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  1. The Twins' top pitching prospect in the minors, Jordan Balazovic, made his 2022 debut last Saturday against the Iowa Cubs in St. Paul. Balazovic's stat line for the game was 3 2/3 scoreless innings pitched, five hits, two walks, and four strikeouts with 79 pitches thrown. Balazovic’s start on Saturday was an improvement from his rehab appearance on May 1 with Fort Myers where he went two innings and gave up four earned runs on four hits, two walks, and only one strikeout. After Saturday’s game, Balazovic spoke about the improvement he had felt in his knee and in his performance compared to the rehab start. “Sunday was a tough one, but otherwise I feel great. It felt good to be back out here and back to natural adrenaline and body-wise I feel great,” said Balazovic. As of now, Balazovic is set up to make regular starts with the Saints every five to six days. Saints manager Toby Gardenhire shared the current plans that he, Balazovic, and pitching coach Virgil Vasquez have for Balazovic’s pitching limits. “Today he threw the ball really well, and we’ll work on him being more efficient. He's got great stuff, and he will learn to be more efficient with it. That's going to keep his pitch count down and that's the big thing. He threw some really good sliders and some not-so-good sliders. He threw some really good changeups and not as good changeups. Those are the little things that the longer he goes, hopefully, they'll be able to iron out because once he gets up there, all those things get magnified a lot,” said Gardenhire. A common theme in Balazovic’s start on Saturday was having the Cubs hitters foul a lot of balls off him which had raised his pitch count to 79 by the fourth inning. Currently, Balazovic is on a pitch count limit of 80 pitches. “They battled, when I was up in the count I couldn’t finish them off. It was one of those starts, but for the first one of the season, it’s definitely one I want to build off of for the most part. There's stuff we're gonna work on,” said Balazovic. Last season, Balazovic made 20 starts, all with the Wichita Wind Surge. He averaged 5 2/3 innings pitched throughout those 20 starts and averaged 84 pitches per start. Balazovic also posted a 3.62 ERA in 97 innings pitched. He had 102 strikeouts (9.5 K/9) and a 3.5 BB/9. Balazovic is scheduled to make his next start for the Saints on Friday, May 13, in Columbus against the Clippers. What would you like to see from Balazovic over the course of his next few starts, and then over the remainder of the season? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  2. Bill Smith Contributions (2007-2011) Smith faced a challenging time in Twins history as he took over the GM role. Torii Hunter was on his way out the door, and the team needed to trade Johan Santana. The Twins lost a Game 163 (2008) and won the division twice (2009-10) during his tenure. Despite these positive results, Smith couldn’t survive the 2011 campaign as the Twins lost 99 games. It was one of the most disappointing seasons in Twins history, but he helped sign three core pieces to the current roster. Smith’s lasting legacy with the Twins connects to the 2009 international signing class, which was tremendous in retrospect. Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, and Max Kepler signed as part of this class. These players have combined for 37.3 total WAR and two All-Star appearances in their big-league careers. Sano’s Twins tenure may conclude in 2022, but Kepler and Polanco are under team control for multiple more seasons. Terry Ryan Contributions (2012-2016) Ryan served as GM for two different stints, so it makes sense for his fingerprints to be all over the Twins organization over the last decade. When taking over from Smith, Ryan got the opportunity to pick the second overall pick, and the organization decided on Byron Buxton. Multiple pitchers were in the conversation for Minnesota, but Buxton has accumulated the fourth-most WAR among players from the 2012 first round. He is now the face of the franchise, and he will be in a Twins uniform for over a decade after Ryan was fired. Minnesota signed Luis Arraez as an international free agent during the 2013 signing class. He has been worth 5.9 WAR in his career while hitting .312/.374/.400 (.748) with a 130 OPS+. Nick Gordon was a top-5 draft pick under the Ryan regime. His professional career hasn’t progressed perfectly, but he has shown the club the value he can provide over the last two seasons. These players look like they will be part of the team’s roster for multiple seasons moving forward. Minnesota’s bullpen picture is also covered with players acquired by Ryan. Tyler Duffey was a fifth-round pick in 2012, and he has been one of the team’s best relievers since 2019. Cody Stashak, a 13th-round pick in 2015, has been terrific to start the 2022 season, and he has yet to become arbitration-eligible. The Twins took Griffin Jax in the 3rd round of the 2016 MLB Draft, Ryan’s last with the organization. This season, he is transitioning to the bullpen, and signs point to him fitting well into his new role. Other prospects on the 40-man roster were also acquired under the Ryan regime. Jovani Moran was a seventh-round pick in the 2015 MLB Draft, and he has the potential to be a dominant late-inning reliever. His change-up is a dominant pitch, and it has helped him post a 13.4 K/9 in his minor league career. Jordan Balazovic was a fifth-round pick in 2016, and he currently ranks as Twins Daily’s fifth overall prospect. Entering the season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus each had him in the back-half of their top-100 prospects. He recently made his Triple-A debut, so there is a good chance his big-league debut will be in 2022. Smith and Ryan might not be regarded highly because of how each left the organization. However, their impact will be felt years after their departure. Besides Buxton, which of these players will provide the most long-term value to the Twins? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  3. TRANSACTIONS RHP Jordan Balazovic activated from the IL for the St. Paul Saints RHP Cole Sands optioned to the St. Paul Saints from the Minnesota Twins RHP Blayne Enlow assigned to Low-A Fort Myers on minor league rehab RHP Dylan Thomas was reinstated from the 7-day IL and released Saints Sentinel St. Paul 9, Iowa 2 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K HR: Kevin Merrell (1), Derek Fisher (3) Multi-hit games: Jermaine Palacios (2-for-5, RBI) A top prospect made his AAA debut on Saturday. Jordan Balazovic, one of the team’s top pitching young arms, returned from the injured list on Saturday, tossing 3 2/3 scoreless innings for the Saints. Other exciting pitching prospects have overshadowed Balazovic with their major-league performances, but no one should forget just how dominant Balazovic can be when healthy. Of course, one should never lose themselves in a pitcher when St. Paul’s offense scored nine runs. It was a group effort on Saturday; every player got on base at least once, and the only player without a hit (Curtis Terry) walked four times. In fact, the team ended up walking more often than they struck out (11 to 10). The Cubs suffered death by a thousand paper cuts. Outside of the Kevin Merrell homer above, Derek Fisher and Cole Sturgeon provided the only other extra-base hits of the game. One final offensive note: every RBI came from the 5-9 hitters. Mario Sanchez allowed two runs over 3 1/3 innings in relief of Balazovic; Wladimir Pinto shut out Iowa over the final two innings with an impressive five strikeouts. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 5, Tulsa 4 Box Score Simeon Woods Richardson: 5 1/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 6 K HR: Spencer Steer 2 (3, 4) Multi-hit games: Spencer Steer (3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR) Wichita walked off their opponent on Saturday. Simeon Woods Richardson proved he was human, allowing his first earned runs of the year in a decidedly middling start. The Drillers, full of classically tough Dodgers prospects, ambushed Woods Richardson in the third inning with three hits and an HBP, ultimately netting three runs in the frame. Wichita would not stand around quietly, though. Or, Spencer Steer specifically, would not stand around quietly. Steer was a train engine, doubling home a run in the first before homering in the third and fourth innings. One must assume that Tulsa pitchers were on the verge of an outright revolt if their coaches forced them to pitch to Steer. Of course, one man an offense does not make. Alex Isola reached base three times, Michael Helman singled home a run, and Matt Wallner brought home the walk-off run in the 9th inning. Don’t look now, but Wallner now owns an .897 OPS at AA despite his dreadful start to the season. We all sometimes Need A Little Help From Our Friends, and the wind smiled favorably onto Wichita. Oh, and Wallner also threw a missile to nail a runner at home. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 6, Quad Cities 2 Box Score Cade Povich: 5 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 8 K HR: Anthony Prato (4), Will Holland (1), Aaron Sabato (4) Multi-hit games: Jeferson Morales (3-for-4, 2 R) The Kernels won on Saturday. Water is wet. Cade Povich continued his utterly brilliant introduction to the full minor-league season by punching out eight batters without allowing an earned run. Don’t look now, but the Twins may already have the second wave of arms in the wings waiting for the first group to graduate. Cedar Rapids’ offense started with a bang. Anthony Prato hit a lead-off homer and Charles Mack doubled home another run in the first to give Povich a 2-0 lead before his second inning of work. Will Holland extended the lead in the second with a solo shot before Aaron Sabato blasted away, giving the Kernels a six-run lead before anyone knew what hit them. Bobby Milacki and Denny Bentley combined for four innings with just one run allowed to end the game. Kernels pitchers struck out 15 batters in total. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 7, Lakeland 12 Box Score Blayne Enlow: 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (2-for-3, R, RBI, 2B, BB), Noah Miller (2-for-4, R, RBI, BB), Noah Cardenas (2-for-4, 2 RBI), Daniel Ozoria (2-for-4, 2 R) The Mighty Mussels lost a high scorer on Saturday. Blayne Enlow made his much-anticipated return from Tommy John surgery. The young righty was tagged as the Lance McCullers of the Twins’ 2017 draft when they went over-slot to pick him in the third round after drafting Royce Lewis with the first overall pick. His career hasn’t been straightforward since, but the Twins saw enough potential to protect him from the Rule 5 draft, and this year will go a long way to proving whether that decision was wise. Baseball is far too cruel to carry a storybook tale, though. Even after Fort Myers jumped out to a 6-0 lead, Lakeland harassed Enlow in the second inning, taking advantage of poor defense to take a 7-6 lead after the dust had settled. Mike Parades tried in vain to put the effort to a stop, but Lakeland’s bats were in an evil mood, and all he gained was a higher ERA. The game wasn’t all bad; Fort Myers reached base 16 times as Noah Miller and Emmanuel Rodriguez continued to flash their on-base potential with three and two times reaching base respectively. Keoni Cavaco was not so fortunate, striking out three times in the loss. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cade Povich Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Spencer Steer PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-5, R #2 – Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, 2B, K #3 – Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, BB #4 – Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 3 2/3 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K #7 – Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 5 K #10 – Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 2-for-4, R, RBI, BB, K #11 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 #12 – Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-4, RBI, 2B, BB, 2 K #15 – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 0-for-3, R, 2 BB, K #17 – Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - 1 2/3 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 1 K #18 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 3-for-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR, 2B SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (2:07 PM) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05 PM) - RHP Chris Vallimont Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 PM) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Fort Myers @ Lakeland (12:00 PM) - LHP Steve Hajjar
  4. The Twins have optioned pitchers Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Drew Strotman to Triple-A St. Paul. Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow were also optioned, but he was optioned to Double-A Wichita. It is the second options for Balazovic and Strotman. It is the first options for the others. The spring training roster currently has 53 players on it, including 19 non-roster players. There are still 24 pitchers (7 non-roster), five catchers (2 non-roster), 15 infielders (7 non-roster), and nine outfielders (3 non-roster). The regular-season big-league roster will include 26 players, although it is likely that there will be expanded rosters for a little while when the season begins due to the shortened spring training. It is normal for players on the 40-man roster who will not start the season in the big leagues to be optioned with the first cuts. There are several reasons for that. One might be that if a player gets hurt in big-league spring training, they would go on the big-league Injured List. In this case, these pitchers are likely to be starters in the minor leagues, and they need to be stretched out. They simply won't get the innings in big-league camp to do that. Enlow will start the season on the Wind Surge Injured List, but don't be surprised if he's back to pitching in games by May. He had Tommy John surgery last May. Josh Winder is on the mound today for the Twins in their spring game against the Red Sox. It is possible he is optioned either after the game or in the coming days. If he is not, that tells us he is being considered for an Opening Day job. