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  1. 1. Royce Lewis is here to stay Between Friday’s grand slam, superb fielding at shortstop and consistent hits elsewhere, long-held #1 Twins prospect Royce Lewis has made a strong statement since he was called up a little over a week ago. Lewis has a .310 average and a top 6 on the team OPS of .719. On WCCO Radio, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey expressed optimism that Royce Lewis can play around the field similar to the Dodgers' super-utilityman Chris Taylor. This indicates that the Twins will likely find a spot for him somewhere on the field once shortstop Carlos Correa returns to the lineup. And if he continues to perform on the field, why wouldn't they? Lewis' debut has been a long time coming, and after having gone through ACL surgery and rehab, it has been rewarding to finally see him on the field after all that hard work. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for his grand slam on Friday night, and afterwards, he expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he's received from Twins fans. "I really appreciate it. This fan base has always been really, really special to me. They've always been great to me. Minnesota nice," Lewis said. 2. Jose Miranda needs a little more time Preheat to 350° and pop Jose back in the oven for a little bit- he needs some more time to cook in AAA. So far, Miranda has looked a bit outmatched at the plate and his .114 batting average reflects that. His .111 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and few strikeouts show that while he is making contact, the contact he makes does not give him a good chance to succeed. The Twins are depleted at first base, and injuries to first basemen Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sanó have necessitated Jose’s spot in the lineup recently. Some fans questioned why Miranda was sent out to hit in the 10th inning on Saturday in a critical down-by-1, do-or-die situation with Byron Buxton on the bench. Manager Rocco Baldelli was quite clear after the game that rest days are rest days and that the direction the game takes does not affect that. But if Mike Trout can come off the bench to hit in the 10th inning to a huge ovation, to some it seemed that Buxton could manage as well, though Buxton is coming back from injury. I am a firm believer in Miranda’s talent, but it seems a little more time in AAA would be of benefit, and he's still very young at 23. Some infield shuffling could fill Miranda’s spot at first if he was sent down- perhaps Lewis, Luis Arraez, and even Gary Sánchez could share time there. Utility player extraordinaire Arraez made some good scoops at first during Sunday’s game, which Miranda was on the bench for. 3. Runners left on base will haunt Saturday’s game can be summed up as a game of missed opportunities, as the Twins left a whopping 12 runners on base. The biggest example of this was in the 5th inning, where the Twins had bases loaded with no outs and Shane Bieber emerged unscathed due to an unfortunate home-to-first Gio Urshela double play followed by a Miranda groundout. This half-inning was nothing short of deflating. The Twins only got three more hits in the rest of the game, two of these occurring with 2 outs and no runners on. We all know that Walks Will Haunt, but runners left on base certainly will too. The offense returned on Sunday, where Buxton and Urshela both got solo home runs, including Buxton hitting the 1,000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field- his 11th of the season. 4. Joe Smith is one of the team’s most underrated assets Through 15 appearances, Joe Smith still has a 0.00 ERA. Some might say that’s because the Twins have used him sparingly; Smith is used in high-leverage situations, so often in late-inning, close games with runners on. He leads all AL relivers with a +1.11 win probability added (WPA). Though he has somehow never been an All-Star, he is arguably the most prolific bullpen workhorse of the last 20 years. The Twins used Smith in all three games of the series (Pagán too). So regardless of his limited pitch count (146 pitches thrown in 15 appearances equating to an average of less than 10 pitches per game), owning a 0.00 ERA this far into the season when used as a high-leverage pitcher is impressive no matter how you dice it. If this keeps up, there is no way the league won't start to take note. 5. The crowd is starting to wake up at Target Field After decidedly light attendance thus far, the weekend’s series featured the best attendance with the most hyped-up fans Target Field has seen this season. Friday’s game can be summed up as nothing short of electric due to the Twins piling on 12 runs. The crowd dutifully got into it when Baldelli got himself ejected in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday while arguing about an interference call, but many fans in the seats expressed confusion on why he was arguing about what seemed to be a clear-cut call. The series also featured the first big screen fan proposals at Target Field this season- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Officially, the Twins announced 61,500 fans visited Target Field for the three-game series, which, while still feeling low, is a massive improvement from even a week ago. The Twins are near the bottom of MLB in attendance, averaging 17,944 fans per game. As the weather continues to be beautiful, kids get out of school, and the Twins hopefully keep winning, fans will continue to return to Target Field in droves. Bonus takeaway: Urshela and Sánchez had a solid series This series saw great production from former Yankees Urshela and Sánchez: Urshela hit two home runs (including a 434-foot monster blast on Friday night) and Sánchez had one home run and two doubles. Urshela continued his arguably exceptional play at 3B this series. Considering the Twins have leaned on Sánchez in the DH role when not playing catcher, hopefully this series is a sign of more good things to come at the plate. *** What were your takeaways from the Twins series against the Guardians? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  2. Who cares about 46 plate appearances? Not me. Neither, globally speaking, should you. 46 plate appearances, however, is all we have to judge Jose Miranda on so far in the big leagues, and it hasn't been pretty. After putting together a MiLB season for the ages in 2021 in which he hit 30 HR and a combined 159 wRC+ between AA and AAA, Miranda has struggled in his opening month with the Twins. Over 11 games, he’s put up an 8 wRC+ and has been worth -0.5 fWAR. Obviously not great. What do the numbers say about Miranda? How might he turn his slow start around? Miranda’s 2021 MiLB breakthrough came from the ability to drive the ball well. In 2021, his Line Drive Percentage (LD%) was 24.3% at AA and AAA. For a point of reference, Jorge Polanco, who put up 4.1 fWAR for the Twins, was at 23.1%. Obviously, a different level of competition, but a useful reference point. Fast forward to 2022 and Miranda’s LD% has plummeted to just 2.7%. Essentially, everything he’s hitting is into the ground, or straight up in the air. What gives? The clues come in the form of Miranda’s plate discipline numbers. He doesn’t walk often 4.3% BB%. He also doesn’t strike out very often, something we might expect for someone struggling so mightily at the plate (15.2% K%). Miranda’s low walk and low strikeout totals warrant further investigation, for that, it’s useful to look at his swing and contact rates. Miranda has an O-Swing% of 29.9%, meaning he swings at 29.9% of pitches thrown outside the strike zone. This isn’t an alarming number (Polanco, our contextual comparison for this piece, is at 28.8% here). Miranda, however, swings significantly more in the zone than other hitters (70.2% so far in 2022 to Polanco’s 61.5%). We know that Miranda can crush the ball, no one who hits 30 HR in a season can’t. However, his average exit velocity is 88.2 mph, right at league average with a Barrel% of just 5.4%. If we put these two data points together, here’s what we can glean; Miranda has a tendency to swing at pitches in the strike zone, which is fine. Currently, his swings in the zone are not selective enough, causing him to ground out and pop out frequently. His tendencies are a much scaled-back version of the challenges Willians Astudillo faced in Minnesota, where his ability to put bat-to-ball was negated by the poor quality of contact he produced. I’ll finish with this; who cares? Hitting in the majors is a game of reactivity and constraint adjustments. Whether Miranda continues to work through his struggles in Minneapolis or St. Paul, I remain extremely confident in his ability to hit at the big league level. If he wants to maximize his success, however, he needs to once again hunt for pitches he can drive.
  3. Since coming back from the COVID IL, Luis Arráez has returned to a tricky role for his short stature: first base. After some questionable defensive plays at third base had a few too many Twins fans in agony, Rocco Baldelli began shifting Arráez across the diamond. Although Arráez is only a few inches shorter than most of his teammates, the position does raise questions: does size matter at first? The common assumption among most baseball experts, and one that Miguel Sanó easily fit, is that the player should be a big target. Lumbering at 6’3” and 270ish pounds, the big man could often be seen stretching for balls from various players over the years. With Sanó out for some time, prospect call up Jose Miranda seems like a more conventional choice for the position at 6’2” and 210 pounds. But as much as everything in baseball can be questioned to find an advantage, perhaps Arráez is not as much of a problem as one might expect. Although you can find the height of every baseball player on their BRef page, actual height data is rarely provided in data sets among hitting or fielding. That makes comparison across the league a bit harder, so I mostly focused on the 2021 performances at first base. These players range from big boys like Matt Olson and Freddie Freeman (6’5”), to players closer to Arráez like Carlos Santana and Ty France (5’11”). Over its history, the league has made way for small hitters like Jose Ramirez and Mookie Betts, but these players are rarely found at first base. Even when first basemen might show some vertical challenge, they might have some size to make up for it. Max Muncy played most of first for the Dodgers in their 2021 season, sitting only two inches above Arráez, but with 50 more pounds of muscle. He can stretch those legs much further than what we’ve seen from Arráez so far. As baseball has transformed, the decrease in the height of a first baseman has changed as well. First base has often been the place, for lack of a better word, smashers with bad defense. As Matt Eddy reported for Baseball America just last year, “A 6-foot player was once deemed too short to play first base, with exceptions made for the most prodigious sluggers, such as Prince Fielder.” But particularly in a game where grounders are going the way of the dodo, that means having excellent defenders at first base has become even more critical than it was even a decade ago. If Arráez’s defense is questionable, it will feel even less important in 2022 Baseball. But the question is not whether Arráez’s defense matters, but whether a tall boy makes for better defense at first base. Although bigger men in 2021 did usually better in Outs Above Average and Defensive Runs Saved, so did Mariners hitter Ty France, who lives only an inch about Arráez. France was close to top in the league in the advance metric UZR, considered by many to be the gold standard of infield defensive stats. At the bottom of this list? Miguel Sanó. UZR can be tricky—Josh Donaldson was close to Sanó in the metric, and the eye test would tell you that the former third basemen was hardly a schlub in the role. But the closer we look, the correlation between height and defense falls apart. There is one key difference that might assist Arráez’s defense over either Miranda or Sanó, which might sound surprising, his speed. Over in Los Angeles, the Dodgers were constantly shifting Max Muncy around, which worked due to his quick reactions and acceleration speed. Muncy is hardly a speed demon, but he is extremely quick in his reflexes. It’s something the Dodgers liked about Freeman as well to bring him over from Atlanta. Arráez’s speed puts him at the same level as Vlad Guerrero Jr., Yuli Gurriel, and Ty France. None of these men are in Muncy’s elite level, but it allows for more flexibility there rather than a single target and might assist in building unique positioning. Most giants at first base do not show a lot of speed, and while Arráez is hardly a demon, his average speed could make for a bit more positioning work through the season. Arráez’s bat, as we’ve seen even in this first month, is too important to not put somewhere in this lineup to drive in runs. As long as the player can manage the role, the singles smasher will play an unsung advantage in a position where the combined first baseman of the league hit for only 108 wRC+ in 2019. So far, he hasn’t missed any balls at first in his few game sample. But in a game that depends on finding advantages in every nook and cranny, perhaps the front office might find a hidden advantage in putting a short king slugger at first.
