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  1. Last season, Rocco Baldelli saw a significant number of players make their major-league debuts. We finally saw Royce Lewis play shortstop at Target Field, and Jose Miranda earned his way onto the roster after an incredible 2021. Simeon Woods Richardson closed out the season for the Twins, and hometown star Louie Varland took his turn as well. Although the Twins are somewhat veteran-laden at several key spots, we’ll still see plenty of prospects pop up along the way this season. Trying to pick one player per month, here are a few names we could see for the first time in 2023: April - To Be Determined Prior to being traded for Michael A. Taylor, there was reason to believe that Evan Sisk could find himself in this spot. Acquired from the St. Louis Cardinals for J.A. Happ, he's a high strikeout guy at Triple-A that hasn't been able to calm the walks. Maybe the Twins didn't see it happening and flipped him. If another prospect is going to debut this soon in 2023, it will likely be to replace an arm in the bullpen. May - Austin Schulfer Working as the Double-A Wichita closer for the first half of the year, Schulfer dominated. He then struggled across 32 2/3 innings at Triple-A St. Paul. Having moved fully to a bullpen role following the 2021 season, Schulfer looks the part of a quality major-league reliever. He should be called upon at some point this season when the bullpen could use a fresh arm. Starting strong for the Saints is a must in 2023. June - Jordan Balazovic Previously the best starting pitching prospect in the Twins system, things couldn’t have gone worse for Balazovic in 2022. He got off to a late start due to a knee injury, and despite suggesting he was healthy, never got back on track. The walk and home run rates skyrocketed last year, but turning it back to his 2021 and earlier numbers, Balazovic could rekindle some of the same prospect allure that made him a consensus top 100 type coming into the year. July - Brent Headrick A 9th-round pick in 2019, Headrick was added to the 40-man roster this offseason. His 4.81 ERA at Double-A was a byproduct of the longball, but he has shown the ability to generate strikeouts as a starter. Another lefty, Minnesota could opt to push him into a bullpen role, but either way, he’ll have ample opportunity to work his way toward Triple-A and beyond this season. August - Brooks Lee Taken with their most recent 1st round pick, Minnesota fans may see Lee as soon as this year. While it may look like he’s blocked on the dirt, there is no reason that he couldn’t play second base if Jorge Polanco is hurt or struggles. Lee looked incredibly advanced during his professional debut, and that justified promotions all the way up to Double-A. September - Austin Martin Once the key piece of a Jose Berrios trade, Martin’s prospect shine has faded some. He didn’t hit for power last season, and it led to a frustrating year at Double-A. His Arizona Fall League season went well, however, and returning to more of a pure hitter could be a good change. He may find a role in the outfield or move off of shortstop, but Martin figuring into Minnesota’s plans behind Byron Buxton may make some sense late. October - Matt Canterino This is truly a wild card as Canterino is currently rehabbing from Tommy John surgery last summer. He has great strikeout stuff, and while his delivery is unconventional, it may work exceptionally well in the bullpen. The former Rice product may be well served to put his starting days behind him, and if the Twins are in a run for the postseason, Canterino could provide a big boost to the bullpen. What prospects are you most excited for in 2023 and who not on this list do you think could debut?
  2. As we have seen the past two seasons, the Minnesota Twins have needed more than just their 26-man roster to get through the season. In fact, they have not only used their 40-man roster, but another 20+ players each year. That is the reason why we care so much about offseason minor-league signings, many of them will get an opportunity with the Twins at some time during the season. Here’s a list of the 25 players invited to join the 40-man roster players in Ft. Myers for spring training: Brooks Lee and Austin Martin are the two headline names. Lee, the Twins’ 1st round pick last year, looks to rub elbows with major leaguers for the first time in his career. Martin, now playing in his second spring training, can prove that his AFL performance was not a fluke. Both players will fight for who can pick Carlos Correa’s brain the most. Beyond them are some exciting arms: Cody Laweryson—a gliding righty who struck out over 30% of batters at Double-A; Evan Sisk—a cross-bodied lefty reliever who owned a 1.57 ERA last season between Double-A and Triple-A; and Blayne Enlow, who cleared waivers on Friday and will be looking for a chance to re-establish himself as an impact arm. As the post notes, 13 players—Willi Castro (Tigers), Mark Contreras (Twins), Danny Coulombe (A's, Dodgers, Twins), José De Léon (Dodgers, Rays, Reds), Randy Dobnak (Twins), Grayson Greiner (Tigers, Diamondbacks), Ryan LaMarre (Red Sox, White Sox, Reds, Yankees, A's, Twins), Patrick Murphy (Blue Jays, Nationals), Chance Sisco (Orioles, Mets), Elliot Soto (Angels, Twins), Brock Stewart (Dodgers, Blue Jays), Tyler White (Astros and Dodgers), and Tony Wolters (Rockies, Cubs, Dodgers)—can claim previous major-league experience. There’s a good chance a few of these players will impact the Twins in 2023. If you’re looking for an Author’s Choice list of players to keep an eye on, it goes as follows: Laweryson, Stewart, and Sisco. Laweryson, while lacking in prominent tools, punches people out with a tricky plane—an upward one, sorry Bert—and intimidating swan-like limbs. Stewart owns over 100 forgettable innings with the Dodgers, but his fastball was sitting in the mid-90s last season, making him one of the first choices when a reliever inevitably bites it. Cisco is a former top prospect whose sheen hasn’t sparkled in years. He earned surprisingly few major league opportunities, and a fresh start could produce better results for the catcher. Certainly more players will be invited in the coming weeks, but who would you say are the leading candidates for Sire of Ft. Myers based on this list? Comment below.
  3. Barring a dramatic third u-turn of the postseason, the Carlos Correa sweepstakes are over. Correa’s free agency played out much like a 2022 Vikings game, the Twins coming from behind to win a contest they had no right to. Fans can’t complain though, their team having linked the irresistibly charismatic duo of Correa and Byron Buxton together until at least 2028. Indications suggest Correa’s physical shouldn’t be a problem (Dr. Nick Riviera supervising). Jokes aside, the addition creates a log jam for the Twins in the infield, with established big leaguers (Jorge Polanco, Nick Gordon, Luis Arraez ) and up and coming prospects (Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, and Austin Martin) vying for at bats. How will the Correa signing impact the Twins high ceiling infield prospects? Austin Martin There are folks still high on Martin as a prospect. I am not one of them. The centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade to the Blue Jays, Martin got off to a good start for the Twins, putting together a 122 wRC+ in his first 168 plate appearances at AA. 2022 was a struggle. In 404 plate appearances, Martin managed just an 89 wRC+, .315 SLG and committed 18 errors in 70 games at shortstop for AA Wichita, as a 23-year-old. Martin still has some value due to good on base skills and speed but he’s at the bottom of the depth chart for Twins infield prospects. I think it’s likely he’s part of a trade package for a team that thinks they can help him get back on track. Royce Lewis How different might the Twins offseason have looked if Lewis had remained healthy in 2022? In a tantalizing 40 plate appearances, he mashed to the tune of a 146 wRC+ and .550 SLG. Unsustainable numbers, but they provided a taste of Lewis’ incredible athleticism. Lewis also played better-than-expected defense and shortstop, managing 1 OAA in his 12 games. Projection systems like him for 2023, with Fangraphs predicting 2.3 fWAR in 330 plate appearances. The injury history is troubling, but Lewis still possesses the best athletic profile and some of the best speed in the organization. With Jose Miranda entrenched at third base, it’s possible Lewis becomes a right-handed outfield option (but that’s where he got hurt!), or he’s traded to help balance the roster. When asked about the signing of Correa, Lewis was his typically positive, effusive self. Brooks Lee The Twins couldn’t believe their luck in the 2022 draft when Brooks Lee, a candidate to go number one overall, fell into their laps at number eight. Lee has dominated in his short minor league career, posting a 140 wRC+ at A+ before moving to AA at the end of the season for a handful of games. While Lee’s defensive profile is not to stick at shortstop (he’s likely a good defensive third baseman), the hit tool is legit. He should be pushing a .300 batting average in MLB as a switch hitter and likely makes his debut with the Twins in 2023. Lee could fetch a hefty return in a trade package, as he was seen as the safest high ceiling pick in the 2022 draft. Clearly, Lee isn’t overly concerned with where he plays for the Twins, as he recently passed on to Ted Schwerzler. If you were in the hot seat, what would do with these three infield prospects? Move them to a different position? Trade them? Feel free to leave trade proposals or positional adjustment ideas in the comments.
  4. Prospect development is not a linear path. Some prospects reach the higher levels of the minor leagues and struggle, while others move quickly to the big-league level. Two of the prospects outlined below had a chance to reach the big leagues in 2022, but their performance didn't warrant a promotion. Injuries and poor performance can hurt a prospect's long-term outlook, but these players have the potential to impact the Twins in 2023. Brooks Lee TD Top Prospect Rank: 2 Debut Prediction: September Minnesota selected Lee as the team's top pick in the 2022 MLB Draft. He flew through three levels in the Twins system and ended the year at Double-A. In 31-games, he hit .303/.389/.451 (.839) with six doubles and four home runs. He likely spends most of 2023 at the Double-A level, but his performance will dictate his ultimate landing spot. There is no need to rush Lee to the big leagues, but his college experience and advanced bat can put him on track to be a late-season call-up. Austin Martin TD Top Prospect Rank: 6 Debut Prediction: July Martin entered the 2022 campaign as one of the Twins' top prospects, but his season went differently than planned. There was an opportunity for him to make his big-league debut in 2022 since he was repeating the Double-A level. Unfortunately, he struggled offensively with a .685 OPS while also dealing with a wrist injury. Martin ended September on a strong note and carried his hot hitting into the Arizona Fall League. If healthy, Martin is still part of the team's long-term plans while offering plenty of upside. Edouard Julien TD Top Prospect Rank: 10 Debut Prediction: May While Martin struggled in Wichita, Julien was one of the organization's breakout prospects in 2022. In 113 games, he hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. He posted an eye-popping 1.248 OPS this fall on the way to being named the AFL's Breakout Prospect. Julien is close to big-league-ready when it comes to his prospect development. He will play the year in the upper minors waiting for an opportunity to arise at the big-league level. Since he's on the 40-man roster, one injury is all it will take for a call-up. Jordan Balazovic TD Top Prospect Rank: 15 Debut Prediction: June Balazovic struggled through much of 2022 but ended the year on a high note. Minnesota needed many starting pitchers last season, but Balazovic never got the call. In 22 appearances (70.2 IP), he posted a 7.39 ERA with a 1.94 WHIP and a 76-to-35 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Multiple starting pitchers have passed him on the organizational depth chart, but there have been times when he was considered one of the team's best pitching prospects. His September might signify that he is ready to take the next step, which can set him up for a bounce back year in 2023. Will all of these prospects debut in 2023? Can Martin and Balazovic bounce back? Who are you most excited to see? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Austin Martin was billed as a tremendous hitter with an unknown defensive future when he was taken 5th overall in the 2020 draft. Martin’s minor league career got off to a good but strange start offensively, and the defensive questions quickly grew before being traded to the Twins during the summer following his draft selection. A year and a half later, the Twins are left with more questions than answers. Martin was immediately placed in Double-A with Toronto due to what was seen as an advanced plate approach, and he rewarded them with a 133 wRC+ in his 56 games before being traded. His overall body of work looked like he not only belonged, but that he could shoot up the minors and debut in the MLB in short order. So why would Toronto trade such a player? Martin walked an incredible 14.8% of the time and only struck out 21.2% of the time with Toronto. His .281 batting average and .424 OBP were very impressive. If you’ve followed Twins prospects, however, you likely know the question with Martin was always his power. He slugged just .383 in his debut, a total power outage that was exacerbated by Toronto’s lack of belief in his ability to stick in the middle of the field defensively. He committed 10 errors in just 26 games at shortstop with Toronto before they started moving him around the diamond. The Twins saw an opportunity to buy a player who was losing the faith of the team that drafted him. They traded Jose Berrios for Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. They gave Martin the keys to shortstop in Double-A and began attempting to retool his swing. In his year and a half in the Twins system, Martin’s prospect stock has declined significantly. After finishing 2021 similarly to how he started, Martin completely cratered in 2022. His slash line of .241/.367/.315 was 11% below league average in Double-A. He stole an impressive 34 bases in 90 games, but his walk rate didn’t reach 2021 levels and his power declined even further. He committed 18 errors at shortstop in just 70 games, and by year’s end, it appeared the Austin Martin shortstop experiment had come to an end. He had dealt with hand issues throughout the season which surely held him back to some extent, but his struggles dropped him out of any top 100 prospects list you can find. So what could Austin Martin’s future hold? Of note, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time in 2022 and dominated to the tune of a .374/.454/.482 slash line, stealing 10 bases in just 21 games. It’s possible he was finally healthy and some of those swing changes finally showed themselves. If he can utilize his contact and walk ability and slug even .400, he’s likely to find himself at the door of the Major Leagues in short order at the age of 24. Still, significant questions persist. The Twins have yet to find a position that Martin can play well after spending nearly all of 2022 coming to the conclusion that shortstop isn’t an option. A rational pivot would be to move him across the bag to second base. Unfortunately for Martin, it’s hard to see him finding everyday playing time there in the near future between Jorge Polanco and a mix of prospects such as Edouard Julien, Brooks Lee, etc. who have all blown past Martin in their development. He also doesn’t appear to be a great candidate for any corner infield or outfield spots due to his lack of power and overall questions offensively. Look for the Twins to give Martin some legitimate run in centerfield in 2023. He was always viewed as a freak athlete, and perhaps this would translate better on the grass than it did in the dirt. With players like Gilberto Celestino failing to grab ahold of the job to back up Buxton, Martin could carve out a role for himself quickly if the Twins like what they see. If he can rebound offensively he can have a role in MLB very soon. The longevity of his career and how consistently he’s in the starting lineup will depend on where he can settle in defensively. It’s hard to say Austin Martin’s time in Minnesota has not gone as planned, and his outlook is at an all-time low for his young career. For now, he’s no longer anywhere close to one of the Twins top prospects with so many questions to be answered in his overall game. Still, his Arizona Fall League offered a look at the talent he still possesses and it’s fair to hold out hope for a rebound in 2023 based on health alone. Will 2023 be a rebound season for Martin? What level of MLB player do you think he’ll be at this point in his career? Let us know below!
