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  1. It was a vastly different experience going to that little ballpark compared to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but watching unknown minor leaguers play on those fields always filled my mind with delusions of grandeur to be like them one day—a professional baseball player chasing their dream to become a Major Leaguer. That is the main reason I do a little bit different of a list heading into a new season than all those “Top Prospects” lists you see here at Twins Daily, on MLB.com, or at other outlets like FanGraphs and Baseball America. There are so many of them these days I don’t think this amateur scout can tell you anything you haven’t already heard. Instead, I want to recognize all those guys who have worked hard to get where they are, whether they’re a top prospect or not, and whom you might see make their MLB debut at Target Field during the upcoming season—those ready to make their childhood dreams like mine come true. Across all of Major League Baseball during the 2021 season, 265 players made their Major League debut, with eight members of the Minnesota Twins organization contributing to that number. They included pitchers Charlie Barnes, Griffin Jax, Jovani Moran, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan, as well as position players Gilberto Celestino, Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach, and Ben Rortvedt. All four of those hitters and pitchers Jax and Ober were profiled in this same column before the start of the 2021 season, and you’ll see some of the same names in this list below for the 2022 calendar year that didn’t quite make the jump. So, who are the prospects that could make their Major League debut and become the next Minnesota Twins during the 2022 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The Twins enter the 2022 season with a 40-man MLB roster that does not have much room for position players yet to make their MLB debut. That list is just two players, but any fan should be excited about the names that are included in this section. There is, however, much more room for pitchers in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and the top end talent is almost all at the top of their system to start the 2022 season. Royce Lewis (22 years old on opening day), IF/OF – Twins Daily’s #2 Prospect (Lewis made his MLB debut on 5/6, playing SS against the Oakland Athletics and batting 7th. He finished 1-for-4, picking up a single in the 8th inning of a 2-1 win) It’s hard to gauge where Royce Lewis is at in his development, given he’s missed two entire years’ worth of time due to Covid and tearing his ACL. But when we last saw him, he was crushing in the Arizona Fall League to the point he took home the league’s MVP award. He has continued to work on his swing while off the field, and I expect big things during the 2022 season when he finds his footing. The biggest question continues to be what position he will play when he reaches the majors. I have been critical of his shortstop play in the past, but there is no doubt he can be an elite defender in the outfield. He excelled at third base in the AFL as well if that does not work out. That is to say, if he’s hitting well and anyone in the outfield or middle infield on the Major League roster goes out for an extended period, it would not surprise me at all if Lewis is the name that gets called to fill in if he is hitting. Plus, he looked good at short for the Saints on Tuesday if you were wondering: Jordan Balazovic (23), RHP – TD’s #4 Prospect Balazovic is ticketed for the starting rotation with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, though he will start the season on the Injured List with a left knee strain. While he does not necessarily get the accolades around his pure “stuff” that some of the other guys on this list do, he has been one to get better results as he’s climbed the ladder. That can be attributed some to having better command, but he has also shown steady improvement with his offerings year over year, showcased by his fastball averaging around 96 MPH with Wichita last season. One thing going against him is innings, as his 97 in 2021 were a career high after missing the first two months with a back injury. There is little doubt when it comes to Balazovic that he will break through as a starting pitcher and stay there when he reaches the majors, compared to others further down this list. Jose Miranda (23), 3B – TD’s #3 Prospect (Miranda made his MLB debut on 5/2, playing third base and batting sixth against the Baltimore Orioles. He was 0-for-4 in a 2-1 Twins win) The thing with Miranda was never about talent, as the Twins had always seen a good bat in the infielder from Puerto Rico. However, before the 2021 season that bat had never quite lived up to expectations, producing just one season with an OPS above .750 and that was all the way back in rookie ball. But coaches continued to encourage him to alter his approach and wait for pitches he could do damage with, instead of swinging first and asking questions later. He took it to heart and ran with it for the 2021 season, enroute to one of the most impressive Minor League seasons you have ever seen from a Twins prospect. He led all of the minors in total bases, clubbing 32 doubles and 30 home runs in 127 games between Wichita and St. Paul. He finished with a .344/.401/.572 slash line and rocketed up prospect lists by the end of the year. He’s basically only a corner infielder and won’t win any Gold Glove awards with his defense, but if he’s even close to repeating those hitting numbers in 2022 at triple-A, his bat will force the issue sooner rather than later. Jhoan Duran (24), RHP – TD’s #7 Prospect (Duran made his MLB debut on opening day, pithing two innings against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out four in a scoreless outing) Whether they’ve been trying or not, since I’ve been a fan of the Twins they have always had a velocity problem. Duran is one of the pitchers who can continue to change that, whether that comes as a starter or a reliever. He has size, is capable of hitting 100+ MPH with his fastball, and throws a weird sinker he can play off that velocity to get swings and misses. Like many young hurlers, consistency is key and despite his stuff he has had trouble maintaining that start-to-start in the past. When he is on Duran is fully capable of dominating an outing, but has thrown only 16 innings in live games since the end of the 2019 season. If you were asking me before the start of Spring Training, I would have fully expected Duran to begin the season in the St. Paul Saints rotation. Instead, he has been absolutely dominant in his outings thus far and will come North with the Twins to start the year! Josh Winder (25), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect (Winder made his MLB debut on 4/12, pitching one inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed one run on two walks and struck out one. He made his first MLB start on 5/1, and picked up the win with 6 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out seven against the Tampa Bay Rays) A casual fan may not recognize Winder’s name as much as others, but I recommend paying a lot more attention to him this season. I have seen evidence from the Twins over the past two years that they may think he is the best of the starting pitching bunch they have approaching the majors. Plus, as of writing this he is still on the bubble to come North to Minneapolis instead of St. Paul to start the 2022 season. While he only threw 72 innings last year, they were so good that he was the Twins representative to play in the Futures Game during All Star Weekend. He was promoted to triple-A immediately after that and made four starts for the Saints before being shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder impingement. He was solid in his outings this spring, starting three games (meaning he was facing mostly MLB players) and allowing just two runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out nine in eight total innings pitched. While there is no reason for the Twins to put him in the bullpen permanently, it would not shock me to see him as part of a 16-man pitching staff to start the season in a piggy-backing role. I can even envision him performing better than whomever he follows to the point he takes over when rosters get cut down from 28 players. Cole Sands (24), RHP – TD’s #13 Prospect (Sands made his MLB debut on 5/1, pitching two innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, and struck out two.) Making his professional debut during the 2019 season, Sands was a standout performer and as a result pitched at three levels, reaching double-A for one start to end the year. He finished the season with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 108 hitters over 97 1/3 innings. He followed that up in 2021 by dominating with Wichita to the tune of a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 80 1/3 innings. He missed some time due to an injury, but will be in the Saints rotation to start the 2022 season. His path reminds me a bit of one Bailey Ober and if the Twins can get more of that, they would be ecstatic. Since he is on the 40-man roster, you never know—if he is lined up to pitch on the right day, an injury on the Twins could spur a cab ride across the river to Target Field at any point. Drew Strotman (25), RHP The second half of the trade package the Twins received from the Tampa Bay Rays for Nelson Cruz, Strotman was thought by some evaluators to be the better prospect in the deal at the time. I do not think that is the case now, considering Joe Ryan is slated to pitch opening day for the Twins while Strotman fell off a bit after coming over, but it should give you an idea of how well the Twins did in that trade to get both of those guys. He throws in the mid-90s with a good cutter that catches the attention of scouts, but command has been a bit of an issue since having Tommy John Surgery back in 2018. He is being fully transitioned to the bullpen in 2022 and could turn into another high-octane option there as the season progresses. Ronny Henriquez (21), RHP – TD’s #16 Prospect With the flurry of trade activity that happened after the lockout ended, the Twins ended up with an intriguing right-hander from the Texas Rangers in sending off Mitch Garver. You will hear a lot about his size or lack thereof, but there is a lightning arm attached to his right shoulder that hits the mid-90s with ease. He has consistently piled up strikeouts and limited baserunners, but the long ball has been a bugaboo as he gave up nearly two per nine innings pitched in double-A last season. He has primarily started games in his pro career thus far and should continue to do so with the Twins, but his profile sounds a lot like a future reliever when it is all said and done. Chris Vallimont (25), RHP The moniker of the “Vallimonster” is apt for the right-hander, as he can perform quite the Jekyll and Hyde routine whenever he is on the mound. He paired a 13.0/9IP strikeout rate with a 5.8/9IP walk rate during the 2021 season and if you go game to game, you will see that up and down nature in his stat lines as well. A switch to the bullpen to maximize his pure stuff in shorter stints is something to watch for during the season if that pattern continues. TOP PROSPECTS: Consider this entry more of a “not-yet-on-the-40-man-roster” section heading into this season since a lot of the top prospects have already appeared above, but what remains below still holds the theme that these guys are close to Major League ready. All three of them are on the double-A roster of the Wichita Wind Surge to start the year, with a few of them sure to move up quickly when the 40-man depth above is called upon by the Twins. Austin Martin (23), IF/OF – TD’s #1 Prospect The top prospect on our board, it is slightly odd that Martin returns to double-A to start the season after spending all of the 2021 season there, but he does have some things to work on. Those being his defense at shortstop (or elsewhere), and tapping into some power that may have been hindered by a wrist injury throughout last year. That said, he posted a .414 on-base percentage in 93 games that led all of double-A and you would be hard-pressed to find a more prototypical leadoff hitter anywhere in the minors. As soon as a spot opens up in St. Paul I expect Martin to be promoted, but the depth the Twins have when it comes to position players pushes a debut timeline out to later in the summer. He is the type of talent who can force that issue sooner rather than later, however. Simeon Woods Richardson (21), RHP – TD’s #8 Prospect Plenty of people seem to be down on SWR going into the 2022 season, but I am not one of them. You cannot blame him for the 2020 season being canceled or for competing in the Olympics (though he didn’t pitch at all) in the middle of the 2021 campaign. There was absolutely some rust to shake off by the time he put on a Wind Surge uniform, but he did flash what makes him highly regarded as well: A key point to consider with him in comparison to every other player on this list is his age. Even after missing a full season, he was only 20 years old and pitching in double-A at the beginning of last year. Especially for the Twins, this is a rare occurrence. Jose Berrios, for example, had turned 21 a couple of months before he reached double-A and was the quickest moving pitcher the Twins had produced in a long time. If he can reign back in his control, Berrios is also a great comp for the type of ceiling we are talking about for Woods Richardson, who has dwarfed any strikeout rates the former Twins pitcher ever produced in the minors. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Canterino finds himself in double-A to start the 2022 season despite pitching only 23 total innings last year with Cedar Rapids. That was due to elbow troubles, which is a legitimate concern moving forward given his history coming out of Rice University and herky-jerky mechanics, but you cannot deny the numbers. He struck out over half the hitters he faced while walking only four in his time on the mound, resulting in a 0.78 ERA and 0.61 WHIP. His stuff is electric, with a fastball that can reach the high 90’s and a slider and changeup that are both legitimate swing-and-miss offerings as well. Due to those health concerns, there are many evaluators who see the bullpen in his future, but if you are looking for a pitcher that can make some serious noise during the 2022 campaign, Canterino is your guy. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players may not necessarily be top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a situation where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason has been a standout performer in the bullpens of Twins affiliates since being taken in the 13th round of the 2016 draft. Missing the 2020 season hurt guys like him more than most, but he came back in 2021 to post stellar numbers and finished the final two months of the season in St. Paul. While there, he posted a career-high strikeout rate of 12.1/9IP, and guys like him are always among my favorites to root for. Yennier Cano (27), RHP (Even though he didn't throw a pitch as the game was suspended, Yennier Cano was credited with his MLB debut on 5/11 against the Houston Astros. When he did take the mound the next day, he delivered two perfect innings before running into some trouble in his third. In total, he allowed three runs on three hits, and struck out two.) A sneaky international signing all the way back in 2019, Cano finally got to showcase his talents for a full season during the 2021 campaign, spending the bulk of it in St. Paul. He boasts a mid-90s fastball and deep repertoire, as well as an intimidating mound presence that reminds me a lot of Aroldis Chapman (both are around 6’4” and 230 lbs). He will need to reign in the walks that spiked once he reached triple-A, but certainly looks the part of a bullpen horse. Mark Contreras (27), OF (Contreras made his MLB debut on 5/12, when the suspended game from the day before resumed he took over for Byron Buxton, playing left field. He finished 0-for-2, but scored a run and drove in one with a sac fly in the 11-3 loss to the Houston Astros.) Contreras made his mark in the Twins organization with his defense, taking home a MiLB Gold Glove award after the 2019 season, but something clicked for him in the batter’s box in 2021. Spending the bulk of the year with St. Paul, the lefty nearly matched his career home run total to that point (23) with 20 on the year, 18 of them coming in his 95 games at triple-A. I would not expect Contreras to get the call as a long-term starter in the majors, but you can do a lot worse with a fourth outfielder type as he can play all the outfield positions well, including center in a pinch. Jermaine Palacios (25), IF Palacios is a bit buried on an organizational depth chart with the names Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, and Austin Martin in the fold, but what he has above the other two prospects is that he is definitely a shortstop. That fact plays against him a little for the 2022 season as those two prospects above him need the work, but he is in triple-A where he will be moved around the infield depending on the day. He also showed some pop with 19 home runs for Wichita last year, and was also spectacular in the Venezuelan Winter League during the offseason, posting a .987 OPS in 42 games. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out of nowhere to make a surprise debut during the season. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skill set or background that is intriguing and could pay big dividends if something else falls into place. These are my shots in the dark at guys that could be in 2022. Jordan Gore (27), RHP The former shortstop begins the season as a high-leverage option out of the St. Paul Saints bullpen. He split time between Cedar Rapids and Wichita during the 2021 season, picking up seven saves and striking out 11.7/9IP with a WHIP below 1.00. Plus, he has great hair. Louie Varland (24), RHP – TD’s #14 Prospect First of all, he is #OneOfUs, growing up in Maplewood and being drafted out of Concordia University in St. Paul in the 15th round of the 2019 draft. Second of all, he is the reigning Twins and Twins Daily’s, Minor League Pitcher of the Year. That is because he struck out 142 hitters in 103 innings pitched last season split between Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids. He is buried on a starting pitching depth chart at this point, but if he continues that type of dominance in double-A and eventually triple-A this season, there will be a spot for him at some point. Edouard Julien (22), OF – TD’s #19 Prospect I have long been a fan of the type of player Julien was during the 2021 season, where he led all of the minors in walks (110 in 112 games) and had an on-base percentage flirting with .500 for a large chunk of the season. He also tapped into some power upon being promoted to Cedar Rapids, launching 15 homers in 65 games after getting out of the Florida State League. He starts the 2022 season with Wichita, and he and Austin Martin should prove extremely annoying to double-A pitching for much of the summer. So, there you have it, my picks for some of the minor league players I think could be called up to the majors and put on a Minnesota Twins uniform for the first time during the coming season. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? And who are some of the prospects you think I have missed that could make that jump? Let’s play ball!
