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TRANSACTIONS RHP Louie Varland is being promoted to Triple-A St. Paul per myself and Darren Wolfson INF Brooks Lee is being promoted to Single-A Cedar Rapids per Darren Wolfson COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Pirates 11, FCL Twins 6 Box Score Develson Aria drew the start today for the Twins and unfortunately it was a muted one. He went just 2 2/3 innings allowing nine runs (three earned) on six hits. Aria did strike out five and only walked two. An eight-run second inning for the Pirates ultimately did the Twins in, even though the Twins posted eight hits to the Pirates' nine. First-round pick Brooks Lee was the star of the show again today for Minnesota’s FCL team. He went 3-for-5 including a double. Batting .353 with an .824 OPS, it won’t be a shock if this is a quick stop, or he’s promoted directly to Cedar Rapids for their stretch run (Update: That's exactly what's happening). Ricardo Olivar also had a two-hit game, including a double, and the 20-year-old owns a 1.091 OPS this season in 116 at-bats. Other top picks from this year’s draft class playing today were Tanner Schobel (0-for-4, BB) and Jorel Ortega (0-1, 2 BB) DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Giants Orange 9, DSL Twins 2 Box Score Roger Duran made the start but acted as an opener going just one inning. He worked around two hits and a walk to escape damage. The Twins generated just four hits on the day, and Jose Rodriguez’s triple was the only of the extra-base variety. As he has done all season, Yasser Mercedes continues to pile up numbers and recorded another hit today. He’s got a .985 OPS and just missed out on being included in the recent Twins Daily Top 20 prospect update. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Wilker Reyes (FCL Twins) - 3.1 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – Brooks Lee (FCL Twins) - 3-5, 2B, 3 RBI DRAFT PICK UPDATE 1 - Brooks Lee - FCL Twins - 17 AB, .353 AVG, .824 OPS, 2 R, 6 H, 3 RBI Q&A Link 2 - Tanner Schobel - FCL Twins - 15 AB, .200 AVG, .517 OPS, 3 R, 3 H, RBI Q&A Link 6 - Jorel Ortega - FCL Twins - 4 AB, .000 AVG, .000 OPS, 0 R, 0 H, 0 RBI Q&A Link TRADED PROSPECT UPDATE Cade Povich - 6.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K in Aberdeen debut (Orioles High-A). Named South Atlantic League Pitcher of the Week Spencer Steer - 4 G 6-16, 2 R, 4 RBI, SB for Louisville (Reds Triple-A) Christian Encarnacion-Strand - 3 G 4-11, 3 R, HR, 4 RBI for Chattanooga (Reds Double-A) Sawyer Gipson-Long - 5.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K in Erie debut (Tigers Double-A) Steven Hajjar - 3.0 IP, 2 H, 4 R, 4 ER, 5 BB, 3 K in Dayton debut (Reds High-A) Brent Rooker - 4 G 7-15, 3 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBI for Omaha (Royals Triple-A) TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Columbus @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Aaron Sanchez Corpus Christi @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Kody Funderburk Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek Fort Myers @ Jupiter (5:30PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates and the two Complex Season affiliates back and playing.
1st round pick Brooks Lee has played four games for the FCL Twins and despite starting slow has a .353/.353/.471 (.824) slash line thanks to an impressive game on Monday. Lee has played in the field exclusively at shortstop, starting three games there with his other appearance at DH. There had been rumblings that Lee wouldn't be playing in the Florida Complex League too much longer and those rumblings were confirmed by Darren Wolfson on Monday afternoon. It will be interesting to see how he's integrated into the Kernels lineup. You obviously make way for Brooks Lee, but former bonus baby Wander Javier has made every single one of his starts at shortstop. Make no mistake that Lee is in a different stratosphere as a prospect, but it's possible that both find themselves on the left side of the infield. It's also possible that Lee gets a couple of days off a week as he adjusts to playing a game of baseball every day. Comp Round B pick Tanner Schobel has also played four games for the FCL Twins. He's only 3-for-15 (.200/.250/.267) with a double and a walk and has struck out three times. He's also stolen a base. He has played twice at second base, once at shortstop, and once as a DH. Schobel is in line for more reps at shortstop after Lee's promotion. Once Schobel gets his feet underneath him, it wouldn't be surprising to see him move up a level. The most recent draft pick to make his pro debut is 6th-round pick Jorel Ortega. Ortega has only played in two games, getting a start at both first base and third base. He hasn't started hitting yet, going hitless in his first four at-bats. He's struck out three times and drawn two walks. Other draftees should be joining this trio soon and we'll keep you updated on how they're doing.