  4. It was a vastly different experience going to that little ballpark compared to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but watching unknown minor leaguers play on those fields always filled my mind with delusions of grandeur to be like them one day—a professional baseball player chasing their dream to become a Major Leaguer. That is the main reason I do a little bit different of a list heading into a new season than all those “Top Prospects” lists you see here at Twins Daily, on MLB.com, or at other outlets like FanGraphs and Baseball America. There are so many of them these days I don’t think this amateur scout can tell you anything you haven’t already heard. Instead, I want to recognize all those guys who have worked hard to get where they are, whether they’re a top prospect or not, and whom you might see make their MLB debut at Target Field during the upcoming season—those ready to make their childhood dreams like mine come true. Across all of Major League Baseball during the 2021 season, 265 players made their Major League debut, with eight members of the Minnesota Twins organization contributing to that number. They included pitchers Charlie Barnes, Griffin Jax, Jovani Moran, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan, as well as position players Gilberto Celestino, Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach, and Ben Rortvedt. All four of those hitters and pitchers Jax and Ober were profiled in this same column before the start of the 2021 season, and you’ll see some of the same names in this list below for the 2022 calendar year that didn’t quite make the jump. So, who are the prospects that could make their Major League debut and become the next Minnesota Twins during the 2022 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The Twins enter the 2022 season with a 40-man MLB roster that does not have much room for position players yet to make their MLB debut. That list is just two players, but any fan should be excited about the names that are included in this section. There is, however, much more room for pitchers in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and the top end talent is almost all at the top of their system to start the 2022 season. Royce Lewis (22 years old on opening day), IF/OF – Twins Daily’s #2 Prospect (Lewis made his MLB debut on 5/6, playing SS against the Oakland Athletics and batting 7th. He finished 1-for-4, picking up a single in the 8th inning of a 2-1 win) It’s hard to gauge where Royce Lewis is at in his development, given he’s missed two entire years’ worth of time due to Covid and tearing his ACL. But when we last saw him, he was crushing in the Arizona Fall League to the point he took home the league’s MVP award. He has continued to work on his swing while off the field, and I expect big things during the 2022 season when he finds his footing. The biggest question continues to be what position he will play when he reaches the majors. I have been critical of his shortstop play in the past, but there is no doubt he can be an elite defender in the outfield. He excelled at third base in the AFL as well if that does not work out. That is to say, if he’s hitting well and anyone in the outfield or middle infield on the Major League roster goes out for an extended period, it would not surprise me at all if Lewis is the name that gets called to fill in if he is hitting. Plus, he looked good at short for the Saints on Tuesday if you were wondering: Jordan Balazovic (23), RHP – TD’s #4 Prospect Balazovic is ticketed for the starting rotation with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, though he will start the season on the Injured List with a left knee strain. While he does not necessarily get the accolades around his pure “stuff” that some of the other guys on this list do, he has been one to get better results as he’s climbed the ladder. That can be attributed some to having better command, but he has also shown steady improvement with his offerings year over year, showcased by his fastball averaging around 96 MPH with Wichita last season. One thing going against him is innings, as his 97 in 2021 were a career high after missing the first two months with a back injury. There is little doubt when it comes to Balazovic that he will break through as a starting pitcher and stay there when he reaches the majors, compared to others further down this list. Jose Miranda (23), 3B – TD’s #3 Prospect (Miranda made his MLB debut on 5/2, playing third base and batting sixth against the Baltimore Orioles. He was 0-for-4 in a 2-1 Twins win) The thing with Miranda was never about talent, as the Twins had always seen a good bat in the infielder from Puerto Rico. However, before the 2021 season that bat had never quite lived up to expectations, producing just one season with an OPS above .750 and that was all the way back in rookie ball. But coaches continued to encourage him to alter his approach and wait for pitches he could do damage with, instead of swinging first and asking questions later. He took it to heart and ran with it for the 2021 season, enroute to one of the most impressive Minor League seasons you have ever seen from a Twins prospect. He led all of the minors in total bases, clubbing 32 doubles and 30 home runs in 127 games between Wichita and St. Paul. He finished with a .344/.401/.572 slash line and rocketed up prospect lists by the end of the year. He’s basically only a corner infielder and won’t win any Gold Glove awards with his defense, but if he’s even close to repeating those hitting numbers in 2022 at triple-A, his bat will force the issue sooner rather than later. Jhoan Duran (24), RHP – TD’s #7 Prospect (Duran made his MLB debut on opening day, pithing two innings against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out four in a scoreless outing) Whether they’ve been trying or not, since I’ve been a fan of the Twins they have always had a velocity problem. Duran is one of the pitchers who can continue to change that, whether that comes as a starter or a reliever. He has size, is capable of hitting 100+ MPH with his fastball, and throws a weird sinker he can play off that velocity to get swings and misses. Like many young hurlers, consistency is key and despite his stuff he has had trouble maintaining that start-to-start in the past. When he is on Duran is fully capable of dominating an outing, but has thrown only 16 innings in live games since the end of the 2019 season. If you were asking me before the start of Spring Training, I would have fully expected Duran to begin the season in the St. Paul Saints rotation. Instead, he has been absolutely dominant in his outings thus far and will come North with the Twins to start the year! Josh Winder (25), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect (Winder made his MLB debut on 4/12, pitching one inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed one run on two walks and struck out one. He made his first MLB start on 5/1, and picked up the win with 6 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out seven against the Tampa Bay Rays) A casual fan may not recognize Winder’s name as much as others, but I recommend paying a lot more attention to him this season. I have seen evidence from the Twins over the past two years that they may think he is the best of the starting pitching bunch they have approaching the majors. Plus, as of writing this he is still on the bubble to come North to Minneapolis instead of St. Paul to start the 2022 season. While he only threw 72 innings last year, they were so good that he was the Twins representative to play in the Futures Game during All Star Weekend. He was promoted to triple-A immediately after that and made four starts for the Saints before being shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder impingement. He was solid in his outings this spring, starting three games (meaning he was facing mostly MLB players) and allowing just two runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out nine in eight total innings pitched. While there is no reason for the Twins to put him in the bullpen permanently, it would not shock me to see him as part of a 16-man pitching staff to start the season in a piggy-backing role. I can even envision him performing better than whomever he follows to the point he takes over when rosters get cut down from 28 players. Cole Sands (24), RHP – TD’s #13 Prospect (Sands made his MLB debut on 5/1, pitching two innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, and struck out two.) Making his professional debut during the 2019 season, Sands was a standout performer and as a result pitched at three levels, reaching double-A for one start to end the year. He finished the season with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 108 hitters over 97 1/3 innings. He followed that up in 2021 by dominating with Wichita to the tune of a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 80 1/3 innings. He missed some time due to an injury, but will be in the Saints rotation to start the 2022 season. His path reminds me a bit of one Bailey Ober and if the Twins can get more of that, they would be ecstatic. Since he is on the 40-man roster, you never know—if he is lined up to pitch on the right day, an injury on the Twins could spur a cab ride across the river to Target Field at any point. Drew Strotman (25), RHP The second half of the trade package the Twins received from the Tampa Bay Rays for Nelson Cruz, Strotman was thought by some evaluators to be the better prospect in the deal at the time. I do not think that is the case now, considering Joe Ryan is slated to pitch opening day for the Twins while Strotman fell off a bit after coming over, but it should give you an idea of how well the Twins did in that trade to get both of those guys. He throws in the mid-90s with a good cutter that catches the attention of scouts, but command has been a bit of an issue since having Tommy John Surgery back in 2018. He is being fully transitioned to the bullpen in 2022 and could turn into another high-octane option there as the season progresses. Ronny Henriquez (21), RHP – TD’s #16 Prospect With the flurry of trade activity that happened after the lockout ended, the Twins ended up with an intriguing right-hander from the Texas Rangers in sending off Mitch Garver. You will hear a lot about his size or lack thereof, but there is a lightning arm attached to his right shoulder that hits the mid-90s with ease. He has consistently piled up strikeouts and limited baserunners, but the long ball has been a bugaboo as he gave up nearly two per nine innings pitched in double-A last season. He has primarily started games in his pro career thus far and should continue to do so with the Twins, but his profile sounds a lot like a future reliever when it is all said and done. Chris Vallimont (25), RHP The moniker of the “Vallimonster” is apt for the right-hander, as he can perform quite the Jekyll and Hyde routine whenever he is on the mound. He paired a 13.0/9IP strikeout rate with a 5.8/9IP walk rate during the 2021 season and if you go game to game, you will see that up and down nature in his stat lines as well. A switch to the bullpen to maximize his pure stuff in shorter stints is something to watch for during the season if that pattern continues. TOP PROSPECTS: Consider this entry more of a “not-yet-on-the-40-man-roster” section heading into this season since a lot of the top prospects have already appeared above, but what remains below still holds the theme that these guys are close to Major League ready. All three of them are on the double-A roster of the Wichita Wind Surge to start the year, with a few of them sure to move up quickly when the 40-man depth above is called upon by the Twins. Austin Martin (23), IF/OF – TD’s #1 Prospect The top prospect on our board, it is slightly odd that Martin returns to double-A to start the season after spending all of the 2021 season there, but he does have some things to work on. Those being his defense at shortstop (or elsewhere), and tapping into some power that may have been hindered by a wrist injury throughout last year. That said, he posted a .414 on-base percentage in 93 games that led all of double-A and you would be hard-pressed to find a more prototypical leadoff hitter anywhere in the minors. As soon as a spot opens up in St. Paul I expect Martin to be promoted, but the depth the Twins have when it comes to position players pushes a debut timeline out to later in the summer. He is the type of talent who can force that issue sooner rather than later, however. Simeon Woods Richardson (21), RHP – TD’s #8 Prospect Plenty of people seem to be down on SWR going into the 2022 season, but I am not one of them. You cannot blame him for the 2020 season being canceled or for competing in the Olympics (though he didn’t pitch at all) in the middle of the 2021 campaign. There was absolutely some rust to shake off by the time he put on a Wind Surge uniform, but he did flash what makes him highly regarded as well: A key point to consider with him in comparison to every other player on this list is his age. Even after missing a full season, he was only 20 years old and pitching in double-A at the beginning of last year. Especially for the Twins, this is a rare occurrence. Jose Berrios, for example, had turned 21 a couple of months before he reached double-A and was the quickest moving pitcher the Twins had produced in a long time. If he can reign back in his control, Berrios is also a great comp for the type of ceiling we are talking about for Woods Richardson, who has dwarfed any strikeout rates the former Twins pitcher ever produced in the minors. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Canterino finds himself in double-A to start the 2022 season despite pitching only 23 total innings last year with Cedar Rapids. That was due to elbow troubles, which is a legitimate concern moving forward given his history coming out of Rice University and herky-jerky mechanics, but you cannot deny the numbers. He struck out over half the hitters he faced while walking only four in his time on the mound, resulting in a 0.78 ERA and 0.61 WHIP. His stuff is electric, with a fastball that can reach the high 90’s and a slider and changeup that are both legitimate swing-and-miss offerings as well. Due to those health concerns, there are many evaluators who see the bullpen in his future, but if you are looking for a pitcher that can make some serious noise during the 2022 campaign, Canterino is your guy. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players may not necessarily be top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a situation where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason has been a standout performer in the bullpens of Twins affiliates since being taken in the 13th round of the 2016 draft. Missing the 2020 season hurt guys like him more than most, but he came back in 2021 to post stellar numbers and finished the final two months of the season in St. Paul. While there, he posted a career-high strikeout rate of 12.1/9IP, and guys like him are always among my favorites to root for. Yennier Cano (27), RHP (Even though he didn't throw a pitch as the game was suspended, Yennier Cano was credited with his MLB debut on 5/11 against the Houston Astros. When he did take the mound the next day, he delivered two perfect innings before running into some trouble in his third. In total, he allowed three runs on three hits, and struck out two.) A sneaky international signing all the way back in 2019, Cano finally got to showcase his talents for a full season during the 2021 campaign, spending the bulk of it in St. Paul. He boasts a mid-90s fastball and deep repertoire, as well as an intimidating mound presence that reminds me a lot of Aroldis Chapman (both are around 6’4” and 230 lbs). He will need to reign in the walks that spiked once he reached triple-A, but certainly looks the part of a bullpen horse. Mark Contreras (27), OF (Contreras made his MLB debut on 5/12, when the suspended game from the day before resumed he took over for Byron Buxton, playing left field. He finished 0-for-2, but scored a run and drove in one with a sac fly in the 11-3 loss to the Houston Astros.) Contreras made his mark in the Twins organization with his defense, taking home a MiLB Gold Glove award after the 2019 season, but something clicked for him in the batter’s box in 2021. Spending the bulk of the year with St. Paul, the lefty nearly matched his career home run total to that point (23) with 20 on the year, 18 of them coming in his 95 games at triple-A. I would not expect Contreras to get the call as a long-term starter in the majors, but you can do a lot worse with a fourth outfielder type as he can play all the outfield positions well, including center in a pinch. Jermaine Palacios (25), IF Palacios is a bit buried on an organizational depth chart with the names Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, and Austin Martin in the fold, but what he has above the other two prospects is that he is definitely a shortstop. That fact plays against him a little for the 2022 season as those two prospects above him need the work, but he is in triple-A where he will be moved around the infield depending on the day. He also showed some pop with 19 home runs for Wichita last year, and was also spectacular in the Venezuelan Winter League during the offseason, posting a .987 OPS in 42 games. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out of nowhere to make a surprise debut during the season. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skill set or background that is intriguing and could pay big dividends if something else falls into place. These are my shots in the dark at guys that could be in 2022. Jordan Gore (27), RHP The former shortstop begins the season as a high-leverage option out of the St. Paul Saints bullpen. He split time between Cedar Rapids and Wichita during the 2021 season, picking up seven saves and striking out 11.7/9IP with a WHIP below 1.00. Plus, he has great hair. Louie Varland (24), RHP – TD’s #14 Prospect First of all, he is #OneOfUs, growing up in Maplewood and being drafted out of Concordia University in St. Paul in the 15th round of the 2019 draft. Second of all, he is the reigning Twins and Twins Daily’s, Minor League Pitcher of the Year. That is because he struck out 142 hitters in 103 innings pitched last season split between Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids. He is buried on a starting pitching depth chart at this point, but if he continues that type of dominance in double-A and eventually triple-A this season, there will be a spot for him at some point. Edouard Julien (22), OF – TD’s #19 Prospect I have long been a fan of the type of player Julien was during the 2021 season, where he led all of the minors in walks (110 in 112 games) and had an on-base percentage flirting with .500 for a large chunk of the season. He also tapped into some power upon being promoted to Cedar Rapids, launching 15 homers in 65 games after getting out of the Florida State League. He starts the 2022 season with Wichita, and he and Austin Martin should prove extremely annoying to double-A pitching for much of the summer. So, there you have it, my picks for some of the minor league players I think could be called up to the majors and put on a Minnesota Twins uniform for the first time during the coming season. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? And who are some of the prospects you think I have missed that could make that jump? Let’s play ball!