  2. TRANSACTIONS Twins placed OF Trevor Larnach on the IL (right adductor strain) Twins recalled C Jose Godoy. OF Jake Cave was activated from the temporarily inactive list. C Roy Morales activated from the Development List and promoted to the Saints. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Iowa 10 Box Score SP: Cole Sands - 3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K HR: David Banuelos (2) Multi-hit games: Mark Contreras (2-5, 2 2B, RBI (17), 2 K) The Saints played the final game of their 12-game homestead on Sunday with the conclusion of their series against the Iowa Cubs. On Saturday, the Saints crushed the Cubs in a 9-2 victory. On Sunday, they received the other end of the stick. The Cubs got to the Saints early in the top of the second scoring four runs on five hits and a walk off of starter Cole Sands. Sands had a better go in both the first and third innings giving up only one hit in each of those innings. The high number of strikeouts and a tiring second inning had Sands at 71 pitches through three innings, and six Saints relievers came in to finish out the game. At the plate, many of the Saints bats went cold aside from Mark Contreras who had two doubles and an RBI for the Saints on Sunday. The Saints lineup also featured the return of Jake Cave from the temporarily inactive list leading off for St. Paul and going 1-for-4 with a double and RBI. One of the newest additions to the Saints roster, second baseman Kevin Merrell, spoke on adjusting to the new clubhouse after his promotion from Wichita and which players he has gravitated to as mentors with the Saints. “There are so many guys in there with a ton of experience, and I just need to watch closely and see what I can pick up. It’s been an easy transition, there’s a lot of phenomenal dudes on this team,” said Merrell. Merrell is a former first-round draft pick by the Oakland Athletics in 2017 and went 33rd overall in the draft. Merrell has already found a teammate on the Saints he wants to learn as much as possible from, that teammate being Saints infielder Elliot Soto. Merrell explained, “He can talk to anybody. He’s super encouraging, and he’s very confident in what he does. I think that’s contagious for a lot of us. He’s played for a long time. He’s 32 or so, has a lot of experience, and I would say he stands out the most for me.” The Saints will start a two-week road trip on Tuesday with two different stops, the first being in Columbus, Ohio for a week-long match-up with the Clippers. WIND SURGE WISDOM Game 1 Wichita 4, Tulsa 7 Box Score Game 1 SP: Chris Vallimont - 3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 4 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None Game 2 Wichita 5, Tulsa 6 Box Score Game 2 SP: Casey Legumina - 2.1 IP, 2 H, 3 ER, 6 BB, 5 K HR: Austin Martin (1), Michael Helman (4) Multi-hit games: Martin (2-4, R, HR, RBI (8)), Edouard Julien (2-3, R, 2 2B, RBI (10), K) The Wind Surge entered Sunday afternoon riding an eight-game win streak and had a doubleheader scheduled with the Tulsa Drillers to finish out their five-game series. Unfortunately for the WInd Surge, they were swept in the doubleheader. Chris Vallimont was on the mound for his sixth start of the season. Vallimont had a strong first inning recovering from a leadoff triple to Drillers shortstop Jacob Amaya. Amaya scored in the next at-bat on a sacrifice groundout. Vallimont continued to cool off in the second with a 1-2-3 inning, but the Drillers picked up three more runs in the third off of Vallimont which later knocked him out of the game. The Wind Surge bats were cold throughout Game 1 and although they tallied seven hits, no Wind Surge player was able to tally more than one hit. Wind Surge third baseman Spencer Steer managed to drive in two of their four runs in the game. ----------------------------------------------------------- Game 2 brought a better hitting game for the Wind Surge, but they still fell short in another loss against the Drillers. Game 2 was started by Casey Legumina who made his first start for the Wind Surge after three starts with Cedar Rapids to start 2022. Legumina gave up two walks in the top of the first inning but left the runners on base to get out of a jam. He continued that success in the second and retired the minimum in order. The third inning was where Legumina struggled the most, walking four batters and giving up two hits including a home run to Drillers left fielder James Outman. Austin Martin fans were able to rejoice at least in Game 2 as he hit his first home run of the season. Third baseman Michael Helman also had a home run in the sixth inning that brought Wichita within one run. The Wind Surge were unable to score more runs in the bottom of the seventh in order to tie the game and force it into extras. The Wind Surge begin their next series on the road against Northwest Arkansas Tuesday morning for another six-game series with the Naturals. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 Box Score SP: Sawyer Gipson-Long 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi hit games: Jair Camargo (2-5, K) The Kernels completed their final game against the River Bandits on Sunday taking a win to complete a 4-2 series victory of Quad Cities. The 2-1 victory for the Kernels was the smallest scoring game of the series as Anthony Prato and Wander Javier drove in the only two runs. Javier hit into a force out in the bottom of the 8th inning to score Aaron Sabato with the game-tying run. They went to extra innings. In the bottom of the 11th inning, Javier was on third base when Anthony Prato his a fly ball to right field, deep enough to end the game. Sawyer Gipson-Long had his best start of the season on Sunday. He had season highs in the start with innings pitched (5 1/3) and strikeouts (6). He also did not give up any runs or walks in the game. The Kernels will be on the road in Peoria to play another six-game series against the Chiefs. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 9, Lakeland 1 Box Score SP: Steve Hajjar 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 BB, 8 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (3-4, 2 R, SB (6), RBI (6)), Mikey Perez (2-3, 2B, 3 RBI (7), 2 BB), Kyle Schmidt (2-5, 2B, 2 RBI (13), 2 BB, 2 K), Daniel Ozoria (2-4, R) The Mighty Mussels completed their series against the Lakeland Flying Tigers with a lopsided 9-1 victory which brought about a series split. The Mighty Mussels pitching was dominated by Steve Hajjar and Marco Raya. Hajjar started the game and threw three no-hit innings, walking four and striking out eight out of the nine outs. Raya came into the game in the top of the fifth. Although Raya gave up a home run in the top of the sixth, he only allowed one other base runner on a hit and struck out four to earn the win. The Mussels offense lit up all afternoon scoring nine runs on 11 hits without the help of a home run. Mussels third baseman Jake Rucker led the offense with a three-hit game. The Mussels will begin their next series at home on Tuesday night against Palm Beach for another six-game series against the Cardinals Low-A affiliate. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Sawyer Gipson-Long (Cedar Rapids) - 5.1 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K Hitter of the Day – Jake Rucker (Ft. Myers) - 3-4, 2 R, SB (6), RBI (6) PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 1-3 #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - Game 1, 0-2, R, 2 BB Game 2, 2-4, R, HR, SB, RBI #4 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - 1-4, R, 2B, RBI (3) #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, R, 2 BB #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-4, R, RBI (6), BB, K #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 3 IP, 8 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - Game 1, 1-4, SB, 2 RBI (20) #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 1-4, SB, BB, K #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - Game 1, 0-3, BB, K Game 2, 2-3, R, 2 2B, RBI (10) TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS All Twins Minor League Affiliates are off on Monday and will resume their games on Tuesday, May 10. The only Monday in which there will be minor-league games is July 4th (and some for the Saints in September). St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05 PM CST) - Ronny Henriquez Wichita @ Northwest Arkansas (11:05 AM CST) - Ben Gross Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:05 PM CST) - TBD Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (5:30 PM CST) - David Festa Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  3. When the Blue Jays drafted Austin Martin fifth overall, some evaluators considered him the best player in the 2020 MLB Draft. His collegiate career was nothing short of amazing as he hit .368/.474/.532 (1.007). Martin also played multiple positions in college, so there was hope his athleticism would translate to his professional career and make him a versatile player. Because of the pandemic, Martin couldn’t make his pro debut until the 2021 season, but this didn’t stop the Blue Jays from being aggressive. Martin debuted in Double-A, where he hit .281/.424/.383 (.807) with 14 extra-base hits before being traded. When Martin joined the Twins organization, his OPS dropped to .779, but he was still getting on base nearly 40% of the time. He’s back in Wichita to start 2022, and he is hitting .244/.375/.321 (.696) through the season’s first 20 games. Martin’s pro career hasn’t lived up to his pre-draft expectations, but he is still over a year younger than the average age of the competition at his level. Baseball America updated their top-100 prospect list following the season’s first month, and Austin Martin dropped significantly in their eyes. Here at Twins Daily, the writers also updated their top prospect lists, and Royce Lewis took over the top spot from Martin. It’s clear his stock has dropped, but what are the reasons behind his struggles? One of Martin’s most significant concerns has been his lack of power since leaving college. In 93 games last season, he combined for 25 extra-base hits. So far in 2022, he has been limited to six doubles in 78 at-bats. On the positive side, he has shown the ability to make contact and use the entire field, but he has over 500 minor league plate appearances, and his power is still absent. “We do think there’s some untapped power potential in there,” Twins player development director Alex Hassan said. “We tried to get him to catch the ball a little more out front and be comfortable using the big part of the field and use the pull side a little more.” Martin dealt with a hand issue last season, which may have been one of the reasons for his lack of power. He also tended to crouch and stride toward the plate, which gave him more coverage but took away from his power. If Minnesota can fix this, he has the potential to unlock more power. There are also questions about Martin’s eventual defensive home. In college, he played time at shortstop and third base, but there have been some throwing issues in the past. Since turning pro, he has split time between shortstop and center field. Second base might be his eventual defensive home, and he has made starts at that position during the 2022 campaign. It’s interesting to consider that he has yet to play a pro game at third base, which was the position he played most often in college. However, he’d need to showcase more power if he wanted to move to the hot corner. Power is the key to unlocking Martin’s full potential. Luckily, he is only 23-years-old, and there is no reason to rush him through the upper levels of the minors. He’s played fewer than 65 games in the Twins organization, so there is time for him to continue to develop under the tutelage of Minnesota’s coaches. Are you worried about Martin’s falling stock? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  4. TRANSACTIONS INF Keoni Cavaco activated from IL. INF Edouard Julien activated from IL C Chris Williams moved to the Developmental Roster SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 9, Toledo 4 Box Score The Saints were the lone Twins’ affiliate to pick up a win Friday night thanks to a six-run eighth inning. On the night, St. Paul registered 11 hits and drew seven walks against the Mud Hens. Jake Cave led the Saints with three hits in six at-bats, including a double, raising his batting average on the young season to .302. Utility man Jermaine Palacios also tallied a multi-hit game (2-for-5) with his double being St. Paul's only other extra-base hit save for Mark Contreras’ (1-for-4) two-run home run in the third inning. Royce Lewis remained on a tear, reaching base three times in six plate appearances and driving in a run. Fellow top prospect Jose Miranda went 1-for-4 with his single plating two runners. Derek Fisher (1-for-4), Daniel Robertson (1-for-4), and Jose Godoy (1-for-5) also picked up hits. JC Ramirez started on the bump for St. Paul and was touched for four runs in 3 2/3 innings. However, the bullpen did not cave for the remainder of the game as Jake Petricka, Trevor Megill, Tyler Bashlor, and Yennier Cano tossed the final 5 1/3 innings, surrendering four hits and walks, but striking out seven and not allowing a run. Cano, a 28-year-old fireballer who slots somewhere in between former Twin Edwar Colina and Jhoan Duran in terms of talent and potential, has now struck out eight batters and only walked one in seven innings. WIND SURGE WISDOM Midland 10, Wichita 8 Box Score Louie Varland did not have his best stuff as the 2021 Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year fell victim to the Rockhounds' offense. Varland was sitting 95-97 mph with his fastball for the majority of his outing, but he lacked command of his curveball and Midland took advantage. Varland served up three home runs and six runs overall (three earned) in five innings, striking out four and walking two batters. Friday’s start was emblematic of why it is difficult for two-pitch pitchers to find success as starters at the MLB level. Today's hitters, even those at Double-A, are able to mash upper-90s heat if they know it is coming and doubly so when they know that the opposing pitcher isn’t going/able to drop in a breaking ball or other off-speed pitch into the zone. Varland has shown enough during his brief time in the minors to suggest that he is an MLB talent, but unless he greatly improves the command of his breaking pitch or further develops his nascent changeup, it will be unlikely that he reaches the precipice as a starter. There is no shame in that. Varland could be another Duran-type for the Twins in short stints, but he needs more refinement if he wishes to do so. Bryan Sammons and Austin Schulfer each threw two innings in relief with the former allowing four runs while the latter punched out two and kept his ERA at 0.00. Offensively, the Wind Surge faired much better. Austin Martin’s bat continues to wake up following his slow start to the season as his 2-for-4 night leaves his batting average a .296. (Quick aside: Martin continued to display why many questions his ability to stick at shortstop long-term as he registered his fifth error of the season on a routine ground ball. Martin has all the physical tools to play shortstop. However, he looks much more comfortable in centerfield as well as during his appearances at second base. He’s a smooth athlete with quick feet but lacks the arm strength or sure-handedness that are needed for success at arguably MLB’s most important defensive position. His strengths play much better in either the outfield or a less demanding infield position like second or even third.) Spencer Steer had the best night at the plate across all levels, going 4-for-5 and driving in two runs. Michael Helman (1-for-4, 2 RBI, BB) launched his third home run of the season in the fifth inning and Dennis Ortega (2-for-5) contributed Wichita’s only other extra base hit, a double. Cole Sturgeon (1-for-5, 2 RBI), Andrew Bechtold (1-for-4, RBI), and Edouard Julien (0-for-3, RBI) were the other Wind Surge players to register RBIs. KERNELS NUGGETS Peoria 8, Cedar Rapids 2 Box Score Very little went right for the Kernels on Friday. Offensively, Cedar Rapids only managed five hits, all of them singles, and struck out 10 times. A silver lining: Christian Encarnacion-Strand remained hot, going 2-for-5 to raise his batting average to .434 and OPS to 1.229 across his first 55 plate appearances of the season. One might argue that Encarnacion-Strand has already earned a promotion to Double-A, but with Steer and Miranda still in the minors and playing the same position, it would seem as though a call-up is still a month or two away. The other three Kernels to reach base via hit were Wander Javier (1-for-4, RBI), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (1-for-3), and Jeferson Morales (1-for-3, BB). Brent Headrick’s strong start to the season hit a pothole against the Chiefs as he was unable to make it out of the fourth inning after walking four batters, serving up a home run, and surrendering three earned runs. Miguel Rodriguez provided a nice respite for 2 1/3 innings, striking out two and keeping the Peoria bats at bay. However, they woke up after he exited, torching Cody Laweryson and Andrew Cabezas for five runs. Tyler Palm pitched the final frame, striking out the side, despite loading the bases. MUSSEL MATTERS Dunedin 2, Fort Myers 1 Box Score The Blue Jays and Mighty Mussels combined for three runs and all of them came in the ninth inning. Noah Cardenas’ (1-for-2, BB) second home run of the season put Fort Myers on the board during the top of the final frame, but the Mighty Mussels walked the bases loaded in the bottom of the inning before Gabriel Martinez hit a walk-off two-run single. John Stankiewicz once again dazzled as he struck out nine batters and allowed only a single hit in five innings. The 23-year-old now boasts a 1.13 ERA with a 7:1 K:BB ratio over the first 16 innings of the season. Hunter McMahon tossed three innings in relief, walking and striking out one batter. Emmanuel Rodriguez broke out of his 0-for-12 slump by going 1-for-3 with a double. However, he exited the game earlier for a currently unknown reason. Kyler Fedko (1-for-3), Dillon Tatum (1-for-3), and Jake Rucker (1-for-4, 2B) also registered hits. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – RHP John Stankiewicz (Fort Myers): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 9 K, 78 pitches Hitter of the Day – INF Spencer Steer (Wichita): 4-for-5, 2 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, RBI, 2 BB, 2 R #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, 2 RBI, BB, R #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-4 #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - Defensive Replacement #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 IP, 4 H, 6 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K, 3 HR #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-3, 2B, BB #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (St. Paul) - Did Not Pitch #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 4-for-5, 2 RBI #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-3, RBI SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo ( 4:05 PM CST) - RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (2-0, 2.35 ERA) Wichita vs Midland (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Brandon Lawson (0-1, 17.18 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs Peoria (2:05 PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (1-0, 1.00 ERA) Fort Myers @ Dunedin (5:30 PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams (1-0, 0.90 ERA)
