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  1. The Twins have scored than three runs only twice in their past 10 games. It's clear the lineup could use some more punch. Which makes it all the more frustrating and gutting that one of their best bats is essentially incapacitated, mired in an unofficial minor-league rehab assignment with no clear endgame. Alex Kirilloff's first stretch in the majors (not counting his postseason debut in 2020) was a great example of why you shouldn't put too much stock into results over a modest sampling of at-bats, at least without taking a deeper look. He started out his career in an 0-for-15 slump, but it was clear to anyone watching that Kirilloff was hardly overmatched. He wasn't striking out and when he connected he was driving the ball. We all knew the hits were going to come. And they did, in a hurry. The outfielder broke out with a nine-game hitting streak that included three doubles and four home runs. But during that stretch – on May 3rd, while sliding into second on one of those doubles – Kirilloff hurt his wrist. And since then nothing has really been the same. He kept playing for a couple more months but managed only 13 extra-base hits in 46 games the rest of the way before undergoing surgery in July. The hope was that this procedure would correct the wrist issue while also giving him plenty of time to rehab and be ready for this 2022 season. Unfortunately, it hasn't played out like that. At no point this year has Kirilloff really looked like himself. He opened the season in a 1-for-17 slump and unlike that opening drought from last year, this one carried no signs of being a mirage. He admitted his wrist was still causing him "a lot of pain" while swinging and went on the injured list, receiving a cortisone shot. Since returning, little has changed. Statcast, which measures the quality and characteristics of batted balls, paints an almost incomprehensibly grim picture of Kirilloff's performance. His highest exit velocity all year is 100.8 MPH, which puts him in the 9th percentile of MLB hitters for Max AV. Last year he topped that number 35 times. His average exit velocity is down to 85 MPH from 91 last year. He has recorded zero barrels all season, meaning he basically has not once truly squared a ball up. Kirilloff's launch angle is what really tells the story. It's at -14.1 degrees this year, which means he is basically hitting everything directly into the ground. The extreme nature of that figure cannot be overstated – there is not a single qualified MLB player with a negative launch angle this season, much less that deep in the red. Last year there was one player in the negative (Raimel Tapia of the Rockies at -4.4). It's unheard of. Kirilloff's swing is completely broken and that is especially hard to see from a player of his natural talent, who was showing glimpses of letting that talent shine. Kirilloff says he's never been able to swing pain-free since the surgery, and he now sounds like he's just trying to cope with this new reality. "There's still discomfort, and he thinks that his swing does feel different from how it did before the surgery," wrote Do-Hyoung Park for MLB.com. "He's just not able to pinpoint the exact ways in which it feels different. It might be physical. It might be mental. It's likely some combination of both." I wish I could feel confident he was going to head to Triple-A and figure things out in short order. But Kirilloff is just so far from where he needs to be, and the path to getting there is so unclear. Playing in a doubleheader for the Saints on Sunday, he notched four hits – all singles. The former standout slugger still has yet to collect his first extra-base hit through 69 plate appearances in the majors and minors. The Twins need his bat at its full potency. Kirilloff can be a pivotal difference-maker for this lineup, as without him they are severely lacking for left-handed power. They need this swing back: Is it still within him? The 24-year-old is going to try to find something that works over the coming weeks at St. Paul. If another month or so passes without the power starting to manifest, you have to wonder if they'll turn to Plan B: another surgery. Park mentioned in his article that a procedure could be done to create more space between bones where Kirilloff's cartilage has worn away, contributing to the discomfort. He added that this surgery is "more invasive and involves shortening his ulna altogether by breaking and cutting out a section of the bone." Sounds unpleasant and undesirable. But we're now basically sorting through bad scenarios to land on the least bad. And in the meantime, Kirilloff – who already lost a full year of his career to Tommy John surgery – is watching his prime playing days pass by while he wrestles with, in his words, "one long, continuous puzzle to try to figure out." View full article
  2. The Minnesota Twins saw their hot streak come to a screeching halt at home as mounting injury woes and improved competition were too much to overcome. Still, the team is hanging in there and maintaining a three-game lead in the division as a seriously soft patch of the schedule looms. 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 View full article
  3. The Twins had a series victory over the Guardians this weekend. The minor-league affiliates had a packed schedule with a doubleheader for the Saints, a canceled game due to weather for the Wind Surge, the Kernels maintaining the best record in the Midwest League, and the Mighty Mussels setting a new franchise record. TRANSACTIONS Following the Twins' game on Sunday, OF Mark Contreras was optioned to St. Paul. Presumably, Kyle Garlick will come off of the Injured List before the Monday series against the A's. SAINTS SENTINEL Game 1 St. Paul 3, Columbus 5 Box Score SP: Bailey Ober - 5 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K HR: Jermaine Palacios (2) Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-4), Kyle Garlick (2-4, R, K), Caleb Hamilton (2-2, BB) The Saints played two on Sunday afternoon against the Columbus Clippers. The first game was started by Bailey Ober as he made his rehab start with the team. Ober totaled 72 pitches through five innings for the Saints but did not have the best return to the mound on Sunday. Ober gave up five runs (4 earned) on four hits. He struck out seven without giving up any walks. Even with all of Ober’s efforts, the Saints offense was not able to come through with run support in Game 1 to give themselves a victory. Alex Kirilloff did have a good return to the Saints on Sunday as he went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter in the first game. The Saints mounted a comeback in the top of the sixth thanks to RBI singles from Derek Fisher and Jose Godoy, but the offense was not able to pick itself back up in the seventh to make a comeback. The loss in game one to the Clippers brought the Saints losing streak to six in a row. Game 2 St. Paul 4, Columbus 5 (8 Innings) Box Score SP: Dereck Rodriguez - 4 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K HR: Curtis Terry (4) Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-3, R, BB), Curtis Terry (2-4, R, HR, RBI (16), K) Dereck Rodriguez was on the mound for the start in Game 2 for the Saints and his afternoon on the mound lasted an inning shorter than Ober's. The Clippers hitters were able to find the location where many of Rodriguez’s pitches were heading, accounting for seven hits and three runs, all of which were scored in the bottom of the first. As he cooled off from a rough first inning, the Saints' offense put two runs on the board in the top of the second thanks to RBI singles from David Banuelos and Ernie Yake to bring themselves within a run of the Clippers. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth when Saint's first baseman Curtis Terry crushed a two-run home run to give the Saints their first lead of the day at 4-3. The Saints had the lead going into the bottom of the seventh to close the game out and snap their losing streak. However, the Clippers were able to tie the game up and force extra innings thanks to a game-tying home run from second baseman Tyler Freeman off of Trevor Megill. The Saints could not amount any runs for a lead in the top of the eighth, the game went into the bottom half of the inning with Megill still on the mound. That worked in favor of the Clippers as they walked off Megill on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Oscar Gonzalez. The second loss in the doubleheader brings the Saints losing streak to seven straight. They will look to break the losing streak on the road Tuesday against the Omaha Storm for their first matchup of the season. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita, Northwest Arkansas Canceled The Wind Surge’s series finale against Northwest Arkansas on the road was canceled due to rain. The game will not be made up for future dates as the teams do not meet again during the season’s first half. Casey Legumina was scheduled to pitch for the Wind Surge on Sunday but will piggyback in relief on Tuesday for Matt Canterino who is scheduled to start for the Wind Surge. Wind Surge catcher Andrew Bechtold and Michael Helman had seven-game hitting streaks going into Sunday’s game which they still keep and have a chance to extend on Tuesday against the Springfield Cardinals at home. