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  1. Transactions: RHP Jharel Cotton outrighted to St. Paul OF Trevor Larnach begins MLB rehab assignment with Wichita SAINTS SENTINEL Omaha 11, St. Paul 2 Box Score The storyline here was the return of Royce Lewis to the St. Paul lineup. He was leading off and playing shortstop, which is the position Minnesota had suggested they wanted him to get consistent run at. On the mound was top pitching prospect Jordan Balazovic, but this one was a tough outing. Working just four innings, Balazovic gave up six runs on six hits. He did walk just one while punching out five. It didn’t take long for the storyline to take center stage. Lewis led off the game seeing just two pitches. The first he took, and the second he blasted over the centerfield wall for his fourth home run of the season. Unfortunately for the Saints, they didn’t score again until facing a 6-1 deficit. Kevin Merrell took his turn sending one out of the park when he hit his second dinger of the year. Omaha continued to add on in this one, bringing home runs in each of the 5th, 6th, and 7th innings. Two runs was all the Saints could muster tonight, despite getting seven hits. Lewis answered in a big way going 3-for-3 and looking every bit the star he appeared to be in the brief 11 game cameo with the Twins. It’s been a tough stretch for the Saints as they’ve now dropped 10 in a row. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 6, Springfield 5 Box Score So much to like in Wichita tonight with Simeon Woods Richardson making the start, and Trevor Larnach becoming the first major league player to play a rehab assignment for the Wind Surge. Throw in that it was alternate jersey day playing as the Turbo Tubs and you’ve got yourself a great time. Woods Richardson continued his strong campaign working five innings allowing just two runs. Although he did give up six hits, Woods Richardson walked just one and struck out four. His ERA on the season is now 2.39. After getting behind in the 3rd inning, Wichita evened things up during the bottom half. Spencer Steer, who has had a great 2022 season, ripped his 13th double to plate DaShawn Keirsey. After Springfield again too the lead in the 5th inning, the Turbo Tubs answered in the bottom half. Larnach blasted a three-run homer to right field scoring Keirsey and Austin Martin. Steer then continued to rake and crushed his 8th homer of the season. Unfortunately, Steven Klimek ran into trouble for Wichita during the 8th inning and surrendered three runs (two earned). That allowed Springfield to knot things at five and make this one a tight contest in the late innings. Not looking to be outdone, the Turbo Tubs got turbo charged in their half of the 8th inning. Minnesota native Matt Wallner stepped in and crushed one nearly to Forest Lake, 440 feet, to regain the lead. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 11, Lake County 2 Box Score Cade Povich took the ball tonight for the Kernels and was nothing short of dominant. He worked 5 1/3 innings allowing just two hits and blanking the opposition. Povich issued just a single free pass and punched out five. Cedar Rapids didn’t wait long to break this one open as Seth Gray crushed his third homer of the season in the bottom of the first, scoring Christian Encarnacion-Strand, to put the Kernels up early. In the second inning the good guys got another crooked number. Willie Joe Garry Jr. tallied his third triple scoring Jeferson Morales and then Wander Javier homered for the fourth time to drive them both in. Up 5-0 with Will Holland on base, Encarnacion-Strand recorded his sixth blast and made it 7-0. Waiting a couple innings to further the damage, recently promoted Kyler Fedko stepped in for the bottom of the 5th inning. With Aaron Sabato and Gray on board, Fedko crushed homer number two and made it a 10-0 game. Morales then added on his own, a solo shot to center, and it was an 11-0 laugher. Cedar Rapids gave back two in the 7th inning, but this one was well in hand and closed out by scoreless innings from Tyler Palm and Denny Bentley. The 11 hits matched the run total, and multi-hit efforts came from Sabato, Gray, Morales, and Garry Jr. The five home runs tonight were a season-high for Cedar Rapids. MUSSEL MATTERS No game Fort Myers is scheduled to play a doubleheader tomorrow against Clearwater. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 5.1 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB 5 K Hitter of the Day – Seth Gray (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, HR(3) 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: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-4, R #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 3-3, R, RBI, HR(4) #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 4.0 IP, 6 H, 6 R, 6 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 5.0 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 4 K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 2-4, R, RBI, HR (7) #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B, HR(8) FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35PM CST) - RHP Mario Sanchez Wichita @ Springfield (7:05PM CST) - LHP Blayne Enlow Lake County @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Fort Myers @ Clearwater (DH @ 3:00PM CST) - RHP Steven Hajjar/TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  2. Royce Lewis made his debut for the Twins on May 6, and he went on to play a total of 11 Major League games. Lewis has slashed .308/.325/.564 while filling in for Carlos Correa, and he has contributed six extra-base hits, two of which have left the yard. Maybe most importantly in assessing how he’s looked offensively is that Lewis struck out just five times across 40 plate appearances. It seemed pretty silly to bet against a player with this much talent after talking to him this offseason. Still, though, there was going to be a prove-it period for a guy who hadn’t played a game in two seasons. Lewis did that, tearing up Triple-A while playing in the cold. He earned this promotion with a .310/.430/.563 line across his first 24 games for the St. Paul Saints. When in the lineup for Minnesota, he looked the part of a regular in every sense of the word. Unfortunately, this storyline appeared likely from the moment it was announced Correa’s injury wasn’t serious. While it’s great that the Twins get back their major offseason acquisition, it left a huge question mark as to how Lewis would find his way into the lineup. After all, a talent this good couldn’t sit on the bench. That leads us to where we are now, and the only way Minnesota can save face. Lewis has played four innings at the hot corner in his professional career, and he’s never played a corner outfield position. I don’t think he’s an option at first base, and that’s probably for the best when considering how limiting the position would be for his abilities. What it all boils down to is a guy needing to get comfortable in new roles. I can’t imagine a shift to third base would be anything monumental for Lewis. He hung in just fine as a Major League shortstop, and the throws would be less demanding from the hot corner. He’s played centerfield, and he provides a right-handed outfield bat if Minnesota wants to go that route. Left field at Target Field takes a bit of getting used to, but it would be more about reading the ball from that portion of the field that he’ll get an opportunity to see for the Saints. The path forward is as straight as can be for Minnesota’s front office. Lewis must be given starts at multiple positions as quickly as possible. He’s already shown an ability to produce offensively at the Triple-A level, and the early Major League returns are more than promising. Once he’s acclimated to new roles around the diamond, and that shouldn’t take long, a recall has to be scheduled. Correa was the get of the winter and Lewis plays the same position. It’s understandable to take a step back even after a great 11-game debut. If Lewis isn’t on the fast track to return to playing everywhere, or if this winds up being service time suppression, then there’s no denying the move was a poor one. The Twins aren’t running away with the division by any means, and the lineup needs to be infused with all the talent it can handle. Ultimately, a positive takeaway here is that the Twins aren't afraid to act aggressively with a top talent that has missed so much time. Lewis was never going to factor into the shortstop plans this season with Correa here unless the opportunity arose and he'd earned it. Playing just 24 games after two years off, he became the obvious choice. As he goes back, he can be utilized at shortstop and elsewhere on the field, again allowing for aggressive action when an opportunity presents itself. There are no grandiose declarations to be made from a sample size as small as 11 games. There’s also no excuse for a player to be held back from contribution while failing to exhaust every opportunity to find a workable path forward. Royce Lewis is here, the time is now, and getting him back across town can’t be more than a three-week process.
  3. So many thoughts role through my mind as I think about the news that the Twins are optioning shortstop Royce Lewis to Triple-A St. Paul and will activate Carlos Correa before the Wednesday afternoon's game. So I thought I'd just start jotting them down. *** Click here to listen to @Seth Stohs and @Dave Overlund discuss the Lewis option decision on WJON Radio in St. Cloud. What more could Lewis have done? Nothing. He did everything the Twins could have hoped during that 11-game stretch, and more. Put another way, he likely made this decision incredibly difficult. After going 2-for-4 with a double and a home run on Tuesday night, he is hitting .308/.325/.564 (.889) with four doubles and two home runs. In 11 games. As impressive as he was at the plate, he was equally impressive at shortstop. Yes, he had a couple of errors, but he also made some plays that were tough and showed that he absolutely can play the position. His arm is plenty strong. He's got good range. His instincts at the position have come a long way. Stick to the Plan We speak so often of not being swayed too much by a small sample. While 11 games is a nice little stretch, it is still less than 40 plate appearances. When Carlos Correa was injured, the plan was for Royce Lewis to come up and play shortstop until Correa returned, whether that was two months (as initially feared) or two weeks (as became the reality). When Correa returned, Lewis would be returned to St. Paul and continue to get everyday playing time and at-bats and reps at shortstop and such. Royce Lewis looked the part of Big Leaguer Despite spending the Covid-shortened 2020 season at the alternate site and missing all of the 2021 season after surgery for a torn ACL, Lewis got off to a terrific start in St. Paul. And, as mentioned above, Lewis was immensely impressive during his time with the Twins. Forget about the numbers for a minute (and that's not easy to do), Lewis looked like a future star. He looked comfortable at the plate. He looked confident. He looked relaxed. He was clearly having the time of his life as evidenced by frequent big smiles and conversations on the field with teammates and opponents. He showed his great speed. How showed his power potential. He showed his willingness to use the whole field. He looked comfortable at shortstop. He never looked overwhelmed. And while he had just one walk in his time with the Twins, he seemed to control his plate appearances quite well. If you're a chemistry person, seeing how well he fit into the dugout was certainly encouraging. Smiling with teammates. Congratulating teammates. The hugs we saw him get from Ryan Jeffers, Byron Buxton, and others. Sitting on the bench, observing the game, often sitting between Correa and Buxton. Lewis also shows leadership skills. Lewis is not one to take over a locker room, and yet, you'd be hard-pressed to find any former teammates who didn't love him. Again, even with him being the new guy on the roster, he showed that he can lead on the field. The Role Moving Forward Clearly, the plan would still be for Lewis to be the team's primary shortstop of the future (much depending on what Correa decides in the offseason. However, because Lewis is a special talent and just made a great first impression, the team will want him in the big leagues more. To do so, it appears that he is going to play around the diamond for St. Paul. Remember, Lewis played shortstop only during his senior season of high school. He played third base his first three years of high school ball because J Serra had Chase Stumpf as their shortstop. But that's been six or seven years since he's had any regular time there. He has played some second base in the past, on Team USA rosters, and in the 2019 Arizona Fall League. During his MVP AFL stint, he also played a bunch of centerfield, and he made highlight-reel plays there. Can he play left field or right field? Presumably yes, but he hasn't spent a lot of time in those spots. Could he play first base? Of course. So, the question becomes, should he get a little bit of time at these other positions in the big leagues, or should it happen in a less stressful minor-league situation? I think a case could be made for either side. I certainly don't disagree with Glen Perkins' thoughts. However, they have made that decision, to have Lewis get a little time at those positions in the minor leagues. My thought is that doesn't need to take real long, maybe two or three weeks. Get him two or three starts at each position that they can envision him playing, and then get him back up to the big-league club. Summary This is going to be made into a huge talker and topic among Twins fans. While I would love to see Lewis remain in the big leagues, I can certainly see the value of letting him play some other positions at Triple-A before bringing him back. I do think that making too much out of an 11-game stretch is never a good idea, and sticking to a plan makes sense. It especially makes sense with a guy who has missed so much time the last couple of years and just wants to and needs to play. The Big Picture The future of Royce Lewis is incredibly bright. The talent is immense. The charisma and intelligence are there. The confidence and the drive to not only succeed but to thrive, is something that Lewis has always possessed. Regardless of this decision and whatever timeline the Twins front office puts on his return, I can't wait. *** Click here to listen to @Seth Stohs and @Dave Overlund discuss the Lewis option decision on WJON Radio in St. Cloud. Feel free to discuss, but please be civil with each other.
  4. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Dylan Bundy 3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 3 SO Homeruns: Royce Lewis (2), Gary Sánchez (4) Bottom 3 WPA: Josh Winder -.489, Jorge Polanco -.143, Jose Miranda -.131 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) On Tuesday night, the Twins were out to secure another series win in Oakland. The game marked the return of Dylan Bundy from the COVID IL. Bundy had struggled prior to being on the IL. The storyline heading into the game was if he could give the Twins an opportunity to win? Here’s how Minnesota lined up. The Twins came into the game having won the previous four encounters against Oakland despite scoring just 10 runs. Perhaps Oakland was the team to get Bundy back on track? Bundy looked relatively comfortable in the first inning, retiring Oakland on 19 pitches, surrendering only a bloop single to left-field that Nick Gordon couldn’t quite track down. James Kaprielian cruised through his first two innings of work for Oakland. He served Twins hitters a steady diet of mid-90s fastballs up in the zone, and breaking pitches down. Bundy worked around a leadoff walk in the second inning, keeping the game scoreless through two innings. Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Coliseum, it was going down. Royce Lewis led off the top of the third inning with a scorching, 111.7 mph double to the left-center-field gap. The Twins failed to capitalize however, as Jose Miranda and Jorge Polanco struck out to extricate Kaprielian from trouble. Tony Kemp singled in the bottom of the third with Josh Winder already warming up. A short start was always likely for Bundy, returning from COVID. Jed Lowrie walked to put runners on first and second base with one out. Jose Miranda bobbled a relatively straightforward grounder to third that should have been an inning-ending double play. He managed to rescue the force at second, putting runners at the corners with two out. Bundy escaped, striking out Seth Brown to throw three scoreless, and encouraging innings in his return from the IL. The Twins continued to struggle to cash in runners in the fourth inning. Gary Sánchez missed home runs on two sliders he crushed down the left-field line by mere feet. Max Kepler singled to left field with one out, but the Twins couldn’t bring him home, despite a hard hit lineout from Nick Gordon to right field. Josh Winder relieved Bundy in he bottom of the fourth inning. With two outs in the bottom of the fourth, Kevin Smith crushed a belt-high fastball into the left-field seats to give Oakland a 2-0 lead. The pitch wasn’t a bad one from Winder, it was above the strike zone, Smith just hit it out. The Twins got half of the lead back in the top of the fifth, when Royce Lewis blasted his second home run into the left-field seats, cutting the deficit to one. Lewis has made the Twins forthcoming roster challenge difficult, with Bailey Ober, Carlos Correa, and Trevor Larnach all due back from the IL in short order. One thing is clear, he can’t be sent down right now, he’s on fire. Winder struggled with his command in the fifth inning, with Oakland’s contact continuing to find holes. He loaded the bases with two outs, before escaping the bases loaded jam, to preserve the one-run deficit. Gary Sánchez knocked Kaprielian from the game, launching a game-tying, solo home run to left field after Elvis Andrus took a base hit away from Jorge Polanco in the previous at bat. Max Kepler added a one-out single. Rocco Baldelli pinch hit Kyle Garlick for Nick Gordon. Garlick promptly struck out, before Gilberto Celestino reached on an infield hit to put runners at first and third base with two outs and Royce Lewis due up. Lewis grounded out to second base to end the inning with the game tied at two. Aside from a walk for Luis Arraez, the top of the seventh inning was uneventful for the Twins. In the bottom of the innings, the Athletics broke the game open. Winder walked Lowrie and hit Laureano. There is an argument that Winder should have been pulled, having surrendered five hits and two walks to that point. He stayed in the game. Seth Brown crushed a double and Sean Murphy blooped a single and the Athletics took a 5-2 lead. Winder surrendered two more hits before finally being pulled by Baldelli. He allowed five runs on nine hits with two walks in 3.2 innings of work. It's clear that the Twins had planned on the combination of Bundy and Winder eating the majority of the innings on Tuesday night. Ultimately, Winder's command issues made that plan challenging to execute. The Twins threatened in the top of the eight, managing two base runners, but failed to eat into the lead. The Athletics closed out the game in the ninth to even the series at one game each. In spite of this, the Twins have won the season series, and will look to win the current series on Wednesday. The Twins fell to 21-16 on the season. Bullpen Usage Chart FRI SAT SUN MON TUE TOT Winder 0 0 0 0 78 78 Jax 50 0 0 25 0 75 Pagán 22 9 10 0 0 41 Thielbar 0 15 2 0 16 33 Smith 4 15 9 0 0 28 Cano 0 0 0 25 0 25 Duffey 0 5 0 20 0 25 Duran 10 12 0 0 0 22 Stashak 0 0 13 0 0 13 Next Up On Wednesday, the Twins will conclude their series against Oakland. Sonny Gray gets the start for Minnesota, against Daulton Jefferies of the Athletics. First pitch is 2:37 CT
  5. Royce Lewis is off to a tremendous start to his big-league career. In nine games, he has gone 9-for-32 (.281 BA) with two doubles and a home run. His first home run was a memorable one as he cranked a grand slam that helped the Twins win over the weekend. Minnesota signed Carlos Correa to be the team’s shortstop for the 2022 campaign, and now the Twins are facing a decision about what to do with Lewis. Option 1: Send Him to Triple-A Obviously, this isn’t the ideal answer with how well Lewis has performed so far. However, this option ensures he plays everyday, and more importantly that he continues to get reps at shortstop. Correa is the AL’s reigning Platinum Glove winner, so the team is going to continue to play him at that position. However, Lewis has been better than advertised at shortstop, and the front office may want him to continue to develop in the minors. Sending him back to Triple-A may be the best option if the team wants to be comfortable with him taking over the full-time shortstop role to start the 2023 campaign. Option 2: Split Time at Shortstop Hand injuries can be tricky, so there are no guarantees that Correa returns and can play every day. Correa will likely need regular rest when he returns and that’s where Lewis comes into the picture. Keeping Lewis on the big-league roster would allow him to get reps at shortstop on Correa’s off days. Unfortunately, there isn’t a natural platoon with the two players both being right-handed hitters. This scenario hurts Lewis from the perspective that he wouldn’t be playing every day and he has missed two season’s of in-game at-bats. It seems unlikely for the Twins to pick this option, but there may be ways to use him at multiple other positions in the line-up. Option 3: Shift to Third Base or Left Field Another option is to try and find Lewis at-bats at other positions. Gio Urshela has provided some strong defensive plays, but he has a 91 OPS+ in 30 games. Minnesota’s left field situation is also in flux as Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have both missed time with injury. Over the weekend, Kirilloff was demoted to Triple-A to try and solve his hitting woes as he continues to deal with wrist issues. In his first 69 plate appearances, he has yet to record an extra-base hit. For Lewis, he has very little professional experience at either of these defensive positions. He has never played left field and he has just over 100 innings at third base. The Twins likely have confidence in his athleticism to be able to handle both of these defensive spots if necessary. Minnesota’s offense has struggled through different parts of the 2022 campaign, and Lewis is a dangerous hitter to pencil into the back-half of the line-up. Even with Correa’s return, it’s hard to imagine the team sending Lewis back to the minors. He needs to play everyday, and he can be a vital contributor on a contending team. Which option do you think the Twins pick? Will they combine a couple of the options mentioned above? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  6. Box Score SP: Chris Archer: 4 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K (62 pitches, 37 strikes (59.7%)) Home Runs: Gary Sanchez (3) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sanchez (0.143), Griffin Jax (0.143), Jorge Polanco (0.138) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Garlick activated The Twins sent out their patented righty heavy lineup with lefty Zach Logue on the mound for the Athletics. It was a perfect opportunity for the healthy Kyle Garlick to return to the Twins after spending time on the IL with an injured calf. Coming into Monday night, Garlick has hit .357/.500/1.000 with a 1.500 OPS against left-handed pitchers. Archer gives the Twins four innings Chris Archer did exactly what 2022 Archer does. He gave the Twins four full innings of work and left the game with the Twins in a position to win the game. It was an uneasy beginning as it seemed Archer was trying to nibble around the edges of the plate. Once the right-hander could locate some pitches better, he went through a stretch of sending nine straight A's batters back to the dugout. Lewis makes his case As Carlos Correa draws closer to returning from his finger injury, Royce Lewis isn’t ready to go back to St. Paul just yet. The Twins shortstop is doing everything to make sure he stays in the majors. Lewis accounted for two Twins runs. He was first driven home by Jorge Polanco after his third-inning double and then Byron Buxton after a fifth-inning walk. While Lewis will need to find a new defensive home if he and Correa are to coexist in the same lineup, his bat may force just that to happen. Lewis is now hitting .286/.306/.457 since his call up. Gary brings the power While the Twins needed to employ small-ball tactics of what feels like an era forgotten for their second run, Gary Sanchez brought us right back to present-day baseball. Sanchez smashed a ball to center field in the sixth inning for the Twins third run. His home run measured at 433 feet and had an exit velocity of 109.9 mph. Cano, Jax, Duffey impress out of the bullpen Yennier Cano has seen the Twins bullpen roles be shuffled around, and now he is staking his claim to a role of his own. Cano once again was asked to pitch two innings as he came on in relief of Archer. As he sat mid-90s with his fastball, Cano only allowed one hit and recorded two strikeouts. Cano is turning heads early on in his major league career. Griffin Jax was the next man up out of the bullpen and added his own two innings following Cano. Allowing only one hit, Jax has continued to be trusted by his manager and has become a real asset for the Twins. Tyler Duffey followed to get the save on a night in which Emilio Pagan was unavailable. It is also interesting that the choice was Duffey and not Jhoan Duran, but now Duran will be available for the rest of the series. What’s Next? The Twins will go to bed likely with the sounds of drums and horns bouncing in their heads. It was announced Dylan Bundy will return from the COVID IL to make the start on Tuesday. Bundy brings into the game a 5.76 ERA on the season in his five starts. The A’s will send James Kaprielian to the mound. The right-hander has made three starts in 2022 and currently owns a 4.97 ERA. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Jax 0 50 0 0 25 75 Cano 36 0 0 0 25 61 Stashak 46 0 0 13 0 59 Duffey 33 0 5 0 20 58 Pagán 0 22 9 10 0 41 Thielbar 23 0 15 2 0 40 Smith 0 4 15 9 0 28 Duran 0 10 12 0 0 22 Cotton 0 0 17 0 0 17