  5. TRANSACTIONS RHP Jharel Cotton cleared waivers and was assigned to the St. Paul Saints LHP Lewis Thorpe was released from the organization. SAINTS SENTINEL Toledo 2, St. Paul 1 Box Score Playing the fastest game in St. Paul Saints franchise history, lasting just two hours and seven minutes, the good guys lost by a 2-1 tally. Devin Smeltzer drew the start and was again good in this one. He went five innings allowing just two runs on five hits while punching out eight and walking one. His ERA on the season sits at 1.29. After getting behind 2-0 in the third inning, St. Paul answered with a run in the 4th inning. Derek Fisher hit into a force out but allowed Jake Cave to score, cutting the lead in half. Unfortunately, that’s where the production ended and a four-hit night for the Saints produced nothing else on the scoreboard. Fisher was the lone Saints batter to record two hits on the evening. Both Royce Lewis and Curtis Terry drew two walks to reach base a handful of times. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 15, Midland 1 Box Score Chris Vallimont drew the start tonight for Wichita and worked four innings of one-run ball. He gave up three hits while walking three and striking out six. With Wichita plating six runs in the first two innings, that one run of opposing production didn’t much factor into the equation. Dennis Ortega began the scoring with a line-drive single plating Austin Martin and Cole Sturgeon. A Michael Helman at-bat complete with a throwing error then allowed Spencer Steer to score in the first inning as well. Doubling up the score in the second inning was accomplished on a Martin double that scored Andrew Bechtold, a wild pitch to score Martin, and an Ortega double that drove in Steer. The fifth inning saw another outburst for the Wind Surge in which they were able to double their early-inning tally. Kevin Merrell launched his second homer of the season before Martin drove in Bechtold on a single. Steer then ripped his 7th double, this one clearing loaded bases, and pushing the score to 11-1. Ortega then drove in Steer with a single and the blowout was fully on. Bechtold had contributed plenty on his own this evening and a sixth-inning solo blast for his second dinger of the season made it 13-1. Still supplying pressure, Sturgeon singled in the eighth inning driving in Bechtold and DaShawn Keirsey to extend the lead further making it 15-1. A whole handful of Wind Surge batters had multi-hit nights including Martin (3), Sturgeon (3), Steer (2), Ortega (3), and Bechtold (2, plus three walks). KERNELS NUGGETS Game 1: Cedar Rapids 3, Peoria 2 (F/8) Box Score Tonight’s twin bill saw Sean Mooney start game one. He went five strong innings and allowed just one run on four hits while walking and striking out two. Cedar Rapids opened up the scoring in the first inning when Seth Gray singled to drive in Jeferson Morales. After giving back the lead, Cedar Rapids jumped ahead in the eighth inning. Hot-hitting Christian Encarnacion-Strand beat out a fielder’s choice to drive in Willie Joe Garry Jr. Morales then lofted a sacrifice fly to center deep enough to score Anthony Prato and the Kernels walked it off in game one. Morales and Gray were the lone hitters to record double-digit efforts in the front half of the evening. Game 2: Cedar Rapids 4, Peoria 3 (F/8) Box Score Casey Legumina started game two tonight for the Kernels and he worked 4 2/3 innings allowing just two runs on five hits. Legumina also punched out three batters while walking one. As a whole, it was a strong bounce-back start. After getting down 2-0 in the fifth inning Cedar Rapids rallied. Morales grounded out but drove in Prato to halve the deficit in the 6th inning. The next at-bats saw Garry Jr. drive in Will Holland allowing the home team to knot things at two. Headed to extras, Cedar Rapids watched Peoria push across a run in the top half of the 8th inning but this one was far from over. Encarnacion-Strand was standing on first base after a single, and a Morales ball back up the middle resulted in a force out at second base. Prato started the inning at second base and went to third on the play, but then scored on an errant throw by the second basemen. Camargo then launched one off the base of the right field wall and Morales scored the winning run coming around from first base. For the second time on the night, Cedar Rapids walked off Peoria. MUSSEL MATTERS Dunedin 5, Fort Myers 2 Box Score The Mighty Mussels turned to Pierson Ohl this evening and he gave them four innings of work while allowing just two runs, one earned. Despite five hits, Ohl walked just one and punched out four batters on the night. After getting down 1-0, Fort Myers responded with a two-spot in the fourth inning. Mikey Perez drove in Kyler Fedko with a single before a Ernie Yake sacrifice fly scored Jesus Feliz. The lead wouldn’t last however as Dunedin knotted things in the bottom half of the inning. Unfortunately, that’s where the production ended for Fort Myers and two runs were all they could muster in this contest. Seven of nine starters recorded a base hit while everyone reached base, but no one put up a multi-hit effort. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Devin Smeltzer (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-3, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 2B, 3 BB PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins' top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 3-5, 3 R, 2 RBI, BB, K #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 0-2, 2 BB, 2K #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-4, 2B, BB #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 2 K #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 1-5, 2K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 0-5, 4 K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, BB, K #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (Development List) - 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K (47 pitches, 28 strikes) #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-3, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 2B, 3 BB FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo (6:05PM CST) - RHP JC Ramirez Midland @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Louie Varland Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick Fort Myers @ Dunedin (5:30PM CST) - RHP John Stankiewicz Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  6. It’s never wise to place the “instant contributor” tag on any prospect. The early struggles of Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and Spencer Torkelson, the first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, show that it’s unwise to expect immediate results from even the best rookie hitters. The Twins are struggling to score runs. Naturally, fans start to wonder about reinforcements. Who could give this group a boost? And more importantly, why should you believe it could be better in the future? Gary Sánchez, Carlos Correa, and Miguel Sanó are virtual locks to depart after the season, while Max Kepler enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023. Gio Urshela is a clear non-tender candidate. There was significant turnover this offseason, especially in the rotation. We could see the same type of flip in the lineup next winter. It doesn’t have to start then, though. MLB Pipeline ranks three Twins hitters in their Top-100 Prospect Rankings. Royce Lewis (45) has dropped considerably since the Twins selected him with the first pick in 2017, but his talent is undeniable. Lewis is raking at Triple-A for the Saints. He’s hitting for power, drawing walks, using the opposite field, and stringing outstanding plays at shortstop. It’s still super early, but the early returns on Lewis are nothing short of remarkable. His production shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know how special his tools still are. The assumed plan to replace Correa with Lewis in 2023 looks sound so far. If things continue to go this well for him at Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think Lewis could join the Twins relatively soon. He’s the highest upside player in the entire system, and his previous prospect status would’ve placed him at a 2022 mid-season debut. While Lewis carries the most upside, Austin Martin’s floor feels the safest. Martin, ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is known for his quality of at-bat and elite ability to make contact. His skillset is a right-handed Luis Arraez, and that specific mastery tends to translate fastest. Martin may never develop real power, but it feels like he’s close to the majors even without it. The Twins’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2021 put together one of the best seasons the organization has ever seen. José Miranda, now a Top-100 prospect, led the minors in total bases and hit 30 homers across the two highest levels. He’s off to a slow start in 2022, but Miranda had an outside chance of making the team outright this spring. He’s likely the first call if a corner infielder gets hurt. The Twins are hoping that Lewis, Martin, and Miranda make up the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade, preferably as soon as possible. With Byron Buxton locked in, it’s easy to envision a potential core for the future. If things continue to stay downhill for the Twins’ offense, they have three top prospects who could help when the weather warms up.
  7. TRANSACTIONS LHP Lewis Thorpe added to AAA St. Paul from Development List Saints Sentinel St. Paul 16, Indianapolis 13 Box Score Lewis Thorpe: 1 ⅔ IP, 6 H, 8 ER, 2 BB, 2 K HR: Derek Fisher (2), Curtis Terry (3), Jermaine Palacios (1) Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (3-for-5, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2B), Royce Lewis (3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, 2 2B, 3B), Curtis Terry (2-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, HR), Jermaine Palacios (4-for-4, 4 R, 2 RBI, HR) The Saints won a crazy game on Saturday. Lewis Thorpe took the bump for St. Paul; the recently outrighted left-hander was looking to impress in his first official start of the season. Things did not go well. Thorpe was tagged for a solo shot in the first inning, but the second inning proved to be most damaging as seven runners crossed home plate for Indianapolis. J.C. Ramirez had to be called in to end the madness. Down eight runs early, the Saints' bats remained unphased. Derek Fisher answered back with a two-run homer to cut the lead to six, while a Jose Miranda single knocked down the deficit to within one-hand-counting distance. But the team was not done yet. In the third inning, St. Paul harassed Jerad Eickhoff and southpaw-Frenchman, Cam Vieaux to the tune of five runs—just enough to knot the game at eight. The game remained a slugfest until the bell rung in the ninth inning. Indianapolis would take a three-run lead, Curtis Terry would erase it; Indianapolis jumped ahead later, then Miranda and Royce Lewis negated it. Eventually, Jermaine Palacios yelled enough and blasted a two-run homer that cemented the Saints’ lead for good. Royce Lewis, once again, was the star of the show. He unleashed three crucial extra-base hits from the DH spot that either ignited a rally or stoked the flames of one. It would be difficult to have a better start to the season (although Christian Encarnacion-Strand is making a case). Jermaine Palacios’ 4-for-4 performance should not be ignored either. The 25-year-old started at left field instead of shortstop like usual and showed no discomfort by reaching base all five times he walked up to the plate. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 6, NW Arkansas 5 Box Score Chris Vallimont: 2 ⅓ IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Austin Martin (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB), Spencer Steer (2-for-5), Dennis Ortega (2-for-5, 2 RBI), Michael Helman (2-for-5), Andrew Bechtold (2-for-5, R), Kevin Merrell (3-for-5, RBI) Wichita won an extra-inning affair on Saturday. Chris Vallimont was handed the ball to start the game and did not have his best stuff. The righty struggles with command, walking five hitters before his day ended partway through the third inning. Hopefully, he can rebound in his next start. The offense kept the game within reach, however. Dennis Ortega brought home the first run of the game with a two-run single in the 5th inning, while Wichita drew the game even closer when Austin Martin scored in the 7th inning when the Naturals' defense threw the ball around the field. Martin later knotted the game with a clutch RBI single in the 8th inning. The game moved into extra innings, where the Wind Surge took advantage of the Manfred runner to plate two runs thanks to an Alex Isola sacrifice fly and a single from Kevin Merrell. Steven Klimek was shaky to close the game. He allowed a runner to score, and ultimately loaded the bases before inducing the final outs to end the game in favor of Wichita. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 10, Quad Cities 2 Box Score Sawyer Gipson-Long: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 9 K HR: Aaron Sabato (1), Jair Camargo (2, 3) Multi-hit games: Anthony Prato (2-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB), Christian Encarnacion-Strand (2-for-6, 2 R), Aaron Sabato (2-for-4, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 2B, HR), Jair Camargo (4-for-5, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR), Will Holland (2-for-5, R, 2B) The Kernels demolished their opponent on Saturday. Sawyer Gipson-Long set the tone on the mound with five masterful innings. The righty scattered three hits across his start while punching out an impressive nine batters in just 60 pitches. Talk about efficiency. Gipson-Long found a groove late last year, and he has continued to melt faces with the Kernels; he’ll certainly be in Wichita sooner than later. But that’s enough about pitching. Cedar Rapids’ bats were explosive early and often on Saturday. Aaron Sabato smacked a three-run homer in the first inning, Jair Camargo sent a solo shot over the wall in the second, Jeferson Morales tripled home a run in the third, Camargo hit another homer in the fourth, and, well, you get the idea. In total, the Kernels bopped seven extra-base hits in the game with a fairly even distribution of damage amongst all hitters. Derek Molina concluded the game with two shutout innings and four strikeouts. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 2, Jupiter 6 Box Score David Festa: 5 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 8 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Kyler Fedko (3-for-3, R, RBI, 2B) The Mighty Mussels lost a rain-shortened game on Saturday. David Festa took the mound for the second Saturday in a row, and much like the previous week, he flashed dominant ability with eight strikeouts over five efficient innings. Tom Froemming notes that he topped out at 97.2 MPH with his fastball. Offensively, the game was a struggle for the Fort Myers bats. Thanks to RBI doubles from Kyler Fedko and Kala’i Rosario, the Mighty Mussels took a quick lead, but those would prove to be the only two runs of the day for the team. Unfortunately, Mother Nature had enough of Fort Myers’ winning streak, and the higher powers convened to snap the team’s seven-game run in the 6th inning. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Sawyer Gipson-Long Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jermaine Palacios/Jair Camargo PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2 BB, K #2 – Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 3-for-5, 2 R, RBI, 2 2B, 3B, #3 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-for-5, 2 R, 4 RBI, 2B #9 – Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 5 ⅓ IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K #12 – Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 0-for-5, 2 K #15 – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, 2 K #18 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-for-5, K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Indianapolis @ St. Paul (2:07 PM) - RHP Jake Faria Wichita @ NW Arkansas (2:05 PM) - RHP Brandon Lawson Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (1:00 PM) - LHP Aaron Rozek Jupiter @ Fort Myers (12:00 PM) - RHP Travis Adams