  5. Miguel Sano is under contract through the 2022 season and has a $14 million team option for 2023. Carrying just a $2.75 million buyout, it’s all but certain the front office will move on from Sano. Once ranked as high as the 4th best prospect across all of baseball by MLB.com, Sano now is a big leaguer with nearly 700 games under his belt. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, Sano’s initial contract was one of the most contentious topics in the sport at the time. From questions about his true age to decisions regarding which team he’d agree with, a full feature-length film was made about the process. Coming stateside in 2010, Sano has been a part of the Twins organization for over a decade. His minor league numbers were always gaudy. Tabbed a shortstop only through initial athleticism, but with the understanding future size would move him to a corner, Sano put up a .932 OPS in 491 minor league games. Debuting with the Twins on July 2, 2015, Sano became a fixture at the hot corner. He was asked to play right field in an odd move just a few seasons later and has since settled in holding down first base. Across 691 Major League games, Sano has launched 162 career home runs and posted an .809 OPS. His 117 OPS+ is above league average, and while he’s tallied over 1,000 strikeouts, there’s no denying his bat is one of the most explosive in the game. Sano finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2015, being beaten out only by Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. He made the All-Star Game in 2017 and also competed in the Home Run Derby. Never a strong defender, Sano has been passable at best in the field. Aside from the abomination that was his right field experiment, he’s been far from a butcher but hardly sniffed any sort of accolades. He’s taken to the new role at first base well and has shown a level of athleticism that originally highlighted the opportunity to succeed at the hot corner. He’s fluctuated on the scale and that has also led to both criticism and improved opportunities for success. It’s foolish to believe Sano has played his last game for Minnesota, there will be opportunities when he returns. What capacity the opportunities come from remain entirely linked to those currently holding things down. Jose Miranda is a top prospect with a good bat. Luis Arraez is a dependable utility player. Alex Kirilloff was supposed to be the next mainstay in Minnesota’s lineup. Any combination of those three could take at-bats away from Sano, but at least two of the three have plenty of earning yet to be done. When the dust settles the expectation should be that Sano tacks on a few more home runs. While his production leaves plenty to be desired right now, having just a .379 OPS, there was good reason to believe a patented outburst was coming. A streaky type of player that can break out in a big way, Sano was still looking for the other shoe to drop early on in 2022. There shouldn’t be a career-altering amount of change coming the rest of the way for Sano, however, and that opens the door to evaluation. What has Sano been for the Minnesota Twins? A former top 10 prospect across all of baseball puts up nearly 200 homers and an .800 OPS by the time he turns 28 and that gets evaluated how? His work ethic, character, and play style will likely always drag him further down for some, but have the positives been enough to find yourself happy with the overall trajectory? This is where you chime in. Was Miguel Sano a bust for the Twins, or did he do enough to justify the hype?
  6. Box Score SP: Josh Winder: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (80 pitches, 55 strikes (68.75%)) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (1), Byron Buxton (9) Top 3 WAR: Josh Winder (.231), Emilio Pagan (.156), Byron Buxton (.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Woe is We…Ailments Carlos Correa has been getting into the swing of things (pun fully intended) the past two weeks and it’s been fun to watch. He got off to a slow start but had a seven-game hitting streak by Thursday. The slugger is hitting .255 with a .320 OBP, with five doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and 12 runs so far this season. When he was hit on the hand during the final game of the Orioles series, everyone was worried that he may be out for a considerable amount of time. While waiting on the results of a CT scan, tons of speculation circled the injury debating whether it was broken, dislocated, or a bruise. Hoping for the best, and as a Twins fan, always expecting the worst. Not only was Correa being scratched from play at this time, but the team is also working through a small stint of COVID-19 in the club house, taking out Luis Arraez, Rocco Baldelli, and Dylan Bundy. Luckily, the CT scan showed no fractured bones for Correa. With the news that it is "just a bruise" and he wouldn't be put on the Injured List, he attempted to ask into the lineup. Jayce Tingler said No. With all the bad news hitting the Twins this week, the ailments and injuries have allowed for some major roster moves that gave Twins fans a morale boost. Royce Lewis, who missed the past two seasons, 2020 with the pandemic and 2021 due to his torn ACL, joined the Twins and made his MLB debut. Another Day Another Debut Royce Lewis (and Twins fans) have been waiting for this day since he was drafted by the Twins with the first overall pick in the2017 draft. There were a few bumps on the road to the Show, but he has arrived, and Lewis joined his teammates on the field donning #23, once worn by fan-favorite Nelson Cruz before he was traded to Tampa Bay. Some have a “too soon” feeling, all in fun of course, but maybe it’s a good omen for the young player and Cruz’s talent will rub off on him. Lewis has been tearing it up in St. Paul this season, showing that he is more than ready and capable for this call-up. His at-bats are some of the most impressive thus far with 21 hits (including 11 doubles) helping catapult his team to an above .500 April. While he didn't take Correa's roster spot, he did take Luis Arraez's spot, with Arraez officially going on the Covid-IL. It’s a good problem to have when you can be sad for one player potentially being hurt, but now the team has aces up their sleeve who can come in and take their place. Luckily for the fans, Correa is okay, and Lewis still got to make his debut and gain some experience. Lewis had a successful night at third base in support of Friday night's starter Josh Winder. In the first inning, on his fourth pitch, Winder threw a fastball to Sheldon Neuse which came off the tip of the bat, a hopper right to shortstop, giving Lewis his first major league put-out, throwing to Jose Miranda to get out Neuse at first base. Lewis started out his hitting career with the Twins with a ground out to third base, but Lewis left first base with a huge smile on his face and the glow didn’t disappear all night. Lewis made contact every time he was at bat tonight, finally getting the first hit of his Major League career in the bottom of the eighth. While Lewis did not get a chance to score, all-in-all it was a fantastic night for the Twins top prospect and fans are ready for more! Warm nights, Hot performances In the second inning, Jose Miranda connected for his first major-league home run. Miranda drilled a Zach Logue’s fastball, hitting the ball into second deck in left field. The velocity on the home run was 105.5 MPH. Trevor Larnach has not let up on offense. He collected another double tonight, his ninth of the season. Larnach has been beyond impressive at the plate and with his defense. In the second inning, Elvis Andrus hit a one-hopper to Larnach in left, who fielded the ball and threw it home to Gary Sanchez to get out the runner easily. Byron Buxton was in the game as the Designated Hitter on Friday, and while fans would rather see him in center field, it doesn’t matter where he is, he makes an impact. Buxton hit his ninth home run, putting him in fourth place in the American League this season. The Starters and the Bullpen are on Fire Josh Winder had his second start of the season. This was his first start at Target Field. On this night, the mound was his, and he started out hot again, with a ground out and two strikeouts in the first inning. Winder followed that up by striking out Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy for a 1-2-3 inning. His pitching didn’t let up. By the top of the fifth inning, the rookie had four straight strikeouts and four 1-2-3 innings before Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to Lewis who made a great stop and threw to Miranda for the out. Winder carried the Twins through six innings, only allowing an unearned run and that came at the end of his night in the sixth inning. Wes Johnson came out to give his rookie some advice, and Winder was able to regain composure and finish out the inning. His night ended when Gary Sanchez threw out Sheldon Neuse on a steal attempt. The bullpen started out great with Joe Smith and Tyler Duffey who got the team through innings seventh and eighth innings. Fans held their breath as Emilio Pagan took the mound and loaded the bases in the top of the ninth. With bases full and Chad Pinder's count full, Pagan got a swinging strike to end the game. What was your favorite moment of the game? What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series this weekend with Oakland before Houston comes to town on Tuesday and meets up with Correa for the first time in a different uniform. Remaining pitching matchups for this series include: Saturday 1:10 pm: Sonny Gray (coming off IL) vs RHP James Kaprielian (0-1, 18.00 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm: Chris Paddock (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Pagán 27 0 0 0 28 55 Thielbar 0 18 0 18 0 36 Jax 15 0 0 15 0 30 Duffey 0 18 0 0 11 29 Coulombe 0 0 26 0 0 26 Stashak 0 11 0 0 0 11 Duran 10 0 0 0 0 10 Smith 2 0 0 0 6 8 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
  7. Depth is critical when building a big-league roster, especially if a team is in contention. Minnesota planned on two players getting the bulk of the time at first base, but that plan has already needed to shift. Let’s examine what the Twins can do at first base if injuries continue to impact the roster. Injuries: Miguel Sanó, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s plan entering the season was to rotate through Sanó and Kirilloff at first base. Sanó was one of the AL’s worst defenders at first base last season, but his height helps him pull in errant throws. Sanó isn’t in the line-up for his defensive ability, as he has posted an OPS+ of 105 or higher in six of his seven big-league seasons. His recent knee injury pushed him to the IL, and this might be a good time for him to reset as he has a .379 OPS in 2022. If surgery is required, he may miss a significant chunk of the season. Kirilloff is currently rehabbing a wrist injury in St. Paul, but there is no timeline on when he will return to the team. It was clear that he wasn’t 100% healthy at the season’s start, as he went 1-for-17 before being put on the IL. Even with his rehab starts, Kirilloff has yet to collect an extra-base hit this season. Last season, he ranked very well on the defensive side of the ball at first base, but he needs to prove he is healthy before taking over a starting role. Plan B: Luis Arraez Minnesota shifted to Plan B, with Sano and Kirilloff out of the picture. Luis Arraez has taken over the everyday starting first base role even though he doesn’t fit the prototypical first baseman mold. Entering the 2022 season, Arraez had minimal professional experience at first base, but injuries have allowed him to shift from a utility role to a starter. He is below average at other defensive positions, so moving to first may help hide some of his defensive flaws. Plus, the Twins want his bat in the line-up as much as possible because he has posted his highest OPS+ since his rookie season. Arraez has dealt with knee issues in the past, so where would the team turn if he gets hurt? Other Options: Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Jose Miranda Twins manager Rocco Baldelli mentioned that other first base options include Urshela and Sanchez. Both players have combined for 10.0 defensive innings at first base during their big-league careers. It seems unlikely for Sanchez to make regular appearances at first since rosters dropped to 26-men, and the team is only carrying two catchers. Miranda might be the most likely player to see time at first as he has played 270 innings at first base throughout his minor league career. He’s one of the team’s best prospects, and this might be a way for him to play every day at the big-league level. Another name to watch at St. Paul is Curtis Terry, who the team signed to a minor league deal this winter. Terry made his big-league debut last season with the Rangers and went 4-for-45 with two doubles and 15 strikeouts. So far this season, he is hitting .261/.378/.464 (.842) with five doubles and three home runs. He is not on the 40-man roster, so it would likely take a long-term injury for him to get an opportunity. Do you feel the Twins need to worry about their first base depth? Can Arraez handle the position? Should Miranda take over at first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Ryan 4.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 3 SO Homeruns: Jeffers (3) Top 3 WPA: Jeffers .330, Thielbar .133, Polanco .091 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Here’s how the Twins lined up in the second game of their four-game series against the Orioles. In the Twins lineup for the second consecutive day, the news that Jose Miranda made the big league club was making the rounds. The expectations for Joe Ryan have become absurdly high. While he wasn’t as dominant as he was in his last start against Detroit, he continued to impress, working quickly and effectively. His first inning was prolonged by a throwing error from Gio Urshela, allowing Trey Mancini to reach base. Ryan plunked Santander before wriggling out of the inning, despite throwing 25 pitches. The Twins meanwhile, continued their offensive trend from Monday’s game, struggling to put together effective at-bats against Orioles' standout Bruce Zimmerman. The game remained scoreless through three innings, due to some excellent defensive work from Carlos Correa. The Twins finally broke through in the fourth, with Miranda drilling a double into the right-center field gap, to collect his first hit and first RBI as Urshela scored from first base. In the bottom of the fourth, the Twins fell upon some incredibly bad luck. Austin Hays led off the inning with an infield single after drilling a ball into home plate at 77 mph. Rougned Odor followed up with a 42.8 mph double off the end of the bat, that just beat the shift. Tyler Nevin then reached on an error from Correa as the Orioles tied the game at 1-1. Just when it looked like the Orioles were in for a big inning, Anthony Bemboom flew into a double play, with Buxton doubling off Tyler Nevin at second base. Incredibly, Ryan managed to escape with just one run surrendered, taking the game to the fifth inning tied The Twins and Orioles traded one-run fifth innings. The Twins scored in the top of the inning with a Polanco single up the middle, after the Twins had two men on, and none out. The Orioles immediately replied in the bottom of the inning when a Mancini single scored Cedric Mullins, who had doubled to start the inning. Santander grounded into a force-out, blasting a ball at Ryan, who fielded, and threw to second to get Mancini, benefiting from a beautiful stretch and pick by Correa. In the sixth inning, the Twins finally opened up a meaningful lead. Gary Sanchez doubled and Trevor Larnach (who entered the game for Max Kepler) walked, to put runners on first and second with one out. Ryan Jeffers then deposited a three-run home run to left-center field. Jeffers, while not the same caliber of slugger as Mitch Garver, has played extremely well this season. Through the first month, he has put up a 107 wRC+, with excellent defense and framing numbers to boot. Caleb Thielbar worked through five outs of scoreless relief, striking out two. He was followed by Tyler Duffey, who managed five additional outs of scoreless relief. Thielbar and Duffey starting to get back on track will be of great relief to Twins fans, given their early-season struggles. Back-to-back doubles from Gilberto Celestino and Byron Buxton increased the lead to four in the ninth inning. Carlos Correa added another double, moving Buxton to third base with no outs. A Jorge Polanco sacrifice fly scored Buxton, increasing the lead to 7-2 entering the bottom of the ninth inning. Cody Stashak pitched a scoreless ninth to give the Twins the win. Minnesota is 4-1 on their current road trip, has won 11 of their last 12, and has moved to 15-9 on the young season. Winning is fun, and the Twins don't look to be slowing down anytime soon. Bullpen Usage Chart THU FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Jax 46 0 0 0 15 0 61 Duffey 8 0 0 17 0 18 43 Stashak 18 0 14 0 0 11 43 Coulombe 0 35 0 0 0 0 35 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 18 33 Duran 0 0 20 0 10 0 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 27 0 27 Smith 0 0 9 0 2 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will continue their series in Baltimore against the Orioles. Dylan Bundy will look to rebound from a poor outing in Tampa. Kyle Bradish goes for Baltimore. The first pitch is at 6:05 CT Postgame Interviews
  9. First it was the pitchers as Josh Winder made the Opening Day roster, and then Cole Sands followed him during his first career start. Jose Miranda crushed Double and Triple-A last season before drawing his first big league start at the hot corner. The goal for Minnesota was to have both a good Major League team, but also establish real depth that could immediately make an impact from the farm. You can now make the argument that pipeline is bearing fruit, and we can take a looking at the names that could be next up: Spencer Steer The least likely of this group, Spencer Steer is a solid infielder at Double-A Wichita. He was a 3rd round pick out of Oregon in 2019 and posted an .833 OPS split between High-A and Double-A last season. Through the first month of 2022 Steer owns a .300/.398/.488 slash line for the WInd Surge, and has now played nearly 100 games at that level. With Miranda moving up to the majors, Steer could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A if the stay becomes long-term for Miranda. Steer can play second, third, and shortstop, but finds himself most at home playing the hot corner. Power production showed up in a big way last year when he blasted 24 homers, and it was clear he put in serious work during the canceled 2020 season. He’s been a doubles machine so far in 2022 but the longballs will fly as the weather warms. He’s not on the 40-man roster and there’s a few non-roster veterans that may be opted for first, but Steer certainly has the chops to help the Twins should his number be called. Matt Canterino A product of Rice University, Canterino has been held back by injury like so many to go through the program. He possesses a unique windup and has a lot of movement in his delivery. Canterino is a very hard thrower though, and his 13.9 career K/9 is beyond impressive. Throwing just 21 innings last year, Canterino is being handled very carefully after beginning the season at Double-A. He’s made five starts but has accumulated just 12 2/3 innings across them. His 2.13 ERA is impressive but the command has become a bit of an issue early this year with nine walks. He still has big strikeout stuff mowing over 18 batters, and he’s yet to allow a home run. Canterino has never thrown more than 25 innings during a single season of his professional career, and Minnesota certainly is hoping to change that this season. Managing his workload and helping a good big league team, Canterino could be called upon to debut out of the bullpen with a higher level of effort. He too would need a 40-man roster spot. Royce Lewis Quite possibly the most likely prospect promotion is also the most exciting. Lewis missed two years due to the pandemic and then an ACL surgery prior to Spring Training in 2021. He’s back and debuted at Triple-A to start 2022. You could make the argument that the former top 10 prospect looks as good as he ever has. There’s a notable difference in his swing as Lewis has calmed the leg kick dramatically. His hands are a bit quieter and the results have certainly followed. Through his first 21 games for the St. Paul Saints, Lewis is slashing .320/.441/.587 with three homers, nine doubles, and a triple. Maybe even more encouraging is how well Lewis is covering the plate and dictating at-bats. The talented shortstop owns a strong 18/15 K/BB and he’s used elite speed to swipe five bases on six attempts. Minnesota doesn’t seem to question whether Lewis can stick at shortstop, but barring a Carlos Correa injury the opportunity wouldn’t seem to immediately be there. Lewis has played in the outfield professionally and could find an opportunity as the right-handed outfield bat that the Twins continue to seek. While not the prototypical corner slugger, there’s power that can play, and he’d be an elite defender with range that would match that of Byron Buxton. Ultimately I don’t foresee any of these options coming to fruition prior to June. Each has hurdles to clear and time to substantiate current performances. They are all names to watch though, and none of them would represent a shocking debut should they reach Target Field in 2022. Who are you most looking forward to seeing next?
