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  1. While many would argue that the starting rotation that breaks camp in late March is still lacking a true bonafide ace, there’s no arguing that the Twins have a much deeper class of pitchers than in recent years. Take the 2022 season as an example. As the campaign opened, the big-league starting corps consisted of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Chris Paddack, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Even with a six-man rotation, the depth was tested early on. When the calendar flipped to May, Gray, and Ober both found themselves on the IL, with Josh Winder getting the call to fill in on the now five-man rotation. Just two weeks later, Paddack succumbed to an elbow injury and was replaced by Devin Smeltzer. Just weeks after that, the Twins trotted out Cole Sands and Chi Chi Gonzalez to fill out an even more depleted staff. As you can see, things can go south rather quickly when nagging injuries rise to the surface. That’s why depth is a critical aspect of building a competitive team. And this year, the group looks much deeper on paper. Beyond their projected major-league rotation consisting of Gray, Ryan, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, and Kenta Maeda, they actually have a full staff of quality starter options stashed across the river in St. Paul. Rather than relying on the likes of Smeltzer, Gonzalez, or Sands when someone in the big-league rotation goes down, the Twins are on track to have a much stronger group of replacements. This includes top prospects Simeon Woods Richardson (No. 5 on Twins Daily’s prospect rankings), Louie Varland (No. 7) and hopefully a healthy Jordan Balazovic (No. 15). It would also presumably feature Ober and Winder, two exciting young arms that have shown flashes of belonging in the MLB despite notable injuries over the last two years. They could also look at Ronny Henriquez (No. 16) and Cole Sands in the Saints’ rotation, though both finished the 2022 campaign in the bullpen and may be best suited for that role going forward. After that collection, a group of non-roster invitees could theoretically stick around depending on what opportunities present themselves at the end of spring training. This class includes Jose De Leon, Randy Dobnak, and Dereck Rodriguez. None of these are expected to be big contributors to the big league roster, but then again, neither were Gonzalez, Sands and Aaron Sanchez in 2022. Nevertheless, this year’s crop of starting pitcher options at Triple-A looks better equipped to answer the call when the time comes. But how do they compare to the rest of the AL Central? The Cleveland Guardians have the best MLB rotation in the division thanks to staff aces Shane Bieber and Triston McKenzie, as well as mid-rotation types such as Cal Quantrill, Aaron Civale, and Zach Plesac. But what if one or more go down with an injury? They’d be looking at the likes of Triple-A starters Xzavion Curry (their No. 23 ranked prospect according to Fangraphs), Hunter Gaddis (No. 37), and Konnor Pilkington. Each has already had a taste of MLB action, but none inspire much confidence. Other options include non-roster invitee Touki Toussaint, as well as Logan Allen (No. 4), but he would need to be added to their 40-man roster. On paper, the Chicago White Sox also have a strong MLB rotation to start the year. They’ll rely on stalwarts such as Lucas Giolito, Lance Lynn, and Dylan Cease, with Michael Kopech and Mike Clevinger (maybe?) rounding out their staff, albeit with less certainty due to an extensive injury history or off-the-field issues, respectively. Long story short, they have a likely chance of needing some reinforcements early on, and that’s where things get dicey on the south side. Next in line would be Davis Martin, Jonathan Stiever, and recent waiver-claim A.J. Alexy, who was just claimed from the Twins. All three have seen MLB action, but none have the prospect pedigree to suggest a breakout is imminent. Beyond that, the Sox are pretty short-handed thanks to a depleted farm system. The Detroit Tigers have many holes in their boat as they try to stay afloat after another front-office regime change. Starting pitching depth is among their biggest challenges. Their MLB rotation will most likely consist of Eduardo Rodriguez, Matthew Boyd, Michael Lorenzen, Matt Manning, and Spencer Turnbull. That staff would look a lot stronger if it included former top prospects Casey Mize and Tarik Skubal, but both are unlikely to be ready by opening day after having Tommy John and flexor tendon repair surgeries, respectively, in the second half of last year. Their Triple-A rotation will likely consist of Joey Wentz, Beau Brieske, Zach Logue, and Alex Faedo, who have each seen MLB action in the past year. After that, there really aren’t any top prospects or former big leaguers that project to be studying presences when the injury bug inevitably bites them. The Kansas City Royals may still be a few years away from competing for the division crown, but their starting rotation options are plentiful for the time being. Their opening day staff will likely consist of Zack Greinke, Jordan Lyles, Brady Singer, Ryan Yarbrough, and Brad Keller, pushing their younger options to Triple-A. These young arms consist of mostly high draft picks, including four pitchers that were all taken in 2018 and have made their MLB debuts. This class includes Daniel Lynch, Jonathan Heasley, Kris Bubic, and Jackson Kowar. Between them, they have combined for 674 innings at the MLB level, so they should be set when the time comes. As you can see from the rundown of the rest of the division, the Twins probably have the deepest starting pitcher corps even if it lacks the height seen in Cleveland or Chicago. The Royals have a similarly deep group at Triple-A, but their on-paper MLB rotation lacks the upside that can be seen in the Twins’ rotation. Does that mean the Twins are guaranteed to have the best pitching staff in the division? Absolutely not. But they are certainly better equipped to withstand a few injuries than they were last year. What do you think? Let us know in the comments whether you think the Twins’ pitching depth will be an asset or a liability this year.
  2. ROCHESTER – The premier Vikings Bar in the city of Rochester became a Twins Bar for the night as the Twins Winter Caravan’s final leg made a stop at Whistle Binkies on the Lake Monday night. Featured on this leg were Twins manager Rocco Baldelli, pitcher Louie Varland, hitting coach David Popkins, former Twins reliever and current Special Assistant to Baseball Operations LaTroy Hawkins, and radio play-by-play announcer Cory Provus. Popkins joined his first-ever Winter Caravan for the Twins on this leg and embraced more frigid temps than he had grown up with in San Diego. He joined the leg to spend more time with and bond with Baldelli as Popkins only joined the Twins in 2022. “We’re getting to be more comfortable here and our relationship is building to be pretty strong,” Popkins said. “The feeling-out period is over and now it's in that family period, which is where the fun stuff really happens. It's been a pleasure to get closer to him and he's an incredible person so we look forward to a pretty fun environment.” It had been 20 years for Hawkins since he had last been a part of a Twins Winter Caravan. Coming back to the Twin Cities for Twins Fest and hopping on the Caravan was just another round of trips that Hawkins has had all off-season. His latest trip before coming back to Minnesota was to Arizona for the MLB Dream Series. “It’s a three-day event over MLK weekend every year. We talk about baseball and show the kids that there are other jobs in Major League Baseball that you can get; umpiring, front office, content management, and just about anything with an organization,” Hawkins said. Another trip that Hawkins took this offseason was around his 50th birthday in December, an adventurous story he shared with the crowd at Whistle Binkies. “Through 2022, I had this notion that I wanted to go to Tanzania to climb Kilimanjaro, and I wanted to summit it on my 50th birthday. I thought that would be the coolest thing. I spent two weeks in December in a village teaching young boys and girls baseball, a sport that they had no clue even existed, and that was the highlight of my 50th birthday,” Hawkins said. Before sharing his story on climbing Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania and teaching kids about baseball for the first time in the country. Hawkins, Popkins, and Baldelli each shared their best advice on what parents can teach their own kids in the Rochester area about the game. “It's not actually about reaching the top of the pyramid, it's about learning all those good values that go into it,” Baldelli said. “It's not all cake and easy. But being positive and really having that determination inside you that you're never going away, you're never quitting. It's hard to beat someone that never quits.” One Twins pitcher that exemplifies those qualities is Varland, who provided the crowd and his coaches with a great perspective on how he approaches his roster situation for spring training. “I'm heading down to spring training, and I'm eager to learn but also very eager to compete. It's gonna be a really competitive spring training. My job is to make it really hard on Rocco and the decisions he will have to make,” Varland said. “Honestly, that is exactly the answer that you want to hear from one of your young players,” Baldelli responded to Varland. “This guy is going out there to compete. And he worries about the things that he can worry about.” The Twins crew made not only one but two kids' nights during the event as nine-year-old Noah Struss had the opportunity to ask the first question of the night and was invited to sit next to Varland for the rest of the night. Noah’s opening question for the panel was, “What is your favorite subject in school?” Varland was the only one to answer the question, and his answer was science. Noah only got the one answer as Provus invited him up to meet Varland and get a picture with him. “That was even more meaningful to see since my dad is a huge Twins fan and brought me to TwinsFest for many years,” Leah Struss, Noah’s mom said. “Oh it was so exciting to see,” added Bryan Struss, Noah’s dad. “He did such a great job. The other kid who had their night made was eight-year-old Emma Landherr, who had a pressing question about the team mascot “Can T.C. Bear talk?” she asked. This was the first time the Landherr attended a Winter Caravan stop as her dad Adam Landherr shared, “We're big Twins fans and usually get up for two or three games a year. We watch and listen all the time these two [Emma and her older brother] are a little older we’ll get to more each year.” The Twins Winter Caravan makes its final stop in Mason City, Iowa, tonight at Music Man Square.
  3. These rankings are intended to provide a relative view of Twins players and prospects by appraising their big-picture value to the organization. The goal is to answer this question: Which current players in the organization are most indispensable to fulfilling the vision of building a champion? We account for age, contract, controllability, upside, etc. It's not strictly a ranking of trade value, because that would be more team-agnostic, where this list aims to capture a very Twins-specific POV. As such, players at areas of scarcity (i.e. pitching) get elevated while those at areas of abundance (i.e. lefty-swinging corner guys) get downgraded a bit. I always find compiling this list to be an interesting offseason exercise – one that surfaces unique conversations about Twins players, how we value them, and where the system's strengths and weaknesses truly lie. What made it so challenging this year is that, by design, these rankings are a snapshot in time – published at the start of January for no other reason than a new year feels like a good time to reset and reassess – and right now, it's very tough to get a read on the state of this organization and its talent. For one thing, it feels like we're in the midst of a slow-developing offseason journey with big twists still ahead. I have a strong feeling there will be noticeable changes to this list by March 30th. But even more, there is SO MUCH UNCERTAINTY with the players they already have. A snapshot at this midpoint of the offseason lacks clarity around key health-related details with massive implications. I struggled with many decisions, and they begin to crop up in this first installment. For example: If healthy, Tyler Mahle at $7.2 million is tremendously valuable, even with only one remaining year of team control. Can we safely operate under the assumption he'll be healthy and at full strength in 2023? (Spoiler alert: I decided no, and he just missed the cut.) Another example: If his latest surgery works and Alex Kirilloff returns to being roughly the player he was before his wrist affliction, he's a centerpiece in the lineup controlled for several years. Can you assume such a rare and complex surgery will take? (Spoiler alert: My cautious optimism got him on the list, but as you'll soon learn, not very high.) With that setup, let's kick off the countdown with my picks for the 16th through 20th most valuable assets in the Twins organization. First, you can check out my rankings from the past five years to see how the franchise's talent landscape has evolved: Top 20 Twins Assets: 2018 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2019 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2020 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2021 Top 20 Twins Assets: 2022 Top 20 Twins Assets of 2023: 16 through 20 20. Matt Wallner, OF 2022 Ranking: NR On a list like this, Wallner has a few key things working against him. First, his player type – strikeout-prone LH corner bat with big power – is fairly abundant in baseball, as evidenced by the Twins signing the poster child in Joey Gallo for $11 million. Second, that player type happens to be especially abundant in the Twins organization. So long as Max Kepler remains camped in right field, Wallner lacks a direct path to the majors, even though his skill set looks ready. The reason he still makes the list, just barely, is because his abilities within that skill set are SO exceptional. Baseball America rates Wallner as the best power hitter and best outfield arm in the Twins system – tools that were on display during a September debut in the majors. Wallner didn't put up terribly impressive numbers in 18 games with the Twins but had some big moments, and if he's shown one thing during his ascent through the minors it's that he can quickly put a slow start at a new level behind him and start dominating once he gets comfortable. The Twins will hope that's exactly what happens to the 25-year-old, who can make a big impact on the team's (near) future as either a slugger in the middle of the order or highly marketable trade chip. 19. Louie Varland, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR Around this time last year, there was still a degree of widespread skepticism around Varland. Sure, he'd earned Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year honors in 2021 with some truly dazzling numbers, but was this former 15th-round draft pick out of a D2 college the real deal, or a flash in the pan? He backed up his breakout with a 2022 campaign that saw him: Named Twins Minor League Pitcher of the Year for a second consecutive year, posting a 3.06 ERA in 126 innings between Double-A and Triple-A. Debut in the major leagues, where he showed the poise and ability of a seasoned vet. In five starts, Varland posted a 3.81 ERA over 26 innings, completing at least five frames in each turn. Skepticism remains regarding Varland's true ceiling, which is why he doesn't rank higher on this list, but he has solidified his standing as a turnkey mid-rotation starter with six years of team control. His durability and consistency stand out from the field of pitchers in the Twins organization. 18. Sonny Gray, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR As things currently stand, Gray is the only pitcher in the organization who can credibly be looked at as a dependable frontline starter for 2023. That, in a nutshell, is why I had to include him in these rankings, albeit near the back end because the status of his contract (one year remaining at $12.5 million) and checkered bill of health this past season. Gray has been around the block. He's made All-Star teams. He's started playoff games. He's been a featured rotation piece for several teams in a decade of big-league action, and he filled that role pretty well for the Twins last year. It was a bummer that recurring hamstring issues limited Gray to just 24 starts and 120 innings, but he doesn't have the same kind of looming health-related questions as fellow veteran starters Mahle and Kenta Maeda. When on the mound, his performance was pretty much everything you'd want: a bulldog who throws strikes, keeping runners off the bases and batted balls in the park. To whatever extent the Twins are successful in the coming season, it seems very likely that Gray will play a pivotal role. 17. Jorge Lopez, RHP 2022 Ranking: NR As the 2022 season played out, the Twins recognized that in order to take the next step forward, they needed to buttress Jhoan Duran at the back of the bullpen with another dominating force. This revelation pushed the front office to do something they rarely do: invest big in a buy-high relief pitcher. The Twins gave up four prospects at the deadline to acquire Baltimore's All-Star closer, who was experiencing an instant breakthrough in his transition to full-time reliever. Lopez shook off his previous struggles as a starter and transformed into a convincing lights-out bullpen ace for the O's. His performance in Minnesota after the trade was far less inspiring, but unlike Mahle, there's no reason to believe anything is physically amiss for Lopez. His profile – heavy doses of whiffs and grounders with sinking upper-90s heat – is a pretty reliable formula for success. So long as he can get back to commanding his arsenal Lopez figures to be a key piece during his two remaining seasons of team control. 16. Alex Kirilloff, 1B/OF 2022 Ranking: 3 I'm an affirmed believe in Kirilloff. In five past iterations of these rankings, I've had him in the top five twice, including #2 in 2021 and #3 last year. I view his pedigree, IQ and ability as a hitter to be in a rarefied class. He's flashed it in brief glimpses on the field, and last year AK hammered home his hitting prowess during a hilariously productive month at Triple-A (.385/.477/.725 in 28 games). But on the big-league field, Kirilloff's success has always been fleeting, with each setback tied to a clear culprit. The wrist injury that sabotaged his elite swing, and has now required two surgeries, will define Kirilloff's career. He'll overcome it with help from this latest intervention, or join the long list of rising stars fell victim to the brutal physical toll of pro sports – forced to make do rather than make hay. I'm bullish on Kirilloff overcoming it. If for no other reason than that the Twins as a franchise, and especially Alex Kirilloff as person, are overdue for a good break. The guy also lost a full year of development to Tommy John surgery, and despite it all, finds himself firmly planted in the majors at age 25. His talent is not in question. A healthy and raking Kirilloff would be a radical difference-maker in the outlook for the 2023 Twins and beyond. Ranking him 16th on this list is an attempt to balance that simmering potential with the cold realities of the human body and its limits.
