length in his starts, he threw a lot of strikes, he missed a lot of bats. I mean, things were going so well for Ober that his high school catcher got drafted by the Vikings in the first round. Unfortunately, on Tuesday, he was placed on the 7 Day IL retroactive to 4/29 with right ulnar nerve subluxation. Hopefully it’s just precautionary or a way to control innings. And the Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month is: Pensacola Blue Wahoos - LHP Devin Smeltzer - 5 GS, 0.60 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 30.0 IP, 19 H, 3 BB, 33 K Smeltzer was the Dodgers fifth-round pick in 2016 out of a junior college. He pitched in AA last year and halfway through the season they moved him to the bullpen. That’s where he pitched for Chattanooga last year and then in the Arizona Fall League. But this spring, he was given another opportunity to start and it has proven to be a good decision. Smeltzer had a terrific first month of starts. He didn’t give up a run until his third start. In his second start, he threw 8 1/3 scoreless innings, only removed because he hit 85 pitches. He averaged six innings per start even though he only threw four innings in his third start. He was hit in the head by a line drive, but even that didn’t slow him. He made his next start on schedule. What a month. As you can see, he limited base runners. He threw a lot of strikes, not hurting himself with walks. And he also missed bats, striking out more than a batter per inning. Smeltzer doesn’t throw real hard, topping out around 92. But he mixes his pitches well, has a good breaking ball, and a little deception in his delivery. While Smeltzer’s story - overcame childhood cancer - is a great one, people also need to recognize that he is a really good pitcher with a big league future. Congratulations to our Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month of April, Pensacola Blue Wahoos left-hander Devin Smeltzer. Feel free to discuss and ask questions. Click here to view the article
  16. TRANSACTIONS Matt Magill was activated from his rehab assignment and has joined the Twins. In 5 1/3 innings with Rochester, he had eight strikeouts and only gave up one run on two hits and a walk. Left-handed pitcher Daniel Camerena was transferred from Rochester to Pensacola. RED WINGS REPORT Pawtucket 17, Rochester 5 Box Score Chase De Jong: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 51.5% strikes (17 of 33 pitches) HR: Zander Wiel (5), Tomas Telis (3) Multi-hit games: Telis (3-for-4, HR, RBI, 2 R), Wiel (2-for-4, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), LaMonte Wade (2-for-4) Chase De Jong could use a hug. After being outrighted off the Twins’ 40-man roster earlier in the day, De Jong got rocked in his start Friday evening. He gave up seven runs, all earned, while recording just one out. And if you see Ryan Eades, offer him a warm embrace as well. Eades was the first man out of the pen. He gave up seven more runs over an inning and a third. The Red Wings were trailing 16-0 after the top of the second inning. Ouch. Catcher Tomas Telis, who signed as a minor league free agent this winter, had a three-hit game highlighted by his third home run. He’s hitting .325 with a .989 OPS so far this season. Zander Wiel had a triple and his fifth home run. Tyler Duffey struck out four in 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his return to Triple A. Andrew Vasquez and Austin Adams each turned in a pair of scoreless innings. Brent Rooker was out in left field for the first two innings of this game, but when his spot in the lineup came up in the bottom of the second he was removed from the game. I’ll try to circle back and see if I can find more details as to why once the Twins game is over/recap is all done. UPDATE: It's believed that Rooker may have aggravated a hamstring injury that had kept him out of a few games earlier, but nothing official. BLUE WAHOO BITES Jackson 12, Pensacola 7 Box Score Jorge Alcala: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 57.1% strikes (40 of 70 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Jaylin Davis (4-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), Luis Arraez (2-for-4, BB, RBI, R), Tanner English (2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R), Drew Maggi (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R) Jorge Alcala made such a good first impression in 2019, heading into this start 4-0 with an excellent 1.02 WHIP and eye-popping 8.33 K:BB ratio, but everything took a turn for the worse tonight. The Blue Wahoos jumped out to a 3-0 lead but Alcala couldn’t take advantage. He gave up three runs in the third inning then two more in the fourth before even recording an out that inning. He was his own worst enemy. Alcala walked three batters, hit another, was called for a balk and committed a fielding error. I feel like that has to be some sort of pitcher’s nightmare bingo or something. Tyler Jay allowed two runners he inherited from Alcala to score and it appeared the rout was on. Jackson opened up a 9-3 lead, but Pensacola would not go down quietly. They rallied back to pull within two runs, but the Generals responded with a three-run inning of their own. Jaylin Davis had a big night, going 4-for-5, and is now hitting .351 with a .962 OPS on the season. Travis Blankenhorn started at second base and went 1-for-4 with an RBI single in his Double-A debut. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Palm Beach 3 Box Score Bailey Ober: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 74.0% strikes (54 of 73 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Akil Baddoo (3-for-5), Ryan Jeffers (2-for-5, 2B), Michael Helman (2-for-4) What an incredible way to open a season. With six more scoreless innings, Ober is now up to 24 innings and he has yet to give up an earned run. He struck out five batters and walked one tonight, putting him up to 26 strikeouts against just three walks on the season. Runs have been incredibly tough to come by for Fort Myers, as they’ve scored just 19 runs over their past nine games. The Miracle scored all four of their runs in the fourth inning. Ryan Jeffers got things started with a leadoff double, Michael Helman drove him in on a single and a Ryan Costello hit-by-pitch followed by an Aaron Whitefield walk loaded the bases with no outs. Mark Contreras came up and grounded out to first base, but a throwing error on the double-play attempt allowed two more runs to score. To top it off, an errant pickoff attempt allowed Whitefield to score. So not exactly an offensive explosion that inning, but this team will take any runs it can get. Johan Quezada gave up a two-run homer in the eighth and Tom Hackimer walked the bases loaded to open the ninth, but the Miracle turned a double play. The runner at third successfully tagged up to score on a fly to left field, but the trail runner was thrown out trying to advance to third on a relay from Contreras to Jeffers to third baseman Jose Miranda. Hackimer was ejected before he could finish wiggling out of his own jam. Hector Lujan was pressed into action and struck out the only batter he faced to end the game. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Kane County 2 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 67.1% strikes (55 of 82 pitches) HR: Joe Cronin (1) Multi-hit games: Cronin (3-for-4, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), Gabe Snyder (2-for-4, 2B, R) This was Jordan Balazovic’s fourth start of the season. He’s given up no more than four hits, two runs and has had at least seven strikeouts in all four. He surrendered his first home run of the season tonight, but that was the only earned run he gave up in his six innings. Balazovic has now struck out 33 batters and walked just four in his 20 2/3 innings (8.25 K:BB ratio). Balazovic exited this game with the Kernels trailing 2-0, but a Joe Cronin two-run homer evened things up in the seventh. Cedar Rapids added three more runs in the eighth, thanks to a Gilberto Celestino RBI double and a David Banuelos two-run single. Cronin was a hit shy of the cycle, and it's not the one you're probably thinking. He was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and that home run. It's not often you see a guy fall a single short of a cycle. Jacob Blank pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and Joe Record was perfect over the final 1 1/3 frames to earn his fourth save. Record has a 0.00 ERA, 13 strikeouts and just one walk in six innings so far. He was drafted in the 28th round back in 2017, but he had elbow and knee injuries that prevented him from making his pro debut until this year. He appears intent on making up for lost time. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Bailey Ober, Fort Myers Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Joe Cronin, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-5, 2 K 4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 0-for-4, BB, 2 K 6. Brent Rooker (ROC): Removed in the second inning prior to his plate appearance. 10. Akil Baddoo (FM): 3-for-5, SB 13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 2-for-5, 2B, R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 1-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI, R, 2 K 18. LaMonte Wade (ROC): 2-for-4, BB, K 19. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 3.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K 20. Jose Miranda (FM): 0-for-1, BB SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs. Pawtucket, 12:05 pm CT (TBD) Pensacola at Jackson, 6:05 pm CT, (Brusdar Graterol) Fort Myers vs. Palm Beach, 5 pm CT (Charlie Barnes) Cedar Rapids at Kane County, 1 pm CT (Cole Sands) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.