  6. Although the Twins may decide to deal Max Kepler this offseason rather than roster him alongside Joey Gallo, there seems to be less of an inclination that slugging second baseman Jorge Polanco is going anywhere. Although he is a failed shortstop, and has dealt with multiple ankle injuries in recent seasons, it’s clear Polanco is still a key piece of what Rocco Baldelli and the Twins want to do. 2023 is a very important juncture for Polanco with the Twins, and while the decision in front of him is not his, the level of health he can display will trigger an option for an extended payday. When Minnesota inked Polanco to his five-year deal back in 2019, it actually provided an opportunity for the Twins to get seven years out of their former star prospect. The contract includes a vesting option that triggers a $10.5 million salary for 2024 should he reach 550 plate appearances this year, and that would also allow for a $12 million team option to be triggered for 2025 if Minnesota wants to keep him at age-31. Given a full season of play, 550 plate appearances is something any regular should be able to blitz by. In fact, Polanco has done so in two of the past three full seasons (not including the truncated pandemic year), and he nearly accomplished that feat despite playing in just 133 games during 2017. Why this becomes a discussion is because Polanco missed substantial time in 2022, and the 2018 season suggests it may not be a fluke. The Twins truly employ one of the best offensive second baseman in baseball when Polanco is healthy. From 2019-2021 Polanco missed just 24 games. He was horrendous offensively during the Covid season, but still managed a 117 OPS+ combined over that stretch. Blasting a career best 33 homers in 2021 made him nothing short of a lineup pillar, even with team expectations having drastically fallen short. Minnesota may find themselves struggling to quantify Polanco’s production last season given the offensive downturn across the league as a whole. We know again that Rob Manfred and Major League Baseball used multiple different gameballs, and the league saw a substantial drop in OPS across the board. While his slugging percentage fell, Polanco’s .346 OBP checked in as his second-best mark, ranking only behind the .356 he put up in 2019. From a production standpoint, his presence in the lineup remained constant. The problem for Polanco, and the Twins, was the amount of time he was unavailable. Missing more than 35% of the games, Baldelli’s lineups were constantly without their starting second basemen, and fill-in Luis Arraez was already being asked to pull double-duty at first base. If Polanco’s injury history, namely his ankle, winds up being a nagging issue, the Twins could be in for a world of hurt. Despite being a batting champion and dearly beloved by Twins fans, it’s more than clear Arraez’s knees aren’t meant for every day action. Nick Gordon has shown to be a solid utility defender, but isn’t someone you want playing every day. Maybe Polanco gives way to a prospect like Brooks Lee, Austin Martin, or Edouard Julien if he misses time, but it’s safe to assume that both the team and the starter would like to see 2024 vest. We have seen Polanco remain healthy over extended periods of time previously, and he’ll need to play in something like 135 games to trigger the next phase of his contract. Getting him there should be something new athletic trainer Nick Paparesta is focused on through his offseason program, and the Twins would have no problem paying a guy posting 3 or 4 fWAR upwards of $10 million an offseason from now.
  7. Shortly before the calendar turned to 2023, the Twins finalized a one-year, $11 million deal for outfielder Joey Gallo. He is coming off a terrible season where he posted a 79 OPS+ in 126 games for the Yankees and the Dodgers. However, he was an All-Star in 2021 who led the AL in walks and posted a 121 OPS+. Minnesota hopes to get Gallo back on track, but the 40-man roster was already packed with corner outfield options before he arrived. The team is likely looking to deal from an area of strength, so how do the team’s current corner outfielders stack up according to trade value? All trade values and availability are from Baseball Trade Values. The rankings below on based on their current median trade value. It is not a ranking of the likelihood of each player being traded, but availability is also included for your reference. 5. Matt Wallner Median Trade Value: 7.3 Availability: Medium Wallner’s trade value might be at the highest of any point in his career. He was named the organization’s minor-league player of the year and made his big-league debut in 2022. Some of the other corner outfielders have recently dealt with injuries, so that Wallner might have more long-term value for the Twins. This offseason might be the best time to trade him If Minnesota wants to capitalize on his peak value. 4. Austin Martin Median Trade Value: 7.5 Availability: Medium Martin’s future defensive home might not be in a corner outfield spot, but there’s undoubtedly an opportunity for the Twins to include him in a trade this winter. There’s no question that Martin’s value dropped in 2022 as he entered the year as one of baseball’s top 55 prospects. He battled through a wrist injury and posted a .685 OPS at Double-A. Martin rebuilt some of his value in the Arizona Fall League with a .936 OPS and ten steals in 21 games. Another organization might believe in the potential Martin has shown in the past. 3. Max Kepler Median Trade Value: 7.6 Availability: High Kepler seems redundant on the Twins roster with Gallo’s addition. Kepler is under team control for the next two seasons if his $10 million option ($1 million buyout) is picked up for 2024. He provides little value on the offensive side, with an OPS+ below 100 over the last two seasons. On defense, he is among baseball’s best by ranking second among AL right fielders according to SABR’s Defensive Index. Twins fans have likely soured on Kepler, but he is a solid big-league regular and has value on the trade market. 2. Alex Kirilloff Median Trade Value: 11.9 Availability: Very Low Kirilloff is returning from a unique wrist surgery, so teams will likely be interested in acquiring him once they know he is healthy. His wrist has caused issues over the last two seasons, so his availability is the lowest on this list. In 104 big-league games, he has hit .251/.295/.398 (.694) with 18 doubles and 11 home runs. Some of those numbers are skewed by him trying to play through his wrist injury. Kirilloff is a former top prospect, and Minnesota hopes he can put his injury woes behind him to reach his full potential. 1. Trevor Larnach Median Trade Value: 14.6 Availability: Low Like Kirilloff, injuries have limited Larnach in his first two big-league seasons. Last year, he hit .231/.306/.406 (.712) with 13 doubles and five home runs in 51 games. Larnach has been streaky at the plate by looking like one of the best hitters in the Twins line-up and then struggling mightily. Nearly every player on this list has a higher defensive value than Larnach, but his bat has the potential to be a middle-of-the-order slugger for most of the next decade. His trade value can be even higher at the end of the 2023 season if he can compile a fully healthy campaign. Do you agree with the trade value rankings? Besides Kepler, will any of the other corner outfielders be traded? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. If you like, you can quickly catch up on the ground rules for this exercise in the first installment. The short version is this that we're attempting to rank Twins players and prospects through a big-picture lens in asking: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? Here in this second installment, breaking down my picks for #11 through #15, we find an interesting cross-section of rising and falling stocks. It feels like there's a lot at stake here; a couple of true breakthroughs at this level would profoundly impact the franchise's future fortunes. First, a recap of the list as it stands, from Part 1: 20. Matt Wallner, OF 19. Louie Varland, RHP 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 16. Alex Kirilloff, OF/1B Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 11 through 15 15. Ryan Jeffers, C 2022 Ranking: 10 Good major-league catchers are really hard to find. The offseason market is typically sparse; this year the Twins were happy to land a reliably average veteran in Christian Vazquez on a three-year deal that – while reasonable – could hardly be described as team-favorable. Even with Vazquez's addition, catching depth is sparse in the Twins system, which is why Jeffers remains a fairly vital if unexciting asset for the organization. Two straight sub-par offensive seasons have tempered expectations, but the defensively-acclaimed Jeffers remains heir apparent behind the plate, with the Twins surely hoping he'll have emerged as primary starter by the tail end of Vazquez's contract. 14. Trevor Larnach, OF 2022 Ranking: 12 Around this time last year, we were wondering if Larnach's fade during a promising rookie season in 2021 meant he was hitting a wall or merely enduring a speed-bump in his development. The good news is that he fueled the "speed-bump" narrative in 2022 ... at least for a while. Larnach emerged as one of the best hitters in the lineup, earning his way into the heart of the order by June, but a worsening groin/core injury tanked his performance leading up to surgery that ended his season halfway through. There's no reason to believe that particular issue will be a factor going forward, and Larnach in general stands out as a player who figures to benefit from a fresh leadership voice on the training staff. Last year's performance, when healthy, left little doubt as to his viability as a starting outfielder in the big leagues – but at the same time, he hasn't firmly established himself as such and turns 26 in February. 13. Austin Martin, SS/OF 2022 Ranking: 5 Martin's huge regression at Double-A was one of the top headlines for the Twins system in 2022. He'd emerged as arguably their top prospect – centerpiece of the Jose Berrios trade and OBP wizard extraordinaire – but his bat went silent in a follow-up at the same level where he'd spent the entire previous year. While remaining true to his trademark calling card – namely, a knack for getting on base via the BB or HBP and then wreaking havoc as an aggressive runner – Martin batted just .241 with a .316 slugging percentage in his encore at Wichita. He managed two home runs in 90 games. Meanwhile, we gained no real clarity on his defensive future, as he continued to make nearly all of his starts at shortstop, where no one expects him to play in the majors. With all that being said, Martin is still the same player he was a year ago, when he ranked #5 on this list, as well as #1 on our top prospects list and consensus top-50 status on global lists. It feels rash to drop him more than eight spots here in response to one tough season at age 23. In the wake of said tough season, Martin did put together a very encouraging showing in the Arizona Fall League, slashing .374/.454/.482 with six doubles and a homer in 21 games. Something to build upon heading into a crucial 2023 campaign. 12. Connor Prielipp, LHP 2022 Ranking: NR The Twins need to hit big on a premium arm in the draft. It's been a persistent sore spot for this front office. Yes, they've managed to develop some late-round picks like Bailey Ober, Louie Varland and Josh Winder into capable big-league starters, but in seven years, they haven't jumped on a high-end pitcher at the top of the draft and developed him into a frontline stud – and that's really what it feels like this franchise most desperately needs. Prielipp has a real chance to finally break through as that guy. Easily enough said for a player who's yet to throw a professional inning, I realize. But in naming him Minnesota's most intriguing pick in last year's draft, The Athletic notes that before blowing out his elbow in the spring of 2021, "Prielipp was a consensus top-10 draft prospect with a chance to pitch himself into the No. 1 pick conversation." He was fully rehabbed from Tommy John surgery by the time Minnesota selected him 48th overall, but didn't see any official action last year. Baseball America already rates his slider as the best in the Twins system, even though he's yet to technically throw one as part of it. Obviously there's a fair amount of risk attached to Prielipp, and that's why the University of Alabama product lasted into the second round of the draft, but you won't find much more pure upside in a collegiate pitcher draft pick. The Twins really need this one to click. 11. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 2022 Ranking: 18 Earlier I mentioned that Martin's step backward was one of the top headlines in the Twins system last year. The flip side is that Woods Richardson's emergence was another of the top headlines, and – given he came over in the same trade package – it helps take some of the sting out of Martin's drop-off. Whereas Martin stumbled at Double-A after thriving there the previous year, Woods Richardson had the opposite experience. He found his footing in a second turn at Wichita, posting a 3.06 ERA over 70 innings, then pitched brilliantly after a promotion to Triple-A where he went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA in seven starts. It all culminated with a late-season MLB debut, making him the youngest pitcher to appear in the big leagues in 2022. He's very polished and it showed at every stop, but at the same time, Woods Richardson's stuff and approach don't quite scream "frontline starter." Not yet. He just turned 22 in September though, so there's plenty of room for growth. With his big 6-foot-3 frame and excellent demeanor for pitching, he's got much to work with.