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Peoria 3 Box Score SP: John Stankiewicz 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K HR: Alerick Soularie (2) Multi-hit games: Soularie (2-3, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI (8), BB, K) The Kernels completed their final game against the Chiefs on Sunday winning in a 6-3 final and taking the series five to one against Peoria. The 6-3 victory for the Kernels was thanks in major part to second baseman Alerick Soularie, who scored three of the six runs for the Kernels and drove in four, finishing the day with his best offensive performance of the season so far. John Stankiewicz got the start for the Kernels making his first start of the season for them after spending all of April in Ft. Myers and making his Kernels debut out of the bullpen a week earlier. Stankiewicz pitched five solid innings for the Kernels allowing two earned runs on seven hits and only one walk while striking out five. In the four innings to follow, the Kernels bullpen only allowed three base runners on a hit, a walk, and an error. The Kernels will return home for a two-week homestand on Tuesday playing their first series against the Lake County Captains. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 6, Palm Beach 0 Box Score SP: Marco Raya 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, SB (7), RBI (9)), Noah Miller (2-5, 2 R, K), Emmanuel Rodriguez (2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI (14), SB (7), BB, K), Kyle Schmidt (2-4, RBI (14)) The Mighty Mussels extended their winning streak to seven games Sunday afternoon completing a six-game sweep over the Palm Beach Cardinals with a shutout. The six-game sweep over the Cardinals became the first-ever six-game series sweep by the Mighty Mussels in franchise history. Marco Raya made his fourth start and threw his second scoreless outing of the season completing four innings in the frame. Raya only allowed one base runner in his four innings of work with a one-out walk in the top of the first. Following Raya in the Mussels shutout was Jaylen Nowlin making his seventh relief appearance of the season. Nowlin went three innings for the Mussels allowing only three base runners on a hit, walk and hit by pitch and registered four strikeouts. The final pitcher to come into the game for the Mighty Mussels Malik Barrington who recorded a six-out save for the Mussels. Barrington did surrender three hits in his two innings of work but retired five of the six outs he needed via strikeout. The Mussels offense had a slow start to the game as it was scoreless through five and a half innings. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Mussels got the offense going thanks to an RBI single from Kyle Schmidt that scored Emmanuel Rodriguez. The Mussels added more insurance runs in the seventh with an RBI single from Mikey Perez and a bases-loaded walk from Kala’i Rosario. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Jake Rucker had an RBI double scoring Luis Baez and later in the inning, Emmanuel Rodriguez had a bases-clearing triple that brought the score to 6-0. The Mussels will begin their next series on the road Tuesday at Clearwater with a semi-double header. The first game Tuesday is the resumption of a suspended game from May 1 that will start in the top of the 11th inning tied 4-4. The regularly scheduled game against Clearwater will start a half-hour after the suspended game’s conclusion. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Hitter of the Day – Alerick Soularie (Cedar Rapids) - 2-3, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI (8), BB, K 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 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 0-3 #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI (14), SB (7), BB, K #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2 R, K #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4 TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS All Twins Minor League Affiliates are off on Monday and will resume their games on Tuesday, May 17. The only Monday in which there will be minor-league games is July 4th (and some for the Saints in September). St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35 PM CST) - TBD Springfield @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - Matt Canterino Lake Country @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Clearwater Game 1, Resuming May 1 Suspended Game (4:00 PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Clearwater Game 2 (5:30 PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games. View full article
  4. Alex Kirilloff's first stretch in the majors (not counting his postseason debut in 2020) was a great example of why you shouldn't put too much stock into results over a modest sampling of at-bats, at least without taking a deeper look. He started out his career in an 0-for-15 slump, but it was clear to anyone watching that Kirilloff was hardly overmatched. He wasn't striking out and when he connected he was driving the ball. We all knew the hits were going to come. And they did, in a hurry. The outfielder broke out with a nine-game hitting streak that included three doubles and four home runs. But during that stretch – on May 3rd, while sliding into second on one of those doubles – Kirilloff hurt his wrist. And since then nothing has really been the same. He kept playing for a couple more months but managed only 13 extra-base hits in 46 games the rest of the way before undergoing surgery in July. The hope was that this procedure would correct the wrist issue while also giving him plenty of time to rehab and be ready for this 2022 season. Unfortunately, it hasn't played out like that. At no point this year has Kirilloff really looked like himself. He opened the season in a 1-for-17 slump and unlike that opening drought from last year, this one carried no signs of being a mirage. He admitted his wrist was still causing him "a lot of pain" while swinging and went on the injured list, receiving a cortisone shot. Since returning, little has changed. Statcast, which measures the quality and characteristics of batted balls, paints an almost incomprehensibly grim picture of Kirilloff's performance. His highest exit velocity all year is 100.8 MPH, which puts him in the 9th percentile of MLB hitters for Max AV. Last year he topped that number 35 times. His average exit velocity is down to 85 MPH from 91 last year. He has recorded zero barrels all season, meaning he basically has not once truly squared a ball up. Kirilloff's launch angle is what really tells the story. It's at -14.1 degrees this year, which means he is basically hitting everything directly into the ground. The extreme nature of that figure cannot be overstated – there is not a single qualified MLB player with a negative launch angle this season, much less that deep in the red. Last year there was one player in the negative (Raimel Tapia of the Rockies at -4.4). It's unheard of. Kirilloff's swing is completely broken and that is especially hard to see from a player of his natural talent, who was showing glimpses of letting that talent shine. Kirilloff says he's never been able to swing pain-free since the surgery, and he now sounds like he's just trying to cope with this new reality. "There's still discomfort, and he thinks that his swing does feel different from how it did before the surgery," wrote Do-Hyoung Park for MLB.com. "He's just not able to pinpoint the exact ways in which it feels different. It might be physical. It might be mental. It's likely some combination of both." I wish I could feel confident he was going to head to Triple-A and figure things out in short order. But Kirilloff is just so far from where he needs to be, and the path to getting there is so unclear. Playing in a doubleheader for the Saints on Sunday, he notched four hits – all singles. The former standout slugger still has yet to collect his first extra-base hit through 69 plate appearances in the majors and minors. The Twins need his bat at its full potency. Kirilloff can be a pivotal difference-maker for this lineup, as without him they are severely lacking for left-handed power. They need this swing back: Is it still within him? The 24-year-old is going to try to find something that works over the coming weeks at St. Paul. If another month or so passes without the power starting to manifest, you have to wonder if they'll turn to Plan B: another surgery. Park mentioned in his article that a procedure could be done to create more space between bones where Kirilloff's cartilage has worn away, contributing to the discomfort. He added that this surgery is "more invasive and involves shortening his ulna altogether by breaking and cutting out a section of the bone." Sounds unpleasant and undesirable. But we're now basically sorting through bad scenarios to land on the least bad. And in the meantime, Kirilloff – who already lost a full year of his career to Tommy John surgery – is watching his prime playing days pass by while he wrestles with, in his words, "one long, continuous puzzle to try to figure out."