  10. Box Score SP Chris Paddack: 5.1 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K (81 pitches, 53 strikes (65.4%)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Joe Smith (.208), Johan Duran (.191), Emilio Pagan (.137) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The storylines existed for this game before the teams even took the field for warm-ups. It all begins with the Baltimore starter and old friend, Tyler Wells, a Twins 15th-round draft pick from 2016. Wells was selected by the Orioles last offseason in the Rule V draft and has been starting for the Orioles this season, coming into the game with a 5.54 ERA over four starts, and 13.0 innings pitched. The other leading storyline for Monday night's game was that Twins prospect Jose Miranda got his call up to the majors. The Twins number three prospect in Twins Daily’s prospect rankings started at third base while batting sixth in the Twins lineup. While playing at AAA St. Paul Miranda hit .256/.295/.442 with a .737 OPS, two home runs, ten doubles, and twelve RBIs. Twins Bats Scuffle Early Against Former Twins Prospect Tyler Wells Early on, the game came easy for the former Twins farmhand. Wells worked quickly through the first two innings and put up a perfect first three innings. In those first three innings, Wells was able to create several harmless pop-ups and collect two strikeouts. Wells was spotting his pitches well for strikes, and it was apparent even from the television camera angle that he was getting good movement on his breaking pitches. Finally, Luis Arraez found good contact on a Wells’ pitch to break through for the Twins first hit of the night in the fourth inning. Paddack Up for the Challenge With Wells off to the perfect start, Chris Paddack gave the Twins 5.1 innings of a competitive start. There were plenty of long and loud outs throughout his start Monday night, but the key was most of them resulted in outs. Rougned Odor did get to Paddack for a triple which led to an Orioles run after Ramon Urias drove him home. Urias’ single led to the only earned run allowed by Paddack. The Twins right-hander did get into a bit of trouble in the fifth before Joe Smith came on to induce a ground ball double play and keep the Twins in front. Paddack collected eight swings and misses before leaving the game with the Twins leading the Orioles 2-1. Correa Continues to Deliver As Carlos Correa has been heating up over the past week, he continued to deliver for the Twins on Monday evening. This time it was in the form of an RBI single. Correa dropped the ball in the outfield grass with Byron Buxton standing on second base. This sixth inning scoring sequence feels like the situation envisioned when Correa was added to this lineup already featuring Buxton. Correa also flashed his glove again at a critical moment. Jorge Mateo drilled a line drive in the eighth inning with one on and no outs. Correa was there and able to snag the line drive out of the air for the first out and help Emilio Pagan complete the inning without allowing any runs. What’s Next? The Twins will look to pick up another win as they send Joe Ryan to the mound. Their hitters will hope to have better success against Bruce Zimmerman who is the scheduled starter for the Orioles. The Orioles lefty has been tough this year in 19 1/3 innings carrying a 0.93 ERA and 9.8 K/9 Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet THU FRI SAT SUN MON TOT Jax 46 0 0 0 15 61 Coulombe 0 35 0 0 0 35 Stashak 18 0 14 0 0 32 Duran 0 0 20 0 10 30 Pagán 0 0 0 0 27 27 Duffey 8 0 0 17 0 25 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Smith 0 0 9 0 2 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  11. Minnesota drafted Jose Miranda in the 2016 MLB Draft out of high school in Puerto Rico. During that draft, he was the third straight high school position player taken by the club as the Twins also drafted Alex Kirilloff and Ben Rortvedt. MLB Pipeline didn't have him ranked among the top draft prospects by MLB Pipeline, but the Twins saw enough in him to take him with the 73rd pick. "He's a really good player and really skilled," said Twins scouting director Deron Johnson at the time. "We have him compared to a Mike Lowell-type. He's a really good defender with a good swing. He's a good-sized kid. He has a chance to have power for sure." Miranda made his professional debut in the GCL, and there were some early struggles as he transitioned to the pro level. In 55 games, he hit .227/.308/.292 (.600) with nine extra-base hits and a 36-to-19 strikeout to walk ratio. He was over 1.5 years younger than the average age of the competition at his level and only faced younger pitchers in 11 plate appearances. Entering the 2017 season, Minnesota was still aggressive with Miranda even though his pro debut wasn't perfect. He responded by raising his OPS by 224 points with 21 extra-base hits, including 11 home runs in 54 games. One of his most significant developments was his decrease in strikeouts, as he only struck out 24 times. Miranda was still young for his level, and he was showing some of the promise the Twins saw in him when they drafted him. During the 2018 season, Miranda made his full-season debut as he split time between Low- and High-A. In Cedar Rapids, he posted a .760 OPS with 22 doubles and 13 home runs. The Twins continued to be aggressive with him and moved him to High-A for the season's final 27 games. His OPS dipped by 115 points, but he was nearly 2.5 years younger than the average age of the competition at his level. It made sense for the Twins to send Miranda back to High-A in 2019 after he struggled to transition to that level at the end of 2018. He struggled with a .663 OPS in 118 games, but Minnesota still promoted him to Double-A at the end of the season. Clearly, the Twins believed in Miranda, but the results weren't showing up on the field. Following the season, the Twins left him unprotected from the Rule 5 Draft, which could have been one of the biggest mistakes in team history. Obviously, the non-existent 2020 minor league season impacted players in different ways. However, Miranda worked on multiple things during the downtime. The Twins wanted him to be more selective with the pitches he was putting in play. He has such good bat-to-ball skills that he can put a lot of pitches in play, but he had the potential to drive the ball if he started hunting for pitches in the zone. This recipe seemed to be the key to unlocking his full potential. Miranda started the 2021 season at Double-A, and his approach at the plate was evident. In 47 games, he hit .345/.408/.588 (.996) with eight doubles and 13 home runs. After being promoted to Triple-A, he didn't slow down as he posted a .960 OPS with 24 doubles and 17 home runs. Miranda dominated at the minor's highest level, and he'd wind up on two national top-100 lists (Baseball America and MLB.com). So far in 2022, Miranda has hit .256/.295/.442 (.737) with ten doubles and two home runs. He is part of the team's long-term plans after a tremendous 2021 season. What do you remember about Miranda's minor league career? Also, if you would like to look back at Miranda's career to this point, this link shows all articles he has been tagged in.
  12. Miguel Sano is headed to the injured list with a knee issue following his walk-off hit the other night, and Kyle Garlick may land there with a calf strain. Having Sano out has meant that Luis Arraez needed to learn first base on the fly, and no backup exists on Minnesota’s roster. This year, Alex Kirilloff was expected to rotate with the hulking slugger, but he’s currently dealing with a wrist ailment. Enter Jose Miranda. Having primarily played third base throughout his professional career, it’s evident that Minnesota sees Miranda’s versatility as a bonus and can get him into the lineup in multiple different ways. He has played second base, some corner outfield, and a significant amount at first base. You’d be hard-pressed to suggest he’s a Gold Glove candidate anywhere, but he’s a starting option at any of the positions he plays on the dirt. Needing to spell Arraez, considering his lack of significant defensive value, it may be prudent to find Miranda a spot as Rocco Baldelli juggles his players dealing with differing maladies. What can you expect when he’s ultimately called up to the big leagues from a guy who laid waste to the competition a season ago? Miranda was a second-round pick for Minnesota back in 2016. He posted an .824 OPS with Elizabethton as a 17-year-old but then never again topped a .736 OPS until 2021. As a 23-year-old last season, he needed less than 50 games at Double-A to prove he was too advanced for the level. Making it to Triple-A St. Paul last season, he became the main act for a Saints team in their debut year as a Twins affiliate. Across 80 games, he slashed .343/.397/.563 and ripped a whopping 30 total homers. Striking out just 74 times while drawing 42 walks, he’s hardly a slugger that sells out for power. Fast forward to 2022, and Miranda was given plenty of opportunities to showcase his skills this spring. Josh Donaldson was originally going to block him at the hot corner, and then the trade for Gio Urshela accomplished the same thing. Sano is entrenched in the big leagues, so first base was taken, and Jorge Polanco isn’t going anywhere at second. It would take injury to provide an opportunity, and that door has now opened. Through 21 games with St. Paul this season, Miranda has overcome a slow start. A .737 OPS is hardly indicative of the talent that emerged last season, but what he’s done lately will draw attention. Miranda has hits in 10 of his last 11 games, and his last 57 plate appearances have resulted in a .300/.351/.520 slash line. Last week, he blasted his second homer of the season, and it was crushed to deep left-center at CHS Field. While the weather has yet to do so, Miranda is heating up. Starting last season in Kansas, the change to an odd Minnesota spring hasn’t been helpful at all. It doesn’t appear the process has altered, though, as a 14/5 K/BB is still indicative of a guy picking his spots. Should the recent surge provide any substantial evidence, it’s time to call mastery at the highest minor league level a thing. When graduating to Minnesota, there should be plenty of promise. He can play all over the diamond but is a more natural fit at first base than Arraez. He’s a better hitter than Sano but lacks the same level of power. He will put baseballs in the seats, but will do so without the prototypical slugger plan of attack. He’s an adequate defender, and that gives him a leg up on his internal competition for both spots on the right side of the infield. I don’t know that Miranda is an immediate .800 OPS player at the next level given his slow burn on the farm, but if 2021 and beyond are any indication, he should be here to stay when called upon. This is a regular that could have a quicker path to contribution than that of Urshela, but a player in that vein would be a great addition for a team needing depth. We are on the precipice of a long-term run from another prospect out of Puerto Rico, and following in the footsteps of Jose Berrios or Eddie Rosario would be a welcomed reality.