  9. Minnesota saw multiple prospects break out last season, including Edouard Julien, Matt Wallner, and Simeon Woods Richardson. Based on those performances, all three players are expected to impact the big-league roster in 2023. Even with these players, the Twins' farm system ranks in the middle of the pack compared to other organizations. Minnesota's farm system can continue to improve if these three players prove something in 2023. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 3 Rodriguez needs to prove that his shortened 2022 campaign was legitimate. Last season, he hit .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with five doubles, three triples, and nine home runs in 47 games. As a 19-year-old, he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition in his league. Few Twins prospects have power like Rodriguez, and his numbers are expected to improve as he continues to improve and add to his frame. National prospects rankings have started to take notice of Rodriguez, who has all the tools to be considered one of baseball's best prospects. To do that, he must compile strong numbers as he moves up the organizational ladder. He has the chance to be a superstar player, but he has a long way to go before reaching Target Field. Connor Prielipp, SP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4 An argument can be made that Prielipp is facing one of the most crucial development seasons in recent Twins history. He needs to prove he can be a top of the rotation starter after only pitching in seven college games since the start of 2020. The Twins will likely take it slow with Prielipp when he makes his professional debut, but the left-handed starter has the potential to be an ace. Prielipp will likely get most of his innings in Fort Myers, where he will be closer to the team's training facilities. His performance may dictate a second-half promotion, but there is no rush to get him to the big leagues. For Prielipp, the 2023 season is about proving he is healthy and has the potential to be Minnesota's best starting pitching prospect in quite some time. No pressure, kid. Austin Martin, SS/CF Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 6 Entering last season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin as the Twins' top prospect. From there, things couldn't have gone much worse for one of the key pieces from the Jose Berrios trade. In 92 games, he hit .241/.368/.317 (.685) with 19 extra-base hits and a 55-to-49 strikeout-to-walk ratio. Luckily, he ended the season on a high note and carried that performance into the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a .936 OPS. Over the last two seasons, he has played at Double-A, so expectations are for him to make his Triple-A debut in 2023. Can he prove that he is still one of Minnesota's top prospects? It's easy to look at the Twins' top prospects and have hope for the future. Minnesota's farm system will be sitting in a much better place if these three players take the next step in 2023. What can these three prove next season? What other prospects have something to prove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. Game Results: Tuesday, 11/8 | Glendale 9, Peoria 3 Wednesday, 11/9 | Glendale 10, Mesa 4 Thursday, 11/10 | Salt River 2, Glendale 5 The Glendale Desert Dogs finished their season strong, going 3-0 in their final three games to secure the #2 spot in the standings. In the past, this meant they’d be playing in the AFL Championship game, but the league implemented a four-team playoff this season so they would have to win another game to make it that far. IF Austin Martin Week: 4-for-12, 4 R, 2 RBI, 1 BB (3 games) Overall: .373/.454/.482 (.936 OPS) Martin finished his AFL season with another solid week, batting .333 in three games and continuing to be a menace from the top of the order, scoring at least one run in each. He played center field in his first game of the week, then was back at shortstop for the last two. In Tuesday’s win over Peoria, he helped key a six-run fifth inning with a single that loaded the bases. He’d later score on a bases-loaded single and finished 1-for-5. He was 2-for-4 and scored two runs in Wednesday’s 10-4 win over Mesa, leading off the game with a single, advancing to second base on a wild pitch, and scampering home on Edouard Julien’s single that followed for the game's first run. He’d cross the plate for the second time in the eighth to cap the Desert Dogs scoring on the game. He did it a little differently in Thursday’s win over Salt River, finishing 1-for-3 but that lone hit, a single in the sixth inning, drove in two runners to tie the game at two, and Glendale went on to add three more runs in the frame to take the game and secure their playoff position. Martin was the epitome of your “prototypical leadoff hitter” in his time in the desert, getting on base at a .454 clip (ranking 6th in AFL play), stealing 10 bases (3rd), and scoring 23 runs in 21 games (2nd, to only Julien’s 24). His .936 OPS also ranked 11th in the circuit, while his 31 total hits were second to League MVP Heston Kjerstad’s 35, and his .373 batting average came in at third overall. I’ve followed this league for a long time, and just like Royce Lewis’ MVP campaign of 2019 (where he had a .975 OPS after a .661 in the regular season), this performance absolutely should restore some prospect luster for Austin Martin. Now the Twins just need to find him a position, but I can see him functioning as a very athletic super-utility type when it comes to defense in the majors, much like how Luis Arraez got his start. IF Edouard Julien Week: 5-for-7, 3 R, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 2 K (2 games) Overall: .400/.563/.686 (1.249 OPS) Julien saw action in two of their three wins on the week, batting second in each and serving as the second baseman in one and designated hitter in the other. He got on base in four of his five trips to the plate against the Javelinas on Tuesday, finishing 2-for-3 with a run scored, RBI, and two walks. In Wednesday’s big win over Mesa, it was Julien driving the ship, as his three singles in four at-bats led to three RBI and a pair of runs scored. Two of his hits came in a seven-run eighth inning that the Desert Dogs used to blow the game open. He led off the inning with a single and trotted home on a home run to the next batter that gave Glendale the lead 5-4. After they had batted around, his two-RBI single made the score 9-4. He also drew a walk to reach base in four of five trips for the second time during the week. While he didn’t take home the AFL MVP award (Heston Kjerstad is a top 100 prospect, which has always factored into this award’s voting), instead having to settle for the Breakout Player of the Year Award, Julien was the best hitter in the entire AFL this year by a decent margin. He ranked first in runs scored (24), walks (23), batting average (.400), on-base percentage (.563), and OPS (1.249). He was also third in total hits (28), second in slugging percentage (.686), tied for second in home runs (5), tied for third in RBI (17), and also stole six bases which ranked top ten in his 21 games played. If Julien wasn’t a top-ten Minnesota Twins prospect before this, he should be there firmly now. Just imagine the pitch counts a lineup starting with Martin, Julien, and Luis Arraez could run up on starters in the majors someday soon. C/1B Alex Isola Week: 2-for-6, 1 R, 2B, 2 RBI, 2 BB (2 games) Overall: .228/.343/.316 (.659 OPS) Like Julien, Isola made the start in two of the Desert Dogs' three games on the week, playing first base in the games on Tuesday and Thursday. He scored a run and drew two walks in his first game of the week, finishing 1-for-3 out of the sixth spot in the lineup. He moved up to the cleanup position in the batting order for Thursday’s win over Salt River, and his two-RBI double in the sixth inning broke a 2-2 tie and put the Desert Dogs out front for good. While Isola didn’t see as much action at the catcher position as he may have liked, he did improve as a hitter as the season wore on, moving into the middle of Glendale’s batting order for the final few weeks of the season after beginning as their number nine hitter. He also displayed a strong eye at the plate, drawing 10 walks compared to just 11 strikeouts on the season in his 16 games. His five doubles also matched Julien’s total and were second on the Desert Dogs to just Austin Martin on the season. RHP Jon Olsen Week: Did not pitch Overall: 2-1, 5.27 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, .288 BAA, 10 BB, 17 K (13 2/3 IP) Olsen did not pitch in any of Glendale’s final regular season games, but that was because they had him slotted for something better, which we will recap further below. Overall on the season, Olsen’s stats may not look that great in the above, but what was important for him was getting some innings against increased competition after missing multiple seasons of development time. He recovered from a poor first outing in the AFL to be solid down the stretch, getting the win and allowing just one earned run in his last two starts. Over those final seven innings, he gave up just four hits, walked two, and struck out eight. LHP Denny Bentley Week: Did not pitch Overall: 1-0, 3.18 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, .189 BAA, 14 BB, 9 K (11 1/3 IP) The left-handed Bentley did not make any appearances in the final three games of the AFL regular season, but he did pitch in the playoffs. He ends his regular season campaign with a solid ERA and batting average against numbers, but the walks remain worrisome as he issued them at a far higher rate than he piled up strikeouts. He has excelled particularly against same-sided hitters, but the command of his pitches will continue to be an area to work on for him. He ended his 2022 season in the bullpen of the Wichita Wind Surge, and I’d expect him to remain there to start the 2023 season. RHP Ryan Shreve Week: 1 2/3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K (1 appearance) Overall: 1-0, 1.84 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, .152 BAA, 8 BB, 12 K (14 2/3 IP) Shreve was the only pitcher to make an appearance in any of the regular season games this week, and it came Wednesday’s win over Mesa. He was the first reliever summoned in the game, with one out in the bottom of the fourth after Glendale’s starter had given up the lead. He came in with a runner on third base and walked the first batter, but recovered to strike out the next two and keep the Solar Sox from expanding their lead. Back out for the fifth, he delivered a one-two-three inning, needing just five pitches to do so. Shreve was one of the Desert Dogs' top performers out of their bullpen, ranking second on their team in ERA (1.84) and WHIP (1.02) while holding hitters to a team-best .152 batting average against. He gave up a few walks early in the campaign, but over his final three weeks struck out seven compared to just two walks allowed in his final 6 2/3 innings. RHP Francis Peguero Week: Did not pitch Overall: 1-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .227 BAA, 8 BB, 9 K (11 IP) Like three of the other four pitchers on this list, Peguero did not make an appearance in any of Glendale’s final three regular-season games but did see action in the playoffs. New to the Minnesota Twins organization for 2022 after being part of the Sonny Gray trade package from the Cincinnati Reds, there wasn’t a lot known about this pitcher. While he walked basically nobody during the season with Wichita, that number spiked significantly in AFL play. Despite that, he was still good at keeping runs off the scoreboard, finishing several of the games for the Desert Dogs. AFL Playoffs Friday, 11/11 - Semifinal | Peoria 3, Glendale 6 In the semifinal game against the Peoria Javelinas on Friday, the Twins' own Jon Olsen made the start for the home team. He went the first two innings, pitching a scoreless first before running into trouble in the second. He got two quick outs, but the next five hitters would reach base via walks or singles before they were able to escape by catching a runner trying to advance an extra base on the last of those hits. Before it was over he had allowed three runs, and the Javelinas had an early 3-0 lead. After clawing back with a pair of runs of their own in the second, it was Alex Isola who tied the game for Glendale with his home run to left-center leading off the fourth. Francis Peguero came out of the bullpen for the fifth and delivered a scoreless inning in his only appearance of the week. He allowed a single to the leadoff man but got outs from the next three hitters, including one strikeout to keep the game tied at the time. In the bottom of the seventh, it was Austin Martin who gave the Desert Dogs their first lead with an RBI single, and they would hold on to win and advance to the championship game against the Surprise Saguaros. Martin was 1-for-3 with a run scored, RBI, and walk in this one, playing centerfield while Edouard Julien finished 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. Isola finished 1-for-3 with two runs scored and a walk in addition to the big home run. Saturday, 11/12 - Championship Game | Glendale 6, Surprise 7 (11 innings) The title game against Surprise was a back-and-forth affair throughout, with either team never leading by more than two runs, and the game being tied on five separate occasions. Martin was again the leadoff man playing center field to start, followed by Julien at his usual second base spot. Isola was also at first base, hitting sixth. Julien drew a walk in the first but was thrown out trying to steal second base to end the inning. This would be a familiar theme on the night for him, as he drew a walk in four of his six plate appearances, finishing 0-for-2 with a run scored in the game. In the top of the sixth, his walk to lead off resulted in him scoring a run to give Glendale a 3-2 lead. He also made a play in the extra innings to keep it going: Pitchers Denny Bentley and Ryan Shreve both made appearances in this one, being the first two relievers out of the bullpen after their starter was done. Bentley came on with one out in the third after a home run tied the game at one, and allowed a walk but otherwise got out of the inning. He also got two quick outs in the fourth before another walk brought on Shreve for the final out. Shreve then picked up a pair of strikeouts in the fifth, but an error led to a 2-2 tie after five. Tied at four after nine innings, the game went to extras, where the teams again traded blows, each scoring one run in the tenth, but Martin did his best to win the game for Glendale in both the ninth and eleventh innings. He was at the plate with the score 4-4 in the ninth, when his groundball to short ended with the runner coming home being thrown out. Then in the eleventh with two outs and runners on first and second, Martin delivered a single into right field to give the Desert Dogs a 6-5 lead. It took only two batters with the runner starting on second base for Surprise to dash their hopes in the bottom half, as two consecutive RBI singles won the game for the team that ended the regular season with the best record. Martin finished 1-for-6 with an RBI, and Isola was 0-for-4 with a walk in the championship game. While they weren’t able to take it home, it was an exciting game and season for Twins prospects. Austin Martin and Edouard Julien were fantastic throughout, leading Glendale to the final game and coming as close as they possibly could to winning it for them. Congrats on all the players for a fun season, and I look forward to 2023! Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week!