  5. TRANSACTIONS Following the Twins' game on Sunday, OF Mark Contreras was optioned to St. Paul. Presumably, Kyle Garlick will come off of the Injured List before the Monday series against the A's. SAINTS SENTINEL Game 1 St. Paul 3, Columbus 5 Box Score SP: Bailey Ober - 5 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 0 BB, 7 K HR: Jermaine Palacios (2) Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-4), Kyle Garlick (2-4, R, K), Caleb Hamilton (2-2, BB) The Saints played two on Sunday afternoon against the Columbus Clippers. The first game was started by Bailey Ober as he made his rehab start with the team. Ober totaled 72 pitches through five innings for the Saints but did not have the best return to the mound on Sunday. Ober gave up five runs (4 earned) on four hits. He struck out seven without giving up any walks. Even with all of Ober’s efforts, the Saints offense was not able to come through with run support in Game 1 to give themselves a victory. Alex Kirilloff did have a good return to the Saints on Sunday as he went 2-for-4 as the designated hitter in the first game. The Saints mounted a comeback in the top of the sixth thanks to RBI singles from Derek Fisher and Jose Godoy, but the offense was not able to pick itself back up in the seventh to make a comeback. The loss in game one to the Clippers brought the Saints losing streak to six in a row. Game 2 St. Paul 4, Columbus 5 (8 Innings) Box Score SP: Dereck Rodriguez - 4 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 K HR: Curtis Terry (4) Multi-hit games: Alex Kirilloff (2-3, R, BB), Curtis Terry (2-4, R, HR, RBI (16), K) Dereck Rodriguez was on the mound for the start in Game 2 for the Saints and his afternoon on the mound lasted an inning shorter than Ober's. The Clippers hitters were able to find the location where many of Rodriguez’s pitches were heading, accounting for seven hits and three runs, all of which were scored in the bottom of the first. As he cooled off from a rough first inning, the Saints' offense put two runs on the board in the top of the second thanks to RBI singles from David Banuelos and Ernie Yake to bring themselves within a run of the Clippers. The game remained scoreless until the top of the fifth when Saint's first baseman Curtis Terry crushed a two-run home run to give the Saints their first lead of the day at 4-3. The Saints had the lead going into the bottom of the seventh to close the game out and snap their losing streak. However, the Clippers were able to tie the game up and force extra innings thanks to a game-tying home run from second baseman Tyler Freeman off of Trevor Megill. The Saints could not amount any runs for a lead in the top of the eighth, the game went into the bottom half of the inning with Megill still on the mound. That worked in favor of the Clippers as they walked off Megill on a sacrifice fly by right fielder Oscar Gonzalez. The second loss in the doubleheader brings the Saints losing streak to seven straight. They will look to break the losing streak on the road Tuesday against the Omaha Storm for their first matchup of the season. WIND SURGE WISDOM Wichita, Northwest Arkansas Canceled The Wind Surge’s series finale against Northwest Arkansas on the road was canceled due to rain. The game will not be made up for future dates as the teams do not meet again during the season’s first half. Casey Legumina was scheduled to pitch for the Wind Surge on Sunday but will piggyback in relief on Tuesday for Matt Canterino who is scheduled to start for the Wind Surge. Wind Surge catcher Andrew Bechtold and Michael Helman had seven-game hitting streaks going into Sunday’s game which they still keep and have a chance to extend on Tuesday against the Springfield Cardinals at home. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 6, Peoria 3 Box Score SP: John Stankiewicz 5 IP, 7 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 5 K HR: Alerick Soularie (2) Multi-hit games: Soularie (2-3, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI (8), BB, K) The Kernels completed their final game against the Chiefs on Sunday winning in a 6-3 final and taking the series five to one against Peoria. The 6-3 victory for the Kernels was thanks in major part to second baseman Alerick Soularie, who scored three of the six runs for the Kernels and drove in four, finishing the day with his best offensive performance of the season so far. John Stankiewicz got the start for the Kernels making his first start of the season for them after spending all of April in Ft. Myers and making his Kernels debut out of the bullpen a week earlier. Stankiewicz pitched five solid innings for the Kernels allowing two earned runs on seven hits and only one walk while striking out five. In the four innings to follow, the Kernels bullpen only allowed three base runners on a hit, a walk, and an error. The Kernels will return home for a two-week homestand on Tuesday playing their first series against the Lake County Captains. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 6, Palm Beach 0 Box Score SP: Marco Raya 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jake Rucker (3-5, 2 R, 2 2B, SB (7), RBI (9)), Noah Miller (2-5, 2 R, K), Emmanuel Rodriguez (2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI (14), SB (7), BB, K), Kyle Schmidt (2-4, RBI (14)) The Mighty Mussels extended their winning streak to seven games Sunday afternoon completing a six-game sweep over the Palm Beach Cardinals with a shutout. The six-game sweep over the Cardinals became the first-ever six-game series sweep by the Mighty Mussels in franchise history. Marco Raya made his fourth start and threw his second scoreless outing of the season completing four innings in the frame. Raya only allowed one base runner in his four innings of work with a one-out walk in the top of the first. Following Raya in the Mussels shutout was Jaylen Nowlin making his seventh relief appearance of the season. Nowlin went three innings for the Mussels allowing only three base runners on a hit, walk and hit by pitch and registered four strikeouts. The final pitcher to come into the game for the Mighty Mussels Malik Barrington who recorded a six-out save for the Mussels. Barrington did surrender three hits in his two innings of work but retired five of the six outs he needed via strikeout. The Mussels offense had a slow start to the game as it was scoreless through five and a half innings. Then in the bottom of the sixth, the Mussels got the offense going thanks to an RBI single from Kyle Schmidt that scored Emmanuel Rodriguez. The Mussels added more insurance runs in the seventh with an RBI single from Mikey Perez and a bases-loaded walk from Kala’i Rosario. Then in the bottom of the eighth, Jake Rucker had an RBI double scoring Luis Baez and later in the inning, Emmanuel Rodriguez had a bases-clearing triple that brought the score to 6-0. The Mussels will begin their next series on the road Tuesday at Clearwater with a semi-double header. The first game Tuesday is the resumption of a suspended game from May 1 that will start in the top of the 11th inning tied 4-4. The regularly scheduled game against Clearwater will start a half-hour after the suspended game’s conclusion. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Hitter of the Day – Alerick Soularie (Cedar Rapids) - 2-3, 3 R, 3B, HR, 4 RBI (8), BB, K 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 - Royce Lewis (Minnesota) - 0-3 #3 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 6 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 5 K #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 2-4, R, 3B, 2 RBI (14), SB (7), BB, K #11 - Noah Miller (Ft. Myers) - 2-5, 2 R, K #15 - Marco Raya (Ft. Myers) - 4 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 2 K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 0-4 TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS All Twins Minor League Affiliates are off on Monday and will resume their games on Tuesday, May 17. The only Monday in which there will be minor-league games is July 4th (and some for the Saints in September). St. Paul @ Omaha (6:35 PM CST) - TBD Springfield @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - Matt Canterino Lake Country @ Cedar Rapids (6:35 PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Clearwater Game 1, Resuming May 1 Suspended Game (4:00 PM CST) - TBD Fort Myers @ Clearwater Game 2 (5:30 PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  6. 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