  4. When the Minnesota Twins hired Derek Falvey to lead their baseball operations department after the 2016 season, they were enticed by the successful pitching pipeline that he helped foster in Cleveland. His former team had just won the American League pennant on the backs of star pitchers Corey Kluber, Trevor Bauer, and Carlos Carrasco, as well as depth starters Mike Clevinger, Danny Salazar, and Josh Tomlin. Six years later, that type of pitching pipeline is still taking shape in Minnesota. Many expected to see that door fully opened heading into year number seven, but instead, it appears to be hanging off of two hinges. Those hinges are Simeon Woods Richardson (Twins Daily’s No. 5 prospect) and Louie Varland (No. 7 prospect). That doesn’t mean that the team will require two rookies to lead them to the World Series in order to be successful. But if they fall flat in 2023, or break down, the entire door comes down with them. Two factors work in the Twins’ favor when taking this into account. First, as of today, neither Woods Richardson nor Varland is penciled into the opening day starting rotation. The club isn’t relying on them to make an immediate impact, so they should be able to fine-tune their stuff in Triple-A St. Paul until the club deems them ready. However, there should be an expectation that they play an integral role with the big league club by the second half of the season if all goes well. Second, both pitchers are coming off of very successful and healthy seasons in 2022. Starting with Varland, expectations started to rise last off-season after he was named the organization’s Minor League Pitcher of the Year. He went on to dazzle at Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul, twirling 126 innings of 3.06 ERA ball before getting the call to the major leagues. With the Twins, he made five starts, most of which were quite promising. The lone hiccup was a five-inning effort against Cleveland where he allowed four earned runs on nine hits and two walks. The other four starts were enough to deem his debut cup of coffee as a very promising start to a hopefully long career with the Twins. Woods Richardson wasn’t the centerpiece of the trade that sent Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays at the 2021 trade deadline, but he was a significant selling point. Austin Martin had more prospect shine at the time, but Woods Richardson’s inclusion pushed the deal across the finish line. This past season was his first full campaign in the Twins’ organization, and he made a really solid impression with his new club. In 23 appearances (22 starts) between Double-A and Triple-A, the tall righty pitched 107 innings with a sterling 2.77 ERA and 115 strikeouts. That earned him a call to the major leagues in the season’s final week, where he allowed two earned runs across five innings in his MLB debut. So what are reasonable expectations for these promising young starters as we head into a pivotal season for this front-office regime? According to Baseball Savant, Varland’s pitches shared many of the same characteristics as Cleveland’s breakout starter, Cal Quantrill, albeit with a slightly adjusted repertoire. The Guardians’ righty had a terrific 3.38 ERA across 32 starts last year. Does that mean that Varland should be a lock for these results? Of course not. But it’s interesting to see the comparison to somebody currently producing at the end of the pitching pipeline that the Twins are trying to emulate. So in that same vein, is there another pitcher in the Cleveland rotation that could be a possible comparison for Woods Richardson? One of the biggest breakout pitchers in 2022 was Triston McKenzie, who dazzled in 30 starts, pitching to the tune of a 2.96 ERA across 191 innings. It’s hard to expect anything like that out of Woods Richardson in 2023, but he could continue to develop into that caliber of pitcher as his career progresses. Steamer projects him to have a 4.69 ERA, with a 7.6 K/9 and 3.6 BB/9 in 2023. His strikeout projection feels low seeing as he had a 9.6 K/9 in the minors just last year, but aside from that, this projection looks rather similar to McKenzie’s first full season at the MLB level in 2021. That year, he had a 4.95 ERA across 24 starts, with a 10.2 K/9 and 4.3 BB/9. While rather unexciting on the surface, that comp feels far more fitting for the 23-year-old rookie. Sure, the Quantrill and McKenzie comparisons are far from perfect, but if Varland and Woods Richardson can prove that they are in a similar mold, it could convince many that the door to an effective pitching pipeline still works. These two are hardly the only promising arms in the Twins’ system. Players such as Jordan Balazovic, David Festa, and Marco Raya all offer different levels of hope that they could turn into contributors at the big league level. But Varland and Woods Richardson are on the cusp of tightening the screws and solidifying themselves in the club’s pitching corps. If they fall flat or succumb to significant injuries much like Josh Winder and Bailey Ober, the door may just fall off the frame.
  5. 2022 was many things for a baseball fan and specifically fans of the Minnesota Twins. The year began with the players locked out by the owners. They reached an agreement in early March and spring training soon began. The Twins were incredibly busy after the lockout ended, signing players left and right. No one could have anticipated the Twins signing Carlos Correa to a record contract. The season began with some optimism, hoping that the 2022 season was the anomaly. Things started well. The team was fairly healthy and found themselves in first place. They remained in that spot until late August when things went downhill in a hurry and injuries caught up. But, we did starting seeing some quality pitching prospects emerge in 2022. Griffin Jax adjusted very well to the bullpen while Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder made the opening day squad. As the season progressed, we saw more and more pitchers debut. In addition, Luis Arraez got some notoriety. He was the AL Batting Average champion, went to his first All-Star game, was a nominee for a Gold Glove, and won his first Silver Slugger Award. Byron Buxton went to his first All Star Game, started and homered. And finally, the offseason has clearly been frustrating for many Twins fan so far. Fortunately, it can still be salvaged. Things went well for Twins Daily as well. After a few years of Covid, and then a lockout, it was difficult to drum up interest in the club. However, our fantastic writing staff put out a ton of excellent content all year and Twins fans found their way here. We had some nice numbers throughout the summer, but December has been a very good month. So, let's take a look back at the Twins 2022 season by looking at which articles were viewed by the most people. It's not an exact representation, but it does take a look at some hot-button topics, some intriguing questions, lots of transactions and analysis and much more that intrigued us all year long. With that, in part 1 we will look back at the articles ranked 16-20 according to Page Views. Share your thoughts and memories on them below. #20 Louie Varland will Make his MLB Debut for Twins on Wednesday September 5 Seth Stohs Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 when he put up great numbers in Low-A Ft. Myers and High-A Cedar Rapids. He began the 2022 season at Double-A Wichita. In early August, he was promoted to Triple-A and had the opportunity to pitch in his hometown, for the St. Paul Saints. He made a handful of starts for the Saints when the Twins had a need for a spot starter. We learned a couple of days ahead of time that Varland would be making his MLB debut for the Twins in Yankees Stadium. We were excited with the news. Twins fans were excited. And Varland came through with a fantastic debut against the Yankees. His first big-league strikeout victim was MVP Aaron Judge. His first big-league home run allowed was to MVP Aaron Judge. All things considered, it was a fantastic debut for Varland. He went 5 1/3 innings and was charged with two runs on three hits. He walked two and struck out seven batters. He left the game with a runner on and one out in the sixth inning. Griffin Jax came on and got Judge to pop out, but Gleyber Torres homered to give the Yankees a 3-1 lead. The Twins came back to tie the game and sent it to extra games. Unfortunately, the Yankees won 5-4 in 12 innings. #19 Minnesota’s Return for Berrios Continues to Look Better June 30 Ted Schwerzler As the trade deadline was approaching, Ted took a look back one year to when the Twins traded All Star right-hander Jose Berrios to the Toronto Blue Jays for shortstop Austin Martin and right-hander Simeon Woods Richardson. While Martin hasn’t raced to the big leagues as quickly as many thought he might when he was the fifth overall pick in the 2020 draft, but the talent and athleticism is certainly still there. He missed time with injury but made up for it with a strong showing in the Arizona Fall League. Woods Richardson had a strange 2021 season, but after a normal offseason and spring training, he got off to a fast start in 2022. He didn’t give up an earned run for the first month of the season. He missed about a month due to Covid, but he came back strong. Late in the year, he was promoted to Triple-A, and he made one start for the Twins in the season’s final week. He gave up three runs (2 earned) on three hits and two walks over five innings. However, he gave up two runs in a rough first inning and settled in well. On the other side of the spectrum, it was a tough season for Jose Berrios. He went 12-7 despite an ERA of 5.23 and a WHIP of 1.46. He made all 32 starts and worked 172 innings. He led the league in both hits allowed (199) and in earned runs allowed (100). That came after signing a seven-year, $131 million extension with the Blue Jays. He will be the team’s #4 starter heading into the 2023 season, but it is likely he will be much better as well. #18 Too Many Outfielders, Another Perplexing Acquisition for the Twins December 8 Sherry Cerny Sherry was writing for herself, expressing her frustrations with a few of the Twins offseason moves so far. Certainly the article resonated with a large quantity of Twins fans who are equally frustrated. First there was the trade of one of the team’s more consistent, productive and healthy players in Gio Urshela. Then they signed strikeout-prone outfielder Joey Gallo for a similar contract while they already have several left-handed hitting corner outfielders. Thankfully the offseason is not complete. It will be interesting to see how the roster looks in early March. But for now, it’s been difficult to see the direction. #17 What’s Next for Twins Manager Rocco Baldelli September 14 Ted Schwerzler It’s one of those questions that some fans feel the need to ask when their favorite team is not winning ballgames? Should the manager be fired? Forget the injuries? Forget the slumps and struggles? The reality is managers probably get too much credit when their team wins, and they certainly take too much blame when the team loses. The Twins were in first place into late August, but at that point their pitching staff was decimated. Max Kepler missed the final month. Byron Buxton was out. Ryan Jeffers was out, replaced by Sandy Leon. Along with Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddack, Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle also ended the season on the Injured List. The Twins lineup often included Nick Gordon hitting cleanup. Gordon had a nice year, but that tells you a lot. Again, when things go bad, it’s obviously a question that has to be asked. #16 The Minnesota Twins Front Office Played Themselves December 15 Matthew Taylor No question, the Twins clear top priority this offseason was bringing back Carlos Correa. It sure appeared to be Plan A, Plan B and maybe Plan C. Sure, they were able to sign Christian Vazquez to a three-year contract, but while waiting for the Correa situation to play out, several quality pitchers signed elsewhere. You can question whether or not Scott Boras and Carlos Correa played the Twins, using them as leverage to get a bigger contract. Matthew also thinks that the Twins front office played itself this offseason. Judge for yourself. Hopefully you have enjoyed this look back at 2022. Be sure to check back tomorrow for articles that ranked 11-14th.