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY Latest Twins coverage from our writers Recent Twins discussion in our forums Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  5. The last list from 2021 featured just three Twins after multiple players reached their rookie limits and “graduated” from the list during the 2021 season. The three players from the last installment of their rankings were shortstop Royce Lewis (#35), shortstop/center fielder Austin Martin (#36), and right-handed pitcher Jordan Balazovic (#81). Despite the various “graduates”, they were able to rebuild their farm systems a bit with the José Berríos and Nelson Cruz trades for an overall farm system ranking 15th out of the 30 MLB teams. It remains to be seen where they rank the farm system ahead of the 2022 season, so here’s what we know they think of the Twins top prospects. #46 Royce Lewis, Shortstop The former first overall pick has had a long, windy road since being drafted in 2017. Despite all of those challenges, the one thing that has remained consistent is his placement as a consensus top 100 prospect. The talent and the ceiling are there and now we hope that the various challenges he has overcome are behind him. He’ll likely spend all of the 2022 season between AA-Wichita and AAA-St. Paul, especially with the recent additions of Gio Urshela and Carlos Correa. Big picture I think this is a good thing as it allows him to focus on getting back into the game without the pressures of performing to get back to the big league club ASAP. #52 Austin Martin, Super Utility Martin has been another staple in the top 100 since being drafted 5th overall in 2020. Of course, that was always with the Toronto Blue Jays before being the headliner of the Berríos trade and immediately becoming the Twins second-best prospect. Even before Correa and a healthy Royce Lewis, he was already getting run as a center fielder instead of a shortstop. He’s good enough to be passable at any position aside from catcher, so he’ll eventually find his way to the Twins because of his bat…whether that’s in the infield, outfield, or all over is anyone's best guess. #95 Jose Miranda, Utility IF The only surprise here is that he barely cracked the top 100 after his spectacular 2021 season where he won Twins Minor Leaguer of the Year. Of course, there’s nothing from prior years that indicated this was coming or that it’s even repeatable so it’s probably fair he was ranked in the 90’s. Like the two before him, the offseason additions give him the time to prove 2021 was no fluke without the added pressure of needing to contribute to the big leagues right away in 2022. That said, if he starts to show that 2021 was not a flash in the pan, then I don’t know how they don’t give him an opportunity in Minneapolis. #97 Joe Ryan, Starting Pitcher Despite ending the season giving up six earned runs to the Detroit Tigers, Joe Ryan quickly established himself as the headliner of the Nelson Cruz trade and was penned in for the 2022 rotation. In his four other starts in 2021 he gave up six earned runs TOTAL while posting a 29:3 K:BB in 22 innings pitched despite throwing a fastball that averaged just 91 miles-per-hour. Despite the lack of velocity, Ryan is projected to be a mid-rotation starter due to the movement of that fastball up in the zone. If he can improve his offspeed pitches to counteract that high fastball, he’ll be a more than passable starter for years to come. #103 Jordan Balazovic, Right-Handed Pitcher Shortly after the top 100 was released, Sam Dykstra of MLB Pipeline released the prospect who “just missed the top 100.” I’m guessing it was in order and Balazovic was third on the list which would make him prospect number 103 as he continues his dance as a top-100 / almost top-100 prospect since 2019. The last rendition of the rankings had him at #81, but part of the reason for the drop was hinted at in the article…his K rate dropped about 10 points in AA-Wichita compared to his previous four seasons in A-ball and below. I wouldn’t be surprised if Balazovic starts the year in AA-Wichita again, but eventually works up the chain to Minneapolis before the season is over. What’s ironic about all of this is that it very well could take two of these prospects (and more) to net Frankie Montas who the Twins are reportedly looking to acquire from the A’s. The good news in the short-term is that aside from Joe Ryan, the Twins aren’t counting on any of these guys to be contributors in 2022. Would you be okay trading two of these guys for Frankie Montas or should we hold and see how they develop this year? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  6. Age: 23 (DOB: 9/17/1998) 2021 Stats: (Double-A): 97 IP, 3.62 ERA, 1.402 WHIP, 102 K, 38 BB ETA: 2022 2021 Ranking: 3rd National Top 100 Rankings BA: 85 | MLB: 95 | ATH: 43 | BP: 78 What’s To Like Velocity has long been the name of the game on the mound, and it’s something the Twins haven’t seen from a starter they developed in a long time, maybe ever. Balazovic was sitting at 95 mph last year on his fastball, even after missing time to start the season due to injury. He pushed it up to 97 mph at times, and the electricity behind the pitch is something to drool over. With a starter’s mix, Balazovic also has a strong slider and has turned the changeup into an out pitch as well. Double-A was a new test for Balazovic last season, and he did take a slight step backward in terms of numbers, but the elite stuff is still all there. A rough three-start stretch at the end of July made things look more mediocre than they were. Over his final eight starts, Balazovic posted a 2.72 ERA allowing just a .672 OPS against. What’s Left To Work On It’s not to say that Balazovic is a finished product, but he’s very close. Even with the time missed due to the pandemic, the Canadian is knocking on the door to the big leagues. A return to Double-A could be in the cards at the beginning of 2022, but he should quickly move up to Triple-A St. Paul. Balazovic has done a good job repeating his delivery, and continuing down a path of sustained success is a must for him. Minnesota would probably like to see a trend back towards the 2019 numbers, but that’s also not a showstopper. The strikeouts were down slightly, and the walks rose, but both happened in minor increments. Settling back in with a clean bill of health should lead to more dominating performances than not. What’s Next It would be far from shocking if Balazovic was pitching for the Twins by mid-summer. He’s near ready as a prospect, and while he’s probably not the type to be called upon before ready in a spot-start role, he’s got the talent to force his way into sustained action. Minnesota should have a middle-of-the-rotation arm at worst here, and seeing him add even more would be a welcomed sight. The Twins have been longing for a guy that can mow down the opposition, and Balazovic has the makings of someone capable of doing just that. If he can be a staff ace, the organization will have its next piece to build around. Previous Rankings Honorable Mentions Prospects 16-20 Prospects 11-15 #10: Josh Winder, RHP #9: Chase Petty, RHP #8: Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP #7: Jhoan Duran, RHP #6: Matt Canterino, RHP #5: Joe Ryan, RHP #4: Jordan Balazovic, RHP #3: Coming tomorrow
  7. With the lockout impacting only Major League Baseball, the minor-league baseball season can go off without a hitch. It was recently announced that Triple-A teams will play 150 games after adding six more to their schedule. Many minor leaguers are already down in Fort Myers, preparing for the 2022 season. Unfortunately, a handful of top prospects will start the year on the farm but can’t join their teammates. In my opinion, the guys hurt most by Major League Baseball’s lockout are those recently-added to the 40-man roster but not yet big-league mainstays. Not only do they not get a traditional Spring Training, but they can’t start the minor league season on time and are not allowed access to club facilities either. For Minnesota, that group includes some pretty big names: Jordan Balazovic Balazovic is currently the Twins top pitching prospect. He was at Double-A in 2021 and should be expected to reach Triple-A this season quickly. He’s a hard thrower that can push 97-mph and has the chops to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. Balazovic missed time last year due to injury so being delayed out of the gate is sub-optimal. Cole Sands Like Balazovic above, Sands missed time on the Injured List in 2021. He was dominant at Double-A and should jump up to Triple-A quickly. He still needs to reign in the walks, but this is a rotation arm with plenty of strikeout ability. Sands will be 25 midway through the 2022 campaign. Drew Strotman Half of the return in the Nelson Cruz trade, Strotman spent all season at Triple-A. He walked way too many batters, and the ERA is a testament to that, but he’s got strikeout ability and should be an option for the Twins shortly. Continued acclimation to the new organization and a spring training showing on the big league side would’ve been ideal. Chris Vallimont Arguably the pitcher needing the most refinement from this group, Vallimont has massive strikeout stuff with significant command issues. Working on the big-league side during a traditional spring training would have been invaluable. He’s probably a relief arm, but it would have been great to see what he could have done in March. Josh Winder Maybe Minnesota’s most slept-on pitching prospect, Winder looks the part of a difference-maker. He doesn’t give up free passes, and he mows down plenty of batters. Home runs burnt him in three of four starts at Triple-A, but he too should settle in as a nice option for the Twins soon. Jose Miranda Last season’s prospect darling, Miranda went from off-the-radar to top-100 prospect in the blink of an eye. He crushed at Double-A and then continued doing so at Triple-A. He’s probably sniffing a roster spot on Opening Day, but that gets much tougher without a traditional spring training and lack of runway to make his case. Royce Lewis After missing two seasons of games due to Covid and a torn ACL, Lewis not being able to immediately be back on the diamond isn’t good. Having him prove it in game action is where all parties want him to be, so sitting idle on the 40-man is disappointing. This is a big year for the former top prospect, and getting him going quickly is a must. Trevor Larnach Dealing with injury last season, Larnach found himself struggling and sent back to Triple-A. He was soon hurt, prematurely ending his season He should be a significant contributor in Minnesota’s lineup this year, but we’ll have to wait on what a healthy version looks like. It’s disappointing that these guys, and a few others with youth on their side, won’t get to hit the ground running in 2022. We all want baseball back, and I’m sure they’re itching for it the most. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  8. If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  9. What is very exciting is that these five pitchers, along with the pitchers in the 6-10 ranking range, and even a couple in the 11-15 range, have a real chance to be impact big league starters. The other thing to note is that the organization's top prospect lists have shifted quite significantly even from last year. While hitters such as Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Nick Gordon and Ben Rortvedt lost their prospect status, the Twins have developed many intriguing, exciting pitching prospects. Obviously what matters most is what they are able to do in the big leagues, but there is a stable of pitchers that Twins fans should be very excited about. Let's get started on my Top 5 Twins Pitching Prospects. #5 - RHP Josh Winder 2021 STATS: 4-0, 2.63 ERA, 14/14 G/GS, 0.94 WHIP, 80/13 K/BB, 72.0 IP The Twins drafted Josh Winder out of Virginia Military Institute in the seventh round of the 2018 draft. He went 3-1 with a 3.72 ERA in nine starts at Elizabethton that summer. In 2019, he went 7-2 with a 2.65 ERA in 21 starts. Like so many others, he missed the 2020 season, but when he came to Instructional League, he made a prospect name for himself. Instead of sitting 91-92 with the fastball, he was now hitting 95-97 consistently. In addition, he has a good slider and a changeup. In 2021, he received a call to be a part of the Twins depth camp for spring training. He skipped High-A and began the season as Wichita’s opening day starter. He dominated Double-A. In 10 starts, he went 3-0 with a 1.98 ERA. In 54 2/3 innings, he struck out 65 batters while striking out just ten. He moved up to St. Paul and in his first Triple-A start, he started with five no-hit innings. He pitched 2/3 of an inning in the Futures Game in Denver. He made just four starts for the Saints due to a shoulder impingement and missed the remainder of the season. Winder is intriguing because of his fastball, his control of all of his pitches, and his work ethic is second to none. Following the season, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster and when spring training starts, he should be given a real shot to make the opening day roster. That said, he is most likely to spend some more time in St. Paul. He will be 25 years old throughout the 2022 season. #4 - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson 2021 STATS: 1-1, 6.75 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 1.75 WHIP, 10/8 K/BB, 8.0 IP Simeon Woods Richardson joined the Twins organization in July when the Twins acquired him from the Blue Jays in the Jose Berrios deal. It was the second time the 21-year-old prospect was traded. After being drafted out of his Sugar Land, Texas, high school in the 2nd round of the 2018 draft, he was traded in 2019 to the Blue Jays in the Marcus Stroman deal. He has always been very young for the level in which he plays, but at Double-A in 2021, he was nearly five years younger than average. The numbers showed it as he posted a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts in New Hampshire before the trade. Now, he did have 67 strikeouts in 45 1/3 innings. He also walked 26 batters. Control was something that eluded him in 2021, though it really hadn’t previously. When the Twins acquired him, he was a teammate of Joe Ryan on Team USA in the Olympics. Woods Richardson has a big fastball in the mid-90s as part of a solid four-pitch mix. Again, control will be the key. He will pitch the 2022 season at age 21. With his struggles in 2021, and his youth, he should spend much of the season in Wichita. #3 - RHP Jordan Balazovic 2021 STATS: 5-4, 3.62 ERA, 20/20 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 102/38 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins 2016 draft has proven pretty impressive to this point. The Twins started with five straight high school hitters. In the fifth round, they took Jordan Balazovic out of secondary school in Ontario. He has had ups and downs since signing with the Twins, but when healthy, he has generally been very good. He has also really developed as a starting pitcher. He now has a fastball that sits 93-95 and touches 97 at times. He has four pitches that all can be average or better big-league pitches. He has typically shown good control. He didn’t pitch in 2020, although he spent the last several weeks in St. Paul at the Twins alternate site. Following the season, he was added to the 40-man roster. He came to big-league camp for spring training in 2021, but he began the season on the Injured List with an oblique injury. However, he still made 20 starts and reached a career-high 97 innings, all in Double-A Wichita. He was much more inconsistent throughout the season than normal. He had a good start, then struggled a bit. Then he dominated, pitching 25 consecutive scoreless innings. He followed that with struggles again, but he ended the season strong, and most important healthy. Balazovic should spend most of the 2022 season in Triple-A St. Paul, but I would expect him to make his MLB debut in 2022. He won’t turn 24 until mid-September. #2 - RHP Joe Ryan 2021 MiLB STATS: 0-0, 2.00 ERA, 2/2 G/GS, 0.78 WHIP, 17/2 K/BB, 9.0 IP 2021 MLB STATS: 2-1, 4.05 ERA, 5/5 G/GS, 0.79 WHIP, 30/5 K/BB, 26.2 IP Fair to say that Joe Ryan made a strong first impression with the Twins. Then again, he has been impressing since he was young. The Twins wanted to sign him after he went undrafted following an injury-filled junior season. He bet on himself, went to Cal State-Stanislaus, pitched great and the Rays took him as a senior sign in the 7th round of the 2018 draft. He has been really good since joining the Rays, and in 2020, he was pitching at the alternate site. He was pitching well for Triple-A Durham to start this season and then headed to the Olympics with Team USA (the team won both games he started). While across the ocean, he learned that he had been traded to the Twins with Drew Strotman in the Nelson Cruz deal. Upon his return to the States, Ryan made two unbelievable starts with the Saints (Strotman’s story about that in Monday’s Twins Spotlight is hilarious!) before joining the Twins. Then he came up to the Twins and was again impressive. A few more home runs than you might want, but he showed great poise and an ability to miss bats. As Strotman said of Ryan, you may not know why you can’t hit him, but they don’t