  7. The Twins faced the Cleveland Guardians and pitcher Shane Bieber for the first time this season. Bieber, was looking for a bounce back from his most-recent start. The Twins were looking to start another winning streak after only winning one of their last five games. But a slow-moving game, strong pitching, and stranded baserunners ended in the Guardians favor as the Twins lost in extra innings. Box Score SP: Dustin Smeltzer: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (70 pitches, 50 strikes (71%)) Home Runs: Gio Urshela (2) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.133), Jhoan Duran (.128), Gary Sanchez (.102) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Makin’ Moves Following Thursday night's game, the Twins announced that they would be bringing up a pitcher to start Friday's game. The pitching staff has been run through and since Wednesday, the clubhouse has lost five pitchers (two starters and two relievers) with either ailment or injury leaving the bullpen to manage the past few games. There was lots of inquiry and speculation, but several fans were elated to find out that Devin Smeltzer would be returning to Target Field to start against the Cleveland Guardians and Shane Bieber. To make room for Smeltzer, first baseman Miguel Sano was sent to the 60-day Injured List (left knee, torn meniscus). Sano is not expected to make it back to the club until at least July, depending on how rehab goes. Outfielder/first baseman Alex Kirilloff was optioned to St. Paul. Kirilloff has been struggling this season with his recurring wrist injury, and while he sounds optimistic on the recovery and return, his hitting for the season between IL-stints has been .172 over ten games (5-for-29) and only two runs scored. Kirilloff has one remaining option left after this transaction, the hope is that he will get more at-bats and a chance to enhance his swing as his wrist improves. Smeltzer, who lost most of the 2021 season with elbow inflammation eventually was sidelined in June with a herniated disc in his neck. Smeltzer has worked hard to get back into shape to get a chance again to start for the Twins. He had a fantastic spring training performance. Devin Smeltzer has thrown in five games and while he carries a 3.86 ERA the stat doesn't tell the whole story of how his discipline has changed. Smeltzer has seen a total of 88 batters, only allowing nine runs in 21 innings, and has struck out 18 of batters faced. Smeltzer gained muscle and command since his last start with Minnesota, looked like his old self, maybe even better. Most of his major-league starts have been against Cleveland. The lefty had a quick first inning striking out one, Smeltzer was charged with just one run over five innings of work. The bullpen came in to relieve Smeltzer and continued to keep the score low, exercising every arm option they had at their disposal to keep the Guardians from adding a run. Battle of the Bats The Guardians did get on the board early in the second when Owen Miller scored on a Franmil Reyes single to center field, but Smeltzer held the Guardians to one run and only three hits in his five-inning start back with the Twins. In the first three innings for the Twins, Bieber struck out four and worked inside to right-handed hitters making it nearly impossible to hit off of him. The bottom of the third, the Twins loaded the bases with Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Gary Sanchez, bringing up Max Kepler with two outs and a full count. Bieber threw a high cutter to strike out Kepler and leave the bases loaded. In the fourth inning, the bats seemed to start waking up. It looked like it was going to turn around when Gio Urshela stepped into the batter's box and hit a home run to center field to get the Twins on the board and tie up the game. The fifth inning was one of the more disappointing ones with bases loaded and nobody out, after just going through the same thing in the previous inning. Urshela, whose prior at-bat was a solo home run, hit a chopper that turned into a double play, followed by Arraez lining out to third, stranding three runners again. The Twins have a knack for leaving players stranded when in scoring position. Royce Lewis attempted to help out the Twins in the sixth inning with two bunt attempts to bring home a run. The Twins lineup doesn’t bunt nearly as much as other teams and for players like Kepler who are constantly hitting into the shift, this writer thinks bunting would be a greater offensive weapon to assist the Twins to more than one-run wins, but clearly tonight it didn't work. The Twins organization doesn't bunt, and for some, laying out a bunt with Royce Lewis, the Twins number one prospect, seemed odd. Bitter End The tenth inning started out with drama after The Twins and Guardians fought through five scoreless innings. Manager Rocco Baldelli got tossed for arguing with the umpires after Andres Gimenez was granted second base after colliding with Jose Miranda (called for interference rounding first base after a hit). To add to the already mounting stress, during all the excitement, the Guardians were able to bring home Ernie Clement, giving the Guardians a 2-1 advantage. As Jharel Cotton worked his way through the rotation, Myles Straw singled into right, scoring Gimenez before closing out the inning. Urshela, who had two RBIs tonight, helped the Twins in their shot in the tenth inning as he was able to beat out an infield single and bring home Gary Sanchez who was posted on second base as the extra-innings runner.. Where there was a spark of hope, it was quickly put out as the tying run was on base was left stranded once again when Nick Gordon struck out to end the game. While it wasn't the way fans or the Twins wanted to end the game, it was intense and exciting and the Twins still have a chance to take the series before heading out on the road. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with the Guardians tomorrow at 1:10pm before heading out to Oakland for a three game series followed by a stop by Kansas City to play the Royals. Pitching matchup tomorrow: Sunday 1:10 pm CST: Joe Ryan (3-2, 2.56 ERA) vs RHP Tristan McKenzie (2-2, 2.76 ERA) Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Cotton 58 0 0 0 17 75 Jax 0 0 0 50 0 50 Stashak 0 0 46 0 0 46 Thielbar 3 0 23 0 15 41 Duffey 0 0 33 0 5 38 Cano 0 0 36 0 0 36 Pagán 0 0 0 22 9 31 Duran 0 0 0 10 12 22 Smith 0 0 0 4 15 19 View full article
  8. Box Score SP: Dustin Smeltzer: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 8 K (70 pitches, 50 strikes (71%)) Home Runs: Gio Urshela (2) Top 3 WPA: Devin Smeltzer (.133), Jhoan Duran (.128), Gary Sanchez (.102) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Makin’ Moves Following Thursday night's game, the Twins announced that they would be bringing up a pitcher to start Friday's game. The pitching staff has been run through and since Wednesday, the clubhouse has lost five pitchers (two starters and two relievers) with either ailment or injury leaving the bullpen to manage the past few games. There was lots of inquiry and speculation, but several fans were elated to find out that Devin Smeltzer would be returning to Target Field to start against the Cleveland Guardians and Shane Bieber. To make room for Smeltzer, first baseman Miguel Sano was sent to the 60-day Injured List (left knee, torn meniscus). Sano is not expected to make it back to the club until at least July, depending on how rehab goes. Outfielder/first baseman Alex Kirilloff was optioned to St. Paul. Kirilloff has been struggling this season with his recurring wrist injury, and while he sounds optimistic on the recovery and return, his hitting for the season between IL-stints has been .172 over ten games (5-for-29) and only two runs scored. Kirilloff has one remaining option left after this transaction, the hope is that he will get more at-bats and a chance to enhance his swing as his wrist improves. Smeltzer, who lost most of the 2021 season with elbow inflammation eventually was sidelined in June with a herniated disc in his neck. Smeltzer has worked hard to get back into shape to get a chance again to start for the Twins. He had a fantastic spring training performance. Devin Smeltzer has thrown in five games and while he carries a 3.86 ERA the stat doesn't tell the whole story of how his discipline has changed. Smeltzer has seen a total of 88 batters, only allowing nine runs in 21 innings, and has struck out 18 of batters faced. Smeltzer gained muscle and command since his last start with Minnesota, looked like his old self, maybe even better. Most of his major-league starts have been against Cleveland. The lefty had a quick first inning striking out one, Smeltzer