  17. Bailey Ober pitched six more scoreless innings tonight for Fort Myers, keeping his ERA at a perfect 0.00 through 24 frames so far this season. Jordan Balazovic also impressed, once again, for Cedar Rapids. Come check out what else happened down on the farm Friday.TRANSACTIONS Matt Magill was activated from his rehab assignment and has joined the Twins. In 5 1/3 innings with Rochester, he had eight strikeouts and only gave up one run on two hits and a walk. Left-handed pitcher Daniel Camerena was transferred from Rochester to Pensacola. RED WINGS REPORT Pawtucket 17, Rochester 5 Box Score Chase De Jong: 0.1 IP, 4 H, 7 ER, 3 BB, 0 K, 51.5% strikes (17 of 33 pitches) HR: Zander Wiel (5), Tomas Telis (3) Multi-hit games: Telis (3-for-4, HR, RBI, 2 R), Wiel (2-for-4, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), LaMonte Wade (2-for-4) Chase De Jong could use a hug. After being outrighted off the Twins’ 40-man roster earlier in the day, De Jong got rocked in his start Friday evening. He gave up seven runs, all earned, while recording just one out. And if you see Ryan Eades, offer him a warm embrace as well. Eades was the first man out of the pen. He gave up seven more runs over an inning and a third. The Red Wings were trailing 16-0 after the top of the second inning. Ouch. Catcher Tomas Telis, who signed as a minor league free agent this winter, had a three-hit game highlighted by his third home run. He’s hitting .325 with a .989 OPS so far this season. Zander Wiel had a triple and his fifth home run. Tyler Duffey struck out four in 2 2/3 scoreless innings in his return to Triple A. Andrew Vasquez and Austin Adams each turned in a pair of scoreless innings. Brent Rooker was out in left field for the first two innings of this game, but when his spot in the lineup came up in the bottom of the second he was removed from the game. I’ll try to circle back and see if I can find more details as to why once the Twins game is over/recap is all done. UPDATE: It's believed that Rooker may have aggravated a hamstring injury that had kept him out of a few games earlier, but nothing official. BLUE WAHOO BITES Jackson 12, Pensacola 7 Box Score Jorge Alcala: 3.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 57.1% strikes (40 of 70 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Jaylin Davis (4-for-5, 2 2B, 2 RBI, 2 R), Luis Arraez (2-for-4, BB, RBI, R), Tanner English (2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R), Drew Maggi (2-for-4, 2B, 2 R) Jorge Alcala made such a good first impression in 2019, heading into this start 4-0 with an excellent 1.02 WHIP and eye-popping 8.33 K:BB ratio, but everything took a turn for the worse tonight. The Blue Wahoos jumped out to a 3-0 lead but Alcala couldn’t take advantage. He gave up three runs in the third inning then two more in the fourth before even recording an out that inning. He was his own worst enemy. Alcala walked three batters, hit another, was called for a balk and committed a fielding error. I feel like that has to be some sort of pitcher’s nightmare bingo or something. Tyler Jay allowed two runners he inherited from Alcala to score and it appeared the rout was on. Jackson opened up a 9-3 lead, but Pensacola would not go down quietly. They rallied back to pull within two runs, but the Generals responded with a three-run inning of their own. Jaylin Davis had a big night, going 4-for-5, and is now hitting .351 with a .962 OPS on the season. Travis Blankenhorn started at second base and went 1-for-4 with an RBI single in his Double-A debut. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Palm Beach 3 Box Score Bailey Ober: 6.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K, 74.0% strikes (54 of 73 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Akil Baddoo (3-for-5), Ryan Jeffers (2-for-5, 2B), Michael Helman (2-for-4) What an incredible way to open a season. With six more scoreless innings, Ober is now up to 24 innings and he has yet to give up an earned run. He struck out five batters and walked one tonight, putting him up to 26 strikeouts against just three walks on the season. Runs have been incredibly tough to come by for Fort Myers, as they’ve scored just 19 runs over their past nine games. The Miracle scored all four of their runs in the fourth inning. Ryan Jeffers got things started with a leadoff double, Michael Helman drove him in on a single and a Ryan Costello hit-by-pitch followed by an Aaron Whitefield walk loaded the bases with no outs. Mark Contreras came up and grounded out to first base, but a throwing error on the double-play attempt allowed two more runs to score. To top it off, an errant pickoff attempt allowed Whitefield to score. So not exactly an offensive explosion that inning, but this team will take any runs it can get. Johan Quezada gave up a two-run homer in the eighth and Tom Hackimer walked the bases loaded to open the ninth, but the Miracle turned a double play. The runner at third successfully tagged up to score on a fly to left field, but the trail runner was thrown out trying to advance to third on a relay from Contreras to Jeffers to third baseman Jose Miranda. Hackimer was ejected before he could finish wiggling out of his own jam. Hector Lujan was pressed into action and struck out the only batter he faced to end the game. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Kane County 2 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 6.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K, 67.1% strikes (55 of 82 pitches) HR: Joe Cronin (1) Multi-hit games: Cronin (3-for-4, 2B, 3B, HR, 2 RBI, 2 R), Gabe Snyder (2-for-4, 2B, R) This was Jordan Balazovic’s fourth start of the season. He’s given up no more than four hits, two runs and has had at least seven strikeouts in all four. He surrendered his first home run of the season tonight, but that was the only earned run he gave up in his six innings. Balazovic has now struck out 33 batters and walked just four in his 20 2/3 innings (8.25 K:BB ratio). Balazovic exited this game with the Kernels trailing 2-0, but a Joe Cronin two-run homer evened things up in the seventh. Cedar Rapids added three more runs in the eighth, thanks to a Gilberto Celestino RBI double and a David Banuelos two-run single. Cronin was a hit shy of the cycle, and it's not the one you're probably thinking. He was 3-for-4 with a double, a triple and that home run. It's not often you see a guy fall a single short of a cycle. Jacob Blank pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings of relief and Joe Record was perfect over the final 1 1/3 frames to earn his fourth save. Record has a 0.00 ERA, 13 strikeouts and just one walk in six innings so far. He was drafted in the 28th round back in 2017, but he had elbow and knee injuries that prevented him from making his pro debut until this year. He appears intent on making up for lost time. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Bailey Ober, Fort Myers Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Joe Cronin, Cedar Rapids TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-5, 2 K 4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 0-for-4, BB, 2 K 6. Brent Rooker (ROC): Removed in the second inning prior to his plate appearance. 10. Akil Baddoo (FM): 3-for-5, SB 13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 2-for-5, 2B, R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 1-for-4, 2B, BB, RBI, R, 2 K 18. LaMonte Wade (ROC): 2-for-4, BB, K 19. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 3.0 IP, 6 H, 7 R, 6 ER, 3 BB, 4 K 20. Jose Miranda (FM): 0-for-1, BB SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs. Pawtucket, 12:05 pm CT (TBD) Pensacola at Jackson, 6:05 pm CT, (Brusdar Graterol) Fort Myers vs. Palm Beach, 5 pm CT (Charlie Barnes) Cedar Rapids at Kane County, 1 pm CT (Cole Sands) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games. Click here to view the article