  6. Minnesota has yet to have an AL Rookie of the Year winner since Marty Cordova took home the hardware in 1995. Other winners in team history include Tony Oliva (1964), Rod Carew (1967), John Castino (1979), and Chuck Knoblauch (1991). The five candidates below will attempt to end the Twins' nearly three-decade drought without a ROY winner. 5. Royce Lewis, SS Lewis is the highest-ranking prospect on this list, but his Rookie of the Year candidacy is complicated. Following his second ACL surgery, Lewis won't be on the field until the second half of 2022, and that's why he is lower on this list. He can return and significantly impact the line-up, especially if the team doesn't sign one of the top free-agent shortstops. If the Twins are in contention, Lewis can provide a second-half boost that might make it hard for voters to ignore. 4. Edouard Julien, 2B Julien was arguably Minnesota's highest-rising prospect during the 2022 season, and the team has already added him to the 40-man roster. In 113 games at Double-A, he hit .300/.441/.490 (931) with 19 doubles, three triples, and 17 home runs. His hot hitting continued in the Arizona Fall League, where he posted a 1.248 OPS with five doubles and five home runs in 21 games. He was named the AFL Breakout Player of the Year, and it looks like his bat is big-league-ready. Julien ranks lower on this list because other players are ahead of him on the depth chart, and he has yet to play at Triple-A. 3. Simeon Woods Richardson, SP Woods Richardson is the organization's highest-ranked pitching prospect who projects to pitch significant big-league innings next season. In 107 1/3 innings last season, he posted a 2.93 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP and 115 strikeouts. He only faced younger batters in 14 plate appearances this season since he didn't turn 22 years old until September. He's been a step behind other pitchers in the organizational depth chart, and that's why he sits at this spot in the rankings. 2. Louie Varland, SP Last season, Varland became the Twins' first back-to-back Minor League Pitcher of the Year since Jose Berrios. In 24 minor league appearances, he posted a 3.06 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 10.4 K/9. Currently, Varland is scheduled to start the year at Triple-A, but there are questions about the health of other Twins starters. If others are healthy, it might be more challenging for him to accumulate the innings needed to put himself in the ROY conversation. 1. Matt Wallner, OF Wallner is an exciting name to consider when examining the Twins' future. Alex Kirilloff and Trevor Larnach were considered better prospects than Wallner, but he may have passed them over the last year. His power profile comes with many swings and misses, with strikeouts in over 37% of his minor league at-bats last season. Still, Wallner's power is legitimate, as he combined for 35 doubles and 29 home runs between three levels last season. Wallner may not start the year in the big leagues, but he will be one of the team's first call-ups. Who has the best chance to win the 2023 AL Rookie of the Year Award? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Read through our choices for each position. Check back at past Twins Daily Minor League All-Stars. Then discuss and cast your votes as well. Potentially more in 2022 than in most previous years, most of our All-Star selections spent time in the upper-levels of the minor league system. That is especially encouraging when you consider how many young players there are on the MLB roster. Now the key is to get everyone healthy and let them keep on working to earn more shots in the big leagues. Let’s get started. The Twins Daily 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League All-Star Team Catcher: Noah Cardenas (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (8th Round) from UCLA 2022 Stats: .261/.421/.413 (.834) with 18 doubles, 9 home runs, and 43 RBI. In 2022, Cardenas was an on-base machine for the Mighty Mussels. Isolated Discipline is simply On-Base Percentage minus Batting Average. An Isolated Discipline of 0.160 is huge. He had 73 walks to just 70 strikeouts. However, he isn’t just a passive hitter, he bashed 28 extra-base hits around the diamond. He also does a nice job defensively and has taken to some of the new catching techniques well. He’s got a strong arm. To learn much more about Cardenas, please watch his recent Twins Spotlight interview. For more Twins Daily content on Noah Cardenas, click here. ETA - June 2025 First Base: Chris Williams (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 8th round pick in 2018 from Clemson 2022 Stats: .246/.343/.500 (.843) with 21 doubles, 28 home runs, and 89 RBI. The Twins drafted Williams as a catcher, though he spent a lot of time at first base at Clemson after an elbow injury. He has continued to work as a catcher and can play there, but he has spent most of his time playing first base. In 2022, he made 81 starts at first base and 21 starts behind the plate. But Williams makes this team due to his powerful bat. He started the season with 75 games in Wichita where he hit .277/.372/.542 (.915) with 16 doubles and 18 home runs. He finished the season with 42 games in St. Paul. He hit .192, but he maintained the power. He had 10 more homers. There will be strikeouts, but there will also be walks, and there is the potential for a lot of power. For more Twins Daily content on Chris Williams, click here. ETA - July 2023 Second Base: Edouard Julien (Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (17th Round) from Auburn 2022 Stats:.300/.441/.490 (.931) with 19 doubles, 3 triples, 17 home runs, and 67 RBI The Quebec native had a breakout in his pro debut in 2021. Between Low-A and High-A, he played 112 games and hit .267/.434/.480 (.914) with 28 doubles and 18 triples. He also had 34 stolen bases and his 110 walks led all of minor-league baseball. He played all over the place. In 2022 at Double-A, you can see that he was even better. His 98 walks ranked sixth and his .441 OBP ranked fourth in minor-league ball. He went to the Arizona Fall League and played in the Fall Stars game and was named the league’s Breakout Player. Earlier this week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. Want to see some bat speed? For more Twins Daily content on Edouard Julien, click here. ETA: May 2023 Third Base: Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: Signed as International Free Agent 2022 Stats: .278/.370/.536 (.907) with 17 doubles, 19 home runs, and 65 RBI. As a youth, Severino was such an impressive prospect, he received two seven-figure signing bonuses. In 2022, he was limited to 83 games by a midseason injury, but he put together a strong season. In 46 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .283/.398/.572 (.970) with nine doubles, two triples, and 11 home runs. He finished the season with 37 games in Wichita where he hit .273/.338/.497 (.834) with eight doubles and eight home runs. The Twins left him off of their 40-man roster, and after putting up solid numbers in Double-A, a team could have interest and think he’d be ready for some role. For more Twins Daily content on Yunior Severino, click here. ETA: July 2024 Shortstop: Jermaine Palacios (St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Signed as minor league free agent 2022 Stats: .252/.354/.456 (.810) with 13 doubles, 2 triples, 16 homers, and 50 RBI Palacios became a Top 10 Twins prospect with the Twins, and then he was traded to Tampa Bay for Jake Odorizzi. Before the 2021 season, he came back to the Twins as a minor-league free agent. He had a solid season at Wichita, hitting .259 with 17 doubles, 19 homers, and 18 stolen bases. He quickly re-signed with the Twins. He spent most of the season with the Saints and did a nice job getting on base and showing some pop. He made his MLB debut on May 31st, playing shortstop in both games of a doubleheader. He made eight straight starts at short while Carlos Correa was on the Covid-IL. He earned a spot on the 40-man roster in September. In his first 16 games of the month, he went a combined 0-for-33 before a three-hit game in Detroit. He ended the season by hitting his first two homers in the final two games of the year. Following the season, he was claimed by the Tigers who then elected free agency. For more Twins Daily content on Jermaine Palacios, click here. ETA: May 2022 Left fielder: Anthony Prato (Cedar Rapids, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th round) from the University of Connecticut 2022 Stats: .285/.383/.444 (.827) with 30 doubles, 8 triples, 10 home runs, 64 RBI. The scouting report on Prato might tell us that he doesn’t have a lot of tools that immediately jump out, but when you watch him on a regular basis for a while, you start to realize that he can do a lot of things well. His approach is ideal for a top-of-the-lineup hitter. He knows the strike zone and is willing to take walks. But he also has an aggressive swing that produced nearly 50 extra-base hits this year. In 45 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .271/.349/.486 (.836). In 87 games in Wichita, he hit .294/.403/.419 (.822). He was a shortstop at UConn. In pro ball, he’s played several positions. In 2022, he played 60 games in left field, 34 games at second base, and 22 more games at third base. For more Twins Daily content on Anthony Prato, click here. ETA: August 2024 Center fielder: Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels) Acquired: Signed as international free agent in July 2019 2022 Stats: .272/.493/.552 (1.044) with 5 doubles, 3 triples, 9 home runs and 25 RBI. Rodriguez was a big prospect out of the Dominican Republic. Unfortunately, he was unable to play in 2020 but the Twins pushed him to the FCL in 2021. He hit just .214 in 37 games, but he got on base 35% of the time and he had five doubles, two triples, and 10 home runs. He was certainly a prospect but in 2022, he broke out in a big way in Ft. Myers. He continued to strike out, but incredibly, he walked more than he struck out, and he got on base nearly 50% of the time. Just as impressive he hit for a lot of power in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Unfortunately, he hurt his knee and surgery ended his season. In mid-September, he was the #1 overall pick of Aguilas Cibaenas of the Dominican Winter League and has hit a couple more home runs with them already. For more Twins Daily content on Emmanuel Rodriguez, click here. ETA: August 2024 Right fielder - Matt Wallner (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (1st Round, Comp Balance A) from Southern Mississippi 2022 Stats: .277/.412/.542 (.953), with 32 doubles, 4 triples, 27 home runs and 95 RBI. After missing a couple of months of the 2021 season with a broken hamate bone, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he hit six home runs in 18 games. If there were question marks surrounding the Forest Lake native entering the 2022 season, but less than a year later, it is clear he has a big-league future. He began with 78 games in Wichita where he hit .299/.436/.597 (1.033) with 15 doubles and 21 homers. He moved up to St. Paul in August. In 50 games, he hit .247/. 376/.463 (.839) with 17 doubles, three triples and six homers. He hit for the cycle in one game. He was named the Twins and Twins Daily’s Minor League Hitter of the Year. He ended the season with 18 games for the Twins in which he hit .228/.323/.386 (.709) with three doubles and two homers. Is he a finished product? Not at all, which is really exciting if you are a Twins fan. For much more Twins Daily content on Matt Wallner, click here. ETA: September 2022 Designated Hitter: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2021 Draft (4th Round) from Oklahoma State 2022 Stats: 302/.374/.612 (.987) with 25 doubles, 4 triples, 25 home runs, and 85 RBI Matt Wallner was the easy choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year, but if Encarnacion-Strand had not been traded at the deadline, it could have been a very tight race. Drafted from Oklahoma State, where his head coach was Robin Ventura and his hitting coach was Matt Holliday, he is a hitting machine. In 74 games in Cedar Rapids, he hit .296/.370/.599 (.968) with 23 doubles and 20 home runs. He was our Hitter of the Month in both April and June. He moved up to Wichita and in just 13 games he hit .333/.400/.685 (1.085) with two doubles, a triple, and five home runs. After being traded to the Reds and in 35 games, he hit ..309/.351/.522 (.874) with six doubles and seven homers. While it is likely he will wind up at first base, he continues to play at the hot corner. He was traded to the Reds in the Tyler Mahle deal in early August. For more Twins Daily content on Christian Encarnacion-Strand, click here. ETA: August 2023 Utility Player: Michael Helman (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2018 Draft (11th Round) from Texas A&M 2022 Stats: .258/.337/.432 (.769) with 23 doubles, 3 triples, 20 home runs, and 60 RBI Something clicked for Michael Helman in Cedar Rapids in 2021, and he added some pop to his game. He also began playing all over the diamond. He went to the Arizona Fall League after the season to continue the progress. He began 2022 with 39 games in Wichita where he hit .278/.368/.472 (.840) with six doubles and six homers. He moved up to St. Paul where he finished the season with 96 games played. He hit .250/.325/.416 (.741) with 17 doubles and 14 home runs. In addition, he stole a combined 40 bases in 45 attempts. On the season, he played 43 games in center field, 41 games at second base, 29 games at third base, and 11 games at first base. In 2021, he made 64 starts between left field and right field. He has become an intriguing utility player with some right-handed pop and speed as well. For more Twins Daily content on Michael Helman, click here. ETA: May 2023 Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: 2019 Draft (15th Round) from Concordia-St. Paul 2022 Stats: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103.0 IP, 2.6 BB/9, 12.4 K/9 Louie Varland was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2021 after pitching in Ft. Myers and Cedar Rapids. Despite moving up, Varland pitched all in both Wichita and St. Paul not only earned him the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year again in 2022, but he earned a handful of big-league starts late in the season. In 20 games (19 starts) with Wichita, he went 7-4 with a 3.34 ERA. In 105 innings, he struck out 119 batters with just 39 walks. He moved up to his hometown St. Paul Saints and made five starts. In five starts, he went 1-2 with a 3.81 ERA. It was at that point that he made his MLB debut in Yankees Stadium, and on the final day of the season, he earned his first MLB win. For much more Twins Daily content on Louie Varland, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Blue Jays with Austin Martin for Jose Berrios (July 2021) 2022 Stats: 5-3, 2.77 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 107.1 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.6 K/9 2021 was a strange season for Woods Richardson, but he returned in 2022 and had a fantastic season. He began 2020 as a 20-year-old in Double-A, but early on he was named to Team USA and then went to the Olympics where he earned a Silver Medal. While in Japan, he was traded to the Twins. Woods Richardson got off to a strong start in Wichita. In 16 games (15 starts), he went 3-3 with a 3.06 ERA. He had 77 strikeouts (and 26 walks) in 70 2/3 innings. He moved up to St. Paul where he made seven starts and went 2-0 with a 2.21 ERA. He had 38 strikeouts (to just 10 walks) in 36 2/3 innings. When the Saints season finished, Woods Richardson was called up to the Twins for one start in which he gave up three runs (2 earned) in five innings. For more Twins Daily content on Simeon Woods Richardson, click here. ETA: September 2022 Starting Pitcher: David Festa (Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels, Cedar Rapids Kernels) Acquired: 2021 Draft (13th Round) from Seton Hall 2022 Stats: 9-4, 2.43 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 103 2/3 IP, 3.0 BB/9, 9.4 K/9 Last offseason, reports surfaced that Festa was hitting 97 mph in the Instructional League. He began his first full pro season with the Mighty Mussels, but he needed just five starts to prove he was ready to move up to Hi-A. He went 2-1 with a 1.50 ERA. In 24 innings, he had 33 strikeouts to go with just six walks. He pitched in 16 games (13 starts) for Cedar Rapids and went 7-3 with a 2.71 ERA. He added 75 strikeouts in 79 2/3 innings. As impressive, he was clocked over 99 mph on several occasions and even his secondary pitches showed improvement. He is another good example of the scouting department finding guys in the later rounds and the Twins pitcher development working with them to make them intriguing prospects. For more Twins Daily content on David Festa, click here. ETA: June 2024 Starting Pitcher: Brent Headrick (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (7th Round) from Illinois State 2022 Stats: 10-5, 3.32 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 108.1 IP, 2.1 BB/9, 11.3 K/9 Headrick stands 6-6. He’s long and lean, and a lefty. After missing some time in 2021 with some shoulder issues, Headrick began the 2022 season in Cedar Rapids. In 15 starts, he went 8-2 with a 2.34 ERA and a 0.89 WHIP. He was promoted to Wichita where he made 10 appearances (8 starts). He went 2-3 with a 4.81 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. However, most of the damage came in his Double-A debut when he gave up seven runs on 10 hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings. Over his final nine appearances, he went 2-2 with a 3.54 ERA. He had at least six strikeouts in each of his final seven starts. Headrick sits 90-92 with the fastball, though he can hit 94 at times. He’s found an ability to miss bats despite throwing a ton of strikes. Last week, he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. For more Twins Daily content on Brent Headrick, click here. ETA: July 2024 Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids Kernels, Wichita Wind Surge) Acquired: 2019 Draft (14th round) from the University of Maine 2022 Stats: 6-0, 1 save, 1.62 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 10.6 K/9 He ended the season by making starts in Double-A, but Laweryson spent most of the season working out of the bullpen. In all, he pitched in 35 games and made 10 starts. He pitched in 16 games for the Kernels and went 1-0 with a 2.57 ERA and a 1.06 WHIP. He ended the season with 19 games in Wichita (8 starts) and went 5-0 with a 1.06 ERA and 0.94 WHIP. As you can see, Laweryson throws strikes, but he’s also got an unusual delivery and misses a lot of bats. He played in the Arizona Fall League in 2021 and pitched very well. For more Cody Laweryson content at Twins Daily, click here. ETA: August 2024 Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Evan Sisk (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) Acquired: Traded from Cardinals with John Gant for J.A. Happ (July 2021) 2022 MiLB Stats: 5-1, 1 save, 1.57 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 4.1 BB/9, 10.9 K/9 Fair to say that when the Twins got anything at the July 2021 trade deadline for J.A. Happ. John Gant came to the Twins and was able to eat up some innings at the end of a long, frustrating season, but they also got Sisk, a Double-A left-handed reliever too. After 13 games with Wichita, the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League. He began 2022 with 19 more games for the Wind Surge. He went 3-0 with a 0.95 ERA and a 0.95 WHIP. He moved up to Triple-A and was 2-1 with a 2.08 ERA and a 1.07 WHIP in 31 appearances. In 63 combined innings, he had an impressive 76 strikeouts. His 29 walks were too many, but then he gave up just 5.0 hits per nine innings which is incredible. Sisk sits in the low-90s with his fastball, but it is his breaking stuff that makes him really good. He throws from an angle that could make left-handed batters think that the ball starts behind them, but then breaks over the strike zone. He can be devastating against same-siders. He was left unprotected from the Rule 5 draft and is certainly someone that the Twins could lose at that time. For more Evan Sisk content from Twins Daily, click here. ETA: June 2023 ------------------------------------------------------------------ PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker, RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos. Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2019 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Jaylin Davis, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff Looking Back: 2021 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Jeferson Morales, 1B: Alex Isola, 2B: Spencer Steer, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Drew Maggi, OF: Trey Cabbage, BJ Boyd, Mark Contreras, DH: Edouard Julien, UT: Michael Helman, SP (4): Louie Varland, Josh Winder, Cole Sands, Jordan Balazovic, RH RP: Jordan Gore, LH RP: Jovani Moran.