  8. In 2021, the Wind Surge joined the Twins family of affiliates and had a really strong roster. The team had the league’s best record during the regular season and finished second in the postseason tournament. Several return to Ramon Borrego’s roster from last year, and this should again be a very strong roster. His coaching staff is different, but starting a roster with seven top prospects and some other very intriguing prospects is a great place to start. Here we will introduce you to the 2022 Wichita Wind Surge Opening Day roster with a tweet-length bio. For much more on each player, click the hyperlink with the name and see all of the Twins Daily stories in which each player is tagged. There are some terrific prospect on this roster, and there are some great stories as well. COACHING STAFF Manager: Ramon Borrego Hitting Coach: Derek Shomon Pitching Coaches: Pete Larson, Dan Urbina Catcher Coach: Joe Mangiameli PITCHERS RHP Argenis Angulo (28) - signed as free agent this offseason after posting a 7.33 ERA in 43 innings at AAA Las Vegas (A’s). Spent 2014-2020 with the Cleveland organization. RHP Matt Canterino (24) - Twins Daily’s #6 prospect may have the best pure stuff. Healthy after throwing in just five games at Cedar Rapids in 2022. Could move quickly. RHP Steven Cruz (22) - Young. Hits 100 at times. Control questionable at times. Probably a bullpen arm, pitched at Ft. Myers last year and just two games at High-A Cedar Rapids. LHP Zach Featherstone (26) - drafted as a hitter, and then had Tommy John. Came back last year and was strong as Kernels closer. Pitcher in Arizona Fall League in 2021. LHP Kody Funderburk (25) - another college two-way player, Funderburk has spent time as a starter and reliever. RHP Ben Gross (24) - 10th round pick in 2019 from Duke. Graduated from Princeton in three years. Also has a nice three-pitch mix and throws strikes. RHP Steven Klimek (28) - Pitched in Orioles’ system since drafted in 2015. Spent 2021 at AA Bowie. Bullpen depth. RHP Brandon Lawson (27) - Has pitched in Rays, Giants and Astros organizations. Last season at Astros’ AA affiliate in Corpus Christi. Can eat innings. LHP Bryan Sammons (26) - 8th round pick in 2017, Sammons split the 2021 season between Wichita (3-4, 6.44 ERA) and St. Paul (1-3, 6.61 ERA). Very starter with four pitches. RHP Alex Scherff (24) - Came to Twins from Red Sox organization in deadline deal of Hansel Robles. Rehabbed the rest of 2021. Former prospect slowed by injuries. Has a chance. RHP Austin Schulfer (26) - 19th round pick in 2018, he led Twins minor leaguers with 110 innings pitched in 2021, all for Wichita. He went 6-8 with a 4.34 ERA. 105 strikeouts. LHP Evan Sisk (24) - Came to Twins at 2021 deadline in the J.A. Happ / John Gant trade. Lefty reliever pitched in the AFL after the 2021 season. RHP Chris Vallimont (25) - Hard-thrower came to Twins in the Lewin Diaz / Sergio Romo trade in 2019. Struggled to 6.03 ERA in 21 Wichita starts last season, but struck out 130 batters in 91 innings (also 61 walks). Added to Twins 40-man roster after season. RHP Louie Varland (24)- Twins Daily’s #14 prospect was the Twins and Twins Daily’s Minor League Pitcher of the year in 2021 after dominant numbers in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. St. Paul native struck out 142 batters in 103 innings. RHP Tyler Viza (27) - Signed with Twins just last week. He spent 2013-2019 in Phillies organization, reaching AAA. Last year, started for Independent Kane County before ending season with five starts for AA San Antonio (Padres). RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (21) - Twins Daily’s #8 prospect came to the team in the 2021 deadline deal from Toronto with Austin Martin for Jose Berrios. Hard thrower has a strong repertoire of pitches. Last year was strange, started at AA, went to the Olympics but didn’t pitch, traded, and came to the Twins. Will get a chance to start fresh in 2022. CATCHERS Alex Isola (23) - 29th round pick in 2019, he spent 2021 with the Kernels where he showed a good approach at the plate and some power. Good defensive catcher. Dennis Ortega (24) - Venezuelan backstop joined the Twins this spring after spending 2014-2021 with the Cardinals organization. Reached AAA in 2021 and hit .231 over 57 games. Chris Williams (25) - 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson, Williams struggled at the season’s start in Cedar Rapids. Moved up to Wichita and produced nine extra base hits in 28 games. INFIELDERS Andrew Bechtold (25) - 5th round pick in 2017, Bechtold broke out with the Wind Surge in 2021. He hit .239/.328/.459 (.786) with 23 doubles and 18 homers. Corner infielder also did work behind the plate and hopes to add that versatility to his game. Michael Helman (25) - 11th round pick in 2018 from Texas A&M. In Cedar Rapids last year, he hit .246/.336/462 (.798) with 21 doubles, four triples and 19 home runs. Went to Arizona Fall League. The infielder also played all three outfield spots (and well) in 2021. Edouard Julien (22) - Twins Daily’s #19 prospect, Julien led minor league baseball in walks in 2021. In Ft. Myers, he showed a great eye and plate discipline while rediscovering base stealing. In Cedar Rapids, he added the power that made him an intriguing draft prospect. Austin Martin (23) - Martin was the #5 overall pick in the 2020 draft out of Vanderbilt. He came to the Twins in the Jose Berrios deal. He played 37 games for the Wind Surge in 2021 and returns in 2022, likely to play some shortstop and see if his offseason work will help him add power to his game. He ranked as the Twins #1 prospect heading into this season. Spencer Steer (24) - The Twins 18th-ranked prospect, Steer busted out with 24 home runs between Cedar Rapids (10) and Wichita (14) in 2021. Able to play three infield positions, Steer is an intriguing prospect heading into 2022. OUTFIELDERS Leobaldo Cabrera (24) - The Twins signed Cabrera last spring out of the Empire League. He was known for a strong arm and some power potential. After getting part-time play in Ft. yers and Cedar Rapids, he moved up to Wichita and hit 11 home runs in 52 games. Still young enough to be intriguing. DaShawn Keirsey (24) - 4th round pick in 2018 from Utah, Keirsey played 45 games in Cedar Rapids in 2021. He had several stints on the Injured List and was unable to get into a flow. However, he had four doubles, four triples and seven home runs. He is a terrific defensive center fielder and incredibly fast and athletic. Here’s to his health in 2022! Cole Sturgeon (30) - former 10th round pick of the Red Sox in 2014, he remained in their organization through 2019. He has played for three independent teams over the past two seasons. The Twins signed him in the offseason and he provides quality depth. Matt Wallner (24) - Another Minnesotan, Wallner in the #12 prospect at Twins Daily heading into the season. He got off to a fast start in Cedar Rapids, but he lost two months with a broken hamate bone. Finished the season with 15 homers in 66 Kernels games. Went to AFL and hit six homers in 18 games. What are your thoughts on this roster? Who will move up quick? Who will jump up the prospect rankings?
  9. Not that long ago, evaluators considered Minnesota’s farm system among baseball’s best. It helped that the Twins were terrible for multiple seasons, and they were able to stockpile high draft picks to rebuild their system. Entering the 2022 season, many national rankings put the Twins farm system in the bottom half of the league. Many of the organization’s top prospects are on the brink of making their debuts, so what does that mean for the future of the farm system? Prospects on the Brink According to MLB Pipeline, the team’s top eight ranked prospects are all expected to debut in 2022. Minnesota’s pitching pipeline looks ready to start producing big-league talent. Joe Ryan was recently named the team’s Opening Day starter, even though he has only made five starts in his big-league career. Jhoan Duran looks like he can be a dominant bullpen option if the team decides to keep him in a relief role. Josh Winder also has an opportunity to be used out of the bullpen to start 2022. Besides these Opening Day options, Jordan Balazovic, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Drew Strotman all project to debut at some point in 2022. Minnesota’s top position player prospects also project to start the season at St. Paul. Jose Miranda dominated the Double- and Triple-A levels, so it seems like he has little left to prove in the minors. Austin Martin is widely considered the team’s top prospect, and he was an on-base machine at Double-A last season. Minnesota has worked with him on his power production and that should put him on a path toward a 2022 debut. Royce Lewis is returning from an injury, so he must prove he can produce like a top prospect. All eight of these prospects may use up their rookie eligibility during the 2022 season, and this has the potential to leave little on the shelves in the minor leagues. What Will Be Left? Minnesota’s pitching depth means some of the team’s top pitching prospects are behind other pitchers in the organization's pecking order. An argument can be made that Matt Canterino is the best pitching prospect in the organization, but all the other names mentioned above are ahead of him on the depth chart. Ronny Henriquez and Louie Varland are both intriguing prospects, but they have multiple stops left to get to the big-league level. Blayne Enlow is returning from Tommy John surgery, so he will likely wait until 2023 to debut. Steve Hajjar is an intriguing name to watch because of his collegiate experience. Last year’s second-round pick may end up being a top-10 prospect in the organization entering the 2023 season. He’s certainly a player to watch this season. Two of the organization's top power prospects will likely still be in the system entering next season. Aaron Sabato and Matt Wallner fit the mold of a typical power hitter with little value on the defensive side of the ball. Noah Miller and Keoni Cavaco are two higher draft picks from this regime with something to prove. Other position players like Spencer Steer and Misael Urbina are also working their way towards Target Field. All of these players have upside, but they aren’t in the same category of prospect as Martin, Lewis, or Miranda. Ramifications So, what does this all mean? Minnesota has a plethora of talent in the upper level of the minors, which is a great problem for any organization. However, is the team less likely to trade these players away because of their proximity to the majors? Teams with top-ranked farm systems can move their prospects for MLB talent to make their team even more competitive. This MLB-ready pipeline should allow the Twins to keep their winning window open, but the team’s future depth relies on a strong farm system that can churn out big-league talent. Minnesota projects to have plenty of young talent in the big leagues, but it will result in a dramatically depleted depth in the minors. Do you think the Twins will have one of baseball’s worst farm systems entering next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. On Saturday, the Twins sent four of their hitting prospects to minor-league camp. Royce Lewis was optioned to Triple-A St. Paul. In addition, Austin Martin, Aaron Sabato and Spencer Steer were reassigned to minor-league camp. In case you were wondering, the distinction is that Lewis is on the 40-man roster, so this is his first option year. The others are not on the 40-man roster so they don't need to be optioned yet. For Lewis, it's been a good chance to just get back on the field again. As has been greatly documented, he was at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul in the 2020 pandemic-lost season. Last year, he arrived at spring training only to learn that he had a torn ACL and missed the full season. He played in four spring games at went 1-for-8 with a stolen base. He also did a nice job at shortstop. While Lewis was technically optioned to St. Paul, that does not necessarily mean that he will start the season with the Saints. It could still be determined that he begin the season in Double-A Wichita. Either way, it is good to see Lewis back on the field and on the path upward. Martin played in five games for the Twins this spring. He went 3-for-9 with a home run. He walked twice and struck out five times. It will be interesting to see where the Twins assign Martin. He spent his pro debut at the Double-A level. Could he get another month or two there before jumping up to St. Paul? Spencer Steer went 0-for-5 in his limited spring appearances, but it is clear that the organization really likes the versatile slugger. He should begin the 2022 season where he ended 2021, with the Wind Surge in Wichita. Aaron Sabato played in six spring games and went 0-for-9 with six strikeouts. He is likely to begin the 2022 season with the Cedar Rapids Kernels where he finished 2021 with 22 games. The Twins spring roster now consists of 49 players. There are 24 pitchers (7 non-roster), five catchers (2 non-roster), 11 infielders (4 non-roster), and nine outfielders (3 non-roster). With the season less than two weeks away, the team will need to make several more transactions to get down to the 28-man Opening Day roster.
  11. Projected Starter: Gio Urshela Likely Backup: Luis Arraez Depth: Tim Beckham, Daniel Robertson Prospects: José Miranda, Austin Martin THE GOOD Although the inclusion of Gary Sánchez in the Josh Donaldson deal can hardly be viewed as anything more than a salary dump by New York, the late-blooming Gio Urshela is actually a fairly valuable player, with two remaining years of control and a recent track record of success. The 2021 season doesn't qualify, as Urshela struggled to sub par offensive production (.309 wOBA), but in the two seasons prior he had slashed .310/.359/.523 while establishing himself as a high-caliber defender at third base. Urshela would've ranked fifth in fWAR among Twins position players in 2019 (3.1), and second behind Nelson Cruz in 2020 (1.6). Rediscovering his game would turn Urshela into an asset for Minnesota. Who wouldn't want an .880 OPS with defense that merits Gold Glove consideration? (Urshela was a finalist at third base in 2020, but lost out to Isiah Kiner-Falefa.) But even if the 30-year-old can't bounce back, the Twins have plenty of options lined up behind him. In fact, this was likely a big driver in their desire to move on from Donaldson. First and foremost, there is Luis Arraez, who is probably lined up for enough action at the position that we can consider it a timeshare. He doesn't have much arm, but Arraez looked serviceable when playing at third last season (with one glaring and extremely painful exception) and some consider it his strongest defensive position. Obviously, the Twins are motivated to get his bat in the lineup as much as possible, and this is the most natural spot to do it. The looming elephant in the room, then, is José Miranda. Fifty-two of his defensive starts in the minors last year came at third base (compared to 30 at second and 26 at first), during a breakthrough season that ended in Triple-A and left him looking ready to make an impact in the majors. Some projection systems suggest there's no reason to wait; Steamer for example has him pegged for a .280/.331/.468 line in the big leagues this year, at age 23. Finally, you've got Austin Martin. Minnesota's #1 prospect might not be pressing quite as hard as Miranda, having finished last year in Double-A, but he's clearly getting close and he'll need to find a defensive landing spot. Martin hasn't yet played third base professionally, but he played there plenty in college and it may be his most natural fit in the infield. There are layers of contingency in place at third that help mitigate the relative uncertainty atop the depth chart. THE BAD It's difficult to count on Urshela after his performance last year, but one wonders how long the Twins will be compelled to stick with him, given he's a veteran owed $6.6 million this season. You don't just pull the plug on someone like that haphazardly, even though the team might be inclined if he's slumping while Arraez, Miranda, or Martin warrant playing time. Of course, we haven't seen this front office too constrained my sentimentality, and Urshela could possibly offer some value in a utility role anyway, should they opt to move him off third. He made 28 starts at shortstop down the stretch last year and was passable there (leaving one to wonder if he'll be Carlos Correa's top backup instead of Jorge Polanco). He's got some experience at second and first. Beyond Urshela on the depth chart, exciting upside must be balanced with reality. And the reality is that experience is in somewhat short supply. Arraez has made less than a third of his defensive starts in the majors at third. Miranda has played there plenty, but hasn't yet fielded an inning in the majors and was barely on the prospect radar before last year. Martin has yet to gain any professional experience at the hot corner. Whereas Donaldson was a prototypical third baseman in many ways (when healthy) the Twins lack such a prototype at present. Urshela is a significant downgrade in terms of talent and track record. The Twins are worse now at third base than they were before the trade, at least in the short-term – even if the move necessarily clears the way for the future. THE BOTTOM LINE The Twins lost a hell of a player in Donaldson, albeit an aging and undependable one. They're well equipped to move on in his absence, but the short-term picture might be a little shaky. I'd expect a pseudo-platoon of Urshela and Arraez out of the gates, with Miranda primed to take over in the near future and Martin standing ready should anything go awry. Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Become a Twins Daily caretaker