  18. Their jerseys may say Kernels on the outside, but underneath, the guys on Cedar Rapids pitching coach Virgil Vasquez’s staff have adopted a more burning mindset. The pitching staff has adopted an “Enter the Dragon” motto that is reflected not only on the back of the T-shirts they wear under their uniforms, but in the intensity with which they attack opposing batters.“The dragon is like, you enter in this attack mode. We call it the dragon spirit,” Vasquez explained. “All your preparation, all your determination, all your belief in yourself, all the love you have for the game and everything you do.” The approach seems to be working. Through their first 16 games of this young season, Kernels pitchers are setting down batters at a remarkable clip of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. How impressive is that? The franchise record for a season, set in 1964 by the Cedar Rapids Red Raiders, is 9.2 Ks per nine innings. Since the team became the Kernels in 1993, the best rate a team has recorded for a season was 8.7, a mark set just last season. It’s not just a couple of guys racking up all the strikeouts, either. Ten of the 14 pitchers who have appeared for Cedar Rapids (not including infielder Joe Cronin, who made a one-inning mop up appearance) have struck out batters at a rate of at least one per inning pitched, with reliever Joe Record (21.2 K/9 IP) and starter Jordan Balazovic (16.0 K/9 IP) leading the way. It’s early in the season, of course, but if it seems like the increase in strikeouts might be part of a philosophical approach to the art of pitching, there’s a reason for that. Coach Vasquez explains. “The strikeout is the best outcome for a pitcher, right? It takes out luck on balls in play, because when a ball’s in play, the average (for the batter reaching base) is .300. So, if we can get more strikeouts, we’re going to keep the game in our control more. “Everybody on our (staff) has weapons for strikeouts, so it’s about how do I use them? Where do I use them? So yeah there’s an emphasis (on strikeouts) for our guys.” Trying to strike everybody out can run up the pitch count, however. That’s not something any organization wants to do with its young arms. photo by Steve Buhr of Derek Molina As a result, Vasquez points out that there’s a time for getting quick outs and a time to… well… unleash the dragon and go for that strikeout. “Early in the count, the mindset is ‘end the at-bat with every pitch you throw.’ You get strike one, control the count, finish the hitter,” he pointed out. “And then, as you get to 0-2, 1-2, let’s finish him! You own him. 2-2, let’s finish him! Either way, you have to throw a pitch, so why not throw a pitch where you’re going to get a swing and miss? So, understanding your swing and miss percentage, understanding where that is in the zone with those certain pitches, it’s a real benefit for you.” Just thinking about all those strikeouts gets Vasquez smiling. “It’s so much fun! Like, what good is a hitter when they strike out? Go back to the dugout, you’re no good! Thank you very much! And it’s been a lot of fun to watch them. We have this aggressive mindset as a staff and they all encourage each other.” With Game of Thrones being arguably the most talked-about program currently running on television, one might think the pitching staff’s dragon-themed motto is tied to the popular HBO series in which dragons play a major role. But the reality is that the motto has an old-school origin. Vasquez said he saw the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon over the offseason and that provided the genesis of the staff’s motto. “(The movie) was very philosophical and there’s this warrior spirit to him. I kind of resonated with that,” Vasquez recalled. “I’m always trying to help them create a feeling of what they’re going to be like when they accomplish that feeling, not just the thing, but what’s the feeling? “There’s this feeling that goes along with it and we’re all embodying it and I think that goes along with the strikeouts that we’re getting. It’s just attacking and trusting and believing and doing it for your team because you know what’s good for your team is also good for you.” Cedar Rapids ranks third in the Midwest League in pitching staff strikeouts and second among teams in the league’s Western Division. Still, the team sits fifth in the standings of their eight-team division with a 7-9 record, as they start a road trip Monday night. photo by Steve Buhr (Virgil Vasquez with hitting coach Ryan Smith) Vasquez doesn’t sound concerned about that, however. “Our record doesn’t reflect who we are,” he said. “Because the first few series, we were getting to know each other. You come into the season, you played together for five days or seven days in spring training, there’s a little, ‘who are we?’ kind of thing.” He may have a point. The Kernels are 6-4 in their past ten games after getting off to a slow 1-5 record the first week of the season. “We had communication, we kept preparing, we kept going and then all of a sudden, it’s like, this is what we do. As that’s happened, we’ve won more games. Ryan (Smith, the team’s hitting coach) has done a great job, too. We just kept improving that process and kept saying, ‘this is what we do.’ But changing it and adapting it so works better and more efficient. It’s a lot more fluid now. “This is my first year being my own pitching coach and the feeling I have with the team, my heart feels so good just to have these guys connect the way they do with each other and how tight we are as a group. I feel like we’re seeing who we are now. Everybody’s been working hard. I hope all my seasons are like this.” Kernels Notes The Kernels have pulled up out of the MWL Western Division cellar and sit in 5th place with a 7-9 record.They lead the MWL in stolen base efficiency (92.9%), successfully nabbing 13 stolen bases while being caught just once. Gilberto Celestino’s 4 SB lead the team, with the rest of the thefts spread among seven other Kernels.Hitting:Trey Cabbage continues to swing a hot bat, now with 5 HR (tied for 2nd in MWL), 1 3B, 1 2B and slashing .346/.443/.692 (1.135 OPS is 3rd in MWL)Gabriel Maciel is off to a scorching start in his first 4 games with CR. .312/.500/.588 (1.088)Gabe Snyder, through his first 8 games, has 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR and is slashing .379/.457/.621 (1.078)Pitching:Joe Record, in 4 relief appearances covering 4.2 IP, has surrendered 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB and struck out 11 with a 0.43 WHIPReliever Brian Rapp has thrown 9 IP over 4 appearances, striking out 9. Since giving up 1 ER on April 5, he has not given up another run, earned or otherwise.Austin Schulfer has been dominant in 3 of his 4 bullpen appearances, primarily in long relief. 3 shutout IP on April 4, 4 scoreless IP on April 12 and most recently, 3 shutout innings on April 18.Starter Jordan Balazovic has struck out 9, 9 and 8 in his three starts this season, totaling 14.2 IP. He has a 2-1 record, a 1.02 WHIP and a 2.45 ERA. His 26 K ranks him 1st in the MWL.Cole Sands has a 0-0 record but has shutout opponents in 2 of his 3 starts, throwing 5 innings in each of those 2 starts. He’s struck out 18 over 14 IP.Want to read more about the Kernels? Click the links to read Cedar Rapids Gazette’s beat reporter, Jeff Johnson.Trey Cabbage's Hot Start ContinuesJordan Balazovic Continues His Progression Click here to view the article
  19. “The dragon is like, you enter in this attack mode. We call it the dragon spirit,” Vasquez explained. “All your preparation, all your determination, all your belief in yourself, all the love you have for the game and everything you do.” The approach seems to be working. Through their first 16 games of this young season, Kernels pitchers are setting down batters at a remarkable clip of 10.8 strikeouts per nine innings. How impressive is that? The franchise record for a season, set in 1964 by the Cedar Rapids Red Raiders, is 9.2 Ks per nine innings. Since the team became the Kernels in 1993, the best rate a team has recorded for a season was 8.7, a mark set just last season. It’s not just a couple of guys racking up all the strikeouts, either. Ten of the 14 pitchers who have appeared for Cedar Rapids (not including infielder Joe Cronin, who made a one-inning mop up appearance) have struck out batters at a rate of at least one per inning pitched, with reliever Joe Record (21.2 K/9 IP) and starter Jordan Balazovic (16.0 K/9 IP) leading the way. It’s early in the season, of course, but if it seems like the increase in strikeouts might be part of a philosophical approach to the art of pitching, there’s a reason for that. Coach Vasquez explains. “The strikeout is the best outcome for a pitcher, right? It takes out luck on balls in play, because when a ball’s in play, the average (for the batter reaching base) is .300. So, if we can get more strikeouts, we’re going to keep the game in our control more. “Everybody on our (staff) has weapons for strikeouts, so it’s about how do I use them? Where do I use them? So yeah there’s an emphasis (on strikeouts) for our guys.” Trying to strike everybody out can run up the pitch count, however. That’s not something any organization wants to do with its young arms. photo by Steve Buhr of Derek Molina As a result, Vasquez points out that there’s a time for getting quick outs and a time to… well… unleash the dragon and go for that strikeout. “Early in the count, the mindset is ‘end the at-bat with every pitch you throw.’ You get strike one, control the count, finish the hitter,” he pointed out. “And then, as you get to 0-2, 1-2, let’s finish him! You own him. 2-2, let’s finish him! Either way, you have to throw a pitch, so why not throw a pitch where you’re going to get a swing and miss? So, understanding your swing and miss percentage, understanding where that is in the zone with those certain pitches, it’s a real benefit for you.” Just thinking about all those strikeouts gets Vasquez smiling. “It’s so much fun! Like, what good is a hitter when they strike out? Go back to the dugout, you’re no good! Thank you very much! And it’s been a lot of fun to watch them. We have this aggressive mindset as a staff and they all encourage each other.” With Game of Thrones being arguably the most talked-about program currently running on television, one might think the pitching staff’s dragon-themed motto is tied to the popular HBO series in which dragons play a major role. But the reality is that the motto has an old-school origin. Vasquez said he saw the 1973 Bruce Lee film Enter the Dragon over the offseason and that provided the genesis of the staff’s motto. “(The movie) was very philosophical and there’s this warrior spirit to him. I kind of resonated with that,” Vasquez recalled. “I’m always trying to help them create a feeling of what they’re going to be like when they accomplish that feeling, not just the thing, but what’s the feeling? “There’s this feeling that goes along with it and we’re all embodying it and I think that goes along with the strikeouts that we’re getting. It’s just attacking and trusting and believing and doing it for your team because you know what’s good for your team is also good for you.” Cedar Rapids ranks third in the Midwest League in pitching staff strikeouts and second among teams in the league’s Western Division. Still, the team sits fifth in the standings of their eight-team division with a 7-9 record, as they start a road trip Monday night. photo by Steve Buhr (Virgil Vasquez with hitting coach Ryan Smith) Vasquez doesn’t sound concerned about that, however. “Our record doesn’t reflect who we are,” he said. “Because the first few series, we were getting to know each other. You come into the season, you played together for five days or seven days in spring training, there’s a little, ‘who are we?’ kind of thing.” He may have a point. The Kernels are 6-4 in their past ten games after getting off to a slow 1-5 record the first week of the season. “We had communication, we kept preparing, we kept going and then all of a sudden, it’s like, this is what we do. As that’s happened, we’ve won more games. Ryan (Smith, the team’s hitting coach) has done a great job, too. We just kept improving that process and kept saying, ‘this is what we do.’ But changing it and adapting it so works better and more efficient. It’s a lot more fluid now. “This is my first year being my own pitching coach and the feeling I have with the team, my heart feels so good just to have these guys connect the way they do with each other and how tight we are as a group. I feel like we’re seeing who we are now. Everybody’s been working hard. I hope all my seasons are like this.” Kernels Notes The Kernels have pulled up out of the MWL Western Division cellar and sit in 5th place with a 7-9 record. They lead the MWL in stolen base efficiency (92.9%), successfully nabbing 13 stolen bases while being caught just once. Gilberto Celestino’s 4 SB lead the team, with the rest of the thefts spread among seven other Kernels. Hitting: Trey Cabbage continues to swing a hot bat, now with 5 HR (tied for 2nd in MWL), 1 3B, 1 2B and slashing .346/.443/.692 (1.135 OPS is 3rd in MWL) Gabriel Maciel is off to a scorching start in his first 4 games with CR. .312/.500/.588 (1.088) Gabe Snyder, through his first 8 games, has 2 2B, 1 3B, 1 HR and is slashing .379/.457/.621 (1.078) Pitching: Joe Record, in 4 relief appearances covering 4.2 IP, has surrendered 0 ER, 1 H, 1 BB and struck out 11 with a 0.43 WHIP Reliever Brian Rapp has thrown 9 IP over 4 appearances, striking out 9. Since giving up 1 ER on April 5, he has not given up another run, earned or otherwise. Austin Schulfer has been dominant in 3 of his 4 bullpen appearances, primarily in long relief. 3 shutout IP on April 4, 4 scoreless IP on April 12 and most recently, 3 shutout innings on April 18. Starter Jordan Balazovic has struck out 9, 9 and 8 in his three starts this season, totaling 14.2 IP. He has a 2-1 record, a 1.02 WHIP and a 2.45 ERA. His 26 K ranks him 1st in the MWL. Cole Sands has a 0-0 record but has shutout opponents in 2 of his 3 starts, throwing 5 innings in each of those 2 starts. He’s struck out 18 over 14 IP. Want to read more about the Kernels? Click the links to read Cedar Rapids Gazette’s beat reporter, Jeff Johnson. Trey Cabbage's Hot Start Continues Jordan Balazovic Continues His Progression
  20. Have you ever wanted your own airplane? Well, the Twins’ Double-A affiliate was sort of able to accomplish this on Thursday. There’s more to the story below. Also, there was plenty of action throughout the Twins’ system. Two teams tried to mount comebacks, while another took advantage of the opportunities provided by the other team.TRANSACTIONS ACTIVATED: C David Banuelos from the 7-day injured list for Cedar Rapids RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 5, Lehigh Valley 6 Box Score Rochester outhit the IronPigs (10 to 7) and scored a late run to make things interesting, but it wasn’t enough. The club didn’t take advantage of some opportunities as they left eight runners on base and went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Kohl Stewart took his bumps and bruises in this one as he couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. He allowed six runs on six hits including two home runs. He struggled to find the zone for most of the night as he threw 100 pitches and only 52 of them were for strikes. After a promising first start of the season, Stewart has thrown clunkers his last two times out. Rochester continued to rely on the long ball in this game. With three solo shots on Thursday, Rochester has hit 22 home runs to produce 33 of the 62 total runs scored this season. LaMonte Wade, Tomas Telis, and Jordany Valdespin joined the home run parade. Also, Telis and Valdespin each added a double. DJ Baxendale pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings by only allowing one hit. He struck out six and walked one. Matt Magill took the final frame and didn’t allow a runner. He had one strikeout and he has yet to allow a run this season. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola --, Biloxi – (Postponed-Rain) The Blue Wahoos and the Schuckers were postponed on Thursday due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a double-header on Friday, April 19 with first pitch scheduled for 5:35 CST. Pensacola currently has a 9-4 record and they are in first place by two games in the Southern League South. In other news, the Blue Wahoos have teamed up with Silver Airways for a Kazoo- themed airplane. Kazoo is the name of the Blue Wahoos mascot. Silver Airways has flights from Pensacola to Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 3, Charlotte 6 Box Score Fort Myers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but a six-run deficit was too much to overcome. Tyler Watson started and pitched into the sixth inning for the second consecutive game. He allowed two runs on three hits while striking out five and walking one. Anthony Vizcaya took over for Watson and struggled in parts of two innings. He allowed four runs on four hits as Charlotte pushed their lead to 6-0. Calvin Faucher had a very nice bounce back game. In his last appearance, he allowed three runs while only recording one out. Tonight, he pitched 2 2/3 shutout innings with a pair of strikeouts and two walks. In the bottom of the ninth, Akil Baddoo lead off with a triple and was driven home on a Lewin Diaz groundout. Jose Miranda followed with a double before Trevor Larnach singled to put runners on the corners. A double from Ryan Jeffers scored a run and there were still runners on the corners. Ben Rortvedt would ground out to score another run and Michael Helman recorded the game’s final out. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, Beloit 2 Box Score Cedar Rapids jumped out to an early 4-0 thanks to some miscues by the Snappers. With one out, Gabe Snyder was hit by a pitch. Trey Cabbage followed and reached base on an error by the shortstop. Jacob Pearson struck out for the second out of the inning and it looked like Beloit might get out without allowing a run. However, Gilberto Celestino and Andrew Bechtold knocked back-to-back singles to push across a pair of runs. Celestino then stole third but it wouldn’t matter because David Banuelos tripled to score two more runs and put Cedar Rapids up 4-0. Cedar Rapids allowed a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning, but the club got those runs back in the bottom of the frame. The Kernels were able to do this without recording a hit. Celestino and Bechtold walked to start the inning. With Banuelos batting, an error by the third baseman loaded up the bases. Michael Davis drew a walk to score one run and a wild pitch put the score at 6-2. Jordan Balazovic pitched five strong innings. He struck out eight, walked one, and limited the Snappers to two runs (one earned). He has allowed two runs or fewer in every start this season. His eight strikeouts tonight were the fewest he’s had all year (nine strikeouts in both previous starts). Jose Martinez pitched two shutout innings and struck out one. Joe Record collected the final six outs with four strikeouts. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 8 K, 1 BB) TD Hitter of the Day- Tomas Telis, Rochester (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – Did not play #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - No Game #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, R #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – Did not play #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – 1-3, 3B, R, K #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, 2B, RBI, K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, RBI #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 1-3, RBI, 2 K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – Did not pitch #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – No Game #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, 2B, R, K FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Lehigh Valley (6:05 CST) – RHP Zack Littell (0-2, 7.71 ERA) Pensacola @ Biloxi (5:35 CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Pensacola @ Biloxi (Game 2) – TBD Fort Myers vs. Charlotte (5:30 CST) – RHP Bailey Ober (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs. Beloit (6:35 CST) – RHP Cole Sands (0-0, 3.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games. Click here to view the article
  21. TRANSACTIONS ACTIVATED: C David Banuelos from the 7-day injured list for Cedar Rapids RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 5, Lehigh Valley 6 Box Score Rochester outhit the IronPigs (10 to 7) and scored a late run to make things interesting, but it wasn’t enough. The club didn’t take advantage of some opportunities as they left eight runners on base and went 1-for-5 with runners in scoring position. Kohl Stewart took his bumps and bruises in this one as he couldn’t make it out of the fifth inning. He allowed six runs on six hits including two home runs. He struggled to find the zone for most of the night as he threw 100 pitches and only 52 of them were for strikes. After a promising first start of the season, Stewart has thrown clunkers his last two times out. Rochester continued to rely on the long ball in this game. With three solo shots on Thursday, Rochester has hit 22 home runs to produce 33 of the 62 total runs scored this season. LaMonte Wade, Tomas Telis, and Jordany Valdespin joined the home run parade. Also, Telis and Valdespin each added a double. DJ Baxendale pitched 2 2/3 scoreless innings by only allowing one hit. He struck out six and walked one. Matt Magill took the final frame and didn’t allow a runner. He had one strikeout and he has yet to allow a run this season. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola --, Biloxi – (Postponed-Rain) The Blue Wahoos and the Schuckers were postponed on Thursday due to rain. The game will be made up as part of a double-header on Friday, April 19 with first pitch scheduled for 5:35 CST. Pensacola currently has a 9-4 record and they are in first place by two games in the Southern League South. In other news, the Blue Wahoos have teamed up with Silver Airways for a Kazoo- themed airplane. Kazoo is the name of the Blue Wahoos mascot. Silver Airways has flights from Pensacola to Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, and Orlando. https://twitter.com/BlueWahoosBBall/status/1118889858456530944 MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 3, Charlotte 6 Box Score Fort Myers rallied for three runs in the bottom of the ninth, but a six-run deficit was too much to overcome. Tyler Watson started and pitched into the sixth inning for the second consecutive game. He allowed two runs on three hits while striking out five and walking one. Anthony Vizcaya took over for Watson and struggled in parts of two innings. He allowed four runs on four hits as Charlotte pushed their lead to 6-0. Calvin Faucher had a very nice bounce back game. In his last appearance, he allowed three runs while only recording one out. Tonight, he pitched 2 2/3 shutout innings with a pair of strikeouts and two walks. In the bottom of the ninth, Akil Baddoo lead off with a triple and was driven home on a Lewin Diaz groundout. Jose Miranda followed with a double before Trevor Larnach singled to put runners on the corners. A double from Ryan Jeffers scored a run and there were still runners on the corners. Ben Rortvedt would ground out to score another run and Michael Helman recorded the game’s final out. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, Beloit 2 Box Score Cedar Rapids jumped out to an early 4-0 thanks to some miscues by the Snappers. With one out, Gabe Snyder was hit by a pitch. Trey Cabbage followed and reached base on an error by the shortstop. Jacob Pearson struck out for the second out of the inning and it looked like Beloit might get out without allowing a run. However, Gilberto Celestino and Andrew Bechtold knocked back-to-back singles to push across a pair of runs. Celestino then stole third but it wouldn’t matter because David Banuelos tripled to score two more runs and put Cedar Rapids up 4-0. Cedar Rapids allowed a pair of runs in the top of the fifth inning, but the club got those runs back in the bottom of the frame. The Kernels were able to do this without recording a hit. Celestino and Bechtold walked to start the inning. With Banuelos batting, an error by the third baseman loaded up the bases. Michael Davis drew a walk to score one run and a wild pitch put the score at 6-2. Jordan Balazovic pitched five strong innings. He struck out eight, walked one, and limited the Snappers to two runs (one earned). He has allowed two runs or fewer in every start this season. His eight strikeouts tonight were the fewest he’s had all year (nine strikeouts in both previous starts). Jose Martinez pitched two shutout innings and struck out one. Joe Record collected the final six outs with four strikeouts. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids (5.0 IP, 1 ER, 4 H, 8 K, 1 BB) TD Hitter of the Day- Tomas Telis, Rochester (2-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 RBI, R) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) – Did not play #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - No Game #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, R #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) – Did not play #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – 1-3, 3B, R, K #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, 2B, RBI, K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, RBI #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 1-3, RBI, 2 K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – Did not pitch #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 2-4, HR, R, RBI, BB #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – No Game #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 1-4, 2B, R, K FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Lehigh Valley (6:05 CST) – RHP Zack Littell (0-2, 7.71 ERA) Pensacola @ Biloxi (5:35 CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Pensacola @ Biloxi (Game 2) – TBD Fort Myers vs. Charlotte (5:30 CST) – RHP Bailey Ober (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs. Beloit (6:35 CST) – RHP Cole Sands (0-0, 3.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games.