  8. Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Josh Winder all made their MLB debuts during the 2022 season. Winder was the only one of the trio to exceed his rookie status this season. Right now, the Twins projected 2023 Opening Day rotation is made up of Sonny Gray, Joe Ryan, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, and Bailey Ober, dependent largely on health. There is the possibility the Twins could roll out a six-man rotation as they did this season, but it is too early to tell if that will be the case for 2023. All three of these pitchers will likely make starts for the Twins during the 2023 season whether by earning a spot in the rotation or filling in for an injured starter. Based on what was seen from these pitchers during the 2022 season, here is my ranking of who will make the most starts. 1. Louie Varland The Twins two-time Minor League Pitcher of the Year showed great promise in his five late-season starts in September. Varland posted a 3.81 ERA in 26 innings and earned his first big-league win on the season's final day. Earning the Minor League Pitcher of the Year award will also help Varland’s case to start the season with the Twins either as the Twins fifth/sixth starter or long reliever. If Varland is not in the back end of the Twins' starting rotation for Opening Day, he will surely be the first guy to be added in for another due to injury. Varland made 23 minor-league starts between Double-A and Triple-A. He remained healthy and made the most starts of any pitcher on this list. With how many injuries the 2022 Twins suffered, it would not be a surprise if the front office gives the North St. Paul native a similar role as Bailey Ober/Chris Paddack had as the team’s sixth starter to start the season. To put an estimation on how many starts Twins fans could expect from Varland in 2023, it’s safe to guess he will take anywhere from 10-15 starts along with a few appearances out of the bullpen. 2. Simeon Woods Richardson Twins fans were fortunate to see one start from Woods Richardson before the regular season ended. He had five innings of work in his start against the Detroit Tigers and allowed two earned runs. Woods Richardson also missed time last year due to COVID-19. He made 22 minor-league starts prior to his one with the Twins. His best stretch came during his stint in St. Paul, where he made seven starts and posted a 2.21 ERA, 0.84 WHIP, striking out 38 batters in 36 2/3 IP. Woods Richardson turned 22 on September 27, meaning age is on his side to start his 2023 season at Triple-A St. Paul. His best chance of making the Opening Day roster appears to depend on the health of others. It is likely he will make anywhere between eight and 12 starts this upcoming season, maybe more.. 3. Josh Winder Josh Winder struggled the most out of these three pitchers this season as he was just one of the many Twins who missed time due to injury. He exceeded his rookie status with his 67 big-league innings pitched. As a starter, Winder struggled at both the major league and minor league levels. He posted a 4.79 ERA across 50 2/3 IP in his 11 starts with the Twins. In the minors, he posted a 5.00 ERA across six starts (one rehab in Ft. Myers) with the Saints. Winder’s injuries affected his performance this season and given his workload and results, it’s possible the Twins could convert him into a full-time long reliever. They would likely make him a long relief man with the opportunity to turn into a high leverage reliever as Griffin Jax was this season for the Twins. Winder’s pitch usage is also similar to that of Jax’s during the 2021 season as both were throwing mostly fastballs, 40.1% for Winder in 2022 compared to 45.9% for Jax in 2021. With the slider as their go-to breaking ball, 33.3% for Winder in '22 compared to 31.1% for Jax in '21, Jax turned his slider into his go-to pitch throwing it 48.4% of the time this year according to FanGraphs. The Twins may have a second reclamation project with a former top prospect in Winder as they did in Jax this year. If the Twins opt for this route, then don’t expect any starts from Winder, but since that is only speculation as of now, expect five or fewer starts from Winder in 2023. Three Other Options Three young pitchers to keep an eye on to possibly be added into the Twins rotation at some point in the season are Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, and Cole Sands. However, given the depth ahead of them on this list, it is looking unlikely they serve more than relief roles if and when they pitch for the 2022 Twins. Balazovic struggled mightily throughout the 2022 season with the Saints and only began to see success toward the end of the year after battling a nagging knee injury all year. He will surely start his 2023 season with the Saints. Both Henriquez and Sands saw time with the Twins this year, mainly as long relievers. Sands had a stretch of three starts for the Twins from May 31 to June 12, but pitched much more effectively as a reliever. Henriquez only pitched out of the bullpen in three relief appearances for the Twins. He made 14 starts with the Saints over the summer but was found to be more effective piggybacking with the starter. Balazovic is the most likely to make a start for the Twins next season. If the Twins see great success in either Henriquez or Sands, they will be given another chance as a starter. However, it is more likely that if those two are making starts, the rotation depth is in dire straits. Conclusion All three of these young pitchers will play more important roles with the Twins pitching staff in 2023 than they did in 2022. Twins fans can expect to see them all at different points of the season. And hopefully, when Varland, Winder, and Woods Richardson arrive on the Twins roster, it is because of their earning a spot rather than constantly replacing an injured teammate.
  9. Defining what constitutes an ace is something fans have debated throughout baseball history. Some might view it as baseball's top 10-15 pitchers, while others might characterize it as the top pitcher for each team. As Nick wrote about earlier this week, Sonny Gray currently represents the top of Minnesota's rotational threshold, and some might not call him an ace. He is the team's best starting pitcher, and an off-season acquisition should be better or equal to him. So, does Minnesota currently have a pitcher in the system with ace potential? It could be easy to look at the Twins' prospect rankings and gauge ace potential by those rankings. However, pitching prospect development rarely follows a linear path. At this point last season, Simeon Woods Richardson saw his stock drop as he struggled at Double-A. Now, he is back on the prospect radar and has the potential to be an ace. Below there are five candidates that have varying levels of ace potential. Connor Prielipp, LHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 4th ETA: 2025 Ace Potential: High Prielipp has the best chance to be an ace out of all the pitchers in the Twins organization. Minnesota was lucky to have him fall to them with the 48th overall pick in the 2022 MLB Draft because he was recovering from Tommy John surgery. His fastball and slider are both MLB-ready pitches, and his changeup also projects to be above average. The Twins were confident enough in his pre-draft workouts to go over slot value to sign him. Minnesota will work him back slowly in 2023, but he has all the traits necessary to be an ace pitcher. (Click here for more Connor Prielipp articles at Twins Daily.) Marco Raya, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 9th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Medium Raya made his organizational debut in 2022 as a 19-year-old in the Florida State League. He impressed with a 3.05 ERA and a 1.08 WHIP in 65 innings. Over 82% of his at-bats came against older batters, which he held to a .571 OPS. According to MLB.com, he has four pitches that grade at 50 or higher on the 20-80 scouting scale. The biggest thing holding him back from being an ace is his size, as he is six feet tall and weighs around 165-pounds. Players like Jose Berrios and Marcus Stroman have shown ace potential while being his size, so there is plenty of hope for him to be a top-of-the-rotation arm. (Click here for more Marco Raya articles at Twins Daily.) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 5th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Medium Woods Richardson has the best potential to be an ace pitcher out of the prospects in the mix for 2023. He turned 22 in September, and he already made his big-league debut. Woods Richardson struggled mightily during the 2021 season but bounced back nicely in 2022. He posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP with a 115-to-36 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 107 1/3 minor league innings. He likely starts next season at Triple-A, where he only made seven starts this season. His age, pitch mix, and prospect status give him a shot at becoming an ace. (Click here for more Simeon Woods Richardson articles at Twins Daily.) Louie Varland, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 7th ETA: 2022 Ace Potential: Low Varland has been named the Twins' Minor League Pitcher of the Year in back-to-back seasons. For most organizations, a pitcher winning that award multiple times would point to ace potential. However, it might also result from other pitchers in the organization not performing well. Varland dominated the upper minors on the way to making an impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He has three above-average pitches, which can help him fit into the Twins' rotation for multiple years. It still seems unlikely for him to ever be considered the best pitcher in a rotation, even if he reaches his ceiling. (Click here for more Louie Varland articles at Twins Daily.) Matt Canterino, RHP Current Twins Daily Prospect Ranking: 14th ETA: 2024 Ace Potential: Low Canterino's potential has been hard to project throughout his professional career because he hasn't stayed healthy. He underwent Tommy John surgery in August, so he will likely miss most, if not all, of the 2023 season. Minnesota hopes this surgery can get Canterino back on track, as he was one of the team's top pitching prospects entering the season. When on the mound, Canterino has dominated with a true four-pitch mix and a fastball in the upper-90s. He arguably has the best stuff in the system, so his ace potential is tied to his ability to stay healthy, and remaining a starter. (Click here for more Matt Canterino articles at Twins Daily.) Who do you think has the best chance to be an ace? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. At the onset of the 2022 season, Minnesota's front office put a vote of confidence in the pitching pipeline by not signing a frontline starting pitcher. Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer were the team's two free-agent acquisitions, and neither performed exceptionally well. Unfortunately, Minnesota's pitching pipeline also struggled, but signs point to a potential turnaround in 2023. Here are how the team's top pitching prospects performed in 2022. Triple-A: Jordan Balazovic (ETA: 2023), Simeon Woods Richardson (ETA: 2022), Louie Varland (ETA: 2022), Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022) Woods Richardson and Varland are the two highlights of this group, as they both started the year at Double-A and finished it in the Twins rotation. By many accounts, Woods Richardson is still considered the better prospect, but Varland has now won back-to-back awards as the organization's minor league pitcher of the year. Woods Richardson posted a 2.77 ERA and a 1.05 WHIP across 23 appearances. Varland made 24 appearances with a 3.06 ERA and a 1.26 WHIP. Next year, both arms project to start in the Saints rotation, but they will be needed at the big-league level at some point in 2023. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade with Texas. He is an intriguing prospect to watch as the club must decide at some point in the future if he is a starter or reliever moving forward. Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the organization will likely allow him to start again in 2023. As a 22-year-old, he was very young for Triple-A and posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.39 WHIP in 95 1/3 innings. Henriquez wasn't the only prospect to see a poor performance at Triple-A. Balazovic struggled to start 2022, but he finished the season on a positive note. Entering the 2022 season, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus had him in their top-100 prospects. In 23 appearances, Balazovic had a 7.68 ERA with a 1.97 WHIP. He has been one of the team's top pitching prospects for multiple seasons, and his development is key to the organization's pitching pipeline. Henriquez and Balazovic should be at Triple-A to start 2023. Double-A: Blayne Enlow (ETA: 2023), Brent Headrick (ETA: 2024) Minnesota added Enlow to the 40-man roster last winter even though he was expected to miss most of 2022 due to Tommy John surgery. Enlow was used as a starter and reliever and posted a 4.73 ERA with a 1.63 WHIP in 59 innings. It will be interesting to see if he sticks on the 40-man roster because the Twins have a lot of clean-up this winter. He will likely need to start 2022 at Double-A because he is continuing to build up his arm strength following surgery. Varland has received most of the attention, but Headrick was in the same draft class and has performed well. He split time between High-A and Double-A with a 3.32 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP in 108 innings. He struck out more than 11 batters per nine innings, and his strikeout numbers improved after being promoted to Double-A. Headrick will start next season at Double-A, but he will have the opportunity to move to Triple-A in the second half. High-A: David Festa (ETA: 2024), Sean Mooney (ETA: 2024), Jaylen Nowlin (ETA: 2024) The Twins took Festa in the 13th round in 2019, but he has seen his prospect stock rise since that point. In 2022, he made starts at Low- and High-A with a 2.43 ERA and a 1.09 WHIP. He dominated in Fort Myers with a 12.4 K/9, but that total dipped to 8.5 K/9 after his promotion. Festa was a little young for the Midwest League, so he can start 2023 at that level before moving up the organizational ladder. Mooney is an intriguing pitching prospect, averaging 13.5 K/9 during his first two professional seasons. Unfortunately, injuries have been part of his career which has limited him to just over 100 innings pitched since 2021. Since he turns 25 in January, the team may need to push him to Double-A during the 2023 season. Nowlin was a 19th round pick in 2021 and he made it all the way to High-A last in 2022. He posted video-game strikeout numbers in his first full season with 14.1 K/9 in 71 innings. He throws hard and is left-handed, which may help his prospect status entering 2023. He only made three starts at High-A to end 2022, so he likely starts next season in Cedar Rapids. Low-A: Marco Raya (ERA: 2025) In recent memory, Raya is one of the Twins' most exciting pitching prospects. He missed most of 2021 with a shoulder strain, so the 2022 season marked his professional debut. In 19 games (65 innings), he posted a 3.05 ERA with a 1.08 WHIP and a 76-to-23 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He will be 20 years old for most of the 2023 season, so it will be interesting to see how aggressive the Twins are with his promotions. It seems likely for the club to keep him in Fort Myers for the cold months to start the year and promote him to Cedar Rapids later in the year. The names above are just some of the organization's starting pitching options in the years ahead. Connor Prielipp, a 2022 second-round pick, is arguably the Twins' best pitching prospect, and he has yet to make a professional appearance. Matt Canterino has been dominant on the mound, but health was an issue, and now he will miss 2023 following Tommy John surgery. Brayan Medina is a name to watch in the rookie leagues, as MLB.com already ranks him as the team's 17th-best prospect. This group needs to start producing if Falvey wants to recreate Cleveland's pitching success. Will the Twins' pitching pipeline emerge in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  11. Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 10/3 through Weds, 10/5 *** Record Last Week: 1-2 (Overall: 78-84) Run Differential Last Week: +3 (Overall: +12) Standing: 3rd Place in AL Central (14.0 GB) Last Week's Game Results: Game 160 | CWS 3, MIN 2: Ober, Urshela Not Enough Game 161 | CWS 8, MIN 3: Sox Lineup Proves Overpowering Game 162 | MIN 10, CWS 1: Twins Finish on a High Note NEWS & NOTES The MLB season doesn't typically conclude in the middle of the week, but as a byproduct of last offseason's lockout and delayed spring training, this three-game series between the Twins and White Sox – originally scheduled to open the season – was tacked onto the end of the schedule. Back when the change was first made, fans were sizing up the possibility of a decisive final showdown in the AL Central. As it turns out, Cleveland ran away with the division, rendering this add-on series in Chicago as little more than a begrudging formality. Many key Twins players did not make it back in time to close out the season. Byron Buxton, Jorge Polanco, Trevor Larnach, Tyler Mahle and Max Kepler were all among the sidelined players once expected to return who never did. Sonny Gray joined them on the injured list in mid-September with a hamstring strain and Trevor Megill went down with an oblique strain after unleashing a wild pitch in warmups – which nearly hurt one the only injured player who DID make it back, Ryan Jeffers. Even José Miranda, a relative iron man in this group rounding out a very impressive rookie season, got bitten by the bug on Tuesday as a pitch – amazingly – ricocheted off his wrist and directly into his face for one of the most painful-looking HBPs of the year. While not deemed serious, he came out of the game and didn't play in the season finale on Wednesday. Fittingly, the injuries just kept on coming right up until the bitter end for these Minnesota Twins. HIGHLIGHTS Hilariously, the Twins fielded a lineup with no Miranda, no Carlos Correa, and none of the injured players mentioned above in Wednesday's season finale ... and managed to put up double-digit runs for the first time in six weeks. Minnesota did have one remaining cornerstone in their lineup: Luis Arraez, batting leadoff at DH while fighting through an obviously nagging hamstring, all in the name of actively locking down his first batting title. He did just that, finishing 1-for-1 with two walks to secure the honor. It helped his cause that Aaron Judge, with whom Arraez was competing for the batting crown, slowed down in the final weeks as he pressed (successfully) for the AL home run record and then rested. Judge batted .216 from September 22nd onward, while Arraez batted .364 over the same span, giving himself a solid margin of victory with a final .316 mark. (It was still the lowest average to earn an AL batting title in more than 50 years, which says a lot about where the game is at.) A few other positives to extract from the final series in Chicago, which – reflective of the Twins season as a whole – ended with a positive run differential and losing record: Gio Urshela finished the season strong and ended it with an exclamation point. The veteran infielder slashed .333/.404/.425 after the start of September, including .463/.500/.585 in his last 11 games with a 4-for-10 effort and 2 RBIs in the final series. Dick Bremer opined during one of last week's broadcasts that Urshela would be his choice for team MVP, and while I personally wouldn't go that far, he's undoubtedly been one of the team's steadiest players, and has earned an arbitration tender for that reason. Bailey Ober didn't quite dominate the White Sox to the same degree he did a week prior at Target Field, but he closed out his truncated season in style on Monday with five innings of two-run ball. Ober struck out four and walked one while allowing just two hits to finalize these 2022 numbers: 11 GS, 56 IP, 3.21 ERA, 2.92 FIP, 1.05 WHIP, 8.2 K/9, 1.8 BB/9. Perhaps most notably, he allowed only four home runs (0.6 HR/9), correcting the biggest flaw in his game as a rookie when he allowed 1.9 HR/9. A tremendous sophomore campaign in almost every regard, with the glaring exception of two-thirds being wiped out by his groin injury. Ober has entrenched himself as a homegrown mainstay in the future rotation plans, and Louie Varland is looking to do the same. He too closed out strong, starting the season finale and tossing five shutout innings with five strikeouts and no walks. Varland, who was named Twins minor league pitcher of the year for a second straight season, made five starts during his September audition in the big leagues, and looked eminently capable. In 26 innings he posted a 3.81 ERA and 21-to-6 K/BB ratio, completing at least five frames each time out. LOWLIGHTS While Ober and Varland finished on high notes, the same cannot be said for Josh Winder, who unfortunately has probably removed himself from a firm place in the team's rotation planning with a tumultuous season, and a final start that was emblematic. Winder was wildly ineffective against a watered-down White Sox lineup on Tuesday, lasting only 2 ⅓ innings before being lifted. He was charged with four earned runs on five hits and a walk, raising his ERA to 4.70. It was a familiar story for Winder: the velocity was there, but his fastball was nonetheless quite hittable (hitters batted .351 and slugged .713 against it this year), and the secondary stuff inconsistent. His control was amiss, with only 38 of 69 pitches finding the strike zone. Turning 26 in a couple of days, Winder has plenty of time to get back on track, but there's a long way to go in regaining the confidence he'd earned by the start of this 2022 season, when the Twins surprisingly snuck him onto their Opening Day roster. Also failing to gain confidence in this final stretch was Minnesota's makeshift outfield. It's tough to be without your full complement of starters – Buxton, Kepler, Alex Kirilloff – and even a bunch of key depth pieces in Larnach, Kyle Garlick, and Royce Lewis. Still, that doesn't fully excuse how woefully inadequate the replacement crew was. Gilberto Celestino, Jake Cave and Mark Contreras combined to go 2-for-29 in Chicago, contributing to an offense that could get nothing going in the first two games. The 27-year-old Contreras struggled overall in his major-league debut, slashing just .121/.148/.293 with a ghastly 21-to-1 K/BB ratio in 28 games, but he popped a few homers and showed some defensible chops. The presence of Contreras will probably (hopefully) be enough to push Cave – suddenly about to be 30 and arbitration-eligible – out of the picture going forward. Celestino, on the other hand, projects as more of an important part of the team's planning. His first full MLB season was a major improvement on a brutal 2021 debut, but the outfielder still rated out as merely replacement level. His offensive game was uninspiring and often punchless. His glove and legs showed promise, but Celestino managed to offset many of his positives with mental gaffes and baffling miscues. It's unfortunate that Celestino's development was so disturbed by the necessities of an injury-raved big-league club over the past two years. He needed more time to refine his hitting in the high minors, and the Twins could not afford to give it to him. It bears noting that Celly is still only 23, the same age as Lewis and Austin Martin. It's understandable that Celestino is lagging behind a bit, given his circumstances. But next year he's gonna need to show that he's catching up. TRENDING STORYLINE The offseason lies ahead. It'll be a very intriguing one for the Twins, who have some pivotal decisions in front of them. In some senses, this team is raring to go for a comeback in 2023. They'll return most of their core players – hopefully with much better health – and the aforementioned season-ending highlights offer reason for excitement: the reigning batting champ, Ober's continued emergence, and a minor-league pitcher/hitter of the year who debuted in September and look primed for immediate impact Then again, the Twins will head into the offseason plagued by lingering health concerns around key assets. They face the likelihood of losing one of their most valuable players in Correa, who's set to opt out shortly after the World Series. While they'd have money to spend in that event, the options available to replace him – and to bring much-needed stability to the top of the rotation and bullpen – are quite limited. Like I said, plenty of intrigue and no shortage of question marks. We'll be covering it all as it happens here at Twins Daily, where the baseball season never ends. If you haven't yet, make sure to sign up as a Caretaker at any tier so you get automatic access to our premium Offseason Handbook content, which kicks off on Monday when we launch our payroll analysis and roster builder tool.
  12. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 IP, 4H, 0R, 0ER, 0BB, 5K (78 pitches, 55 strikes, 70.5%) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (16), Jermaine Palacios (2) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.249), Jermaine Palacios (.088), Matt Wallner (.058) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Arráez is the American League batting champion! This is not breaking news, but… Luis Arraez has done it! Despite watching New York Yankee Aaron Judge briefly surpass him for the highest batting average in the American League, the Venezuelan hitting machine kept on hitting and regained first place, never letting it go again. He walked twice today before doubling to deep center in the third inning, raising his batting average to .316, and leaving the game after that. Even if he hadn’t doubled, his case for winning the crown was just too good. Coming into today, Arráez's batting average sat at .315, while Judge’s sat at .311. The Yankees outfielder would need to go 4-for-4 today just to match Arráez’s average while also hoping “La Regadera” would have some bad at-bats in Chicago. However, the Yankees decided not to play Judge for the day, making Arráez the batting champion right away. Even if Arráez had gone 0-for-4 for the day, his batting average would still be higher than that of Judge. Arráez becomes the fifth Twin to ever win the AL batting title, the first one since 2009, joining Tony Oliva (1964, 1965), Rod Carew (1969, 1971-75, 1977, 1978), Kirby Puckett (1989), and Joe Mauer (2006, 2008, 2009). He also becomes the sixth Venezuelan to win the distinction, the first one since 2017, joining Andres Galarraga, Magglio Ordonez, Carlos Gonzalez, Miguel Cabrera, and Jose Altuve. The offense gets the job done early The game was basically decided after just two innings. The Twins' offense knocked around Chicago starter Davis Martin right out of the gate, building a six-run lead in the first inning. After Arráez drew a leadoff walk and was followed by a Gio Urshela single, Gary Sánchez obliterated a slider on the heart of the plate for a three-run rocket (106.2 MPH off his bat). On the very next at-bat, Jake Cave doubled to left, and he scored on a Matt Wallner single to center a couple of at-bats later. Then, Jermaine Palacios, who had hit his first major league home run on Tuesday night, made it back-to-back days with a dinger, taking Martin deep to left for a two-run jack, making it 6-0 Twins in the first. Three more runs scored in the second inning. Sánchez got another RBI with a double, bringing home Arráez from second after he got another leadoff walk and moved to second on a Nick Gordon single. That prompted a pitching change by Chicago, but it didn’t help. Both Sánchez and Gordon were pushed across by a Gilberto Celestino two-out single against reliever Vince Velasquez, making it 9-0 Minnesota. Things could’ve gotten even worse for Chicago in the third, as the offense loaded the bases with only one out against Velasquez. One of those runners was Arráez and his double, shortly before being lifted for pinch runner Jose Miranda. But this time, one run was all Minnesota could get after a Gordon sacrifice fly to score Caleb Hamilton. Varland takes advantage, secures first big league win Making his fifth start in the majors, rookie Louie Varland was still chasing his first big league win. Before today’s game, he had lost two and gotten a couple of no-decisions. Also, in his previous four starts, Varland had failed to prevent runs from scoring. He would reach both of those personal milestones by the end of the fifth inning today. Against an uninspired White Sox offense, Varland looked more comfortable than in any of his big league starts so far. He allowed a couple of hits early, one in each of the two first innings, including a leadoff double in the second. He pitched around that with three consecutive strikeouts. Despite not missing a lot of bats, Varland didn’t allow quality contact. Chicago hitters had an average 79.3 MPH exit velocity against him. Varland completed five on 78 pitches, throwing over 70% strikes. Also, this was the first start in his short big league career in which he didn’t allow a walk. Cole Sands pitched the rest of the way, and Chicago’s offense didn't pose a threat against him until the final inning, when they put two men on and scored a run, but Sands secured the four-inning save. With the win today, the Twins finish the season with a frustrating 78-84 record, but they do salvage one thing: they take the series season against the Sox with 10 wins in 19 games. Postgame interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sands 0 0 0 0 59 59 Jax 0 12 21 0 0 33 Sanchez 0 0 0 33 0 33 López 0 18 0 9 0 27 Fulmer 0 26 0 0 0 26 Moran 0 0 0 21 0 21 Pagán 0 0 5 15 0 20 Thielbar 0 0 15 0 0 15 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  13. It was clear that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine planned for the pitching pipeline to start producing big-league talent in 2022. There have been some breakthrough performances, but some question marks remain heading into the offseason. Look back at the seven pitchers that made their debut this year. Consider how they may fit into the team's plan in 2023 and beyond. Jhoan Duran 2022 Stats (57 G): 1.86 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 89 K, 16 BB, 67 2/3 IP Duran has been unbelievable for the entire season. He quickly evolved into one of baseball’s most dominant bullpen weapons. It can be easy to forget that he wasn’t used as a reliever until spring training this season. Duran is also going to set the rookie record for most Win Probability Added (WPA) by a Twins pitcher since 1990, which puts him in elite company. There aren’t enough words to describe what Duran has meant to the Twins bullpen this season, and he is a vital part of the team’s long-term plans. MLB Debut (April 8): 2 IP, 0 ER, 2 H, 4 K, 1 BB Josh Winder 2022 Stats (14 G): 4.31 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, 45 K, 17 BB, 64 2/3 IP Minnesota’s rotation was full to start the 2022 season, but the team decided it needed Winder on the big-league roster. He pitched well to start the season with a 1.61 ERA while holding batters to a .464 OPS in his first five appearances. Unfortunately, shoulder issues started bothering him again, and he was limited to three big-league appearances from May 18 through September 10. He’s made four September starts where he has allowed 12 earned runs in 19 1/3 innings. It’s nice that he has been able to prove he is healthy before the season ends. MLB Debut (April 12): 1 IP, 1 ER, 0 H, 1 K, 2 BB Cole Sands 2022 Stats (11 G): 5.87 ERA, 1.57 WHIP, 28 K, 13 BB, 30 2/3 IP Sands didn’t make the Opening Day roster, but the Twins needed him at the big-league level by the beginning of May. During the 2021 season, he was terrific at Double-A with a 2.46 ERA and a 1.17 WHIP in 19 appearances. That performance hasn’t followed him to the 2022 campaign as his ERA rose by over three runs in sporadic opportunities at Triple-A. Sands missed time this season with a right elbow contusion after taking a line drive off the bat of Yuli Gurriel. Sands is only 24 years old, and the Twins hope he can see more of his 2021 performance in the future. MLB Debut (May 1): 2 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB Yennier Cano 2022 Stats (10 G): 9.22 ERA, 2.05 WHIP, 14 K, 11 BB, 13 2/3 IP Cano’s path to the big leagues was unique. He signed as a 25-year-old from Cuba in 2019. This season, he pitched well in the minors with a 1.90 ERA and a 0.93 WHIP in St. Paul. His first taste of the big leagues hasn’t gone perfectly as he has allowed 21 earned runs in 11 appearances. Minnesota included Cano as part of the package to acquire Jorge Lopez at the trade deadline. MLB Debut (May 11): 2 1/3 IP, 3 ER, 3 H, 2 K, 0 BB Louie Varland 2022 Stats (5 G): 3.81 ERA, 1.23 WHIP, 21 K, 6 BB, 26 IP Varland has dominated the minor leagues over the last two seasons as he was recently named the TD Minor League Pitcher of the Year for the second consecutive season. Minnesota put him in a tough spot for his big-league debut. He took the mound at Yankee Stadium. He performed well as he pitched into the sixth inning and held the Yankees' line-up to two runs on three hits with seven strikeouts. There have been a few hiccups in his other starts as he has allowed four home runs, including two homers by the Angels. Varland has inserted himself into Minnesota’s long-term pitching plans even with these blemishes. MLB Debut (September 7): 5 1/3 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 7 K, 1 BB Ronny Henriquez 2022 Stats (3 G): 2.31 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 9 K, 3 BB, 11 2/3 IP Henriquez can sometimes be one of the forgotten players from Minnesota’s flurry of trades this past winter. The Twins acquired Henriquez as part of the Mitch Garver trade because he was an intriguing pitching prospect. At Triple-A this season, he split time as a starter and reliever with a 5.66 ERA and a 1.36 WHIP. He is only 22 years old and is considered one of the team’s top 30 prospects. This season was his first pitching over 100 innings. The club will need to decide if he is a starter or reliever, but with his youth, they don't need to decide that for a while. MLB Debut (September 19): 4 IP, 3 ER, 4 H, 2 K, 2 BB Simeon Woods Richardson 2022 Stats (1 G): 3.60 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 3 K, 2 BB, 5 IP Woods Richardson made his much-anticipated debut last weekend and performed admirably even with some poor defense behind him. After struggling at Double-A in 2022, he dominated in the upper minors this season. He posted a 2.77 ERA with a 1.05 WHIP, including 115 strikeouts in 107 1/3 innings. Only Varland finished ahead of Woods Richardson in the TD Minor League Pitcher of the Year balloting. Many rankings have Woods Richardson as a higher-rated prospect than Varland, so it will be fun to track their development in the years ahead. MLB Debut (October 2): 5 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 3 K, 2 BB Which pitching prospect are you most excited about moving forward? Who has the highest ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. The above graph plots the effectiveness of a pitcher's first start (measured by game score) and their career wins above replacement with Minnesota for the notable Twins pitchers to make their first start since 2000. The size of the point corresponds to career starts in a Twins uniform. The figure only includes pitchers whose Twins career has finished and those who were primarily starters. A few things stand out: The pitchers with the most impressive first starts are not exactly Twins Hall-of-Famers. Nick Blackburn, Anthony Swarzak, Boof Bonser, and Fernando Romero are the only starters with initial game scores above 60. Jose Berrios, quite memorably, had one of the worst Twins debuts in recent memory. He turned out alright. Where would the 2022 debutants fit in the list of game scores? Josh Winder: 76 ... six shutout innings with a single walk against the Rays, topping the list Louie Varland: 60 ... a memorable debut at Yankee Stadium and one of the better debuts in the last 20 years Simeon Woods Richardson: 56 ... a better first start than Johan Santana, he's well on his way! Cole Sands: 36 ... one of the worst first starts in recent years, allowing four runs in four innings in Detroit The moral of the story? Don't get too high or too low on a pitcher's career after one start. Maybe even after one year. Randomness abounds!