  11. Game Results: Tuesday, 11/1 | Glendale 4, Peoria 0 Wednesday, 11/2 | Glendale 1, Surprise 2 Thursday, 11/3 | Surprise 12, Glendale 4 Friday, 11/4 | Glendale 6, Scottsdale 1 Sunday 11/6 | AL Fall Stars 3, NL Fall Stars 9 The Glendale Desert Dogs went 2-2 in the win-loss column in week 5, continuing their trend of being a .500 team in Arizona Fall League play. As of Tuesday, they are tied with three other teams at 13-13 on the season for second place in the standings with two games left to play. (Apologies for the delay on the report this week! There’s this thing called deer hunting that opened up in Minnesota this past weekend, and I never miss it. The deer and blizzard didn’t cooperate much though…) IF Austin Martin Week: 5-for-8, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 SB (2 games) Overall: .380/.464/.507 (.971 OPS) Austin Martin got back to his hitting ways in week five, though he played in just two of the Desert Dogs' games. In Tuesday’s 4-0 win over Peoria, he was 2-for-4 and started off the sixth inning with a single, later coming around to score to make it 2-0. He played center field and batted leadoff. On Wednesday he was again the leadoff man, but back to manning shortstop. He made a big impact in this one, finishing 3-for-5 with a pair of doubles and stealing two bases. He was left stranded in scoring position a couple of times, otherwise, the box score may have been a bit different for Glendale. IF Edouard Julien Week: 4-for-12, 4 R, 1 HR, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, 2 SB (4 games) Overall: .365/.535/.683 (1.218 OPS) Julien continued to hit with authority, and reach base at a greater than .500 clip on the AFL season in week five. He slugged his fifth home run of the season to start the bottom of the first inning in Thursday’s game against Surprise for an early lead. He reached base in each game during the week, scored four runs total, and also stole two bases. He played second base in all of the games, and in Martin’s absence on Thursday and Friday, took over the leadoff duties after batting second in the prior two games. Julien leads all hitters in the AFL in runs scored, walks, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS heading into the final three games of the season. He also started in the AFL Fall Stars game on Sunday, and competed in the home run derby, as his five home runs on the season rank second in the league. No matter who actually wins the award (star power has always played a role here), this is your on-field-performance Arizona Fall League MVP, hands down. C/1B Alex Isola Week: 3-for-16, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 4 K (4 games) Overall: .216/.322/.294 (.616 OPS) Isola also played in all four games on the week, getting bumped up to the middle of the lineup after a strong week four. He played first base in two games, catcher in one, and served as the designated hitter in the other. He scored two runs in Thursday’s loss to Surprise and drove in two runs with a double in the seventh inning to add some insurance runs in Friday’s win over Scottsdale. RHP Jon Olsen Week: W, 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 4 K (1 start) Overall: 2-1, 5.27 ERA, 1.83 WHIP, .288 BAA, 10 BB, 17 K (13 2/3 IP) The right-hander got the starting nod in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Scorpions, finishing three solid innings to get credited with his second win of the season. He worked around a triple and a walk in the first for a scoreless frame and added a one-two-three second inning. In the third Scottsdale finally strung a pair of singles and a walk together to get their only run of the game. Olsen threw 65 pitches in the outing, with 37 going for strikes (57%). LHP Denny Bentley Week: 1 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 K (1 appearance) Overall: 1-0, 3.18 ERA, 1.85 WHIP, .189 BAA, 14 BB, 9 K (11 1/3 IP) The left-handed Bentley made one appearance during the week, finishing the ninth inning in Thursday’s loss to Surprise. He faced four hitters, allowing just a single while picking up one strikeout. The more encouraging aspect was Bentley needed just 13 pitches, with 9 going for strikes (69%) in the scoreless inning. RHP Ryan Shreve Week: 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (1 appearance) Overall: 1-0, 2.08 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, .171 BAA, 7 BB, 10 K (13 IP) Shreve continued to be a steadying presence in the Desert Dogs bullpen, delivering two scoreless innings in Tuesday’s shutout of Peoria to open the week. He came on for the sixth inning and was credited with a hold as he faced just eight hitters over his two innings, walking one in the sixth, and hitting a batter in the seventh. 16 of his 21 pitches went for strikes (76%) in the outing. RHP Francis Peguero Week: 1 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (1 appearance) Overall: 1-1, 2.45 ERA, 1.64 WHIP, .227 BAA, 8 BB, 9 K (11 IP) Like the rest of his fellow Twins pitching prospects, Peguero made one appearance on the week, coming in Wednesday’s 2-1 loss to Surprise. Unfortunately, he was credited with the loss, as he came on for the top of the ninth inning and surrendered a two-out go-ahead home run. AFL Fall Stars Game All the best prospects in the league came together for the Fall Stars Game on Sunday, with the National League squad coming out on top in the game 9-3. Edouard Julien got the start at second base, batting second, and finished 0-for-2 with a walk. He grounded out in the first, struck out in the third, and made it to third base in the fifth after drawing his walk. He also participated in the pre-game home run derby, launching three home runs in his first round before being shut out in the second. The only other Twins prospect to make an appearance, was pitcher Francis Peguero, who pitched a one-two-three sixth inning, needing just seven pitches. Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week!
  12. Minnesota's roster has depth at multiple big-league positions, allowing the front office to exercise creativity this offseason. The current regime hasn't been afraid of making trades to solidify the roster and keep the team's winning window open as long as possible. As the offseason begins, it's essential to identify some of the team's possible trade candidates. What Did He Do in 2022? Austin Martin entered his first full season in the Twins organization as a consensus top-55 prospect. His season started slowly as he hit .250/.379/.315 (.694) through his first 62 games. He sustained a wrist injury while diving for a ball at the beginning of July. Martin didn't need surgery, but he was sidelined for six weeks. He finally broke out at the plate in September by hitting .268/.405/.423 (.827) with five doubles and two home runs in 19 games. Minnesota looked for Martin to continue his strong September by sending him to the Arizona Fall League. He won AFL Player of the Week honors (October 10-15) after going 11-for-18 (.611 BA) with two doubles, a home run, a walk, and two stolen bases. In 16 AFL games, he has a .908 OPS, and he has gone 8-for-9 in stolen base attempts. Why is He a Trade Candidate? One of the Twins' most significant needs this winter is at shortstop, so it might seem counterproductive to trade away a shortstop prospect. However, there are no guarantees that Martin will be a shortstop at the big-league level. Evaluators have questioned Martin's future defensive position since he was drafted, but the Twins continue to use him almost exclusively at shortstop. Minnesota's farm system has dropped in national rankings especially following this year's trade deadline. If the Twins want to make a trade this winter, Martin may need to be included as part of any package for a big-time talent. What is His Trade Value? Martin has dropped on national prospect lists, but his recent performance highlights his value as a future big leaguer. When the Twins acquired Martin, he was packaged with Simeon Woods Richardson for Jose Berrios. The Twins would need to package Martin with at least one other prospect to acquire a big-league player that can impact the 2023 roster. He might provide more value as depth to the Twins farm system than as a trade piece this winter. Minnesota has multiple top prospects that currently play shortstop, like Brooks Lee, Royce Lewis, and Noah Miller. If the organization has faith in those players, Martin might not fit into the team's long-term plans, which makes him a potential trade candidate. His value dropped this season, so the team might be more likely to keep him until the trade deadline when the 2023 Twins have shown whether or not they are contenders. Do you think the Twins will trade Martin? What kind of value do you think he has? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES Gio Urshela Emilio Pagan Max Kepler Jorge Polanco
  13. Game Results: Monday, 10/24 | Scottsdale 12, Glendale 14 Tuesday, 10/125 | Glendale 3, Surprise 9 Wednesday, 10/26 | Peoria 5, Glendale 5 Thursday, 10/27 | Salt River 9, Glendale 6 Friday, 10/28 | Surprise 1, Glendale 11 Saturday, 10/29 | Mesa 10, Glendale 3 The Glendale Desert Dogs continued to play around .500 baseball in Week 4, winning two games and losing three, along with ending their sixth game in another tie. Despite that, the good competition in the AFL has them just two games back of first place in the standings, well within striking distance of an appearance in the title game heading into the season’s penultimate week. Edouard Julien came on strong in Week 3 of the AFL season, how did he and the rest of the Minnesota Twins prospects perform for the Desert Dogs in Week 4? IF Austin Martin Week: 4-for-22, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 4 K, SB (5 games) Overall: .349/.447/.460 (.907 OPS) Martin cooled off a bit in Week 3 after having a blazing start to his Arizona Fall League campaign. Despite that, he played in five of six games, all from atop the lineup for the Desert Dogs, and still managed to score five runs on the week. He made three starts at shortstop, one in center field, and was also the designated hitter for one game. His best game of the week came in Monday’s 14-12 win over Scottsdale, in which he was 3-for-5 with a double and scored three runs. In Saturday’s 10-3 loss to Mesa, he chipped in another double, drew a walk, scored two runs, and stole his eighth base of the season. IF Edouard Julien Week: 7-for-18, 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K, 3 SB (5 games) Overall: .373/.536/.706 (1.242 OPS) Julien ended his Week 3 with a monster performance, that he incredibly matched with his first game of Week 4. For the second consecutive game, he launched two home runs, finishing 4-for-5 with four RBI in Monday’s win over the Scorpions. He also added a double and scored three runs. He reached base at least once in each of his five games on the week, playing second base in four games and serving as the designated hitter in the other. He added another double in Wednesday’s tie with Peoria, and also stole three bases on the week. Heading into Week 5, Julien leads the AFL in runs scored, on-base percentage, slugging percentage, and OPS. He also ranks Top 3 in home runs, batting average, and walks. This is an MVP-level performance from another Twins prospect in the league if he keeps this up after Royce Lewis took home that honor in 2019, and Matt Wallner was worthy of consideration in 2021. C/1B Alex Isola Week: 5-for-11, R, 2 2B, 4 RBI, 3 BB, 4 K (3 games) Overall: .229/.357/.314 (.671 OPS) Isola had a breakout Week 4 performance, improving his numbers across the board with hits in each of his three games. He played first base in two of those games, and another at catcher to close out his week on Friday. He especially made his mark in Wednesday’s tie against Peoria, collecting three hits in four at-bats, including two doubles and two RBI. He also drew a walk in each of his appearances on the week to raise his on-base percentage during the AFL season to .357. RHP Jon Olsen Week: W, 4 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 4 K (1 start) Overall: 1-1, 5.91 ERA, 1.88 WHIP, .300 BAA, 8 BB, 13 K (10 2/3 IP) Olson got the start in Friday’s 11-1 win over Surprise and was dominant in his four innings to pick up the win. He faced the minimum number of hitters, allowing just one single that was erased on a strike-’em-out-throw-’em-out double play in the second inning with teammate Alex Isola. Of his 52 pitches in the game, 35 went for strikes (67%) and the outing was a tremendous boost of confidence for a pitcher who has had the kitchen sink thrown at him since being drafted in 2018. LHP Denny Bentley Week: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 7 BB, 4 K (2 appearances) Overall: 1-0, 3.48 ERA, 1.94 WHIP, .182 BAA, 14 BB, 8 K (10 2/3 IP) While Bentley continued to struggle with his command, walking seven hitters in two appearances on the week, he has been able to limit the damage by not allowing any big hits. In Thursday’s 9-6 loss to Salt River, he pitched the fourth and fifth innings, walking four but also punching out four as he proves to be an enigma for opposing AFL hitters. RHP Ryan Shreve Week: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 4 K (2 appearances) Overall: 1-0, 2.45 ERA, 1.18 WHIP, .194 BAA, 6 BB, 9 K (11 IP) Shreve made two perfect appearances on the week, picking up the win with two hitless innings against Scottsdale on Monday, and a one-two-three ninth inning in the tie with Peoria on Wednesday. He struck out two hitters in each outing and has been one of the top performers for the Desert Dogs out of their bullpen thus far. In the game on Monday, Shreve was summoned after six straight hitters had reached base, culminating with a grand slam that gave Scottsdale a 7-5 lead, but his offense answered with nine runs of their own over the next three innings to put him in line for the win. RHP Francis Peguero Week: 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 5 R (2 earned), 1 BB, 3 K (3 appearances) Overall: 1-0, 1.80 ERA, 1.60 WHIP, .225 BAA, 7 BB, 8 K (10 IP) Peguero finally ran into some trouble in Week 4, giving up a run in each of his three outings after not allowing any prior. Of his five runs allowed on the week, just two were earned as his defense let him down in Thursday’s loss to Salt River as a two-out, three-run homer came after a throwing error to start off the inning. Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week! In things I find interesting for Major League Baseball’s future, the AFL was experimenting with a “challenge” system for balls and strikes in some games during the season, and the results sound promising and fun for both fans and players! It is similar to the system that was used at times in the Florida State League this season.
