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  1. It was an ugly night on the farm for the Minnesota Twins farm system, but Matt Walner launched his 13th dinger for the Wind Surge, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand was a bright spot for Cedar Rapids. Transactions: C Jair Camargo placed on IL by Wichita RHP Daniel Gossett assigned to Wichita from St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 10, St. Paul 1 Box Score Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Josh Winder was making another rehab start for the Saints this afternoon. He worked three innings allowing one run on two hits and a walk. Winder threw 46 pitches in this one, so another rehab start to stretch him back out could be on tap. Columbus scored first grabbing a run in the 1st inning, but St. Paul answered in the second when Jermaine Palacios drove in Michael Helman with a single to left field. The Clippers took back the lead with another run in the 4th inning and that’s where things sat until the 7th inning. What was a close game going into the final few frames wound up being a blowout. A trio of St. Paul pitchers including Jordan Balazovic, Jake Petricka, and Drew Strotman all gave up multiple runs. Columbus tacked on three in the 7th inning before putting up a five-spot in the 8th inning. St. Paul couldn’t rally in the 9th inning and they wound up with just five hits on the day, with extra-base hits coming in the form of Jake Cave and Curtis Terry doubles. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 5, Wichita 3 Box Score Sawyer Gipson-Long made his Double-A debut tonight for the Wind Surge and it was a tough one. Lasting just 4 2/3 innings, he gave up five runs on six hits. The silver lining was just one walk while punching out five. The damage came predominantly on two homers. Down 4-0 after the 2nd inning, Wichita got on the board when Matt Wallner blasted his 13th dinger of the year in the 4th inning. Tulsa wiped that run with a 5th inning homer, but the Wind Surge went back to work in the 6th inning. Anthony Prato drove in DaShawn Keirsey Jr. before Leobaldo Cabrera roped his 5th homer of the season. Down to their last raps in the 9th inning, Wichita made things interesting. Edouard Julien scored on a wild pitch and then Daniel Ozoria advanced to 3rd base on another wild pitch. Down just one with the tying run 90 feet away, Andrew Bechtold stuck out swinging on a 2-2 count. He was the only Wind Surge batter to record two hits on the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS Dayton 10, Cedar Rapids 7 Box Score The Kernels gave the ball to Brent Headrick tonight but it was an abbreviated outing after four runs scored on five hits. Headrick struck out one and walked one but a three-run blast did him in. By the bottom of the 2nd inning, Cedar Rapids trailed 5-0. Dylan Neuse got the good guys on the board with a single to score Seth Gray, but that was the lone production from the inning. Gray continued to drive the ball in the 3rd inning though, with a two-run homer for his 7th on the campaign. Dayton stretched the lead to seven by the 8th inning, but the Kernels mounted a rally. In the bottom half, Yunior Severino drove in Aaron Sabato with a single. Neuse then plated Severino before an error on a Will Holland ball scored Pat Winkel. Cutting the lead to four entering the 9th inning, Kyler Fedko took advantage of another error on Gray’s groundout that put the Kernels within three. Unfortunately, that’s where things ended and Cedar Rapids was on the short end of the stick. Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Neuse were the lone Kernels with multi-hit efforts on the evening. MUSSEL MATTERS Bradenton 12, Fort Myers 8 Box Score Travis Adams got the ball tonight for the Mighty Mussels and worked four innings. He gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking none. It was a tougher outing that raised his ERA to 2.94 on the season. Fort Myers scored first when LaRon Smith roped his first double of the season to score Rubel Cespedes and Keoni Cavaco. The Marauders quickly wiped that out, however, when they added three of their own in the 3rd inning. It was 4-2 entering the bottom of the 4th inning and the Mighty Mussels flexed some scoring power. Luis Baez scored Smith despite the ball being grounded back to the pitcher. Mikey Perez then tallied his 14th double to score both Nelson Roberto and Baez. A Cespedes single came in before the inning was done and Perez touched home. When the dust settled, Fort Myers led by a 6-4 tally. From there Bradenton went to work. They added one in the 5th inning, two in the 6th inning, one in the 7th inning, and four in the 8th inning. By the time Fort Myers batted in the bottom of the 8th inning, it was a 12-6 game. Cespedes did come through with a single to score Baez, and then Baez doubled in the 9th inning to score Smith. Despite the answers, it wasn’t enough to close the gap. Fort Myers recorded 10 hits on the day, five shy of Bradenton, but they got multi-hit efforts from Cespedes (3), Cavaco (2), Smith (2), and Baez (2). COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 5, FCL Braves 2 (F/7) Box Score Saints utility man Daniel Robertson continues to rehab with the FCL team. Today he was 2-for-4 with a double and his second homer. Ricardo Olivar also had a two-hit day in the win. Jonathan Lavallee worked three innings of scoreless relief and picked up his first professional win as a result. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Giants Orange 5, DSL Twins 2 (F/7) Box Score Junior Marino and Luis Rodriguez both contributed a pair of hits apiece for the Twins DSL club today. Despite picking up nine hits, the Twins never recorded one of the extra-base variety. Eduardo Soriano made the start and pitched 3 2/3 innings giving up one run on one hit and a pair of walks. He struck out four. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Andrew Cabezas (Wichita) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Hitter of the Day – Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 2-5, R, 2 2B PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-5, 2 K #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, K #7 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 0-4, K #15 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-4, R, RBI, HR(13), BB, K #16 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-2, R, 3 BB #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 2-5, R, 2 2B FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05PM CST) - RHP Ariel Jurado Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - LHP Blayne Enlow Dayton @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek Bradenton @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates and the two Complex Season affiliates back and playing. View full article