  15. Box Score Louie Varland: 5 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 3 K Home Runs: None Bottom 3 WPA: Caleb Thielbar (-.280), Jose Miranda (-.178), Matt Wallner (-.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The game’s action started quickly; as fans looked for seats, ordered popcorn, and organized their children, the Twins' offense clocked in for work, plating a pair of runs off Lucas Giolito in the 1st inning. Three straight singles from Carlos Correa, Luis Arraez, and Gio Urshela loaded the bases—and while a Gary Sánchez strikeout incited groans from an often apathetic crowd—Nick Gordon broke the mold, delivering a ringing two-run double into the right field corner. Giolito was in trouble early. On the flipside, Louie Varland easily settled into his start; the St. Paul native breezed through the opening frame and worked around a walk in the 2nd inning, supporting the two-run advantage his offense had gifted him. Trouble brewed in the 3rd inning, however; Matt Wallner awkwardly misplayed a line drive, allowing Josh Harrison to score from first base while Romy Gonzalez—the fortunate individual who hit the ball—scampered safely to third base. Gonzalez traveled home two batters later thanks to a Mark Payton single. The game remained a stalemate through the middle innings; neither starter found their dominant stuff, but they were both effective, resiliently tamping down minor attempts at scoring. The White Sox found the upper hand in the 6th inning, ambushing a freshly minted Griffin Jax for two singles and a run off an Andrew Vaughn sacrifice fly. The Twins struck back in the bottom half of the inning with some old-school small-ball. After Sánchez walked to begin the inning, Billy Hamilton—always the speed demon—took his spot at first base. In perhaps the least surprising move of all-time, Hamilton stole 2nd base and then claimed 3rd after Gordon struck out. Gilberto Celestino worked a mature plate appearance, walking in a full count to set up Ryan Jeffers in a pinch-hitting scenario. With a strike to his name, Jeffers laid down a perfect push-bunt towards 1st base, a play so masterful that he even beat out the throw to 1st base. The game was now tied. After an uneventful 7th inning, action began in the 8th; Caleb Thielbar entered the game in relief of Jorge López and coaxed a sky-high pop-up from Payton. Unfortunately, Gordon never comfortably found the ball, and it slipped out of his glove, allowing Payton to dash to second base safely. The White Sox pounced immediately; José Abreu—as he always does—struck a double off the wall in right-center field, scoring the go-ahead run. That final score proved to be the dagger; the Twins fell to Kendall Graveman in the 8th, and—despite a walk from Correa in the 9th—Liam Hendriks silenced their bats in the final frame, halting Minnesota from sweeping their final home series. Notes: Louie Varland has struck out three batters in three straight starts; he remains winless in his MLB career The Twins netted two hits outside of the 1st innings Luis Arraez stands atop of the AL batting race with a .315 mark; Aaron Judge is 2nd at .313 Caleb Thielbar received his first loss since August 20th against Texas Matt Wallner earned his first MLB steal in the 4th inning Post-Game Interview: What’s Next? The Twins will head to Detroit to start a three-game series on Friday; Joe Ryan will start opposite Tyler Alexander. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet:
  16. Call this a cupcake article. Call it a blanket frosting over reality. Perhaps an escape from the truth. Part of the beauty of being a fan is riding the emotional roller coaster that comes along with the everyday affairs of your team. The wins foster jubilance and joy. The losses lament pain and vitriol. Yet emotions aside, there's an obligation to look at the reality. The 2022 Minnesota Twins will not make the MLB playoffs. Despite holding serve in the American League Central for a bulk of the season, injuries and lackluster play plagued one of the youngest teams in the league in a way that will most likely result in a bronze medal in what many consider baseball's weakest division. Disappointing? Absolutely. An utter failure? Far from it. Professional sports and baseball in particular are often viewed through a black and white, championship or bust lens. The fact the Twins won't be playing in October is certainly a shame...yet it would be foolish to not address the number of overwhelming successes that took place for the 2022 Twins, many of which were far from expected. Don't disseminate your disappointment, but acknowledge the good that took place. 1. Jose Miranda is Everything We Hoped For Jose Miranda had one of, if not the best season in Twins minor league history last year, slashing .344/.401/.572 (.973) between Double-A Wichita and Triple-A St. Paul. After 21 games with the Saints this year, Miranda was called up to Target Field. Each transition up the minor league ladder is an added layer of difficulty; it's no secret that the jump from Triple-A to the bigs is the most difficult, separating big leaguers from Four-A players. Miranda has shown that he belongs in the MLB, and that he can serve as a valuable asset for the Twins for years to come. After a slow month of May, Miranda shunned the doubters with 22 hits, 13 RBI, and a .306 batting average in the month of June. The power-packed corner infielder pumped up the noise in July with a .353/.405/.603 slash line. Miranda has slashed .273/.327/.764 through the season and has cemented himself as a leader in the Twins' offensive lineup. Just 24 years old, imagine what consistent middle of the lineup would like like with Buxton, (hopefully) Correa, and Miranda. The future is bright. 2. The Veteran the Twins Needed The Twins have struck out with veteran pitching acquisitions in years past. Not with Sonny Gray. Acquired prior to the season in exchange for 2021 top draft pick Chase Petty, Gray has served as the anchor for a young and often injury-ridden staff. Slated to start today's game, Gray is 8-5 on the season with a 3.08 ERA and 1.13 WHIP in 24 starts. Like most other pieces of the pitching staff, Gray too has struggled with injuries throughout the course of the year. Still, the 32-year-old has remained quite consistent. Gray's May was especially dominant, going 3-0 with a 1.65 ERA and 0.91 WHIP in five starts. With Joe Ryan finding his groove and Bailey Ober returning to health (not to mention the return of Kenta Maeda and Chris Paddock), Gray has the potential to be a cornerstone of a rock-solid starting pitching staff in 2022. Whether he's the ace or three/four man, Gray's consistency has and will continue to bolster a fairly inexperienced staff. 3. Smiles-a-Plenty...at Last You can't help but smile when you see Nick Gordon smile...and after the incredible 2022 season that he's had. Drafted as the fifth overall pick in the first round of the 2014 Draft by the Twins, Nick Gordon was expected by many to make a splash as a marquee player early on in his career. Yet for various reasons, Gordon didn't hit his stride early on. It's a tough league and amounting to the expectations of the front office, fans, and media is hard, especially as a first round pick. Perhaps it made Gordon's 2022 season that much sweeter. Gordon has slashed .276/.323./.761 so far this season with 9 homers and 45 RBI. He's been a staple 'yes man' in the field, playing all over the place when his number is called. As at matter of fact, the same can be said at the plate. Flash G has batted everywhere from cleanup to the nine-hole in the order and has consistently produced results. Yes, there's room for improvement on the base paths, that will come with time. Yet at the end of the day, Gordon's story is one that all fans should appreciate alongside the fact that he's amounted into about as good of a utility-man as an organization can ask for. 4. An Ace in the Making People knew Joe Ryan was good when the Twins acquired him in the Nelson Cruz trade last season. The entire league now knows that Ryan can become one of the league's elite pitchers with a few tune ups in years to come. Ryan is sitting at 12-8 with a 3.70 ERA and 1.11 WHIP through 26 starts in 2022. He's proven to be the guy with the 'it factor' in the Twins' rotation; a rock-solid fastball, sneaky good breaking pitches, the ability to go long, and a swagger that cannot be underappreciated. Yes, one can bring up the fact that six of Ryan's losses have come against likely playoff teams and ten of his 12 wins have come against teams that won't be playing in October. Don't read into it too much. Yes, the bar has been set high...but it's because everyone sees the talent in the west-coast arm. And while high expectations can be great, let's remember that Joe Ryan is a rookie. He's got all the time in the world to develop and it will be fascinating to see what the 26-year-old amounts to in his hopefully storied career. 5. Hometown Products Shine in Fourth Quarter...and all Season Everyone loves a good hometown kid story...the Twins have seen three of them this season. Former North St. Paul RHP and Concordia-St. Paul alum Louie Varland was called up on September 7 to pitch against the Yankees in the Bronx. He was electric, allowing just two runs on three hits while striking out seven in 5 1/3 innings. Varland squared off against MVP candidate Shohei Ohtani in his Target Field debut on September 23, pitching a respectable 5 2/3 innings of seven-hit, three-run ball while striking out three. Forest Lake's Matt Wallner has been outstanding since being called up on September 17. The power hitter has nine hits (including two homers and two doubles) and six RBI in his first 37 at bats and crushed his first Target Field homer last night off of "old friend" Lance Lynn. Yes, Wallner will strikeout a lot, but that's still pretty impressive for a power hitter in his first 11 games. What's most impressive is the Wallner started last season at High-A Cedar Rapids and Varland started at Low-A Fort Myers...talk about progress! On top of all of that, Randolph, Minnesota native Caleb Thielbar has has an outstanding season in the bullpen. Set to start coaching Division II baseball for Augustana less than three years ago, Thielbar has tallied just 0.79 HR/9 and 2.86 BB/9 through 2022. His fastball is consistently touching 94 and 95 MPH and is still complemented by a picture-esque curveball that can go as low as the high 60's. What's your favorite moment from the 2022 Minnesota Twins season? Drop a comment below!
  17. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 2/3 IP, 7H, 3R, 3ER, 1BB, 3K (88 pitches, 58 strikes, 65.9%) Home Runs: none Bottom 3 WPA: Gilberto Celestino (-.203), Matt Wallner (-.161), Jermaine Palacios (-.140) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland and Ohtani both debut at Target Field, both pitch into the sixth Two teams with disappointing seasons and miles away from playoff contention met on a cold, somewhat rainy Friday night at Target Field. Everything pointed out to this being one of the most irrelevant games for both fanbases to attend or watch from home, except for one thing: the pitching duel. After two starts on the road, St. Paul native and recently appointed Twins Daily’s minor league starting pitcher of the year, Louie Varland, finally made his Target Field debut. Furthermore, Shohei Ohtani, one of our generation’s greatest talents, was set to toe the rubber for the Angels, also representing his first-ever start at Target Field. Varland was off to a hot start, tossing a 1-2-3 top of the first on only seven pitches, retiring Ohtani himself with a groundout on the first pitch. Then, Shohei took to the mound for what might’ve been the coldest temperature he’s ever experienced at first pitch in his MLB career. To make matters even worse for him, the rain came down during his first trip to the mound and almost caused him some serious damage. After Ohtani retired leadoff hitter Luis Arraez, the rain got stronger, and he started to struggle with his command. So much so that he lost the next three batters, giving up walks to Jose Miranda and Gio Urshela and hitting Nick Gordon in the ankle. Then, Jake Cave grounded into an inning-ending double play which, at first, kept this a scoreless game. But after review, it was noticed that Miranda crossed home plate before third baseman Matt Duffy could glove the throw by second baseman Livan Soto, scoring the game’s first run. But that lead didn’t last long. Varland gave up a leadoff home run to Taylor Ward in the top of the second that tied the game. Then, in the third inning, after losing the first two batters, Varland gave up an RBI single to Mike Trout, which scored Max Stassi from third. Ohtani couldn’t get anything going in his second at-bat of the game, but, back on the mound, he really got into the zone. He pitched a perfect bottom of the third, and after giving up a leadoff walk in the fourth – matching his season-high four walks in a game – he went on to strike out five Twins batters in a row. Minnesota didn’t have a hit until the fifth when Arráez hit a two-out grounder to left. Despite allowing a few hits, Varland managed to deliver a couple of scoreless frames after the Angels scored their second run. But for the second time on the night, Ward took him deep to lead off an inning. The Angels’ cleanup hitter crushed another fastball up the middle, basically at the same location as his first home run, making it 3-1 Angels in the top of the sixth. Varland retired the next two batters before Rocco Baldelli brought in Trevor Megill to get the inning’s final out. Twins get one run back but waste a bases-loaded, nobody-out situation After four dominant innings from Ohtani, the Twins’ offense finally made him sweat and ended the night for him. Gordon led off the bottom of the sixth with a single, then Urshela drew his third walk of the night. As the Angels bullpen started to warm up, Cave singled to center, and Gordon scored from second, cutting the Angels’ lead in half. Ohtani was allowed to face another batter in Gary Sanchez, and the Twins’ catcher also drew a walk, loading the bases for the second time on the night for Minnesota – this time with no outs. Ball four was rightfully protested as the Twins caught a huge break, but it ended up going to waste anyway. With reliever Aaron Loup pitching, Matt Wallner and Gilberto Celestino couldn’t capitalize. Loup escaped with a strikeout and an inning-ending double play. Minnesota failed to add on, but Los Angeles didn’t. Megill got two outs in the seventh, but not before he had also allowed two men to reach on a couple of walks. The latter came after a hard-fought, ten-pitch at-bat against Trout that brought Ohtani to the plate with two men on instead of ending the inning. Baldelli decided to bring Caleb Thielbar to face a still-hitless Ohtani, but it didn’t pan out. The superstar hit a ground ball to center and brought Soto home, making it 4-2 Angels. Overall, Minnesota’s offense went 2-for-13 against the Angels bullpen and didn’t come even close to sparkling a late rally. Postgame interview What’s Next? Game two of the series is scheduled for this Saturday, with first pitch at 6:10 pm CDT. The Twins will bring Joe Ryan (3.61 ERA) to the mound, whereas Los Angeles will start lefty Reid Detmers (3.71 ERA). Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Henriquez 73 0 0 0 0 73 Megill 0 17 0 0 28 45 Pagán 15 0 0 0 23 38 López 34 0 0 0 0 34 Thielbar 0 23 0 0 10 33 Moran 0 0 0 31 0 31 Fulmer 0 23 0 0 0 23 Jax 0 4 0 0 0 4 Duran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  18. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS Starting Pitcher of the Year Relief Pitcher of the Year Hitter of the Year SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 4, Indianapolis 1 Box Score The Saints were able to come away with a win Friday night in Indiana behind a stellar pitching performance by Dereck Rodriguez. Rodriguez tossed five scoreless innings and allowed only one hit while walking three and striking out four. At the plate, third baseman Andrew Bechtold led the way, going 2-for-4 with a home run. Michael Helman (1-for-5, RBI) and John Andreoli (1-for-3, 2 RBI) also hit home runs. PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 0-for-1 #12 - Louie Varland (Minnesota) - 5 2/3 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 1 BB, 3 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (5:35 PM CST) - RHP Ariel Jurado (2-2, 3.54 ERA)