  7. 1. Royce Lewis is here to stay Between Friday’s grand slam, superb fielding at shortstop and consistent hits elsewhere, long-held #1 Twins prospect Royce Lewis has made a strong statement since he was called up a little over a week ago. Lewis has a .310 average and a top 6 on the team OPS of .719. On WCCO Radio, President of Baseball Operations Derek Falvey expressed optimism that Royce Lewis can play around the field similar to the Dodgers' super-utilityman Chris Taylor. This indicates that the Twins will likely find a spot for him somewhere on the field once shortstop Carlos Correa returns to the lineup. And if he continues to perform on the field, why wouldn't they? Lewis' debut has been a long time coming, and after having gone through ACL surgery and rehab, it has been rewarding to finally see him on the field after all that hard work. He received a standing ovation from the crowd for his grand slam on Friday night, and afterwards, he expressed gratitude for the warm welcome he's received from Twins fans. "I really appreciate it. This fan base has always been really, really special to me. They've always been great to me. Minnesota nice," Lewis said. 2. Jose Miranda needs a little more time Preheat to 350° and pop Jose back in the oven for a little bit- he needs some more time to cook in AAA. So far, Miranda has looked a bit outmatched at the plate and his .114 batting average reflects that. His .111 batting average on balls in play (BABIP) and few strikeouts show that while he is making contact, the contact he makes does not give him a good chance to succeed. The Twins are depleted at first base, and injuries to first basemen Alex Kirilloff and Miguel Sanó have necessitated Jose’s spot in the lineup recently. Some fans questioned why Miranda was sent out to hit in the 10th inning on Saturday in a critical down-by-1, do-or-die situation with Byron Buxton on the bench. Manager Rocco Baldelli was quite clear after the game that rest days are rest days and that the direction the game takes does not affect that. But if Mike Trout can come off the bench to hit in the 10th inning to a huge ovation, to some it seemed that Buxton could manage as well, though Buxton is coming back from injury. I am a firm believer in Miranda’s talent, but it seems a little more time in AAA would be of benefit, and he's still very young at 23. Some infield shuffling could fill Miranda’s spot at first if he was sent down- perhaps Lewis, Luis Arraez, and even Gary Sánchez could share time there. Utility player extraordinaire Arraez made some good scoops at first during Sunday’s game, which Miranda was on the bench for. 3. Runners left on base will haunt Saturday’s game can be summed up as a game of missed opportunities, as the Twins left a whopping 12 runners on base. The biggest example of this was in the 5th inning, where the Twins had bases loaded with no outs and Shane Bieber emerged unscathed due to an unfortunate home-to-first Gio Urshela double play followed by a Miranda groundout. This half-inning was nothing short of deflating. The Twins only got three more hits in the rest of the game, two of these occurring with 2 outs and no runners on. We all know that Walks Will Haunt, but runners left on base certainly will too. The offense returned on Sunday, where Buxton and Urshela both got solo home runs, including Buxton hitting the 1,000th home run hit by a Twin at Target Field- his 11th of the season. 4. Joe Smith is one of the team’s most underrated assets Through 15 appearances, Joe Smith still has a 0.00 ERA. Some might say that’s because the Twins have used him sparingly; Smith is used in high-leverage situations, so often in late-inning, close games with runners on. He leads all AL relivers with a +1.11 win probability added (WPA). Though he has somehow never been an All-Star, he is arguably the most prolific bullpen workhorse of the last 20 years. The Twins used Smith in all three games of the series (Pagán too). So regardless of his limited pitch count (146 pitches thrown in 15 appearances equating to an average of less than 10 pitches per game), owning a 0.00 ERA this far into the season when used as a high-leverage pitcher is impressive no matter how you dice it. If this keeps up, there is no way the league won't start to take note. 5. The crowd is starting to wake up at Target Field After decidedly light attendance thus far, the weekend’s series featured the best attendance with the most hyped-up fans Target Field has seen this season. Friday’s game can be summed up as nothing short of electric due to the Twins piling on 12 runs. The crowd dutifully got into it when Baldelli got himself ejected in the top of the 10th inning on Saturday while arguing about an interference call, but many fans in the seats expressed confusion on why he was arguing about what seemed to be a clear-cut call. The series also featured the first big screen fan proposals at Target Field this season- one on Saturday and one on Sunday. Officially, the Twins announced 61,500 fans visited Target Field for the three-game series, which, while still feeling low, is a massive improvement from even a week ago. The Twins are near the bottom of MLB in attendance, averaging 17,944 fans per game. As the weather continues to be beautiful, kids get out of school, and the Twins hopefully keep winning, fans will continue to return to Target Field in droves. Bonus takeaway: Urshela and Sánchez had a solid series This series saw great production from former Yankees Urshela and Sánchez: Urshela hit two home runs (including a 434-foot monster blast on Friday night) and Sánchez had one home run and two doubles. Urshela continued his arguably exceptional play at 3B this series. Considering the Twins have leaned on Sánchez in the DH role when not playing catcher, hopefully this series is a sign of more good things to come at the plate. *** What were your takeaways from the Twins series against the Guardians? Leave your COMMENTS below.
  8. Last Week's Game Results: Game 30 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Verlander Dominates Hapless Twins Game 31 | HOU 11, MIN 3: Astros Blast Twins in Suspended Game Game 32 | HOU 5, MIN 0: Lack of Luck, Lots of Runners Stranded Game 33 | MIN 12, CLE 8: Bats Awaken, Snap Losing Streak Game 34 | CLE 3, MIN 2: Offense Absent, Twins Fall in Extras Game 35 | MIN 3, CLE 1: Ryan Rebounds, Twins Take Series Weekly Snapshot: Mon, 5/9 through Sun, 5/15 *** Record Last Week: 2-4 (Overall: 20-15) Run Differential Last Week: -13 (Overall: +12) Standing: 1st Place in AL Central (3.0 GA) NEWS & NOTES The list of news and moves from last week is a long one, so let's just try and rattle through it rapid-fire: Carlos Correa, whose bruised finger wasn't improving fast enough to facilitate a speedy return to action, was placed on the injured list for the sake of roster flexibility. He got in some work over the weekend and is expected to be back relatively soon. Luis Arraez was activated from COVID IL, and played throughout the latter part of the week while showing no ill effects. Dylan Bundy, however, remains sidelined as he recovers from his battle with the virus. He wasn't able to go on Saturday so Devin Smeltzer came up to make his 2022 Twins debut, hurling five innings of one-run ball. Alex Kirilloff returned from rehab, basically out of necessity, but looked completely ineffective as his wrist continues to restrict him. The Twins optioned him back to St. Paul on Saturday and he'll stay there until his bat shows signs of life. Meanwhile, Mark Contreras is up from Triple-A and temporarily providing some outfield depth. Danny Coulombe, whose season was off to a magnificent start, suffered a hip injury on Tuesday that forced him to the shelf. It's another blow to this bullpen, which hopes to get a boost from his replacement: 28-year-old Yennier Canó, called up after a strong run at Triple-A. Jhon Romero was moved to the 60-day IL to create 40-man space. Kyle Garlick embarked upon a rehab stint at Triple-A, with his calf apparently healed. He went 3-for-9 with a homer in St. Paul over the weekend and could rejoin the Twins for their coming road trip. They will be happy to get back his lefty-mashing stick. Also due back this week: Bailey Ober, who threw 72 pitches over five innings in a rehab start on Sunday. He struck out seven with no walks, although he did allow four earned runs. The most impactful health development of the week concerned starting pitcher Chris Paddack, but that one is discouraging enough that we'll save it for the Lowlights section. HIGHLIGHTS While the lineup has largely been struggling, a few players are stepping up in a big way. Jorge Polanco is at the head of that list, with his bat catching fire here in May following a fairly quiet first month. He contributed a homer and two doubles last week, and leads the team with 20 RBIs. In a lineup that's seen almost everyone else miss time, Polanco has been a steady and durable force, appearing in all but one of Minnesota's games so far while easily leading the team in plate appearances. His ankle has sometimes impeded his performance but Polanco's been able to battle through and stay on the field, and it's one of his defining qualities. Dating back to 2019 only eight MLB players have amassed more plate appearances. With Correa sidelined, Royce Lewis has been very impressive while filling in on the other side of second base. Although there have a been a few hiccups defensively, he's mostly made the plays and Lewis is swinging a good bat. The past week saw him notch six hits in 22 at-bats, including his first major-league home run – a grand slam that broke things open in Friday's win over Cleveland. It was a really awesome moment for a kid who is extremely easy to root for. Byron Buxton was great as usual when available, launching a pair of homers against Cleveland over the weekend, but he's still bothered by soreness and occasional swelling in his knee, which is keeping him out of the lineup semi-regularly. With that being the case, the emergence of Gilberto Celestino has been tremendously impactful. Celestino went 4-for-11 with a double last week and is now slashing .333/.396/.417 in 52 plate appearances this year. His defense in the outfield has been beyond exceptional (see below). It would've been hard to imagine, given how overmatched he looked as a rookie last year, but Celestino came right back to the big leagues and is giving the Twins everything they could want out of him as a fourth outfielder. On the pitching side, a heaping share of credit is due to Joe Smith, who's been absolutely brilliant out of the Twins bullpen. The front office's lone MLB free agent addition for this unit has been providing absurd value, making frequent yet short appearances and ALWAYS getting the job done. He worked all three games in the Cleveland series, pitching on back-to-back-to-back days and running his season-opening scoreless streak to 12 ⅓ innings. The two couldn't be much different stylistically, but the 38-year-old sidearmer Smith and the 24-year-old flamethrower Jhoan Duran – who worked two scoreless innings last week and rewrote the franchise record for pitch velocity multiple times – are leading the way in a surprisingly reliable bullpen, ranking first and second on the staff in Win Probability Added. LOWLIGHTS The Astros series served as a stark reality check for the Twins, who'd ridden a major hot streak into a multi-game division lead despite all of their injury trials and setbacks. One-run victories over soft competition will be happily banked, but they're not necessarily the most convincing displays. Facing one of the league's truly elite teams, Minnesota was barely competitive. Even at full strength the Twins are probably not at the level of Houston – yet – and all weaknesses were magnified in their undermanned state. Batting Gary Sánchez third in your lineup against Justin Verlander is ... not what you want. Options were limited, unfortunately, and to some extent they still are. Far from giving the lineup a boost, José Miranda has reverted to his old offensive profile – swing at everything, with lots of weak contact – and it's not playing in the majors, as evidenced by a .114/.152/.227 slash line. Meanwhile, the streaky Ryan Jeffers has gone cold again – he went 3-for-16 last week and doesn't have an XBH since his last homer on May 3rd. Sánchez and Gio Urshela have been mostly unproductive outside of the occasional long ball, with each sporting a sub-.290 OBP. The Twins could desperately use a healthy and effective Kirilloff in the middle of their lineup right now, but that simply isn't in the cards. He's in a weird purgatory with his ailing right wrist, where it's not "injured" enough to merit being on the IL, but it's clearly giving him no chance to succeed at the plate. During his time with the Twins, Kirilloff wasn't generating any loud contact. His batted ball metrics were brutal, with exit velos and launch angles ranking at the bottom of the team – not at all what you expect from a hitter of his caliber. Kirilloff still has not barreled a single ball in the majors this year. All the team can really do at this point is send him to a lower-pressure environment and hope the wrist progressively improves, with results turning around in kind. One wonders if it'd be wise to simply give him some time off from swinging. But that's a difficult ask of a 24-year-old who is trying like hell to get his career going. In addition to an offense that was shut out twice and nearly no-hit, the Houston series was also a harsh one for the rookies and reclamation project in Minnesota's rotation, with Joe Ryan, Chris Archer and Josh Winder all struggling to varying degrees. The patience of the Astros lineup proved too much for these starters. Ryan issued a career-high five walks on Tuesday while coughing up four earned runs in four innings. (To his immense credit, he bounced back with a clean and stellar performance on Sunday.) Archer threw just 42 of 75 pitches for strikes on Wednesday and lasted three laborious innings in a loss. Winder was touched up for four runs (three earned) over 3 ⅓ innings in the series finale, yielding six hits and three free passes. Twins pitching was completely outclassed by that of the Astros, with the rotation setting the tone for a lopsided series sweep. It was the type of stretch that leaves you yearning for a steady veteran hand to go along with the youth movement. Seemingly this was a big part of the motivation in acquiring Paddack just ahead of the season, but now that trade has taken a turn for the worse with his elbow issues resurfacing. Paddack exited his last start due to elbow inflammation, and has since been in the process of consulting specialists and gathering information to determine his next move. Having been placed on the 60-day IL, he'll miss at least a couple of months and it seems likely he'll undergo Tommy John surgery, costing him the rest of the season. Last year in San Diego, Paddack was diagnosed with a partial tear of his UCL, which he tried to pitch through and remedy via non-surgical means. As such, this outcome is hardly shocking. The Twins knew the risks involved when they moved on Paddack, and now it looks like the worst-case scenario will be realized: he's going to contribute very little this year while Taylor Rogers is balling for the Padres. Presumably we'll get more clarity in the coming week concerning the plan for Paddack. If you're seeking an optimistic slant, you could take a look at the example of Twins prospect Blayne Enlow, who underwent Tommy John surgery last June and is now ramping up and returning to action, less than one year later. A similar timeline for Paddack could potentially have him back pitching for the Twins in the first half of next year. But again, we'll need to see the details. One way or another, he has a long road ahead of him. TRENDING STORYLINE With Correa set to return soon, perhaps even in the coming week, it will be interesting to see what the plan is for Lewis. He certainly looks like a guy who belongs in the majors and the Twins aren't necessarily in a position where they should feel comfortable losing his spark. But obviously their superstar free agent will resume everyday shortstop duties once activated. Lewis has the speed to be an asset in the outfield and could probably hold his own at third base, where Urshela hasn't been terribly impressive (offensively, anyway – the defense has been quite spectacular). But Lewis lacks much of any experience playing these positions, and you wonder if the Twins are comfortable letting him learn on the fly in the big leagues. I guess we'll find out soon enough. LOOKING AHEAD An extremely soft section of the schedule is underway, and the Twins need to make hay. They'll open the coming week with a trip out west to face the Athletics, who they swept at home a week ago. Then it's off to Kansas City for a match-up against the Royals. The following 12 games are all against Detroit and KC. After that, the Twins will be running through an AL East gauntlet featuring the Blue Jays, Yankees and Rays, and at that point, they'll have a chance to show their mettle against strong competition after falling woefully short versus Houston. But until then, the goal is just to rattle off victories and build some distance in the Central standings. As I publish this, no starter has been officially announced for Friday but that nod will presumably go to Ober. MONDAY, 5/16: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Chris Archer v. LHP Zach Logue TUESDAY, 5/17: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Josh Winder v. RHP James Kaprielian WEDNESDAY, 5/18: TWINS @ ATHLETICS – RHP Sonny Gray v. RHP Daulton Jefferies FRIDAY, 5/20: TWINS @ ROYALS – TBD v. LHP Daniel Lynch SATURDAY, 5/21: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Joe Ryan v. RHP Brad Keller SUNDAY, 5/22: TWINS @ ROYALS – RHP Chris Archer v. TBD