  2. Transactions: C Jair Camargo placed on IL by Wichita RHP Daniel Gossett assigned to Wichita from St. Paul SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 10, St. Paul 1 Box Score Minnesota Twins starting pitcher Josh Winder was making another rehab start for the Saints this afternoon. He worked three innings allowing one run on two hits and a walk. Winder threw 46 pitches in this one, so another rehab start to stretch him back out could be on tap. Columbus scored first grabbing a run in the 1st inning, but St. Paul answered in the second when Jermaine Palacios drove in Michael Helman with a single to left field. The Clippers took back the lead with another run in the 4th inning and that’s where things sat until the 7th inning. What was a close game going into the final few frames wound up being a blowout. A trio of St. Paul pitchers including Jordan Balazovic, Jake Petricka, and Drew Strotman all gave up multiple runs. Columbus tacked on three in the 7th inning before putting up a five-spot in the 8th inning. St. Paul couldn’t rally in the 9th inning and they wound up with just five hits on the day, with extra-base hits coming in the form of Jake Cave and Curtis Terry doubles. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 5, Wichita 3 Box Score Sawyer Gipson-Long made his Double-A debut tonight for the Wind Surge and it was a tough one. Lasting just 4 2/3 innings, he gave up five runs on six hits. The silver lining was just one walk while punching out five. The damage came predominantly on two homers. Down 4-0 after the 2nd inning, Wichita got on the board when Matt Wallner blasted his 13th dinger of the year in the 4th inning. Tulsa wiped that run with a 5th inning homer, but the Wind Surge went back to work in the 6th inning. Anthony Prato drove in DaShawn Keirsey Jr. before Leobaldo Cabrera roped his 5th homer of the season. Down to their last raps in the 9th inning, Wichita made things interesting. Edouard Julien scored on a wild pitch and then Daniel Ozoria advanced to 3rd base on another wild pitch. Down just one with the tying run 90 feet away, Andrew Bechtold stuck out swinging on a 2-2 count. He was the only Wind Surge batter to record two hits on the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS Dayton 10, Cedar Rapids 7 Box Score The Kernels gave the ball to Brent Headrick tonight but it was an abbreviated outing after four runs scored on five hits. Headrick struck out one and walked one but a three-run blast did him in. By the bottom of the 2nd inning, Cedar Rapids trailed 5-0. Dylan Neuse got the good guys on the board with a single to score Seth Gray, but that was the lone production from the inning. Gray continued to drive the ball in the 3rd inning though, with a two-run homer for his 7th on the campaign. Dayton stretched the lead to seven by the 8th inning, but the Kernels mounted a rally. In the bottom half, Yunior Severino drove in Aaron Sabato with a single. Neuse then plated Severino before an error on a Will Holland ball scored Pat Winkel. Cutting the lead to four entering the 9th inning, Kyler Fedko took advantage of another error on Gray’s groundout that put the Kernels within three. Unfortunately, that’s where things ended and Cedar Rapids was on the short end of the stick. Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Neuse were the lone Kernels with multi-hit efforts on the evening. MUSSEL MATTERS Bradenton 12, Fort Myers 8 Box Score Travis Adams got the ball tonight for the Mighty Mussels and worked four innings. He gave up four runs on seven hits while striking out five and walking none. It was a tougher outing that raised his ERA to 2.94 on the season. Fort Myers scored first when LaRon Smith roped his first double of the season to score Rubel Cespedes and Keoni Cavaco. The Marauders quickly wiped that out, however, when they added three of their own in the 3rd inning. It was 4-2 entering the bottom of the 4th inning and the Mighty Mussels flexed some scoring power. Luis Baez scored Smith despite the ball being grounded back to the pitcher. Mikey Perez then tallied his 14th double to score both Nelson Roberto and Baez. A Cespedes single came in before the inning was done and Perez touched home. When the dust settled, Fort Myers led by a 6-4 tally. From there Bradenton went to work. They added one in the 5th inning, two in the 6th inning, one in the 7th inning, and four in the 8th inning. By the time Fort Myers batted in the bottom of the 8th inning, it was a 12-6 game. Cespedes did come through with a single to score Baez, and then Baez doubled in the 9th inning to score Smith. Despite the answers, it wasn’t enough to close the gap. Fort Myers recorded 10 hits on the day, five shy of Bradenton, but they got multi-hit efforts from Cespedes (3), Cavaco (2), Smith (2), and Baez (2). COMPLEX CHRONICLES FCL Twins 5, FCL Braves 2 (F/7) Box Score Saints utility man Daniel Robertson continues to rehab with the FCL team. Today he was 2-for-4 with a double and his second homer. Ricardo Olivar also had a two-hit day in the win. Jonathan Lavallee worked three innings of scoreless relief and picked up his first professional win as a result. DOMINICAN DAILIES DSL Giants Orange 5, DSL Twins 2 (F/7) Box Score Junior Marino and Luis Rodriguez both contributed a pair of hits apiece for the Twins DSL club today. Despite picking up nine hits, the Twins never recorded one of the extra-base variety. Eduardo Soriano made the start and pitched 3 2/3 innings giving up one run on one hit and a pair of walks. He struck out four. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Andrew Cabezas (Wichita) - 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 0 BB, 3 K Hitter of the Day – Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 2-5, R, 2 2B PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-5, 2 K #4 - Jordan Balazovic (St. Paul) - 2.2 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB, K #7 - Spencer Steer (St. Paul) - 0-4, K #15 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 1-4, R, RBI, HR(13), BB, K #16 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-2, R, 3 BB #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 2-5, R, 2 2B FRIDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (6:05PM CST) - RHP Ariel Jurado Wichita @ Tulsa (7:05PM CST) - LHP Blayne Enlow Dayton @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Aaron Rozek Bradenton @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Thursday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates and the two Complex Season affiliates back and playing.