An Update on the Consensus Big Board The Consensus Big Board worked well in its first year. All of the consensus top 56 we profiled at Twins Daily were drafted. Only 3 players in the 76 I ranked (Tristan Smith, Cam Smith, and Max Martin) were not drafted. They are all high school players going to college. The Minnesota Twins gained 29 draft spots of consensus ranking value with their first two picks. Brooks Lee (ranked 4th, selected 8th), and Connor Prielipp (ranked 23rd, selected 48th), both reflected high value plays by the Twins front office. Barring health issues (which is a big hurdle to clear), the first two picks played out perfectly. Additionally, the consensus board was pretty accurate in the first few rounds. After day one (through 80 picks), 63 of our top 70 players had been drafted. That’s certainly something to build on for next year. In 2023, some of my thoughts on additions will be: Adding more sources (Fangraphs, Perfect Game, etc.) Expanding to 100 picks Limiting the writeups I have a suspicion that the usefulness of the board will be capped at around 75 players, but we’ll use next year to test that theory. Thanks to everyone who commented, gave feedback and interacted with all our pre-draft content at Twins Daily. Now, onto the Twins draft. After Lee and Prielipp, the Twins went heavy on signable college players. That’s not necessarily a trend. Twins VP of Amateur Scouting Sean Johnson says that the Twins "drafted players they liked organically", as opposed to trying to explicitly make savings in later rounds to pay up for initial picks. There were, however, some noticeable trends this year among picks. Here are three. The Twins Targeted Athletes ‘Geez, how many shortstops do the Twins need?' An incredibly tiring refrain tweeted out by many an egg-profile picture sporting twitter account on draft day. The answer is…an infinite number. The Twins picked six shortstops in twenty rounds of the 2022 draft. Brooks Lee (1st), Tanner Schobel (CB-B), Ben Ross (5th), Dalton Shuffield (10th), Omari Daniel (14th), and Jankel Ortiz (16th). Simply, shortstops are typically the best athletes on a given team, the Twins (like many other teams) target athletic players. If a player can play at short, they can play anywhere on the infield (and likely other positions), so please, let’s toss the ridiculous notion that the 'Twins drafted too many shortstops’ out the window forever. Twins are Buying Power Breakouts This may seem obvious, but I think there are some noteworthy case studies here. Competitive Balance pick Tanner Schobel (who Jeremy Nygaard reported has already reached an agreement with the Twins) had a power breakout in 2022. He went from seven home runs and 10 doubles in 2021 to 19 home runs in 2022 with increased elevation and pull-side power. Jorel Ortega, the Twins 6th round pick (and another middle infielder), had a similar breakthrough in 2022. He hit 18 home runs and slugged .672 for the Vols, compared to just one home run and .296 slugging in 2021 in his return from Tommy John surgery. "Just a really strong performer on one of the best college teams in America", says Sean Johnson. Although Ortega is an extreme example, the Twins draft class is littered with them, whether in college, the Cape, or the Northwoods League. Ben Ross is another example. "It's a higher bar to clear (coming from a Division II school), especially on our model, but he held up well on our board", says Johnson of Ross. The Twins are known to value exit velocity in their model. They are also jumping on players who have breakthrough years as a development that may translate to the professional level. Twins Value K/BB Ratio for Pitchers, Confident in Their Ability to add Velocity As John Vittas (play-by-play for Fort Myers) alluded to, the Twins use K:BB as a driving metric for their pitchers. If we look at the pitchers drafted outside of the three mentioned by Vittas, the trend continues: Andrew Morris (91 K, 28 BB) Ben Ethridge (39 K, 7 BB) Zachary Veen (59 K, 3 BB) Garrett McMillan (83 K, 26 BB) Johnson had plenty of interesting insights to share regarding the pitchers the Twins selected. "In these rounds (day 2 and 3), you're looking for one special pitch, something unique", before adding that the Twins feel extremely confident in their player development department in adding velocity to incoming pitchers. Interestingly, Johnson also mentioned careful consideration of the school a pitcher attended, highlighting the additional development possibilities