  9. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Sonny Gray, 4.1 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 4 BB, 8 K (82 pitches, 46 strikes, 56.1%) Home Runs: Byron Buxton (10), Jorge Polanco (4), Gary Sánchez (2), Royce Lewis (1) Top 3 WPA: Gary Sánchez (.178), Royce Lewis (.155), Byron Buxton (.123) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Gray is off to a good start, but can't go to distance The big story of tonight’s game was whether or not the Twins would get a decent start from their starting pitcher. The last time a Twins starter threw more than four innings in a game was exactly a week ago when Josh Winder delivered six innings with no earned runs against the A’s. Would Sonny Gray be up for the task? But that wasn’t the only question mark regarding the Twins coming into this game. Minnesota’s offense, full of ups and downs this season, produced a grand total of three runs during the three games against Houston, being shut out in two of those games. Would they be able to turn things around? Despite facing Aaron Civale, who has a career 3.31 ERA against Minnesota, the offense managed to be productive from the get-go. Byron Buxton and Jorge Polanco hit a couple of solo shots in the bottom of first, giving the Twins an early two-run lead. Things could’ve been even better, as Max Kepler and Gary Sánchez got back-to-back hits and moved into scoring position, but Minnesota couldn’t add on. Gray pitched around a leadoff walk in the first, then pitched an easy, 12-pitch second, with two punch outs. However, he oddly had a troublesome third, loading the bases before recording an out, including a couple of walks. Fortunately, he was able to keep the damage to a minimum, with Cleveland scoring only the one run on a force out. Gray struck out a couple more batters in that inning. Civale settle down and started to dominate the Twins lineup. After the Sánchez double in the first, Minnesota’s batters went 0-for-11 and failed to provide Gray with some run support. After a scoreless fourth with a couple more strikeouts, Gray became the first Twin starter to pitch into the fifth in the past seven days. But he wouldn’t go to distance. He gave up a leadoff home run to Austin Hedges and shortly after that, a walk and a single, which was enough for Rocco Baldelli to pull him from the game. Griffin Jax came into the game and induced an inning-ending double play on two pitches, to end the threat. The offense gets back on track, turns the game into a blowout Another short start, a cold offense, and a tied ball game. All the ingredients that might have led Twins fans to brace themselves for the worst. Little did they know that they were in for a treat: the Twins lineup put together a nine-run fifth inning on seven pitches and put this game out of reach. First, Civale loaded the bases by giving up a leadoff single to Ryan Jeffers, a double to Royce Lewis, and a walk to Buxton. Minnesota scored two of those runners on a Luis Arráez groundout and a Max Kepler single to left. Polanco had drawn a walk in between and, with two men on, Civale’s night was done. With Kepler and Polanco on, and Bryan Shaw pitching, Sánchez definitely put the slump behind him by smashing a three-run home run to deep center, making it 7-2 Twins. But they were surely not done. The bases were once again loaded for the Twins, as Shaw gave up back-to-back singles, to Gio Urshela and Nick Gordon, and a walk to Jeffers. Still chasing his first big league home run, Lewis destroyed a cutter in the heart of the plate for a huge grand slam, making it 11-2 Minnesota. It was impressive to see how much the Twins improved with men in scoring position in this game, compared to the Houston series. They finished the game hitting 3-for-7 with RISP. Jax has his toughest outing so far, Smith bails him out When he was brought into this game, Jax hadn’t given up any runs in his previous six outings and was posting a stellar 1.35 ERA through eight appearances. After inducing an inning-ending double play to get out of an inherited jam, he simply wasn’t sharp in the following two innings. Franmil Reyes singled off him in the sixth, shortly before Oscar Mercado hit a two-out, two-run bomb to bring the Guardians within seven. In the seventh, things were even worse, as he struggled badly with his command, allowing Cleveland to score a couple more runs on a single by José Ramírez and a triple by Amed Rosario, making it 11-6. Jax gave up back-to-back walks to load the bases with two outs, causing Baldelli to remove him from the game. Joe Smith took over and struck out Mercado on four pitches, ending the threat. Smith has now stranded 11 inherited runners so far this season – every single one he’s inherited in the year. In the bottom of the eighth, Buxton drew a leadoff walk and the Twins managed to manufacture a run, with Kepler pushing Buxton across with a sac-fly. Emilio Pagán had a flashy six-run lead when he took the mound in the ninth, but he gave up a two-out, two-run home run to Andrés Giménez, before he struck out Mercado to avoid a Cleveland rally. What’s Next? Tomorrow at 6:10 pm CDT both teams are back on the field for game 2. Cleveland will have Shane Bieber (4.13 ERA) start for them, whereas the Twins will call up Devin Smeltzer to make his season debut. Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Cotton 0 58 0 0 0 58 Jax 0 0 0 0 50 50 Stashak 0 0 0 46 0 46 Cano 0 0 0 36 0 36 Duffey 0 0 0 33 0 33 Thielbar 0 3 0 23 0 26 Pagán 0 0 0 0 22 22 Duran 0 0 0 0 10 10 Smith 0 0 0 0 4 4
  10. It was a vastly different experience going to that little ballpark compared to the Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome, but watching unknown minor leaguers play on those fields always filled my mind with delusions of grandeur to be like them one day—a professional baseball player chasing their dream to become a Major Leaguer. That is the main reason I do a little bit different of a list heading into a new season than all those “Top Prospects” lists you see here at Twins Daily, on MLB.com, or at other outlets like FanGraphs and Baseball America. There are so many of them these days I don’t think this amateur scout can tell you anything you haven’t already heard. Instead, I want to recognize all those guys who have worked hard to get where they are, whether they’re a top prospect or not, and whom you might see make their MLB debut at Target Field during the upcoming season—those ready to make their childhood dreams like mine come true. Across all of Major League Baseball during the 2021 season, 265 players made their Major League debut, with eight members of the Minnesota Twins organization contributing to that number. They included pitchers Charlie Barnes, Griffin Jax, Jovani Moran, Bailey Ober, and Joe Ryan, as well as position players Gilberto Celestino, Nick Gordon, Trevor Larnach, and Ben Rortvedt. All four of those hitters and pitchers Jax and Ober were profiled in this same column before the start of the 2021 season, and you’ll see some of the same names in this list below for the 2022 calendar year that didn’t quite make the jump. So, who are the prospects that could make their Major League debut and become the next Minnesota Twins during the 2022 season? ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER: The Twins enter the 2022 season with a 40-man MLB roster that does not have much room for position players yet to make their MLB debut. That list is just two players, but any fan should be excited about the names that are included in this section. There is, however, much more room for pitchers in both the starting rotation and the bullpen, and the top end talent is almost all at the top of their system to start the 2022 season. Royce Lewis (22 years old on opening day), IF/OF – Twins Daily’s #2 Prospect (Lewis made his MLB debut on 5/6, playing SS against the Oakland Athletics and batting 7th. He finished 1-for-4, picking up a single in the 8th inning of a 2-1 win) It’s hard to gauge where Royce Lewis is at in his development, given he’s missed two entire years’ worth of time due to Covid and tearing his ACL. But when we last saw him, he was crushing in the Arizona Fall League to the point he took home the league’s MVP award. He has continued to work on his swing while off the field, and I expect big things during the 2022 season when he finds his footing. The biggest question continues to be what position he will play when he reaches the majors. I have been critical of his shortstop play in the past, but there is no doubt he can be an elite defender in the outfield. He excelled at third base in the AFL as well if that does not work out. That is to say, if he’s hitting well and anyone in the outfield or middle infield on the Major League roster goes out for an extended period, it would not surprise me at all if Lewis is the name that gets called to fill in if he is hitting. Plus, he looked good at short for the Saints on Tuesday if you were wondering: Jordan Balazovic (23), RHP – TD’s #4 Prospect Balazovic is ticketed for the starting rotation with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, though he will start the season on the Injured List with a left knee strain. While he does not necessarily get the accolades around his pure “stuff” that some of the other guys on this list do, he has been one to get better results as he’s climbed the ladder. That can be attributed some to having better command, but he has also shown steady improvement with his offerings year over year, showcased by his fastball averaging around 96 MPH with Wichita last season. One thing going against him is innings, as his 97 in 2021 were a career high after missing the first two months with a back injury. There is little doubt when it comes to Balazovic that he will break through as a starting pitcher and stay there when he reaches the majors, compared to others further down this list. Jose Miranda (23), 3B – TD’s #3 Prospect (Miranda made his MLB debut on 5/2, playing third base and batting sixth against the Baltimore Orioles. He was 0-for-4 in a 2-1 Twins win) The thing with Miranda was never about talent, as the Twins had always seen a good bat in the infielder from Puerto Rico. However, before the 2021 season that bat had never quite lived up to expectations, producing just one season with an OPS above .750 and that was all the way back in rookie ball. But coaches continued to encourage him to alter his approach and wait for pitches he could do damage with, instead of swinging first and asking questions later. He took it to heart and ran with it for the 2021 season, enroute to one of the most impressive Minor League seasons you have ever seen from a Twins prospect. He led all of the minors in total bases, clubbing 32 doubles and 30 home runs in 127 games between Wichita and St. Paul. He finished with a .344/.401/.572 slash line and rocketed up prospect lists by the end of the year. He’s basically only a corner infielder and won’t win any Gold Glove awards with his defense, but if he’s even close to repeating those hitting numbers in 2022 at triple-A, his bat will force the issue sooner rather than later. Jhoan Duran (24), RHP – TD’s #7 Prospect (Duran made his MLB debut on opening day, pithing two innings against the Seattle Mariners. He allowed two hits, walked one, and struck out four in a scoreless outing) Whether they’ve been trying or not, since I’ve been a fan of the Twins they have always had a velocity problem. Duran is one of the pitchers who can continue to change that, whether that comes as a starter or a reliever. He has size, is capable of hitting 100+ MPH with his fastball, and throws a weird sinker he can play off that velocity to get swings and misses. Like many young hurlers, consistency is key and despite his stuff he has had trouble maintaining that start-to-start in the past. When he is on Duran is fully capable of dominating an outing, but has thrown only 16 innings in live games since the end of the 2019 season. If you were asking me before the start of Spring Training, I would have fully expected Duran to begin the season in the St. Paul Saints rotation. Instead, he has been absolutely dominant in his outings thus far and will come North with the Twins to start the year! Josh Winder (25), RHP – TD’s #9 Prospect (Winder made his MLB debut on 4/12, pitching one inning against the Los Angeles Dodgers. He allowed one run on two walks and struck out one. He made his first MLB start on 5/1, and picked up the win with 6 innings of shutout baseball. He allowed just two hits, walked one, and struck out seven against the Tampa Bay Rays) A casual fan may not recognize Winder’s name as much as others, but I recommend paying a lot more attention to him this season. I have seen evidence from the Twins over the past two years that they may think he is the best of the starting pitching bunch they have approaching the majors. Plus, as of writing this he is still on the bubble to come North to Minneapolis instead of St. Paul to start the 2022 season. While he only threw 72 innings last year, they were so good that he was the Twins representative to play in the Futures Game during All Star Weekend. He was promoted to triple-A immediately after that and made four starts for the Saints before being shut down for the rest of the season with a shoulder impingement. He was solid in his outings this spring, starting three games (meaning he was facing mostly MLB players) and allowing just two runs on seven hits and two walks, while striking out nine in eight total innings pitched. While there is no reason for the Twins to put him in the bullpen permanently, it would not shock me to see him as part of a 16-man pitching staff to start the season in a piggy-backing role. I can even envision him performing better than whomever he follows to the point he takes over when rosters get cut down from 28 players. Cole Sands (24), RHP – TD’s #13 Prospect (Sands made his MLB debut on 5/1, pitching two innings of relief against the Tampa Bay Rays. He allowed two earned runs on three hits, and struck out two.) Making his professional debut during the 2019 season, Sands was a standout performer and as a result pitched at three levels, reaching double-A for one start to end the year. He finished the season with a 2.68 ERA and struck out 108 hitters over 97 1/3 innings. He followed that up in 2021 by dominating with Wichita to the tune of a 2.46 ERA and 96 strikeouts across 80 1/3 innings. He missed some time due to an injury, but will be in the Saints rotation to start the 2022 season. His path reminds me a bit of one Bailey Ober and if the Twins can get more of that, they would be ecstatic. Since he is on the 40-man roster, you never know—if he is lined up to pitch on the right day, an injury on the Twins could spur a cab ride across the river to Target Field at any point. Drew Strotman (25), RHP The second half of the trade package the Twins received from the Tampa Bay Rays for Nelson Cruz, Strotman was thought by some evaluators to be the better prospect in the deal at the time. I do not think that is the case now, considering Joe Ryan is slated to pitch opening day for the Twins while Strotman fell off a bit after coming over, but it should give you an idea of how well the Twins did in that trade to get both of those guys. He throws in the mid-90s with a good cutter that catches the attention of scouts, but command has been a bit of an issue since having Tommy John Surgery back in 2018. He is being fully transitioned to the bullpen in 2022 and could turn into another high-octane option there as the season progresses. Ronny Henriquez (21), RHP – TD’s #16 Prospect With the flurry of trade activity that happened after the lockout ended, the Twins ended up with an intriguing right-hander from the Texas Rangers in sending off Mitch Garver. You will hear a lot about his size or lack thereof, but there is a lightning arm attached to his right shoulder that hits the mid-90s with ease. He has consistently piled up strikeouts and limited baserunners, but the long ball has been a bugaboo as he gave up nearly two per nine innings pitched in double-A last season. He has primarily started games in his pro career thus far and should continue to do so with the Twins, but his profile sounds a lot like a future reliever when it is all said and done. Chris Vallimont (25), RHP The moniker of the “Vallimonster” is apt for the right-hander, as he can perform quite the Jekyll and Hyde routine whenever he is on the mound. He paired a 13.0/9IP strikeout rate with a 5.8/9IP walk rate during the 2021 season and if you go game to game, you will see that up and down nature in his stat lines as well. A switch to the bullpen to maximize his pure stuff in shorter stints is something to watch for during the season if that pattern continues. TOP PROSPECTS: Consider this entry more of a “not-yet-on-the-40-man-roster” section heading into this season since a lot of the top prospects have already appeared above, but what remains below still holds the theme that these guys are close to Major League ready. All three of them are on the double-A roster of the Wichita Wind Surge to start the year, with a few of them sure to move up quickly when the 40-man depth above is called upon by the Twins. Austin Martin (23), IF/OF – TD’s #1 Prospect The top prospect on our board, it is slightly odd that Martin returns to double-A to start the season after spending all of the 2021 season there, but he does have some things to work on. Those being his defense at shortstop (or elsewhere), and tapping into some power that may have been hindered by a wrist injury throughout last year. That said, he posted a .414 on-base percentage in 93 games that led all of double-A and you would be hard-pressed to find a more prototypical leadoff hitter anywhere in the minors. As soon as a spot opens up in St. Paul I expect Martin to be promoted, but the depth the Twins have when it comes to position players pushes a debut timeline out to later in the summer. He is the type of talent who can force that issue sooner rather than later, however. Simeon Woods Richardson (21), RHP – TD’s #8 Prospect Plenty of people seem to be down on SWR going into the 2022 season, but I am not one of them. You cannot blame him for the 2020 season being canceled or for competing in the Olympics (though he didn’t pitch at all) in the middle of the 2021 campaign. There was absolutely some rust to shake off by the time he put on a Wind Surge uniform, but he did flash what makes him highly regarded as well: A key point to consider with him in comparison to every other player on this list is his age. Even after missing a full season, he was only 20 years old and pitching in double-A at the beginning of last year. Especially for the Twins, this is a rare occurrence. Jose Berrios, for example, had turned 21 a couple of months before he reached double-A and was the quickest moving pitcher the Twins had produced in a long time. If he can reign back in his control, Berrios is also a great comp for the type of ceiling we are talking about for Woods Richardson, who has dwarfed any strikeout rates the former Twins pitcher ever produced in the minors. Matt Canterino (23), RHP – TD’s #6 Prospect Canterino finds himself in double-A to start the 2022 season despite pitching only 23 total innings last year with Cedar Rapids. That was due to elbow troubles, which is a legitimate concern moving forward given his history coming out of Rice University and herky-jerky mechanics, but you cannot deny the numbers. He struck out over half the hitters he faced while walking only four in his time on the mound, resulting in a 0.78 ERA and 0.61 WHIP. His stuff is electric, with a fastball that can reach the high 90’s and a slider and changeup that are both legitimate swing-and-miss offerings as well. Due to those health concerns, there are many evaluators who see the bullpen in his future, but if you are looking for a pitcher that can make some serious noise during the 2022 campaign, Canterino is your guy. MINOR LEAGUE DEPTH: While these players may not necessarily be top prospects, they are at or near the top of the system and have performed well to get themselves there. It could be a situation where a pitcher is lined up to pitch on the right day the Twins need a spot-start across the river at Target Field, or an injury leads to needing a specific position covered and there is no other ready replacement available. Maybe something new has clicked and they have improved their stock from internal evaluators. No matter how it happens, players like these are always needed at some point during the MLB season. Ryan Mason (26), RHP Mason has been a standout performer in the bullpens of Twins affiliates since being taken in the 13th round of the 2016 draft. Missing the 2020 season hurt guys like him more than most, but he came back in 2021 to post stellar numbers and finished the final two months of the season in St. Paul. While there, he posted a career-high strikeout rate of 12.1/9IP, and guys like him are always among my favorites to root for. Yennier Cano (27), RHP (Even though he didn't throw a pitch as the game was suspended, Yennier Cano was credited with his MLB debut on 5/11 against the Houston Astros. When he did take the mound the next day, he delivered two perfect innings before running into some trouble in his third. In total, he allowed three runs on three hits, and struck out two.) A sneaky international signing all the way back in 2019, Cano finally got to showcase his talents for a full season during the 2021 campaign, spending the bulk of it in St. Paul. He boasts a mid-90s fastball and deep repertoire, as well as an intimidating mound presence that reminds me a lot of Aroldis Chapman (both are around 6’4” and 230 lbs). He will need to reign in the walks that spiked once he reached triple-A, but certainly looks the part of a bullpen horse. Mark Contreras (27), OF (Contreras made his MLB debut on 5/12, when the suspended game from the day before resumed he took over for Byron Buxton, playing left field. He finished 0-for-2, but scored a run and drove in one with a sac fly in the 11-3 loss to the Houston Astros.) Contreras made his mark in the Twins organization with his defense, taking home a MiLB Gold Glove award after the 2019 season, but something clicked for him in the batter’s box in 2021. Spending the bulk of the year with St. Paul, the lefty nearly matched his career home run total to that point (23) with 20 on the year, 18 of them coming in his 95 games at triple-A. I would not expect Contreras to get the call as a long-term starter in the majors, but you can do a lot worse with a fourth outfielder type as he can play all the outfield positions well, including center in a pinch. Jermaine Palacios (25), IF Palacios is a bit buried on an organizational depth chart with the names Carlos Correa, Royce Lewis, and Austin Martin in the fold, but what he has above the other two prospects is that he is definitely a shortstop. That fact plays against him a little for the 2022 season as those two prospects above him need the work, but he is in triple-A where he will be moved around the infield depending on the day. He also showed some pop with 19 home runs for Wichita last year, and was also spectacular in the Venezuelan Winter League during the offseason, posting a .987 OPS in 42 games. DARK HORSES: There always seems to be a player or two who comes out of nowhere to make a surprise debut during the season. They might be a known name but are not that far up the ladder at the season’s outset, returning from an injury so they have been forgotten some, or have a unique skill set or background that is intriguing and could pay big dividends if something else falls into place. These are my shots in the dark at guys that could be in 2022. Jordan Gore (27), RHP The former shortstop begins the season as a high-leverage option out of the St. Paul Saints bullpen. He split time between Cedar Rapids and Wichita during the 2021 season, picking up seven saves and striking out 11.7/9IP with a WHIP below 1.00. Plus, he has great hair. Louie Varland (24), RHP – TD’s #14 Prospect First of all, he is #OneOfUs, growing up in Maplewood and being drafted out of Concordia University in St. Paul in the 15th round of the 2019 draft. Second of all, he is the reigning Twins and Twins Daily’s, Minor League Pitcher of the Year. That is because he struck out 142 hitters in 103 innings pitched last season split between Fort Myers and Cedar Rapids. He is buried on a starting pitching depth chart at this point, but if he continues that type of dominance in double-A and eventually triple-A this season, there will be a spot for him at some point. Edouard Julien (22), OF – TD’s #19 Prospect I have long been a fan of the type of player Julien was during the 2021 season, where he led all of the minors in walks (110 in 112 games) and had an on-base percentage flirting with .500 for a large chunk of the season. He also tapped into some power upon being promoted to Cedar Rapids, launching 15 homers in 65 games after getting out of the Florida State League. He starts the 2022 season with Wichita, and he and Austin Martin should prove extremely annoying to double-A pitching for much of the summer. So, there you have it, my picks for some of the minor league players I think could be called up to the majors and put on a Minnesota Twins uniform for the first time during the coming season. When do you think any of them will show up at Target Field? Who are you looking forward to the most? And who are some of the prospects you think I have missed that could make that jump? Let’s play ball!