  3. Royce Lewis played left field, the Wind Surge almost made an impressive comeback, and Jake Cave blasted a grand slam. If that doesn't excite you, then nothing will. Read all about that and more in this edition of the minor league report. TRANSACTIONS RHP Trevor Megill selected by Minnesota Twins LHP Devin Smeltzer optioned to AAA St. Paul RHP Tyler Bashlor placed on IL (right elbow strain) RHP Jake Petricka placed on COVID-19 related IL RHP Bailey Ober returned to Twins Saints Sentinel St. Paul 4, Omaha 2 Box Score Dereck Rodriguez: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K HR: Jake Cave (2) Multi-hit games: None The Saints cruised on Saturday. Royce Lewis walked, Alex Kirilloff singled, Jermaine Palacios walked, and Jake Cave brought the family home with a grand slam. You can’t start a game better than that. St. Paul would not score the rest of the game, but they didn’t need to as they received an outstanding effort from their pitching staff. Dereck Rodriguez was on his game. The former, former Twins prospect struck out nine batters over five innings while allowing just six baserunners. His ERA at AAA is now a sparkling 1.74, and one has to imagine that he’ll get another chance in the majors before long. Rodriguez handed the reigns to Ian Hamilton, who out-dueled Omaha hitters to the tune of three strikeouts over five total outs. His ERA is somehow even lower at 1.08. If he continues to quell the walks, his number could be called very soon. Overall it was a pretty quiet game. Cave’s grand slam represented the crucial runs while Omaha never established themselves at the plate. Hey, quiet wins count as much as loud ones. Of note: Royce Lewis played in left field, and it appears that he caught all of one out in the game. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 7, Springfield 9 Box Score Ben Gross: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, K HR: Andrew Bechtold (5) Multi-hit games: Austin Martin (2-for-4, R, RBI, 2 BB), Andrew Bechtold (2-for-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB), Chris Williams (3-for-4, R, RBI, BB) Wichita lost a close game on Saturday. It was a classic barn-burner in score but not in game flow. Springfield, at one point, enjoyed a 9-0 lead over Wichita before an explosive six-run 7th inning brought intrigue to a game entirely in the blowout category. Let’s back up. An ugly 2nd inning that included a balk, a few hits, and two errors netted the Cardinals four quick runs. Gross would pitch one more inning afterward, but the damage remained attached to his name. Zach Featherstone put forth his best attempt at controlling the game but was only rewarded with an inflated ERA. A barrage of hits mixed with an error from Michael Helman doubled Springfield’s lead in short order. A solo homer would make the score the aforementioned 9-0 lead, but Wichita’s bats came alive in the 7th. It was a story in two parts: the first being runs scored by traditional hits, the second being patience leading to flourishing rewards. Ernie Yake doubled, Austin Martin singled, and Andrew Bechtold brought everyone home with a three-run blast. Some may see a home run as a rally-killer, yet it was anything but in this inning. An array of walks knocked old friend Kevin Marnon from the game before old friend Johan Quezada came in to establish order. He did not. A wild pitch brought home the inning's fifth run before a walk to Martin netted the sixth and final one. Chris Williams doubled home a run in the following inning, but it was not enough to overcome the brutal 9-0 deficit, and Wichita walked away without a win. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 4, Lake County 12 Box Score John Stankiewicz: 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K HR: Will Holland (3) Multi-hit games: Seth Gray (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB) The Kernels lost handily on Saturday. The Captains jumped on John Stankiewicz as the early innings melted into the middle innings, and the rest of the game’s narrative quickly followed suit. Ryan Shreve and Miguel Rodriguez were unable to stop an offensive movement in the 6th inning, and any scoring after that was a vain attempt at stat-padding. Cedar Rapids was held in check offensively as well. Kernels hitters punched out 14 times while reaching base only nine times; they went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Seth Gray was the big bat of the day, reaching base three times while knocking in half of Cedar Rapids’ runs; Will Holland knocked in the other two when he homered in the 3rd inning. To look for more bright spots, Bradley Hanner continued his ridiculous start to the season with two strikeouts over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. His season ERA is now a sparkling 0.50. Yeah, that’ll play. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 4, Clearwater 5 Box Score Marco Raya: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K HR: Mikey Perez (5) Multi-hit games: Mikey Perez (2-for-5, HR, R, 3 RBI), Keoni Cavaco (2-for-5, 2B, RBI), Dylan Neuse (2-for-3) Fort Myers lost a close one on Saturday. Marco Raya, looking to continue his fine start to the season, took the mound for the Mighty Mussels. The right-hander could not reign in his dominant stuff, and the Threshers made him pay, knocking around eight hits to go with three walks and three earned runs. It will be on to the next start for him. Clearwater’s offense was not a consistent onslaught despite the earned runs, instead evenly distributing their runs one at a time in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th innings, respectively. In fact, the Mighty Mussels held a slight lead after the top of the 7th inning when Mikey Perez blasted an Earl Weaver special to give Fort Myers a 4-3 lead. Although, the Mighty Mussels forgot that defense was part of Weaver’s special equation, and a dodgeball fight involving Noah Cardenas and Perez in the bottom half of the 7th resulted in a tying run scoring for Clearwater. They would score once more the following inning to win. The team shot themselves in the foot offensively as well. While four runs will win a team a fair amount of ballgames, the Mighty Mussels left a small army stranded on base; 11 to be exact. They walked and slashed hits all around the field like a good team is supposed to do but just missed out on a few damaging knocks that could have sealed a win. Altogether, six Mighty Mussels hitters reached base multiple times; Noah Miller and Emmanuel Rodriguez walked more than once, while Miller added a base hit for good measure. Regi Grace stood out for Fort Myers pitchers, allowing just one earned run over eight outs, with five of those coming via a strikeout. Because baseball is inherently cruel, he was tagged with the loss. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Dereck Rodriguez Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Mikey Perez PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, R, RBI, 2 BB #2 – Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, BB, R, K #5 – Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 51 strikes) #10 – Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, K #11 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 1-for-2, R, BB #12 – Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 0-for-2, 2 R, 3 BB #15 – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 0-for-2, R, 3 BB, 2 K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Omaha (2:05 PM) - RHP Ronny Henriquez Springfield @ Wichita (1:05 PM) - RHP Matt Canterino Lake County @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 PM) - LHP Brent Headrick Fort Myers @ Clearwater (11:00 AM) - LHP Jaylen Nowlin View full article