  19. Derek Falvey has been tasked with building a pipeline of pitching talent since he was brought over from Cleveland to head up the front office. Minnesota has been intentional in targeting arms with upside that they can mold into solid workhorses. There were plenty of strong performances this season the farm, but only one took the title of Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Before getting to the winner, here are some others that were in contention: Honorable Mention- Pierson Ohl (Fort Myers) - 20 G 91.2 IP 3.53 ERA 1.178 WHIP 9.9 K/9 1.3 BB/9 Jaylen Nowlin (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 71.0 IP 3.80 ERA 1.352 WHIP 14.1 K/9 4.6 BB/9 Travis Adams (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 22 G 100.2 IP 3.93 ERA 1.162 WHIP 9.7 K/9 2.3 BB/9 #5 Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - 19 G 65.0 IP 3.05 ERA 1.077 WHIP 10.5 K/9 3.2 BB/9 Raya was taken in the 4th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from United South High School in Laredo, TX. With the Covid shutdown and injuries over the past couple of years, 2022 was his professional debut. Skipping the Complex League entirely, Raya pitched as a 19-year-old for the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Across 19 games and 17 starts, he was nothing short of dominant. Arguably the staff ace, Raya racked up strikeouts in bunches while doing a good job to limit damage. He’s got mid-90s stuff and is someone Minnesota could mold into a number three starter or better. #4 Brent Headrick - (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 25 G 108.1 IP 3.32 ERA 1.080 WHIP 11.3 K/9 2.1 BB/9 Selected in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft out of Illinois State University, Headick has really seen the ceiling for his stuff grow. Last year was his first full professional season and he put up strong numbers for Low-A Fort Myers. Splitting time between High-A Cedar Rapids and Double-A Wichita this year, Headrick has become an anchor on the staff at whatever level he plays. Headrick has continued to rack up strikeouts in bunches, and has shown a very strong ability to command the baseball. He gave up a few more homers after the promotion to Double-A, but was every bit as dominant. When the Wind Surge advanced to the Texas League postseason, it was Headrick tabbed as the Game 1 starter. #3 David Festa - (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) 21 G 103.2 IP 2.43 ERA 1.090 WHIP 9.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Festa made quick work of Fort Myers after starting the season there following his 13th-round selection out of Seton Hall during the 2021 Major League Baseball draft. Pitching substantially for Cedar Rapids this season, he made adjustments to continue strong outings while the strikeouts took a slight dip. Just 22 years old, Festa has done a great job avoiding big innings by limiting the longball. In just over 103 innings this season, he allowed opposing batters to leave the yard only six times. For a late-round pick, the immediate development here has been incredibly encouraging. Runner-Up Simeon Woods Richardson - (Wichita/St. Paul) 21 G 2.93 ERA 1.080 WHIP 9.7 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Acquired alongside Austin Martin from the Toronto Blue Jays when Minnesota sent Jose Berrios north of the border, Woods Richardson has been nothing short of dominant this season. Not being interrupted by the Olympic appearance as he was last season, Woods Richardson has settled into a routine. His 2.55 ERA at Triple-A St. Paul is even better than it was with Double-A Wichita, and he continues to average over a strikeout per inning. This is a top-half-of-the-rotation arm that Minnesota could call upon as soon as 2023. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year - Louie Varland - (Wichita/St. Paul) - 24 G 126.1 IP 3.06 ERA 1.259 WHIP 10.4 K/9 3.0 BB/9 Winning this award for the second season in a row is none other than Concordia St. Paul product Louie Varland. A St. Paul native, Varland was a 15th-round pick by the Twins during the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. After dominating Single-A in 2021, Varland continued his roll by earning a promotion to Triple-A late this season. After a 3.34 ERA across 105 innings with Wichita, Varland posted a dominant 1.69 ERA in four starts for the Saints. As has been the case over the duration of his professional career, Varland has been a strikeout arm. This season he’s tallied 146 strikeouts while ceding just 42 walks. Once working in the low-90s, Varland has put in the offseason work to push his fastball in the mid-90s on a consistent basis with the ability to top out near 97 mph. When Minnesota needed an arm for a doubleheader against the New York Yankees, it was Varland who was called on to make his big league debut. Brother, and Dodgers prospect, Gus Varland was in the stands to see Louie punch out Aaron Judge for the first strikeout of his career. Varland will continue to grow at the big league level, but he has looked the part of an arm with intrigue. He’s a hard thrower that works quick and isn’t afraid to trust his stuff. Although the Twins may not have immediate room for Varland in the 2023 Opening Day rotation, there should be no doubt that he’ll make a handful of starts and be ready to make an impact when his number is called. Previous Starting Pitcher of the Year Winners: 2021 winner - Louie Varland 2019 winner- Randy Dobnak 2018 winner - Tyler Wells 2017 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2016 winner - Stephen Gonsalves 2015 winner - Jose Berrios 2014 winner - Jose Berrios 2013 winner - Taylor Rogers 2012 winner - BJ Hermsen
  20. Yesterday we assessed the damage from the most upsetting negative developments in the Twins system this year, with three of the organization's top six prospects experiencing calamitous setbacks that have sent them spiraling out of the Twins' plans. As a chaser to cleanse all those bad vibes, today we'll highlight some hugely positive developments on the farm, each propelling ascendent prospects more directly into the team's future. Best of all, we couldn't limit this list to just three. These five players have tremendously improved their stocks this year, setting the stage to potentially help the major-league team in the very near future (if they haven't already). Louie Varland backs up a big year. We've already seen the early returns on this breakout prospect star. Varland didn't exactly come out of nowhere – he was named the organization's minor-league pitcher of the year in 2021 – but there was still an air of skepticism around him, a former 15th-round draft pick out of a D-II college. Sure, he was amazing in A-ball last year, but plenty of collegiate draft picks have dominated those low levels only to get a reality check in the high minors. For Varland, that check never came. He translated his excellence to Double-A without missing a beat, earning a late-season promotion to Triple-A that quickly turned into a major-league debut. Stepping out under the lights of Yankee Stadium, Varland excelled and made a big impression. Things didn't quite as well his next time out, in Cleveland on Saturday, but this is a guy whose stated goal for this year was to reach St. Paul. He blew past it, and as a consequence, will find himself squarely in the MLB depth picture heading into next season. Matt Wallner mashes past his contact issues. Wallner is another prospect whose monster campaign has already paved the way for a sooner-than-expected MLB debut. And like Varland, he's a local kid, native to Forest Lake, MN. Unlike Varland, Wallner was not a late-round draft pick who emerged from low expectations to achieve top prospect status. He was a bona fide stud coming out of college, selected 39th overall in 2019. But he had his own set of doubts coming into this season, relating mainly to his contact and discipline issues. Even for someone with as much raw power as Wallner, it's really tough to project big-league success for a bat-first player who strikes out 33% of the time and barely walks – at Single-A as a 23-year-old, no less. Would upper-level pitchers chop him to bits? Turns out, it's been the other way around. Wallner obliterated Double-A pitching, posting a .299/.436/.597 slash line with 21 homers in 74 games. That earned him a trip to the Futures Game and a promotion to Triple-A soon after. Wallner got off to a slow start with the Saints, batting .105 with zero extra-base hits in his first 10 games. Then he flipped a switch. Since the beginning of August he's slashing .289/.414/.564. Walks are up, strikeouts are down, and that has a been an overall trend for him this year as he's shown the ability to actively improve his strike zone control and evolve his game. The huge breakout season, combined with desperation for help at the big-league level, led to Wallner getting called up in Cleveland this past weekend. He homered off Shane Bieber in his first MLB game. Wallner felt like a bit of a longshot at this time last year, but now looks like a guy you can confidently write into the team's plans going forward. The idea of both he and Varland, as hometown boys, turning into fixtures for the Twins over the next five years is pretty fun. Simeon Woods Richardson shows his true colors. A former second-round draft pick of the Mets, Woods Richardson has widely been viewed as one of the more prestigious pitching prospects in the minors, making both Baseball America's and MLB.com's Top 100 lists in 2020 and 2021. The Twins were thrilled to get him alongside Austin Martin in the trade that sent José Berríos to Toronto last summer. Looking at his 2021 season in isolation, fans might have been asking ... why? He had a 5.76 ERA in 11 starts with the Blue Jays' Double-A affiliate, and then put up a 6.75 ERA in a brief eight-inning September stint with Wichita. It was a weird year that saw him get aggressively assigned to Double-A at age 20, then take a bunch of time away from his team for the Olympics, where he didn't even pitch. The 6-foot-3, 210 lb right-hander has fully gotten back on track this year. He didn't allow a run in his first four starts en route to a 2.92 ERA over 71 innings at Wichita before moving up to St. Paul in mid-August. There he has continued to excel with a 2.55 ERA in 24 ⅔ frames. Between both levels, Woods Richardson has averaged well over a strikeout per inning, cut down significantly on the walks, and allowed only six home runs in 21 outings. Opponents have batted .206 against him. He's about three years younger than the average player at Triple-A. This reaffirming turnaround from Woods Richardson has been huge for two reasons, both tying to yesterday's article. First, it keeps the Berríos trade looking like a winner even with Martin falling off, and second, it keeps another high-caliber and near-ready pitching prospect in the wings even with Balazovic getting derailed. Emmanuel Rodriguez blossoms into prospect stardom. Unlike the others highlighted in this article, Rodriguez is probably not in line to make an MLB debut in the especially near future. He's a teenager who hasn't appeared above Low-A and his timeline was further delayed by a season-ending knee injury suffered in June. In spite of all that, his performance prior to that injury was so magnificent, and so incredibly encouraging, that he has to be included in this piece. Rodriguez ranked 15th on our preseason top prospects list, characterized as an intriguing yet distant international talent coming off an impressive showing in rookie ball. His follow-up at Single-A left no doubt as to the outfielder's sky-high potential: in 47 games before going down, he slashed .272/.493/.552 with nine homers, 11 steals, and 57 (!) walks. Yes, you read that right – nearly a .500 OBP and more walks than games played from a 19-year-old in the pitcher-friendly Florida State League. Realistically, even if he comes back with gusto next year, Rodriguez is probably looking at a 2024 debut at the earliest, but his spectacular first half puts him in the "blue chip prospect" conversation and that's a hugely positive development for this system. Brooks Lee arrives and thrives. I honestly believe this will go down as THE biggest boost to the farm system over a span of many years: Lee, widely viewed as one of the premier talents in this year's MLB draft, somehow sliding to the Twins at No. 8 overall, where they were more than happy to take him. They may have landed a new franchise player. Quickly signed to a $5.7 million bonus, Lee has handled every assignment so far with aplomb. He went to rookie ball briefly where he batted .353 to earn a promotion to Single-A. Five weeks at Cedar Rapids was enough to convince the Twins he was ready for the next level, so over the weekend, Lee was called up to Wichita, reaching Double-A exactly two months after he was drafted. Touted for his "otherworldly bat-to-ball skills," Lee was one of the top hitters in college, an exceedingly advanced talent, and the Twins could barely contain their excitement when he fell into their laps. "It’s hard to say who made who fall to our pick," said scouting director Sean Johnson, "but regardless of who caused it, [for] the domino to trickle, we’re ecstatic." Their actions have backed up their words. Advanced talent or not, pushing a player to Double-A two months after drafting him makes an aggressive statement. Presumably billed to open back at Wichita in 2023, Lee will be in position to make a case for a big-league promotion next summer. It's almost as if the Twins are planning around that possibility.