  11. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray 4 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 2 BB, 7 K (66 pitches, 42 strikes (63.6%)) Home Runs: Jorge Polanco (3) Top 3 WPA: Jhoan Duran (.265), Sonny Gray (.205), Jorge Polanco (.159) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Welcome Back Sonny Sonny Gray has had a less than great start since coming to the Twins organization in a trade after the lockout. His much-anticipated acquisition meant some rounding out to the pitching rotation. Gray came from Cincinnati in March in exchange for right-handed pitching prospect Chase Petty, Gray brings a source of veteran leadership to the rotation and a player to watch, but he has been sidelined much of the early season. He wasn’t nearly as stretched out as his teammates at the conclusion of spring training and ultimately ended up with a right hamstring injury early in the season. The discomfort was obvious on his face as he stepped back off the mound in the second inning and ultimately out of the rotation. Gray has only pitched one game at Target Field, against Seattle. He missed the last 19 games. During his IL stint, the pitcher rehabbed his hamstring and made one rehab start for Low-A Fort Myers last weekend. He pitched three shutout innings with one hit allowed and five strikeouts. He hasn’t left the team except for that one rehab game. He’s been with them in Florida and Baltimore, so instead of taking the starting position in St. Paul today, he returned to the mound on Saturday. In his first inning, he looked composed, loose, and settled in by the second batter, bouncing back from 3-0 count on Chad Pinder to strike him out. The outfield assisted in Gray getting through his first inning, giving him a quick 1-2-3 to his start back with the team. Gray continued to pinpoint his pitches and left the game with 66 pitches. The plan was for him to be around 65 pitches. Considering this is his first game back and throwing four shutout innings and allowing only one hit, this seemed to be like the time to pull him and let the bullpen take over. The bullpen continued to keep the game right where Gray left it. Home Grown Lineup... until it wasn't For a short time, the line-up that complimented Sonny Gray’s return was a homegrown Twins farm system team. For all the years that the Twins fans have spent frustrated with the front office, this lineup is a product of patience and hard work. Players like Trevor Larnach, Jose Miranda and Royce Lewis who have all put up outstanding numbers in the minors only to come-up to the Twins and show why they deserve to be on the 40-man. This was the original lineup. Jayce Tingler who has stepped up for Rocco Baldelli who is currently quarantining in Baltimore, has done a good job steering the ship and making good lineup and in-game decisions. This is exactly what happened after the "home-grown lineup" was announced, Trevor Larnach was sidelined with lower body tightness. Gary Sanchez replaced him in the lineup. Hopefully, we will get a chance for that lineup again, but it was fun to see and awesome to know how much homegrown depth there is.. Joining the crew on Friday was Alex Kirilloff. He didn't play on Friday night, but on Saturday, he batted eighth. Considering he had surgery that ended his 2021 season on that joint last July, there was some concern it would be more than just inflammation. This latest injury didn’t turn out to be anything structural. He started his rehab assignment with St. Paul on April 31st and played four games in St. Paul before being activated from the IL on Friday. Polanco the under-rated All-Star Jorge Polanco has been flying under the radar and while carrying a batting average of .211, he has an eight-game hitting streak, and six of his last fourteen RBIs in two games alone (May 1st and May 3rd). In his appearance against the Rays on May 1st, Polanco went 4-for-5 with two doubles and four RBI, rocketing the Twins to a 9-3 win. Among the stars of the Twins team, Polanco is potentially one of the better players on the team that doesn’t get talked about enough. He also doesn’t talk about himself. He is focused on being a team member and contributing to the game overall. He sets goals for himself that he doesn’t talk about, and even with solid defense and hitting, he still doesn’t reach all his goals. In a previous press conference Manager, Rocco Baldelli talked about the significance that Polanco has on the field. "He's such a solid contributor for us on the field," Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said. "He does everything almost kind of under the radar. Personality-wise, he's a wonderful human being, but he's a quiet guy, and that's just who he is. So we probably don't talk about him enough." And just as this writer was deep-diving into Polanco’s stats, Polanco hit his third home run of the year, 451 feet according to Baseball Savant off of Kaprielian’s slider to center field to give the Twins a 1-0 lead in the sixth. Close Calls and a Marginal Lead Things started to heat up in the seventh inning as it looked like the Athletics were going to get into the action after a deep liner to center field that slid between Buxton and Nick Gordon, allowing Christian Bethancourt to get a double. The A’s momentum was brought to a screeching halt when Max Kepler stopped a fly ball by Brian McKinney to end the inning. In the bottom of the eighth, Royce Lewis got the second hit of his MLB career, a double off the wall in right-center. He was promptly picked off when a bunt was missed. Even with a challenge to New York, the call remained, and a frustrated Lewis returned to the dugout. Pitcher A.J. Puk had a tough time in the eighth, bobbling a ball hit back to him off of the bat of Gilberto Celestino who advanced to first and waited for a chance to advance, but to no avail. Heading into the ninth, the Twins had no insurance runs and a marginal lead, but Jhoan Duran came back out to finish what he started in the eighth frame. It wasn't without stress though. Just like Friday's game, this game brought extra anxiety in the ninth as Duran walked a batter and then hit another. The last out seemed to take forever. As Ryan Jeffers framed strike two to Bethancourt, the Twins were looking at one remaining strike to complete the game. Bethancourt continued to foul-off balls prolonging the pain of the ninth before Duran threw him with a 100mph fastball to get him swinging to end the game! Sonny Gray and the bullpen pulled off a combined shutout and guarantee a series win. Can they come back tomorrow and complete the sweep? Who is your favorite reliever in our Bullpen right now? Are you nervous about all the ninth inning bases loaded? What’s Next? The Twins finish up the series tomorrow on Mother’s day against Oakland before Houston arrives at Target Field. Pitching matchups for the series include: Sunday 1:10 central: Chris Paddack (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Coulombe 0 26 0 0 12 38 Thielbar 18 0 18 0 0 36 Jax 0 0 15 0 19 34 Duran 0 0 0 0 31 31 Duffey 18 0 0 11 0 29 Pagán 0 0 0 28 0 28 Stashak 11 0 0 0 0 11 Smith 0 0 0 6 0 6 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
  12. Box Score SP: Josh Winder: 6 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K (80 pitches, 55 strikes (68.75%)) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (1), Byron Buxton (9) Top 3 WAR: Josh Winder (.231), Emilio Pagan (.156), Byron Buxton (.128) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Woe is We…Ailments Carlos Correa has been getting into the swing of things (pun fully intended) the past two weeks and it’s been fun to watch. He got off to a slow start but had a seven-game hitting streak by Thursday. The slugger is hitting .255 with a .320 OBP, with five doubles, two homers, 11 RBI and 12 runs so far this season. When he was hit on the hand during the final game of the Orioles series, everyone was worried that he may be out for a considerable amount of time. While waiting on the results of a CT scan, tons of speculation circled the injury debating whether it was broken, dislocated, or a bruise. Hoping for the best, and as a Twins fan, always expecting the worst. Not only was Correa being scratched from play at this time, but the team is also working through a small stint of COVID-19 in the club house, taking out Luis Arraez, Rocco Baldelli, and Dylan Bundy. Luckily, the CT scan showed no fractured bones for Correa. With the news that it is "just a bruise" and he wouldn't be put on the Injured List, he attempted to ask into the lineup. Jayce Tingler said No. With all the bad news hitting the Twins this week, the ailments and injuries have allowed for some major roster moves that gave Twins fans a morale boost. Royce Lewis, who missed the past two seasons, 2020 with the pandemic and 2021 due to his torn ACL, joined the Twins and made his MLB debut. Another Day Another Debut Royce Lewis (and Twins fans) have been waiting for this day since he was drafted by the Twins with the first overall pick in the2017 draft. There were a few bumps on the road to the Show, but he has arrived, and Lewis joined his teammates on the field donning #23, once worn by fan-favorite Nelson Cruz before he was traded to Tampa Bay. Some have a “too soon” feeling, all in fun of course, but maybe it’s a good omen for the young player and Cruz’s talent will rub off on him. Lewis has been tearing it up in St. Paul this season, showing that he is more than ready and capable for this call-up. His at-bats are some of the most impressive thus far with 21 hits (including 11 doubles) helping catapult his team to an above .500 April. While he didn't take Correa's roster spot, he did take Luis Arraez's spot, with Arraez officially going on the Covid-IL. It’s a good problem to have when you can be sad for one player potentially being hurt, but now the team has aces up their sleeve who can come in and take their place. Luckily for the fans, Correa is okay, and Lewis still got to make his debut and gain some experience. Lewis had a successful night at third base in support of Friday night's starter Josh Winder. In the first inning, on his fourth pitch, Winder threw a fastball to Sheldon Neuse which came off the tip of the bat, a hopper right to shortstop, giving Lewis his first major league put-out, throwing to Jose Miranda to get out Neuse at first base. Lewis started out his hitting career with the Twins with a ground out to third base, but Lewis left first base with a huge smile on his face and the glow didn’t disappear all night. Lewis made contact every time he was at bat tonight, finally getting the first hit of his Major League career in the bottom of the eighth. While Lewis did not get a chance to score, all-in-all it was a fantastic night for the Twins top prospect and fans are ready for more! Warm nights, Hot performances In the second inning, Jose Miranda connected for his first major-league home run. Miranda drilled a Zach Logue’s fastball, hitting the ball into second deck in left field. The velocity on the home run was 105.5 MPH. Trevor Larnach has not let up on offense. He collected another double tonight, his ninth of the season. Larnach has been beyond impressive at the plate and with his defense. In the second inning, Elvis Andrus hit a one-hopper to Larnach in left, who fielded the ball and threw it home to Gary Sanchez to get out the runner easily. Byron Buxton was in the game as the Designated Hitter on Friday, and while fans would rather see him in center field, it doesn’t matter where he is, he makes an impact. Buxton hit his ninth home run, putting him in fourth place in the American League this season. The Starters and the Bullpen are on Fire Josh Winder had his second start of the season. This was his first start at Target Field. On this night, the mound was his, and he started out hot again, with a ground out and two strikeouts in the first inning. Winder followed that up by striking out Jed Lowrie and Sean Murphy for a 1-2-3 inning. His pitching didn’t let up. By the top of the fifth inning, the rookie had four straight strikeouts and four 1-2-3 innings before Elvis Andrus hit a ground ball to Lewis who made a great stop and threw to Miranda for the out. Winder carried the Twins through six innings, only allowing an unearned run and that came at the end of his night in the sixth inning. Wes Johnson came out to give his rookie some advice, and Winder was able to regain composure and finish out the inning. His night ended when Gary Sanchez threw out Sheldon Neuse on a steal attempt. The bullpen started out great with Joe Smith and Tyler Duffey who got the team through innings seventh and eighth innings. Fans held their breath as Emilio Pagan took the mound and loaded the bases in the top of the ninth. With bases full and Chad Pinder's count full, Pagan got a swinging strike to end the game. What was your favorite moment of the game? What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series this weekend with Oakland before Houston comes to town on Tuesday and meets up with Correa for the first time in a different uniform. Remaining pitching matchups for this series include: Saturday 1:10 pm: Sonny Gray (coming off IL) vs RHP James Kaprielian (0-1, 18.00 ERA) Sunday 1:10 pm: Chris Paddock (1-2, 3.15 ERA) vs RHP Dalton Jefferies (1-4, 4.81 ERA) Postgame Interview Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet MON TUE WED THU FRI TOT Pagán 27 0 0 0 28 55 Thielbar 0 18 0 18 0 36 Jax 15 0 0 15 0 30 Duffey 0 18 0 0 11 29 Coulombe 0 0 26 0 0 26 Stashak 0 11 0 0 0 11 Duran 10 0 0 0 0 10 Smith 2 0 0 0 6 8 Sands 0 0 0 0 0 0
  13. After missing two seasons, Royce Lewis probably didn't imagine making it to the big leagues at the beginning of May. Minnesota had few other options on the 40-man roster. While it appears Carlos Correa has avoided an IL-stint, Lewis still has been promoted to play shortstop while Correa is out and Luis Arraez is on the Covid IL. Lewis's professional career has included some bumps in the road, so let's look back at his time in the Twins organization. Minnesota selected Lewis as the number one overall pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. At the time, there were a handful of other players in the mix for the top pick, including Hunter Greene, MacKenzie Gore, Brendan McKay, and Kyle Wright. Out of the top five picks, Lewis is the lone player yet to make his big-league debut, and four players from that first round have accumulated 1.6 WAR or more in their careers. Shortly after signing, Lewis made his professional debut in the GCL, where he hit .271/.390/.414 (.803) with 11 extra-base hits in 36 games. Minnesota was aggressive and moved him to Low-A for the season's final 18 games, where he was over three years younger than the average age of the competition. He raised his batting average by 25 points after the promotion and still got on base over 36% of the time. It was a solid professional debut for the 18-year-old, and he was a consensus top-30 prospect on all three national top-100 lists. During the 2018 season, Lewis split time between Low- and High-A. In 121 games, he hit .292/.352/.451 (.803) with 29 doubles, three triples, and 14 home runs. Some of his best numbers came in clutch spots as he also posted a .903 OPS with two outs and runners in scoring position. While these numbers are strong, it's essential to consider that he was 19-years old. Only two of his plate appearances came against younger pitchers. Lewis dealt with on-field struggles for the first time as his OPS dropped to .661, and he struck out 123 times in 127 games. He also committed 20 errors at shortstop. However, Lewis was over 3.5 years younger than the competition at Double-A. Minnesota sent Lewis to the Arizona Fall League following the season, where he performed very well. In 22 games, he hit .353/.411/.565 (.975) with nine doubles and three home runs. Only five months past his 20th birthday, the league managers voted Lewis as the AFL MVP. COVID-19 wiped out the 2020 season for all minor league players, but Lewis was part of the group of players that was able to work at the alternate site. Minnesota spoke highly of his development on both sides of the ball during the shutdown. "Offensively, it's been a lot of work on his lower half, and his lower half direction," Twins assistant general manager Jeremy Zoll said. "He performed well with the opportunities he had, and he's poised for a big step forward." Unfortunately, Lewis wasn't able to showcase that step forward in 2021. Entering the 2021 season, his intake physical revealed a torn ACL in his right knee that required surgery. Lewis showed maturity beyond his years when facing the adversity involved with major surgery. He built strength in all parts of his body during the rehab process, but he was clear on the goal. "2022 is going to be scary and spooky, man," Lewis said. "Just watch out. It's truly amazing what Lewis has been able to do in his return to the field during the 2022 campaign. In 23 games for the Saints, he hit .310/.427/.560 (.987) with 14 extra-base hits. He is over three years younger than the average age of the competition at Triple-A, and he is showing no signs of rust that may be associated with missing multiple seasons. His prediction about the 2022 season was correct, but now he will need to translate that success to the big-league level. Congratulations to Lewis on the big-league promotion. What will you remember most about his minor league career? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. It's been quite an interesting journey for Royce Lewis. The Twins surprised the baseball world when they selected him first overall in 2017, signing the California prep star below slot while passing up flashy names like Hunter Greene, Brendan McKay and MacKenzie Gore to gamble on the toolsy shortstop. It paid off. Lewis emerged as a superior prospect compared to all others at the top of that draft, and was a consensus Top 10 prospect in baseball heading into 2019, where he appeared in the Futures Game. But that season was a bit of a struggle for him, facing advanced competition in the higher minors. Lewis missed the next two seasons entirely, with COVID wiping out 2020 and a knee injury sidelining him for all of 2021. He came into this 2022 campaign plagued by question marks, but wasted no time in putting them to rest. Playing at Triple-A for the first time, Lewis has been an absolute monster. He hit his 11th double on Thursday night and is batting .310 with a .993 OPS for the Saints. The speedster didn't lose a step from his knee surgery, as he's already got eight steals on nine attempts. Perhaps most impressively, this historically undisciplined hitter has a 20-to-17 K/BB ratio in 107 plate appearances. Lewis came back after a two-year layoff and immediately conquered the biggest weakness in his game. Those of us who've been following him along the way are not shocked. Lewis is a rare specimen and it's extremely exciting that we'll now get to see him take the big-league stage, even if the circumstances that precipitated it are undeniably bogus. Lewis has played shortstop almost exclusively in the minors and is poised to play there almost every day for the Twins in Correa's absence, however long that lasts. (Presumably not long since he avoided the IL.) Lewis' defense will be worth watching closely, since many feel he's not destined to stick at the position. Despite his rocky road, Royce Lewis is going to debut in the majors at age 22, less than five years after being drafted out of high school. Somehow, despite all the turbulence, his timeline still worked out almost exactly as you'd hope. Now he's got a chance to make an impression -- albeit perhaps a brief one. Editor's Note: This article was updated to correct the mistaken assumption that Correa's broken finger was confirmed by Friday morning's CT scan. We apologize for the error.