  12. The last list from 2021 featured just three Twins after multiple players reached their rookie limits and “graduated” from the list during the 2021 season. The three players from the last installment of their rankings were shortstop Royce Lewis (#35), shortstop/center fielder Austin Martin (#36), and right-handed pitcher Jordan Balazovic (#81). Despite the various “graduates”, they were able to rebuild their farm systems a bit with the José Berríos and Nelson Cruz trades for an overall farm system ranking 15th out of the 30 MLB teams. It remains to be seen where they rank the farm system ahead of the 2022 season, so here’s what we know they think of the Twins top prospects. #46 Royce Lewis, Shortstop The former first overall pick has had a long, windy road since being drafted in 2017. Despite all of those challenges, the one thing that has remained consistent is his placement as a consensus top 100 prospect. The talent and the ceiling are there and now we hope that the various challenges he has overcome are behind him. He’ll likely spend all of the 2022 season between AA-Wichita and AAA-St. Paul, especially with the recent additions of Gio Urshela and Carlos Correa. Big picture I think this is a good thing as it allows him to focus on getting back into the game without the pressures of performing to get back to the big league club ASAP. #52 Austin Martin, Super Utility Martin has been another staple in the top 100 since being drafted 5th overall in 2020. Of course, that was always with the Toronto Blue Jays before being the headliner of the Berríos trade and immediately becoming the Twins second-best prospect. Even before Correa and a healthy Royce Lewis, he was already getting run as a center fielder instead of a shortstop. He’s good enough to be passable at any position aside from catcher, so he’ll eventually find his way to the Twins because of his bat…whether that’s in the infield, outfield, or all over is anyone's best guess. #95 Jose Miranda, Utility IF The only surprise here is that he barely cracked the top 100 after his spectacular 2021 season where he won Twins Minor Leaguer of the Year. Of course, there’s nothing from prior years that indicated this was coming or that it’s even repeatable so it’s probably fair he was ranked in the 90’s. Like the two before him, the offseason additions give him the time to prove 2021 was no fluke without the added pressure of needing to contribute to the big leagues right away in 2022. That said, if he starts to show that 2021 was not a flash in the pan, then I don’t know how they don’t give him an opportunity in Minneapolis. #97 Joe Ryan, Starting Pitcher Despite ending the season giving up six earned runs to the Detroit Tigers, Joe Ryan quickly established himself as the headliner of the Nelson Cruz trade and was penned in for the 2022 rotation. In his four other starts in 2021 he gave up six earned runs TOTAL while posting a 29:3 K:BB in 22 innings pitched despite throwing a fastball that averaged just 91 miles-per-hour. Despite the lack of velocity, Ryan is projected to be a mid-rotation starter due to the movement of that fastball up in the zone. If he can improve his offspeed pitches to counteract that high fastball, he’ll be a more than passable starter for years to come. #103 Jordan Balazovic, Right-Handed Pitcher Shortly after the top 100 was released, Sam Dykstra of MLB Pipeline released the prospect who “just missed the top 100.” I’m guessing it was in order and Balazovic was third on the list which would make him prospect number 103 as he continues his dance as a top-100 / almost top-100 prospect since 2019. The last rendition of the rankings had him at #81, but part of the reason for the drop was hinted at in the article…his K rate dropped about 10 points in AA-Wichita compared to his previous four seasons in A-ball and below. I wouldn’t be surprised if Balazovic starts the year in AA-Wichita again, but eventually works up the chain to Minneapolis before the season is over. What’s ironic about all of this is that it very well could take two of these prospects (and more) to net Frankie Montas who the Twins are reportedly looking to acquire from the A’s. The good news in the short-term is that aside from Joe Ryan, the Twins aren’t counting on any of these guys to be contributors in 2022. Would you be okay trading two of these guys for Frankie Montas or should we hold and see how they develop this year? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  13. Scouts typically use a 20-80 scale to rank prospects based on their current and future skill level. Below you will see where these players rank currently, including their potential to improve in the years ahead. 5. Noah Miller, SS Current Hit/Future Hit: 25/60 Minnesota selected Miller with the 36th pick in the 2021 MLB Draft out of high school in Wisconsin. In his pro debut, he hit .238/.316/.369 (.685) with six extra-base hits in 22 games. He is a switch hitter with an advanced hitting approach. Teams can have a tough time evaluating players from cold-weather states, but Miller’s hitting profile saw him rise up draft boards last spring. Compared to other high school hitters, he has a better hitting approach, and he does a tremendous job of making consistent contact. As he continues to add weight, his swing has the potential for more power, and his hitting skills project to be among the system’s best. 4. Misael Urbina, OF Current Hit/Future Hit: 30/55 The Twins signed Urbina during the 2018 international signing period. Last season, Urbina played 101 games at Low-A and hit .191/.299/.286 (.585). While those totals are low, he compiled a .825 OPS as a 17-year-old in the Dominican Summer League. Losing a year of development impacted his swing in 2021, but he only had four plate appearances against younger pitchers last season. His bat-to-ball skills are considered advanced for his age, and he controls the strike zone. Starting the 2022 season at Low-A will help him gain some confidence, and he has the potential to move up to Cedar Rapids later in the year. 3. Spencer Steer, 2B Current Hit/Future Hit: 40/50 Steer was taken in the third round back in 2019 out of the University of Oregon. Even with the missed 2020 season, his swing took some steps forward last season. He ended the year hitting .254/.348/.484 (.833) with 18 doubles and 24 home runs between High- and Double-A. Because of his collegiate experience, his advanced approach at the plate has been his calling card. In recent years, he has reworked his swing, which may help him add more power as he moves up the organizational ladder. Steer will need to cut back on his strikeout rate as he gets closer to the big leagues, but he has hitting skills that should make him a serviceable infielder. 2. Jose Miranda, 3B Current Hit/Future Hit: 50/55 Many Twins fans are now very familiar with Miranda based on his breakout 2021 season. Minnesota took Miranda in the second round back in 2016. Many within the organization have been touting his potential for multiple years. His short, compact swing allows him to make contact at a consistent level which finally resulted in improved power numbers last season. Even if those power numbers decline at the big-league level, he should be able to continue to put the bat on the ball. Miranda saw an improved walk rate last season, but his ability to make contact means he swings at a lot of pitches. Can he continue to make adjustments as he gets closer to his debut? 1. Austin Martin, SS/CF Current Hit/Future Hit: 50/60 Martin is widely considered Minnesota’s top prospect, and many scouts felt he was the top hitter in the 2020 MLB Draft. Last season, he made his pro debut and hit .270/.414/.382 (.796) at Double-A. Like Miranda, he can make contact with nearly any pitch, but he can be over patient at times. MLB Pipeline put it succinctly when saying he shows “no weaknesses at the plate.” Since joining the Twins organization, he has continued to work on altering his swing, which may produce more power in 2022. However, that might mean that he has to sacrifice contact and be more aggressive. Who do you think has the best hit tool in the Twins system? Should someone else make the list? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Top Power Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Last season the front office decided against extending Berrios and flipped him to the Toronto Blue Jays for Austin Martin and Simeon Woods-Richardson. Getting two-top 100 prospects for a guy under team control for just one more year was an excellent come-up for Minnesota. If they had decided against paying him, that level of return is certainly a welcomed one. They had to replace Berrios, though. Going back to 2019, Berrios owns a 3.66 ERA, 9.2 K/9, and 2.4 BB/9. He’d put up dominant outings at times and then see late-season slides. Home runs got him every once in a while, but he was every bit a staff ace for Minnesota. After passing on virtually all of the free-agent starting pitching market, they found something of a clone. Looking back to 2019 for Gray, the Reds hurler owns a 3.49 ERA, 10.6 K/9, and 3.5 BB/9. It's almost as if the Twins had determined they had a "type" when it comes to a frontline starter. Minnesota had squeezed more out of Berrios under pitching coach Wes Johnson, and while Grady is older, it's not crazy to think they may be able to teach him some new tricks. Gray exits a Reds team looking to tear everything down, and he also has the benefit of escaping a hitters paradise in Cincinnati. Berrios is the slightly harder thrower of the two, averaging 94 mph on his fastball. Gray has seen diminished velocity as he ages but still sits at 92.6 mph. Gray gives up less hard contact, but we’re splitting hairs on the differences between the two when it comes to whiff rates as well as CSW% (Called+Swinging Strike Percentage). Looking at each of their Statcast profiles from 2021, it’s actually Gray that sees the scales tilted his way when diving into more analytically based outputs. Another interesting note on Gray is that while he has seen diminished velocity, his stuff ranks extremely well. Highlighted multiple times by Rob Friedman's Pitching Ninja account, and noted in a tweet by The Athletic's Eno Sarris, there's more to pitching than simply pumping velocity. For Gray, as the fastball might have dipped, he's added substantial shape through movement to his pitches. In attempting to keep batters off balance Gray has worked on crafting pitches that miss bats. Although Minnesota's Johnson is seen as a velocity guru, it's the analytical additions to pitching development that have pushed guys to get more from their overall repertoire. Gray will have a whole new pool of information to work with. At the end of the day, Minnesota accomplished a few things in the entirety of their starting pitching scenario. They dealt a guy they weren’t going to pay and got peak value for him. They then acquired an older starter for a highly volatile return and have to pay him substantially less. All of that takes place while the on-field returns could very comfortably be projected to be even. Fangraphs’ ZiPS projects Gray for a 3.78 ERA and 9.8 K/9 in 2022. The same projection system has Berrios at a 3.84 ERA and 9.3 K/9. If the track records of similarity don't provide something to key in on, there's at least an upcoming season in which both are expected to provide similar levels of value. What do you think about the Twins swap of top starters? Would you rather have Berrios purely from a pitching perspective, or are you good with Gray, the similarities, and all of the additional prospect capital? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  15. Several players had to switch their lockers from the minor league clubhouse to the clubhouse at Hammond Stadium. That is certainly not a 'normal' thing to happen. Normally big league camp starts several weeks before minor league spring training begin, but due to the lockout things are different. Twelve of the 18 non-roster invites have spent time in the big leagues previously. Here is a look at the players invited to camp. Pitchers LHP Danny Coulombe LHP Devin Smeltzer RHP Jake Faria RHP Ian Hamilton RHP Trevor Megill RHP Juan Minaya Catchers David Banuelos Caleb Hamilton Infielders Tim Beckham Austin Martin Jermaine Palacios Daniel Robertson Aaron Sabato Spencer Steer Curtis Terry Outfielder Jake Cave Derek Fisher Kyle Garlick There are a lot of familiar names among these players. With so many free agents remaining still, it is very possible that the Twins add players to this list. This means 58 players are in Twins major-league spring training. The depth will be helpful, especially once games start, but also remember that the Twins will be able to bring more players from minor-league camp to play in spring games too. Maeda Arrives Sunday was mandatory report day for spring training. Among those reporting was Kenta Maeda who told media that things are going fine in his rehab, but he isn't ready to say when he will be able to return. Feel free to discuss the non-roster invites. Which of them do you think have a legitimate opportunity to make the Twins Opening Day roster? Leave your Comments below.
  16. Way back in 2014, these two future stars were teammates on Team USA’s 15U national team. Royce Lewis and fellow top prospect Hunter Greene were from southern California. Austin Martin grew up in Orange Park, Florida, a suburb south of Jacksonville. The US roster was comprised of players from across the country. They worked out and made the team at the USA Baseball facilities in Cary, North Carolina. They played two exhibition games in Cary and then a game at Chase Field, home of the Arizona Diamondbacks, before heading down to Mazatlan, Mexico, for the World Cup. The team began with a 14-2 win against Panama. Then they beat New Zealand 16-1. In their third game, they beat South Africa 25-0. Then the games got a little closer. They beat Japan (7-2), then Germany (11-1), then Cuba (10-2). Then the games got even closer. They beat Venezuela (6-2), then Chinese Taipei (5-4), and Mexico (10-9). That put them into the championship game, a rematch against Cuba in the Gold Medal game. After starting the tournament with nine straight wins, including that 10-2 win against Cuba, the US team lost 6-3 in the Gold Medal game. Martin and Lewis, who were roommates in Mexico, played in eight of the team’s ten games. Lewis started six games while Martin started four games. Lewis recorded 26 at-bats and hit .462/.533/.808 (1.341) with five doubles, two triples, and six stolen bases. Martin had 15 at-bats. He hit .533/.500/.733 (1.233) with three doubles. They returned home with World Cup Silver Medals and many great memories. Lewis and Martin were roommates throughout the entire Team USA experience. They both enjoyed their time together. Martin said on Friday, “We kind of fell out of contact a little bit, just two different parts of the country, two different paths in terms of our journey through baseball.” Royce Lewis was in California, and he was the #1 overall pick in the 2017 draft out of high school. Martin was in Florida. He was the 37th round draft pick by Cleveland in 2017, in part because he was committed to going to Vanderbilt, one of college baseball’s best programs. And, he became one of the best players in college baseball. Over two-plus college seasons in Nashville, Martin hit .368/.474/.532 (1.007) with 39 doubles, 14 homers, and 43 stolen bases. He walked more than he struck out. He also was part of Vandy’s 2019 College World Series championship team. Martin said of the experience, “I think I just matured a lot in the 2 1/2 years that I was there. Looking back at it now, I don’t necessarily think that I wasn’t ready, but I know that those 2 1/2 years at Vanderbilt have made me a lot more prepared for what’s to come.” By the time the Covid-shortened draft came in 2020, Martin was considered one of the best players in the draft. Some thought he could or even should go first overall. Instead, he went to the Toronto Blue Jays with the fifth overall pick (and signed the second-highest bonus). —----------------------------------------------------------------------------- Martin began his pro career in 2021 in Double-A with the New Hampshire Fisher Cats. As you know, on July 31, he was traded with Simeon Woods Richardson to the Twins in exchange for Jose Berrios. He joined a group of very talented players with the Wichita Wind Surge and felt welcomed right away. “I think that group of people kind of helped me transition easier. As soon as I walked into the clubhouse, there were my teammates trying to help me get adjusted, show me where my locker was, show me where this is, what time we had to do that. I don’t think necessarily how talented that team was had to do with it, but more that group of guys and that group of people, of staff, is what made the transition so smooth, in my opinion.” Martin spent much of his time working out at Scott Boras’s facilities in Florida in the offseason. In addition, the Twins sent minor league hitting coordinator Bryce Berg to Florida to spend a couple of days working with Martin. Later, Triple-A hitting coach Ryan Smith spent some time with him as well. “It was really just an opportunity for us to connect and kind of just give an update on how things were going this offseason.” When the lockout ends, Royce Lewis will get back on the field, ready to play regular-season games for the first time since 2019. Martin and Lewis have reconnected since the trade, just not in person. “I actually talked to him maybe three or four days ago. Reached out just to see how he was doing. We had a really good conversation. I look forward to him getting down here and being able to see each other because I haven’t seen him since I was like 15 years old. So it’ll be good to catch up with him for sure.” Where will he play defensively? Minor League Director Alex Hassan previously said, “On the defensive end, we’re still evaluating him, to be honest. I feel really confident in his ability to play the outfield right now. He has real skill in the infield. He has the ability to make some plays. He played a lot of shortstop last year. If we had to say where his focus is going to be, especially early in camp, it’ll be on the infield and continue to refine him defensively. He’s going to get the bulk of his work at shortstop, but I do think there’s going to be an opportunity to move around the infield as well, but we’re going to start at shortstop and try to concentrate the majority of his work on the infield in the early going.” And Martin is just fine with that. Asked how he feels about potentially moving around the diamond, Martin responded, “Honestly, I look at it as a blessing, to be honest, because it's something that I didn't know I could do until I was in college, and I was kind of, I would say, forced to do it. It's a part of my identity as a baseball player now, and it's a part of my game. And I don't really think it's a negative thing. Is it challenging? Yeah, for sure. It's definitely challenging, but at the same time, I look at it as not everybody's able to do that. Not everybody's capable of being able to do that. So the fact that I can, it's something that I want to keep in my toolbox and keep trying to work on getting better at both infield and outfield.” Offensively, Martin is really good but still has things to learn. Hassan said, “ I think throughout his career, and certainly his college career, he was conscious of putting the ball in play, on making contact which is a good and unique skill in some ways, especially as the game is trending. I think there were things he would do mechanically to optimize for putting the ball in play. We don’t want to strip that away. We don’t want to take that away, but there are also instances where we think he can be more aggressive and look to drive the ball a bit more.” So, how does he go about doing that, adding power? Martin said, “It’s not much of an adjustment. Honestly, it’s just putting the barrel to the baseball, and I’m capable of doing that. I just need to do it more frequently.” Simple, right? Yes, there are mechanical things he is working on too with the Twins personnel too, but he wants to keep it simple. One thing that Martin has consistently done well in his baseball career, at every level, is get on base, and he very frequently is hit by pitches. Is that just how it will be, or does he think he can do anything about it? “I think I could definitely back up off the plate a little bit more, but being hit by baseballs is just been a part of my game since I could even tell you, to be honest. I’ve just always been a ball magnet.” Martin continued, maybe thinking forward, “Now that guys are throwing 98 to 100 mph, I kind of want to start moving out the way and lessening that a little bit, but it is what it is, honestly, a free base.” —---------------------------------------------------------- While both players have some question marks, Royce Lewis and Austin Martin have great versatility, strength, speed, athleticism, and baseball acumen. Twins fans should be excited and hope that the two talents that were teammates as 15-year-olds will be teammates for the long-term in the Minnesota Twins lineup. I guess if you wanted, you could say that Martin and Lewis Belong Together.