  13. 1. The Central looks weak Sooner or later, the White Sox will find their stride. They’re missing key pieces from a roster that won 93 games and the division in 2021. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is progressing toward a return from an oblique injury. Lance Lynn, who threw 157 outstanding innings for an excellent rotation last year, is hoping to return in late May from knee surgery. 2020 Silver Slugger winner Eloy Jiménez likely won’t be back until the summer months, but he’s on the mend. The cavalry is coming. Even then, the White Sox have evident flaws. Their defense is the worst in the American League by Outs Above Average, and Defensive Runs Saved. Bullpen stalwarts Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer are struggling to get outs in the late innings. Without Lynn, the rotation is thin. Dallas Keuchel has been terrible, while Vince Velasquez can’t keep runners off base. The White Sox’s depth is far from what it was in 2021, and they’re digging a hole early. The Tigers and their fans hoped the team would produce a hot start, burying the rebuild in the rearview. The opposite is happening. The Tigers have lost 12 of their first 18 games with a weak offense and equally lousy defense. Desperately needing a run, the Tigers must go to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. It’s too early to call a season doomed, but things are rough in the Motor City. The Guardians made some noise early, pairing good offensive production with their outstanding pitching. They’ve crashed back to earth since that solid 7-5 start. They’re struggling to score runs, an expected trend when their only hitters with track records are superstar José Ramírez and streaky slugger Franmil Reyes. It’s possible Cleveland surprises, but their ceiling feels limited. The Royals could present challenges for the competitive teams in the division. They've already won series' against the Twins and White Sox, and they're always tricky at Kauffman. I'd be surprised if they won more than 75 games, but I wouldn't completely write them off as a walk-in-the-park matchup. 2. They have a competent starting rotation It’s unlikely Twins starters will continue to pitch as well as they have, but the perception of the rotation has changed considerably since Opening Day. Joe Ryan is better than he was last September. Chris Paddack is, too. The Twins will get their projected No. 1 starter, Sonny Gray, back in short order (hamstring). The Twins' rotation is taking shape. Dylan Bundy won’t post a sub-1 ERA this year, but he may finish as a solid No. 4 starter in a competitive rotation. That’s not insignificant, especially considering his 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP from a year ago. Bundy’s presence as a five-inning, three runs or less starter is potentially a massive development for the Twins. Bailey Ober had been rock-solid before his groin injury, and Paddack has pitched like a No. 3. There’s a real chance the Twins will have at least an average starting rotation by the trade deadline. That outcome felt like a long shot less than a month ago, so I’m still setting the expectations relatively low. If the Twins have a winning team and are within striking distance of the playoffs, I’d expect them to make that move for an impact starter. They’ll need him if October becomes a reality. 3. They have depth, with more on the way In the preseason, the 2021 Twins looked to have substantial depth in all roster areas. That couldn’t have been further from the outcome. The Twins quickly learned they lacked viable backups at almost every position, especially in the rotation. Injuries hampered the young starting pitchers in the minors, though, which hasn’t been the case early this year. Fingers crossed. Royce Lewis is performing exceptionally well in St.Paul. José Miranda was in serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot after a terrific Minor League season in 2021. Beyond them, Spencer Steer, an underrated versatile infielder, is raking at Double-A Wichita. The Twins have desirable depth in the infield. A healthy Alex Kirilloff would go a long way in the outfield, sending Trevor Larnach down the depth chart. The most important storyline for the 2022 Twins remains with the young starters. Simeon Woods Richardson has yet to allow a run through 21 ⅔ innings for Wichita. Matt Canterino is back on track after a shaky start, and his stuff looks pristine. Jordan Balazovic is still on the injured list with a knee strain, but he is still their best pitching prospect. There look to be reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen. The Twins have a long way to go, and it’s wise to watch with a skeptical eye, but it’s hard not to get excited about where they could go this year.
  14. TRANSACTIONS None SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Nashville 2, (10 innings) Box Score The Saints escaped victorious during a matinee affair Wednesday afternoon, toppling the Sounds on a walk-off frozen rope off the bat of Royce Lewis. Lewis hit his ninth double of the season during an earlier at-bat and finished the day 2-for-4. The Twins' top prospect is slashing .309/.407/.559 with two home runs and three stolen bases in 18 games this spring, though perhaps most notably his is 17:10 K:BB ratio. Not only has Lewis’s power and speed returned following his ACL injury last spring, but he has adopted a more discerning eye at the plate; prior to the 2022 campaign, he had a career 120:53 K:BB ratio in 302 minor-league contests. But Lewis wasn’t the only top Twins prospect who had himself a game. José Miranda also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and home run. Miranda’s solo shot gave the Saints a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Miranda started off the season sluggish with the bat, but since April 16th, the Twins future third baseman has gone 12-for-40 (.300) with seven doubles and a home run. He has looked more comfortable at the plate as of late and has begun to drive balls that he had been previously pounding into the ground. Devin Smeltzer was once again nails on the mound, striking out three and allowing only one earned run in five innings; the lefty has now surrendered only three earned runs in 19 innings for the Saints. Drew Strotman, Tyler Bashlor, and Jake Petricka combined to strikeout five and held Nashville to a single run in three innings. Yennier Cano pitched the Saints’ final two frames, striking out two and picking up the win. Following the game, @Ted Schwerzler chatted with Devin Smeltzer about his health issues last year and how happy he is to be healthy and performing this year. Alex Kirilloff also talked about his wrist and potential return to the Twins lineup. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 7, Arkansas 4 Box Score Louie Varland looked much better during his outing against the Travelers than he did in his previous start. The former Concordia Golden Bear tossed 5 1/3 innings and struck out four while allowing only four Arkansas batters to reach base. Varland worked in his changeup more tonight than he did his last outing and while the command wasn't anything to write home about, it was effective enough to throw opposing batters off the scent of his fastball and slider. On a couple of occasions, Varland's third pitch moved like a potential plus offering. Edouard Julien, who recently returned from a brief IL stint, remained hot, going 2-for-5 with his second hit being his first Double-A home run. He's 6-for-18 since returning to line up with a home run, triple, and double. Julien rose up prospect ranking boards last summer due to his unique combination of on-base skills, power, and speed. While he wasn't considered a significant prospect out of Auburn—he was the Twins 18th round pick in 2019—Julien has kept virtually the same production in the minors as he did in the SEC. In 127 college games, Julien slashed .266/.393/.501 with 27 home runs and 10 stolen bases. In 120 MiLB games entering Wednesday, he has slashed .268/.433/.476 with 18 home runs and 37 stolen bases. At his current pace, Julien may reach St. Paul by the middle or end of the summer. Cole Sturgeon also had a big game for the Wind Surge as he went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Spencer Steer also contributed two hits and elevated his batting average to .319. Alex Scherff converted the save. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Beloit 1 Box Score The Kernels also squeaked out a win on Wednesday, taking down the Sky Carp in a low-offense affair. Casey Legumina, Miguel Rodriguez, and Denny Bentley pitched a gem for Cedar Rapids as they combined to strikeout 14 Beloit batters while surrendering only five hits and a single walk. Wander Javier’s third double of the season was the lone extra base hit for the Kernels. Alerick Soularie (1-for-3) and Will Holland (1-for-4) each knocked in RBIs. Seth Gray and Javier each picked up two hits a piece. MUSSEL MATTERS Clearwater 6, Fort Myers 1 Box Score Well, let's just say that it wasn't Fort Myers' night. The Mighty Mussels struggled...mightily...both against the Threshers as well as themselves. Clearwater stung the Fort Myers pitchers for six runs on 13 hits, four of which went for extra bases, while the defense registered three errors and a passed ball. The lone Mighty Mussel pitcher to find success on the bump was Juan Mendez who threw two innings of hitless ball, striking out three. Mikey Perez's second double of the season was the only hit Fort Myers was able to muster. Keoni Cavaco drove in the team's only run. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – RHP Casey Legumina (Cedar Rapids): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – INF José Miranda (St. Paul): 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-4, RBI, BB, SB #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL (likely a rehab start this weekend) #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-2, 2 BB #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, BB, K #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (expecting to pitch in May) #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-for-5 #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, HR, RBI SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Nashville (6:37 PM CST) - RHP Ronny Henriquez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (1-1, 3.35 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Clearwater (6:00 PM CST) - RHP John Stankiewicz (2-0, 1.13 ERA) Feel free to ask questions and discuss.
  15. Devin Smeltzer threw 11 innings for the big league club down in Fort Myers during Spring Training this year and gave up just five hits while striking out nine and walking two batters. He was seen as a longshot to make the Opening Day roster, but with a clean bill of health, he looked the part of an arm that may be able to help in 2022. Ultimately, the Twins decided to send Smeltzer to Triple-A, but the strong performances haven’t stopped. Working five innings today, he allowed just a single run, Smeltzer owns a 1.42 ERA through 19 innings and has a 16/6 K/BB. Given how solid Minnesota’s starters have looked thus far, it’s hard to see a place where Smeltzer fits into the rotation. There’s little reason to believe he can’t be of service in another capacity. Right now, the only left-handed arms in Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen are Danny Coulombe and Caleb Thielbar. After being reliable the past couple of seasons, Thielbar has produced lackluster results to open 2022. I’d wager Minnesota wants to see more from Thielbar before making a change, but he does have an option left. With an expected ERA of 3.63, there is reason to believe that with more outings, he will straighten things out. Whether taking over for Thielbar or someone else, it’s good to see Smeltzer making a renewed case for inclusion on the 26-man roster. Talking to Smeltzer after his outing, he suggested "health" is the most significant difference in his performance. “I had some long-term cancer side effects that popped up the past two years, finally got that taken care of. Got the neck taken care of. Everything else has just kind of fallen into place.” Working as a starter at Triple-A but having worked out of the bullpen previously, Smeltzer said, “I always prefer to start. I’m going to do everything in my power to force them to make a move.” A notoriously quick worker, Smeltzer is experiencing the minor-league pitch clock for the first time. He’s certainly not a fan. “I think it’s destroying the game of baseball. I had two strikeouts in my last game on it (granted strikes from the umpire), and it’s ridiculous, honestly. These are guys’ careers. It’ll never happen in the big leagues. I don’t think the union will ever allow it.” Sharing very similar feelings to myself, Smeltzer continued, “It’s not baseball. Shaving off 15-20 minutes of a game isn’t going to pack the stadium. You either like baseball, or you don’t.” On the other side of the ball, there was talented Twins left fielder Alex Kirilloff playing in just his fourth Triple-A game. Having rehabbed for two games with the Saints last season after dealing with the same wrist issue, he was playing left field today after DHing on Tuesday. In his first game back following a cortisone shot, Kirilloff went 1-for-1 with three walks. Making contact in each of his first three at-bats today, he went 0-for-4 while sending two fly balls to left field and grounding out on a ball to second base. The ball found him plenty in the outfield as he recorded the game’s first out on a routine fly ball. There isn’t much concern with his fielding ability, as the problem has always persisted when swinging. Last season, the cortisone shot was deemed helpful for a time before he was shut down and eventually underwent wrist surgery. The hope for both Kirilloff and the Twins would be that there’s not a consistent issue this time around, and things have corrected themselves. After finishing the game, I talked with Kirilloff to check in on the progress and how he was feeling. When asked about continued discomfort in the wrist, he noted feeling it “here and there, but that it’s a lot better than what it was before, so that’s encouraging.” Unfortunately, this is a very similar timeline to when Kirilloff’s wrist began to bother him last year. Asked what about this feels different, he said, “It’s a similar feeling to last year, but the hope is that it does the trick and it’ll last longer than it did last year. Structurally now, it’s better than it was because of the procedure I had done. The surgery did what it needed to do as far as the structure. He (the doctor) thinks it will respond differently this time.” With a history of going through the same situation, Kirilloff played just two rehab games before returning to Minnesota. When asked about the timeline for a return this season, he said, “I feel like I’m close. I haven’t talked to them yet today, but I’ll be able to find out more information when I do.” He said the decision to return would be made collectively. St. Paul continues to play good baseball, and they have some of the top hitting talents in the Twins system. It’s more likely that Royce Lewis will force his way to the big leagues this year, and Jose Miranda repeating his 2021 performance should have him to the next level. Lewis inside-outed a double in the 8th inning before walking it off in the 10th inning. Miranda recorded a double and home run. Keep tabs on St. Paul with plenty to glean for the Twins as the season progresses.