hit him. Ryan sits with a fastball that averages right around 90 mph. He can occasionally touch 94 with the fastball, but since he releases the ball low and can spot the pitch and be successful up in the strike zone, it is hard to hit. He will throw a high percentage of fastballs, but we also saw some really good change ups and sliders, and he really tunnels the ball with all three pitches very well. Ryan should spend the full 2022 season with the Twins. He won’t turn 26 until May. I think Twins fans can look forward to The Joe Ryan Experience for years to come. #1 - RHP Matt Canterino 2021 STATS: 1-0, 0.78 ERA, 6/6 G/GS, 0.61 WHIP, 45/4 K/BB, 23.0 IP I am guessing that this ranking of Matt Canterino as my choice for the Twins top pitching prospect will come as a surprise to some. However, if not for the elbow concerns that caused him to only throw 23 game innings in 2021, I don’t think people would be surprised. They’re certainly legitimate concerns, for sure. However, when it comes to pure ‘stuff,’ Canterino’s is electric. He’s got a big fastball, sitting 94-96 with his fastball as a starter, touching 97. He’s got the slider that can make hitters look silly. He’s got a slower curveball. And he’s got a good changeup. He’s also got really good makeup, work ethic and energy, some of the intangibles you are looking for in a top-of-rotation option. Canterino was the Twins 2nd round pick in 2019 out of Rice where he was a three-year starter and averaged about 97 innings each season. He did spend some time at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul late in 2020. If healthy, Canterino could move quickly. After his absolute domination in Cedar Rapids for the first month of the season (43 strikeouts in 21 innings!), I would expect he will start his season at Double-A Wichita and have a chance to move up to St. Paul fairly quickly. Now, innings will be a concern at some point, and if that happens, he could certainly work out of the bullpen as the season ends. The goal should continue to be to have him start, but obviously this kind of arm is very valuable and needs to be taken care of. He will be 24 throughout the 2022 season. Discuss... I’m sure that not everyone will agree with my rankings 100% I certainly wouldn’t expect that. I hope that I was able to make my case. If there’s one thing I’ve learned, there are a lot of pitchers in this system that have upside to become a playoff-caliber starting pitcher, and that’s exciting. It’s important to have some, but the fact that they have several should give hope that one to three of them will become just that while others will become mid-or-back end starters or even relievers. That’s just how pitching prospects work. Feel free to discuss and ask questions. . Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Hitters Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 Pitchers Part 6: 1-5
  10. Why is that the opposite? Remember, this lockout revolves around only Major League Baseball and its players. Minor League Baseball is not covered under that umbrella, and while that’s often to its detriment, that means affiliated action will go off without a hitch in the year ahead. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we had a 60-game big-league schedule and no minor league action. There was the birth of Alternate Sites, but no games of record took place. Fast forward to where we are now, and a year of development could come on the farm with nothing taking place at Target Field. It’s a really weird thing to think about, the minor league feeder system taking place with no ultimate goal being represented for a year. However, the reality is that it’s on the farm where the most development happens, and losing that season was highly disappointing for plenty of prospects. If time were to stand still on the Major League side, the year would be solely focused on developing the next wave of prospects. While that could be a good thing for guys a bit further away, it's certainly an unfortunate reality for some of the Twins best young talents. Two situations come to mind, and the biggest of them may involve Royce Lewis. Minnesota’s top prospect hasn’t played a game since 2019. After losing the season to Covid, he tore his ACL before 2021 even began. Still an elite talent, Lewis is looking to distance himself for down results last time he was on the field and also trying to build on a swing and position that both still have question marks. There’s no doubt Lewis is a big part of Minnesota’s future, and he has an outside chance of reaching the majors this season. Having recently been added to the 40 man roster, he'd be stuck in limbo with no opportunity to get back on the field but also being pushed further from his ultimate goal. In a cascade of continued unfortunate events, it'd be nice to see Lewis catch a break. The other grouping includes players that could use the additional time to develop and now won’t have that opportunity. After struggling, Trevor Larnach was sent back to Triple-A, and Jose Miranda is still a young kid. Throw in arms like Jordan Balazovic or Jhoan Duran, and there’s a lot of young talent on the Twins 40-man roster. Like Lewis, having been added to the 40-man, none of those players would be eligible to participate in minor league games. Irrelevant is whether they have options or could be maneuvered around the roster. With the league locked out, no transactions are permitted, meaning the pool of players for organizations solely becomes those not on a 40-man roster. At the end of the day, we’re going to have meaningful baseball, and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately, my belief has dwindled that we’ll have a full Major League season, and if there isn’t one at all, it may help as many guys as it hurts. Really this all comes down to Rob Manfred and the league working through this with the union so everyone can get back to work. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP From there, we dive into the top 15. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15 15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 2021 Ranking: NR The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did. "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.” That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Ranking: 12 In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated. Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings. With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2021 Ranking: 13 While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind. 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 2021 Ranking: 10 Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while. Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A. It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward. 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 2021 Ranking: 11 Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset. First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year. It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves. Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him? Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Current Starting Pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe Two young pitchers and three pitchers that struggled last season isn't the recipe needed for a last-place team trying to rebound. Bundy certainly has some intrigue, especially when looking back to his 2020 season. If the Twins can work with his pitch mix, he may improve enough to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. He's the most veteran pitcher on the staff, so there is a possibility the team adds other arms before Opening Day. Ober and Ryan were terrific during their first taste of the big leagues. Many were surprised by Ober's ability to pound the strike zone and work quickly. Ryan's unique fastball made it challenging for hitters to adjust, and he looks to be part of the team's long-term plans. Expectations need to be tempered with both pitchers because there will likely be some growing pains during their sophomore seasons. Last winter, Minnesota signed Dobnak to a unique extension, and then he proceeded to have his worst professional season. The Twins tried to use him in the bullpen to start the year, which was just the start of his season-long issues. Thorpe was limited to less than 40 innings last year, and he struggled at multiple levels. He's out of minor-league options, so he will have to earn a rotation spot this spring, or the team can try him in a bullpen role. 40-Man Roster Options Many of Minnesota's top pitching prospects are scheduled to spend time at Triple-A, and that might be one reason the club didn't spend big money on free agent pitching this winter. Top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Josh Winder, and Cole Sands are all on the 40-man roster and project to spend time in St. Paul. All four of these arms ranked in the team's top-20 prospects in the second half of the season. Griffin Jax has big-league experience, making him a depth option if some of the top prospects aren't ready. Minnesota acquired Drew Strotman and Ryan as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. One of the reasons the Twins acquired him was because he is close to big-league ready. Other players on the 40-man roster include Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow. Vallimont posted a 6.03 ERA in 21 Double-A starts last season, so it seems likely for him to get a repeat trip with Wichita. In June, Blayne Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery, so he won't be back into game action until later this summer. This winter, Minnesota had a tough decision regarding adding Enlow to the 40-man roster, but he can eventually be moved to the 60-day IL to open an additional roster spot. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's starting pitching depth. Minnesota has multiple starting pitching options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. At Triple-A, there are multiple players with big-league experience. Jake Faria received a non-roster invite when Minnesota signed him at the beginning of December. Devin Smeltzer was removed from the 40-man roster after injuries limited him to one appearance in 2021. Charlie Barnes posted a 3.79 ERA with a 1.28 in 16 Triple-A starts. Bryan Sammons and Austin Schulfer are both Rule 5 eligible but can slot into roles with St. Paul if they stay in the organization. Some of the team's other top-pitching prospects are penciled in for Double-A. Minnesota acquired Simeon Woods Richardson as part of the Jose Berrios trade. As a 20-year-old, he spent all of 2021 at Double-A and played in the Olympics. The Twins selected Matt Canterino in the second round back in 2019, but he was limited to six starts last season because of an elbow strain. Louie Varland finished the year at High-A, and he will be looking to build off his breakout 2021 season. There are some other names to watch in the minor's lower levels. Much of the organization's 2019 draft class projects to be at High-A, including Cody Laweryson, Sean Mooney, and Sawyer Gipson-Long. Laweryson was young for Cedar Rapids last season, and he posted a 3.86 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. In 13 starts, Mooney posted a 2.79 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. Gipson-Long struck out over 12 batters per nine innings at Low- and High-A in 2021. Steve Hajjar and Cade Povich were top-100 draft picks in 2021. Hajjar was one of the Big Ten's best pitchers in 2021, and that's why the Twins took him with the 61st pick. He has yet to make his professional debut. Povich dominated in his four starts after being drafted as he allowed one earned run and struck out more than 17 batters per nine innings. Their college experience can help to make them fast risers next season. Marco Raya and Chase Petty are two young pitchers to watch with the FCL Twins. Minnesota drafted Raya in the 4th round back in 2020 out of high school in Texas. Petty was the Twins 2021 first-round pick out of high school in New Jersey. Raya has yet to make a professional appearance, and Petty made two appearances after signing last year. Besides the names mentioned here, many other pitchers at each level can impact the upcoming season. Overall, Minnesota's current starting rotation doesn't look built for a playoff run, but 2022 may be set up for the young pitching core to debut. What do you think about the organization's starting pitching depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop — Center Field — Corner Outfield
  13. The two areas that the Minnesota Twins had an immense need heading into this offseason were starting pitcher and shortstop. Now, the cupboards are all but bare in each of these areas with 13 of Aaron Gleeman’s top 15 free agent starting pitchers and four of Gleeman’s top six free agent shortstops off the board entirely. Aside from signing one of the star free agent shortstops (not likely) or Carlos Rodón (possible), the Minnesota Twins will need to utilize the trade market if they want to bring in any difference-making talent this offseason. Doing so, though, would not be wise. I’m not breaking any news here, but the Minnesota Twins were not a good baseball team last year. The Twins just had their worst season since 2016, and did not show at any point in the season that they were on the verge of being a successful team. In only one full month in 2021 did the Minnesota Twins finish with a record above .500, when they went 14-13 in the month of August. On top of that, the Twins traded away their best starting pitcher since Johan Santana and their best power hitter since Jim Thome. The most likely path for the Minnesota Twins to acquire difference-making talent via the trade market would be by packaging one (or multiple) future prospects to a rebuilding team in exchange for a win-now player. Trade ideas as proposed by Twins Daily writer, JD Cameron, include Trevor Larnach for Chris Bassit or Jordan Balazovic and Ryan Jeffers for Sonny Gray. While the exact prospects that the Twins would need to part with in these trades could be different, the core idea remains the same…the Twins would need to part with key future prospects if they want to acquire top-shelf talent. The problem, and why they should avoid making deals this offseason, is that the Twins have not shown that they are close to competing and that adding a starting pitcher like Bassit or Gray (or both, even!) would suddenly turn the Twins into contenders. The Twins finished last in the American League Central last season and got worse, while the White Sox, Tigers and Royals all figure to improve. Trading away future pieces such as a Trevor Larnach or a Jordan Balazovic only to marginally improve a still-bad baseball team could prove catastrophic in terms of rebuilding efforts down the line. The other option that the Twins could look at on the trade market would be to trade away a non-prospect batter for some top-line pitching talent. Names like Max Kepler or Luis Arraez could potentially be expendable on a team with more hitting depth than pitching. While this type of trade would prove more palatable for an underwhelming Twins team, they are very difficult to come by. The teams that are looking to add MLB-ready bats are typically not the teams that are willing to part with MLB-ready arms. While it’s possible, I don’t see the Twins making this kind of trade. The best path for the Minnesota Twins to follow in 2022 would be to round out their pitching rotation this offseason with number three or four starting pitchers such as Michael Pineda or Danny Duffy. Then, simply let the season play out. If the Twins’ young arms show that they are the real deal and in turn the Twins prove to be more competitive in 2022 than predicted, Minnesota can then move prospects for win-now arms at the trade deadline. Making a trade now, though, could prove extremely costly.