  17. While prospects like Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson have long been household names, Brody Rodning may only be known by die-hard Blue Jays prospect followers and the people from Gaylord, MN, Sibley East High School, and Minnesota State, Mankato. However, more people should be talking about the hard-throwing left-handed relief pitching prospect who had 16 strikeouts in 11 2/3 innings for the Mesa Solar Sox in the Arizona Fall League in 2021. Brody Rodning grew up on a farm, just outside of Gaylord, MN, a town of about 2,300 people southwest of the Twin Cities. A drive to Target Field will take just over an hour (depending on what time you are driving there!). He became a star athlete at Sibley East High School. He was a three-time letter winner in three sports. He was the quarterback on the football team. He was the leading scorer on the basketball team. But it was baseball where he really shined. As a senior, he went 4-2 with a 0.74 ERA. In 38 innings, he struck out 81 batters. Upon graduation, he took the short drive south to pitch at Minnesota State, Mankato, one of the strongest Division II teams in the country. As a freshman in 2015, he went 9-0 with a 2.85 ERA. In 66 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 65 batters. In his sophomore season, he went 6-2 with a 4.34 ERA. In 74 2/3 innings, he walked 36 and struck out 84 batters. In his junior year, he went 6-4 with a 3.47 ERA. In 70 innings, he had 34 walks and 77 strikeouts. Following his junior season, he was the 13th round draft choice of the Toronto Blue Jays. After one appearance in the Gulf Coast League, he was pushed to the Advanced Rookie League in Vancouver where he went 4-1 with a 4.64 ERA in 33 innings. Rodning spent the 2018 season in the Midwest League. In 35 games, all out of the bullpen, he went 5-3 with a 3.89 ERA. He pitched well for Lansing in 2019, but he only got into seven games due to time on the Injured List. As we all know, 2020 was the Covid pandemic year. There was no minor league season. Rodning was at home, helping on the family farm and playing catch at the local ball field. He reached out to his employer, the Blue Jays, and asked if he could play town ball for the Gaylord Islanders. The Minnesota Baseball Association had to approve it too. They did. He got to work some innings. He got to play in the outfield and even hit for the first time in years. As you would imagine, he was dominant on the mound. And just as nice, he got to play ball for the summer with his brother McKoy. You may recall that the 2021 minor-league season started about a month late due to Covid protocols. However, at the start of the MLB season, Rodning was pitching at the team's alternate site. When their regular season began, he was assigned to Double-A New Hampshire where he went 3-4 with a 5.58 ERA in 32 games. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 43 batters. The numbers may not jump out, but when you consider that he had a five-game stretch where he gave up 11 of his 25 earned runs in five games (6 2/3 innings). He was pretty dominant the rest of the season. With the Fisher Cats, Rodning was a teammate of Austin Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson, at least until they were traded to the Twins in the Jose Berrios deal. Both new Twins prospects discussed what a great friend and teammate Rodning is, but they also noted the quality of his stuff on the mound. On Twins Spotlight in November, Wood Richardson said of Rodning, “(He’s a) hard-throwing lefty. Nasty slider. Nasty cutter. Great guy. One of those guys that throws across his body, it’s just so funky that no one can pick it up. His delivery is one of a kind, very unique. Hard-throwing lefty. One of those guys that just will come after you. Don’t care. He’ll just shut the door.” Last week, Martin said of Rodning, “Great teammate. Awesome guy. I talked to him sometime last week. Great teammate. Hard worker. And then facing him is an uncomfortable AB. He’s got a three-quarter slot. His fastball gets on you. He’s got good stuff. He’s a good baseball player.” Rodning told Twins Daily this weekend, “Both of them are great teammates, for sure, both on and off the field. The Twins definitely got two guys that are hungry and ready to grind.” Regarding Martin, Rodning said, “(He) is an incredible athlete and will succeed at any position he plays. He’s a winner, and that’s huge.” On Woods Richardson, Rodney said, “Sim, that man competes at any level he plays and always thinks he’s the best, which is a great characteristic to have. We’ll save the last words for Rodning’s agent, Matt Gaeta of Gaeta Sports Management. “His drive and relentless pursuit to better himself each and every day are contagious and inspiring. He’s been through a lot, on and off the field, but his vision and hunger for success are traits that will make him successful not only on the field but also off of it as well.” Rodning is in Dunedin, Florida, for spring training right now, excited to get the season going, hoping that he’ll be able to pitch at Target Field sometime. Martin and Woods Richardson are both in Ft. Myers, hoping to make Target Field their home field. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  18. With all big-leaguers and many top prospects absent from camp, players who are not subject to MLB's lockout are able to take center stage as they work toward the starts of their seasons with Twins affiliates. Not only could this result in extra coaching and opportunities to make an impression, but the altered timeline of an MLB season starting well after these players get rolling in the minors could also play to their advantage. Last week Nash Walker called out five players who stand to be most negatively impacted by a shortened season. Today I'll try to flip the script by highlighting some prospects and players who stand to be benefit from this very unfortunate situation. 5 Positive Prospect Scenarios Made Possible by the Delayed Season Austin Martin shows he's ready. In some respects, Martin looks like an MLB-ready player. He was a top-five draft pick two years ago, based almost entirely on his polish and advanced skills. He led all of Double-A in on-base percentage last year, brandishing a plate approach that almost everyone agrees will play in the majors. Yet, as I wrote when profiling him as our #1 prospect, there are still a few elements of Martin's game that need to be ironed out before he can make the jump. He hasn't gotten any in-game experience outside of shortstop and center field, and his swing likely needs refinement. Were spring training and Opening Day playing out as normal, Martin probably wouldn't be in the mix for a big-league job right out of the gates, even if an opportunity opened up at – say – second base or center field. But if the season doesn't start until mid-May, and Martin has already had a successful spring and strong start in St. Paul? Different ballgame, so to speak. Matt Canterino earns an immediate nod. Like Martin, Canterino is a clear-cut MLB-caliber talent who has questions to answer before receiving a look in the majors. In his case, it's not so much the condensed timeline creating ambiguity – he was drafted out of college in 2019, and turned 24 in December – but a lack of reps. Due to the pandemic and injuries, Canterino has thrown only 48 total innings since joining the Twins system, including just 23 last year. He has yet to pitch above Single-A. It's unlikely that even a brilliant showing in a typical 2022 big-league camp would have put him in line to win an Opening Day job on the pitching staff, because there is just no baseline for stamina or durability. A strong showing in spring and a healthy, dominant run at Double-A through the early weeks of the minor-league season could convince Twins brass he's ready for a look right away when the delayed MLB season starts. Like with Martin, Canterino would potentially be able to impact a much larger portion of the Twins' season than he would otherwise. And unlike Martin, the path for Canterino is pretty much wide open. Minnesota has a desperate and immediate need for electric arms like his. Louie Varland accelerates his timeline. Varland was one of the best stories of the Twins system last year, going from a relatively unknown 15th-round draft pick in 2019 to the organization's Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021. With a powered-up fastball, he made mincemeat of hitters between Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids, posting a 2.10 ERA and 142-to-30 K/BB ratio and just six homers allowed in 103 innings. Tremendous work. But all of it done in Single-A. Varland is 24 so he's at an age where pitchers often break into the majors, but his development is lagging behind due to the pandemic. A delayed start for the big-leaguers, and other top prospects who are more advanced, could give him a chance to play catch-up. Aaron Sabato and Keoni Cavaco change their storylines. Sabato and Cavaco are both first-round draft picks from the past three years (2020 and 2019, respectively) but neither appeared in our recent top 20 prospect rankings, which is obviously a bad sign. Both had uphill climbs to justify their draft positions – Cavaco a raw prep player widely regarded as a stretch pick, Sabato a bat-only player who needed to mash immediately – and so far neither has come close, instead hurtling in the dreaded "bust" category. But in both cases, it's still early enough to remain hopeful. Eye-opening springs followed strong starts in the minors could help these downtrodden talents reverse their descending trajectories. Maybe by the time the Twins season starts, the view of one or both could be considerably different. Sabato is theoretically someone who could help this year with a big step forward. Devin Smeltzer puts himself back in the picture. Not every player in camp is a young prospect vying for their first chance at the big leagues. Smeltzer is an example of someone who's been there and is fighting to get back. The lefty spent more than two years on the Twins' 40-man roster before being outrighted last November, in the wake of a lost season. With more than two full seasons of service time, he was creeping up on arbitration eligibility. Now, he finds himself on the outside looking in. Except, in a more literal sense, he doesn't. Smeltzer's 40-man setback provides him with an opportunity to show he's gotten past the elbow issues of 2021, and is ready to help a needy Twins pitching staff again. As a 26-year-old with 70 innings of big-league experience and a 106 ERA+, he could put himself on the fast track by taking advantage of his head-start on other pitchers in similar positions, such as Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. After a last-place finish, Minnesota has a top-eight draft pick in 2022. There’s certainly a chance the Twins look to the college ranks for their first-round selection, so it is essential to keep an eye on college action this spring. The organization has drafted players with college experience in recent years, but the top players on this list were acquired via trade. 5. Matt Wallner, OF TD Top Prospect Rank: 13 Minnesota selected Wallner, a Minnesota native, with the 39th overall pick in 2019. During his three seasons at Southern Mississippi, he crushed the ball as he became the school’s career home run leader. He ended his collegiate career with a 1.113 OPS and a 153 to 141 strikeout to walk ratio. Since turning pro, his strikeout rate has increased significantly, which has evaluators wondering if he can make consistent contact as he moves up the ladder. Last season, he posted an .854 OPS in 68 games, but he struck out 100 times. Also, he’s on the 40-man roster, so he won’t be able to play until the lockout ends. 4. Josh Winder, RHP TD Top Prospect Rank: 10 Winder spent three years at the Virginia Military Institute before the Twins took him with a seventh-round pick in 2018. His college numbers weren’t awe-inspiring as he posted a 4.52 ERA, including a 5.40 ERA during his junior season. Minnesota saw some positive signs in him, and the organization worked with him on some changes after he signed. He led the Midwest League in ERA and WHIP during his first full professional season. During the 2020 shutdown, he made vast improvements to his physical make-up, and those results showed on the mound in 2021. He dominated Double-A with a sub-2.00 ERA and 10.7 SO/9. A shoulder injury was likely the only thing that kept him from debuting last season. 3. Matt Canterino, RHP TD Top Prospect Rank: 6 Back in 2019, the Twins took Canterino with their second-round pick from Rice University. His ERA, WHIP, and HR/9 dropped in each collegiate season. Rice had been known for pumping out top pitching prospects, but that has changed in recent years. Many Rice pitching products have struggled to stay healthy in their professional careers due to overuse during their college tenure. Canterino has been limited to 48 professional innings since being drafted, but he has been dominant when on the mound with a 1.13 ERA and 76 strikeouts. Can he buck the trend associated with Rice pitchers? 2. Joe Ryan, RHP TD Top Prospect Rank: 5 Ryan’s path to Minnesota’s rotation is unique, which fits his overall personality. He wasn’t selected in the MLB Draft during his junior season because he dealt with some muscle and shoulder injuries. He transferred to Cal State Stanislaus, a Division II school, for his senior year. In 98 1/3 innings, he posted a 1.65 ERA with a 0.83 WHIP and 127 strikeouts. The Rays selected him in the seventh round in 2018, and he rose to Double-A in his first full professional season. Minnesota received Ryan along with Drew Strotman as the return for Nelson Cruz’s expiring contract. His unique arm-angle on his fastball makes him an intriguing arm that projects to be in Minnesota’s rotation for the majority of the next decade. 1. Austin Martin, SS/OF TD Top Prospect Rank: 1 Martin was arguably the best collegiate player in the 2020 MLB Draft. His sophomore season at Vanderbilt firmly established him as a top draft prospect. During the 2018 season, he hit .392/.486/.605 (1.091) with 33 extra-base hits in 65 games. His first professional games came in 2021 as he spent the entire year at Double-A with a .796 OPS. One of his biggest concerns has been his power production, but he was tweaking his swing last season while also dealing with a hand/wrist injury. Since he isn’t on the 40-man roster, Martin is in Fort Myers working with Twins coaches, which may set him up for better success in 2022 and beyond. How would you rank these former college players? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Before I get started with recapping our preseason top 20 prospect list, I'm very excited to unveil a brand-new feature here at Twins Daily which will enable you to keep up with the system's best and brightest all year long, like never before. Introducing: The Twins Daily Top Prospect Tracker Brock's been hard at work on this great addition to the site, and now it's live for all to access. The prospect tracker is a regularly-updated interactive tool that keeps you up to speed on fluctuations in the rankings throughout the season, showcasing each player's latest monthly splits so you can track performances as the season plays out. Bookmark it and check in regularly. You'll also notice the widget popping up around the site. Okay, on with the breakdown. Minnesota Twins 2022 Top 20 Prospects 20. Steve Hajjar, LHP: Big 6-foot-5 southpaw drafted in the 2nd round last year, touted for his changeup. 19. Edouard Julien, INF: Versatile fielder drew 101 BB in 112 G last year at Single-A, good for a .434 OBP. 18. Spencer Steer, INF: Mashed 24 homers in a breakthrough power season, playing mostly 2B and 3B. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Looked to be clicking last year before TJ surgery, which will cost him '22 season. 16. Emmanuel Rodríguez, OF: Extreme contact woes marred otherwise highly encouraging rookie-ball debut. 15. Louie Varland, RHP: Honored as the org's top minor-league pitcher in '21 thanks to dazzling A-ball performance. 14. Cole Sands, RHP: Polished righty has posted a 2.53 ERA, 10.3 K/9 in two seasons since joining Twins system. 13. Matt Wallner, OF: Huge raw power will play if he can shore up his plate discipline and whiffing tendency. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Was overwhelmed during rushed MLB debut, but the skills are undeniable. 11. Noah Miller, SS: 38th pick in '21 draft out of HS swings from both sides with legit chance to stick at short. 10. Josh Winder, RHP: Absurdly dominant between AA/AAA last year, and is basically ready to go at 25. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: Team's top draft pick from last summer was a high-school phenom with 100-MPH heat. 8. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP: Mechanics and control hold back premium arsenal, but he's still young. 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Imposing flamethrower has makeup to dominate but must get past scary elbow issues. 6. Matt Canterino, RHP: His 1.13 ERA and 76 Ks in 48 IP since being drafted in 2019 say it all, good and bad. 5. Joe Ryan, RHP: Amazing numbers in minors were made to look legit during 5-start run with Twins. 4. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Safest combination of ceiling, floor, and proven durability among arms in the system. 