was charged with just one run over five innings of work. The bullpen came in to relieve Smeltzer and continued to keep the score low, exercising every arm option they had at their disposal to keep the Guardians from adding a run. Battle of the Bats The Guardians did get on the board early in the second when Owen Miller scored on a Franmil Reyes single to center field, but Smeltzer held the Guardians to one run and only three hits in his five-inning start back with the Twins. In the first three innings for the Twins, Bieber struck out four and worked inside to right-handed hitters making it nearly impossible to hit off of him. The bottom of the third, the Twins loaded the bases with Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, and Gary Sanchez, bringing up Max Kepler with two outs and a full count. Bieber threw a high cutter to strike out Kepler and leave the bases loaded. In the fourth inning, the bats seemed to start waking up. It looked like it was going to turn around when Gio Urshela stepped into the batter's box and hit a home run to center field to get the Twins on the board and tie up the game. The fifth inning was one of the more disappointing ones with bases loaded and nobody out, after just going through the same thing in the previous inning. Urshela, whose prior at-bat was a solo home run, hit a chopper that turned into a double play, followed by Arraez lining out to third, stranding three runners again. The Twins have a knack for leaving players stranded when in scoring position. Royce Lewis attempted to help out the Twins in the sixth inning with two bunt attempts to bring home a run. The Twins lineup doesn’t bunt nearly as much as other teams and for players like Kepler who are constantly hitting into the shift, this writer thinks bunting would be a greater offensive weapon to assist the Twins to more than one-run wins, but clearly tonight it didn't work. The Twins organization doesn't bunt, and for some, laying out a bunt with Royce Lewis, the Twins number one prospect, seemed odd. Bitter End The tenth inning started out with drama after The Twins and Guardians fought through five scoreless innings. Manager Rocco Baldelli got tossed for arguing with the umpires after Andres Gimenez was granted second base after colliding with Jose Miranda (called for interference rounding first base after a hit). To add to the already mounting stress, during all the excitement, the Guardians were able to bring home Ernie Clement, giving the Guardians a 2-1 advantage. As Jharel Cotton worked his way through the rotation, Myles Straw singled into right, scoring Gimenez before closing out the inning. Urshela, who had two RBIs tonight, helped the Twins in their shot in the tenth inning as he was able to beat out an infield single and bring home Gary Sanchez who was posted on second base as the extra-innings runner.. Where there was a spark of hope, it was quickly put out as the tying run was on base was left stranded once again when Nick Gordon struck out to end the game. While it wasn't the way fans or the Twins wanted to end the game, it was intense and exciting and the Twins still have a chance to take the series before heading out on the road. What’s Next? The Twins finish out their series with the Guardians tomorrow at 1:10pm before heading out to Oakland for a three game series followed by a stop by Kansas City to play the Royals. Pitching matchup tomorrow: Sunday 1:10 pm CST: Joe Ryan (3-2, 2.56 ERA) vs RHP Tristan McKenzie (2-2, 2.76 ERA) Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Cotton 58 0 0 0 17 75 Jax 0 0 0 50 0 50 Stashak 0 0 46 0 0 46 Thielbar 3 0 23 0 15 41 Duffey 0 0 33 0 5 38 Cano 0 0 36 0 0 36 Pagán 0 0 0 22 9 31 Duran 0 0 0 10 12 22 Smith 0 0 0 4 15 19
  9. Back in 2019 Major League Baseball ranked Alex Kirilloff as the ninth-best prospect in baseball. He is a former first-round pick that hit for power and average, and played two defensive positions pretty well. A driven and likable kid, it seemed fair to bet on his way through the system. Now at the big league level, and playing through a nagging injury, it’s tough not to question what’s next. Across nearly 300 minor league games, Alex Kirilloff performed admirably. He had an .865 OPS and sat at a solid .317 batting average. Despite missing time due to Tommy John surgery in 2017, and then having minor league action shut down in 2020, Kirilloff earned his call through consistent performance and debuted on September 30, 2020. Thrust into a postseason game for his first big league action, it was hardly an ideal scenario. Maturity has always been something of a significant credit for Kirilloff, and seeing him handle that moment did nothing to change the belief. He’s battled through adversity previously, and that’s the crossroads we’re coming to once again. Last season Kirilloff got off to a slow start but did rip four homers in his first 11 starts. The average wasn’t there, but a .571 slugging percentage was buoyed by three doubles and four dingers. Then it happened... the dreaded wrist injury. A cortisone shot was administered, and he returned to the lineup on May 21, missing just 18 days. From that point forward, in a string of 47 games through July 19, Kirilloff slugged just .387 and hit another four homers. He was the same advanced hitter at the plate, but his body left him no ability to execute. Minnesota opted to have Kirilloff undergo season-ending wrist surgery last summer and the hope was that he’d be ready for spring training. Showing up this season, Kirilloff noted that he shut things down during the offseason due to pain, but then seemed ready to go in March. Once again, he got off to a slow start, and then it was announced that the wrist was again problematic. Sent out on a rehab stint with the Saints following another cortisone shot, Kirilloff suggested the pain still isn’t gone. Unfortunately, the results haven’t changed either. Playing in just seven of the Twins' 29 games this year, Kirilloff is a dreadful 2-for-22, and he’s yet to record an extra-base hit. He’s got a 10/0 K/BB and owns a -31 OPS+. It’s an extremely small sample size, but it’s nothing short of awful. For a guy that has always been seen as an advanced hitter, it’s obvious this is merely a shell of the player we once expected. So, what do the Twins and Kirilloff do from here? That’s a great question, and one without a straightforward answer. When talking to him following a Saints' victory last week, he shared that a check-in with the doctor who performed his surgery revealed nothing new or noteworthy. The wrist was said to be structurally sound and a follow-up procedure wasn’t seen as imminent. It was hoped that this cortisone shot would provide relief, although the announcement of continued pain or discomfort would suggest that hasn’t happened. Following a season where both parties decided to pull the plug and go under the knife, it’s hard to suggest battling through it remains a good process. Right now, both Kirilloff and the Twins probably stand to benefit from a wait-and-see approach. Maybe things take a turn for the better and further healing happens. Maybe some settling in at the plate turns the tide in production. Thrust back into the lineup after a lackluster 5-for-22 rehab assignment at Triple-A though, confidence for all involved has to be waning. There’s no denying that Kirilloff is among the brightest to come through the system in recent memory. It’s frustrating watching him play through something not allowing his abilities to shine. Here’s to hoping there’s a way for positive progress resulting in sustained health, and soon, because no one wants to continue seeing this level of production. View full article