  4. TRANSACTIONS RHP Trevor Megill selected by Minnesota Twins LHP Devin Smeltzer optioned to AAA St. Paul RHP Tyler Bashlor placed on IL (right elbow strain) RHP Jake Petricka placed on COVID-19 related IL RHP Bailey Ober returned to Twins Saints Sentinel St. Paul 4, Omaha 2 Box Score Dereck Rodriguez: 5 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 3 BB, 9 K HR: Jake Cave (2) Multi-hit games: None The Saints cruised on Saturday. Royce Lewis walked, Alex Kirilloff singled, Jermaine Palacios walked, and Jake Cave brought the family home with a grand slam. You can’t start a game better than that. St. Paul would not score the rest of the game, but they didn’t need to as they received an outstanding effort from their pitching staff. Dereck Rodriguez was on his game. The former, former Twins prospect struck out nine batters over five innings while allowing just six baserunners. His ERA at AAA is now a sparkling 1.74, and one has to imagine that he’ll get another chance in the majors before long. Rodriguez handed the reigns to Ian Hamilton, who out-dueled Omaha hitters to the tune of three strikeouts over five total outs. His ERA is somehow even lower at 1.08. If he continues to quell the walks, his number could be called very soon. Overall it was a pretty quiet game. Cave’s grand slam represented the crucial runs while Omaha never established themselves at the plate. Hey, quiet wins count as much as loud ones. Of note: Royce Lewis played in left field, and it appears that he caught all of one out in the game. Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 7, Springfield 9 Box Score Ben Gross: 3 IP, 3 H, ER, BB, K HR: Andrew Bechtold (5) Multi-hit games: Austin Martin (2-for-4, R, RBI, 2 BB), Andrew Bechtold (2-for-4, HR, R, 3 RBI, BB), Chris Williams (3-for-4, R, RBI, BB) Wichita lost a close game on Saturday. It was a classic barn-burner in score but not in game flow. Springfield, at one point, enjoyed a 9-0 lead over Wichita before an explosive six-run 7th inning brought intrigue to a game entirely in the blowout category. Let’s back up. An ugly 2nd inning that included a balk, a few hits, and two errors netted the Cardinals four quick runs. Gross would pitch one more inning afterward, but the damage remained attached to his name. Zach Featherstone put forth his best attempt at controlling the game but was only rewarded with an inflated ERA. A barrage of hits mixed with an error from Michael Helman doubled Springfield’s lead in short order. A solo homer would make the score the aforementioned 9-0 lead, but Wichita’s bats came alive in the 7th. It was a story in two parts: the first being runs scored by traditional hits, the second being patience leading to flourishing rewards. Ernie Yake doubled, Austin Martin singled, and Andrew Bechtold brought everyone home with a three-run blast. Some may see a home run as a rally-killer, yet it was anything but in this inning. An array of walks knocked old friend Kevin Marnon from the game before old friend Johan Quezada came in to establish order. He did not. A wild pitch brought home the inning's fifth run before a walk to Martin netted the sixth and final one. Chris Williams doubled home a run in the following inning, but it was not enough to overcome the brutal 9-0 deficit, and Wichita walked away without a win. Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 4, Lake County 12 Box Score John Stankiewicz: 3 2/3 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 2 BB, 5 K HR: Will Holland (3) Multi-hit games: Seth Gray (2-for-3, 2B, 2 RBI, BB) The Kernels lost handily on Saturday. The Captains jumped on John Stankiewicz as the early innings melted into the middle innings, and the rest of the game’s narrative quickly followed suit. Ryan Shreve and Miguel Rodriguez were unable to stop an offensive movement in the 6th inning, and any scoring after that was a vain attempt at stat-padding. Cedar Rapids was held in check offensively as well. Kernels hitters punched out 14 times while reaching base only nine times; they went 2-for-12 with runners in scoring position. Seth Gray was the big bat of the day, reaching base three times while knocking in half of Cedar Rapids’ runs; Will Holland knocked in the other two when he homered in the 3rd inning. To look for more bright spots, Bradley Hanner continued his ridiculous start to the season with two strikeouts over 1 1/3 scoreless innings. His season ERA is now a sparkling 0.50. Yeah, that’ll play. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 4, Clearwater 5 Box Score Marco Raya: 5 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 3 BB, 3 K HR: Mikey Perez (5) Multi-hit games: Mikey Perez (2-for-5, HR, R, 3 RBI), Keoni Cavaco (2-for-5, 2B, RBI), Dylan Neuse (2-for-3) Fort Myers lost a close one on Saturday. Marco Raya, looking to continue his fine start to the season, took the mound for the Mighty Mussels. The right-hander could not reign in his dominant stuff, and the Threshers made him pay, knocking around eight hits to go with three walks and three earned runs. It will be on to the next start for him. Clearwater’s offense was not a consistent onslaught despite the earned runs, instead evenly distributing their runs one at a time in the 1st, 3rd, and 5th innings, respectively. In fact, the Mighty Mussels held a slight lead after the top of the 7th inning when Mikey Perez blasted an Earl Weaver special to give Fort Myers a 4-3 lead. Although, the Mighty Mussels forgot that defense was part of Weaver’s special equation, and a dodgeball fight involving Noah Cardenas and Perez in the bottom half of the 7th resulted in a tying run scoring for Clearwater. They would score once more the following inning to win. The team shot themselves in the foot offensively as well. While four runs will win a team a fair amount of ballgames, the Mighty Mussels left a small army stranded on base; 11 to be exact. They walked and slashed hits all around the field like a good team is supposed to do but just missed out on a few damaging knocks that could have sealed a win. Altogether, six Mighty Mussels hitters reached base multiple times; Noah Miller and Emmanuel Rodriguez walked more than once, while Miller added a base hit for good measure. Regi Grace stood out for Fort Myers pitchers, allowing just one earned run over eight outs, with five of those coming via a strikeout. Because baseball is inherently cruel, he was tagged with the loss. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Dereck Rodriguez Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Mikey Perez PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-4, R, RBI, 2 BB #2 – Royce Lewis (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, BB, R, K #5 – Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - 5 2/3 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K (79 pitches, 51 strikes) #10 – Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 1-for-3, 2 R, 2 BB, K #11 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) - 1-for-2, R, BB #12 – Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 0-for-2, 2 R, 3 BB #15 – Emmanuel Rodriguez (Fort Myers) - 0-for-2, R, 3 BB, 2 K SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Omaha (2:05 PM) - RHP Ronny Henriquez Springfield @ Wichita (1:05 PM) - RHP Matt Canterino Lake County @ Cedar Rapids (2:05 PM) - LHP Brent Headrick Fort Myers @ Clearwater (11:00 AM) - LHP Jaylen Nowlin
  5. David Festa struck out 11 batters over six innings to help lead the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels to a combined no-hitter Tuesday. Jaylen Nowlin covered the seventh and eight innings before Hunter McMahon finished it off in the ninth. Highlighted in tonight's video are Ronny Henriquez, Caleb Hamilton and Andrew Bechtold. Also discussed are the early goings of the Twins vs. Astros game and another strong start from Brent Headrick for Cedar Rapids. View full video
  6. David Festa struck out 11 batters over six innings to help lead the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels to a combined no-hitter Tuesday. Jaylen Nowlin covered the seventh and eight innings before Hunter McMahon finished it off in the ninth. Highlighted in tonight's video are Ronny Henriquez, Caleb Hamilton and Andrew Bechtold. Also discussed are the early goings of the Twins vs. Astros game and another strong start from Brent Headrick for Cedar Rapids.