3. José Miranda, 2B/3B: Perennial breakthrough candidate broke through with minor-league season for the ages. 2. Royce Lewis, SS: Missed 2 straight years, but has the elite skills, athleticism, and drive to catch up fast. 1. Austin Martin, SS/OF: Headliner of 2022 deadline sell-off is a worthy top prize, with evident star qualities. Top 20 Prospects Positional Breakdown C : 0 IF: 6 OF: 3 RHP: 10 LHP: 1 The Right Stuff The positional imbalance above is stark. Before we talk about some of the scarcities and what they mean, let's talk about the area of abundance: right-handed pitching. In our rankings, the top three prospects (Martin, Lewis, Miranda) are followed by seven straight right-handed pitchers, and there are three more in the back half. What's more, the majority of pitchers among these 10 are viable candidates to debut in 2022 (one already has). The Twins desperately need an infusion of impact arms and the system is poised to provide it. Six years after the new front office took over with a directive to develop pitching, they've got a pipeline bursting at the seams. Now, it's proving time. There's a whole lot riding on this group – especially if the Twins continue to take a relatively passive approach on the veteran pitching market. The team's fortunes over the next couple seasons may be dictated largely by this group. The lopsided ratio of RHP vs. LHP in these rankings definitely stands out – it's something I also remarked on when doing the organizational asset rankings, which included zero lefties. I'm not sure exactly what to make of this, or how much it matters. But it's definitely a thing. Emerging Areas of Scarcity Beyond their glut of pitching, the Twins are looking solid in the infield, although there's a lot of redundancy within that group – nearly all of the six are second/third base types, with only Lewis and Miller having any real shot to play shortstop in the majors. The scarce pipeline supplies in the outfield (3) and catcher (0) are not quite what they seem though. The past season saw Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, and Ryan Jeffers all graduate from prospect status. A year ago, those players ranked first, third, and fourth on this list. So yeah, that'll put a dent in the positional depth. Moreover, several of the players listed as infielders currently could easily end up in the outfield. Having said that, it would be nice to see some more catching talent emerge in the system. Mitch Garver is suddenly only two years from free agency, and the jury is out on Jeffers as a long-term solution. Ben Rortvedt, who also graduated from prospect status last year, has the makings of a solid backup. Do We Have a Shortstop? The Twins have an abundance of depth in the system to support their clear present need for pitching. Solutions at the shortstop position are less clear. Although we have three players listed (at least partially) as shortstops in these rankings, only two have a legit chance to play there in the majors: Miller, who is still probably four or five years away, and Lewis, who's gone two years without action on the field. The latter's viability at the position is in doubt. Keith Law of The Athletic recently reiterated his view on that matter: "Lewis is not a shortstop." Law is far from alone in his skepticism, although many others seem to more open-minded, including the Twins themselves who seem intent to keep pushing him at short for the time being. For his part, Lewis has his sights set on the big-league shortstop job. As he told Ted Schwerzler recently, "There’s an opening at short, and then the team looks very exciting. I’m just so ready to be a Minnesota Twin." At present, he might be the club's best present option at shortstop, which is to say they really have no options. Presumably that'll be addressed once the lockout ends. With the assumption that a short-term fix will be acquired, Lewis is seemingly being primed to take over in the not-too-distant future. (Otherwise, what IS the plan?) An Uneven Playing Field Before he can even be considered as a legitimate option to play shortstop in the majors, Lewis badly needs reps, and lots of 'em. Lamentably, with his presence on the 40-man roster, he's subject to the lockout, meaning he's unable to participate in spring training now, or minor leagues games when they start. Lewis isn't alone, although I feel his situation is more unfortunate than most. He's part of a group of nine players from our list, including six of the top 10, who will be unable to play so long as the lockout persists: Royce Lewis José Miranda Jordan Balazovic Joe Ryan Jhoan Duran Josh Winder Gilberto Celestino Cole Sands Blayne Enlow Should the lockout claim a chunk of the season, it will create a weird imbalance in development between these prospects and all the others, who will be able to proceed as usual with all the coaching, resources, and reps of a minor-league operation. Who's Your Pick to Click in 2022? Let's hear from y'all in the comments. If you had to pick a prospect who will enjoy a Miranda-like ascent in 2022, which is the first name that comes to mind? Ideally someone toward the back or outside of our Top 20 – either in the Honorable Mentions or entirely absent from our discussion. Maybe later on we can come back and see who made the best calls. For my part, I think I'm gonna go with right-handed pitcher Marco Raya. Past Rankings Twins Daily 2021 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2019 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2018 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2017 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2016 Top Prospects Twins Daily 2015 Top Prospects
  21. As Nick referenced, prospects like Royce Lewis are getting the raw deal to start 2022. Players on the 40-man roster have been locked out by the MLB, including Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Cole Sands, Josh Winder, and Jose Miranda. These players will have to continue training on their own until MLB lifts the lockout, which can be a challenge since many had to work on their own during the 2020 campaign. By all accounts, the lockout won't impact the start of the minor league season. In fact, Triple-A teams recently announced an increase in games from 120 to 150. Minnesota's Double- and Triple-A affiliates are both scheduled to start their season in the first full week of April. Each of the players below will figure significantly into the Saints or Wind Surge roster, and they have something to prove at the start of 2022. Austin Martin, SS/OF Martin is widely considered Minnesota's top prospect as he is the organization's highest-ranking prospect on national top-100 lists. One of Martin's most significant concerns during his professional career has been his lack of power. In college, he destroyed the ball with a 1.007 OPS, but that total has dropped by over 200 points since turning pro. Last season, he changed his swing and dealt with a hand/wrist injury, decreasing power for up to 12 months. Minnesota's coaching staff can continue to work with Martin on his swing adjustments to bring back some of his missing power. With Lewis and Miranda not available, he will be the star attraction at Triple-A. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Woods Richardson was pushed to Double-A last season as a 20-year-old, and he was over 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. He posted a 5.91 ERA and a 1.54 WHIP in 15 appearances, so there is room for improvement. His appearances were limited because he also was a member of Team USA in the Olympics, but he never made an appearance in Tokyo. A delayed start to the season allows Minnesota's coaching staff more time to work with Woods Richardson since he is a newer addition to the organization. Now entering his age-22 campaign, he will get a second shot at Double-A to prove that his 2021 numbers were just a blip on the radar. Matt Canterino, RHP Like many of Minnesota's top pitching prospects, questions surround Canterino and his health after some positive signs in 2021. Draft picks from Rice, where Canterino attended college, have a history of arm injuries due to overuse in college. His stock rose significantly last season after spending the 2020 campaign improving his changeup to go along with his dominant fastball. Last season, he was limited to 23 innings, and he has yet to pitch more than 100 innings in one collegiate or professional season. Canterino needs to prove his injury concerns are behind him, so he can start building up his innings total. Minnesota needs starting pitchers, and the delay may allow Canterino to solidify his place in the team's long-term plans. Which prospect do you feel benefits the most if MLB's season is delayed? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  22. Age: 22 (DOB: 3/23/99) 2021 Stats (AA): 418 PA, .270/.414/.382, 5 HR, 35 RBI, 67 R, 14 SB ETA: 2022 2021 Ranking: NA National Top 100 Rankings BA: 47 | MLB: 36 | ATH: 25 | BP: 52 What's To Like Derek Falvey has likely had eyes on Martin for some time. Just months after Falvey claimed Minnesota's top front office job, Cleveland drafted Martin out of high school in the 37th round of the 2017 draft. Of course, he didn't sign. Instead, the Florida prep phenom headed to Vanderbilt, where he solidified himself as one of the best young baseball players in the country, dazzling evaluators with his athleticism and stellar plate discipline while putting up monster stats. Three years later, Martin had emerged as a top draft prospect, viewed by some as a worthy #1 overall pick. He ended up going fifth to Toronto, and instantly became one of the best prospects in the game. The COVID shutdown prevented him from debuting in 2020, but last year Martin went straight to Double-A, where he led the league in on-base percentage (.414). I can hardly overstate how impressive it is for a first-year pro to lead all of Double-A – a level populated by many of the game's finest prospects – in the most crucial offensive statistic. Martin blended his keen eye at the plate with his knack for taking an HBP to reach base at a spectacular rate. After coming to the Twins, he reached base via BB or HBP in 20% of his plate appearances. Meanwhile, he split time between the two most valuable (non-catcher) positions: center field and shortstop. He's an elite young talent, ranked as one of the top 50 (or so) prospects in the game by every major outlet. Martin has established a high floor as a contact-hitting OBP machine who brings value in every facet of the game. He's a plus runner, and while the power didn't show up in his first pro season, that is frequently a later tool to materialize. He has all the ingredients to make it happen. "Making it happen" is exactly what Martin has done up to this point. He brings a tremendous skill set and also that added dimension of "superstar aura," which exuded heavily at Vanderbilt. He's electric. He's confident. He's a gamer and a playmaker. You want to see him in big spots. An All-Star in the making? The Blue Jays seemingly didn't think so. What's Left To Work On Just like his immense talent, Martin's question marks and barriers are plain to see. First, there is the lack of a clear defensive home. Nobody believes he'll play shortstop in the majors and he's blocked in center field by Byron Buxton. From there, you're looking at different scenarios that diminish his value to varying degrees. Will he be a great defensive third baseman? A capable second baseman? A rangy left or right fielder? There's a whole spectrum of potential outcomes and it's hard to put a finger on which is most likely, since the only positions he's played as a pro are two we can feel pretty confident he won't play regularly as a Twin. Keith Law, who is higher on Martin's overall outlook than most (he has him ranked #25 on his top 100 list for The Athletic), has significant concerns about the 22-year-old's arm. As Law shared in a recent collab article with Aaron Gleeman, "There are two separate issues at play with Martin. One is his throwing, which went south on him in the spring of 2020, right before the shutdown, and still hasn’t improved. He was a plus defender at third base as a sophomore, but if he can’t throw well from the left side of the infield, that’s a non-starter." The second issue referenced by Law is one that weighs heavily against Martin in every evaluation: a conspicuous lack of power. Even with the aggressive assignment to Double-A, a .382 slugging percentage in Year 1 from a top five draft pick is troubling. In 93 games, he managed just five homers and 18 doubles. Says Law: "He’s had a tendency to shrink himself by crouching and striding toward the plate, which improved his plate coverage but robbed him of his ability to drive the ball." Says Baseball America: "Gaining more strength and hitting the ball with authority more frequently will determine whether Martin becomes an impact regular or more of an average, everyday type player." Says Jeffrey Paternostro of Baseball Prospectus: "He still needs to hit for some pop, or major league pitching isn’t gonna nibble." That really gets to the bottom of it: standout OBP skills from the minors tend to fade quickly if MLB pitchers don't consider you a threat. On the bright side, Martin has plenty of time to build on his power output, and there's reason to believe that will happen. In his interview with Gleeman, Law called Martin's power concerns "overblown," citing a hand/wrist injury and shift in approach as sapping the natural pop that still resides within him. "It’s not a lack of strength but a conscious choice to give up contact quality in favor of avoiding the strikeout, and that can be changed — he certainly hasn’t always hit this way," says Law. "I absolutely believe the Twins are already addressing this." What's Next Having proven himself in Double-A, and set to turn 23 in a month, Martin seems destined to open the 2022 season in St. Paul, where he'll be a stone's throw away from Target Field. From there it becomes a matter of opportunity. They won't call him up sit on the bench, and the multi-positional regular role is already occupied by Luis Arraez. An early injury to Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco or Josh Donaldson might open a door for Martin to step in. Another scenario that creates a path is moving Miguel Sanó to DH, Alex Kirilloff to first, and planting Martin in left field. But the problem is that Martin has barely played left field – his last official action at the position came in the form of 15 freshman appearances at Vanderbilt. He also hasn't spent significant time at third base since 2019, and has virtually no experience at second. For this reason, it's likely the Twins will take a somewhat measured approach rather than rushing things. Martin is in some ways a refined product – he could pretty clearly take quality ABs in the major leagues, right now – but he'll benefit from getting reps at different positions, and there may be some work needed yet on his swing. Since he's not yet on the 40-man roster, Martin will be able to jump into action when the minor league season commences, even if the lockout delays the MLB season. He might be ready for the major leagues before the big-leaguers are. Martin has a high bar to reach if he hopes to justify what the Twins gave up for him. Previous Rankings Honorable Mentions Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 #10: Josh Winder, RHP #9: Chase Petty, RHP #8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP #7: Jhoan Duran, RHP #6: Matt Canterino, RHP #5: Joe Ryan, RHP #4: Jordan Balazovic, RHP #3: José Miranda, 2B/3B #2: Royce Lewis, SS #1: Austin Martin, SS/OF
  23. This is an exciting group with high-risk, high-reward prospects mixed with established minor league hitters. Let's break it down. 13. SS Noah Miller The Twins picked Miller, 19, in the first round of the 2021 draft. JD Cameron recently broke down Millers’ all-around skills, if not his lack of a transparent standout tool. Miller could see Low-A in 2022, but a slow progression is a good bet. 12. OF Emmanuel Rodríguez The Twins may have a budding top prospect in Rodríguez. At 18 years old, Rodríguez posted an .870 OPS in 153 plate appearances for the FCL Twins in 2021. That’s quite impressive for someone listed at 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds. 11. OF Misael Urbina Urbina, 19, is still a ways away from the high-minors. He hit just .191/.299/.286 for Fort Myers in 2021. He was over two years younger than the average Low-A position player, but Urbina has work to do before 2022. 10. SS Keoni Cavaco Cavaco, 20, has had a rough two years in the minors. He’s played only 88 games, but Cavaco has hit just .217/.276/.289 while striking out in 35% of his plate appearances. 2022 is a big year for the former first-round pick. 9. UTIL Alerick Soularie There is a noticeable gap between Soularie and the four above him on this list. Soularie is an advanced college hitter who has yet to settle into the minors. Soularie, 22, was a monster at Tennessee and is a sleeper breakout candidate for 2022. 8. UTIL Edouard Julien Julien, 22, hit .267/.434/.480 across both A-levels in 2021, showing off impressive speed with 34 steals and power with 47 extra-base hits. One should expect Julien to hit in the heart of Wichita’s order for much of 2022. 7. 1B Aaron Sabato The Twins’ first-round pick in 2020 didn’t exactly turn heads during his pro debut. Sabato, 22, hit .202/.373/.410 across two levels, but that included a monstrous showing at High-A. Sabato could move up rapidly if he carries that late-season production into 2022. 6. OF Matt Wallner Twins fans have paid closer attention to Wallner, 24, because of his roots. A Forest Lake native, his performance should draw just as many eyes. Wallner hit .264/.350/.508 at Cedar Rapids despite working through a broken hamate bone in 2021. 5. SS Royce Lewis Many are anxiously awaiting the return of Lewis, 22, who has lost two full minor league seasons of development. He’s the type of talent who could move up quickly if everything clicks. Lewis’ progression is one of the biggest storylines for the Twins in 2022. 4. UTIL Spencer Steer Steer, 24, quietly broke out with a powerful 2021 campaign. Steer hit ten homers in 45 games for Cedar Rapids and earned a promotion to Wichita. His overall line there wasn’t great, but he had a 35-game stretch where he hit .272/.336/.544 with 18 extra-base hits. 3. UTIL Austin Martin Martin, 22, shouldn’t spend too much longer in the minors if things go as planned. Martin posted a .414 On-Base Percentage at Double-A last year and could spend most of his time in St. Paul in 2022. He’s a prime September call-up candidate. 