  14. Game Results: Monday, 10/17 | Glendale 6, Mesa 3 Tuesday, 10/18 | Mesa 6, Glendale 3 Wednesday, 10/19 | Salt River 4, Glendale 5 Thursday, 10/20 | Glendale 4, Peoria 3 Friday, 10/21 | Surprise 7, Glendale 2 Saturday, 10/22 | Glendale 7, Scottsdale 9 The Glendale Desert Dogs completed another .500 week, going 3-3 in their six games. Their 8-8 overall record (including one tie) is tied for third place in the standings, a half-game behind second place heading into week four. How did all of the Minnesota Twins prospects fare for the Desert Dogs in week three of the 2022 AFL season? IF Austin Martin Week: 2-for-9, 4 R, 1 BB, 1 K (3 games) Overall: .439/.538/.561 (1.099 OPS) Martin continued his scorching hot hitting to start the week, going 2-for-6 in Monday’s win over the Mesa Solar Sox. That gave him 13 hits in his last five games and he added another stolen base. In Tuesday’s loss to the Solar Sox, Martin got just two plate appearances, drawing a walk and getting hit by a pitch. After the HBP, he stole his seventh base of the season, moved to third on a balk, and scored on a groundout before being replaced in the field in the fifth inning (no reason has been given). He wouldn’t play again until Saturday when he went 0-for-3, but reached base in the game with another hit-by-pitch and also scored another run. On the week Martin played one game in center field, DH’ed, and finished his week up at shortstop after getting a few days off. IF Edouard Julien Week: 6-for-13, 6 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 5 RBI, 5 BB, 3 K (4 games) Overall: .364/.543/.636 (1.179 OPS) Julien entered the week with no extra-base hits yet on the season and a .800 OPS. He finished it with three doubles, two home runs, and a 1.179 OPS that leads his team and ranks fourth in the AFL overall (Martin is fifth). It was a monster week for the infielder that just kept getting better. In Monday’s win, he was 1-for-3 with his first double, scored a run, and drew two walks. In Wednesday's win over Salt River, he added two more doubles, scored two runs, and drew another walk as the leadoff man with Martin out. While he was 0-for-3 in his next game, he continued to do what he’s known for, drawing a pair of walks and scoring another run. Then he turned it up to eleven on Saturday, batting in the cleanup spot as the DH. While his team lost the game, Julien did everything he could to help. His two-run homer in the first inning put them up 2-0 early. He added an RBI single in the fifth inning before his second two-run blast in the seventh got his team within three late. C/1B Alex Isola Week: 1-for-9, 1 R, 1 RBI, 2 BB, 1 K (3 games) Overall: .125/.250/.125 (.375 OPS) Isola saw action in three games on the week, including his first game at catcher in Friday’s loss to Surprise. In Monday’s win against Mesa, he got the first run of the game on the board for the Desert Dogs with his RBI single in the fourth inning that drove in Julien. Later in the frame, he’d score the go-ahead run on a wild pitch and he also drew a walk to lead off the seventh. RHP Jon Olsen Week: 3 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 5 K (1 start) Overall: 0-1, 9.75 ERA, 2.85 WHIP, .393 BAA, 8 BB, 9 K (6 2/3 IP) Olsen made the start in Friday’s 7-2 loss to the Surprise Saguaros, pitching into the fourth inning. He kept them scoreless for the first three frames, striking out one in the first, three in the second, and another in the third as Glendale had a 1-0 lead. A pair of walks to start the fourth inning put an end to his outing, but it was solid up until that point. Two runs were charged to him as his replacement gave up a single, and on the same play committed an egregious throwing error that allowed that batter to come all the way home for a 3-1 Saguaros lead. LHP Denny Bentley Week: 3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 K (2 appearances) Overall: 1-0, 3.68 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, .167 BAA, 7 BB, 4 K (7 1/3 IP) The lefty reliever made two appearances on the week, going multiple innings in Monday’s win over Mesa for his first hold of the season, and picking up his second in Thursday’s win over Peoria. He pitched the seventh and eighth innings against the Solar Sox, giving up a single, walk, and a solo home run. Against the Javelinas he came on for the seventh inning, striking out one in a scoreless frame. RHP Ryan Shreve Week: 1 2/3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 K (1 appearance) Overall: 0-0, 3.38 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, .269 BAA, 6 BB, 5 K (8 IP) Shreve was the first reliever summoned in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Salt River, coming into the game in the middle of the third inning with his team up 2-1 at the time. He retired both hitters he faced to keep them out front, but a pair of singles in the fourth inning led to the Rafters tying the game at two before he was able to get out of the inning. RHP Francis Peguero Week: W, 2 IP, 1 H, 2 K (1 appearance) Overall: 1-0, 0.00 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, .095 BAA, 6 BB, 5 K (6 1/3 IP) Peguero is becoming somewhat of a finisher for his Desert Dogs roster, as he again was the final pitcher for his team in his only appearance of the week. He got credited with the win by pitching the eighth and ninth innings against the Rafters on Wednesday, as the Desert Dogs scored three in the bottom of the eighth to take a 5-4 lead after his one-two-three top half. He allowed a single in the ninth but struck out one in each of his frames to secure the win. Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week!
  15. Earlier this offseason I touched on a belief that the Minnesota Twins would open 2023 with Jose Iglesias as their starting shortstop. Even had I not been told from a front office source that “someone like Jose Iglesias” would be their eventual target, the fit just makes too much sense. Carlos Correa signed a $35.1 million deal with the Twins, giving him the largest average annual value for a Major League Baseball infielder. He’s going to get paid a boatload on a long-term deal this winter, and while the Twins should be in the running, their offer almost certainly will not be the largest. If they aren’t going to pay on the devil they know, then paying on the devil they don’t such as Trea Turner or Dansby Swanson makes even less sense. Entering the stopgap category, knowing that Royce Lewis will be back midseason, Austin Martin has shown well in the Arizona Fall League, and Brooks Lee was their first-round pick this past year, the options are whittled down even further. In this vein, the Twins should be expected to connect with a veteran who can do a bit of everything while not commanding a substantial price tag. Again, enter Jose Iglesias. After splitting time with the Los Angeles Angels and Boston Red Sox a season ago, Iglesias signed a one-year, $5 million deal with the Colorado Rockies for 2022. He will be 33 years old in 2023 and has played 1,096 games across his Major League career. Iglesias has familiarity with the AL Central division having spent a career-most five seasons with the Detroit Tigers, and he’s played 28 games at Target Field. Unlike Andrelton Simmons a year ago, Iglesias doesn’t represent a one-sided player for Derek Falvey and Thad Levine. Simmons was brought in to shore up the left side of an infield defense that was poor. Iglesias owns a decent .701 career OPS and his .279 batting average reflects an ability to get himself on base. He’s a far cry from the .956 OPS posted during the 2020 season, but there’s offensive ability here where Simmons had none. Iglesias is not an on-base stalwart without generating base hits, however. He owns just a .319 career OBP and his 502/173 K/BB suggests that while he may strike out a bit less, he’s certainly not choosy enough to draw free passes either. If there’s a redeeming quality to his game, it’s in the well-roundedness while also presenting cost certainty. Defensively, FanGraphs defensive runs saved (DRS) don’t view Iglesias particularly well. Last season he posted an abhorrent -22 mark in just shy of 1,000 innings. This season, in equivalent sample size, Iglesias tallied -4 DRS. Maybe Colorado’s shifting and positioning was more beneficial than that of the Angels or Red Sox, but it’s certainly a step forward year-over-year. By Statcast’s outs above average (OAA) metric, Iglesias has never been anything worse than average and his 14 OAA career high came as recently as 2019 with the Cincinnati Reds. Realistically, Iglesias should give Minnesota an opportunity to include a trusted veteran that isn’t a black hole in either facet of the game, while also not blocking Lewis from his eventual return. Iglesias can also play the hot corner and second base down the stretch, and his years of experience could benefit a Twins team looking for a silent leader that routinely does their job. It’d be hard to get excited about Iglesias as the alternative to Correa, but given what the worst-case scenario could be, this is far from it.
  16. There were rumors and reports prior to the 2022 MLB season that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine may entertain Billy Beane’s Oakland Athletics in hopes of dealing for Frankie Montas. The popular “Where’s Frankie” monkey reared its head all over Twitter. One avenue toward making that happen seemed to be acquiring Elvis Andrus’s $14.25 million deal. As you all know, it never happened. Eventually, the Athletics released Andrus after the 33-year-old posted a .673 OPS across 106 games. That equated to just a 96 OPS+ in a year in which Major League Baseball saw offense down as a whole, but the terrible Athletics had no use for an aging veteran posting numbers below the league average. When Tim Anderson was injured, the Chicago White Sox signed Andrus and made him their starting shortstop. In 43 games, Andrus posted a .271/.309/.464 slash line with 17 extra-base hits including nine home runs. He’s a free agent coming off an eight-year, $120 million deal signed by the Texas Rangers, and now there’s the question as to whether he can (or should) be a stopgap option with any remaining upside for a team like the Twins. Although the Twins' best bet for production is a new contract with Carlos Correa, they’ll likely explore all options. Andrus could be an answer until Royce Lewis returns midseason, and he won’t block the likes of Austin Martin or Brooks Lee. In his time with the White Sox, Andrus was largely the same player. His 30/9 K/BB was still far too out of whack when it comes to getting on base, and the .464 slugging was hardly an overwhelming tradeoff. Despite being a 14-year veteran, Andrus has never hit more than 20 homers in a season, and his 17 this year seems relatively uncharacteristic. After launching just eight homers in more than 100 games with the Athletics, Andrus somehow blasted another nine dingers with Chicago in just 43 contests. To categorize Andrus’ season as positive offensively, you have to look at his numbers with the White Sox in a vacuum. They aren’t in line with his career norms from a power perspective, and you’d be kidding yourself to suggest a 34-year-old is now entering his prime having reinvented himself. The last time Andrus posted a positive Defensive Runs Saved (DRS) was 2018, but his Outs Above Average (OAA) do equate to him being above average. Realistically, the offensive production shouldn’t be expected to continue, and while he can be average or slightly above defensively, that’s where the payday needs to derive from. When it comes to aging veteran stopgap options for the Twins, Andrus will be among them. They simply can’t get drawn into what he should ask for from his time with the White Sox, and must instead pay for what remains likely based on the workload as a whole.