  22. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Thursday, starting with the transactions of the day TRANSACTIONS The Red Wings announced that RHP Chase De Jong was back on their roster after being optioned by the Twins. RHP DJ Baxendale was removed from the injured list. Also, RHP Sean Poppen was transferred back to AA Pensacola. Cedar Rapids announced that catcher David Banuelos was on the 7-Day IL with a concussion. RHP Tyler Palm also placed on the IL. RHP Derek Molina and 1B Gabe Snyder were promoted from extended spring training . RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 6, Lehigh Valley 13 Box Score It was the home opener for the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field on Thursday. Lewis Thorpe was back on the mound for his second start of the season. In his first start, he was charged with nine earned runs in four innings. He was better this time. He gave up six earned runs on seven hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five. Thorpe gave up three in the first inning and one in the third inning. When he left with two outs in the fifth inning, he left two runners on. Ryan Eades allowed both of those runners, plus one more, to score. Eades did throw two scoreless innings after that fifth frame finished. He struck out three and didn’t issue a walk over his 2 1/3 innings. DJ Baxendale came on and threw a scoreless eighth inning. Unfortunately in the ninth frame, he was charged with six earned runs on five hits and two walks. Mike Morin finished the ninth by getting all three outs. Luke Raley provided much of the offense. He went 3-or-4 with his first homer of the season and three RBI. John Andreoli was the only other Wings hitter with multiple hits. He was 2-for-5 with his second double. LaMonte Wade walked twice. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1116521187914526721 The Red Wings, now 2-6, have played quite poorly early in the season. They have statistically been the worst defensive team in the International and from what I have watched, it is earned. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 4, Jacksonville 3 Box Score Brusdar Graterol picked up his first Double-A win on Thursday night with a real solid performance. The hard-throwing righty gave up three hits and walked three batters over 5 2/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four batters. He left the game with a runner on second and two outs. Tyler Jay came on and got the final out of the sixth inning quickly. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1116547874874109953 Jay was charged with two runs (1oneearned) in the seventh inning. He gave up two hits and walked one in that inning. Dusten Knight came on and gave up a run in the eighth frame. But he pitched a scoreless ninth to preserve the win and earn his second save of the season. He struck out four in the two innings. And, as he does when he closes out a win, Knight does a backflip. https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1116528545847812102 The Blue Wahoos got three hits from Luis Arraez. Jordan Gore and Jaylin Davis each had a single and a walk. They got an RBI single from Mitchell Kranson to take the lead in the first inning. In the sixth inning, Jimmy Kerrigan came through with a two-run double to give the team a 3-0 lead. They added a fourth run on a error by the pitcher. Pensacola improved to 5-2. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 0, Dunedin 5 Box Score Jhoan Duran made his second start of the season. He gave up single runs in the second and third innings. But he pitched pretty well again. In five innings, he gave up those two runs on three hits. He walked just one and struck out five batters. 46 of his 66 pitches were strikes. Melvi Acosta came on in relief and pitched pretty well, though it may not look it. Acosta gave up three runs (one earned) on three hits, a walk, and a hit batter over the final four innings. But he threw three scoreless innings before the three-run ninth. Acosta did get some help from his defense. He loaded the bases with two outs in the seventh inning, but Royce Lewis made a diving catch to his right to make a great catch that kept the Miracle in the ballgame at the time. Hopefully we’ll get some video at some point, but here is a report from someone who was there. https://twitter.com/LWOSRobMolnar/status/1116497746809229312 The Miracle offense managed just five hits in the game. Trevor Larnach had two hits and a walk. It was his second straight multi-hit game. The Miracle fall to 4-4 on the season. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Kane County 7 Box Score Jordan Balazovic had another impressive outing. He struck out two batters in each of the first four innings of the game. In the fourth inning, he gave up his first two hits and a run. He struggled in the fifth inning. He left the game with the bases loaded and two outs (one one a strikeout). Derek Molina came in and got a ground ball to shortstop. But the throw to second base was to slow and late, allowing a second run to score and be charged to Balazovic. Molina then got a strikeout to end that inning. Balazovic’s final line? He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. In 4 2/3 innings, he struck out nine batters. Molina struck out four batters in his 1 1/3 innings. But in that sixth inning, he gave up four runs on three hits and a walk, the biggest hit was a three-run homer that pushed the Kernels’ deficit to 6-1. Jose Martinez gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk over two innings. Infielder Joe Cronin came in to pitch the ninth inning and worked a 1-2-3 innings. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. He later scored on a double by Michael Davis, who took over at shortstop when Cronin pitched. Trey Cabbage went 2-for-5 in the game and is now hitting .458. He has at least one hit in all six games he has played. He has had four multi-hit games. Gabe Snyder, in his first Kernels game, went 2-for-4. Andrew Bechtold also went 2-for-4 in the game. Cronin also went 2-for-4 with the double. The Kernels fall to 2-6 on the season. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Brusdar Graterol, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Luke Raley, Rochester Red Wings PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K (77 pitches, 47 strikes) #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-3, BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 1-4, RBI, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (66 pitches, 46 strikes) #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 5 K #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, 2 K #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, 2 K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, 3 K #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Play #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Pitches Friday #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 0-3, 2 BB #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (5:35 CST) - RHP Zack Littell (0-1, 10.38 ERA) Jacksonville @ Pensacola (6:35 CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (5:30 CST) - LHP Tyler Watson (0-1, 7.20 ERA) Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Cole Sands (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games.