  15. SAINTS SENTINEL Iowa 7, St. Paul 3 Box Score Left-hander Devin Smeltzer was on the mound for the Saints, looking to continue his early season run of success against Iowa. Unfortunately, the Cubs ambushed him early and the Saints weren’t able to recover. The first three hitters of the game singled, before a sac fly got the scoring started for the visiting team. That was followed by a two-RBI double and RBI single to make it 4-0 before St. Paul had an at-bat. The Cubs tacked on two more in the second inning to end Smeltzer’s night. The home team did also score runs in each of the first two innings, but they weren’t crooked numbers like their opponent’s. Jake Cave drew a walk and came around to score on a Curtis Terry double in the first, and Elliot Soto drove in a runner with a single in the second that made it 6-2. Jake Petricka was summoned to begin the third and went two innings, allowing one run of his own on one hit and one walk, while striking out four. Ian Hamilton (2 IP, BB, 2 K) and Tyler Bashlor (2 IP, BB) then combined for four scoreless innings, before Yennier Cano (1 IP, H, BB, K) finished it off for the Saints with a scoreless ninth. The Saints closed the gap to 7-3 in the bottom of the fifth, when Alex Kirilloff delivered an RBI single to score Royce Lewis, who had drawn a walk and stolen his sixth base of the season in front of him. Mark Contreras (2-for-3, BB) and Jose Godoy (2-for-4, R, K) had multiple hits in the effort for the Saints. As a team they were 5-for-12 with runners in scoring position, but Terry’s double was their only extra-base hit, resulting in nine men being left on base for the game. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa @ Wichita - Postponed, Rain The Wind Surge versus Drillers series opener was postponed on Tuesday due to rain. Right-hander Louie Varland was scheduled to start this one against his brother Gus, a matchup that will likely will just be moved back a day. KERNELS NUGGETS Quad Cities 3, Cedar Rapids 2 Box Score The Kernels got a solid start out of Cody Laweryson, who went the first four scoreless innings. He allowed just two hits and struck out four, needing only 49 pitches (34 for strikes) to do so. Bobby Milacki (2 IP, 3 K) and Melvi Acosta (2 IP, H, BB, K) then followed him with four more scoreless innings to keep their team in line for a win against their in-state rivals. The home team took a 2-0 lead in the bottom of the fifth when Jair Camargo led off the inning with a single. Wander Javier followed with a double for their first run, and would later score the second on another double courtesy of Willie Joe Garry, Jr. It stayed that way until the top of the ninth when Cedar Rapids sent out reliever Derek Molina, who has been excellent thus far on the season with a 1.29 ERA and sub 1.00 WHIP, looking for his second save of the year. It didn’t go as planned, and he was replaced after walking the first two hitters to put the tying runner on base. Denny Bentley was then summoned and promptly allowed an RBI double, and then a two-RBI single, that put the Kernels behind 3-2. They were unable to mount a rally in the bottom half and fell to a still excellent 15-7 on the season. Each team had just five hits in the game, but the River Bandits got them when they counted late and were able to steal one. Christian Encarnacion-Strand finished this one 1-for-3 with a base on balls, and Seth Gray reached base twice via a walk to lead the lineup. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 1, Lakeland 2 (5 innings, Rain) Box Score In his last time on the mound before getting his wisdom teeth pulled, right-hander Marco Raya introduced himself as a prospect with a one-hit effort over six innings. He struck out 10 while facing the minimum against the Dunedin Blue Jays. This game started out just as good, with a quick one-two-three first inning on just eight pitches in his return to action. But in the second, an error on a groundball from the first hitter sent things off the rails. Before it was over Raya had thrown 35 pitches in the frame, collecting only two outs around a single and three walks that brought in two runs, before being removed from the game. Hunter McMahon came on for the final out of the second and also completed the next two innings. He allowed one hit, one walk, and struck out one to stabilize the game after Raya's early exit. The Mighty Mussels were able to put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the fifth thanks to the third home run of the season from Kala’i Rosario to make it 2-1, but the weather put an end to any further comeback attempt. John Wilson came on to start the bottom of the fifth inning and got two outs before thunderstorms ended the game early with the home team at-bat and leading. Fort Myers’ only other hit of the game, was a Mikey Perez single after the Rosario homer, and he proceeded to steal his fourth base of the season. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Bobby Milacki, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2 IP, 3 K) Hitter of the Day - Kala’i Rosario, Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (1-for-2, R, HR, RBI, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 0-for-4, R, BB #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 4.2 IP, 6 H, 2 ER, BB, 3 K #4 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - 1-for-5, 2B, RBI (first MLB hit) #11 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 0-for-2, K #15 - Marco Raya (Fort Myers) - L, 1.2 IP, H, 2 R (1 ER), 3 BB, K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-3, BB WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (6:37 PM CDT) - RHP Ronny Henriquez (0-1, 6.35 ERA) Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05 PM CDT) - RHP Louie Varland (2-1, 3.05 ERA) Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CDT) - LHP Brent Headrick (2-1, 2.55 ERA) Fort Myers @ Lakeland (5:30 PM CDT) - RHP David Festa (1-1, 1.93 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  16. The Twins started the 2022 season by winning just four of their first 12 games. Since then, they have won 10 of 11 games and now have a 14-9 record. From a team perspective, a two-week struggle can quickly turn around. The same is true of individual players, hitters, or pitchers. Pitching once per week, a starting pitcher could have two rough innings that make the ERA look bad. But that doesn’t mean it’s a lost season for that pitcher. The sample size of one week is just that, a one-week glimpse of the most recent small sample size. One of the Twins' top-hitting prospects had a rough first two weeks of the season. He had a huge week in Week 3. So be sure to use these weekly reports for what they are; a look at the week. We want to highlight deserving prospects. They have earned it. Celebrate the successes throughout the whole season. If you missed it, read Nick's Twins Week in Review after you've read about the minor league week. Please note that the hyperlinks on player names will show you past articles in which that player has been tagged. Click around and see how much some of these players have been written about over the years. TRANSACTIONS With no Monday Minor League Report, here are the transactions from later on Sunday and Monday. Following Sunday’s game, RHP Cole Sands and C Jose Godoy were optioned to bring the Twins roster from 28 to 26. 1B Miguel Sano and OF Kyle Garlick were placed on the IL. Taking their roster spots are IF Jose Miranda and LHP Jovani Moran. The Twins released RHP Brandon Lawson from the Wichita roster. LHP Zach Featherstone was transferred to the Development List. RHPs Osiris German and Casey Legumina were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. RHP Orlando Rodriguez joined the Kernels from the Florida Complex. RESULTS Previous Week in Review: Pitching, Pitching Everywhere Pitching Tuesday: Kirilloff Rehabs, Pitching Staff’s Stifle Wednesday: Miranda is Heating Up, Lewis with the Walk-Off Thursday: Mack Attack Keeps Rolling Friday: Pitching, Defense Shine, Runs at a Premium Saturday: Rain, Rain Go Away Sunday: Rain, Rain, Go Away, Let the Twins Affiliates Play MORE TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE CONTENT Kirilloff, Smeltzer Hope to Rejoin Twins Soon Kernels Mack and Legumina Start Hot in April Cold What the Twins Can Expect from Jose Miranda Prospect Retrospective: Cole Sands Prospect Retrospective: Jose Miranda Three Questions With… RHP John Stankiewicz (Video) Three Questions With… C Jair Camargo (Video) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE AWARDS FOR APRIL Hitter of the Month: Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Cedar Rapids Kernels Starting Pitcher of the Month: John Stankiewicz, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Relief Pitcher of the Month: Tyler Viza, Wichita Wind Surge WEEK IN REVIEW Triple-A: St. Paul Saints: Week: 2-3 vs. Nashville Season: 12-10 overall, 5th place in the International League West. They are 3 1/2 games behind Nashville (16-7). The Saints came into the week trailing only Nashville in the division. The Saints won the first two games of the series, 4-1 and 3-2. Nashville won the next game, and then there were games suspended, finished, suspended again, and then Sunday’s game was postponed too. For no reason other than that, Jose Miranda got called up to the big leagues; we’ll start with the Saints’ hitters. It was a good week for the slugging infielder, even before he learned he was headed to the big leagues. He played in five games and went 6-for-20. He hit .333/.350/.611 (.961) with two doubles and a homer. Royce Lewis was again the star of the week. The shortstop played in five games and went 7-for-22. He hit .438/.591/.750 (1.341) with two doubles and a home run. In addition, he had six walks to just three strikeouts. He came to the plate four times in one game and walked each time. For good measure, he was 2-for-2 in stolen base attempts. Nine Saints pitchers worked out of the bullpen last week without giving up a run. Jharel Cotton was the only pitcher in that group who threw twice. He worked 2 1/3 innings. Lefty Devin Smeltzer had the best Saints start of the week. He gave up one run on three hits over five innings. He walked two and struck out three batters. You might be able to argue that Dereck Rodriguez was even better in his start. He went just 4 2/3 innings and gave up one run on five hits. He walked one and struck out six batters. It was a rough week for a few Saints, though it’s just, though, a rough outing or two. Even just one rough inning can make a week’s stats look rough. Ronny Henriquez made his first Triple-A start and struggled. He was charged with four runs on three hits (two homers) and four walks in 2 2/3 innings. Drew Strotman worked twice last week and gave up seven runs on three hits and six walks in three innings. Jake Faria made a start and gave up six runs on seven hits and three walks in two innings. What’s Next? The Saints come home to host the Iowa Cubs, the Triple-A affiliate of the, you guessed it, Chicago Cubs.. (Go to SaintsBaseball.com for tickets!) Pitching Probables (LHP Devin Smeltzer, RHP Ronny Henriquez, RHP Chi Chi Gonzalez, RHP Jake Faria, RHP Mario Sanchez, RHP Dereck Rodriguez) Double-A: Wichita Wind Surge Week: 5-1 at Arkansas Season: 13-8 overall, tied for 1st place in the Texas League North Division with Tulsa. They are 2.0 games behind Tulsa. Last week, the Wind Surge scored 52 runs on their way to a 5-1 week. They scored “just” 29 runs this past week but had another strong 5-1 week. They lost the first game of the series in Arkansas 10-4. Over the five other games, they gave up just 12 more runs. For the Wind Surge pitching staff, they continued to have a lot of solid performances. Matt Canterino made one start last week. He went three innings. He gave up no runs, no hits, walked one, and struck out four batters. He had twice thrown three scoreless, hitless innings in the previous three weeks. So, he’s got a quality streak of nine straight hitless innings. From what I've heard, he will likely remain at three innings for a few more starts before bumping up to four innings and then see where that takes him. Louie Varland had a strong start. He gave up just three hits and a walk over 5 1/3 scoreless innings. He struck out four batters. Simeon Woods Richardson completed a 0.00 ERA month. The right-hander tossed five more scoreless innings. He gave up two hits, walked three, and struck out four batters. That pushed him to 21 2/3 innings on the season, and he has allowed just one unearned run. Tyler Viza came out of the bullpen twice. He tossed five scoreless innings. He gave up just two hits, walked two, and struck out six batters. Steven Klimek, Alex Scherff, Austin Schulfer, and Evan Sisk also pitched twice and didn’t allow a run. On the other side, Chris Vallimont made two starts. Combined, he gave up nine earned runs on 13 hits and six walks in 7 1/3 innings. While he is scheduled to make another start this coming week, you have to think that he may be moved to the bullpen at some point if things don’t turn around. The stuff is still good. His arm is strong. He has good innings, but the bad has often turned really bad. The offensive production was down from a fantastic previous week, but three guys carried a large chunk of the offense last week. Matt Wallner led the offense. In six games, he went 7-for-19 and hit .368/.500/.895 (1.395) with a double and three home runs. He also walked five times. (https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1520586633946542080) Outfielder Cole Sturgeon played in four games and went 4-for-12. He hit .333/.471/.833 (1.304) with two home runs. He also walked three times. Finally, Alex Isola went 4-13 over four games last week. He hit .308/.438/.846 (1.284) with a double, two home runs, and three walks. No one else had an OPS over .637. In his four games, Andrew Bechtold, who had a great previous week, went 0-for-13, who had a tremendous previous week, went 0-for-13. Kevin Merrill was 1-for-13 (.077). Finally, Leobaldo Cabrera went 0-for-10 with six strikeouts (and two walks). That puts him at 0-for-32 to start the season. 14 strikeouts in 36 at-bats, but certainly some bad luck mixed in. Last year, he played 52 games for Wichita and hit .235/.335/.482 (.817) with seven doubles, a triple, and 11 home runs. And, while the below video was from the previous week, I have to post something positive about him, right? What’s Next? Matt Wallner, Louie Varland, and the Wind Surge will be hosting Minnesotans Gus Varland, Michael Busch, and the Tulsa Drillers this week. Pitching Probables (RHP Louie Varland, RHP Matt Canterino, RHP Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP Chris Vallimont, RHP Ben Gross, RHP Louie Varland) High-A: Cedar Rapids Kernels Week: 3-3 at Beloit Season: 15-6 overall, 1st place in the Midwest League West Division, 3.0 games ahead of Wisconsin and Peoria. The Kernels won the first three games last week in Beloit. In those games, the Kernels outscored the Sky Carp 8-1. Then they lost the final three games and were outscored 9-23. Yet, they were able to increase their lead in the division by two games. The starters from those first three games were very good. Lefty Brent Headrick threw five scoreless innings. He gave up three hits, but he struck out seven batters without walking. Sean Mooney also had a strong start. He struck out eight batters over five scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit and walked two batters. Casey Legumina went five innings in his start. He had eight strikeouts over five scoreless innings. He gave up just one hit and walked one. He was named the Minor League Pitcher of the Week by the Twins. Will he be the same for Twins Daily too? See below. Cody Laweryson also pitched well in his first start of the season, though he was limited to just three innings. Not only did he not allow a hit, but he didn’t give up a run either. He walked two and struck out three batters. Melvi Acosta, Andrew Cabezas, Osiris German, Bobby Milacki, and Derek Molina combined to work 12 innings without giving up an earned run. On the other side, a couple of pitchers who received consideration for pitcher of the month struggled in their final appearance of the month. Cade Povich gave up six runs on eight hits (two homers) and two walks in 4 1/3 innings. Aaron Rozek has been fantastic since joining the Twins last summer. For the first time this season, he came out of the bullpen. In 2 2/3 innings, he was charged with four runs on six hits (two walks) and a walk. The Kernels had just one hitter who had an OPS over. 800 for the week. Jair Camargo played in three games. He went 4-for-12, hitting .333/.385/.417 (.802) with a double and a walk. Next up was our Minor League Hitter of the Month, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who hit .300 (6-for-20). He had six singles and six walks during the week. On the other side, Willie Joe Garry went 1-for-16 (.063) with two walks over five games. Also, Aaron Sabato played all six games. He went 2-for-21 (.095), though the hits were a double and a home run. He also walked four times. What’s Next? The Kernels will be hosting Quad Cities at Perfect Game Field this week. Pitching Probables (RHP Cody Laweryson, LHP Brent Headrick, RHP Sean Mooney, LHP Aaron Rozek, LHP Cade Povich, RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long) Low-A: Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Week: 1-2, hosting Clearwater Season: 11-7 overall, 2nd place in the Florida State League West, but just 1/2 game behind Bradenton. Rain was the winner in Ft. Myers. The teams played the first three games as scheduled. Then Friday’s game was postponed. They scheduled a doubleheader for Saturday, and that was postponed. Then they played on Sunday. In fact, they completed ten innings, but the score was still tied at 4-4 when the rains came again, so that game was suspended too. The sample size of any week can be enough to get a person talked about and excited. It should also never be a big deal that a guy has a rough week (meaning several) over the course of a year. Two Mighty Mussels played all three games this week, Kyler Fedko (2-for-10, 1 BB, 3 K) and Emmanuel Rodriguez (1-for-9, 2 BB, 5 K). Catcher Noah Cardenas went 3-for-7 (.429) with a triple. Mikey Perez went 2-for-6 with a double and a walk. John Stankiewicz had another great start. He went 5 2/3 innings. He gave up an unearned run on five hits. He walked one and struck out three batters. Plus, he was named the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month and earned his promotion to Cedar Rapids. What’s Next? The Mighty Mussels are headed north for the week to take on Lakeland. The pitching matchups are below. You’ll notice the TBD for Saturday. I doubt Sonny Gray would get a second rehab start, but it’s possible Jordan Balazovic could get this start after making his first rehab appearance on Sunday following Gray. Pitching Probables (RHP Marco Raya, RHP David Festa, RHP Travis Adams, RHP Pierson Ohl, TBD, LHP Steven Hajjar) PROSPECT SUMMARY This Prospect Summary shows our current Twins Top 20 Prospect Rankings and how they performed last week (April 26 - May 1). You may have noticed that the Prospect Tracker has been updated and will be updated on the first of each month throughout the season. #1 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 5 G, 7-for-16 (.438), 2-2B, 1-HR, 2 RBI, 6 BB, 3 K (Season: 21 G, .320/.441/.587 (1.028), 9-2B, 1-3B, 3-HR, 17 R, 11 RBI, 15 BB, 18 K) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 5 G, 3-for-17 (.176), 1-2B, 0-HR, 2 RBI, 2 BB, 4 K (Season: 20 G, .244/.375/.321 (.696), 6-2B, 0-3B, 0-HR, 17 R, 6 RBI, 12 BB, 16 K, 12 SB, 4 CS) #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 7 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 9 K (Season: 4 GS, 23 IP, 3 R, 10 H, 6 BB, 25 K, 3-1, 1.17 ERA, 0.70 WHIP, 2.3 BB/9, 9.8 K/9) #4 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 5 G, 6-for-18 (.333), 2-2B, 1-HR, 2 RBI, 1 BB, 1K (Season: 21 G, .256/.295/.442 (.737), 10-2B, 2-HR, 10 R, 12 RBI, 5 BB, 14 K) #4 - Jose Miranda (Minnesota) - Week/Season: 1 G, 0-for-4 (.000), 0-2B, 0-HR, 0 RBI, 0 BB, 0 K #5 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 1 rehab appearance in Ft. Myers. 