  10. Across nearly 300 minor league games, Alex Kirilloff performed admirably. He had an .865 OPS and sat at a solid .317 batting average. Despite missing time due to Tommy John surgery in 2017, and then having minor league action shut down in 2020, Kirilloff earned his call through consistent performance and debuted on September 30, 2020. Thrust into a postseason game for his first big league action, it was hardly an ideal scenario. Maturity has always been something of a significant credit for Kirilloff, and seeing him handle that moment did nothing to change the belief. He’s battled through adversity previously, and that’s the crossroads we’re coming to once again. Last season Kirilloff got off to a slow start but did rip four homers in his first 11 starts. The average wasn’t there, but a .571 slugging percentage was buoyed by three doubles and four dingers. Then it happened... the dreaded wrist injury. A cortisone shot was administered, and he returned to the lineup on May 21, missing just 18 days. From that point forward, in a string of 47 games through July 19, Kirilloff slugged just .387 and hit another four homers. He was the same advanced hitter at the plate, but his body left him no ability to execute. Minnesota opted to have Kirilloff undergo season-ending wrist surgery last summer and the hope was that he’d be ready for spring training. Showing up this season, Kirilloff noted that he shut things down during the offseason due to pain, but then seemed ready to go in March. Once again, he got off to a slow start, and then it was announced that the wrist was again problematic. Sent out on a rehab stint with the Saints following another cortisone shot, Kirilloff suggested the pain still isn’t gone. Unfortunately, the results haven’t changed either. Playing in just seven of the Twins' 29 games this year, Kirilloff is a dreadful 2-for-22, and he’s yet to record an extra-base hit. He’s got a 10/0 K/BB and owns a -31 OPS+. It’s an extremely small sample size, but it’s nothing short of awful. For a guy that has always been seen as an advanced hitter, it’s obvious this is merely a shell of the player we once expected. So, what do the Twins and Kirilloff do from here? That’s a great question, and one without a straightforward answer. When talking to him following a Saints' victory last week, he shared that a check-in with the doctor who performed his surgery revealed nothing new or noteworthy. The wrist was said to be structurally sound and a follow-up procedure wasn’t seen as imminent. It was hoped that this cortisone shot would provide relief, although the announcement of continued pain or discomfort would suggest that hasn’t happened. Following a season where both parties decided to pull the plug and go under the knife, it’s hard to suggest battling through it remains a good process. Right now, both Kirilloff and the Twins probably stand to benefit from a wait-and-see approach. Maybe things take a turn for the better and further healing happens. Maybe some settling in at the plate turns the tide in production. Thrust back into the lineup after a lackluster 5-for-22 rehab assignment at Triple-A though, confidence for all involved has to be waning. There’s no denying that Kirilloff is among the brightest to come through the system in recent memory. It’s frustrating watching him play through something not allowing his abilities to shine. Here’s to hoping there’s a way for positive progress resulting in sustained health, and soon, because no one wants to continue seeing this level of production.
  11. Last week Minnesota Twins first basemen Miguel Sano underwent knee surgery to repair a torn meniscus. Expected to be out a handful of weeks, we’re looking at what’s likely the end of the line for the former top prospect. As he hits free agency this offseason, what is to be made of his Twins career? Miguel Sano is under contract through the 2022 season and has a $14 million team option for 2023. Carrying just a $2.75 million buyout, it’s all but certain the front office will move on from Sano. Once ranked as high as the 4th best prospect across all of baseball by MLB.com, Sano now is a big leaguer with nearly 700 games under his belt. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, Sano’s initial contract was one of the most contentious topics in the sport at the time. From questions about his true age to decisions regarding which team he’d agree with, a full feature-length film was made about the process. Coming stateside in 2010, Sano has been a part of the Twins organization for over a decade. His minor league numbers were always gaudy. Tabbed a shortstop only through initial athleticism, but with the understanding future size would move him to a corner, Sano put up a .932 OPS in 491 minor league games. Debuting with the Twins on July 2, 2015, Sano became a fixture at the hot corner. He was asked to play right field in an odd move just a few seasons later and has since settled in holding down first base. Across 691 Major League games, Sano has launched 162 career home runs and posted an .809 OPS. His 117 OPS+ is above league average, and while he’s tallied over 1,000 strikeouts, there’s no denying his bat is one of the most explosive in the game. Sano finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2015, being beaten out only by Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. He made the All-Star Game in 2017 and also competed in the Home Run Derby. Never a strong defender, Sano has been passable at best in the field. Aside from the abomination that was his right field experiment, he’s been far from a butcher but hardly sniffed any sort of accolades. He’s taken to the new role at first base well and has shown a level of athleticism that originally highlighted the opportunity to succeed at the hot corner. He’s fluctuated on the scale and that has also led to both criticism and improved opportunities for success. It’s foolish to believe Sano has played his last game for Minnesota, there will be opportunities when he returns. What capacity the opportunities come from remain entirely linked to those currently holding things down. Jose Miranda is a top prospect with a good bat. Luis Arraez is a dependable utility player. Alex Kirilloff was supposed to be the next mainstay in Minnesota’s lineup. Any combination of those three could take at-bats away from Sano, but at least two of the three have plenty of earning yet to be done. When the dust settles the expectation should be that Sano tacks on a few more home runs. While his production leaves plenty to be desired right now, having just a .379 OPS, there was good reason to believe a patented outburst was coming. A streaky type of player that can break out in a big way, Sano was still looking for the other shoe to drop early on in 2022. There shouldn’t be a career-altering amount of change coming the rest of the way for Sano, however, and that opens the door to evaluation. What has Sano been for the Minnesota Twins? A former top 10 prospect across all of baseball puts up nearly 200 homers and an .800 OPS by the time he turns 28 and that gets evaluated how? His work ethic, character, and play style will likely always drag him further down for some, but have the positives been enough to find yourself happy with the overall trajectory? This is where you chime in. Was Miguel Sano a bust for the Twins, or did he do enough to justify the hype? View full article
  12. Miguel Sano is under contract through the 2022 season and has a $14 million team option for 2023. Carrying just a $2.75 million buyout, it’s all but certain the front office will move on from Sano. Once ranked as high as the 4th best prospect across all of baseball by MLB.com, Sano now is a big leaguer with nearly 700 games under his belt. Signed out of the Dominican Republic as a teenager, Sano’s initial contract was one of the most contentious topics in the sport at the time. From questions about his true age to decisions regarding which team he’d agree with, a full feature-length film was made about the process. Coming stateside in 2010, Sano has been a part of the Twins organization for over a decade. His minor league numbers were always gaudy. Tabbed a shortstop only through initial athleticism, but with the understanding future size would move him to a corner, Sano put up a .932 OPS in 491 minor league games. Debuting with the Twins on July 2, 2015, Sano became a fixture at the hot corner. He was asked to play right field in an odd move just a few seasons later and has since settled in holding down first base. Across 691 Major League games, Sano has launched 162 career home runs and posted an .809 OPS. His 117 OPS+ is above league average, and while he’s tallied over 1,000 strikeouts, there’s no denying his bat is one of the most explosive in the game. Sano finished third in the Rookie of the Year voting back in 2015, being beaten out only by Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor. He made the All-Star Game in 2017 and also competed in the Home Run Derby. Never a strong defender, Sano has been passable at best in the field. Aside from the abomination that was his right field experiment, he’s been far from a butcher but hardly sniffed any sort of accolades. He’s taken to the new role at first base well and has shown a level of athleticism that originally highlighted the opportunity to succeed at the hot corner. He’s fluctuated on the scale and that has also led to both criticism and improved opportunities for success. It’s foolish to believe Sano has played his last game for Minnesota, there will be