  14. Aaron Gleeman penned a great piece for The Athletic last week addressing the team's hesitance to spend on pitching. This has been a trend for years, and now has become a glaring oddity, given the severe need for rotation help. Unless they sign Carlos Rodón (unlikely), it is clear the Twins have actively decided to bow out of the high-end free agent pitching market this offseason. They had money in hand, and yet they let every frontline type fall off the board, with no signs of serious pursuit. Why? Part of it undoubtedly ties to a fundamental aversion to risk, but I think there are deeper strategic underpinnings. When you look at the organization's pitching pipeline, and the number of MLB-ready arms that need to be evaluated, it becomes a bit easier to understand the desire for extreme flexibility. A pipeline ready to pay off It's no secret: this front office was brought in to develop pitching. That was Cleveland's specialization when Derek Falvey was there, and it's been a calling card of successful mid-market organizations over the years. There seems to be a sense that Falvey has fallen short in this regard, but we're judging an incomplete picture. Realistically it takes around five years or so to draft-and-develop a pitcher. This regime had a minor-league season wiped out by COVID in their fourth. When you look at the proliferation of intriguing arms in the system that are approaching MLB-readiness, the plan appears to be on track following a jarring disruption. All of these pitching prospects could feasibly be listed with an ETA of 2022: Jordan Balazovic, RHP (23 next season) Jhoan Duran, RHP (24) Josh Winder, RHP (25) Cole Sands, RHP (24) Chris Vallimont, RHP (25) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (21) Drew Strotman, RHP (25) Matt Canterino, RHP (24) Louie Varland, RHP (24) When I say these are "interesting" pitching prospects, I don't mean, "These are guys with raw stuff who could put up numbers if they figure things out." They've all put up numbers. In some cases, ridiculous numbers. Most of them have reached the high minors, and nearly all are at an age where good prospects tend to take the big-league step. Are the Twins viewing 2022 as a season to fully evaluate the quality of these pitchers and assess the strategy they've been developing for half a decade? It seems that way to me. What to expect after the lockout If this theory is correct, it doesn't mean the Twins are going to stand idly and let Dylan Bundy be their only pitching addition. None of the prospects mentioned above will be ready to go out of the gates, barring an unforeseen spring development. But it does mean they'll likely continue to avoid larger investments in pitchers, and the commitments those entail. I wouldn't be surprised to see them sign one or two of the better mid-tier starters remaining – say, Zack Greinke or Michael Pineda – and then round out the staff with a bunch of hybrid starter/reliever types who can contribute bulk innings while offering some upside. I outlined what a model might look like in practice back in early November. This model would be ideal for gradually bringing along young rookie starters in a controlled setting. You're not asking them to go out and throw six innings every fifth day, which none are physically built up to do. You're simply asking them to let loose and impact games. Maybe even win some games. Is this a "rebuild"? Falvey has bristled at the notion his team is headed for a rebuild in 2022. "I'm not using that word," he told reporters. Is he off base? Even if the approach I've put forth above is accurate, I think it's fair to steer away from such a characterization. "Rebuild" implies having no real aspiration to contend, but rather starting anew with a long-term scope. The Twins aren't starting anew. They're sticking with the rebuilding plan that's already been in place throughout this front office's tenure. These internally-developed arms were always going to the hold the key to Falvey and Thad Levine's vision for a sustainable winner. It's time to get a gauge on the validity of that vision. A prototype to follow Looking back through franchise history, we can find a pretty decent parallel for what a youthful takeover of the rotation could look like: the 2008 season. That season, too, had the makings of a rebuild on the surface. Minnesota traded Johan Santana for prospects during the previous offseason, while letting Torii Hunter walk. They didn't go out and make any big moves in free agency. The rotation ended up being led by Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins. Of those four, only Baker had more than 100 innings of major-league experience coming into the campaign. All were between 24 and 26 years old. Ironically, the biggest misstep by the front office that year was signing Liván Hernández under the pretense that this young group of starters needed a veteran leader. Hernández posted a 5.48 ERA over 23 starts before being cut in August to make room for Francisco Liriano – another young starter who rounded out the youth-led rotation. That youth-led rotation proved very capable. The Twins came within a game of a postseason berth, thanks in part to a solid offense led by a pair of MVP contenders in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. The 2022 Twins offense, led by Byron Buxon, Jorge Polanco and others, will have a chance to win if they get any help from the pitching. Why can't that help come primarily from the internal pipeline? It's happened before. A learning year Despite my efforts here to understand and justify the front office's lack of aggressiveness on the pitching market, I can't deny that the youth movement plan is a long shot. For every example like the 2008 Twins, there are plenty more where inexperience doomed a young rotation. But I'd argue that even in that scenario, the coming season can be a valuable one. They can throw numerous guys into the fire, take stock of what they've got, and assess their needs going forward more accurately. Ideally, they'll add at least one more moderately good free agent starter and another impact arm via trade, so as to improve their odds and lessen the total reliance on unknowns. But as a general course of action, I don't hate the idea of letting the pipeline produce. It's not the start of a rebuild. It's the summation of a rebuild that was initiated six years ago when Falvey and Levine first took over. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. I simulated the 2021 season (in which the Twins wound up winning the World Series, crazy) and then signed Buxton to his lucrative extension. With him in tow for the better part of the next decade, I then simulated every season and offseason through 2028 while allowing the computer to do its thing. This might not be surprising, but the man is pretty good. Before we dive into what took place, let’s catch you up to where we are now. Following the 2028 season, Buxton is 34 years old and an 86 overall player in the game. He began this process as a 90 overall player at age 28 and has only started to see a slight decline. In terms of relatable advanced analytics, MLB The Show uses its own calculation for WAR. In 2019, when Buxton posted an .827 OPS and 2.7 fWAR, The Show valued him at 2.9 WAR. That gives us a pretty even comparison. Now, let’s dive in. Even in real life, Buxton should never be expected to hit for a real high average (though he did over 61 games in 2021). That was true in The Show during the first year of his contract. Despite being worth 3.8 WAR, he posted just a .225 average. It translated to a .700 OPS with 17 dingers and seven triples. That’s where things took off. In each of the following three seasons, Buxton posted increasing WAR marks. Starting with a 4.6 effort in 2023, going to 4.7 in 2024, and topping out at 4.9 in 2025. He led the league with 19 outfield assists in 2023 and stole 24 bases. His 26 long balls were a new career-high, and he tallied eight triples. It was that 2025 season where the magic happened. Rewarded for his career year, the .261 average and .779 OPS were enough to earn him American League MVP honors. His 12 triples were a career-high, and the 17 homers added some nice thump to a decent Minnesota lineup. From 2022 through 2026, Buxton averaged 148 games per year, playing in all but three during the 2026 season. Injuries got him a bit the last two seasons of his deal, in which he played just 124 games in 2027 and 79 in 2028. Throughout the extension, Buxton compiled 24.2 WAR which Fangraphs valued as worth roughly $191.9 million, or just shy of double his contract. Accolades were often tallied for the Twins centerfielder. He racked up five straight Gold Gloves from 2022-26 and was named to three All-Star teams. The roster was largely turned over, with names such as Logan Webb, Abraham Toro, and Carlos Correa welcomed. Still, Buxton remained the organization’s best player for the vast majority of his time. He didn’t get to play with a couple of top Twins prospects as Royce Lewis was shipped to the Cubs after the 2023 season, and Jordan Balazovic went to the Yankees in 2025. I found myself interested in how Buxton’s final years would go, so there was a need to play out the string of his career. When reaching free agency for the first time, Buxton was handed a qualifying offer from the Twins. He hit the market as the best available centerfielder. Buxton opted to remain with Minnesota on a one-year deal worth $9.5 million when the dust settled. Another year of regression for Buxton at age-35 had him playing in just 71 games and bottoming out to the tune of a .391 OPS. He now has dropped to an 81 overall talent and enters the free agency market with significantly depressed value. He’s competing for a payday against top players such as Gabriel Maciel, the Twins prospect who was traded to Kansas City in 2022 and put up a 4.6 WAR season in 2028. Maciel wound up signing a six-year $116.4 million deal with the Diamondbacks. Royce Lewis also hit free agency for the first time this season, and San Diego inked the 88 overall 29-year-old to a four-year deal worth $56 million. Despite having 26 and 33-year-old centerfielders who are better, the Los Angeles Angels gave Buxton a one-year deal worth $4.2 million for his age-36 season. Byron played just 25 games for the Angels before his release. He bounced back from the disastrous end in Minnesota and posted a .796 OPS, but the opportunities weren’t there. Now looking at free agency as a 37-year-old, Buxton had to convince a team he still had something in the tank with his overall dropping to 76. Unsigned heading into Opening Day, this looked like it could be the end of the road. Ultimately no suitor presented themselves, and after sitting out the 2031 calendar season, that’s where Minnesota’s mega-star would call it quits. Buxton retired following the conclusion of the World Series. For his career, Buxton compiled 14.160 years of service time and had a slash line of .232/.295/.422. He ripped 204 homers and stole exactly 200 bases while recording 62 triples. His 37.3 WAR would be good enough for 66th best among centerfielders all-time per Fangraphs. While not having a Hall of Fame-caliber resume, it’s certainly fair to deduce that MLB The Show sees Byron Buxton contributing as a star for many more years. Coincidentally, there was another superstar outfielder that retired in 2031 as well. He was an immediate induction into the Hall of Fame with 601 career homers. Congrats Mr. Trout. What do you think? Would you sign up for this type of trajectory Twins fans? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. TRANSACTIONS There were no transactions in the system in advance of the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Wichita Wind Surge starting their league championship series on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL Scheduled Day Off The Saints got an extra day off on their schedule, as they begin the Final Stretch of games happening across the Triple-A level to end the season. They will play five games against the Iowa Cubs at home starting on Wednesday, and then five on the road against Toledo next week. WIND SURGE WISDOM Game 1: Wichita 5, NW Arkansas 7 Box Score The Wichita Wind Surge had to feel good about themselves heading into game one against the Northwest Arkansas Naturals, with top prospect Jordan Balazovic lined up to start. It didn’t go as well as they hoped, but was a back and forth affair throughout with several lead changes and big plays on both sides. Wichita had a two-out threat in the top of the first after singles from Roy Morales and Spencer Steer put runners on the corners, but Jermaine Palacios grounded out to keep them off the scoreboard in the opening frame. That changed in the second inning when Leobaldo Cabrera clubbed a home run to left field for a 1-0 lead. Balazovic got two quick outs in the bottom of the frame, but the Naturals struck back with a single followed by a triple to tie the game at one. In the third inning, it was a D.J. Burt homer that put the Wind Surge back out front, but another two-out rally from the Naturals brought in two runs of their own that made the score 3-2 after three innings. The fourth inning was much of the same as the teams again traded single runs, with Wichita getting an RBI double from Cabrera in the top half before the Naturals chased Balazovic in the bottom half after a pair of two-out walks loaded the bases. Melvi Acosta was summoned from the bullpen and issued a walk of his own that made the score 4-3 for Northwest Arkansas. The fifth inning was finally a scoreless frame on both sides, though the Wind Surge had a chance as Austin Martin doubled to lead off the inning, but he was stranded on third base. In the sixth inning, it was one swing of the bat from Palacios that again tied the game at four. With two outs in the top of the seventh and Spencer Steer at-bat, a pivotal play was made that may have finally swung the momentum of the game one way. Steer laced a 2-1 pitch deep into the gap in left-center, but the Naturals left fielder tracked it down at full speed before crashing hard into the wall, likely saving a run. That same fielder, Brewer Hicklen, of course was up the next inning, and with that adrenaline still running through his veins, took Erik Manoah Jr. deep to center for a 5-4 lead. The home team added two insurance runs in the eighth for a 7-4 lead that would turn out to be enough for the Naturals to take game one. Wichita threatened in the ninth with three singles that scored one run, but couldn’t get the big hit to bring them all the way back. On the pitching front, Balazovic went 3 2/3 innings in the start, allowing four runs on six hits and four walks while picking up three strikeouts. Acosta went the next 1 1/3 innings, allowing no runs of his own on one hit and one walk. Kody Funderburk went 2/3 of an inning and allowed a hit and walk. Manoah Jr. was tagged with the loss by allowing the go-ahead home run in the seventh. He pitched one inning, allowed two hits, and struck out one. Evan Sisk and Adam Lau each recording two outs, with Sisk allowing two insurance runs on two hits while striking out one. Lau allowed one hit, walked two, and struck out one. The Wind Surge got multiple hits on the night from Martin (2-for-4, 2B, BB), Morales (2-for-5, RBI), Palacios (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, RBI, K), and Cabrera (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR) and the team's three home runs on the night were not enough. Wichita will look to even the series at one with Cole Sands taking the hill tomorrow before heading back home to the ICT to finish off the series. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Quad Cities 1 Box Score The Kernels were able to fend off the teams on their heels to grab their league’s final playoff spot, and they sent a big reason why in Louie Varland to the mound in game one. He didn’t disappoint, though it looked shaky for a minute in the second inning. After picking up a groundout for the first out of the frame, Varland allowed a double and the game’s first run on a single that followed. He then walked a batter and surrendered another single to load the bases before a mound visit was in order to get him back in rhythm. After that, he got a grounder to first that forced the runner out at home, then a pop out to escape that jam. His lineup got that run back for him in the bottom of the inning, as consecutive two-out doubles from Jair Camargo and DaShawn Keirsey tied the game at one. That mound visit was definitely what the doctor ordered, as Varland was locked in from then on. He retired nine in a row from the third through the sixth inning, and gave up just two singles to bookend that streak. In all, he finished seven fantastic innings, tying his mark for longest outing of the season, and allowed just the one run on six total hits and one walk. He struck out four River Bandits in the outing and of his 98 pitches, 68 went for strikes (69.4%), along with getting 14 swinging strikes. Varland was matched, however, by the pitching staff of Quad Cities. The game remained tied while he was on the mound. The Kernels were unable to cash in any of their scoring chances, including a bases-loaded opportunity in the sixth. In the seventh inning, the Kernels struck out four times, but nonetheless had an opportunity as one of those K’s resulted in a wild pitch that allowed Edouard Julien to reach base. Another wild pitch moved him to second before the River Bandits played the percentages and intentionally walked Aaron Sabato to get the lefty-lefty matchup against Matt Wallner. It worked, as the pitcher got his fourth K of the inning and kept the game tied at 1-1. In the top of the eighth, the Kernels went to reliever Osiris German, and he delivered a one-two-three inning to bring his team back into the dugout looking to finally break through. Jair Camargo did just that, sending a two-out home run over the wall in right field to give the Kernels the lead. With the lead in hand, Cedar Rapids called on one of the best relievers in the system this year in Zach Featherstone to close out the game. He allowed a one-out single but like he had all season, also racked up the strikeouts, getting three of them to pick up the save and take game one for the Kernels. Camargo (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) was the only batter in the lineup with multiple hits on the night while Sabato and Julien each reached base twice. They were 1-for-8 with runners in scoring position compared to 2-for-4 for the River Bandits, but it was enough behind Varland. It’s worth noting that the Kernels were just 7-17 against the River Bandits during the regular season, but that means nothing in a playoff series they now lead 1-0 with Sean Mooney taking the mound in game two tomorrow night. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland, Cedar Rapids Kernels (7 IP, 6 H, ER, BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Jair Camargo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, BB, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, 2B #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, 3 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 2 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 (pinch hit appearance) #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 2.66 ERA) Wichita @ NW Arkansas (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands (4-2, 2.46 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 6.23 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss the playoff games from Tuesday!