1 G, 2.0 IP, 4 R, 2 BB, 1 K #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 0 BB, 6 K (Season: 4 GS, 21.2 IP, 1 R, 0 ER, 7 H, 7 BB, 18 K, 2-0, 0.00 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 2.9 BB/9, 7.5 K/9) #7 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - 1 GS, 6.0 IP, 0 R, 2 H, 1 BB, 7 K (Season: 4 G, 1 GS, 16.1 IP, 4 R, 9 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 1-0, 2.20 ERA, 0.80 WHIP, 2.2 BB/9, 6.6 K/9) #8 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 G, 3.0 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 4 K (Season: 8 G, 12.0 IP, 4 R, 8 H, 2 BB, 19 K, 0-0, 1 Save, 3.00 ERA, 0.83 WHIP, 1.5 BB/9, 14.3 K/9) #9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 1 GS, 3.0 IP, 0 ER, 0 H, 1 BB, 4 K (Season: 5 GS, 12.2 IP, 3 R, 5 H, 9 BB, 18 K, 0-1, 2.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 6.4 BB/9, 12.8 K/9) #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 3 G, 1-for-9 (.111) , 0-2B, 0 HR, 0 RBI, 2 BB, 5 K (Season: 17 G, .241/.440/.574 (1.014), 3-2B, 5-HR, 13 R, 8 RBI, 18 BB, 22 K) #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 2 G, 1-for-6 (.167), 0-2B, 0-HR 1 BB, 2 K (Season: 17 G, .219/.383/.234 (.617), 1-2B, 9 R, 1 RBI, 15 BB, 22 K) #12 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 1 GS, 5.1 IP, 0 R, 3 H, 1 BB, 4 K (Season: 4 G, 3 GS, 20.2 IP, 10 R, 7 ER, 14 H, 9 BB, 22 K, 2-1, 3.05 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 3.9 BB/9, 9.6 K/9) #13 - Cole Sands (St. Paul) - 2 G, 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 10 ER, 10 H, 1 BB, 0 K (Season: 4 G, 3 GS, 12.2 IP, 11 R, 14 H, 4 BB, 12 K, 0-3, 7.82 ERA, 1.42 WHIP, 2.8 BB/9, 8.5 K/9) #13 - Cole Sands (Minnesota) - Week/Season: 1 G, 2.0 IP, 2 ER, 3 H, 0 BB, 2 K #14 - Ronny Henriquez (St. Paul) - 1 GS, 2.2 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 4 BB, 1 K (Season: 2 G, 1 GS, 5.2 IP, 4 R, 3 H, 5 BB, 5 K, 0-1, 6.35 ERA, 1.41 WHIP, 7.9 BB/9, 7.9 K/9) #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - Was on IL last week (wisdom teeth), (Season: 2 GS, 10.1 IP, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 H, 1 BB, 14 K, 1-0, 1.74 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 0.9 BB/9, 12.2 K/9) #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 5 G, 5-for-21 (.238), 2-2B, 0-HR, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 3 K (Season: 20 G, .300/.398/.488 (.885), 10-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 15 R, 13 RBI, 10 BB, 14 K) #17 - Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids) - 1 GS, 4.1 IP, 6 ER, 8 H, 2 BB, 6 K (Season: 3 GS, 14.0 IP, 8 R, 7 ER, 14 H, 4 BB, 23 K, 1-1, 4.50 ERA, 1.29 WHIP, 2.6 BB/9, 14.8 K/9) #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 6 G, 6-for-20 (.300), 0-2B, 0-HR, 1 RBI, 6 BB, 4 K (Season: 20 G, .395/.444/.654 (1.099), 4-2B, 1-3B, 5-HR, 14 R, 24 RBI, 8 BB, 22 K) #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 6 G, 3-for-23 (.130), 6 BB, 7 K (Season: 13 G, .222/.346/.378 (.723), 2-2B, 1-3B, 1-HR, 7 R, 5 RBI, 9 BB, 11 K) #20 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (elbow): still on plan to be making starts in May. PLAYERS OF THE WEEK Hitter of the Week: Outfielder Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge Top prospect Royce Lewis certainly deserves consideration this week. Fellow Wind Surge outfielder Cole Sturgeon had a huge week too. However, this week, the player of the week is Matt Wallner. Coming into the week, Wallner struggled to a .111/.222/.178 (.400) with five hits and one home run. However, even with an 0-for-4 on Sunday, he ended the week by hitting .368/.500/.895 (1.395) with a double and three home runs. Such a strong week boosted his overall numbers to .188/.308/.391 (.698) with one double and four home runs. Still not great, but definitely, a big step in the right direction and, hopefully, maybe likely, will spur him toward a big season. The Twins drafted Wallner as a pitcher in the 32nd round of the 2016 draft after his senior season at Forest Lake High School, where he was Mr. Baseball that year. Instead of signing, he went to Southern Mississippi and quickly became an All-American, power-hitting outfielder. In 2019, the Twins selected him with the 39th overall pick. In 66 games last year at Cedar Rapids, he hit .264/.350/.508 (.858) with 14 doubles and 15 home runs. He missed two months with a broken hamate bone. He went to the Arizona Fall League, and in 18 games, he hit .303/.405/.606 (1.011) with two doubles and six home runs. The key to success for Wallner will be found in his ability to make contact. Right now, he’s got 32 strikeouts in 78 plate appearances this year (41%). Last week, he had five walks and eight strikeouts in 24 plate appearances (33% K-Rate). Still not great, but a step in the right direction. Pitcher of the Week: Casey Legumina, Cedar Rapids Kernels There were several strong pitching performances this week in the minor leagues. You could make a strong case for Louie Varland or Simeon Woods Richardson in Wichita. If we consider “prospects,” Josh Winder and Joe Ryan certainly should be considered, but we aren't considering big-league pitching performances in the minor league report. We can even argue over Cedar Rapids starting pitchers drafted in 2019: Brent Headrick: 5 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 7 K, 0.60 WHIP, .175 BAA Sean Mooney: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K, 0.60 WHIP, .063 BAA Casey Legumina: 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K, 0.40 WHIP, .067 BAA In this case, we will agree with the Twins and name Casey Legumina the Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Week. All of these pitchers deserve to be recognized. Casey Legumina was the Twins 8th round pick in 2019 out of Gonzaga University. It was the third time he had been drafted. He had Tommy John surgery during that 2019 season, so he didn’t pitch that year and spent the Covid season rehabbing and getting stronger. He made his professional debut in 2021. After going 4-2 with a 3.02 ERA in 14 games (8 starts), he finished the season with one start in Cedar Rapids and a playoff start. He has made three starts for the Kernels so far this year and is now 0-1 with a 4.05 ERA. In 13 1/3 innings, he has walked four and struck out 16 batters. On Monday, he was promoted to Double-A Wichita.
  17. First it was the pitchers as Josh Winder made the Opening Day roster, and then Cole Sands followed him during his first career start. Jose Miranda crushed Double and Triple-A last season before drawing his first big league start at the hot corner. The goal for Minnesota was to have both a good Major League team, but also establish real depth that could immediately make an impact from the farm. You can now make the argument that pipeline is bearing fruit, and we can take a looking at the names that could be next up: Spencer Steer The least likely of this group, Spencer Steer is a solid infielder at Double-A Wichita. He was a 3rd round pick out of Oregon in 2019 and posted an .833 OPS split between High-A and Double-A last season. Through the first month of 2022 Steer owns a .300/.398/.488 slash line for the WInd Surge, and has now played nearly 100 games at that level. With Miranda moving up to the majors, Steer could be in line for a promotion to Triple-A if the stay becomes long-term for Miranda. Steer can play second, third, and shortstop, but finds himself most at home playing the hot corner. Power production showed up in a big way last year when he blasted 24 homers, and it was clear he put in serious work during the canceled 2020 season. He’s been a doubles machine so far in 2022 but the longballs will fly as the weather warms. He’s not on the 40-man roster and there’s a few non-roster veterans that may be opted for first, but Steer certainly has the chops to help the Twins should his number be called. Matt Canterino A product of Rice University, Canterino has been held back by injury like so many to go through the program. He possesses a unique windup and has a lot of movement in his delivery. Canterino is a very hard thrower though, and his 13.9 career K/9 is beyond impressive. Throwing just 21 innings last year, Canterino is being handled very carefully after beginning the season at Double-A. He’s made five starts but has accumulated just 12 2/3 innings across them. His 2.13 ERA is impressive but the command has become a bit of an issue early this year with nine walks. He still has big strikeout stuff mowing over 18 batters, and he’s yet to allow a home run. Canterino has never thrown more than 25 innings during a single season of his professional career, and Minnesota certainly is hoping to change that this season. Managing his workload and helping a good big league team, Canterino could be called upon to debut out of the bullpen with a higher level of effort. He too would need a 40-man roster spot. Royce Lewis Quite possibly the most likely prospect promotion is also the most exciting. Lewis missed two years due to the pandemic and then an ACL surgery prior to Spring Training in 2021. He’s back and debuted at Triple-A to start 2022. You could make the argument that the former top 10 prospect looks as good as he ever has. There’s a notable difference in his swing as Lewis has calmed the leg kick dramatically. His hands are a bit quieter and the results have certainly followed. Through his first 21 games for the St. Paul Saints, Lewis is slashing .320/.441/.587 with three homers, nine doubles, and a triple. Maybe even more encouraging is how well Lewis is covering the plate and dictating at-bats. The talented shortstop owns a strong 18/15 K/BB and he’s used elite speed to swipe five bases on six attempts. Minnesota doesn’t seem to question whether Lewis can stick at shortstop, but barring a Carlos Correa injury the opportunity wouldn’t seem to immediately be there. Lewis has played in the outfield professionally and could find an opportunity as the right-handed outfield bat that the Twins continue to seek. While not the prototypical corner slugger, there’s power that can play, and he’d be an elite defender with range that would match that of Byron Buxton. Ultimately I don’t foresee any of these options coming to fruition prior to June. Each has hurdles to clear and time to substantiate current performances. They are all names to watch though, and none of them would represent a shocking debut should they reach Target Field in 2022. Who are you most looking forward to seeing next?
  18. TRANSACTIONS RHP Cole Sands promoted to Minnesota Twins RHP John Stankiewicz promoted to High-A Cedar Rapids C Chance Sisco placed on IL (left knee strain) SAINTS SENTINEL Game 1: Nashville 7, St. Paul 3 Game 2: Nashville 12, St. Paul 3 (Final, 5 innings) Game 1 Box Score Game 2 Box Score The Saints wrapped up the game from the previous evening and got demolished through five innings of the one scheduled for Saturday before the rain mercifully ended their misery. The Sounds launched four home runs off the St. Paul pitching staff, who surrendered 19 total runs—all of them earned. The only member of the Saints with a notable performance at the plate was top prospect Royce Lewis. Across the two games, Lewis walked five times, stole his fifth base of the season, and drilled his third home run to raise his slash line to .320/.441/.587 with a 6:5 K:BB ratio in 21 games. With Lewis’s sustained elite performance out of the gate, the conversation now turns from “Is he still good?” to “When will he be called up?” While his play has certainly warranted said conversation, the fact of the matter is that he likely won’t appear in a Twins uniform any time soon. There are a few reasons for this, the most important being that the Twins likely want him to get as many reps as possible. Prior to the season, Lewis had not appeared in a game since he dominated the Arizona Fall League in 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a torn ACL. He’s accumulated only 93 plate appearances thus far since his return, which is a miniscule amount in the grand scheme. Additionally, the Twins—who have won eight of their last nine contests—would have no place to play him regularly. Lewis has only appeared at shortstop and designated hitter for St. Paul and the Twins currently have those positions locked up by Carlos Correa and a bevy of hitters. Lewis could theoretically play in any of the three outfield positions—though he has only ever played six games in the outfield, all in center, during his minor league and fall league career—but as of this writing Trevor Larnach and Max Kepler are crushing baseballs, Alex Kirilloff is on the verge of returning from the IL, and Byron Buxton is the best baseball player on the planet. There just isn’t room for Lewis on the soon-to-be 26-man roster at the moment. Lewis will get his time in the sun, just don’t expect it to be anytime soon, barring catastrophe. Let him rip, let him get comfortable, he’ll be a Major Leaguer soon enough. TJ White hit his fifth homer of the young season. Corey Ray and Mark Mathias each hit their first home runs for Nashville. Brice Turang added a double. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 9, Arkansas 4 Box Score The Wind Surge scored five runs in the first inning to propel them to victory over the Travelers. Matt Wallner smashed two home runs and drove in three runs to lead Wichita offensively. The Forrest Lake native began the season on a freezing cold 3-for-42 streak, but has 10 hits in his last 19 at-bats with three home runs and nine RBI. Wallner possesses the most raw power in the Twins system having hit 27 home runs in 150 minor league games. He’s likely destined to be a designated hitter at the MLB level should he reach that point as his defense in right field remains suspect at best; in many respects, he profiles similar to that of former Twin Brent Rooker. Alex Isola (1-for-3, HR, 3 RBI) and DaShawn Keirsey (1-for-4, 2B, 2 RBI) were the only other Wichita athletes to convert extra base hits. Ben Gross started on the bump for the Wind Surge but was knocked out after three innings. He surrendered four runs—three earned—and issued four walks. Luckily for Wichita, Kody Funderburk, Bryan Sammons, Steven Cruz, and Austin Schulfer shut down the Arkansas offense, striking out 10 and allowing only six runners to reach base. KERNELS NUGGETS Beloit 7, Cedar Rapids 1 Box Score The Kernel’s hot offense was quieted and their pitching was hit relatively hard Saturday night as Cedar Rapids fell convincingly to the Sky Carp. Sawyer Gipson-Long got the start for the Kernels and while he wasn’t at his sharpest, he did perform better than his rather pedestrian stat line (4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K). The Beloit batters had a difficult time making hard contact against Gipson-Long’s fastball-slider mix with only a handful of balls reaching the outfield. Gipson-Long—one of the most underrated pitching prospects in the Twins system—has posted a 20:3 K:BB ratio to go along with a 2.65 ERA in 17 innings this spring. Aaron Rozek came on in relief for Gipson-Long and pitched uncharacteristically poorly, serving up two home runs in 2 2/3 innings and issuing only his second walk of the season. Tyler Palm pitched the final 1 1/3 innings and allowed only one hit and run. Christian Encarnacion-Strand (2-for-4) and Seth Gray (2-for-4) were the lone Kernels to register multiple hits. Wander Javier (1-for-4, 2B, R) provided the team’s sole extra-base knock. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers vs. Clearwater, Rained Out x2 While the Mighty Mussels games were canceled on Saturday, that didn’t stop the team from announcing some good news. Jordan Balazovic will be making a rehab start for the team on Sunday. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (Cedar Rapids): 4 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – RF Matt Wallner (Wichita): 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-3, HR, RBI, 5 BB, SB #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-6, 2B, RBI #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL (Will pitch Sunday for Fort Myers) #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch #7 - Jhoan Duran (Minnesota) - 2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 3 K #8 - Simeon Woods Richardson - Did Not Pitch #9 - Josh Winder (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, BB, R #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 3-for-4, 2 HR, 3 RBI #13 - Cole Sands (Minnesota) - Did Not Pitch #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - Did Not Pitch #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Play #16 - Ronny Hendriquez (St. Paul) - Did Not Pitch #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5 #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-3, 2 BB #20 - Steve Hajjar (Ft. Myers) - Did Not Pitch SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Nashville ( PM CST) - RHP Dereck Rodriguez (1-0, 0.77 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (1:35 PM CST) - RHP Chris Vallimont (0-2, 12.19 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (1:05 PM CST) - LHP Cade Povich (1-0, 0.93 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Clearwater (1:00 PM CST) - RHPs Sonny Gray and Jordan Balazovic will be making rehab starts.