opportunities when he returns. What capacity the opportunities come from remain entirely linked to those currently holding things down. Jose Miranda is a top prospect with a good bat. Luis Arraez is a dependable utility player. Alex Kirilloff was supposed to be the next mainstay in Minnesota’s lineup. Any combination of those three could take at-bats away from Sano, but at least two of the three have plenty of earning yet to be done. When the dust settles the expectation should be that Sano tacks on a few more home runs. While his production leaves plenty to be desired right now, having just a .379 OPS, there was good reason to believe a patented outburst was coming. A streaky type of player that can break out in a big way, Sano was still looking for the other shoe to drop early on in 2022. There shouldn’t be a career-altering amount of change coming the rest of the way for Sano, however, and that opens the door to evaluation. What has Sano been for the Minnesota Twins? A former top 10 prospect across all of baseball puts up nearly 200 homers and an .800 OPS by the time he turns 28 and that gets evaluated how? His work ethic, character, and play style will likely always drag him further down for some, but have the positives been enough to find yourself happy with the overall trajectory? This is where you chime in. Was Miguel Sano a bust for the Twins, or did he do enough to justify the hype?
  13. Miguel Sanó and Alex Kirilloff’s injuries have forced the Twins to be creative when it comes to first base. Should fans be concerned with Minnesota’s first base depth? Depth is critical when building a big-league roster, especially if a team is in contention. Minnesota planned on two players getting the bulk of the time at first base, but that plan has already needed to shift. Let’s examine what the Twins can do at first base if injuries continue to impact the roster. Injuries: Miguel Sanó, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s plan entering the season was to rotate through Sanó and Kirilloff at first base. Sanó was one of the AL’s worst defenders at first base last season, but his height helps him pull in errant throws. Sanó isn’t in the line-up for his defensive ability, as he has posted an OPS+ of 105 or higher in six of his seven big-league seasons. His recent knee injury pushed him to the IL, and this might be a good time for him to reset as he has a .379 OPS in 2022. If surgery is required, he may miss a significant chunk of the season. Kirilloff is currently rehabbing a wrist injury in St. Paul, but there is no timeline on when he will return to the team. It was clear that he wasn’t 100% healthy at the season’s start, as he went 1-for-17 before being put on the IL. Even with his rehab starts, Kirilloff has yet to collect an extra-base hit this season. Last season, he ranked very well on the defensive side of the ball at first base, but he needs to prove he is healthy before taking over a starting role. Plan B: Luis Arraez Minnesota shifted to Plan B, with Sano and Kirilloff out of the picture. Luis Arraez has taken over the everyday starting first base role even though he doesn’t fit the prototypical first baseman mold. Entering the 2022 season, Arraez had minimal professional experience at first base, but injuries have allowed him to shift from a utility role to a starter. He is below average at other defensive positions, so moving to first may help hide some of his defensive flaws. Plus, the Twins want his bat in the line-up as much as possible because he has posted his highest OPS+ since his rookie season. Arraez has dealt with knee issues in the past, so where would the team turn if he gets hurt? Other Options: Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Jose Miranda Twins manager Rocco Baldelli mentioned that other first base options include Urshela and Sanchez. Both players have combined for 10.0 defensive innings at first base during their big-league careers. It seems unlikely for Sanchez to make regular appearances at first since rosters dropped to 26-men, and the team is only carrying two catchers. Miranda might be the most likely player to see time at first as he has played 270 innings at first base throughout his minor league career. He’s one of the team’s best prospects, and this might be a way for him to play every day at the big-league level. Another name to watch at St. Paul is Curtis Terry, who the team signed to a minor league deal this winter. Terry made his big-league debut last season with the Rangers and went 4-for-45 with two doubles and 15 strikeouts. So far this season, he is hitting .261/.378/.464 (.842) with five doubles and three home runs. He is not on the 40-man roster, so it would likely take a long-term injury for him to get an opportunity. Do you feel the Twins need to worry about their first base depth? Can Arraez handle the position? Should Miranda take over at first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  14. Depth is critical when building a big-league roster, especially if a team is in contention. Minnesota planned on two players getting the bulk of the time at first base, but that plan has already needed to shift. Let’s examine what the Twins can do at first base if injuries continue to impact the roster. Injuries: Miguel Sanó, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota’s plan entering the season was to rotate through Sanó and Kirilloff at first base. Sanó was one of the AL’s worst defenders at first base last season, but his height helps him pull in errant throws. Sanó isn’t in the line-up for his defensive ability, as he has posted an OPS+ of 105 or higher in six of his seven big-league seasons. His recent knee injury pushed him to the IL, and this might be a good time for him to reset as he has a .379 OPS in 2022. If surgery is required, he may miss a significant chunk of the season. Kirilloff is currently rehabbing a wrist injury in St. Paul, but there is no timeline on when he will return to the team. It was clear that he wasn’t 100% healthy at the season’s start, as he went 1-for-17 before being put on the IL. Even with his rehab starts, Kirilloff has yet to collect an extra-base hit this season. Last season, he ranked very well on the defensive side of the ball at first base, but he needs to prove he is healthy before taking over a starting role. Plan B: Luis Arraez Minnesota shifted to Plan B, with Sano and Kirilloff out of the picture. Luis Arraez has taken over the everyday starting first base role even though he doesn’t fit the prototypical first baseman mold. Entering the 2022 season, Arraez had minimal professional experience at first base, but injuries have allowed him to shift from a utility role to a starter. He is below average at other defensive positions, so moving to first may help hide some of his defensive flaws. Plus, the Twins want his bat in the line-up as much as possible because he has posted his highest OPS+ since his rookie season. Arraez has dealt with knee issues in the past, so where would the team turn if he gets hurt? Other Options: Gio Urshela, Gary Sanchez, Jose Miranda Twins manager Rocco Baldelli mentioned that other first base options include Urshela and Sanchez. Both players have combined for 10.0 defensive innings at first base during their big-league careers. It seems unlikely for Sanchez to make regular appearances at first since rosters dropped to 26-men, and the team is only carrying two catchers. Miranda might be the most likely player to see time at first as he has played 270 innings at first base throughout his minor league career. He’s one of the team’s best prospects, and this might be a way for him to play every day at the big-league level. Another name to watch at St. Paul is Curtis Terry, who the team signed to a minor league deal this winter. Terry made his big-league debut last season with the Rangers and went 4-for-45 with two doubles and 15 strikeouts. So far this season, he is hitting .261/.378/.464 (.842) with five doubles and three home runs. He is not on the 40-man roster, so it would likely take a long-term injury for him to get an opportunity. Do you feel the Twins need to worry about their first base depth? Can Arraez handle the position? Should Miranda take over at first? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  15. Minnesota Twins prospect Matt Canterino delivered three no-hit innings for the third-consecutive outing. Can we award him a no-hitter even if the nine hitless innings stretch over three games? Let's just roll with it. Also featured in tonight's video are Dylan Bundy, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Sean Mooney and more.