  17. Few players can handle the rigors of shortstop at the big-league level. There is pressure to perform offensively and defensively while being a leader on the field. It is arguably baseball’s most important position, and that’s why many young players are considered shortstops during their amateur careers. The Twins have struggled to cultivate shortstops throughout the franchise’s history, but one of these players has a chance to stop that trend. Triple-A: Royce Lewis (ETA: 2022) Lewis returned from ACL surgery in 2022, and Minnesota was aggressive with Lewis to start the season by sending him to Triple-A. Lewis looked like he hadn’t lost a step as he hit .313/.405/.534 (.940) with 18 extra-base hits in 34 games. His first taste of the big leagues went well too. In 12 games, he posted an .867 OPS before running into the outfield wall and undergoing a second ACL surgery. Lewis will be back in 2023, and the Twins can sign a placeholder shortstop until he is ready to return. Double-A: Brooks Lee (ETA: 2024) Austin Martin (ETA: 2023) Lee and Martin will be a fascinating duo to watch in the years ahead. Both were top-10 picks and considered the best college bats in their draft class. Martin struggled through most of 2022 (.685 OPS) before having a redeeming September. His performance has improved in the Arizona Fall League by going 18-for-38 (.474 BA) with three extra-base hits and 11 runs. He was recently named the league's Hitter of the Week. Martin hopes to follow in Matt Wallner’s footsteps from last year’s AFL season. The Twins should have Martin start at Triple-A next season. The Twins drafted Lee in June, and he quickly put himself on the prospect map. He played games at three different levels and used his college experience to post a .839 OPS. Lee saw his stock already rising in his professional debut. Many top prospect lists will consider him the organization’s best prospect, and he has a chance to be a consensus top-40 prospect entering 2023. Lee likely starts next year at Double-A, but Lee and Martin have a chance to debut next season. High-A: Wander Javier (ETA: 2024) Minnesota signed Javier back in 2015 out of the Dominican Republic, so his name has been on Twins prospect lists for most of the last decade. Some projected him to be a five-tool talent during his early minor league career, but he’s never put it all together. As a 24-year-old, he played most of 2022 at High-A, but he saw late-season action at Triple-A when there was a shortstop need. Over the last two seasons, he has failed to compile an OPS over .700, and his time might be running out in the Twins organization. If he stays with the Twins, he will start the year at Double-A. Low-A: Noah Miller (ETA: 2025), Keoni Cavaco (ETA: 2025) The Twins took Miller with the 36th overall pick in the 2021 MLB Draft, and the 2022 season marked his full-season debut. As a 19-year-old, he was over two years younger than the average age of the competition in the FSL. He hit .212/.348/.279 (.627) with 18 extra-base hits and 110 strikeouts in 108 games. There were positive signs during the season, as he posted a .964 OPS during May. It seems likely for him to start next season at Low-A while continuing to refine his swing. Minnesota’s current front office took Cavaco with the 13th overall pick in the 2019 MLB Draft. As that draft approached, he was a late riser, but the Twins projected he had the tools to succeed. Last season, he hit .231/.275/.397 (.672) with 34 extra-base hits in 99 games. It was his second straight season at Fort Myers, and he was slightly younger than the competition. With Miller in the same line-up, Cavaco played all of his defensive innings at third base. He likely heads to Cedar Rapids in 2023 to see if he can live up to his first-round pedigree. The names above are just some of the organization’s shortstop options. In rookie ball, other names like Danny De Andrade, Yilber Herrera, and Bryan Acuna will garner more attention as they get deeper into their careers. Baseball’s best teams usually have players with a shortstop background at multiple positions on the field. Minnesota hopes the club’s shortstop of the future is in the group mentioned above. Which prospect plays the most career games at shortstop with the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  18. Game Results: Monday, 10/10 | Glendale 8, Salt River 3 Tuesday, 10/11 | Glendale 20, Salt River 4 Thursday, 10/13 | Glendale 7, Mesa 9 Friday, 10/14 | Scottsdale 2, Glendale 0 Saturday, 10/15 | Mesa 1, Glendale 1 The Glendale Desert Dogs again went .500 on the week, which is odd as they played five total games. That’s the nature of the Arizona Fall League, as they blew out the Salt River Rafters, outsourcing them 28-7 in their two games to start the week’s action, but then fell to Mesa and Scottsdale in close contests before a game with Mesa was called with the score tied 1-1 after eight innings. They’ll enter Week 3 with a record of 5-5-1 and a game and a half behind the league-leading Surprise Saguaros. How did all of the Minnesota Twins prospects fare for the Desert Dogs in week two of the 2022 AFL season? IF Austin Martin Week: 11-for-18, 2 R, 6 RBI, 1 BB, 1 K, 2 SB (4 games) Overall: .500/.575/.656 (1.231 OPS) Martin played in four of the Desert Dogs' five games this week and batted leadoff in each. He played two games at shortstop, one in center field, and DH-ed in the other. He was on fire all week, collecting three or more hits in three of those games, and is now batting .500 going into Week 3. In Monday’s 8-3 win over Salt River, he was 3-for-4 with a double and a stolen base. He followed that up with a 4-for-6 effort in the Desert Dogs' destruction of the Rafters on Tuesday, where he scored two runs and drove in five. He fell a triple shy of the cycle and hit the first pitch of the game out to left-center for his first AFL home run. His quietest game of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Mesa, but he still reached base multiple times with a single and a walk. After a day off on Friday, he closed out his week with three more hits in four at-bats in their tie with the Solar Sox. He also drove in their only run with his single in the eighth inning. After two weeks, Martin leads the AFL in hits with 16, is third with five stolen bases (has been caught once), and is fifth in OPS with a 1.231 mark. Martin will look to continue his scorching hot hitting in Week 3, but Twins fans should be ecstatic about what he’s showing in the AFL so far. IF Edouard Julien Week: 3-for-6, 2 R, 3 BB, 2 K (2 games) Overall: .300/.500/.300 (.800 OPS). Julien got the start in just two games on the week, serving as the DH in the blowout of Salt River, and playing second base in Friday’s 2-0 loss against Scottsdale. He batted seventh in the lineup in the 20-4 win and finished 2-for-3 with two runs scored, and keeping with his professional theme, drew three walks to reach base in five-of-six trips. On Friday, he knocked one base hit in three at-bats, batting second in the lineup. His hit came in the bottom of the first inning, and he reached third base before their early rally got stalled. They then went on to be shut out as the Desert Dogs managed just three hits total in the game. While Julien is still looking for his first extra-base-hit of the AFL season, he has reached base in half his plate appearances and trails only teammate Matt McLain in walks drawn overall, with eight in six games. C/1B Alex Isola Week: 1-for-5, 1 RBI (1 game) Overall: .133/.235/.133 (.368 OPS) Alex Isola got into only one game during the week, and that came in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Salt River Rafters. He batted ninth in the lineup, played first base, and finished 1-for-5 with an RBI. His single in the top of the sixth inning drove in the Desert Dogs' third and final run of the inning, putting them out front in the game 3-1 at the time. While it has to be disappointing to play in only one game during the week, the player rotation hopefully gets him more time in Week 3. RHP Jon Olsen Week: 2 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (1 appearance) Overall: 12.27 ERA, 3.82 WHIP (3 2/3 IP) The right-hander made one appearance on the week, as the first reliever summoned in Friday’s 2-0 loss to the Scottsdale Scorpions. He came on to start the fourth inning and after a leadoff walk got the next hitter to line into a double play. He allowed a single and hit a batter before getting a groundout for a scoreless frame. Back out for the fifth, he got a strikeout before a walk and a triple led to an earned run, but he finished off the final two hitters with two more strikeouts to end his outing on a high note. Olsen’s numbers in the AFL likely aren’t going to ever look great after his first outing of the season last week, but he can be encouraged by the strikeouts that came late in this one moving forward. And he only had a couple of rehab outings during the season after undergoing Tommy John surgery a year ago. LHP Denny Bentley Week: 1 1/3 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 1 K (1 appearance) Overall: 4.15 ERA, 1.62 WHIP (4 1/3 IP). Bentley came out of the bullpen for just one appearance during the week. He entered the blowout game against Salt River in the seventh inning with the game already well out of hand. His predecessor had loaded the bases with one out, and after a sac fly made it 19-2, Bentley entered the game to try and keep it moving. He gave up a single that made it 19-4 but was not charged with either of those runs. He then got a pop-out to end the inning before coming back out for the eighth with a clean slate. He walked one batter but retired all three others, including a strikeout. In a positive change from week one, 14 of his 24 pitches in this one went for strikes (58%) as he looks to keep his pitches in the zone better. RHP Ryan Shreve Week: 3 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 2 K (2 appearances) Overall: 2.84 ERA, 1.74 WHIP (6 1/3 IP). Shreve made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both of them. In Monday’s win over the Rafters, he was the first reliever summoned. He came into the game to start the fourth inning. He promptly gave up a solo home run but got some help from his defense to keep that run as his only one allowed during the week. After a walk to the next hitter, he got a pair of flyouts before his defense executed a nice relay throw to catch the runner trying to stretch a single into a double. Back out for the fifth, he picked up a strikeout but then loaded the bases before he was removed from the game. His pitching counterpart Ben Harris picked him up by getting a double-play grounder. In Friday’s loss to Scottsdale, Shreve finished the game for Glendale, pitching two shutout innings. He gave up two walks, but no hits and struck out one to keep the game close in the final two innings. RHP Francis Peguero Week: 2 IP, 1 H, 2 BB, 2 K (2 appearances) Overall: 0.00 ERA, 1.62 WHIP (4 1/3 IP). The little-known right-hander made two appearances. He finished the game for Glendale in both of them. In Tuesday’s big win over the Salt River Rafters, he walked the first batter of the ninth inning but proceeded to strike out two of the next three to close it out. In Saturday’s tie with the Mesa Solar Sox, he took over for the “extra” eighth inning with the score still 0-0, and a runner starting on second base. He gave up his first hit of the season to put runners on the corners before a double-play ball allowed the first run of the game to score. As it was the “ghost” runner, it was of the unearned variety. Another batter reached due to an error before giving up a walk, but he then got a lineout to keep his team in it, and Austin Martin was able to tie it with his RBI single before it was called. Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week! (Another Austin Martin highlight for tax)
  19. Game Results: Monday, 10/3 | Peoria 5, Glendale 3 Tuesday, 10/4 | Glendale 11, Salt River 9 Wednesday, 10/5 | Glendale 5, Surprise 6 Thursday, 10/6 | Glendale 8, Peoria 9 Friday, 10/7 | Scottsdale 6, Glendale 10 Saturday, 10/8 | Glendale 13, Scottsdale 11 As a team, the Glendale Desert Dogs racked up a ton of runs on the week, averaging more than eight per game. They also gave up runs in bunches, however, and because of that finished an even 3-3 on the week. Twins Daily's Seth Stohs also caught up with a few of the prospects before their seasons began, and you'll find some quotes below. How did all of the Minnesota Twins prospects fare for the Desert Dogs in Week 1 of the 2022 AFL season? IF Austin Martin: 4 games - 5-for-14, 6 R, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, 3 SB; .357/.526/.357 (.883 OPS) overall. Martin played four games on the week, playing shortstop in three of them, and DH-ing in the other. He batted in the sixth spot in the lineup in each game and scored at least one run in all of them. While he didn’t pick up any extra-base hits on the week, he was on base over half the time and active while there, stealing three bases and leading the team with six runs scored. As their primary shortstop on the week, he committed one throwing error, but otherwise made all the plays that came his way. He ended the week with a big game on Saturday, finishing 3-for-5, with two runs scored, two RBI, and two stolen bases in Glendale’s 13-11 win over Scottsdale. IF Edouard Julien: 4 games - 3-for-14, 3 R, 1 RBI, 5 BB, 5 K, 1 SB; .214/.421/.214 (.635 OPS) overall. Julien also saw action in four games, splitting his time with two games at second base, and two as the designated hitter. In the first game of the week, he was in the cleanup spot but batted seventh in his three other contests. Despite only three singles on the week, Julien did reach base in each game, and at least twice in three of his four games, as he continued to control the strike zone, drawing five walks total. His best game of the week came in Thursday’s 9-8 loss to Peoria, in which he finished 1-for-2, scored a run, stole a base, and drew two walks. C Alex Isola: 3 games - 1-for-10, 1 R, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 2 K; .100/.250/.100 (.350 OPS) overall. Isola played in three games during the week, getting the start at first base in all of them and hitting at the bottom of the Desert Dogs' batting order. He was responsible for the second RBI of the season in Monday’s opener, as he reached base via an error but his ball in play would have scored the run either way. He also picked up his only hit of the week in this one, a single in the ninth inning, and also reached base a third time thanks to another error. His second RBI of his season came in the same fashion as the first, as a ground ball to third allowed Austin Martin to score in Friday’s 10-6 win. While he didn’t catch any games on the week, I do expect we’ll see a few of those as the season goes on, and it's one of the things he is looking forward to working on in the AFL. When asked what he wanted to work on, he told Seth, "I'm really trying to focus on my defense and show that I can catch and play first at a high level." He added, "Looking forward to the experience and competition of playing against some of the best players in the minor leagues." He was also excited to be playing in the league, saying "I actually went (while in) high school and watched Francisco Lindor play here. It was for a tournament and we happened to go. I remember being very impressed. It's amazing to think I'm actually here now!" RHP Jon Olsen: 1 start - 1 2/3 IP, 7 H, 4 ER, 3 BB, 1 K; 21.60 ERA, 6.00 WHIP (1 2/3 IP) overall. Olsen made the start in Friday’s 10-6 win over the Scottsdale Scorpions, but he needed some help from his offense as he wasn’t as sharp as he would like to be in his first game. The first batter he faced doubled, then a pair of walks and singles led to a 3-0 lead for the Scorpions. Back out for the second inning, he allowed one run before loading the bases with two outs, putting an end to his outing after 1 2/3 innings. He threw 49 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (51%). Thankfully, his offense let him off the hook, scoring ten runs over the next three innings and the bullpen held up for the win. LHP Denny Bentley: 2 appearances - 3 IP, 0 H, 2 ER, 5 BB, 2 K; 6.00 ERA, 1.67 WHIP (3 IP) overall. Bentley made two appearances on the week, picking up the win in Tuesday’s game against Salt River. In that one, Bentley was the first reliever out of the bullpen after Glendale fell behind 6-1 after the first inning. He delivered two scoreless frames as his team stormed back, scoring eight runs in the fourth inning that put them in front before he was replaced. He allowed no hits, walked two, and struck out one. In Friday’s 10-6 win over Scottsdale, Bentley came on for the fifth inning and despite making it through the frame and not allowing a hit, gave up two runs thanks to three walks and a couple of wild pitches. He’ll look to keep it in the zone better in week two of the AFL season, as just 21 of his 52 pitches (40%) thus far have gone for strikes. When asked what he looking forward to while playing in the AFL, Bentley answered "To play at Chase Field. Having never played in a major league stadium before, I can't wait to see what it's like being on the field at night and want to try to hit the pool out in right-center, LOL!" He also has plenty he wants to work on, saying "I'm going to be working on commanding my off-speed in the zone at the higher levels. It's good to have [those pitches] that you can land in the zone early. Always working on control in the zone. Out of the bullpen is huge because you usually come into the game with runners on. I'm honored to represent the Twins and I'm really thankful to be here." RHP Ryan Shreve: 2 appearances - 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (3 IP) overall. Shreve’s first appearance of the week came in the season opener, where he was the first reliever summoned for the fourth inning. He pitched two scoreless frames, allowing one hit and striking out one as he kept the game scoreless to that point. He needed just 17 pitches to finish those two innings, with 12 of them going for strikes (71%). He came on for the sixth inning in Thursday’s 9-8 loss to Peoria, with the score 2-1 Javelinas at the time. He picked up a strikeout to start the frame, but a walk was followed by a double and a sac fly that made the score 3-1 before it was over. He threw 25 pitches in this one, with 13 of them going for strikes (52%). Asked what he was looking forward to most in the AFL, Shreve responded "Competing on a big stage against high-level competition and continuing to learn from it." He also has a plan for his time there, saying "I'd like to continue developing my pitches and stay comfortable in my mechanics." RHP Francis Peguero: 2 appearances - 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 4 BB, 1 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.71 WHIP (2 1/3 IP) overall. Like his other two reliever teammates, Peguero also made two appearances on the week, finishing the game in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Surprise, and pitching the sixth inning in Friday’s 10-6 win over Scottsdale. He entered the game on Wednesday in the seventh inning after Surprise had extended their lead to 6-2, and got a lineout to end the threat. In the eighth, he walked the leadoff man and was called for a balk, but recovered to get a pair of groundouts and a flyout to give his team a chance. They almost accomplished that task with three runs in the top of the ninth but fell one short of tying the game. In Friday’s contest, Peguero had to work to finish his lone inning, as he walked the bases loaded, but mixed in a strikeout and was able to escape without allowing a run. Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the prospects playing in the AFL this week!