  7. Ronny Henriquez, who came over to the Minnesota Twins in the trade that sent Mitch Garver to the Rangers, made his 2022 debut for the St. Paul Saints. Here are some highlights of that outing, but first are highlights of a Twins 1-0 win at Kansas City. Also included in this video are Joe Ryan, Nick Gordon, Devin Smeltzer, Austin Martin and more.
  8. Ronny Henriquez, who came over to the Minnesota Twins in the trade that sent Mitch Garver to the Rangers, made his 2022 debut for the St. Paul Saints. Here are some highlights of that outing, but first are highlights of a Twins 1-0 win at Kansas City. Also included in this video are Joe Ryan, Nick Gordon, Devin Smeltzer, Austin Martin and more. View full video
  9. As the year ends, I will be sharing my Top Prospect listings but in a different way. I will be splitting hitters and pitchers and ranking the Top 30 of each. Over the next 12 days, we’ll count them down, starting today with the Twins hitting prospects that I rank between 26 and 30. Prospect lists are always fun to do, and they’re fun because they can be questioned and discussed. Sure, we’ve separated the pitchers and hitters to get right of one question, that being how do you compare pitchers to hitters? But still, how do you compare or rank an 18-year-old who played in the FCL to a 25-year-old at Double-A? Prospect rankings are far from a perfect science, but if nothing else, it gives us the opportunity to discuss more players and give them the recognition that they deserve. #30 Gregory Duran 2021 STATS: .267/.389/.367, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 36.1 K%, 13.9 BB%, 0/3 SB Gregory Duran was signed as an international free agent in July of 2019 from the Dominican Republic. As you would expect in an 18-year-old’s professional debut in the FCL (after a missed season), Duran struggled. He struck out too much. However, he has a smooth, strong, left-handed swing that projects some power. He is a strong outfielder who could play in center but profiles more to the corners. Duran, who will play the full 2022 season at age 19, is likely to get lots of playing time in the FCL in 2022. #29 Wander Valdez 2021 STATS: .225/.339/.350, 8 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 32.3 K%, 12.2 BB%, 4/4 SB Wander Valdez is not an everyday name for those who follow Twins prospects, and yet he signed with the organization from the Dominican Republic way back in 2016. He began 2021 with the Mighty Mussels, but with other prospects there, he wasn’t playing often, or well. He spent time with the FCL Twins where he was able to show some of his power. Valdez is big and strong, so it is his power that remains intriguing. He is a little shorter, but built like former Twins DH Kennys Vargas. Valdez remains fairly athletic and can play third base, though he may be better at first base, and ultimately at DH. #28 Jesus Feliz 2021 STATS: .238/.300/.420, 8 2B, 9 HR, 26.2 K%, 4.3 BB%, 3/3 SB Jesus Feliz is a difficult prospect for me to rank. I am really high on him and his potential. Having seen him in spring training in 2020, I came away impressed with his athleticism and especially his power potential. While he would have missed much of a 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2021 ready to play. He may be too big and strong to remain at shortstop and actually played more third base with the Mighty Mussels. But again, for him to have eight doubles and nine home runs in the League Formerly Known as Florida State is really impressive. It’s been a slow trek up the Twins ladder since he signed back in 2016, so 2022 will be a big season in determining what his future could be. That said, he’s still just 21 years old until June. #27 Andrew Bechtold 2021 STATS: .239/.328/.459, 23 2B, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 32.3 K%, 11.3 BB%, 1/2 SB 2021 was a big year for Andrew Bechtold. He had some struggles offensively in 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, and with the lost season, it was interesting to see him jump straight to Double-A Wichita to start the season. He split time pretty evenly between first base and third base, where his arm is a major asset. He also really found his power stroke in 2021 with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In addition, he spent time all season working behind the plate. After the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, he got one start behind the plate and got good reviews. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he got one start each week behind the plate as well as time at the infield corners and as the DH. Adding the ability to be a viable catching option certainly makes him more valuable to his team. The team’s 2017 fifth-round draft pick from Chipola College will turn 26 in April. #26 Michael Helman 2021 STATS: .246/.336/.462, 21 2B, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 19.2 K%, 11.3 BB%, 21/26 SB Michael Helman was the team’s 11th round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M. He had an injury-plagued season in 2019 with the Ft. Myers Miracle. So missing 2020 was not ideal for him. The Twins sent him back to High-A for the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. Always able to play the middle infield positions, Helman proved very valuable by playing three infield positions and all three outfield spots too. He showed a strong, accurate arm, and he also showed good range and improved routes as the season continued. In addition, he really performed well with the bat too. He always took quality plate appearances, and he continued to do so, but he also showed power with 21 doubles and 19 home runs. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and continued to play all over the diamond. In addition, he walked nine times and struck out six times. He will turn 26 in May. (go to 4:00 mark for Helman video.) Again, I think this is an interesting group of players ranked, and maybe you agree. Michael Helman and Andrew Bechtold are guys who could (and I think CAN) be major-league utility players. Their floor is fairly high for a minor leaguer, especially with Bechtold who had success in Double-A), and yet their ceiling is that of role player. The other three players are younger and further from the big leagues. I do think that Jesus Feliz has a very high ceiling. Gregory Duran has a very high ceiling. Wander Valdez has a few more question marks, so his ceiling may not be quite as high as those two. All three have floors that could find them topping out in A-ball, and not even get to the point where Helman and Bechtold are now. Please feel free to add comments to this discussion and ask questions about players or rankings. View full article