  16. Minnesota Twins prospect Matt Canterino delivered three no-hit innings for the third-consecutive outing. Can we award him a no-hitter even if the nine hitless innings stretch over three games? Let's just roll with it. Also featured in tonight's video are Dylan Bundy, Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Sean Mooney and more. View full video
  17. Stopping by CHS Field today to cover the St. Paul Saints (it really is great that they’re right down the street from the Twins), there were two points of intrigue. The starting pitcher and left fielder are where fans of the big league club should draw their attention. 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. View full article
  18. The Minnesota Twins cruised to victory behind seven shutout innings from Joe Ryan and a pair of Max Kepler home runs tonight. Ryan Jeffers also homered. Other players featured in tonight's video include Carlos Correa, Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Yennier Cano, Royce Lewis, Austin Martin, Edouard Julien, Louie Varland, Casey Legumina, Will Holland and more.
  19. The Minnesota Twins cruised to victory behind seven shutout innings from Joe Ryan and a pair of Max Kepler home runs tonight. Ryan Jeffers also homered. Other players featured in tonight's video include Carlos Correa, Alex Kirilloff, Jose Miranda, Yennier Cano, Royce Lewis, Austin Martin, Edouard Julien, Louie Varland, Casey Legumina, Will Holland and more. View full video
  20. 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.
  21. Hits were hard to come by for Twins' affiliates on Tuesday, but they were still able to finish 2-2 on the day as a couple of the pitching staffs picked up the slack with strong efforts. A former top prospect was also back on the field for the first game of a rehab assignment with the St. Paul Saints. Keep reading to see how they and the rest of the Twins prospects fared in this week's series openers! 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! 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  22. 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!
  23. Baseball is hilarious sometimes. The Minnesota Twins walked off the Tigers ... maybe it's more appropriate to say the Tigers walked themselves off. It was quite the finish. Featured in tonight's video are Chris Paddack, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Dereck Rodriguez, Jharel Cotton, Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, Matt Wallner, Evan Sisk, Cody Laweryson, Aaron Sabato and more.
  24. Baseball is hilarious sometimes. The Minnesota Twins walked off the Tigers ... maybe it's more appropriate to say the Tigers walked themselves off. It was quite the finish. Featured in tonight's video are Chris Paddack, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Dereck Rodriguez, Jharel Cotton, Royce Lewis, Jose Miranda, Matt Wallner, Evan Sisk, Cody Laweryson, Aaron Sabato and more. View full video
  25. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Trevor Larnach in the first round of the 2018 Major League Baseball draft, much of the allure was due to the quality of contact. His exit velocities remained strong throughout the farm, and we’re seeing it now at the major-league level. When Alex Kirilloff went down with an injury to his wrist, the club was immediately in good hands, having Larnach step in. While the results last season weren’t exactly promising, plenty of the poor production could be attributed to injury. Now back to full health, and despite a slow start with the Triple-A Saints, Larnach is looking the part for Minnesota. Although it’s an extremely small sample size, Larnach’s batted ball events have been a bloodbath of red on the Statcast exit velocity readings. He hits nothing without serious intent, and seven of the first ten balls he put in play have left the bat at more than 95 mph. Expected outcomes have Larnach’s batting average sitting 50 points higher than it is, at .309, with a 150-point bump in wOBA (weight on-base average) at .408. It’s not new for Larnach to be hitting the ball with authority. As mentioned, that was his calling card when the Twins initially drafted him. Last season Larnach posted a 9.5% barrel rate and a 90 mph average exit velocity. Although not exceptional, his 40.5% hard-hit rate was noteworthy, and the launch angle sat at 13.1 degrees. What has been a constant for Larnach and Kirilloff is that opposing pitchers know they can hit velocity. Larnach saw fastballs just 28% of the time last season, and that’s been an even less 24% this year. The idea is to feed him offspeed and slop offerings to keep him off balance while forcing him to generate the power through his swing. Larnach is chasing roughly half the time he did a year ago, just a handful of games into the season, and he’s dropped the whiff rate by six percent. Those numbers are likely too drastic to hold up throughout an entire season, but steps forward there only increase his ability to drive the ball. It should never be seen as a positive when a player goes down with an injury, but if there’s a place that Minnesota has options, it’s in corner outfielders. Larnach was squeezed off the Opening Day roster as there wasn’t a direct path to playing time every day. With plenty of run in front of him, it should be time for him to shine. Like Kirilloff, Larnach gets off a powerful swing while not being loud with his hands and staying within his process. It’s a beautiful sight at contact, and whether the ball leaves the yard or finds a glove, there shouldn’t be many situations where the result isn’t a loud one. A candidate for 30-plus homers in an entire season, Larnach finding regular at-bats for the Twins should be fun for all involved. Take a look at Larnach’s Statcast profile a few months from now, and don’t be surprised if you see many high percentile rankings. If Kirilloff's injury isn't something long-term, then it will be interesting to see how Rocco Baldelli juggles his lineup and talent. The early returns suggest there will need to be playing time found for all. What do you think about how Larnach has looked in the early going this season? Does he stay with the Twins once Kirilloff returns and how would you get him into the lineup on an everyday basis? View full article
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