  17. Be sure to read Nick’s Twins Week in Review from yesterday, and then jump into the minor league week. Before we get started, let’s check out the organization’s transactions and the FCL Twins game from Monday. TRANSACTIONS There were several announced transactions on Monday’s minor league off day. With Brent Rooker going on the Paternity List, the Twins called up RHP Kyle Barraclough. Also, for Tuesday’s Twins double-header, LHP Charlie Barnes will be called up to start Game 2 after Joe Ryan starts Game 1. RHP Melvi Acosta promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. RHP Casey Legumina promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. SS Wander Javier placed on the IL. RHP Ryan Shreve sent to Ft. Myers to begin a rehab assignment. RHP Jackson Hicks has been promoted from the FCL Twins to Ft. Myers. He was signed in July out of the USPBL. 2021 draft picks, RH Pierson Ohl and LHP Jaylen Nowlin were assigned to the FCL Twins… and they made their pro debuts on Monday in the below game. FCL Twins Talk FCL Twins 4, FCL Pirates 10 Box Score The Twins fell behind 3-0 before they scored four runs in the top of the fifth frame. Luis Gomez walked with the bases loaded. Rubel Cespedes and Dillon Tatum scored on a fielder’s choice and error on a ground ball. Luis Baez then singled in one run. That was it for the Twins scoring. Their three and four hitters (Emmanuel Rodriguez and Kala’i Rosario) combined to go 0-for-8 with eight strikeouts. Niklas Rimmel made a start. He was charged with an unearned run on one hit. Pierson Ohl gave up three runs on five hits over 1 2/3 innings in his pro debut. He was replaced by Jaylen Nowlin making his debut. He gave up four runs (3 earned) on two hits, two walks and a hit batter. Elipidio Perez gave up two runs on three hits and a walk in two innings. Danny Moreno pitched one perfect inning. With that, let’s look at Week 19 in the Twins minor leagues: RESULTS Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week (3-3, hosting Omaha), overall (58-56) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge: Week (3-3, hosting NW Arkansas), overall (65-40) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels: Week (4-2, @ Wisconsin), overall (63-51) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels: Week (5-1, hosting Palm Beach), overall (57-53) Complex League FCL Twins: Week (2-4), overall (19-35) STANDINGS Triple-A East Midwest: Toledo 67-47, Omaha 64-40, St. Paul 58-56. Double-A Central North: Wichita 65-49, Arkansas 62-52, NW Arkansas 60-53. High-A Central West: Quad Cities 73-39, Cedar Rapids 63-51, Wisconsin 54-59. Low-A Southeast: Tampa 72-40, Bradenton 70-43, Ft. Myers 57-53. IN CASE YOU MISSED IT Here are the week’s Twins minor league-related articles. Twins Minor League Week in Review: Radcliff Honored Tuesday: Wallner Grand Slams, Saints Walk-Off Wednesday: Homers and Hits Abound Thursday: Legumina and Varland Roll, Sticks Cookin’ in Low and High A Joe Ryan is Better than His Scouting Reports Friday: Balazovic Pulled from No-Hitter Saturday: You Get a Run, You Get a Run, Everybody Gets a Run Sunday: Sterling Sands, Mussels Hold Strong HIGHLIGHTS We will start with the Twins choices for the organizational hitter and pitcher of the week, and then mention several other Twins prospects who had good Week 19 performances Twins Player of the Week: Alex Isola, Cedar Rapids Kernels Alex Isola had a huge week for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Over his six games in Wisconsin, he hit .286/.333/.714 (1.048) with four homers. In 93 games on the season, he has hit .247/.351/.435 (.786) with 13 doubles, 17 home runs and 51 RBI. He has caught 43 games and played 29 games at first base. He has also DHd 21 times. Isola was the Twins 29th round pick in 2019 from Texas Christian. He played at Utah in 2017 and at a junior college in 2018. Twins Pitcher of the Week: Cade Povich, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Cade Povich made his second Mighty Mussel start. He gave up just one hit (and a hit batter), or three scoreless innings. He struck out five batters. Over his two starts for Ft. Myers, he has a 1.50 ERA and a 0.83 WHIP. In six innings, he has given up four hits, walked one and struck out 11 batters. Before that, he made one appearance in the FCL. Povich was the Twins third-round pick in July out of the University of Nebraska. This season, he went 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA. In 15 starts and 81 innings, he walked 22 and struck out 88 batters. Other Strong Performances this Week St. Paul Saints The highlight for the offense was setting the high-water mark for runs scored in a game on Saturday when they scored 21 runs against Omaha. And while it was just one game, the Saints had a lot of strong offensive performances this week! JT Riddle has had a tough year, but this week, he hit two homers, drove in seven and posted a 1.203 OPS. Tomas Telis played six games and hit .407/.448/.704 (1.152) with two doubles and two homers. Gilberto Celestino hit .444/.500/.630 (1.130) with two doubles and a homer. Jose Miranda hit .421/.421/.632 (1.053) with a double and a homer. Drew Maggi hit .278/.381/.611 (.992) with two homers. David Banuelos played in two games. In one of those games, he had three hits, including two home runs, one of which was a grand slam. (1.569 OPS) Sherman Johnson hadn’t had a hit since August 26th (0-for-17) until Saturday night when he hit a home run. Now, that was his only hit of the week, in just six at bats, but the incredible thing is that he still managed a 1.282 OPS because he walked seven times to go along with the homer. Mark Contreras hit two doubles and two homers including a 461 foot blast! Charlie Barnes, Robinson Leyer and Nick Vincent each gave up one run on two hits over 3 1/3 innings this past week. Barnes did so in a shortened-start so that he can make the Game 2 start for the Twins on Tuesday night. Leyer over two appearances, and Nick Vincent did that over three outings. Yennier Cano threw twice and gave up a total of one run on two hits in 5 1/3 innings. Derek Law had a scoreless, one-hit three inning appearance. Jovani Moran pitched two scoreless innings in his outing last week, and then had the highlight of the week for any player. He was called up to the big leagues and made his MLB debut. I was at CHS Field on Friday and Saturday nights. On Saturday, the Saints had a tremendous pregame show that culminated with three former Navy Seals parachuting into the stadium. Wichita Wind Surge His season has been filled with ups and downs, but Jordan Balazovic’s outing this week earned him the league’s pitcher of the week honors. He tossed six no-hit innings. He gave up an unearned run and walked two batters while striking out five batters. Cole Sands was also really, really good in his two starts last week. He tossed 12 innings and gave up only an unearned run on five hits and four walks. He struck out ten batters. Jordan Gore worked twice and gave up only one hit over 2 1/3 scoreless innings. Evan Sisk gave up only an unearned run on two hits over 3 2/3 innings. Austin Schulfer threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings in his start. He gave up two hits and struck out six, despite walking five batters. DJ Burt finally got some more playing time recently, and he has done quite well. Last week, he played all six games and hit .458/.480/.833 (1.313) with three doubles and two homers. Cedar Rapids Kernels Cody Laweryson had arguably his best start of the season. He struck out nine batters over six shutout innings. He gave up three hits and two walks. Andrew Cabezas worked twice out of the bullpen and gave up just one run on four hits over 6 2/3 innings. He struck out eight batters. Osiris German struck out five batters over 3 2/3 scoreless innings over his two outings. Denny Bentley struck out four batters over 2 2/3 shutout innings. It was a really good week for the Kernels’ hitters. Edouard Julien played six games and went .391/.576/.783 (1.358) with three homers. He also walked 10 of his 23 plate appearances. Anthony Prato played in just two games, but he went 4-for-8 (.500) with a double, two walks and a game-winning single. Matt Wallner hit .320/.433/.760 (1.193) with two doubles, three homers and nine RBI. Michael Helman hit .346/.393/.654 (1.047) with a double, two triples and a homer. He also stole five bases. Jeferson Morales hit .353/.476/.529 (.1006). Aaron Sabato hit .300/.400/.600 (1.000) with two homers. DaShawn Keirsey played four games in his return from the IL and hit .313/.368/.563 (.931) with a double and a homer. Also, the Kernels played in Wisconsin and got to face the TimberRattlers wearing one of their alternate uniforms, which are fantastic! Ft. Myers Might Mussels Regi Grace made his second start since returning from the IL. He tossed three scoreless innings. He struck out three, walked one and gave up two hits. Juan Pichardo struck out four batters over three scoreless innings. Casey Legumina gave up just one run on two hits and a walk over 5 2/3 innings. He struck out six and was rewarded with a promotion to Cedar Rapids. Charles Mack played in three games and hit .417 (5-for-12) with a double and two home runs (1.417 OPS). Mikey Perez moved up to the Mussels quick, and he responded by hitting .529/.600/.706 (1.306) with three doubles. Christian Encarnacion-Strand’s 15-game hitting streak ended, but for the week, he hit .391/.462/.478 (.940) with a triple. Will Holland hit .300/.462/.450 (.912) with a home run. Jake Rucker hit .450/.458/.450 (.908). Alerick Soularie hit .273/.448/.455 (.903) with a double, a homer and seven walks. FCL Twins Wander Valdez played in five games and hit .400/.500/.733 (1.233) with two doubles and a home run. Noah Miller also played five games. He hit .400/.455/.650 (1.105) with a triple and a homer. Carlos Aguiar had a two-homer game. Top pick Chase Petty made his pro debut on Friday. He tossed two scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked none and struck out two batters while showing really good stuff. LOWLIGHTS We are talking about small samples for these six-game weeks, so it’s important not to make any big decisions or develop a full impression on a player from this small size. It’s just a reminder of the fact that baseball is hard, and all players have good and bad stretches. St. Paul Saints Jason Garcia was the starting pitcher in the 21-4 win against Omaha. Unfortunately, he gave up four runs on five hits and two walks and went just three innings. Caleb Hamilton went 0-for-7 for the week. Wichita Wind Surge It was a highlight in last week’s report that Simeon Woods Richardson made his first appearance in the organization. It was a lowlight that he only went 1 1/3 innings. He had control issues, but didn’t give up any runs. This week, Woods Richardson is just in this list. In his second start, he gave up six runs on three hits and three walks over just 1 2/3 innings. Chris Vallimont had another rough start. He gave up nine runs (7 earned) on nine hits (3 HR) and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Zach Neff gave up two runs on two hits and a walk and got just two outs in his outing this week. Catchers Chris Williams and Stevie Berman each had one hit in seven plate appearances. Jermaine Palacios and Austin Martin were each 3-for-17 (.176). Leobaldo Cabrera went 4-for-23 (.174). Cedar Rapids Kernels A week after being the Twins minor league pitcher of the week, Sawyer Gipson-Long had a tough start. He gave up six runs on three hits and three walks and only recorded one outs. He needed 38 pitches. He left with the bases loaded and all three runs scored. Tyler Watson gave up four runs on three hits (2 HR), three walks and a hit batter in three innings. Gabriel Maciel and Yunior Severino each played just two games. Severino went 1-for-8 (.125) and Maciel went 1-for-9 (.111). Ft. Myers Might Mussels Kole McKinnon went 1-for-11 (.091) with seven strikeouts. Willie Joe Garry went 2-for-16 (.125) with seven strikeouts. Patrick Winkel went 3-for-16 (.188). PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our updated Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings. #1 - Royce Lewis (Wichita) - Out for Season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 31 games, .243/.385/.374 (.759) with 6 doubles, 3 home runs, 19 RBI, 17 BB, 27 K. #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 19 GS, 93.1 IP, 94 H, 34 BB, 97 K, 3.38 ERA, 1.37 WHIP #4 - Simeon Woods-Richardson (Wichita) - 2 GS, 3.0 IP, 0 H, 6 BB, 4 K, 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP. #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – 5 G, 4 GS, 16.0 IP, 16 H, 13 BB, 22 K, 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP (on IL with a right forearm strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 111 games, .337/.397/.560 (.957) with 26 doubles, 26 homers, 78 RBI, 39 BB, 71 K #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - St. Paul (2 GS, 9.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K, 2.00 ERA, 0.78 WHIP), Minnesota (2 GS, 12.0 IP, 4 H, 1 BB, 9 K, 2.25 ERA, 0.42 WHIP) #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – 5 GS, 21.0 IP, 10 H, 4 BB, 43 K, 0.86 ERA, 0.67 WHIP (IL, elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - 1 GS, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 0 BB, 2 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP. #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Ft. Myers) – 60 games, .233/.296/.301 (.597) with 6 doubles, 2 triples, 2 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 89 K, 5 SB (Temporary Inactive List) #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - 14 GS, 72.0 IP, 55 H, 13 BB, 80 K, 2.63 ERA, 0.94 WHIP (IL, shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 60 games, .260/.349/.506 (.855) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 14 homers, 44 RBI, 26 BB, 91 K. #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – Wichita (21 games, .250/.344/.381 (.725) with 5 doubles, 2 homers. 11 BB, 24 K), St. Paul (34 games, .313/.401/.508 (.909) with 10 doubles, 5 homers, 24 RBI, 18 BB, 29 K), Minnesota (22 games, .140/.183/.298 (.482) with 3 BB, 13 K) #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - 7 GS, 31.2 IP, 38 H, 16 BB, 26 K, 7.39 ERA, 1.71 WHIP. #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - 18 games, .275/.346/.435 (.781) with 3 doubles, 1 triple, 1 homer, 13 RBI, 7 BB, 19 K #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – St. Paul (58 games, .239/.368/.566 (.934) with 8 doubles, 1 triple, 19 homers, 37 BB, 74 K), Minnesota (44 games, .203/.291/.392 (.683) with 8 doubles, 7 homers, 13 RBI, 12 BB, 56 K) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – 3 GS, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 6 BB, 23 K, 1.84 ERA, 1.30 WHIP (underwent Tommy John surgery on June 9th) #18 - Misael Urbina (Ft. Myers) – 97 games, .192/.299/.288 (.587) with 11 doubles, 4 triples, 5 homers, 51 RBI, 52 BB, 78 K, 13 SB) #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) – 18 G, 17 GS, 75.1 IP, 56 H, 32 BB, 92 K, 2.63 ERA, 1.17 WHIP #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 104 games, .258/.354/.489 (.843) with 16 doubles, 3 triples, 23 homers, 58 RBI, 53 BB, 100 K) LOOKING AHEAD Tampa @ Ft. Myers: (John Stankiewicz, TBD, TBD, Regi Grace, Brent Headrick, TBD): Cedar Rapids @ Peoria: (Cody Laweryson, Louie Varland, Sean Mooney, Sawyer Gipson-Long, Aaron Rozek, Tyler Watson): Arkansas @ Wichita: (Simeon Woods-Richardson, Jordan Balazovic, Chris Vallimont, Cole Sands, Austin Schulfer, Simeon Woods-Richardson): St. Paul @ Indianapolis: (Drew Strotman, Beau Burrows, Andrew Albers, Jason Garcia, Bryan Sammons, Drew Strotman): Feel free to ask any questions you like.