  19. The weather was a factor for two of the Twins’ affiliates today. The Fort Myers Mighty Mussels game was postponed and the St. Paul Saints game was suspended after six innings. The Mighty Mussels hope to play a doubleheader on Saturday. The two games that were completed went to extra innings, but Twins affiliates in these games only combined for just eight hits. In addition, we saw one Twins' top prospects continue to climb the stolen bases leaderboard as he proves that he can make an impact at the major league level. Without further ado, let’s see what happened on this Friday in the Twins organization. SAINTS (AAA) St. Paul 3, Nashville 7 Box Score The Saints tied the game up at three in the bottom of the sixth before the rain hit and the game was suspended. Chi Chi Gonzalez made the start for the Saints and allowed three runs in 4 2/3 innings while striking out six batters. He has now allowed five earned runs in 10 2/3 innings this season. The Saints looked like they were going to get off to a hot start in the first inning after Royce Lewis walked and Alex Kirilloff hit a single, but the next three batters were retired in order to strand the runners. Nashville hit a home run in each of the second and third innings, but the Saints finally broke through to the run column in the fourth inning when Jake Cave singled and Daniel Robertson drove him in with a double to reduce the deficit to two runs. With two outs in the fifth inning, Daniel Gossett replaced Gonzalez. Gossett faced four batters, struck out two, and induced two ground balls to Lewis to finish the sixth inning unscathed. In the bottom of the frame, Cave and Jermaine Palacios singled before Elliot Soto drove them both in with a double to tie the game up at three. After Nashville got out of the inning, the rain became too heavy and the game was halted going into the seventh inning in a 3-3 tie. When the game continued Saturday afternoon, Nashville scored a run in the top of the eighth to take the lead but a runner got thrown out at home on a relay from Mark Contreras to Robertson to David Banuelos to end the top of the eighth. After a scoreless bottom of the eighth, the Saints turned to Juan Minaya in the ninth, who walked the first three batters before allowing an RBI single and a two-run double before being pulled with runners on second and third with no outs. The Saints then turned to Ryan Mason out of the bullpen who struck out the first batter, walked Brewers #4 prospect Brice Turang, and struck out the last two batters to send the game to the bottom of the ninth inning trailing 7-3. Mason has now struck out nine batters in five and 2/3 innings in 2022. In the bottom half, Lewis and Jose Miranda singled but the Saints couldn't bring either of them across, falling 7-3 to the Nashville Sounds. Lewis went 1-1 with four walks in the game, raising his season on-base percentage to .433. Cave went 2-5 with two runs scored and Soto finished with two RBI. The Saints are now 12-9 on the season. WIND SURGE (AA) Wichita 3, Arkansas 1 Box Score In a lackluster offensive performance, the Wichita Wind Surge beat the Arkansas Travelers behind some excellent pitching. Matt Canterino made the start for Wichita, going three strong innings, striking out four, and not allowing any hits. He is now up to 12 2/3 innings this season and his ERA is down to 2.13. He has struck out 18 batters and allowed nine walks. He has been limited due to elbow issues in 2021, but his workload is slowly increasing in hopes that he could be an impact pitcher in the big leagues sometime soon. After Canterino was done, Steven Klimek threw two scoreless innings. The Wind Surge didn’t get their first base runner until the fifth inning when Matt Wallner singled. After Arkansas broke the scoreless tie in the bottom of the sixth, the Wind Surge tied it up when Cole Sturgeon came in to score on a double play after being hit by a pitch to lead off the inning. The Wind Surge got some excellent relief pitching from Brandon Lawson and Evan Sisk to force extra innings while the offense remained stagnant. Sisk got out of a huge second-and-third jam with two outs in the bottom of the ninth to force extra frames. He has not allowed a run in 10 1/3 innings this year. In the top of the tenth, the Wind Surge began with Leobaldo Cabrera on second base and got off to a good start when Kevin Merrell reached on a sacrifice bunt and Andrew Bechtold walked to load the bases. DaShawn Keirsey and Austin Martin hit back-to-back sacrifice flies to give the Wind Surge a 3-1 lead going into the bottom of the tenth, where Alex Scherff didn’t allow a run thanks to Wallner throwing out a runner at home to end the game. Sturgeon and Wallner collected the only two hits for the Wind Surge in the contest. Despite going hitless, Martin had a productive day at the plate by walking, reaching via hit by pitch, stealing a base, and driving in a run on a sac fly. Martin now has ten stolen bases, good for second in the league. The Wind Surge are now 11-8 this season as well as 3-1 in extra-inning games. KERNELS (HIGH-A) Cedar Rapids 2, Beloit 3 Box Score The Cedar Rapids Kernels dropped a heartbreaker to the Beloit Snappers in 10 innings, losing 3-2 on a walk-off single. The extra-inning runner-on-second rule hurt Cedar Rapids, as they were unable to score in the top of the tenth with their extra runner, and Beloit walked them off in the bottom half of the inning. Sean Mooney was masterful in his third start of the season, throwing five scoreless innings while striking out eight batters and only allowing two walks and one hit. For the season, he is up to 13 innings while allowing three earned runs, eight hits, and 17 strikeouts. The Kernels couldn’t get anything going offensively through the first five innings, only mustering up four singles against Beloit. In the sixth inning, the Kernels put up two runs when Christian Encarnacion-Strand singled, Aaron Sabato walked, Jair Camargo scored Encarnacion-Strand with a double, and Jeferson Morales scored Sabato with a sacrifice fly to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead. The game stayed 2-0 until the eighth inning, thanks to two scoreless innings from Bobby Milacki. In the bottom of the eighth, the Snappers used single and back-to-back doubles to tie the game up at two going into the ninth inning. After an uneventful ninth inning in which he struck out two batters, Derek Molina began the tenth inning and gave up a hit to Davis Bradshaw which proved to be the walk-off hit thanks to the extra-inning runner-on-second rule. Encarnacion-Strand and Will Holland each had two hits in the game to lead the offense for Cedar Rapids. MIGHTY MUSSELS (LOW-A) Fort Myers, Clearwater (Postponed) Friday’s game was postponed due to inclement weather. The plan is for these teams to play two, seven-inning games on Saturday, starting at 4:30. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Sean Mooney (Cedar Rapids) - 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 1-1, 4 BB 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: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-2, BB, SB (10), RBI, K (played CF) #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 1-1, 4 BB, SB (5) #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-4, K #6 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 3 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K (42 pitches, 25 strikes) #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-3, BB, 2 K #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-4, BB SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS (Saints game will continue at 1:07 PM CST) Nashville @ St. Paul (2:07 CST) - RHP Jacob Faria (0-0, 4.76 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (7:05 CST) - RHP Ben Gross (0-0, 5.19 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (1-0, 2.08 ERA) Clearwater @ Fort Myers (DH @ 4:30 CST) - RHP Travis Adams (1-0, 1.20 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Friday’s games! Thank you for reading, and Go Twins!
  20. 1. The Central looks weak Sooner or later, the White Sox will find their stride. They’re missing key pieces from a roster that won 93 games and the division in 2021. Third baseman Yoán Moncada is progressing toward a return from an oblique injury. Lance Lynn, who threw 157 outstanding innings for an excellent rotation last year, is hoping to return in late May from knee surgery. 2020 Silver Slugger winner Eloy Jiménez likely won’t be back until the summer months, but he’s on the mend. The cavalry is coming. Even then, the White Sox have evident flaws. Their defense is the worst in the American League by Outs Above Average, and Defensive Runs Saved. Bullpen stalwarts Liam Hendriks and Aaron Bummer are struggling to get outs in the late innings. Without Lynn, the rotation is thin. Dallas Keuchel has been terrible, while Vince Velasquez can’t keep runners off base. The White Sox’s depth is far from what it was in 2021, and they’re digging a hole early. The Tigers and their fans hoped the team would produce a hot start, burying the rebuild in the rearview. The opposite is happening. The Tigers have lost 12 of their first 18 games with a weak offense and equally lousy defense. Desperately needing a run, the Tigers must go to Los Angeles to face the Dodgers this weekend. It’s too early to call a season doomed, but things are rough in the Motor City. The Guardians made some noise early, pairing good offensive production with their outstanding pitching. They’ve crashed back to earth since that solid 7-5 start. They’re struggling to score runs, an expected trend when their only hitters with track records are superstar José Ramírez and streaky slugger Franmil Reyes. It’s possible Cleveland surprises, but their ceiling feels limited. The Royals could present challenges for the competitive teams in the division. They've already won series' against the Twins and White Sox, and they're always tricky at Kauffman. I'd be surprised if they won more than 75 games, but I wouldn't completely write them off as a walk-in-the-park matchup. 2. They have a competent starting rotation It’s unlikely Twins starters will continue to pitch as well as they have, but the perception of the rotation has changed considerably since Opening Day. Joe Ryan is better than he was last September. Chris Paddack is, too. The Twins will get their projected No. 1 starter, Sonny Gray, back in short order (hamstring). The Twins' rotation is taking shape. Dylan Bundy won’t post a sub-1 ERA this year, but he may finish as a solid No. 4 starter in a competitive rotation. That’s not insignificant, especially considering his 6.06 ERA and 5.51 FIP from a year ago. Bundy’s presence as a five-inning, three runs or less starter is potentially a massive development for the Twins. Bailey Ober had been rock-solid before his groin injury, and Paddack has pitched like a No. 3. There’s a real chance the Twins will have at least an average starting rotation by the trade deadline. That outcome felt like a long shot less than a month ago, so I’m still setting the expectations relatively low. If the Twins have a winning team and are within striking distance of the playoffs, I’d expect them to make that move for an impact starter. They’ll need him if October becomes a reality. 3. They have depth, with more on the way In the preseason, the 2021 Twins looked to have substantial depth in all roster areas. That couldn’t have been further from the outcome. The Twins quickly learned they lacked viable backups at almost every position, especially in the rotation. Injuries hampered the young starting pitchers in the minors, though, which hasn’t been the case early this year. Fingers crossed. Royce Lewis is performing exceptionally well in St.Paul. José Miranda was in serious consideration for an Opening Day roster spot after a terrific Minor League season in 2021. Beyond them, Spencer Steer, an underrated versatile infielder, is raking at Double-A Wichita. The Twins have desirable depth in the infield. A healthy Alex Kirilloff would go a long way in the outfield, sending Trevor Larnach down the depth chart. The most important storyline for the 2022 Twins remains with the young starters. Simeon Woods Richardson has yet to allow a run through 21 ⅔ innings for Wichita. Matt Canterino is back on track after a shaky start, and his stuff looks pristine. Jordan Balazovic is still on the injured list with a knee strain, but he is still their best pitching prospect. There look to be reinforcements in both the rotation and bullpen. The Twins have a long way to go, and it’s wise to watch with a skeptical eye, but it’s hard not to get excited about where they could go this year.
  21. TRANSACTIONS None SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Nashville 2, (10 innings) Box Score The Saints escaped victorious during a matinee affair Wednesday afternoon, toppling the Sounds on a walk-off frozen rope off the bat of Royce Lewis. Lewis hit his ninth double of the season during an earlier at-bat and finished the day 2-for-4. The Twins' top prospect is slashing .309/.407/.559 with two home runs and three stolen bases in 18 games this spring, though perhaps most notably his is 17:10 K:BB ratio. Not only has Lewis’s power and speed returned following his ACL injury last spring, but he has adopted a more discerning eye at the plate; prior to the 2022 campaign, he had a career 120:53 K:BB ratio in 302 minor-league contests. But Lewis wasn’t the only top Twins prospect who had himself a game. José Miranda also went 2-for-4 at the plate with a double and home run. Miranda’s solo shot gave the Saints a 1-0 lead in the bottom of the fourth. Miranda started off the season sluggish with the bat, but since April 16th, the Twins future third baseman has gone 12-for-40 (.300) with seven doubles and a home run. He has looked more comfortable at the plate as of late and has begun to drive balls that he had been previously pounding into the ground. Devin Smeltzer was once again nails on the mound, striking out three and allowing only one earned run in five innings; the lefty has now surrendered only three earned runs in 19 innings for the Saints. Drew Strotman, Tyler Bashlor, and Jake Petricka combined to strikeout five and held Nashville to a single run in three innings. Yennier Cano pitched the Saints’ final two frames, striking out two and picking up the win. Following the game, @Ted Schwerzler chatted with Devin Smeltzer about his health issues last year and how happy he is to be healthy and performing this year. Alex Kirilloff also talked about his wrist and potential return to the Twins lineup. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 7, Arkansas 4 Box Score Louie Varland looked much better during his outing against the Travelers than he did in his previous start. The former Concordia Golden Bear tossed 5 1/3 innings and struck out four while allowing only four Arkansas batters to reach base. Varland worked in his changeup more tonight than he did his last outing and while the command wasn't anything to write home about, it was effective enough to throw opposing batters off the scent of his fastball and slider. On a couple of occasions, Varland's third pitch moved like a potential plus offering. Edouard Julien, who recently returned from a brief IL stint, remained hot, going 2-for-5 with his second hit being his first Double-A home run. He's 6-for-18 since returning to line up with a home run, triple, and double. Julien rose up prospect ranking boards last summer due to his unique combination of on-base skills, power, and speed. While he wasn't considered a significant prospect out of Auburn—he was the Twins 18th round pick in 2019—Julien has kept virtually the same production in the minors as he did in the SEC. In 127 college games, Julien slashed .266/.393/.501 with 27 home runs and 10 stolen bases. In 120 MiLB games entering Wednesday, he has slashed .268/.433/.476 with 18 home runs and 37 stolen bases. At his current pace, Julien may reach St. Paul by the middle or end of the summer. Cole Sturgeon also had a big game for the Wind Surge as he went 2-for-3 with a home run and three RBI. Spencer Steer also contributed two hits and elevated his batting average to .319. Alex Scherff converted the save. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Beloit 1 Box Score The Kernels also squeaked out a win on Wednesday, taking down the Sky Carp in a low-offense affair. Casey Legumina, Miguel Rodriguez, and Denny Bentley pitched a gem for Cedar Rapids as they combined to strikeout 14 Beloit batters while surrendering only five hits and a single walk. Wander Javier’s third double of the season was the lone extra base hit for the Kernels. Alerick Soularie (1-for-3) and Will Holland (1-for-4) each knocked in RBIs. Seth Gray and Javier each picked up two hits a piece. MUSSEL MATTERS Clearwater 6, Fort Myers 1 Box Score Well, let's just say that it wasn't Fort Myers' night. The Mighty Mussels struggled...mightily...both against the Threshers as well as themselves. Clearwater stung the Fort Myers pitchers for six runs on 13 hits, four of which went for extra bases, while the defense registered three errors and a passed ball. The lone Mighty Mussel pitcher to find success on the bump was Juan Mendez who threw two innings of hitless ball, striking out three. Mikey Perez's second double of the season was the only hit Fort Myers was able to muster. Keoni Cavaco drove in the team's only run. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – RHP Casey Legumina (Cedar Rapids): 5 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 8 K Hitter of the Day – INF José Miranda (St. Paul): 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-for-4, RBI, BB, SB #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B, RBI, BB #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 2-for-4, 2B, HR, RBI #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - IL (likely a rehab start this weekend) #5 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 7 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 9 K #10 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-for-2, 2 BB #14 - Louie Varland (Wichita) - 5 1/3 IP, 3 H, 0 R, 1 BB, 4 K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 0-for-3, BB, K #17 - Blayne Enlow (Wichita) - IL (expecting to pitch in May) #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 2-for-5 #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 2-for-5, HR, RBI SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul vs. Nashville (6:37 PM CST) - RHP Ronny Henriquez (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson (1-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Brent Headrick (1-1, 3.35 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Clearwater (6:00 PM CST) - RHP John Stankiewicz (2-0, 1.13 ERA) Feel free to ask questions and discuss.