  21. Box Score SP: Louie Varland 5 IP, 9 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K (91 pitches, 60 strikes (65.9 strike %)) Home Runs: Matt Wallner (1) Bottom 3 WPA: Louie Varland -.185, Jose Miranda -.091, Luis Arraez -.057 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) The Minnesota Debuts Making his second big-league start for the Twins was North St. Paul native Louie Varland. Alongside him making his Major League debut in right field was Forest Lake native Matt Wallner. Varland and Wallner became a part of a unique club in MLB history in Game 1 of Saturday's doubleheader. The two are the second pair of Minnesota-born players to make their debuts back to back on the same team. The only other Minnesota-born players in this club are Carl Thomas and Dick Stigman who debuted three days apart in April of 1960 with the Cleveland Indians. Wallner ended up going 1-3 with a home run to make his mark in the Big Leagues. All Blues, No Rock N’ Roll for Varland Varland’s quickness on the mound was one of the few things the Twins had going for them all afternoon. Varland surrendered a home run to Jose Ramirez in the first inning to put Cleveland up 1-0. The third inning for the Twins' defense was very costly for them. After a lead-off walk to Myles Straw, Steven Kwan hit into what looked like a double play but after missing the second base bag and Jose Miranda fumbling at first with the throw from Nick Gordon. It advanced Straw to third and allowed Cleveland to get the game's second run. The Guardians lit up Varland once more in the bottom of the fourth as they tagged two more runs on thanks to three hits leading off the inning to make it 4-0. Varland pitched through the fifth without giving up any additional runs but still saw struggles giving up to singles and an intentional walk to Andres Gimenez. Varland’s afternoon was over after the fifth as he tallied 91 pitches and 60 strikes to get through his second MLB start. Big Hitting Woes Carlos Correa and Gio Urshela were the only hitters that had a hit through the first six innings of the game for the Twins. Gordon managed a single in the seventh but Bieber dominated the Twins through seven and kept Cleveland’s bullpen well rested ahead of Game 2. Fortunately for the Twins, the hitting woes ended in the top of the eighth as Wallner hit his first MLB home run to put the Twins on the board. They were still down 5-1 but Wallner’s homer made him the 12th Twin in history to hit a home run for his first MLB hit. Bieber did not pitch past the eighth but the Twins had to go up against Emmanuel Clause once again in the ninth to try and revive their hitting. The Twins had hit .188 and scored only one run off Clase before Saturday’s appearance. The hitting numbers decreased by the minimum as Clause closed out the victory for Cleveland. What’s Next? Twins will start game two of this doubleheader at 6:10 p.m. CT tonight with Josh Winder going against Konnor Pilkington of the Guardians. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Sheet
  22. As has been the case with virtually any new idea Major League Baseball has come up with, the minor leagues have served as a training ground. That means many of these new rules have already been practiced at some level by prospects that would hope to come through the system Now being implemented at the highest level, big leaguers will have their first exposure to them. When looking at each individually, it may be worth breaking down who is helped most by each new rule. Pitch Clock When runners are on base pitchers will have 20 seconds to deliver a pitch, and they’ll have just 15 seconds to do so when the bases are unoccupied. I have seen this firsthand plenty throughout St. Paul Saints' action this season. It seems to be integrated seamlessly and works well. There’s no doubt that pitchers will benefit most from the pitch clock. Yes, there has been pushback in regard to routines and timing, but for the most part, the arms have adapted. Specifically, pitchers without much of a Major League track record, or those that work quickly, will benefit from the change. It was widely apparent how quickly Minnesota Twins starter Louie Varland worked against the Yankees last week, and you’ll see plenty more of that from guys who come up off the farm. With batters only being allowed one timeout per plate appearance, there should be a substantial cut down on the ticks that emanate in the form of bat taps, adjusted batting gloves, and walks around the dish. Largely, the suggestion is now to get in the box and stay there. While stealing hasn’t been largely impacted at the minor league level with a set time to deliver a pitch, it’s not maybe more important than ever for pitchers to change up their looks. Minnesota has done a terrible controlling the running game, and while neither Gary Sanchez or Ryan Jeffers throw many base stealers out, their pitchers have to help them as well. Bigger Bases Going from 15” to 18” bases isn’t all of a sudden going to increase the running games. Steals haven’t spiked with bases being larger, but the amount of bang-bang plays directly correlates. There’s also the opportunity for slightly more real estate when two players are rushing to the same base. Plays at first base should have a bit more room for the runner to step through and keep pitchers or other fielders covering a bit safer. The bases being larger is something that fans and players won’t likely realize at all, but there will be multiple instances of different calls or spared injury that could be directly attributed to the change. Byron Buxton probably won’t start stealing 30 bases per year with the new size, but Billy Hamilton would’ve been safe at third base on his steal attempt. Oh, and while we’re here, home plate is not changing and Whit Merrifield was still out. Shift Restriction This change may have the greatest impact on players and the game itself. Teams will still find ways to shift, but now two infielders must be on each side of second base, and all four have to be touching the dirt when the pitcher is on the rubber. No longer will a defender be able to play a short outfield spot, and there won’t be an entire position on the infield unmanned. Joey Gallo is the first name that comes to mind across baseball, but for the Twins, this could actually make Max Kepler good again. He’s been awful about hitting into the shift for most of his career, and the problem is largely attributed to his launch angle. Opting for ground balls and low liners, he’s been easy to steal hits from. Ground balls still probably won’t find their way through, but being able to dump the ball into short right field may be of benefit. Ultimately, I’d expect teams to get creative with their outfielders when it comes to shifting. We may see three play on one half of the grass, and that’s probably how extreme-pull hitters are attacked. What rule are you most in favor of? Are there any you have concerns about?
  23. Twins fans know Louie Varland after his impressive debut at Yankee Stadium. He’s the organization’s reigning minor league pitcher of the year, but he might not have gotten the respect he deserved entering the season. Many Twins rankings didn’t have him in the organization’s top-10, and another prospect may be following his path to the big leagues. Drafting and developing pitching is one of the critical strategies for teams to keep their winning window open as long as possible. Varland was a 15th-round pick in 2019, and the Twins have developed him into a legitimate starting pitching prospect. Picks later in the draft can allow for some sneaky value, and Brent Headrick fits that mold. The Twins drafted Headrick in the 9th round of the 2019 MLB Draft from Illinois State University. It was tough to know what to expect from Headrick as he posted a 6.40 ERA as a sophomore. Following that season, he headed to the Northwoods Summer League and had a 2.63 ERA with 35 strikeouts in 27 1/3 innings. Some of those positives translated to his junior season, where he posted a 10.8 K/9 with a 1.09 WHIP. Minnesota saw potential and selected him later in the draft. Entering the 2021 season, Headrick was limited to three professional appearances because of the missing 2020 campaign. Minnesota sent him to Fort Myers in 2021, where he was over a year older than the average age of the competition at that level. In 15 appearances, he posted a 3.82 ERA with a 12.6 K/9 over 61 1/3 innings. His biggest issue was allowing more than a hit per inning, resulting in a 1.58 WHIP. Luckily, Headrick has made vast improvements in 2022. Headrick started the year by dominating at High-A, where he posted a 2.34 ERA with a 0.89 WHIP in 15 starts. He significantly reduced the number of hits per nine from 9.3 H/9 in 2021 to 7.3 H/9 in 2022. Since being promoted to Double-A, his strikeout rate has improved to 12.2 K/9, and he is slightly younger than the competition for the first time in his career. Only one Twins prospect has struck out more batters than Headrick this season. Varland has accumulated 146 strikeouts in 126 1/3 innings, while Headrick has 130 strikeouts in 104 1/3 innings. For the season, his 11.2 K/9 is the highest among Twins prospects who have pitched at least 80 innings. Headrick is one of a handful of Twins prospects who will pitch more than 100 innings this season, and he is making the most of his time on the mound. Headrick won’t finish the season ranked as highly as Varland, but he is having a standout performance while other top prospects struggle. He should enter next season as one of the team’s top-30 prospects with a chance to prove himself in the upper minors. His ceiling may be a back-end of the rotation starter, but that can provide value to a Twins organization that has recently filled those spots with veterans. Keep your eye on Headrick in 2023 and beyond. What are your thoughts on Headricks’ performance so far in 2022? What is his ceiling? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  24. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 1/3 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K (80 pitches, 55 strikes, 68.8%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Trevor Megill (-.570), Griffin Jax (-.254), Gio Urshela (-.201) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland is sharp in his major league debut (pulled too early?) There probably isn’t a much tougher way to start your major league career than the one Louie Varland had to. Called up for the first time on Tuesday, the St. Paul native had been the most anticipated Twins prospect since… what? Byron Buxton? Some might go even a little further and say… Joe Mauer? Either way, the amount of expectation this kid had to burden was enormous. Then, you look at all the elements surrounding today’s game. The Twins have been constantly crushed by the New York Yankees for the past two decades; they have been Minnesota’s perennial foes in the postseason in that same span; they haven’t lost a single series against the Twins since 2018, and not one at home since 2014. The list goes on. This game, in particular, is even more crucial short-term, as the Twins started the day a game and a half back from the Guardians for the division first place. Not being competitive in this Bronx series could be the end of the season for the Twins. Is that pressure enough for the 24-year-old Minnesotan? Before Varland even stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, the offense made a good effort to relieve some of the pressure and perhaps calm him down. Luis Arraez jumped on the game’s second pitch and doubled against starter Domingo German. After a Carlos Correa strikeout, José Miranda hit a laser to the deep left corner for a home run, making it 2-0 Twins early. Whether or not the run support made a difference for Varland at that point, making him less nervous, we’ll never know. But the fact is that he had a nearly perfect first time through the order to begin his big-league career, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He also struck out three of those batters, including American League MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge for his first-ever MLB strikeout. That’s a heck of a greeting card. Varland’s first hit given up was an Oswald Peraza two-out double in the third, but he responded to that with an inning-ending groundout, his third of the game. Then, the offense came through for him again with some more run support. In the top of the fourth, Germán got two quick outs, but the bottom third of Minnesota’s lineup did some two-out damage. Jake Cave, Gary Sanchez, and Gilberto Celestino hit three consecutive singles, and, with that, another run scored, making it 3-0 Twins. The Yankees responded quickly, though, with Judge getting back at Varland in the bottom of the same inning with a leadoff home run, cutting the Twins’ lead to two. Varland displayed some impressive nerves after that, retiring batters three through five of the Yankee lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts following the Judge home run. Varland pitched into the sixth, facing two batters: he lost Peraza for a leadoff single but came back to strike out Oswaldo Cabrera. Before he could face Judge (the tying run) a third time in this game, Rocco Baldelli decided to call it a game for him. Griffin Jax was brought in, and he got Judge to pop out for the second out, but before he could finish the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Baldelli’s decision to pull Varland when he did cause mixed feelings throughout Twins Twitter. Twins Daily’s writers Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs, for example, had opposing views of Baldelli’s call (here and here). Do you think Varland should’ve stayed to face Judge and Torres? Use the comment section to give your opinion. Bats quiet down, bullpen trio takes the game into extras The Twins’ offense couldn’t bother the Yankees again for the better part of the game, with the only exception coming during the eighth inning. Miranda snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a one-out single, and Nick Gordon followed him up with a single of his own, posing the first Minnesota threat since the fourth inning. Unfortunately for the Twins, both runners ended up being stranded. Fortunately for them, though, the bullpen did a fine job maintaining this a tied game for the remainder of regulation. After Jax blew the lead in the sixth, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran did a fantastic job preventing New York from scoring. With Duran pitching in the ninth, Sánchez made a huge play catching Tim Locastro trying to steal second with a laser throw for the second out that Jermaine Palacios somehow caught and kept the tag on as Locastro came off the base. Then, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third with a steal and a throwing error, Correa ended the inning with a crucial defensive move. Celestino puts the Twins ahead, but the Yankees tie it, walk it off With Celestino starting the 10th inning at second base, Arráez hit a single to shallow right, and the outfielder was waved around. However, he hesitated a bit heading from third to home and was caught by catcher Jose Trevino with plenty of time. Duran pitched a scoreless 10th, and the game headed for the 11th. After the offense went down in order in the top of the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom after an intentional walk to Judge and a walk to Torres. A beautiful 3-2-3 double play prevented the winning run from scoring and paved the way for another inning. Came the 12th inning, the Twins put some pressure on reliever Ron Marinaccio, with Cave drawing a leadoff walk. With a Sánchez strikeout, New York had a double play in order, but Celestino had other plans. He hit a sharp groundball to right, deep enough to score ghost runner Jermaine Palacios from second, snatching the lead back for the Twins. Arráez drew a walk to load the bases before the inning was done, but Correa and Miranda couldn’t take advantage. That lead didn’t last long, though. Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball off Trevor Megill to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez scored from second. Trevino then hit a one-out single that sent Kiner-Falefa to third and, despite getting Peraza to fly out for the second out, Megill couldn’t retire Cabrera, who hit a grounder to short, past a diving Gordon, to bring Kiner-Falefa home and end the game. What’s Next? Game two of the doubleheader is about to start with Joe Ryan (3.88 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota and Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA) starting for the Yankees. Currently, Minnesota still has the chance to split the series, as both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game four of the series. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sanchez 70 0 0 0 0 70 Duran 0 20 0 0 28 48 Megill 0 0 27 0 20 47 Fulmer 0 14 0 0 16 30 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 11 26 Pagán 0 0 22 0 0 22 Jax 0 8 0 0 12 20 López 0 0 0 0 15 15 Davis 0 0 11 0 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  25. TRANSACTIONS RHP Louie Varland contract selected by Minnesota Twins RHP Jake Jewell designated for assignment SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 10, Toledo 6 Box Score The Saints got to watch teammate Louie Varland deal in New York this afternoon before Ronny Henriquez took the mound in Toledo. Henriquez was great allowing just two runs on one hit. He walked one but struck out nine. St. Paul started off the scoring with a pair of first inning dingers. Michael Helman launched his 12th of the season before Mark Contreras hit his 14th. In the 2nd inning the good guys kept rolling. First, Andrew Bechtold got his first Triple-A double to drive in Cole Sturgeon, then Elliot Soto ripped a triple to bring home Bechtold. Matt Wallner wound up grounding out, but the ball being put in play allowed Soto to scamper home. Still looking to pile on, Helman grabbed his second hit of the day, a single this time and Soto scored for the second time. After giving back two on a 4th inning Mud Hens homer, the Saints answered a few innings later. Chris Williams grounded out with the baes loaded, but Toledo couldn’t roll a double play and David Banuelos scored. After the Mud Hens got a run back on an Austin Schulfer wild pitch in the 6th inning, Banuelos doubled to bring in Bechtold and wipe it off in the 7th inning. Toledo drew closer in the bottom half, but Contreras was able to smash his second blast of the game in the 8th inning, a two-run shot scoring Matt Wallner, and double up the Mud Hens 10-5. Five different St. Paul hitters had multi-hit nights, which isn’t surprising given the 13 total for the team. Contreras was the lone batter to reach three in the game, however. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 5, NW Arkansas 0 Box Score The Wind Surge turned to Kody Funderburk tonight. He was great going six strong allowing only four hits and a walk. The Wichita starter punched out seven batters. It took no time for Wichita to get runs for their starter. Aaron Sabato started things with his third Double-A two-bagger, this one with the bases loaded, bringing in Edouard Julien, Jair Camargo, and Yunior Severino. Anthony Prato then singled to bring Sabato home and make it 4-0 early. Quietly going about their business through the middle of this one, DaShawn Keirsey Jr. added an insurance run in the 8th inning to score Anthony Prato. Edouard Julien and Prato both recorded three-hit games, and the Wind Surge tallied a total of 14 runs tonight. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 4 Box Score It was David Festa tonight for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After getting behind early, Festa settled in and wound up working 6 2/3 innings. He allowed four runs (three earned) on five hits while also striking out three. After getting behind 1-0 after the 1st inning, the Kernels responded with a run of their own in the 3rd inning. Pat Winkel crushed his 9th double to drive in Brooks Lee and knot things up. Unfortunately the lead evaporated in the 5th inning when South Bend added two more. In the 6th inning Cedar Rapids began their comeback. Alerick Soularie drove in Mikey Perez on a ground out and the deficit was only one. After giving it back in the 7th inning, the Kernels erupted for six runs in the eighth inning. Charles Mack crushed his fifth homer of the season to draw back within one before a bases loaded walk of Dylan Neuse scored Seth Gray. Kyler Fedko then drove a single through the left side and watched both Perez and Wille Joe Garry Jr. cross the plate. Before the inning was done, Brooks Lee got into the action with his fourth double, plating both Neuse and Fedko. Both Fedko and Perez had two hits apiece, and six different Cedar Rapids batters combined to tally the eight hits. MUSSEL MATTERS Postponed Game postponed due to inclement weather. Fort Myers and St. Lucie will make it up tomorrow as part of a doubleheader. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K Hitter of the Day – Mark Contreras (St. Paul) - 3-5, 2 R, 3 RBI, 2 HR(15) PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Brooks Lee (Cedar Rapids) - 1-2, R, 2 RBI, 3 BB, 2B #4 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-3 #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 1-4, R, RBI, BB #12 - Louie Varland (Minnesota) - 5.1 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 7 K #13 - David Festa (Cedar Rapids) - 6.2 IP, 5 H, 4 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 3 K #14 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3-4, R #16 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 1 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 9 K #19 - Alerick Soularie (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4, RBI, 2 K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo (5:35PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods-Richardson NW Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams St. Lucie @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
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