  18. I have been a big proponent of Derek Falvey and Thad Levine looking at the year ahead as an opportunity to right the ship that sunk in 2021. Unfortunately, the Maeda injury is the straw that broke the camel’s back for me. Replacing the entirety of a rotation, needing to overhaul the bullpen, and still being uncertain of what to do with Byron Buxton, this club has its hands full. It will be a busy winter but if we want the team to tackle one thing first, then starting on the bump is an excellent place to begin. Here is how I’m currently handicapping the odds for Rocco Baldelli’s starter on Opening Day this coming season. Bailey Ober 10% Ober has made 16 starts for the Twins in what has been a lost season, but he’s fully entrenched himself as a legitimate big-league arm. The sub-4.00 ERA includes a couple of rough turns, and he’s competed to the tune of a 9.3 K/9 while owning just a 2.0 BB/9 rate. The home run has been his bugaboo, and that can be something of a focus as he continues to learn the competition. I like Ober a lot. He’s got a shot to be a top-3 arm in Minnesota’s future rotation, but I don’t think this club wants to run him out as the ace after just getting his feet wet. Joe Ryan 5% He’s here, and he’s beautiful! That’s how this works, right? Ryan was acquired from the Rays in exchange for Nelson Cruz. I’m still baffled about how Minnesota pulled that off, but either way, the Olympic hurler has been great since joining the organization. His big-league debut went fine, with not much to be drawn from a lackluster Cubs lineup. It remains to be seen how the fastball will play at the highest level, lacking velocity, but there’s no reason to believe he can’t be a productive member of a good rotation. Unfortunately, Ryan is someone you likely want on the back half of the unit in 2022. The Prospects 2% It would’ve been great to see someone emerge from this group in a year that didn't feature much big league positivity. Ober was an outsider who made it, but Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Matt Canterino, Blayne Enlow, and Josh Winder all spent time on the shelf. Only two of them took turns at Triple-A, and all of them remain distant from any immediate plans. You can make a case that each has seen their prospect status take a hit, and while there’s plenty of reason to believe an impact arm or two will emerge here, none of them are going to be in the equation when the season kicks off. The Suspects 3% The additional one percent afforded to this group comes from the fact that they’ve already made it. Hello to Randy Dobnak, Griffin Jax, Charlie Barnes, and Lewis Thorpe. This foursome has taken turns for the Twins this year, but none of them have faired particularly well, and none of them should be considered beyond starting depth. Dobnak’s future is the clearest given his contract situation. There’s a real possibility the Australian (Thorpe) may be out of the organization in a couple of months, and while both Barnes and Jax have gotten their feet wet, it’s not fair to expect a substantial leap for either. This group isn’t producing your first starter of the season. The Field 80% Take your pick as to who the Twins will sign; they’re going to need at least three starters not presently with the club. Michael Pineda is a good bet to return, but if that’s your Opening Day starter, then you can imagine how the season will go. I’m less inclined to believe a long-term deal with Marcus Stroman or Noah Syndergaard makes sense when it could be a rebuilding year. Maybe an older veteran on a one-year deal happens depending on where the price tag lands. This winter, how Minnesota spends will hinge heavily on what happens with Buxton and the expectations for the returning core. Either way, I’d bet a reasonable sum that the man Baldelli gives the ball to on Opening Day is not currently in the organization. If you’re the manager, who is it that you’re going to? Put on your GM hat and share which arm you think gets plucked and tasked with kicking off 2022. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. The Twins selected Balazovic in the fifth round of the 2016 Draft. The Canadian right-hander was just a thin 17 year old with projectable growth. After the draft, he made a solid first impression, pitching to a 1.97 ERA in 32 innings for the GCL Twins. Even with reasonably good numbers through his first two seasons, Balazovic struck out just 45 of the first 316 batters he faced while walking 25. There wasn’t a ton of reason for excitement. Balazovic posted a 4.91 ERA in the GCL in 2017, again with modest strikeout numbers. Gaining strength and more experience, “Jordy Blaze” took a big step forward in 2018. Balazovic pitched for Cedar Rapids alongside Brusdar Graterol, Jhoan Duran, Randy Dobnak, and Bailey Ober. Balazovic wasn’t the shining star of the staff, but he started gaining legitimate steam as a prospect because of how he was getting outs. His strikeout rate jumped 16.5% from his first two years in the GCL, and the stuff was developing at an encouraging rate. Balazovic posted his first sub-four ERA at Low-A, pitching to older hitters in 240 out of 254 plate appearances. Balazovic dominated right-handed hitters with sharper stuff and an increased feel. Righties hit .188/.245/.316 and struck out over 40% of the time. Balazovic finally appeared on the Twins’ Top-30 at MLB Pipeline. His 2019 breakout felt inevitable. Spending most of his time at High-A, Balazovic was excellent. He posted a 2.69 ERA in a career-high 93 ⅔ innings with 129 strikeouts and 25 walks. Perhaps most encouragingly, lefties hit just .189 with a .501 OPS in 185 plate appearances. Balazovic throws a fastball that averages 94-97 MPH with a sharp breaking ball and an underrated changeup. He has a unique delivery with noted deception. His teammate in Wichita, Spencer Steer calls Balazovic’s stuff “absolutely electric.” “It’s really fun to watch him overpower guys.” Balazovic has had an up-and-down season at Double-A, with flashes of brilliance and stretches of poor command. He had a four-start period of 25 2/3 innings where he didn’t allow a run. Then he allowed 15 runs over his next three starts. Then he gave up zero earned runs in 13 2/3 innings before another tough outing Thursday. Overall, he has a solid 3.62 ERA with a 24% strikeout rate and a 9% walk rate. A strong finish could help Balazovic reach St. Paul before the season’s end, with a call-up to the Twins looming in 2022. He’ll turn 23 in September. Prospect progression is seldom linear, and that is doubly true for pitching prospects. While the Twins have stockpiled some intriguing arms, Balazovic has emerged as the best among them, increasing the stakes for his development. The Twins will be defined by how Balazovic and his pitching counterparts pan out and how soon that takes place. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. TRANSACTIONS RHP Matt Canterino placed on the 7-day IL at A+ Cedar Rapids (right elbow strain) RHP Breckin Williams placed on the 7-day IL at A+ Cedar Rapids (right shoulder strain) LHP Bryan Sammons promoted to AAA St. Paul RHP Randy Dobnak assigned to A Fort Myers for a rehab assignment Saints Sentinel St. Paul 7, Iowa 4 Box Score Bryan Sammons: 4 2/3 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 2 K HR: Jose Miranda (12) Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (4-for-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI), Tomás Telis (2-for-4, R) Jose Miranda. Yeah, usually I begin with the pitcher, but this one is going to be different. Jose Miranda dropped four hits on Saturday, including a home run, and I’m left wondering what in the world he possibly needs to do in order to get called up. I mean, he’s having one of the best minor league seasons these eyes have seen, and the major league team is not doing much of anything at the moment. Figure it out. Speaking of guys that need to be called up, Jovani Moran pitched 2 1/3 innings in relief with one earned run and three strikeouts. He will certainly be up at some point, but whenever that time comes, it’ll already be overdue. Beyond Miranda, the Saints found the 5th inning to be the perfect time to strike. Mark Contereras singled home a run, Drew Maggi brought another run in with a groundout, and a wild pitch scored the final run of the inning. All-in-all, the Saints had six runs on the board. Ian Hamilton brought us all home with two clean innings to end the game. Yeah, maybe he walked a guy, but he was just keeping the hitters on their toes. It appears that it worked. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 2, Springfield 0 Box Score Jordan Balazovic: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 6 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None Wichita’s pitching took care of business on Saturday. Jordan Balazovic had an interesting day on the mound. He held the Cardinals scoreless, which is good; but then he walked five batters, which is not good. This is one of those times we just say “we take those” and move on. Details don’t matter. Wichita did not score much, but they didn’t need to. Austin Martin plated the first run of the game with an 8th inning single, and Andrew Bechtold brought home the final run with a single of his own in the 9th inning. Honestly, that was it. But that was all that was needed. After Balazovic’s six innings of work, Adam Lau took the team to the ninth and Erik Manoah Jr. ended it. Those three pitchers combined to allow just five hits total in the entire game. That’ll work. Funny enough, the Wind Surge actually only had four hits. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 5, Wisconsin 12 Box Score Cody Laweryson: 4 2.3 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 7 K HR: Matt Wallner (11), Michael Helman (15) Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (2-for-3, 2B, 2 R, 2 BB), Matt Wallner (2-for-5, HR, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI), Daniel Ozoria (2-for-4) The Kernels were unable to come back on Saturday. Cody Laweryson put forth an impressive effort with half of his outs coming via the K. He was bogged down by some 4th inning shenanigans that saw a double error play score a run. This was actually not even the only double error play of the game by the Kernels; the 7th inning saw a similar effort that ended up plating a pair of runs. As you will read later, it was not a great day for defense in the system. I hope Laweryson’s fielders bought him one of those real cheesy Hallmark apology cards after the game. Despite scoring just three runs, Cedar Rapids brought some firepower. Matt Wallner deposited his 11th homer of the year over the fence while Michael Helman, who suddenly has been possessed by the spirit of Hank Aaron, blasted his 15th home run. The problem was that both of these blasts came without a runner on base. Edouard Julien reached base four times because of course he did. I find myself more shocked when he doesn’t get on base multiple times than when he does. I assume that his season OBP is still .600 or something like that. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 3, Dunedin 4 Box Score Randy Dobnak: 3 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 5 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Charles Mack (2-for-4) Well, Randy Dobnak sure came to play on Saturday. The right-hander emerged from his long slumber (or injury) and took the mound for the first time in two months. Using his major league success as well as his right hand, Dobnak completely shut down the Dunedin lineup in just 32 pitches. It’s good to see Dobnak back on the mound; his return will hopefully be a relief for a depleted major league pitching staff. On the offensive side of things, Jesus Feliz carried the team. He broke the 0-0 tie in the 5th with a solo homer, before then putting a ball into play in the 7th that brought home two off of an error. That must have been one impressive error. It appears that defense was the Achilles heel for Fort Myers on Saturday. The team had five errors in total (Keoni Cavaco had his 17th error of the year), and it was a Charles Mack throwing error that sent the game-winning runner to third base in the 9th inning. That run was then brought home off an infield single. Hopefully the team can clean it up on Sunday. Complex Chronicles FCL Twins 5, FCL Red Sox 11 Box Score Develson Aria: 1 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 3 BB, 3 K HR: Endy Rodriguez (1) Multi-hit games: None The FCL Twins lost a rough one to the FCL Red Sox on Saturday. A certain swear for poop hit the fan quickly in this effort as the Red Sox plated two runs before fans could even find their seats. Top draft pick, Marcelo Mayer, dropped an RBI single while Bryan Gonzalez singled home another run. In fact, the Red Sox scored 10 times before the Twins plated a single run. In the 5th, Mayer then blasted his first career professional home run. This is far from the first time that we’ve seen a Mayer have multiple hits. Alright, let’s get back to talking about the Twins. The team responded to the 10-0 deficit with an impressive gusto. A 6th inning rally brought three runs home while individual runs were then scored in the 7th and 8th, respectively. That 8th inning run came due to Endy Rodriguez’s first home run of the season; so congrats to Rodriguez. The run of, well, runs, was not enough, and the team fell to the Red Sox on Saturday. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Jordan Balazovic Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Jose Miranda PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-4, RBI #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 5 BB, 6 K #4 – Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #6 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 4-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI #7 – Joe Ryan (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #8 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (Right Elbow Strain) #9 – Chase Petty (Complex) - #10 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 1-5, 3 K #11 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #12 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 K #13 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-3 #14 – Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 – Noah Miller (FCL Twins) - 1-3, RBI, BB, 2 K #16 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play #17 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #18 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-4 #19 – Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - Did not play SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Fort Myers @ Dunedin (11:00 AM) RHP Bobby Milacki Wisconsin @ Cedar Rapids (1:05 PM) TBD Iowa @ St. Paul (1:05 PM) RHP Drew Strotman Wichita @ Springfield (4:05 PM) RHP Chris Vallimont