  16. It’s never wise to place the “instant contributor” tag on any prospect. The early struggles of Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and Spencer Torkelson, the first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, show that it’s unwise to expect immediate results from even the best rookie hitters. The Twins are struggling to score runs. Naturally, fans start to wonder about reinforcements. Who could give this group a boost? And more importantly, why should you believe it could be better in the future? Gary Sánchez, Carlos Correa, and Miguel Sanó are virtual locks to depart after the season, while Max Kepler enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023. Gio Urshela is a clear non-tender candidate. There was significant turnover this offseason, especially in the rotation. We could see the same type of flip in the lineup next winter. It doesn’t have to start then, though. MLB Pipeline ranks three Twins hitters in their Top-100 Prospect Rankings. Royce Lewis (45) has dropped considerably since the Twins selected him with the first pick in 2017, but his talent is undeniable. Lewis is raking at Triple-A for the Saints. He’s hitting for power, drawing walks, using the opposite field, and stringing outstanding plays at shortstop. It’s still super early, but the early returns on Lewis are nothing short of remarkable. His production shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know how special his tools still are. The assumed plan to replace Correa with Lewis in 2023 looks sound so far. If things continue to go this well for him at Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think Lewis could join the Twins relatively soon. He’s the highest upside player in the entire system, and his previous prospect status would’ve placed him at a 2022 mid-season debut. While Lewis carries the most upside, Austin Martin’s floor feels the safest. Martin, ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is known for his quality of at-bat and elite ability to make contact. His skillset is a right-handed Luis Arraez, and that specific mastery tends to translate fastest. Martin may never develop real power, but it feels like he’s close to the majors even without it. The Twins’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2021 put together one of the best seasons the organization has ever seen. José Miranda, now a Top-100 prospect, led the minors in total bases and hit 30 homers across the two highest levels. He’s off to a slow start in 2022, but Miranda had an outside chance of making the team outright this spring. He’s likely the first call if a corner infielder gets hurt. The Twins are hoping that Lewis, Martin, and Miranda make up the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade, preferably as soon as possible. With Byron Buxton locked in, it’s easy to envision a potential core for the future. If things continue to stay downhill for the Twins’ offense, they have three top prospects who could help when the weather warms up.
  17. The offense as a whole has failed to match a surprisingly strong start to the season for the Twins pitching staff. Few hitters have shown any kind of consistency, but it’s plenty easy to key in on right-handed slugger Miguel Sano. Every year it’s seemingly the same with Sano. Struggle for the first month or two, make some adjustments, iron out the timing at the plate and finish the season looking like everything has been fixed only for the same cycle to be repeated again. Perhaps in a touching tribute to the banning of pitchers hitting in the NL, Sano has been particularly terrible to begin the season in 2022. Yes, Miguel Sano is yet again approaching the record books after becoming the fastest player in Major League history to 1000 strikeouts at the end of 2021. Through six games it’s been particularly frustrating to watch, which has fans already wondering: What can we do with Miguel Sano? Cut Him As is tradition, the calls to cut Miguel Sano or try to send him to AAA have already erupted. The latter scenario is downright unrealistic. Sano would have to essentially be cut and re-signed in agreement with going to St. Paul, a situation that would never play out. Another team would surely pick Sano up on the league minimum, and he would most certainly prefer to play in the MLB elsewhere than in AAA here. Some would call this an upgrade to the team, but there aren’t any legitimate replacements at first base. Alex Kirilloff is out for the foreseeable future after his recurring wrist issue flared up and players like Jose Miranda who have some experience at first base aren’t the kind of player you ship a veteran out for. Not to mention the fact that the Twins likely would never pay the $9.25m remaining on his deal to play elsewhere. Bench Him An adjustment is likely in order for Sano to catch up to fastballs and barrel up breaking balls again. So why not have him work exclusively on making adjustments with the coaching staff in an environment where he’s not dragging down the lineup? Even if the Twins had an obvious short-term replacement at first base, Sano’s main issue is timing. Perhaps it is a mechanical tweak that helps him lock-in, but tee work isn’t going to do him much good. We saw in 2019 when Sano was struggling to keep his strikeout rate below 40% for the first two months that he benefits from working through his timing issues by getting his reps in during games. There isn’t much substitute for live pitching when it comes to a player with such significant swing and miss tendencies. Ride It Out This leads to the most likely option, the Twins are likely going to ride this out. After all, Sano has shown time and time again that their patience will pay itself off. Taking an at-bat away from Miguel Sano is taking him one step further from breaking out and being one of the better hitters in the lineup for at least some period of time. The second halves of his seasons are always better than the first, and at some point, he’s going to return to being a legitimate middle-of-the-order bat. Is it an ideal scenario to have a player with such crippling gaps in production in the lineup? No. I’d guess the Twins' front office would go back in time and undo the extension they signed Sano to if given the opportunity. It’s also hard to imagine a scenario where they pick up his $14m option for 2023. That being said, Miguel Sano is likely here for 2022 for better or worse. We’ve been watching him since 2015. It’s time to be realistic about the Miguel Sano situation. He’s going to be beyond frustrating until he’s on one of the most ungodly heaters we’ll see from a player this season. It may hurt the Twins' season tremendously, or perhaps he’ll play a large part in them returning to the postseason. Be as frustrated as you’d like, but Miguel Sano likely isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.
  18. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins signed Chance Sisco and assigned to St. Paul OF Gilberto Celestino promoted to Minnesota RHP Griffin Jax was optioned to St. Paul OF Kyle Garlick was reassigned to St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Louisville 5, St. Paul 4 Box Score Exciting pitching prospect Cole Sands made his Triple-A debut in this one for the St. Paul Saints. Working five scoreless innings, he allowed just a single baserunner on one base hit. Sands punched out seven and was efficient throwing 45 of 63 pitches for strikes. The Saints looked to continue their quest towards an undefeated season and scored first. Former Astros outfielder Derek Fisher went deep for a solo shot in the 2nd inning. After giving up the lead in the bottom of the 6th, St. Paul immediately went back to work. Jake Cave scampered across the plate on a wild pitch by Kyle Zimmer in the 7th inning, and then the Saints added again in the 8th inning. Cave singled to drive in Mark Contreras and move Curtis Terry up to second base. Following a Fisher free pass, Terry scored with the bases chucked. Converted infielder Jordan Gore made his Triple-A debut after a 2.39 ERA split between Double-A Wichita and Single-A Cedar Rapids last season. He worked a strong first inning but got blown up for four runs on three hits in his second inning of work. Unfortunately the four run inning for the Bats did the Saints in. Jake Cave had a nice night at the dish going 3-for-4 with a double and driving in a run. WIND SURGE WISDOM The Wind Surge will begin their season on Friday at home against the Tulsa Drillers. The Surge will send top prospect Matt Canterino to the mound for the season opener. Canterino was 1-0 with a 0.78 ERA in 2021 before being sidelined with an elbow injury. The return of one of the most exciting pitchers in the Twins organization should be electric. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wind Surge roster preview. KERNELS NUGGETS The Kernels announced on Wednesday that LHP and Burnsville, MN native Aaron Rozek will take the bump for Cedar Rapids' opener on Friday against Beloit. Signed to a minor-league contract last season, Rozek went 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA between Fort Myers, Cedar Rapids, and Wichita in 2021. Be sure to take a look at the Cedar Rapids roster in advance of their opener on Friday. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers will give the ball to right-handed pitcher John Stankiewicz on Opening Day. He was 1-0 with a 2.84 ERA in his professional debut season split between the Complex League and Fort Myers last year. You can check out the Fort Myers roster prior to the opening on Friday. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K Hitter of the Day - Jake Cave (St. Paul) 3-4, 2B, R, RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - Did Not Play #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-5 #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 7 K FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Louisville (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez Wichita vs Tulsa (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Matt Canterino Cedar Rapids vs Beloit (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Aaron Rozek Fort Myers @ Clearwater (5:30 PM CST) - RHP John Stankiewicz
  19. Once again, the St. Paul Saints were the only Twins minor league team in action on Wednesday. That didn't stop them from putting on an offensive clinic. The Wind Surge, Kernels, and Mussels will all kick off their season on Friday. That's when the Twins will play their first game as well after it was postponed from Thursday. TRANSACTIONS The Twins placed LHP Lewis Thorpe, RHP Ronny Henriquez, and RHP Jake Petricka on Developmental List. SAINTS SENTINAL St. Paul 7, Louisville 4 Box Score Fresh off their first W of the season, the Saints were the true bearers of lumber against the Louisville Bats on Thursday evening. The Saints got the party started with a three-run first inning and never looked back, notching their second win of the young season. The hype around the talented Saints roster has been exponentially leading up to the 2022 season. Wednesday evening showed why. On the third pitch of the game, Jose Miranda launched a 2-0 pitch over the left-field wall to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. The MLB.com Top 100 prospect launched 30 homers between AA Wichita and AAA St. Paul last season and his Wednesday dinger will likely be the first of many. 2017 first-round pick Royce Lewis followed suit with a double to center on an 0-2 pitch to keep the momentum going. Lewis recorded his first hit of the season last night in the season opener and it’s safe to say that all of Twins Territory is thrilled to see Lewis’ play and personality back on the diamond. Touted for his impressive speed, Lewis followed suit by stealing third base (2) and was eventually driven in alongside Mark Contreras by a Jake Cave double (1) to give the Saints a 3-0 lead. Miranda continued his solid evening by knocking in Curtis Terry on an RBI single in the fourth inning. Jermaine Palacios also scored in the first thanks to a catching error by Louisville first basemen Jake Bauers. St. Paul tacked on two more runs in the seventh. After an infield single by Lewis, Contreras launched an 0-1 pitch over the right-field wall to give the Saints a 7-3 lead. The shot was Contreras’ first of the young season. The Goose is Loose A former member of the Red Sox organization, RHP Daniel “Goose” Gossett was rock-solid in his first outing for the Saints. Despite a rocky third inning, Gossett gave up no runs on one hit in the first two innings and retired the first two batters in the fourth inning before being removed. Newcomer JC Ramirez (W, 1-0) came in after Gossett and was rock solid for 2.1 innings. The Managua, Nicaragua native struck allowed no runs on three hits with three strikeouts, allowing the Saints offensive opportunities to pad their lead. The tandem of Jovani Moran and Juan Minaya (S, 1) tackled the final seven outs, allowing only two combined hits. Minaya struck out four batters to earn his first save of the year. Larnach Out Just hours before first pitch, the Saints announced that top prospect Trevor Larnach had been removed from the lineup and replaced by Mark Contreras (who had a stellar evening). Pre-game, Saints manager Toby Gardenhire told broadcaster Sean Aronson that he had some muscle tightness and with the wet field conditions (both of the first two games have been delayed), they removed him from the lineup. That didn't stop Twitter from being curious. Then Ken Rosenthal tweeted out during the Saints game that the Twins were working on acquiring San Diego starting pitcher Chris Paddack. And while some believe Larnach could be headed to Southern California, Rosenthal followed up by saying that the Padres are interested in Twins reliever Taylor Rogers. Will Larnach's promising future remain in Minnesota? It seems likely, but only time will tell. WIND SURGE WISDOM The Wind Surge will begin their season on Friday at home against the Tulsa Drillers. The Surge will send top prospect Matt Canterino to the mound for the season opener. Canterino was 1-0 with a 0.78 ERA in 2021 before being sidelined with an elbow injury. The return of one of the most exciting pitchers in the Twins organization should be electric. In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wind Surge roster preview. KERNELS NUGGETS The Kernels announced on Wednesday that LHP and Burnsville, MN native Aaron Rozek will take the bump for Cedar Rapids' opener on Friday against Beloit. Signed to a minor-league contract last season, Rozek went 3-2 with a 2.40 ERA between Fort Myers, Cedar Rapids, and Wichita in 2021. Be sure to take a look at the Cedar Rapids roster in advance of their opener on Friday. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers hits the road to Clearwater to open their 2022 season against the Threshers on Friday. There should be quite a few of the Twins 2021 draft picks on their roster, which has yet to be officially announced. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - JC Ramirez, St. Paul Saints (W, 2.1 IP, 3 H, BB, 3 K) Hitter of the Day - Jose Miranda, St. Paul Saints (2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, 2B, 2 R, 2 SB (3), 2 K #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K #11 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-5, 2 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Louisville (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Cole Sands
  20. Tuesday evening saw the St. Paul Saints kick off their season against the Louisville Bats down in Kentucky, and it’s hard not to drool at the top of their lineup that started with Jose Miranda, Royce Lewis, and Trevor Larnach. They've got pitching too, with Jordan Balazovic (though he's on the IL to start the year), Cole Sands, Jovani Moran, and Drew Strotman some of the names to watch or that you already know. The biggest story in this one is, without a doubt, the return of Lewis to official game action. The last time he was seen on a minor-league diamond, was all the way back in 2019 when he ended the year mashing in the Arizona Fall League to the tune of a Most Valuable Player award. He definitely made his presence known in this one, and in each phase of the game, which we will get to. TRANSACTIONS With it being Opening Day in Triple-A and the other affiliates kicking off their seasons on Friday, there will likely be a lot of roster movement in the next few days, so be sure to check out this section moving forward. Outfielder Elijah Greene, who was signed this spring, was released. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Louisville 2 Box Score Taking the mound for the Saints to start the year, was offseason signee Mario Sanchez and he was solid for the first four innings, allowing just one hit, one walk, and striking out one. He threw 59 pitches, with a whopping 42 of them going for strikes (71%). Up to that point he was matched by Bats starter Ben Lively, who had held the St. Paul lineup hitless through the first four frames. Outfielder Derek Fisher changed that with a leadoff double to start the fifth inning and would later score the first run of the season for Twins affiliates on an RBI groundout from catcher David Banuelos. After a nice play at shortstop to end a threat from the Bats in the bottom of the inning, Lewis led off the top of the sixth with a single through the hole into left field. After a Trevor Larnach flyout, Lewis then demonstrated he still has his speed, taking second base for his first steal of the season. He would then come around to score on a Jake Cave single and 2-0 lead for the Saints. Wladimir Pinto was the first reliever for St. Paul, pitching the fifth and sixth innings. He gave up one hit, walked one, and struck out four. Trevor Megill then came on and worked around a leadoff single for a scoreless seventh inning, before serving up a home run to JT Riddle in the bottom of the eighth to make the score 2-1 and before it was said and done Yennier Cano would be summoned to end a two-out threat to tie the score. He got a flyout to keep the Saints out front heading into the ninth. Megill went 1 2/3 innings total, allowing three hits, walking one, and striking out two. In the top of the ninth, catcher David Banuelos added a needed insurance run with the first home run of the 2022 season, a 431-foot blast to left-center: Cano stayed in the game with a chance at his first save of the year, and it got interesting. A check swing led to a leadoff infield single and was followed by a double into the right-field corner that put the tying run in scoring position. An awkward passed ball led to a run (I could swear it was a foul tip, and Cano complained about it…), before he got a big strikeout and a lineout into left field for two outs. With the game on the line, Louisville brought on a pinch hitter, and Jose Miranda proceeded to make a game-saving play diving to his left to get the final out, and secure the first win of the 2022 minor league season! The Saints lineup managed just five hits, were 1-for-13 with runners in scoring position, and left eight men on base for the game. Miranda went 0-for-5 with a pair of strikeouts, Trevor Larnach was 0-for-3 with a walk and one K, and as a team, they struck out twelve times. In his first action since the 2019 season, Royce Lewis finished 1-for-4 with a single, walk, run scored, and a stolen base. He also struck out twice, but what stood out to me was there are no ill-effects from his knee surgery. He made a couple of nice plays in the field, showed his speed on the base paths, and there wasn’t any type of leg kick I’d call even remotely excessive in his swing. Most of all, I am sure it felt great for him to be back in action! Be sure to take a look at the Saints Roster Preview. WIND SURGE WISDOM The Wind Surge will begin their season on Friday at home against the Tulsa Drillers. While the Wind Surge have yet to name their opening day starter, the Tulsa Drillers have a prospect named Gus Varland scheduled for them. This is notable, as he’s the older brother of Twins Daily’s #14 Prospect Louie Varland, who is on the Wind Surge roster to start the year. If Wichita and Twins brass know what’s good for them, they’ll make this brotherly battle happen to start the year! In the meantime, be sure to check out the Wind Surge roster preview. KERNELS NUGGETS The Kernels open their season at home as well, facing off against a former Twins affiliate, the Beloit Snappers. You can also get a look at the Cedar Rapids roster in advance of their opener on Friday. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers hits the road to Clearwater to open their 2022 season against the Threshers on Friday. There should be quite a few of the Twins 2021 draft picks on their roster, which has yet to be officially announced. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Wladimir Pinto, St. Paul Saints (W, 2 IP, H, BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - David Banuelos, St. Paul Saints (1-for-3, HR, 2 RBI, BB) PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, R, BB, SB (1), 2 K #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-for-5, 2 K #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - Injured List (knee strain) #11 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-2, 2 BB, 2 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Louisville (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Daniel Gossett Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s game!