2. OF Gilberto Celestino Arguably the Twins’ best defensive replacement for Byron Buxton in centerfield, Celestino, 22, is primed for another look in 2022. He hit .290/.384/.443 in 49 games for the Saints following a less-than-stellar debut with the Twins. 1. INF José Miranda A lock for a prominent role if he’s healthy, Miranda is far and away the closest Twins prospect to the majors. Miranda, 23, was spotless at the plate in 2021. His adjustment to major league pitching is a story to watch in 2022. The takeaway: prepare for Miranda Mania at Target Field. The breakout prospect is guaranteed to debut if healthy. Sleeper contributors include Lewis, Celestino, and Steer, with Martin likely joining the team later in the summer. The lefty-righty combo of Wallner and Sabato is intriguing for the future, as is Rodríguez. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! FOR THE PITCHER LIST, CLICK HERE -> Ranking the Twins Top Pitching Prospects by ETA MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  24. The intent of this list was to answer a question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? We ranked current MLB players and prospects based on factors like production, age, upside, pedigree, health, contract, and positional scarcity. Here's how the top 20 shakes out for 2022 (click on the player's name to find his writeup): 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP 15. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 10. Ryan Jeffers, C 9. Max Kepler, RF 8. Mitch Garver, C 7. Joe Ryan, RHP 6. Bailey Ober, RHP 5. Austin Martin, OF 4. Royce Lewis, SS 3. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2. Jorge Polanco, 2B 1. Byron Buxton, CF If we're treating Kirilloff as an outfielder and Arraez as an infielder, that breaks down to: 8 pitchers 6 outfielders 4 infielders 2 catchers It's not a bad balance, roughly reflecting the proportions of positions on an MLB roster. However, the Twins do have a few clear areas of weakness and scarcity, as well as some areas of abundance that point to possible trade opportunities. We'll explore these along with other noteworthy observations and takeaways as we break down the list, taking stock of the Twins organization as a whole. Return of the King When I first took a shot at compiling this list, ahead of the 2018 season, Byron Buxton was at the top. At that time he was 24 years old, coming off a breakout season in which he was (mostly) healthy, a fringe MVP contender, and recipient of a Platinum Glove. It all seemed to be coming together. If only we knew. Recurring injuries and progressively diminishing team control have kept Buxton's stock in check since then, to the point where he nearly slipped out of the top 10 in last year's rankings. But all that's transpired since has vaulted him back to the #1 spot at last. While still dealing with his share of injuries in 2021, Buxton proved more than ever he's a rare difference-maker, stacking up against any player in franchise history on a per-rate basis. And after the season, Minnesota opportunistically locked him up. The uniquely team-friendly nature of Buxton's contract extension, which takes him through the entirety of his remaining prime, makes him one of the most valuable assets in all of baseball. The Fall of Maeda In last year's rankings, Kenta Maeda ranked #1. He was an accomplished veteran starter coming off a Cy Young runner-up season, with a highly favorable contract to boot. Maeda was the centerpiece around which the rotation would be built. Maeda didn't appear in this year's rankings. His dramatic drop-off encompasses the rotation's downfall as a whole. The 2021 season really couldn't have done much more to tank Maeda's value: he largely struggled through 21 starts, then underwent elbow surgery late in the season. By the time he returns in 2023, he'll be 35 and in his walk year. His team-friendly contract, with only $3M in guaranteed base salary, means Maeda's absence in 2022 won't hurt the team too much resource-wise, which was a big part of his value. But the Twins were counting on his arm for the coming season, and now they'll be without it, as well as that of José Berríos (#4 in last year's rankings). In a nutshell, this tees up the immense challenge of building a new starting rotation – from two starting pitchers among the top five assets to zero. On the bright side, Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan (#6 and #7 this year) are both under control for the next six years, so if either or both can affirm their early promise, they are poised to become premium commodities. Notably, neither one cost this front office very much to acquire. Power and Parity in the Pitching Pipeline This franchise's success over the next 3-4 years will be heavily dependent on the fruits of a pitching pipeline this front office has been cultivating since it arrived. The disruption of a pandemic stalled progress, but the Twins currently have a huge assortment of high-upside arms nearing MLB-readiness. Those arms are all grouped together around the back end of this top 20 list. The last three players we ranked – Simeon Woods Richardson, Josh Winder, Matt Canterino – are all part of this group, and if we extended the list to 30 or 40, several more would show up: Cole Sands, Blayne Enlow, Louie Varland, Chris Vallimont, Drew Strotman. Maybe even Randy Dobnak and Griffin Jax. By passing up the high end of free agent pitching, the front office has essentially made clear that it's staking itself to this group. If next year's rankings are flush with pitchers from it, that'll be a good sign. If not, then that'll be the most damning strike against this regime yet. Short on Shortstops Around the time I first put these rankings together in 2018, people were wondering if the Twins were filling their system with *too many* shortstops. They'd taken Royce Lewis first overall in the previous draft, adding him to a system that already included Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, and Wander Javier (all of whom appeared in that inaugural top 20 ranking). What's happened since shows why it's so damn hard to develop shortstops (and why the great ones are such tremendous commodities). Javier flamed out. Polanco and Gordon have moved to different positions. Lewis is still tenuously considered a shortstop, but the jury is out. Outside of him, the cupboard is now bare. With Andrelton Simmons gone, there's no current occupant at the MLB level, though the Twins will presumably sign someone to a short-term deal. In the system, Lewis sorta stands alone as a high-end prospect with legitimate major-league shortstop potential. Lacking Left-handers One commonality among all eight pitchers to appear on this list – and the next handful of honorable mentions – is that they're all right-handers. The most glaring scarcity in this system, without question, is left-handed pitchers. Were we to extend the list, who would be the top-ranked lefty pitcher? It's an interesting question. Without thinking too deeply about it, it's probably a toss-up between their three top bullpen lefties: Taylor Rogers, Caleb Thielbar and Jovani Moran. But they're all relievers with flaws and limited upside. How much does this particular scarcity matter? Hard to say. The Twins aren't short on high-quality arms in their system, but the most valuable and projectable ones are virtually all right-handers. I wonder to what extent this was intentional, and to what extent the team might try to course-correct and add balance going forward. Top Trade Candidates One of the most pertinent insights to emerge through this exercise is a clear understanding of where the logjams exist and which areas of strength the Twins are most likely to trade from. That analysis feels especially meaningful in this offseason, because the front office essentially has no choice but to leverage the trade market in order to acquire impact talent, with free agency now picked at key positions. For me, this is a pretty simple equation: Which players rank lower on this Twins-specific list than they would in other organizations? From this angle, five names stand out (listed roughly in order of what they'd bring back): Austin Martin Max Kepler Luis Arraez Jose Miranda Gilberto Celestino One could theoretically add Mitch Garver or Ryan Jeffers to this list, although I'm not sure I have enough confidence in either one to feel good about trading the other. Kepler and Celestino are both made somewhat more expandable by the Buxton extension, but the most intriguing redundancy from my view is with Martin, Arraez, and Miranda. With Buxton now entrenched in center, Martin's most likely destinations seem to be second, third, or left. The same can basically said for Arraez and Miranda (though I suspect left field is considered much less desirable for both). Second and third are currently occupied by Jorge Polanco and Josh Donaldson, who are under guaranteed contract for two more years. Trading Donaldson would alleviate this logjam in a big way, but the team's opportunities to do so are much more limited. Martin, Arraez and Miranda are all coveted young players with appealing contract situations. If the Twins want to bring in frontline pitching via trade once the lockdown ends, this would appear to be the path. What strikes you as you review this evaluation of players in the Twins system? Are you feeling good about the state of the franchise? Bad? Share your thoughts in the comments below, and feel free to catch up on past lists for a trip down memory lane: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Again, I certainly think that the Twins system is strong. It likely won’t be a Top 10 organization by the national publications, but I legitimately think that as many as 25 or more from each of the lists can play in the big leagues with continued development, health, and of course a little luck. Before getting too far, let’s take a look at the two lists... And before I do that, I will acknowledge my mistakes. (Yes, I make them from time to time...) 1.) I switched shortstops Jermaine Palacios and Wander Javier in my rankings. I showed Palacios ranking as the #25 hitter with Javier checking in at #15. Those should be reversed. 2.) I was looking at my living Twins Top 152 prospect rankings (Yes, I have one, and no, not going to share it) for this summary and realized that I just missed RHP Austin Schulfer. I have placed him in where I had ranked him among pitchers and overall in the below charts. I acknowledged in one of the pitcher articles that while it is a good start to split up the Hitters and Pitchers, there was a logical additional separation that is needed... Starting Pitchers and Relief Pitchers. You see, right or wrong, I still have it in my head that a #3 of #4 starter is still going to through 150-160 innings a season while even the best relievers will throw 60-70 innings in a season. Fair? Not necessarily because no one is questioning the importance of a quality bullpen. Twins fans certainly understand that need. And, maybe it's something that will change in time. If we're being honest, we have seen pitching roles change over the past few years and I would expect that will continue. Aside from the top starting pitchers, most starters are only going through the batting order twice, pitching four or five innings. That is making the value of relievers much more important. So, I did want to take a few minutes and also provide my list of the top 15 Twins relief pitching prospects. Top 15 Relief Pitching Prospects 1. Jovani Moran, LHP 2. Osiris German, RHP 3. Yennier Cano, RHP 4. Jordan Gore, RHP 5. Steven Cruz, RHP 6. Ryan Mason, RHP 7. Alex Scherff, RHP 8. Denny Bentley, LHP 9. Zach Featherstone, LHP 10. Ryan Shreve, RHP 11. Derek Molina, RHP 12. Zach Neff, LHP 13. David Festa, RHP 14. Josh Mitchell, LHP 15. Melvi Acosta, RHP Again, that is a really good group. The top five were included among the Top 30 Pitching Prospects, and likely #6 through #12 on this list would have appeared very soon. Seth's Top 50 Twins Prospects (Clicking on the player links will bring you to a list of any article that player has been tagged in on Twins Daily. It's fun to look back and see how they've progressed, and other interesting information from their careers.) Royce Lewis, SS (Hitter 1) Jose Miranda, IF (H2) Austin Martin, SS/OF (H3) Matt Canterino, RHP (Pitcher 1) Joe Ryan, RHP (P2) Jordan Balazovic, RHP (P3) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (P4) Josh Winder, RHP (P5) Chase Petty, RHP (P6) Marco Raya, RHP (P7) Jhoan Duran, RHP (P8) Cade Povich, LHP (P9) Noah Miller, SS (H4) Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF (H5) Steve Hajjar, LHP (P10) Kala’I Rosario, OF (H6) Blayne Enlow, RHP (P11) Gilberto Celestino, OF (H7) Louie Varland, RHP (P12) Spencer Steer, IF (H8) Cole Sands, RHP (P13) Edouard Julien, IF (H9) Sawyer Gipson-Long, RHP (P14) Drew Strotman, RHP (P15) Aaron Sabato, 1B (H10) Matt Wallner, OF (H11) Misael Urbina, OF (H12) Jovani Moran, LHP (P16) Casey Legumina, RHP (P17) Keoni Cavaco, SS (H13) Chris Vallimont, RHP (P18) Christian Encarnacion-Strand, 3B (H14) Jermaine Palacios, SS (H15) Regi Grace, RHP (P19) Yunior Severino, IF (H16) Alerick Soularie, OF (H17) Jair Camargo, C (H18) Osiris German, RHP (P20) Christian MacLeod, LHP (P21) Alex Isola, C/1B (H19) Sean Mooney, RHP (P22) Yennier Cano, RHP (P23) Austin Schulfer, RHP (P24) Jeferson Morales, C/OF (H20) Seth Gray, 3B (H21) Will Holland, SS/CF (H22) Cody Laweryson, RHP (P24) Jordan Gore, RHP (P25) Mark Contreras, OF (H23) Charlie Mack, C (H24) Notes It is hard not to notice that the top three prospects are hitters. However, prospects four through 12 are all pitchers. Frankly, an argument could be made that those nine pitchers could be fairly interchangeable. If you were to tell me that Jhoan Duran or Josh Winder or Chase Petty should rank fourth, I'm not going to argue too vehemently. More important than the actual ranking is that the Twins have a lot of pitchers with not only big-league potential, but they have potential to be playoff starters in the future. I noted this throughout the series, particularly in the comments, but it's important to note who is no longer eligible for prospect status. On the mound, Bailey Ober, Griffin Jax , and Ralph Garza, Jr. surpassed rookie qualifications. Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Ben Rortvedt, and Nick Gordon are no longer "prospects" either. For those curious, Lewis Thorpe, Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak, Cody Stashak and Jorge Alcala were not rookies in 2021 after their big-league time in 2020. Breakdown (Pitchers): Right-Handed Starting Pitchers (19), Left-Handed Starting Pitchers (3), Right-Handed Relief Pitchers (3), Left-Handed Relief Pitchers (1). All three left-handed starters were drafted in 2021. Breakdown (Position Players): Catchers (4), Infielders (13), Outfielders (7). Obviously versatility is important in the organization and several players got time in multiple spots. I tried to include them where they played most often. How Acquired: Drafted by Twins (35), Acquired in Trade (8), International Signing (6), Minor League Signing (1, Jermaine Palacios). This is a large number, but more important, three of the top 7 prospects were acquired in July. 13 of these 50 players are on the Twins 40-man roster, so if there is no new Collective Bargaining Agreement, they will not be able to start spring training. They can't just go to minor league spring training. Several have told me (in the Twins organization and elsewhere ) that Covid could potentially have rippling negative impact on organizations and player development for a couple of years. Obviously that is primarily regarding pitchers, but there can also be hitters who will hopefully get their groove back again in 2022. It's also important to remember that a pitcher drafted out of college in 2019 was likely 21-22 years old. With the missed 2020 season, they pitched in 2021 at 23-24. Four-year college players even a year older. While age-to-level of competition is often a factor in prospect rankings, and it needs to be, it's my opinion that it has almost no bearing right now on what a pitcher can be as we move forward, and if they come up at 24 or 26 isn't a very big deal. So when I read comments like, "Well, Pitcher A is already 24, he has to be rushed up now..." I can't disagree more. As always, what makes doing these rankings fun is the interaction with the readers. Here at Twins Daily, I believe we have the best Twins minor league coverage around, and we have a lot of our readers and writers that have a strong interest in learning more. These lists serve many purposes. First, it's to highlight players that deserve to be talked about. Second, it's fun to think we are smart and that there is some science to these prospect rankings. I've done Twins prospect rankings going back to 2003 or 2004 online. It is not a science. These are kids, working their way up an organizational ladder, just like many kids just out of high school or college. The develop at different rates. They work hard. They get hurt. Things happen and they don't always pan out. So, we need to give them credit when we can, and we can dream on them helping our favorite team become a viable, consistent winning team. I enjoy the comments section. I enjoy being challenged. I try not to run from questions you ask while also being respectful of the players and their families. So please discuss these players and more in the comments. And also, please let us know what you want to see from Twins Daily's minor league coverage in 2022? What can we do better? What would you like to see more of, or less of? Your feedback helps us so much and we want to continue to improve. Twins Spotlight Several of these Twins players have been a guest on Twins Spotlight over the past two offseasons. We have now had 51 episodes. To look back and see who we have interviewed and listen back to them, click here. Previous Rankings (To look back at what I wrote about the 60 players, click below) Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Hitters Part 6: 1-5 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5
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