  21. Minnesota Twins Top 30 Prospects 30. Marco Raya, RHP: Four-pitch mix has the Twins excited about his future. 29. Jovani Moran, LHP: Dominant change-up has him close to the big leagues. 28. Steve Hajjar, LHP: 2021 Second Round Pick that led the Big 10 in Ks. 27. Wander Javier, SS: Five-tool potential that hasn’t put it all together yet. 26. Alerick Soularie, 2B: One of the best athletes in the Twins system. 25. Chris Vallimont, RHP: Has dynamic stuff, but can his command improve? 24. Louie Varland, RHP: Had dominant stretches at Low- and High-A this season. 23. Nick Gordon, UTL: May have a bright future as a true utility man. 22. Aaron Sabato, 1B: 2020 First Round Pick, whose power is now showing up. 21. Edouard Julien, INF: An on-base machine with some pop and defensive flexibility. 20. Spencer Steer, INF: Powerful infielder with college experience. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Striking out nearly 12 batters per nine at Double-A. 18. Misael Urbina, OF: Showcasing advanced approach even against older competition. 17. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Tommy John surgery will keep him out until 2022. 16: Brent Rooker, OF: Already 26-years old, but has the system's best power tool. 15. Noah Miller, INF: 2021 Compensation Pick that will take time to develop. 14. Drew Strotman, RHP: Intriguing repertoire of major league quality pitches. 13. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Rushed to the MLB level this year but has plenty of tools. 12. Matt Wallner, OF: High strikeout guy with light-tower power. 11. Josh Winder, RHP: He struck out more than 30% of batters he faced at Double-A. 10. Keoni Cavaco, SS: 2019 First Round Pick with five-tool athleticism. 9. Chase Petty, RHP: 2021 First Round Pick with an electric fastball. 8. Matt Canterino, RHP: Recently returned from injury and racking up strikeouts. 7. Joe Ryan, RHP: Acquired for Cruz, he figures to be in the mix for the 2022 rotation. 6. Jose Miranda, 3B: Likely the organization’s minor league player of the year. 5. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Has immense potential if he can stay healthy. 4. Simeon Woods-Richardson, RHP: Newly acquired pitcher is very young for Double-A. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Strikeout rate is improving. Triple-A might be his horizon. 2. Austin Martin, SS/CF: Newly acquired prospect is an OBP machine, but will the power come? 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. DEBATE AT THE TOP Austin Martin will be ranked higher than Royce Lewis on many national prospect lists, especially with Lewis missing the entire 2021 season. Both players have tremendous potential, but they each come with their own flaws. Martin’s stock might have been low when the Twins dealt for him. He has been getting on-base over 40% of the time this season, but the power he showed in college hasn’t shown up during his pro career. Defensively, he has a lot of flexibility, but that also means there are some questions about his defensive future. Lewis dominated the 2019 Arizona Fall League, but this came on the heels of a season where he struggled offensively at High-A and Double-A. He made strides at the team’s alternate site in 2020, and then a fluke injury put him on the sidelines for all of 2021. Like Martin, there are questions about his defensive future, but he has the athleticism to play in multiple spots. Overall, Lewis may have the higher ceiling, and Martin has the higher floor. MOVEMENT ON THE LIST Because of the influx of new prospects, most prospects on this list dropped from their midseason rankings. Jordan Balazovic and Jose Miranda are two prospects that have seen their stock rise the most during the 2021 season. Miranda has been dominating the upper levels of the minors this season, and he should make his big-league debut before the season’s end. Balazovic started the year on the IL, but he has been healthy since then, and his strikeout rate continues to rise. One of the most significant drops this season has been Aaron Sabato. When the Twins drafted him in 2020, scouting reports touted his powerful swing and advanced approach. His power hadn't made much of an appearance in his first professional season as he was limited to four home runs entering August. Now, he's clubbed six home runs in eight August games. If he continues this powerful pace, there's certainly potential for him to move up this list during the offseason. TOP 30 POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C- 0 IF- 10 OF- 5 RHP- 13 LHP- 2 Back in February, Nick identified two deficiencies in the Twins system, high-level infield talent, and left-handed pitching. Minnesota has seen some changes in those two categories this season. Austin Martin adds to the team’s high-level infield talent even if he ends up at second base. Jose Miranda’s emergence also adds to the team’s long-term infield plans. As far as left-handed pitchers, there weren’t any on the Twins Daily Top-20 list entering the season, and there weren’t any in the top-20 listed above. However, Jovani Moran (29th) looks like he can be a dominant big-league reliever. Steve Hajjar brings in college experience with the potential to move quickly through the minors. What are your thoughts on the changes to the team’s top prospects? How do you feel about the system as a whole? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion
  22. 5. RHP Jhoan Duran (23 years old) Season Stats (AAA): 16.0 IP (5 G), 5.06 ERA, 1.81 WHIP, 12.4 K/9. 7.3 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 2, 2021 Preseason: 5 Duran is one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins system in quite some time. He can consistently hit triple digits with his fastball while mixing in a splitter, curveball, and changeup. One of his pitches sometimes referred to as a splinker, is similar to another big-leaguer. His biggest concerns are control and staying healthy. Currently, he is out with an elbow strain, and he also dealt with a trapezius issue earlier in the year. When he went on the IL at the end of June, the recommendation was for him to be shut down for 5-6 weeks, and surgery will not be needed for the time being. Minnesota can hold its collective breath and hope Duran doesn’t need to go under the knife and miss significant time in 2022. 4. RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson (20 years old) Season Stats (AA): 45.1 IP (11 G), 5.76 ERA, 1.50 WHIP, 13.3 K/9, 5.2 BB/9 Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline There are probably plenty of things you don’t know about Woods-Richardson as he was acquired as part of the José Berríos trade. He showcases a traditional mix of pitches, including a fastball, slider, curveball, and changeup. According to MLB Pipeline, all four pitches already grade at a 55 (20-80 scale) or higher. Toronto was aggressive with sending him to Double-A as a 20-year old, and the Twins have assigned him to the same level as he returned from the Olympics. Minnesota will be his third organization since being drafted in 2018, and it should be the organization where he will make his big-league debut. 3. RHP Jordan Balazovic (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 63.1 IP (13 G), 3.84 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 10.2 K/9, 3.0 BB/9 Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 3, 2021 Preseason: 6 Minnesota snagged Balazovic back in 2016 in the fifth round out of Canada. Balazovic started the year on the IL, so his first game action didn’t come until the beginning of June. After shaking some dust off, he had a terrific month of July as he posted a 2.86 ERA with a 1.13 WHIP and 31 strikeouts. In nine of his 13 appearances, he has allowed three runs or fewer, including seven appearances with no runs allowed. His strikeout rate is higher than his career mark, and he faces older batters over 80% of the time. Will he get a shot at Triple-A before the season’s done? 2. SS/CF Austin Martin (22 years old) Season Stats (AA): 62 G, .291/.438/.391 (.829), 2 HR, 12 2B, 2 3B,19.4 K%, 15.2 BB% Previous Rankings: Joined organization at the trade deadline While most will have Martin in the #1 spot among Twins prospects, he slots in at #2 here as the organization might have bought low on him. There are a lot of similarities between Lewis and Martin which means they both have immense potential. Since he is new to the organization, here are a few things to learn about him. Martin may be able to play shortstop, but he can also play other infield and outfield positions as needed. He played a lot of third base in college, but the Twins will have him focus on center field. He will hit for average and get on base. The remaining question is how much power he’ll be able to provide. 1. SS Royce Lewis (22 years old) Season Stats: Out for the season after ACL surgery Previous Rankings: 2021 Midseason: 1, 2021 Preseason: 2 Eight out of ten Twins Daily Minor League Writers agree, Royce Lewis returns to the #1 spot in our Twins Top Prospect rankings. He made strides in 2020 at the alternate site. He’s begun some baseball activities recently after spring training ACL reconstruction. Lewis has power. He has speed. He has the potential to stick at shortstop but can be versatile. Other players taken in the 2017 MLB Draft have started to perform, so some might question whether Lewis was the right choice. Martin might have a higher floor than Lewis, but Lewis has one of the highest ceilings of any prospect in baseball. PREVIOUS POSTS IN THIS SERIES -Prospects 6-10 -Prospects 11-15 -Prospects 16-20 -Prospects 21-25 -Prospects 26-30
  23. Keep reading to find out how all your favorite Minnesota Twins prospects fared in Tuesday nights series opening action! TRANSACTIONS The Minnesota Twins selected the contract of 35-year old RHP Nick Vincent from the St. Paul Saints, and optioned RHP Beau Burrows back to triple-A. St. Paul released 1B Roberto Pena and RHP Rob Whalen, while calling up LHP Chris Nunn from Wichita and activating RHP Joe Ryan, fresh off his stint with the United States Olympic team. In double-A, the Wind Surge released RHP Joe Kuzia and activated RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, also recently returned from the Olympics in Tokyo. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 8, Indianapolis 9 Box Score St. Paul and Indianapolis traded leads a few times on Tuesday with big innings, but the Saints came out on the losing end with two-outs in the bottom of the ninth thanks to a walk-off blast. Starting for the Saints was left-hander Andrew Albers, and while he finished five frames, one of those big innings for Indy was the fifth, where they scored five to take a 7-4 lead. In all, Albers allowed seven runs (three earned) on six hits while striking out four on the game. After Indianapolis took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the third thanks to a home run, St. Paul answered with a three-run top of the fourth behind back-to-back jacks from Gilberto Celestino and Ben Rortvedt. Celestino’s was of the two-run variety to tie the game. Nick Gordon added an RBI single in the fourth to give the good guys a 4-2 lead before the big five-run inning for the bad guys. The recently claimed Ralph Garza Jr. also made his second appearance with the organization to start the sixth inning and went two scoreless frames. He hit one batter and struck out two. The Saints offense tied the game at seven in the seventh inning with another three-run frame. Three straight singles from JT Riddle, Jose Miranda, and Nick Gordon plated the first run of the inning. That was followed by a hit-batter to load the bases, then a walk to Celestino and another hit batter to score the other two runs. St. Paul took the lead 8-7 in the eighth frame thanks to a Tomas Telis RBI single. Yennier Cano was summoned from the bullpen to start the eighth inning and recorded five outs, including three strikeouts, until major leaguer Michael Chavis stepped to the plate with a runner on and two outs in the bottom of the ninth. Chavis didn’t miss the first pitch he saw, sending a middle-out fastball over the fence in left-center for the walk-off win. Cano was charged with the blown save and loss in allowing the two runs on three hits and two walks in his 1 2/3 innings pitched. The Saints got multiple hits on the night from six hitters in their lineup, including Miranda (2-for-5, R, K), Gordon (2-for-5, R, RBI, 2 K, SB), Telis (2-for-5, R, RBI), Celestino (2-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K), Drew Maggi (2-for-4, 2B, BB, SB), and Riddle (2-for-4, 3 R, 2B). WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 5, Tulsa 1 Box Score Coming off a pair of outings where he allowed six earned runs in each, starting pitching Jordan Balazovic was looking to get back on track like he’d been when he delivered 25 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings earlier in the year. Mission accomplished. Balazovic started a new streak with six shutout innings, scattering five singles and zero walks, along with punching out four Drillers. He finished his game after 87 pitches, with 59 going for strikes (67.8%), including thirteen swinging. He was up to 97 MPH on the radar gun with his fastball during the game in picking up his fourth win of the season. After a pair of singles in the first, he faced one batter over the minimum through the fifth inning, retiring six men in a row before an error in the third, and then seven in a row after a leadoff single in the fourth. The Wind Surge offense spotted Balazovic a nice lead before he even took the mound, when cleanup hitter Trey Cabbage clubbed 19th home run of the season (10th in double-A) in the top of first, a three-run shot that left the stadium. That was it for the offenses on both teams until the late innings, when Wichita added a couple of insurance runs thanks to an errant throw on a steal attempt in the seventh, and an Ernie De La Trinidad solo home run in the ninth. Jason Garcia was the first man out of the bullpen to start the seventh, but recorded only one out before being lifted as he loaded the bases with two walks and a hit batter. Jordan Gore escaped that jam by inducing a double play ball to end the inning with the shutout still intact. Back out for the eighth, the Drillers finally got on the board with a solo homer, but Gore also struck out two in the frame. Erik Manoah Jr. came on in the ninth for his Double-A and Wichita debut and delivered a scoreless frame. He gave up one walk and struck out two. While there were no hitters to collect more than one hit in the game, there were five different batters who scored a run for the Wind Surge and four who reached base twice via a walk or hit-by-pitch (Austin Martin, Roy Morales, Cabbage, Aaron Whitefield). Spencer Steer added a double to the effort and Whitefield stole his 22nd base of the season. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Peoria 7 Box Score The Kernels offense was outhit 10-3 by the Chiefs in this one, and the final scoreboard reflected that disparity. Starter Tyler Watson was roughed up in the third inning for five earned runs before his night came to an early end with one out. In 2 1/3 innings, he allowed six hits, walked two, and struck out four. Andrew Cabezas came on from the bullpen and allowed two inherited runners to score in addition to one of his own in the fourth to put Peoria out front 6-1 after four innings. Cabezas allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out two in 1 2/3 innings. Relievers Melvi Acosta and Tyler Palm then steadied the ship for the final four innings. Acosta allowed one hit and struck out one in his two frames, and Palm surrendered an unearned run on one hit while striking out four Chiefs in his two innings. Edouard Julien (single), Yunior Severino (home run), and Matt Wallner (double) accounted for the Kernels three hits. Wallner drove in the other Kernels run. As a team they managed just three at-bats with runners in scoring position on the game and left only three men on base. Julien also stole his fifth base with the Kernels, and 26th on the season. Julien also drew a walk and continues to lead the minors in that category this season. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 5, Bradenton 8 Box Score The Mighty Mussels built a 5-0 lead after the top of the sixth inning behind a slugger who has been struggling most of the year, but the rest of the lineup and bullpen was unable to hold it on Tuesday. Starter Sean Mooney was fantastic for the first three innings in this one, allowing no hits and striking out six Marauders. He was extremely efficient as well, throwing just 38 pitches, with 29 going for strikes and falling behind in a count only once among the nine batters he faced. In the top of the fourth, Aaron Sabato got Fort Myers on the board with his seventh home run of the season, a solo shot to open the game’s scoring. He added another home run in the sixth, this one of the two-run variety, to extend the Mussels lead to 5-0. Misael Urbina drove in two others earlier in the inning with his eighth double of the season. Unfortunately, the offense had just one other hit on the game, a single from Will Holland. The team had just three at-bats with runners in scoring position in the game and drew only two walks. Not much you can do beyond home runs when other opportunities never surface. The bullpen duo of Orlando Rodriguez (2 2/3 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, BB, 4 K) and Matthew Swain (1 IP, 2 H, 4 ER, 4 BB, K) combined to allow eight runs in the sixth and seventh innings that put the game well out of reach. Denny Bentley finished off the final 1 1/3 innings, allowing four hits but being charged with no runs. He walked one and struck out one as the Mussels fell to the team in front of them in the standings by 5.0 games. COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 2, FCL Braves 3 Box Score The Twins jumped out to an early 2-0 lead thanks to consecutive walks to start the game that were followed by a balk, a Wander Valdez RBI single, and a successful double-steal attempt. Unfortunately for the offense they were unable to scratch any more runs across the plate the rest of the game. Valdez (2-for-4, RBI, K) collected two of the team's five hits, Argenis Jiminez had the only extra-base-hit with a triple, and Alerick Soularie drew two walks out of the leadoff spot, but also struck out three times. As a team they were just 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position, left seven men on base, and struck out 18 times. Left-hander Wilker Reyes made the start for the Twins and went the first four innings. He scattered six hits and allowed two earned runs while striking out four batters. Matt Mullenbach came on for the next three innings and kept the game tied, surrendering two hits while also striking out four Braves. Ramon Pineda finished the game with two-plus innings, but allowed the Braves to easily get the winning run in the 10th inning after a pair of wild pitches to the leadoff man. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out three in taking the loss. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Jordan Balazovic, Wichita Wind Surge (W, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Aaron Sabato, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - W, 6 IP, 5 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 4 K #4 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, R, K #6 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - 0-for-4, 3 K #7 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, R, HR, 3 RBI, BB, K #8 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List #9 - Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 HR, 3 RBI, K #10 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, 2B, RBI, K #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #12 - Bailey Ober (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #13 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #14 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 0-for-3, K #15 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, R, 2B, 2 RBI #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2B #17 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - 0-for-4, 3 K #18 - Alerick Soularie (Complex) - 0-for-3, R, BB, 3 K #19 - Edwar Colina (rehab) - Injured List (elbow) #20 - Chris Vallimont (Wichita) - Did not pitch WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05PM CST) - RHP Drew Strotman (7-3, 3.59 ERA) Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - LHP Bryan Sammons (2-4, 7.18 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35PM CST) - RHP Ben Gross (4-1, 3.27 ERA) Fort Myers @ Bradenton (5:05PM CST) - RHP Landon Leach (0-1, 4.85 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  24. 5. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA/AAA): .350 AVG, .409 OBP, .614 SLG, 16 HR, 46 RBI 2021 Ranking: 19 When we ranked him No. 19 on our preseason top prospects list, the short synopsis on Miranda was a familiar one: "High-contract righty-swinging infielder needs to find power stroke." The former second-round draft pick has long sat on the fringes of our top-20 rankings because of his many intriguing traits, but the production just wasn't there to justify ranking him much higher. Through his first 379 games in the minors, he slugged .394 with 37 home runs. This year, he found his power stroke. Miranda came out of the gates red-hot at Double-A, opening with a seven-game hitting streak that included three home runs, and he never really slowed down. Miranda slashed .345/.408/.588 with 13 home runs in two months at Wichita, then earned a late-June promotion to St. Paul, where he put together an unforgettable Triple-A debut: 5-6, 3 HR, 6 RBIs. It all came together in a hurry for Miranda and there's not much reason to think his breakthrough isn't legit. He's got a smooth, compact swing from the right side that was always produced high contact rates, and he's clearly turned a corner with his ability to drive the ball. He projects as a third baseman in the big leagues, and perhaps pretty soon, depending on what happens with Josh Donaldson. 4. Matt Canterino, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A+): 18 IP, 1.00 ERA, 0.72 WHIP, 1.14 FIP, 51.5 K%, 4.4 BB% 2021 Ranking: 9 Canterino drew considerable hype coming into this season after reports emerged of him touching 100 MPH in a side session. A second-rounder out of Rice University in 2019, he made a strong impression by dominating in his first stint as a pro (1.44 ERA, 11.2 K/9 between rookie and A-ball), but plenty of highly-drafted collegiate players have done that. Taking the next step is the differentiator. Canterino's velo jump, and the behind-the-scenes work it reflected, were seemingly positive indicators. The righty needed to show it on the field. He has. Canterino was brilliant through four starts for Cedar Rapids, now the Twins' High-A affiliate. I mean, we're talking stupid good numbers. Thirty-five strikeouts in 18 innings? A 17.5 K/9 rate?? Canterino was striking out literally more than half the batters he faced. Beyond overpowering. He was likely in line for an imminent promotion to Double-A, but unfortunately the 23-year-old developed a sore elbow and hasn't pitched since May. He is currently on the comeback trail and the Twins hope he'll be able to return to the mound soon – probably in Wichita once he's fully back on track. 3. Jordan Balazovic, RHSP Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (AA): 21 1/3 IP, 4.44 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 3.86 FIP, 29.5 K%, 7.1 BB% 2021 Ranking: 6 After getting a late start to his season while healing from injury, Balazovic's results through six starts at Double-A have been ... uneven. His 4.44 ERA is nothing to write home about, and he has yet to get through six innings in an outing. With that said, he's been building up – his best, and longest, start was also his most recent – and the signs of that big potential have been on display. In 24 ⅓ innings, he has piled up 33 strikeouts with a 14% swing-and-miss rate. While hitters have had success against him at times, they haven't hit for much power (3 HR and 7 XBH total) and Balazovic's control hasn't really eluded him at any point. For now the key is to continually advance his workload and consistency. 2. Jhoan Duran, RHSP Age: 23 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats (A/AA): 34 1/3 IP, 3.41 ERA, 1.28 WHIP, 2.64 FIP, 38.2 K%, 9.0 BB% 2021 Ranking: n/a Like Balazovic, Duran's start to the 2021 campaign was delayed by injury following a lost pandemic season. When he took the mound on May 22nd at CHS Field, it was Duran's first time pitching in a minor-league game since August 29th of 2019. He was worth the wait. Unleashing triple-digit heat, Duran dazzled, striking out six over three innings of one-run ball. His next time out he allowed only one hit while fanning eight over four scoreless frames. However, things took a downward turn at this point, as Duran was tagged with losses in his next three appearances (one a long-relief outing), surrendering 8 earned runs with an 8-to-12 K/BB ratio in nine innings. Then, he went on the Injured List with an elbow strain. For now, the Twins hope and believe he'll avoid surgery. Duran has the best stuff in Minnesota's system and some of the best in the minors. He's the real deal talent-wise and the Twins have done a stellar job in targeting, acquiring, and developing him. His biggest barriers are control and health, and we've seen both fully presented this year, with the latter currently sidelining him indefinitely. He's as boom-or-bust as they come, but the ceiling is game-changing and within reach. 1. Royce Lewis, SS Age: 22 ETA: 2022 2021 Stats: n/a 2021 Ranking: 2 Losing two consecutive full seasons – one to a global pandemic and the next to a torn ACL – in the very crux of one's development is an ordeal many baseball prospects would be unable to overcome. I'd bet on Royce Lewis not being one of them. His much-lauded character and makeup have always positively affected the view and evaluation of Lewis, in certain intangible ways, but these qualities can have a very real impact in how he responds to this challenge. He'll be more than two years removed from playing competitively when he takes the field next spring – or maybe this winter – but has the natural talent to get back up to speed quickly. And "speed" really is the key word: even after knee surgery, he'll be one of the fastest and most athletic prospects in the game. Lewis is a dynamic talent who will likely end up at one of the most important defensive positions on the field – shortstop or center – and should be relatively productive at one of those spots even if his offensive shortcomings are not fully resolved. If the Twins do hope to rebound back into contention next year, they may need to ask quite a bit of their No. 1 prospect, as well as the other four we just profiled. One commonality you will notice among this reshaped top five: They're all 22 or 23 years old, with ETAs of 2022. These players are all verging on big-league ready and in most cases, health is the only significant barrier to surpass. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. Unfortunately, a series loss against the Baltimore Orioles after the one-third mark of the season should be the proverbial nail in the coffin for this team. Injuries have piled up, and Rocco Baldelli has been tasked with finding enough beating hearts to compile lineups on a nightly basis. With that as the new reality, making sure that 2021 is used productively to set up 2022 now must be the goal. Both Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach have debuted for the Twins. They represent the organization's two best pure hitting prospects, and neither should be sent back to the minors the rest of the way. Getting them regular reps is a must and making sure they’re comfortable to contribute out of the gate next year has to be the focus. Who should join them though? Jhoan Duran Pitching prospect number one, Duran got off to a late start this year dealing with a minor injury. He’s now taken a couple of turns at Triple-A St. Paul and looks every bit the dominant piece that the Twins have been waiting on. Maybe he’s not an ace, but he throws triple-digits and has strikeout stuff. Getting him something like 10 starts at the major-league level this season makes too much sense. Allocate the workload expected for Matt Shoemaker and J.A. Happ to other guys, this being the number one option. Matt Canterino Starting at High-A never made sense for Canterino. He’ll soon be 24 and is clearly advanced well beyond that level. He should be at Double-A already, and Triple-A by the end of the summer. I don’t know if Canterino necessarily needs big league starts, but there’s no reason for him not to throw major-league innings this year. He’s got dominant strikeout stuff and could be usable in both a starting and relief role. Expecting him to contribute in 2022 makes a lot of sense, so getting the jitters out now needs to happen. Jordan Balazovic This one is a bit trickier given the injury situation. He’ll begin at Double-A Wichita this weekend, but as the Twins top pitching prospect, the stuff could push him along quickly. Balazovic has as high of an upside as anyone in the system. If Derek Falvey is going to develop his own Jose Berrios or better, this is the kid. I’d like to see him get at least one or two starts for Minnesota before the year is over. Josh Winder Another arm in the vein of Canterino, Winder was given more of an aggressive starting point. Having dominated Double-A over his first five outings, it’s time for a step up. He should spend a couple of months with the Saints at Triple-A, and then a 40-man addition along with a big league promotion makes sense. A 7th round pick in 2018, Winder will be 25 by 2022 and could certainly be an arm that the Twins look at when filling out the rotation. Cole Sands A 5th round pick back in 2018, the former Florida State Seminole has done nothing but impress in pro ball. He’ll turn 24 next month and has started strong at Double-A Wichita. There’s been a bit less command in 2021 than previous seasons, but the strikeout stuff plays. Getting him to Triple-A by mid-summer with an end-of-year promotion to the big leagues seems like the right timetable. Another guy that could be called upon in the rotation for '22, there’s no reason not to get his feet wet. Jose Miranda Losing Travis Blankenhorn over a middling reliever wasn’t ideal, but it’s Miranda that likely made him dispensable. The 2nd round pick in 2016 was Rule 5 eligible this winter but went undrafted. He’s crushed Double-A to start the year and owns a .920 OPS. There’s not much reason to keep him down longer, and he could quickly emerge as the next utility option with a bit stronger bat. He’s not a shortstop, but he can play third base, and I wouldn’t be shocked if Minnesota pushes for some outfield flexibility. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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