for players who had less access to elite coaching and playing technology in their college programs. On specific pitchers, Johnson had additional insights. "Andrew Morris is a good strike thrower, four solid pitches across the board, we see him as a starter for us". On Zebby Matthews, Johnson noted, "We had him here for a pre-draft workout. He has a chance to throw really hard." When prompted to reflect on the success of last year's draft, particularly with pitchers (Hajjar, Povich, Festa etc.), Johnson noted that no one could have predicted Festa's breakout season, even the scouts who advocated for drafting him. "If you have draft ten guys like him, one might have a breakthrough like that," shares Johnson. What’s not yet clear to me is the extent to which the Twins target raw velocity in their pitchers. In a recent graphic (that I now cannot find), the MLB team was producing some of the most consistently high exit velocities and some of the most consistently low velocities from pitching. It’s likely the front office is working to course correct this in the minors and it just hasn’t shown up yet at the MLB level (besides Duran). What are your takeaways from the draft? What players are you excited to watch? Any Twins draft regrets?
As a collegiate player, Jorel Ortega has already had to deal with adversity after Tommy John surgery kept him out for a year and his career has amounted to basically the 2022 season. Clearly, he is not someone to allow that to define him, however, as Ortega broke out with power production this year and posted more extra-base hits than strikeouts. His bat often produces loud contact, and he was certainly fun to watch as the Volunteers often trounced their opponents this season. Now eyeing an opportunity at the next level, Ortega answered a few questions before he gets going. Twins Daily: Talk about a massive rise from Tommy John and then just 27 ABs in 2021 to a breakout year last year. What helped you get there both mentally and physically? Jorel Ortega: Physically, I was just trying to be in the best athletic shape I could. Working on my craft, stronger, faster, more explosive, etc. Mentally, I just changed the way of looking at things. Worry only about things that I can control and only have positive thoughts. Kinda like the saying “fake it until you make it." Just worry about things in my control and enjoy everything I’m doing. Be myself and that really helped me a lot. I knew the skill set was there I just needed to make a change mentality-wise. TD: The power really jumped last season. Was there a swing adjustment you made or what was your process playing into that growth? JO: I didn’t really change anything in my swing. That’s why I like Tennessee so much. They don’t try to mess with your stance, instead, they help you maximize your potential within that stance. I was just more concentrating on doing damage on pitches I can and drive the ball using the whole field. TD: Nearly a .400 OBP and compiling fewer strikeouts than extra-base hits, what makes you so successful from a contact perspective at the dish? JO: Honestly, what I think helps me so much is the fact that I hate striking out. But also, I’m not afraid to hit with two strikes because I can be just as dangerous of a hitter with two strikes. I want to give a really good quality AB and put the ball in play. TD: You played on one of the best college baseball teams we've ever seen last season. What was that experience like and how does it prepare you for the next level? JO: It was an awesome experience being part of it. I don’t think I’ll experience something like that for a while. Team chemistry was insane and we just wanted it bad. Grinding on and off the field together. And I think that helps me for the next level because being around so much talent and being able to pick some of the guys' brain's for me to learn. TD: What do you know about the Minnesota Twins? Have you ever been to Target Field? JO: I know that they take really good care of their players since I have a couple of old friends in their organization. It’s a great organization and I’m excited to get started. And I have never been to Target Field. TD: If there's something you want Twins Territory to know about you as a person or player, what is it? JO: As y’all know, Tennessee fan base is crazy and the best in college. How’s the fan base for the Twins? Certainly sounds like a response is needed at the end Twins fans. I think Jorel Ortega is a guy Twins Territory needs to get behind!