  10. Prospect lists are always fun to do, and they’re fun because they can be questioned and discussed. Sure, we’ve separated the pitchers and hitters to get right of one question, that being how do you compare pitchers to hitters? But still, how do you compare or rank an 18-year-old who played in the FCL to a 25-year-old at Double-A? Prospect rankings are far from a perfect science, but if nothing else, it gives us the opportunity to discuss more players and give them the recognition that they deserve. #30 Gregory Duran 2021 STATS: .267/.389/.367, 1 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 36.1 K%, 13.9 BB%, 0/3 SB Gregory Duran was signed as an international free agent in July of 2019 from the Dominican Republic. As you would expect in an 18-year-old’s professional debut in the FCL (after a missed season), Duran struggled. He struck out too much. However, he has a smooth, strong, left-handed swing that projects some power. He is a strong outfielder who could play in center but profiles more to the corners. Duran, who will play the full 2022 season at age 19, is likely to get lots of playing time in the FCL in 2022. #29 Wander Valdez 2021 STATS: .225/.339/.350, 8 2B, 4 HR, 16 RBI, 32.3 K%, 12.2 BB%, 4/4 SB Wander Valdez is not an everyday name for those who follow Twins prospects, and yet he signed with the organization from the Dominican Republic way back in 2016. He began 2021 with the Mighty Mussels, but with other prospects there, he wasn’t playing often, or well. He spent time with the FCL Twins where he was able to show some of his power. Valdez is big and strong, so it is his power that remains intriguing. He is a little shorter, but built like former Twins DH Kennys Vargas. Valdez remains fairly athletic and can play third base, though he may be better at first base, and ultimately at DH. #28 Jesus Feliz 2021 STATS: .238/.300/.420, 8 2B, 9 HR, 26.2 K%, 4.3 BB%, 3/3 SB Jesus Feliz is a difficult prospect for me to rank. I am really high on him and his potential. Having seen him in spring training in 2020, I came away impressed with his athleticism and especially his power potential. While he would have missed much of a 2020 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery, he returned in 2021 ready to play. He may be too big and strong to remain at shortstop and actually played more third base with the Mighty Mussels. But again, for him to have eight doubles and nine home runs in the League Formerly Known as Florida State is really impressive. It’s been a slow trek up the Twins ladder since he signed back in 2016, so 2022 will be a big season in determining what his future could be. That said, he’s still just 21 years old until June. #27 Andrew Bechtold 2021 STATS: .239/.328/.459, 23 2B, 18 HR, 48 RBI, 32.3 K%, 11.3 BB%, 1/2 SB 2021 was a big year for Andrew Bechtold. He had some struggles offensively in 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers, and with the lost season, it was interesting to see him jump straight to Double-A Wichita to start the season. He split time pretty evenly between first base and third base, where his arm is a major asset. He also really found his power stroke in 2021 with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In addition, he spent time all season working behind the plate. After the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, he got one start behind the plate and got good reviews. The Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League where he got one start each week behind the plate as well as time at the infield corners and as the DH. Adding the ability to be a viable catching option certainly makes him more valuable to his team. The team’s 2017 fifth-round draft pick from Chipola College will turn 26 in April. #26 Michael Helman 2021 STATS: .246/.336/.462, 21 2B, 19 HR, 57 RBI, 19.2 K%, 11.3 BB%, 21/26 SB Michael Helman was the team’s 11th round pick in 2018 out of Texas A&M. He had an injury-plagued season in 2019 with the Ft. Myers Miracle. So missing 2020 was not ideal for him. The Twins sent him back to High-A for the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. Always able to play the middle infield positions, Helman proved very valuable by playing three infield positions and all three outfield spots too. He showed a strong, accurate arm, and he also showed good range and improved routes as the season continued. In addition, he really performed well with the bat too. He always took quality plate appearances, and he continued to do so, but he also showed power with 21 doubles and 19 home runs. He then went to the Arizona Fall League and continued to play all over the diamond. In addition, he walked nine times and struck out six times. He will turn 26 in May. (go to 4:00 mark for Helman video.) Again, I think this is an interesting group of players ranked, and maybe you agree. Michael Helman and Andrew Bechtold are guys who could (and I think CAN) be major-league utility players. Their floor is fairly high for a minor leaguer, especially with Bechtold who had success in Double-A), and yet their ceiling is that of role player. The other three players are younger and further from the big leagues. I do think that Jesus Feliz has a very high ceiling. Gregory Duran has a very high ceiling. Wander Valdez has a few more question marks, so his ceiling may not be quite as high as those two. All three have floors that could find them topping out in A-ball, and not even get to the point where Helman and Bechtold are now. Please feel free to add comments to this discussion and ask questions about players or rankings.