  22. Devin Smeltzer threw 11 innings for the big league club down in Fort Myers during Spring Training this year and gave up just five hits while striking out nine and walking two batters. He was seen as a longshot to make the Opening Day roster, but with a clean bill of health, he looked the part of an arm that may be able to help in 2022. Ultimately, the Twins decided to send Smeltzer to Triple-A, but the strong performances haven’t stopped. Working five innings today, he allowed just a single run, Smeltzer owns a 1.42 ERA through 19 innings and has a 16/6 K/BB. Given how solid Minnesota’s starters have looked thus far, it’s hard to see a place where Smeltzer fits into the rotation. There’s little reason to believe he can’t be of service in another capacity. Right now, the only left-handed arms in Rocco Baldelli’s bullpen are Danny Coulombe and Caleb Thielbar. After being reliable the past couple of seasons, Thielbar has produced lackluster results to open 2022. I’d wager Minnesota wants to see more from Thielbar before making a change, but he does have an option left. With an expected ERA of 3.63, there is reason to believe that with more outings, he will straighten things out. Whether taking over for Thielbar or someone else, it’s good to see Smeltzer making a renewed case for inclusion on the 26-man roster. Talking to Smeltzer after his outing, he suggested "health" is the most significant difference in his performance. “I had some long-term cancer side effects that popped up the past two years, finally got that taken care of. Got the neck taken care of. Everything else has just kind of fallen into place.” Working as a starter at Triple-A but having worked out of the bullpen previously, Smeltzer said, “I always prefer to start. I’m going to do everything in my power to force them to make a move.” A notoriously quick worker, Smeltzer is experiencing the minor-league pitch clock for the first time. He’s certainly not a fan. “I think it’s destroying the game of baseball. I had two strikeouts in my last game on it (granted strikes from the umpire), and it’s ridiculous, honestly. These are guys’ careers. It’ll never happen in the big leagues. I don’t think the union will ever allow it.” Sharing very similar feelings to myself, Smeltzer continued, “It’s not baseball. Shaving off 15-20 minutes of a game isn’t going to pack the stadium. You either like baseball, or you don’t.” On the other side of the ball, there was talented Twins left fielder Alex Kirilloff playing in just his fourth Triple-A game. Having rehabbed for two games with the Saints last season after dealing with the same wrist issue, he was playing left field today after DHing on Tuesday. In his first game back following a cortisone shot, Kirilloff went 1-for-1 with three walks. Making contact in each of his first three at-bats today, he went 0-for-4 while sending two fly balls to left field and grounding out on a ball to second base. The ball found him plenty in the outfield as he recorded the game’s first out on a routine fly ball. There isn’t much concern with his fielding ability, as the problem has always persisted when swinging. Last season, the cortisone shot was deemed helpful for a time before he was shut down and eventually underwent wrist surgery. The hope for both Kirilloff and the Twins would be that there’s not a consistent issue this time around, and things have corrected themselves. After finishing the game, I talked with Kirilloff to check in on the progress and how he was feeling. When asked about continued discomfort in the wrist, he noted feeling it “here and there, but that it’s a lot better than what it was before, so that’s encouraging.” Unfortunately, this is a very similar timeline to when Kirilloff’s wrist began to bother him last year. Asked what about this feels different, he said, “It’s a similar feeling to last year, but the hope is that it does the trick and it’ll last longer than it did last year. Structurally now, it’s better than it was because of the procedure I had done. The surgery did what it needed to do as far as the structure. He (the doctor) thinks it will respond differently this time.” With a history of going through the same situation, Kirilloff played just two rehab games before returning to Minnesota. When asked about the timeline for a return this season, he said, “I feel like I’m close. I haven’t talked to them yet today, but I’ll be able to find out more information when I do.” He said the decision to return would be made collectively. St. Paul continues to play good baseball, and they have some of the top hitting talents in the Twins system. It’s more likely that Royce Lewis will force his way to the big leagues this year, and Jose Miranda repeating his 2021 performance should have him to the next level. Lewis inside-outed a double in the 8th inning before walking it off in the 10th inning. Miranda recorded a double and home run. Keep tabs on St. Paul with plenty to glean for the Twins as the season progresses.
  23. TRANSACTIONS There was just one transaction on the day heading into a new series for each affiliate, but it was a notable one for Twins fans. Twins RF Alex Kirilloff was sent on a rehab assignment with the Saints. He batted second as the designated hitter in their game. SAINTS SENTINEL Nashville 1, St. Paul 4 Box Score Making his second appearance back with the Saints after being with the Twins briefly, starting pitcher Dereck Rodriguez was stellar for the first 4 2/3 innings. He allowed just one run on five hits and a walk, while snuffing the Sounds with six strikeouts. St. Paul had a 2-1 lead when he exited the game as they were able to score a run in each of the third and fourth innings. After a Royce Lewis double to put runners on second and third, Nashville’s pitcher uncorked a wild pitch to score their first run of the game, but they were unable to push Lewis across. In the fourth, three consecutive singles from Curtis Terry, Derek Fisher, and Daniel Robertson got them the second run, but the threat was stifled again when Fisher was thrown out at third on the relay. The teams traded zeroes for three innings after that, with Mario Sanchez delivering 2 1/3 scoreless innings after Rodriguez. He walked one and struck out two. Jharrel Cotton pitched a scoreless eighth, striking out one, and Trevor Megill closed it out for his first save of the season, allowing a single, striking out one, and getting a double-play ball to end the game. The Saints added two insurance runs in the bottom of the eighth when four consecutive hitters drew a walk to score one. That was followed by a sac fly from Chance Sisco for the second run. Lewis (2-for-5, 2B) and Terry (2-for-3, 2 R, 2B, BB) each had two hits in the win. In his return to the lineup for his rehab assignment, Alex Kirilloff reached base all four times he came to the plate with three walks and a single, batting second behind Lewis as the designated hitter. (Please check out the Brewer Fanatic report on the Nashville/St. Paul game). WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita 4, Arkansas 10 Box Score On the road in Little Rock, Arkansas, the Wind Surge started their series with right-hander Chris Vallimont going against the Travelers. He pitched around a pair of singles in the first inning, before being greeted with a home run to open the second that put Arkansas out front early. They added another run in the second before a one-two-three third inning, then broke it open in the fourth with four more before Vallimont was lifted. In all, he lasted 3 1/3 innings, allowing six earned runs on nine hits and two walks, while striking out five batters. Evan Sisk was the first reliever summoned, and he escaped the fourth with no further damage along with delivering a scoreless fifth. He walked two and struck out three. Bryan Sammons and Zach Featherstone combined to allow two runs each on five hits and two walks over the final three innings to account for all the Travelers runs in the game. Sammons struck out over his two innings, and Featherstone one in the eighth. In the top of the fourth Wichita was able to cut Arkansas’ early 2-0 lead in half thanks to Matt Wallner’s second home run of the season. That would be as close as they would get, however. In the eighth inning, Spencer Steer and Wallner each drove in a run with a double, and in the ninth they added one more via an Edouard Julien RBI groundout to make the final score 10-4. Wallner was the only Wind Surge hitter with two hits (2-for-4, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K), and Julien drew three walks in the game to lead the way for the offense. As a team, they were just 1-for-9 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Beloit 0 Box Score The Kernels got a stellar outing out of their pitching staff in this one, led by starter Cody Laweryson and reliever Andrew Cabezas. They each pitched three innings, with Laweryson giving up just two walks with three K’s, and Cabezas just one hit while striking out four. Bradley Hanner added two scoreless innings, allowing two hits, a walk, and striking out three. Derek Molina was credited with his first save of the season with a one-two-three ninth inning to close out the win. Cedar Rapids took a 1-0 lead in the top of third when Aaron Sabato drove in Anthony Prato with a sac fly. They made it 2-0 in the seventh thanks to a wild pitch that allowed Wander Javier to scamper home after he had doubled to lead off the inning. Their third run was courtesy of an RBI double from Sabato in the eighth that scored Christian Encarnicion-Strand, who had singled in front of him. Hits were in short supply for both teams in the game, as the Kernels had just six versus the Sky Carp’s three. Neither team had a hit with runners in scoring position and they combined to strand just eleven baserunners on the game. Encarnacion-Strand was 2-for-4 with a run scored, and Sabato 1-for-2 with a double and two RBI. MUSSEL MATTERS Clearwater 7, Fort Myers 3 Box Score The Mighty Mussels fell behind early, as starter Steve Hajjar was jumped on by the Threshers for three runs in the first frame. This was largely due to a pair of throwing errors from Hajjar himself. A two-run double and one of those errors led to three runs. He settled down from there and was able to finish four innings with no further damage. In all, he allowed seven hits and two walks along with striking out five batters. The Fort Myers lineup was able to get two of those runs back in the second inning after an RBI single from Ernie Yake, and a sacrifice fly off the bat of Jake Rucker. Clearwater answered back after Hajjar’s exit, scoring three more in the fifth against reliever Jackson Hicks on three hits and a walk. Hunter McMahon pitched two innings, allowing one run on three hits while striking out three. Lefty John Wilson got the final two innings, giving up just one hit and striking out three Threshers. Outfielder Kyler Fedko continued his hot hitting to start the season, collecting two singles to lead the way for the Mighty Mussels and was the only hitter with more than one hit. Emmanuel Rodriguez was 1-for-3 with a run scored and drew a walk. As a team, they did not have an extra-base hit, had only four at-bats with runners in scoring position, and left just six men on base. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Andrew Cabezas, Cedar Rapids Kernels (W, 3 IP, H, 4 K) Hitter of the Day - Matt Wallner, Wichita Wind Surge (2-for-4, R, 2B, HR, 2 RBI, K) PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-4 #2 - Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 2-for-5, 2B #3 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-4 #11 - Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-for-2, K #12 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 2-for-4, R, 2B, HR (2), 2 RBI, K #15 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, R, BB, 2 K #18 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-5, R, 2B, RBI, K #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB #20 - Steve Hajjar (Fort Myers) - L, 4 IP, 7 H, 3 R (2 ER), 2 BB, 5 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Nashville @ St. Paul (1:07 PM CDT) - LHP Devin Smeltzer (1-1, 1.29 ERA) Wichita @ Arkansas (6:35 PM CDT) - RHP Louie Varland (1-1, 4.11 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (11:05 AM CDT) - RHP Casey Legumina (0-1, 6.48 ERA) Clearwater @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CDT) - RHP Pierson Ohl (0-0, 7.71 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  24. TRANSACTIONS C José Godoy selected by Minnesota Twins Saints Sentinel St. Paul 2, Toledo 5 Box Score Jake Faria: 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K HR: Royce Lewis (2) Multi-hit games: Curtis Terry (2-for-4, 2B) The Saints lost a winnable game on Saturday. Starter Jake Faria carried the torch for the first few innings of the game, racking up five strikeouts over four solid frames with one earned run to his name. He was not as efficient as he probably would have liked, however, and was pulled from the game after 76 pitches. The game sat at a 1-0 standstill heading into the 6th inning before Royce Lewis strode up to the plate and absolutely molly whopped crushed destroyed obliterated annihilated the baseball to give the Saints a 2-1 lead. The lead was short-lived. Chi Chi Gonzalez, pitching in relief of Faria, allowed a two-run triple and RBI single that gave the Mud Hens a lead they would never relinquish. Drew Strotman pitched an inning with no earned runs. The offense outside of Lewis’ blast was sparse. Curtis Terry and Elliot Soto provided a double each, while Chance Cisco was the only hitter outside of Terry to reach base twice. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 4, Midland 15 Box Score Brandon Lawson: 1 1/3 IP, 6 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, K HR: None Multi-hit games: Edouard Julien (3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B), Michael Helman (2-for-4, RBI, 2B) Wichita was clobbered on Saturday. It was one of those days where showing up to the diamond felt like a mistake; The Wind Surge fell into a deficit in the first inning and never recovered. Wichita pitchers allowed 17 hits, 14 earned runs, and 10 walks. Alex Scherff was the only pitcher not to allow a baserunner. It would be for the best if we ended the discussion on pitching there. Wind Surge hitters were somewhat more successful. While they only knocked around three extra-base hits, they struck out just four times; poor BABIP proved to be their downfall more than anything. Edouard Julien was the most prolific hitter of the bunch, dropping in three hits while scoring half of Wichita’s total runs. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 6, Peoria 3 Box Score Sawyer Gipson-Long: 4 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Anthony Prato (2-for-2, 2 R, RBI, BB, 2 2B), Aaron Sabato (2-for-4, R, 2 RBI, 2B), Will Holland (2-for-3, 2 RBI, BB, 2B) The Kernels continued their dominant start to the season on Saturday. Unusually mortal, Sawyer Gipson-Long did not over-match hitters like he usually does. The righty trudged through four innings while Peoria hitters frustrated him by scoring in three of those frames. It was a rare off-day for a pitcher who had been so great for most of last season and the beginning of this one. The Kernels offense had his back, though. They pecked away at the Chiefs’ lead, scoring in five separate innings to culminate in six runs total—more than enough needed to win the game. Aaron Sabato and Will Holland were the most consistent culprits, twice plating runners and twice knocking in hits. In relief of Gipson-Long, Bradley Hanner, Melvi Acosta, and Osiris German combined to toss five scoreless innings, ensuring the win for Cedar Rapids. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 7, Dunedin 3 Box Score David Festa: 4 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K HR: Kala’i Rosario (1), Emmanuel Rodriguez (5), Kyler Fedko (2) Multi-hit games: Noah Miller (2-for-3, 2 R, BB, 2B), Dylan Neuse (2-for-5) The Miracle won solidly on Saturday. David Festa continued his incredible start to the season with four shutout innings. It was not the cleanest performance—he needed 70 pitches to net 12 outs—but the start lowered his season ERA to 1.93. Much like the Kernels, Fort Myers hitters backed up their pitchers. The New Bash Brothers, Emmanuel Rodriguez, and Kyler Fedko, both launched homers in their effort to discredit the entire concept of pitching in general. Oddly enough, all of Fort Myers’ runs came via a homer or a bases-loaded BB. Walks proved to be the defining aspect of the game, as the Mighty Mussels took eight of them in the game; that’s how they plated seven runs off eight hits. The barrage of relievers—Jaylen Nowlin, Malik Barrington, Regi Grace, Matthew Swain—worked five innings with five strikeouts and three earned runs to carry the team to victory. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – David Festa, Ft. Myers Mighty Mussels Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Edouard Julien, Wichita Wind Surge PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 0-for-3, BB, R #2 – Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 1-for-4, R, 2 RBI, HR #3 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-for-4 #10 – Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 2-for-3, 2 R, BB, 2B, K #11 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 0-1 #15 – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 1-for-4, R, 2 RBI, BB, K, HR #18 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-for-4, 2 K #19 – Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 3-for-4, 2 R, RBI, 2B SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Toledo (1:05 PM) - RHP Daniel Gossett Midland @ Wichita (1:05 PM) - RHP Matt Canterino Peoria @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 PM) - LHP Aaron Rozek Fort Myers @ Dunedin (11:00 AM) - RHP Travis Adams
  25. It’s never wise to place the “instant contributor” tag on any prospect. The early struggles of Bobby Witt Jr., baseball’s No. 1 prospect, and Spencer Torkelson, the first-round pick in the 2020 Draft, show that it’s unwise to expect immediate results from even the best rookie hitters. The Twins are struggling to score runs. Naturally, fans start to wonder about reinforcements. Who could give this group a boost? And more importantly, why should you believe it could be better in the future? Gary Sánchez, Carlos Correa, and Miguel Sanó are virtual locks to depart after the season, while Max Kepler enters the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2023. Gio Urshela is a clear non-tender candidate. There was significant turnover this offseason, especially in the rotation. We could see the same type of flip in the lineup next winter. It doesn’t have to start then, though. MLB Pipeline ranks three Twins hitters in their Top-100 Prospect Rankings. Royce Lewis (45) has dropped considerably since the Twins selected him with the first pick in 2017, but his talent is undeniable. Lewis is raking at Triple-A for the Saints. He’s hitting for power, drawing walks, using the opposite field, and stringing outstanding plays at shortstop. It’s still super early, but the early returns on Lewis are nothing short of remarkable. His production shouldn’t be a surprise to those who know how special his tools still are. The assumed plan to replace Correa with Lewis in 2023 looks sound so far. If things continue to go this well for him at Triple-A, it’s not crazy to think Lewis could join the Twins relatively soon. He’s the highest upside player in the entire system, and his previous prospect status would’ve placed him at a 2022 mid-season debut. While Lewis carries the most upside, Austin Martin’s floor feels the safest. Martin, ranked as the No. 51 prospect in baseball by MLB Pipeline, is known for his quality of at-bat and elite ability to make contact. His skillset is a right-handed Luis Arraez, and that specific mastery tends to translate fastest. Martin may never develop real power, but it feels like he’s close to the majors even without it. The Twins’ Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2021 put together one of the best seasons the organization has ever seen. José Miranda, now a Top-100 prospect, led the minors in total bases and hit 30 homers across the two highest levels. He’s off to a slow start in 2022, but Miranda had an outside chance of making the team outright this spring. He’s likely the first call if a corner infielder gets hurt. The Twins are hoping that Lewis, Martin, and Miranda make up the heart of the lineup for the next half-decade, preferably as soon as possible. With Byron Buxton locked in, it’s easy to envision a potential core for the future. If things continue to stay downhill for the Twins’ offense, they have three top prospects who could help when the weather warms up.
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