  20. Some of baseball's best prospects head to Arizona every year to showcase their skills against other top players. Throughout the AFL's history, some of the league's biggest stars have gotten their careers boosted by a strong AFL performance. AFL Games started this week, and the Twins are sending some of their top prospects with something to prove. Can Austin Martin Have a Wallner-Type Breakout? Last year, the Twins sent Matt Wallner to the AFL because he missed time during the season with an injury. In 18 games, he hit .303/.405/.606 (1.011) with two doubles and six home runs. Wallner carried that performance over to the 2022 season, where he posted a .953 OPS between Double- and Triple-A. Also, he was recently named the TD Minor League Hitter of the Year. Martin dealt with a wrist injury during the 2022 season, but he ended the year strongly. Now, Minnesota hopes Martin can follow the same path as Wallner from the AFL to making his big-league debut. Is Edouard Julien the Twins' Second Baseman of the Future? Julien is coming off a breakout season at Double-A, where the 23-year-old was over a year younger than the average age of the competition. In 113 games, he hit .300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. Defensively, the Twins had moved Julien around during his first two professional seasons, but he played the entire 2022 season at second base. Jorge Polanco has one guaranteed year left on his contract with the Twins controlling the next two seasons as well. If Julien continues to develop, he has a chance to become the heir apparent to Polanco in the Twins infield. Can Denny Bentley Become a Dominant Reliever? Minnesota's front office hasn't spent a lot on bullpen arms in recent years, instead relying on the farm system to produce cheaper relief options. During the 2022 season, the Twins used younger organizational arms like Jhoan Duran, Jovani Moran, and Griffin Jax to impact the bullpen. Bentley spent the majority of the 2022 season at Double-A and posted an 11.8 K/9 across 55 2/3 innings. His WHIP has been high during his first two professional seasons because he allows more than 7.0 H/9 and close to 5.0 BB/9. Bentley will need to improve in both of those areas if he wants to become a dominant reliever at the big-league level. What Do the Twins Have in Francis Peguero? The Twins acquired Peguero as part of the Sonny Gray trade, and his professional career has seen some ups and downs. His debut in the Twins system was delayed because of an injury, and then he made 17 appearances out of the Wind Surge bullpen. In August, he posted a 3.65 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in nine appearances, but his strikeout totals have remained low. He can hit in the mid-90s with his fastball, so the AFL will allow him the opportunity to work on his secondary pitches. Can one of his secondary offerings improve enough for him to limit hits and start collecting more strikeouts? Check out the TD AFL Preview to read more about the other Twins prospects participating in the 2022 AFL. Which of the prospects above has the most to prove? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  21. TRANSACTIONS There were no transactions in the organization ahead of Tuesday’s games. SAINTS SENTINEL Omaha 3, St. Paul 10 Box Score The St. Paul Saints took care of business on Tuesday, riding home runs from David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, and Roy Morales to a 10-3 victory in their penultimate game of the season against the Omaha Storm Chasers. Right-hander Jordan Balazovic got the start, and was solid over five innings, allowing his only run of the game on a solo homer in the fifth inning. In all, he completed five frames, allowing three hits, walking three, and striking out five. While it wasn’t the season Balazovic or fans were hoping for, he did finish the season much better than he started. Over his final five starts, he allowed two or fewer runs in four of them and struck out 30 over those 21 innings. St. Paul got the scoring started in the third inning thanks to an RBI triple from Dalton Shuffield, followed by an RBI double from Michael Helman. Cole Sands came on for the start of the sixth inning and would complete three frames, being charged win a blown save but also the win for his efforts. He allowed two runs (one earned) on three hits and a walk while striking out three. Down 3-2 in the bottom of the seventh, David Banuelos tied the game with a solo home run, before the Saints exploded in the eighth inning. They sent 10 men to the plate, and seven of them scored thanks in large part to the home runs from Bechtold and Morales. Evan Sisk then shut the door with a perfect ninth, striking out two, to close out on a high note in a season full of them for Twins Daily’s 2022 Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Bechtold (2-for-3, R, HR, 2 RBI, BB), Banuelos (2-for-3, 3 R, HR, RBI), and Shuffield (2-for-4, 2 R, 3B, 2 RBI, SB) had multiple hits in the game. Morales drove in three, and Nash Knight added a double. WIND SURGE WISDOM - Texas League Championship Series (Game 2 of 3) Frisco 7, Wichita 5 (10 innings) Box Score Down 1-0 in their League Championship Series, the Wichita Wind Surge called upon Brent Headrick to keep their title dreams alive. He would be facing off against 2021’s number two overall draft pick, Jack Leiter of the Frisco RoughRiders. Though Leiter had success against Wichita during the regular season, allowing just two earned runs and striking out 16 across two games and 11 innings, Austin Martin and Edouard Julien were ready for him on this night. Martin led off the bottom of the first with a double to center field, and Julien followed with a double into the right-center gap to make it 1-0 early. In the second inning, Leobaldo Cabrera, Martin, and Julien all drew walks to end Leiter’s night after just 1 2/3 innings. They were not able to score any of those runners after his exit, but they wouldn’t need any more for the first seven innings. That’s because Headrick was the pitcher who looked like the top prospect in this one. He tied his career high for strikeouts in finishing seven shutout innings. He allowed just three hits, walked none, and punched out 11 in a dominating effort. Of his 95 pitches, 64 went for strikes (67%) and included 15 swinging strikes. He struck out multiple hitters in each of the second, third, fourth, and sixth innings to keep his team in the lead. From the second through the seventh inning, the Wind Surge had opportunities to extend their lead, but couldn’t take advantage, leaving eight men on base in that timeframe. Bullpen stalwart Cody Laweryson came on for the eighth inning, but after striking out the first hitter he faced ran into some trouble. A walk followed by a double resulted in the RoughRiders first run of the game, and an error on the play put the tying run 90 just feet away. A sac fly to the next batter tied the game at two before Laweryson was able to escape the jam. In the bottom of the eighth the Wind Surge were able to manufacture a run to retake the lead, but again squandered opportunities to put the game away. Brooks Lee led off with a single, Anthony Prato drew a walk, then a bunt from DaShawn Keirsey Jr. led to a throwing error and a 3-2 lead. It wasn’t enough again, as Casey Legumina allowed a leadoff single, then a two-out walk, and another single to tie it at three. A pair of walks in the bottom half gave Wichita a chance, but it would go to extra innings. Back out for the tenth, Legumina recorded one out but an RBI single put the RoughRiders out front for the first time in the game, then a walk brought in Alex Phillips to try and keep it close. Three consecutive singles broke it open for Frisco, and they’d take a 7-3 lead into the bottom of the tenth. With the runner starting on second base, DaShawn Keirsey Jr. led off with a two-run home run to make it 7-5, and they’d get the tying run into the batter's box, but it wasn’t meant to be. The Frisco RoughRiders of the Texas Rangers organization, are your 2022 Texas League Champions, rallying late to steal the game after Headrick’s fantastic outing. Martin finished the game 1-for-3 with a double, a run scored, and drew three walks. Julien was 2-for-5 with a double, RBI, and walk. Brooks Lee finished 3-for-4 with a run scored and walk. Keirsey Jr. also chipped in two hits on the game, including his 2-run home run. Despite the loss, congratulations on a great season to the Wichita Wind Surge! TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Brent Headrick, Wichita Wind Surge (7 IP, 3 H, 11 K) Hitter of the Day - David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints (2-for-3, 3 R, HR, RBI, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 3-for-4, R, BB #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-3, R, 2B, 3 BB, K #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K #11 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 5 IP, 3 H, ER, 3 BB, 5 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, BB, 2 K #17 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - W, 3 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, 3 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Omaha @ St. Paul (7:07 PM CDT) - RHP Randy Dobnak (1-2, 7.04 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  22. Hitting was never supposed to be a problem for Austin Martin. He was widely considered the top college bat in the 2020 MLB Draft after finishing a tremendous three years at Vanderbilt. In three seasons, he hit .368/.474/.532 (1.007) with 43 steals and more walks (85) than strikeouts (82). During his sophomore season, he posted a 1.091 OPS with 33 extra-base hits in 65 games as he helped Vanderbilt win the 2019 College World Series. Toronto had to be excited when Martin fell to them with the fifth overall pick in 2020, which will be an intriguing draft to examine in future years. The pandemic wiped out college and high school seasons, so it became challenging to scout players without any games to watch. Martin received the draft’s second-highest signing bonus, but his professional debut had to wait until 2021. All three national prospect rankings put Martin in their top-25 prospects entering the 2021 season. The Blue Jays were aggressive with him by sending him directly to Double-A. In his first 56 games, he hit .281/.424/.383 (.807) with 14 extra-base hits and a 53-to-37 strikeout to walk ratio. Minnesota acquired him at the trade deadline as part of the Jose Berrios deal. His OPS dropped to .779, but he collected 11 extra-base hits in 37 games. His prospect stock dropped a little, but he’d still be considered one of baseball’s top-55 prospects entering the 2022 campaign. Minnesota sent Martin back to Double-A for the 2022 season, hoping his performance would warrant a move up the organizational ladder. For various reasons, Martin’s performance has struggled in 2022, with a wrist injury weakening his power. His OPS dropped from .796 in 2021 to .685 in 92 games this season. He suffered a wrist injury while diving for a ball at the beginning of July, but he has returned strongly to end the season. In September, Martin compiled his best numbers of the season as he hit .277/.392/.431 (.823). His OPS was over 100 points higher than any other month in the season, and two of his three home runs came this month. Martin has been over a year younger than the competition at his level, and over 78% of his at-bats have come against older pitchers. After a bleak season, it helps to end the season on a positive note. Martin will get the opportunity to build off his strong September by representing the Twins in the Arizona Fall League. He will be one of the team’s top prospects participating in the AFL this season, and it can be an important opportunity for players closing in on the big leagues. Last season, Matt Wallner headed to the AFL and used it as a springboard for a tremendous 2022 season. Wallner was recently named the Twins Daily Minor League Player of the Year. Next season, Martin will begin the season as a 24-year-old with over 180 games played at the Double-A level. He is no longer considered a top-100 prospect, and many have dropped him out of the top-10 prospects in the Twins organization. He has plenty to prove in 2023, and the Twins hope this September is the beginning of him getting back on track. What do you think Martin can prove in the AFL? Is this September a positive sign for the future? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  23. 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 (Henriquez made his MLB debut on September 19th against the Cleveland Guardians, pitching four innings of long-relief. He allowed three runs on four hits while walking two and striking out two.) 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 (Woods Richardson made his debut on 10/2 on the road against the Detroit Tigers. He went 5 innings, allowing two earned runs on three hits, walked two, and struck out three in a 5-2 loss.) 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 made his MLB debut on 5/31, playing SS in both games of a doubleheader. He picked up his first run scored, and hit, by finishing the day 1-for6 with a BB) 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 (Varland made his MLB debut on 9/7 against the New York Yankees on the road. He was fantastic, going 5 1/3 innings, striking out Aaron Judge for his first career strikeout. He allowed two runs on three hits, walked one, and struck out seven) 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!