  11. Josh Donaldson is two years into one of the biggest free-agent contracts in team history. With an aging Donaldson, what prospects are ready to take over at the hot corner? Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Over the last two seasons, the Twins have gotten what they expected from Donaldson. He has hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with 28 doubles and 32 home runs in 163 games. Donaldson has posted an OPS+ of 127 or higher in both seasons, which is better than his season in Atlanta. Offensive regression is expected with a player like Donaldson as he reaches his mid-to-late 30s, but that has yet to be the case. Defensively, Donaldson made 91 starts at third base last season, and age might be catching up to him on this side of the ball. He was worth one defensive run saved and posted a career-worst -6.2 UZR. 40-Man Roster Options Minnesota's best defensive third baseman last season was Luis Arraez. Only four AL third basemen ranked higher than him according to SABR's Defensive Index. This may surprise some fans because the Twins moved Arraez to a utility position last season because his defense was poor at second base. If the Twins use Donaldson more at DH, Arraez can continue to get more reps at third base. Minnesota's long-term third baseman looks to be Jose Miranda, the 2021 Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. At Double- and Triple-A, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 home runs. It was one of the biggest breakout seasons in recent Twins history. Minnesota left him unprotected in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, so he was an easy addition to the 40-man roster this winter. Miranda has firmly planted himself in Minnesota's long-term plans. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's third base depth. Minnesota has multiple third-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Miranda likely won't be in the big leagues to start the season, so he will return to St. Paul to start the season. Andrew Bechtold has a chance to join him on the Saints roster, but he is also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he played the entire year at Double-A and posted a .786 OPS with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In the Arizona Fall League, Bechtold went 14-for-59 (.237) with four doubles. He can play both corner infield positions, and he caught five games in the AFL. Minnesota selected Seth Gray in the 4th round back in 2019 from Wright State University. He played all of the 2021 season at High-A and hit .212/.321/.333 (.655) with 27 extra-base hits in 113 games. He was slightly older than the average age of the competition this season, so it seems likely for him to play most of the 2022 season at Double-A. In the minor's lower levels, the Twins have two 22-year-old players that took different paths to this point. Jake Rucker was taken in the 7th round in 2021 from the University of Tennessee, while Wander Valdez was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2016. Rucker posted a .700 OPS in 22 games after being drafted last year. Valdez split time between Fort Myers and the FCL Twins with a .689 OPS in 55 games. Overall, Minnesota has a veteran at the MLB level with a top prospect ready to debut. What do you think about the organization's third base depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base View full article
  12. Current Third Baseman: Josh Donaldson Over the last two seasons, the Twins have gotten what they expected from Donaldson. He has hit .243/.355/.474 (.829) with 28 doubles and 32 home runs in 163 games. Donaldson has posted an OPS+ of 127 or higher in both seasons, which is better than his season in Atlanta. Offensive regression is expected with a player like Donaldson as he reaches his mid-to-late 30s, but that has yet to be the case. Defensively, Donaldson made 91 starts at third base last season, and age might be catching up to him on this side of the ball. He was worth one defensive run saved and posted a career-worst -6.2 UZR. 40-Man Roster Options Minnesota's best defensive third baseman last season was Luis Arraez. Only four AL third basemen ranked higher than him according to SABR's Defensive Index. This may surprise some fans because the Twins moved Arraez to a utility position last season because his defense was poor at second base. If the Twins use Donaldson more at DH, Arraez can continue to get more reps at third base. Minnesota's long-term third baseman looks to be Jose Miranda, the 2021 Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Year. At Double- and Triple-A, Miranda hit .344/.401/.572 (.973) with 32 doubles and 30 home runs. It was one of the biggest breakout seasons in recent Twins history. Minnesota left him unprotected in the 2020 Rule 5 Draft, so he was an easy addition to the 40-man roster this winter. Miranda has firmly planted himself in Minnesota's long-term plans. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's third base depth. Minnesota has multiple third-base options populating the rosters in the upper minors. Miranda likely won't be in the big leagues to start the season, so he will return to St. Paul to start the season. Andrew Bechtold has a chance to join him on the Saints roster, but he is also eligible for the Rule 5 Draft. Last season, he played the entire year at Double-A and posted a .786 OPS with 23 doubles and 18 home runs. In the Arizona Fall League, Bechtold went 14-for-59 (.237) with four doubles. He can play both corner infield positions, and he caught five games in the AFL. Minnesota selected Seth Gray in the 4th round back in 2019 from Wright State University. He played all of the 2021 season at High-A and hit .212/.321/.333 (.655) with 27 extra-base hits in 113 games. He was slightly older than the average age of the competition this season, so it seems likely for him to play most of the 2022 season at Double-A. In the minor's lower levels, the Twins have two 22-year-old players that took different paths to this point. Jake Rucker was taken in the 7th round in 2021 from the University of Tennessee, while Wander Valdez was signed out of the Dominican Republic back in 2016. Rucker posted a .700 OPS in 22 games after being drafted last year. Valdez split time between Fort Myers and the FCL Twins with a .689 OPS in 55 games. Overall, Minnesota has a veteran at the MLB level with a top prospect ready to debut. What do you think about the organization's third base depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base
  13. In a continuing theme for the 2021 Arizona Fall League season, the power hitting Matt Wallner again sent one out of the park in Week 6, and finished among the league’s leaders in OPS. Each of their relief pitchers also got one final outing, so keep reading to see how all your Minnesota Twins prospects did during the final week of the AFL season. In a bit of a scheduling quirk with the AFL, the Scottsdale Scorpions played only three games in the final week of the season, going 1-2 to finish with an overall record of 12-18, good for second place in the East Division and fifth overall. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 4-for-8, R, HR (6, tied for 4th in AFL), 2 RBI, BB, 2 K; .303/.405/.606 (1.011 OPS) overall. Wallner got the start in two games on the week, batting fifth in both contests and one game each in the opposite corners of the outfield. In Tuesday’s 9-7 loss at the Surprise Saguaros, he was in right field and led the team with three hits on the day. Down 8-4 at the time and in his third at-bat, Wallner picked up the first of those three hits with a single the opposite way that put runners on first and second with no outs. Unfortunately that’s as far as he’d make it as their rally attempt was snuffed out with three consecutive outs after that. He’d add another single in the seventh inning with a line drive to right field, and this time ended up stranded on third. With the score 9-5 going into the top of the ninth, Wallner followed a leadoff single with his sixth home run of the AFL season, a blast into right field that made it the final of 9-7. Wallner finished off his time in the AFL playing left field in Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox. He grounded out to first base in his first at-bat in the second inning, then singled in the fourth with a ground ball into right field. The Scorpions took a 1-0 lead in the inning on four total singles and a sac fly, but Wallner ended up stranded on third after reaching there with only one out. After a double, single, and another sac fly made it 2-0 in the fifth, he drew a walk to put runners on first and second. They extended the lead to 3-0 with another single before a double-play ball ended any further threat. Leading 3-2 in the seventh and final inning of the contest, Wallner went down swinging before the Solar Sox clubbed two home runs in the bottom half to walk it off. The power hitting outfielder ends his time in the AFL with an outstanding .303/.405/.606 