  21. In 2021, the Saints joined the Twins family of affiliates and had a really strong, veteran roster. With so many Twins injuries, the Saints roster often was loaded with minor-league veterans. In 2022, there should be several of the organization’s top prospects including the return of Royce Lewis after not playing for the past two years. Jose Miranda also returns after his incredible 2021 campaign. Several return to Toby Gardenhire’s roster from last year, but there will also be many new faces, including on his coaching staff. Pitching coach Cibney Bello and Defensive Coach Tyler Smarslok return. Hitting Coach Matt Borgschulte got a big-league job with the Orioles. He was replaced by Ryan Smith who moves up to the Saints after spending last season in Wichita. Michael McCarthy left the organization to be the Triple-A pitching coach for the Padres. Virgil Vasquez moves up from the Wind Surge to take his place. . Here we will introduce you to the 2021 Saints Opening Day roster with a tweet-length bio. For much more on each player, click the hyperlink with the name and see all of the Twins Daily stories in which each player is tagged. There are some terrific prospects on this roster to go with all the veterans and there are some great stories as well. COACHES Manager: Toby Gardenhire Hitting Coach: Ryan Smith Pitching Coaches: Cibney Bello, Virgil Vasquez Defensive Coach: Tyler Smarslok PITCHERS RHP Yennier Cano (28) - The 28-year-old signed with the Twins in the summer of 2019. He began 2021 in Wichita for 12 games before joining the Saints for 30 games. Combined, he went 5-3 with five saves, a 3.23 ERA. In 69 2/3 innings, he struck out 86 batters. Strong pitch-mix and always willing to take the ball. RHP Jake Faria (28) - One of the final cuts in spring training, Faria has played in the big leagues for parts of four of the past five seasons. He debuted with the Rays in 207 and has pitched for the Brewers and Diamondbacks as well. He can work multiple innings out of the bullpen. RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez (30) - Gonzalez pitched for the Rangers in 2015 and 2016. He missed the 2017 and 2018 seasons due to injury, but he has spent time with the Rockies each of the past three seasons and posted ERAs well over five each year. Hopefully will eat innings for the Saints. RHP Jordan Gore (27) - The shortstop-turned-reliever started last season in Cedar Rapids before moving up to Wichita where he became the closer and performed even better. Combined, he went 8-2 with seven saves. In 67 2/3 innings, he struck out 88 batters. Mid-90s fastball is combined with a good slider and a good changeup. RHP Daniel Gossett (29) - After pitching at Clemson, he was drafted by the A’s in 2014 and pitched in their system through the 2019 season. He debuted with the A’s in 2017 and then made five more starts in 2018. He pitched in Triple-A with the Red Sox last year. He signed a minor-league deal with the Twins and provides depth to the organization. RHP Ian Hamilton (26) - Drafted by the White Sox in 2016, Hamilton pitched for that organization through the 2020 season. He pitched 10 games for the Sox in 2018 and four more games in 2020 before spending time on the waiver wire. The Twins claimed him and DFAd him in spring training. He cleared and he spent the full season with the Saints. RHP Ryan Mason (27) - Drafted in the 13th round in 2016 out of California, Mason has slowly but steadily risen through the Twins farm system. He ended last year with 13 games with the Saints. Combined, he had 63 strikeouts in 54 innings. RHP Trevor Megill (28) - Big (6-8), burly (250 pounds) right-hander debuted with 28 games with the Cubs in 2021. In 23 2/3 innings with the Cubs, he had 30 strikeouts. Megill throws hard and just might have some potential out of the bullpen. RHP Juan Minaya (31) - Minaya has pitched in 154 big league games including 29 games with the Twins in 2021. In 40 innings last year, he struck out 43 batters and posted a 2.48 ERA. It was somewhat surprising when he was DFAd after the season, but fortunately, they were able to bring him back on a minor-league deal. LHP Jovani Moran (24) - Moran was drafted by the Twins in 2015. When healthy, he has been dominant. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, a good slider, and a tremendous changeup, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. He debuted with the Twins with five games in September 2021. One of the last players optioned to St. Paul, he should spend a lot of time with the Twins. RHP Wladimir Pinto (24) - Signed by the Tigers in 2015, he reached Triple-A in 2021 but became a free agent following the season. The Twins picked him up on a minor league deal. Last year, in 50 2/3 innings, he walked 35 and struck out 60 batters. He throws hard. He’s got good stuff, but clearly, control is the issue. Just 24, this is the kind of upside minor-league signings that are fun! RHP JC Ramirez (33) - Signed just last week, the Nicaraguan debuted with the Phillies in 2013. Since, he has pitched in the big leagues for the Diamondbacks, Mariners, Reds, and from 2016 to 2019 with the Angels. He pitched in Mexico and China in 2021. RHP Dereck Rodriguez (29) - Drafted in 2011 by the Twins, he spent the first three pro seasons as an outfielder before moving to the moun in 2014. He reached Double-A with the Twins before signing with the Giants as a free agent in 2018. That year, he debuted with 21 games (19 starts) in the big leagues for San Francisco. He pitched for the Giants into the 2020 season. Pitched at Triple-A with the Rockies in 2021 and came back to the Twins this offseason. RHP Mario Sanchez (27) - The Venezuelan signed with the Nationals in 2011. He spent two seasons in the Phillies system, but then he was back in the Nationals system from 2019-21. Last year, he went 4-8 with a 4.16 ERA. In 114 2/3 innings, he struck out 115 and walked just 23 batters. RHP Cole Sands (24) - Sands is the #13 ranked prospect in the system. The team’s fifth-round pick in 2018 from Florida State, Sands went 4-2 with a 2.46 ERA at Wichita. In 80 1/3 innings, he walked 35 and struck out 96 batters. He was added to the 40-man roster in November. LHP Devin Smeltzer (26) - The southpaw debuted with seven games for the Twins in 2019 and then pitched in seven games for them in 2020. Last year, he made one appearance (4 2/3 scoreless innings) before his season came to an end because of a herniated disc in his neck. He was removed from the 40-man roster, but this spring, he gave up just five hits over 11 scoreless innings. I’d expect him to pitch for the Twins in 2022. RHP Drew Strotman (25) - A former fourth-round pick of the Rays, Strotman came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in last July’s Nelson Cruz trade. He struggled in adjusting to the Twins, but even so, he was hitting 97-99 mph with a fastball. He’s developed as a starter because he has a four-pitch mix, but he is now shifting to the bullpen. He will debut in 2022. CATCHERS David Banuelos (25) - After being drafted by the Mariners, the Twins acquired him for international signing dollars that offseason. In 2021, he played in 15 games for Wichita and 30 games with the Saints. Overall, he hit .201/.245/.340 (.586) with seven doubles, two triples and three homers. All but two doubles came with the Saints. But Banuelos is a plus defensive catcher who works really well with pitchers. Stevie Berman (27) - Came to the Twins very late last year from the Dodgers in the Andrew Vasquez trade. Definitely a defense first veteran backstop. Caleb Hamilton (27) - Drafted from Oregon State in 2016, Hamilton was moved behind the plate. However, he has played all over the diamond. He played 78 games in 2021 between Wichita and St. Paul and hit a combined .181/.308/.341 (.649) with eight doubles and nine home runs. Chance Sisco (27) - Not officially on the roster yet, but he was signed by the Twins on Monday to a minor-league deal, Sisco will be joining the team in Louisville soon. The former top prospect of the Orioles, he spent part of each of the past five seasons in the big leagues. In 191 games, he has hit .297/.317/.337 (.654). INFIELDERS Royce Lewis (22) - The Twins' top pick in the 2017 draft is a Top 100 prospect and remains the #2 Twins prospect. Unfortunately, he missed 2021 with a torn ACL. He’s excited to be back and will be playing shortstop most every day. He was added to the 40-man roster in November and could debut in 2022. Jose Miranda (23) - Miranda has always had the tools, and in 2021, he busted out in a big way. Between Wichita and St. Paul, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 homers in 127 games. He was added to the 40-man roster in November. Able to play first base, second base, and third base, Miranda is just waiting for an opportunity, and for some, he will have to prove that 2021 was the real deal. Jermaine Palacios (25) - While fans may not get excited, the idea of Palacios getting to the big leagues with the Twins would be pretty neat. He became a good prospect with the Twins and then was traded to the Rays for Jake Odorizzi. After struggling mightily, Palacios returned to the Twins as a free agent last year. In 110 games at Wichita, he hit .259/.341/.439 (.780) with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. In addition, he is a really good defensive shortstop. That said, he’s likely to play all over the infield in 2022. Daniel Robertson (28) - The veteran utility infielder played in the big leagues with the Rays from 2017 to 2019, the Giants in 2020, and the Brewers in 2021. Overall, he has hit .227/.338/.345 (.683) with 34 doubles and 18 home runs in 299 games. He can play all of the infield positions pretty well and has minimal time spent in the outfield. Elliot Soto (32) - The Twins drafted Soto in 2007 out of high school He didn’t sign, went to Creighton, and was drafted by the Cubs in 2010. Beyond the Cubs, he has also played in the Marlins, Rockies, Angels, and Dodgers organizations. In 2020, he played in three big league games for the Angels and hit .333 (2-for-6) with a double. Curtis Terry (25) - Terry was drafted out of high school in Georgia in 2015 by the Rangers. He slowly worked up the Texas system, and finally got an opportunity in the big leagues in 2021. He had four hits including two doubles, in 13 games. He became a free agent after the seasons and very quickly joined the Twins on a minor league deal in November. OUTFIELDERS Jake Cave (29) - Cave has spent most of the past four seasons with the Twins. He has played in 281 games and hit .240/.305/.417 (.722) with 36 doubles, seven triples, and 28 home runs. For the first two seasons, he was a quality fourth outfielder who did well in limited duty. In the last couple of years, he has been a bit over-exposed and struggled. He was removed from the 40-man roster before spring training. Gilberto Celestino (23) - If you only watch the big league games, you saw Celestino really struggle in his debut in 2021. He hit just .136 over 62 plate appearances, though he had three doubles and two homers. In reality, he made that MLB debut with only 21 games played above A-ball and 29 games above Low-A. Excessive injuries forced him to The Show. But with the Saints, he hit .290/.384/.443 (.827) with 13 doubles and five homers in 49 games. Mark Contreras (27) - After four years at UC-Riverside, Contreras was the Twins' ninth-round pick in 2017. After a tough 2019 season (in which he still won a minor-league Gold Glove) and a lost 2020, Contreras broke out in 2021. In 114 games (95 in St. Paul), he hit .251/.338/.485 (.824) with 30 doubles, 20 homers and 15 RBI. Derek Fisher (28) - Over the past five seasons, Fisher has spent time in the big leaguers with the Astros, Blue Jays, and Brewers. In 172 big-league games, he’s hit. 195/.285/.378 (.663) with eight doubles and ten homers. Trevor Larnach (25) - Twin's top pick in 2018 from Oregon State, Larnach was the minor league hitter of the year in 2019. He was at the alternate site in 2020. After just one game in Triple-A last year, he was called up having had just a half-season at Double-A two years earlier. He started well but struggled late. Still, he will make adjustments and get back to the big leagues where in time he can hit for average and power. Should still be considered a big part of the Twins' future. There are likely to be several changes coming soon. For instance, will Kyle Garlick or Brent Rooker be on the Saints roster? Will Jose Godoy clear waivers and join the Saints? The Injured List includes Tim Beckham (quad), Jordan Balazovic (knee), and Ariel Jurado (Tommy John) to start the season. Like I said at the top, this roster has a solid mix of prospects and minor-league veterans. As you would expect, there are certain to be many transactions, but the depth is strong.