  23. It was a night of top pitching prospects in the Twins minor league system on Thursday. Check out how Lewis Thorpe, Brusdar Graterol, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic did in their second starts of the season. Find out how each did, as well as how their teammates and teams did on Thursday.Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Thursday, starting with the transactions of the day TRANSACTIONS The Red Wings announced that RHP Chase De Jong was back on their roster after being optioned by the Twins. RHP DJ Baxendale was removed from the injured list. Also, RHP Sean Poppen was transferred back to AA Pensacola.Cedar Rapids announced that catcher David Banuelos was on the 7-Day IL with a concussion. RHP Tyler Palm also placed on the IL. RHP Derek Molina and 1B Gabe Snyder were promoted from extended spring training .RED WINGS REPORTRochester 6, Lehigh Valley 13 Box Score It was the home opener for the Rochester Red Wings at Frontier Field on Thursday. Lewis Thorpe was back on the mound for his second start of the season. In his first start, he was charged with nine earned runs in four innings. He was better this time. He gave up six earned runs on seven hits and five walks in 4 2/3 innings. He struck out five. Thorpe gave up three in the first inning and one in the third inning. When he left with two outs in the fifth inning, he left two runners on. Ryan Eades allowed both of those runners, plus one more, to score. Eades did throw two scoreless innings after that fifth frame finished. He struck out three and didn’t issue a walk over his 2 1/3 innings. DJ Baxendale came on and threw a scoreless eighth inning. Unfortunately in the ninth frame, he was charged with six earned runs on five hits and two walks. Mike Morin finished the ninth by getting all three outs. Luke Raley provided much of the offense. He went 3-or-4 with his first homer of the season and three RBI. John Andreoli was the only other Wings hitter with multiple hits. He was 2-for-5 with his second double. LaMonte Wade walked twice. The Miracle offense managed just five hits in the game. Trevor Larnach had two hits and a walk. It was his second straight multi-hit game. The Miracle fall to 4-4 on the season. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Kane County 7 Box Score Jordan Balazovic had another impressive outing. He struck out two batters in each of the first four innings of the game. In the fourth inning, he gave up his first two hits and a run. He struggled in the fifth inning. He left the game with the bases loaded and two outs (one one a strikeout). Derek Molina came in and got a ground ball to shortstop. But the throw to second base was to slow and late, allowing a second run to score and be charged to Balazovic. Molina then got a strikeout to end that inning. Balazovic’s final line? He gave up two runs on four hits and two walks. In 4 2/3 innings, he struck out nine batters. Molina struck out four batters in his 1 1/3 innings. But in that sixth inning, he gave up four runs on three hits and a walk, the biggest hit was a three-run homer that pushed the Kernels’ deficit to 6-1. Jose Martinez gave up an unearned run on two hits and a walk over two innings. Infielder Joe Cronin came in to pitch the ninth inning and worked a 1-2-3 innings. He led off the bottom of the ninth with a double. He later scored on a double by Michael Davis, who took over at shortstop when Cronin pitched. Trey Cabbage went 2-for-5 in the game and is now hitting .458. He has at least one hit in all six games he has played. He has had four multi-hit games. Gabe Snyder, in his first Kernels game, went 2-for-4. Andrew Bechtold also went 2-for-4 in the game. Cronin also went 2-for-4 with the double. The Kernels fall to 2-6 on the season. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day - Brusdar Graterol, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Luke Raley, Rochester Red Wings PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - 5.2 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 4 K (77 pitches, 47 strikes) #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) - 2-3, BB, K #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 1-4, RBI, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) - 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K (66 pitches, 46 strikes) #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - 4.2 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 5 BB, 5 K #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, 2 K #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, 2 K #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) - 1-5, 3 K #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) - Did Not Play #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - Pitches Friday #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - 0-3, 2 BB #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) - Did Not Pitch #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (5:35 CST) - RHP Zack Littell (0-1, 10.38 ERA) Jacksonville @ Pensacola (6:35 CST) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Ft. Myers @ Clearwater (5:30 CST) - LHP Tyler Watson (0-1, 7.20 ERA) Burlington @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 CST) - RHP Cole Sands (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Thursday’s games. Click here to view the article
  24. Jorge Alcala, Brusdar Graterol, Jhoan Duran and Jordan Balazovic, oh my. What appeared to be an exciting night of pitching on paper turned out to live up to the billing and then some. That quartet of prized prospects combined to throw 18 2/3 innings of two-run ball, gave up just 10 hits, walked only three batters and struck out 25.TRANSACTIONS Several hours after the Twins game, Darren Wolfson tweeted that RHP Zack Littell is going to be called up on Saturday. Still, Balazovic exited this game with Cedar Rapids leading just 3-1. The bats broke loose in a five-hit, three-walk, five-run fifth inning. Trey Cabbage hit his first home run of the season, to go along with two other hits. Ben Rodriguez also had a three-hit day, Chris Williams reached safely three times as well, tallying a hit and a pair of walks. Yunior Severino drew just 17 walks in 50 total games last season but somehow managed to rack up four walks just in this one game tonight. He also had a single. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Luis Arraez, Pensacola TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-2, 3B, 2 BB, 2 R 3. Brusdar Graterol (PNS): 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K 4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 1-for-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI 7. Jhoan Duran (FM): 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K 10. Akil Baddoo (FM): 0-for-3, BB, R, SB, K 13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 0-for-3, BB, K 15. Yunior Severino (CR): 1-for-1, 4 BB, 3 R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 0-for-4, BB, R, SB, K 19. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester at Lehigh Valley, 4:35 pm CT (Chase De Jong) Rochester at Lehigh Valley, Game 2 (TBD, bullpen game) Pensacola at Mobile, 7:05 pm CT (Devin Smeltzer) Fort Myers at Charlotte, 5:00 pm CT (Tyler Watson) Cedar Rapids at Wisconsin, 4:05 pm CT (Cole Sands) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games. Click here to view the article