  24. TRANSACTIONS Ahead of St. Paul’s game with Indianapolis, RHP Melvi Acosta was promoted from Wichita, and RHP Matt Mullenbach was also called up from Cedar Rapids. In addition to those moves, RHP Dereck Rodriguez was also outrighted to Triple-A. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 7 Box Score On Tuesday the St. Paul Saints kicked off their penultimate series of the season, against the Tulsa Drillers with right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson on the bump. His lineup gave him some run support before he even took the mound when Michael Helman led off the game with a single. He advanced to third after a fielder’s choice (no out recorded) and double-play ball, before a passed ball allowed him to scamper home. With the early lead, Woods Richardson came out ready to go. He delivered a one-two-three first inning, before striking out five hitters over his next two innings. Through five innings he had scattered four hits and kept Indianapolis off the scoreboard. Back out for the sixth, he finally ran into his first real trouble. A leadoff single was followed by a walk to put multiple runners on base, then three stolen bases allowed two consecutive sac flies to put the home team out front 2-1. Woods Richardson delivered a quality outing, allowing two earned runs on five hits and one walk while striking out five. He threw 85 pitches, with 61 going for strikes (72%), including 16 swinging. The Saints lineup picked him up in the top of the seventh, with a leadoff walk from Andrew Bechtold that was followed by a Dalton Shuffield home run, of the inside-the-park variety, to retake the lead. Just as quickly, however, the bullpen let their starter down. Devin Smeltzer gave up the game-tying home run in the seventh, then wasn’t able to record an out in the eighth before being replaced by Mario Sanchez. Smeltzer was charged with a blown save and loss, allowing three runs (two earned) in one-plus innings on two hits. He struck out one. Sanchez was then hit for two earned runs of his own, allowing four hits in his inning. St. Paul’s lineup was led by multiple hits from Bechtold (2-for-3, R, BB, K) and Shuffield (2-for-4, HR, 2 RBI. Trevor Larnach was 0-for-3 with a walk and strikeout, while Ryan Jeffers was 0-for-4 in their rehabs. Wander Javier was 0-for-4 with three strikeouts. As a team, the Saints were just 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position and left seven men on base. Catcher Jose Godoy got some revenge on his former team and organization, going 3-for-4 with a home run and two RBI to lead Indianapolis. Number six Pirates prospect (per MLB.com) Endy Rodriguez, was 2-for-3 with an RBI double, batting fifth as the DH. WIND SURGE WISDOM - Texas League Division Series (Game 1 of Best of 3 Series) Tulsa 1, Wichita 17 Box Score The Wind Surge never died down in this one, as they battered the Drillers from start to finish to take game one of their Division Series. A five-run second inning got the damage started, and before it was over they scored at least four runs in two other innings. They took advantage of nine walks by crushing three separate three-run homers among seven extra-base hits in the game. Those home runs came off the bats of DaShawn Keirsey Jr., Edouard Julien, and Anthony Prato. Austin Martin added a solo shot of his own, and Keirsey Jr. also added an RBI triple. Left-hander Brent Headrick got the start for Wichita and was fantastic for the first five innings, never letting the Drillers build any momentum in the blowout. He scattered six hits and allowed just an unearned run. He punched out eight hitters, including multiple in each of the first, third, and fourth innings. The recently fast-tracked Brooks Lee, got the party started with an RBI single in the second inning, and two batters later Keirsey Jr. delivered the first three-run blast of the game. After an RBI single from Prato in the third, a Jair Camargo RBI double and Alex Isola sac fly in the fourth, Wichita was already rolling 8-0. A four-run fifth included an RBI triple from Keirsey Jr., and then the Julien blast to make it 12-1. Martin led off the seventh with his home run, and later Prato slugged the Wind Surge’s third big blast of the night, giving them the final score of 17-1. After Headrick’s exit, relievers Osiris German, Jordan Gore, Blayne Enlow, and Casey Legumina combined to keep the Drillers stuck at one run to finish the final four innings, pitching one frame apiece. German struck out the side in the sixth, Gore two in the seventh, Enlow one in the eighth, and Legumina two in the ninth. As a staff, they combined for 16 K’s to just one walk. Martin (2-for-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 SB), Julien (2-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB), Camargo (2-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI, BB), Lee (3-for-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI), Prato (2-for-3, 2 R, HR, 4 RBI, 2 BB), and Keirsey Jr. (2-for-5, 2 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI) all had multiple hits in the blowout victory. Game 2 of the Texas League Division series will be on Thursday in Tulsa, with right-hander (and no-hitter throwing) Daniel Gossett getting the starting nod for Wichita. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Brent Headrick, Wichita Wind Surge (W, 5 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 8 K) Hitter of the Day - Edouard Julien, Wichita Wind Surge (2-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Brooks Lee (Wichita) - 3-for-5, 3 R, 2B, 2 RBI #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 3 R, HR, RBI, BB, 2 SB #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 5 K #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, RBI, K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-3, 3 R, HR, 3 RBI, 3 BB #15 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - 1 IP, BB, K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (12:35 PM CDT) - RHP Jordan Balazovic (0-6, 7.47 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  25. Coming into the 2022 season, Twins Daily ranked Austin Martin, Jordan Balazovic and Matt Canterino as the first, fourth, and sixth best prospects in the organization, respectively. Not only were they high-caliber talents with polish and big upside, but they were all more or less on the precipice of major-league readiness. In each case, things hardly could've gone worse. Whether performance, injury, or a combination, each of these critical assets saw his stock nosedive over the past summer, and it adds another layer of complexity for a front office trying to build its way back to contention. With that said, hope isn't lost for any of these three. Let's take a look at each of their campaigns so far, as things come close to wrapping up here in September. Austin Martin and the power that never came. The prize of last year's José Berríos trade at the deadline, Martin was billed as a near-ready prospect right out of the gates. It was warranted, after he led all of Double-A in on-base percentage during his first pro season. Despite his resounding success, Minnesota sent Martin back to the same level this year, no doubt hoping he'd shore up his biggest weakness from 2022 – an absence of power to complement the excellent OBP – and earn a quick call-up to Triple-A or even the majors. That didn't happen. Martin's power trended the wrong direction this year. After slugging .382 with a .127 ISO and five home runs in 418 PAs between New Hampshire and Wichita, this year he's slugging .317 with an .074 ISO and two home runs in 406 PAs at Wichita. Martin has kept his on-base skills steady, with a .367 OBP despite the crummy .241 average, but his lack of ability to drive the ball with any authority almost renders it moot. Posting a .685 OPS as a 23-year-old in your second turn at Double-A, with no apparent underlying injury, is nothing short of disastrous. Given all the injuries the Twins have faced this season, it's likely Martin would've gotten a chance at some point if he'd even modestly improved his production from a year ago. His drop-off eliminated that possibility and will leave him as something of an afterthought heading into 2023. Martin's going to tank on national prospect lists, where he ranked around #50 by consensus coming into the season. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Martin would hardly be the first player to develop significant power rapidly in his mid-20s. In fact, two "shortstop" prospects who came before him in the Twins system serve as optimistic precedents: Brain Dozier totaled 14 home runs in 317 games through his first three minor-league seasons. Five years later he would set an American League record by launching 42 as a second baseman in 2016. Jorge Polanco hit 35 total home runs total in 598 minor-league games, and could barely muster an XBH in his early days. He hit 33 home runs for the Twins last year. Jordan Balazovic's puzzling struggles in St. Paul. We had Balazovic ranked as the #1 pitcher in the system coming into this year, following a strong campaign at Double-A where he posted a 3.62 ERA and 9.5 K/9 rate as a 22-year-old. Relative to other arms in the system, Balazovic had a more consistent track record and more established workload base, which is why it seemed feasible to envision him playing a significant role in the Twins rotation this year. His abominable performance at Triple-A has done away with that notion entirely. Balazovic started a month late with the Saints due to a knee strain. While he ostensibly put that behind him, staying healthy enough to take the mound each sixth day, he has never seemed right at any point. The right-hander's performance with St. Paul has been beyond awful. In 62 ⅔ innings across 20 appearances, he's 0-6 with a 7.47 ERA. Opponents have slashed .342/.412/.625 against him, as both his walk and home run rates have spiraled out of control. Balazovic has made 19 starts for the Saints and completed five innings ONCE. In late June, Balazovic told Dean Spiros of the Pioneer Press his struggles were "like a puzzle; every day it’s something new." "I’ve never pitched like this,” Balazovic said. “Last year (at Double-A Wichita) my numbers started to get worse in the second half because I was working on stuff. That’s kind of carried over to this season a little bit, but not to where it should be affecting me this bad.” The big 6-foot-5 righty boiled his issues down to consistency and execution, but expressed hope he was getting closer to solving the puzzle. "I’m still hoping for that day," he said, "and I’m hoping that day is tomorrow." It wasn't. The following day he needed 60 pitches to get through 2 ⅔ innings against the Iowa Cubs, allowing five hits (two homers) and two walks. His next time out he coughed up five earned runs in three innings against Omaha. These have been typical results for Balazovic this year, and as a result he's slid down a pitching pipeline hierarchy that's already been depleted by the Chase Petty trade and the development we'll look at next. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Balazovic didn't quite follow through on his "hoping that day is tomorrow" goal, but he might not have been far off? While he bombed in his next two starts, he's been on a bit of a roll ever since, posting a 2.52 ERA and 29-to-11 K/BB ratio with just three homers allowed over 25 innings in his past six starts. Sometimes guys need to experience their worst to unlock their best. Balazovic has plenty of talent to rebound and get back on track. Matt Canterino and the elbow that finally gave way. Canterino's elbow is the only thing that's stood in his way. Drafted 54th overall in 2019 after blowing people away at Rice University for three years, the hard-throwing righty immediately started doing the same to professional hitters. In a 25-inning debut between rookie ball and Low-A, he posted a 1.44 ERA with 31 strikeouts and only eight hits allowed. Then, the pandemic happened and wiped out the 2020 season. In 2021, he was limited to 23 total innings by a forearm strain (he posted a 0.78 ERA when he was able to pitch). This year, his elbow soreness re-emerged and while the Twins continually tried to navigate around it, treating surgery as a last resort, they eventually ran out of options. "It felt like we didn't have anymore stones to turn over," said assistant GM Jeremy Zoll. Unfortunately, the efforts to avoid surgery only delayed it, and now Canterino's prospective impact has also been pushed well down the line. Since he didn't undergo Tommy John until last month, Canterino will likely miss all of next year rehabbing, meaning that by the time he's ready to fully return to the mound, he'll be a 26-year-old with fewer than 100 innings as a pro. It's really difficult to come back from that. Why you shouldn't lose hope: Difficult, but not impossible. The biggest cost of all this lost time would theoretically be missed development for a guy who's barely been able to get in-game reps since being drafted three years ago. For Canterino, I'm not sure it matters as much. He's basically always looked like a guy ready for the majors when he's pitched, with raw stuff that speaks for itself. So long as that stuff remains mostly intact after the surgery, he'll have a chance to get back up to speed quickly and make his long-awaited impact on the bullpen, even if it's not until 2024. Feeling bummed out? I hear you! Make sure to check back tomorrow when I break down the most uplifting developments on the farm for the Twins this year ... Good news: I couldn't manage to limit that list to just three.
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