  22. On Sunday the Twins Triple-A affiliate held their first full-squad workout at CHS Field before departing for Louisville where they’ll kick off the minor league season on Tuesday. Although more than a handful of players remained in Fort Myers, there was a good contingent of returning players getting work in. Last season the Saints got out to a slow start offensively, but that shouldn’t be the case this year as the club looks to be loaded throughout the roster with players that have Major League experience as well as guys that have significant prospect hype, Minnesota’s Triple-A affiliate should be more than a force to be reckoned with. Right now Toby Gardenhire’s club is filled with names such as Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda, and Royce Lewis. Gilberto Celestino broke out at Triple-A last season, while Mark Contreras had a coming-out party in 2021. Derek Fisher has significant big-league experience, and Curtis Terry has pummeled the ball in the minors. Gardenhire will have a challenge finding ample time for everyone to contribute. Now in his second season with the Saints, Gardenhire suggested the first month will be interesting due to the shortened Spring Training and Minnesota having signed some guys late. “Our roster might be a little up and down at times, but we’ve got a good group of guys and a good group of young prospects. I think they are going to help the big league team out during the season.” Looking at his lineup and hoping to start faster this season Gardenhire said, “On paper, it looks great, right? We had Larnach here to start last year and he ended up in the big leagues after one game or something. It’s a one-day at a time situation, but having Royce Lewis back, I’m happy for him. He’s a great player. He’s a great kid. I’m excited to watch him. Larnach is pushing the big leagues. I told him already I expect him to help out in the big leagues sooner rather than later. Miranda had a great year last year. If he can keep doing that, it won’t be long before he’s up there either.” “This group (Miranda, Larnach, Lewis) fit great in the big league clubhouse this spring. Miranda, nothing ever seems to phase that guy.” Gardenhire spent a good deal of time in the Major League dugout this spring down in Fort Myers as plenty of his players competed for the Twins. He talks glowingly of the talent he has close, both top prospects and veterans alike. It’s evident that Gardenhire is excited to coach a club that should have one of the best lineups in minor league baseball. For the Saints, and Lewis as well, it will be exciting to have Minnesota’s top prospect back on the field. He’s not going to have an immediate workload resembling no restrictions, but it doesn’t sound as though Gardenhire is worried about any setbacks or issues for the talented shortstop. When looking at the roster it’s fair to drool over the big names, but there’s plenty of sustainability here too when considering those under the radar types as well. Terry was prioritized as a free agent while big-league veterans will be present. Continued development of players like Contreras, David Banuelos, and Caleb Hamilton is going to be nice to see. Having been down this path both as a player and following in the managerial footsteps of his dad, Gardenhire gets it. He’s a quality leader, a strong developer of talent, and certainly going to have a front-row seat to a very intriguing Saints club in the year ahead.
  23. Not that long ago, evaluators considered Minnesota’s farm system among baseball’s best. It helped that the Twins were terrible for multiple seasons, and they were able to stockpile high draft picks to rebuild their system. Entering the 2022 season, many national rankings put the Twins farm system in the bottom half of the league. Many of the organization’s top prospects are on the brink of making their debuts, so what does that mean for the future of the farm system? Prospects on the Brink According to MLB Pipeline, the team’s top eight ranked prospects are all expected to debut in 2022. Minnesota’s pitching pipeline looks ready to start producing big-league talent. Joe Ryan was recently named the team’s Opening Day starter, even though he has only made five starts in his big-league career. Jhoan Duran looks like he can be a dominant bullpen option if the team decides to keep him in a relief role. Josh Winder also has an opportunity to be used out of the bullpen to start 2022. Besides these Opening Day options, Jordan Balazovic, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Drew Strotman all project to debut at some point in 2022. Minnesota’s top position player prospects also project to start the season at St. Paul. Jose Miranda dominated the Double- and Triple-A levels, so it seems like he has little left to prove in the minors. Austin Martin is widely considered the team’s top prospect, and he was an on-base machine at Double-A last season. Minnesota has worked with him on his power production and that should put him on a path toward a 2022 debut. Royce Lewis is returning from an injury, so he must prove he can produce like a top prospect. All eight of these prospects may use up their rookie eligibility during the 2022 season, and this has the potential to leave little on the shelves in the minor leagues. What Will Be Left? Minnesota’s pitching depth means some of the team’s top pitching prospects are behind other pitchers in the organization's pecking order. An argument can be made that Matt Canterino is the best pitching prospect in the organization, but all the other names mentioned above are ahead of him on the depth chart. Ronny Henriquez and Louie Varland are both intriguing prospects, but they have multiple stops left to get to the big-league level. Blayne Enlow is returning from Tommy John surgery, so he will likely wait until 2023 to debut. Steve Hajjar is an intriguing name to watch because of his collegiate experience. Last year’s second-round pick may end up being a top-10 prospect in the organization entering the 2023 season. He’s certainly a player to watch this season. Two of the organization's top power prospects will likely still be in the system entering next season. Aaron Sabato and Matt Wallner fit the mold of a typical power hitter with little value on the defensive side of the ball. Noah Miller and Keoni Cavaco are two higher draft picks from this regime with something to prove. Other position players like Spencer Steer and Misael Urbina are also working their way towards Target Field. All of these players have upside, but they aren’t in the same category of prospect as Martin, Lewis, or Miranda. Ramifications So, what does this all mean? Minnesota has a plethora of talent in the upper level of the minors, which is a great problem for any organization. However, is the team less likely to trade these players away because of their proximity to the majors? Teams with top-ranked farm systems can move their prospects for MLB talent to make their team even more competitive. This MLB-ready pipeline should allow the Twins to keep their winning window open, but the team’s future depth relies on a strong farm system that can churn out big-league talent. Minnesota projects to have plenty of young talent in the big leagues, but it will result in a dramatically depleted depth in the minors. Do you think the Twins will have one of baseball’s worst farm systems entering next season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  24. Trevor Larnach and Jose Miranda were both optioned to Triple-A St. Paul today. Nine players were reassigned to minor-league camp. They are pitchers Chi Chi Gonzalez, Ian Hamilton, Trevor Megill, and Juan Minaya, catchers David Banuelos and Caleb Hamilton, infielders Jermaine Palacios and Curtis Terry, and outfielder Derek Fisher. The moves put the Twins' spring training roster at 38 players which means over the next five to six days, they will need to drop ten more players from the roster to get to the 28-man Opening Day roster. Of course, there could be other transactions and Injury List moves in between. There are currently 20 pitchers in camp (3 non-roster), three catchers (0 non-roster), eight infielders (2 non-roster), and seven outfielders (2 non-roster). Jose Miranda was added to the 40-man roster following his incredible 2021 season between Wichita and St. Paul in which he hit .344 with 32 doubles and 30 homers. He hit .231 (.544) during his spring training appearances and made some nice plays at third base. Trevor Larnach needs to play. Last year, after missing the 2020 season due to the pandemic, he was called up to the Twins during the season's first week. He sure showed glimpses of the immense talent he has, but he went through a prolonged slump that included a ton of strikeouts. For both Miranda (23) and Larnach (25), they need at-bats. They need repetition. They will both have long big-league careers, but sitting on the bench for the first month instead of playing every day for the Saints just doesn't make sense. Both will be impact players in 2022 and beyond. No real surprises among the non-roster position players that were reassigned on Wednesday. Both catchers are likely to spend the majority of the season in St. Paul. The question is, will they be joined by Jose Godoy? Jermaine Palacios impressed with his glove, and after a strong 2021 season in Wichita, he should start the 2022 season as the Saints' primary shortstop. Curtis Terry can hit, and at just 25, he will get a lot of at-bats as the Saints first baseman and be prepared if needed. Again, not a lot of surprise with the non-roster pitchers reassigned either. That said, Juan Minaya was so good with the Twins over the final two months of the season, it is a little surprising he was only able to get a minor-league deal this spring. Hamilton and Megill are young and throw hard. My sense is that both will get time with the Twins during the season. And Chi Chi Gonzalez only joined the Twins the last 7-10 days as a free agent. He will likely make starts and/or work long relief out of the Saints bullpen. What do you think? The roster is coming together? Any surprises for you? What do you think the final ten moves will be? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  25. In most seasons, we have a general consensus of one or two players that will make the final bench role for the big-league roster. This year Major League Baseball announced that rosters would start at 28 players, at least through April. That’s two additional spots beyond what has become recent custom. Let’s assume Minnesota uses additional openings on pitchers, given the likelihood that starters aren’t entirely stretched out, and we’ve got a 13 position player configuration. Knowing that the lineup will have nine starters and that Carlos Correa’s spring training debut looks like a pretty good glimpse of what it may look like on Opening Day, we have four bench spots to work with. Here’s how I see that shaking out: The Given (1): Luis Arraez As of this moment, I think only Arraez is marked in pen to start the season on the Twins bench. He’s a second baseman that’s below-average defensively virtually everywhere he plays but has shown positional flexibility. Arraez’s greatest asset is his eye and the batting average it generates. Despite being routinely shifted, he can spray the ball all over the diamond and is a lineup asset when healthy. If he’s not traded for pitching to a team looking at him as a starter, having this type of talent on the bench for Rocco Baldelli is a great commodity. The Assumed (1): Jose Godoy Claimed off waivers last week, Jose Godoy is a good bet to make the Opening Day roster because managers love third catchers. If Baldelli is going to use Gary Sanchez as his designated hitter in any given lineup, that means there’s no one to back up starter Ryan Jeffers. With Ben Rortvedt traded to the New York Yankees, Godoy is the lone option left on the 40 man roster. He’s a career minor leaguer with just a .723 OPS in over 2,000 plate appearances. That said, he’s only 27-years-old, and clearly, Minnesota thought something of him to file the waiver claim. Unless another option emerges at catcher through waivers in the next two weeks, this is probably who fills the spot. The Uncertains (4): Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino Quite possibly the most challenging group to peg because you could go either way on a number of these guys. Larnach is easily the most talented of the group with the highest ceiling, but being a left-handed corner outfielder, he fills the same profile as both Alex Kirilloff and Max Kepler. Among this foursome, Larnach is the guy needing consistent at-bats most. He makes the club only if there’s an avenue for that to happen. Minnesota won’t include him to sit. Next in line would be Gordon, and for good reason. He filled a utility role admirably last year, even if the bat doesn’t really play. Gordon can take over in all three outfield spots, though his speed masks his arm strength. It’s a nice addition to a bench that hasn’t had wheels in some time, but that really comes down to how aggressive the Twins want to be on the base paths. For Rooker and Celestino, the situation couldn’t be more opposite. The former saw quick success but has basically become a swing and miss power hitter that struggles defensively. The latter struggled mightily in a premature promotion but has the chops to be an above-average defender in the outfield. Celestino’s impressive return to Triple-A could make him an enticing option for the fourth outfielder, but more seasoning on the farm makes sense too. The Doubtful (1): Jose Miranda It’s not as though talent suggests Miranda won’t make the club, as he dominated both Double and Triple-A last season. The problem is that there’s no straightforward avenue to playing time, and he needs to be more than a utilityman if the Twins want to start him on the big club. Miranda can play second, third, and first base. I wouldn’t be shocked if he’s the first man up, but barring a trade, it seems unlikely he’d unseat a guy more able to ride the pine. The Dark Horses (2): Tim Beckham, Daniel Robertson Two non-roster invitees have continued to generate at-bats this spring, and both have substantial big league track records. Beckham is a former first overall pick, while Robertson has done a good job filling in anywhere on the diamond in short stints. There’s probably more to like about Robertson’s game than Beckham’s, and despite the notoriety of the former Rays top pick, I wrote about the other guy being a dark horse to watch this winter. Either of these two would need a 40 man addition should they be chosen, which is, of course, another scenario working against them. Assuming Luis Arraez is among them, who are your three favorites to fill out the Minnesota Twins bench on Opening Day?
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