  25. TRANSACTIONS Several hours after the Twins game, Darren Wolfson tweeted that RHP Zack Littell is going to be called up on Saturday. https://twitter.com/DWolfsonKSTP/status/1114405855598993408 AM update: Scratch that. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester at Lehigh Valley POSTPONED BLUE WAHOO BITES Game 1: Pensacola 7, Mobile 0 (7 innings) Box Score Jorge Alcala: 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K, 65.4% strikes (49 of 75 pitches) HR: Jimmy Kerrigan (1) Multi-hit games: Luis Arraez (2-for-3, BB) With Opening Day being rained out, this scheduled seven-inning game as the first leg of a doubleheader served as Pensacola’s debut game as a Twins affiliate. Nice way to get started. Jorge Alcala and Jovani Moran combined to pitch a shutout. Alcala gave up just three hits over five innings while Moran gave up one hit over his two frames. Neither pitcher issued a walk. Taylor Grzelakowski had a big two-run double to break the scoreless tie in the fourth and Jimmy Kerrigan added a two-run homer later that inning. Game 2: Pensacola 4, Mobile 3 (8 innings) Box Score Brusdar Graterol: 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K, 58.7% strikes (44 of 75 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Luis Arraez (2-for-4) Brusdar Graterol’s first pitch of the evening was only 99 mph. What gives? He would end up hitting triple-digits, and more importantly, pitched a great game. Just one run on three hits and a pair of walks over 4 2/3 innings for Graterol, and he struck out six batters. Taylor Grzelakowski gave the Blue Wahoo’s a lead in the top of the first with an RBI single. Jordan Gore drove in another run in the fifth. Andro Cutura protected the lead, recording the final out of the fifth inning before pitching a scoreless sixth, but Cody Stashak, one of the most reliable relievers in the entire system last season, gave up a game-tying home run in the bottom of the seventh, which was scheduled to be the final inning. Pensacola scored two runs in the top of the eighth thanks to another Grzelakowski RBI and a wild pitch. That gave the Stashak a two-run lead to work with, but the bottom of the eighth opened with the bonus runner (this was technically an extra inning, remember) scoring from second on a single. Stashak got the next batter to strike out swinging, then Dusten Knight took over. Ground out, strikeout looking and game over. Blue Wahoos 2-0 as a Twins affiliate, great way to get things started. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Charlotte 3 Box Score Jhoan Duran: 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K, 61.4% strikes (35 of 57 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Travis Blankenhorn (2-for-4) Speaking of 100 mph fastballs, Jhoan Duran also hit 100 mph multiple occasions. I think it’s safe to declare the pitch to contact era officially dead. Duran came out with guns a-blazing, pitching four no-hit innings while striking out four batters. In his first four minor league seasons, Duran’s career high in innings is only 100 2/3. So it makes sense, with a five-month regular season ahead, that the organization would aim to limit the fireballer’s workload. Fort Myers built a lead thanks in part to Trevor Larnach’s big two-RBI double. Unfortunately, Duran’s exit opened the door for the Stone Crabs to get back into this game. It was all tied up heading into the bottom of the eighth inning when Royce Lewis hit a leadoff triple. He eventually scored the go-ahead run on a passed ball. Tom Hackimer, whose 2018 season ended prematurely due to injury, was back on the mound tonight. He got the final out of the eighth inning and took care of business in the ninth to secure the one-run Miracle victory. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 10, Peoria 4 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 9 K, 71.1% strikes (54 of 76 pitches) HR: Trey Cabbage (1) Multi-hit games: Trey Cabbage (3-for-5, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 R) Ben Rodriguez (3-for-5, 3 RBI), DaShawn Keirsey (2-for-4, 3 RBI) Among all the great starting pitching performances tonight, Jordan Balazovic was by far the most dominant. He absolutely pounded the strike zone, throwing over 70% of his pitches for strikes. Balazovic recorded a strikeout to open the game, but ran into some trouble in the first inning. He gave up a double, then a single, but erased the scoring chance by inducing an inning-ending double play. After a 1-2-3 second inning, Balazovic gave up a run-scoring triple. He turned it up after that. The 6-foot-4 Canadian right-hander blew the Chiefs away, striking out all three batters he faced in both the fourth and fifth innings. He ended up with nine strikeouts and no walks. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1114386192865398790 Still, Balazovic exited this game with Cedar Rapids leading just 3-1. The bats broke loose in a five-hit, three-walk, five-run fifth inning. Trey Cabbage hit his first home run of the season, to go along with two other hits. Ben Rodriguez also had a three-hit day, Chris Williams reached safely three times as well, tallying a hit and a pair of walks. Yunior Severino drew just 17 walks in 50 total games last season but somehow managed to rack up four walks just in this one game tonight. He also had a single. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Jordan Balazovic, Cedar Rapids Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Luis Arraez, Pensacola TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 1-for-2, 3B, 2 BB, 2 R 3. Brusdar Graterol (PNS): 4.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K 4. Trevor Larnach (FM): 1-for-3, 2B, BB, 2 RBI 7. Jhoan Duran (FM): 4.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K 10. Akil Baddoo (FM): 0-for-3, BB, R, SB, K 13. Ryan Jeffers (FM): 0-for-3, BB, K 15. Yunior Severino (CR): 1-for-1, 4 BB, 3 R 16. Gilberto Celestino (CR): 0-for-4, BB, R, SB, K 19. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 5.0 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester at Lehigh Valley, 4:35 pm CT (Chase De Jong) Rochester at Lehigh Valley, Game 2 (TBD, bullpen game) Pensacola at Mobile, 7:05 pm CT (Devin Smeltzer) Fort Myers at Charlotte, 5:00 pm CT (Tyler Watson) Cedar Rapids at Wisconsin, 4:05 pm CT (Cole Sands) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games.
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