batting line, good for a 1.011 OPS that led the Scorpions roster and was 10th overall in the league. His six home runs were tied for third in league play while his 15 RBI also led the Scorpions and ranked 10th in the league. For comparison, Royce Lewis won the AFL MVP award during the 2019 season with a .353/.411/.565 line and .975 OPS, having 85 at-bats compared to Wallner’s 66. In 18 total games, Wallner walked 9 times and struck out 27 times, batting primarily in the middle of the Scorpions lineup. Despite his 2021 season being limited to 66 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, I’d fully expect Wallner to begin the 2022 season in the middle of the Wichita Wind Surge’s lineup. Zach Featherstone: 1 appearance, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K; 8.10 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 10 IP overall. Featherstone made his lone appearance on the week in Friday’s walk off loss to Mesa, being tabbed as the first relief pitcher summoned to start the third inning. With the game still scoreless, he delivered a one-two-three inning, getting a groundout and a pair of fly outs on just 12 pitches (7 for strikes). The left-hander made appearances in 11 of the Scorpions 30 games on the season, totaling 10 innings pitched with a 12-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed 9 earned runs on 13 hits and finished with a 2.20 WHIP, 8.10 ERA, and .310 batting average against. Featherstone spent all of the 2021 season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen, amassing 107 K’s in 73 1/3 innings pitched that was good for a 2.13 ERA, but as was apparent in the AFL needs to continue working on limiting free passes. I’d expect him to be with Wichita to begin the 2022 season. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-3, R, RBI, BB, 0 K; .237/.333/.305 (.638 OPS) overall. Bechtold saw action in two of the Scorpions three games on the week, getting the start at first base in one while entering as a pinch hitter and designated hitter in the other. His first game of the week came in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Salt River Rafters, where he came on as a pinch hitter for the leadoff man in the fifth inning and got a rally started by drawing a one-out walk. After an error he was on third base and scored their second run of the game on a single two batters later. Before the inning was over the Scorpions would tie the game at three. In the bottom of the sixth Bechtold delivered the most important at-bat of the game for Scottsdale, with a sacrifice fly into right field that scored the go-ahead and winning run. While Bechtold did not have a home run in AFL play, he did collect four doubles in 16 games after hitting 18 home runs and 23 doubles with the Wind Surge in 99 games. Depending on offseason roster moves Bechtold could be back in double-A, but with further improvement in his average and on-base percentage should see time with the St. Paul Saints in 2022. Kody Funderburk: Did not pitch; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. With just three games on the week Funderburk’s spot in the rotation did not come up to close out the AFL season, but he finished his time there very strong with wins in his final three starts. Those three wins led the Scorpions pitching staff and was also the second most among all AFL pitchers. His 17 2/3 IP also ranked third on the roster, while his 22 strikeouts ranked second on the team and seventh in the league. His final ERA, WHIP, and BAA numbers are skewed by his first few starts where he gave up some runs in bunches, but the 22-to-6 K-to-BB ratio is a good stat to hang his hat on, as was his excellent finish. Funderburk pitched at two levels during the 2021 season, starting ten games with Cedar Rapids before finishing with seven appearances out of the bullpen with Wichita. I’d expect him to be back in double-A to begin the 2022 season as part of the Wind Surge’s starting rotation, looking to build on his limited innings in 2021. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, BB, 0 K, SB; .216/.355/.255 (.610 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw playing time in two of three games on the week, with one of those appearances coming as a pinch hitter part of the way through. In Tuesday’s loss at Surprise, Helman entered the game as a pinch hitter for the DH in the seventh inning with runners on first and third after Wallner delivered a single. His ground ball toward second base turned into an error and allowed a run to score, closing the gap on the scoreboard to four runs. After Wallner’s home run in the ninth, Helman grounded out to short for the first out as their comeback attempt came up short. In Wednesday’s win over Salt River Helman batted ninth in the lineup and played center field. He popped out in the second inning, grounded out to short to leadoff the fifth, then drew the second of two consecutive walks in the sixth inning that loaded the bases with one out. Bechtold followed him with his sac fly that gave the Scorpions the lead and with second base open, he stole his seventh base of the AFL season. Those seven steals led the Scottsdale roster and was good for fourth in the league. He was not caught stealing once during the season, and had three games where he stole two bases. In 16 games in the AFL, Helman scored 10 runs and played all around the diamond, including plenty of run in center field as he continued to expand his positional versatility. He spent all of 2021 with Cedar Rapids, and should move up to Wichita in 2022. Like Bechtold, he didn’t hit a home run during AFL play, but was among organizational leaders with 19 during the regular season. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 18 K, 7 BB, 14 IP overall. After pitching in the Fall Stars Game during week five, Laweryson finished his AFL season with a lone appearance in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Salt River. With his team down 3-1 going into the fifth, he came on as the second relief pitcher to start the inning. He allowed a one-out single but retired the other three hitters he faced, including ending the inning with a swinging strikeout after a good battle with MLB.com’s #45 overall prospect, Brett Baty of the New York Mets. Laweryson pitched in eight games with the Scorpions, including one start, and for the most part was asked to go multiple innings as he finished with 14 total innings. He held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average against, allowing 10 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 18 hitters. That K total ranked fourth on the Scorpions pitching staff. After missing the first few months of the 2021 season, the right-hander started fourteen games with Cedar Rapids but totaled just 58 2/3 innings. It’s possible he begins the 2022 season in double-A, but also would not surprise me to see him back with the Kernels looking to lengthen his outings as a starter. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 14 K, 9 BB, 10 2/3 IP overall. Like his other relief pitching teammates, Sisk made just one appearance in the season’s final week, getting the ball in Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to the Surprise Saguaros. With the score 8-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Sisk was summoned to start the inning as the third reliever of the game for Scottsdale. He bookended a strikeout with a pair of walks, before a balk then moved both runners into scoring position. A single to the next hitter scored one before a mound visit got him back on track. He picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning without any further damage, but did put an end to his scoreless inning streak at 6 total innings pitched. Like Funderburk, Sisk had a bit of a rough start to his time in the AFL, but finished strong. After allowing eight earned runs total in his first five appearances, he allowed just one over his final five to end the season. Over those final five games, Sisk allowed just two hits, walked three, and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings. As he’s new to the Twins organization, I’d expect him to begin the 2022 season back in the bullpen in double-A looking to improve upon his control, much like Featherstone. Thanks for following the 2021 AFL season along with me, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who were there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  14. In a bit of a scheduling quirk with the AFL, the Scottsdale Scorpions played only three games in the final week of the season, going 1-2 to finish with an overall record of 12-18, good for second place in the East Division and fifth overall. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 4-for-8, R, HR (6, tied for 4th in AFL), 2 RBI, BB, 2 K; .303/.405/.606 (1.011 OPS) overall. Wallner got the start in two games on the week, batting fifth in both contests and one game each in the opposite corners of the outfield. In Tuesday’s 9-7 loss at the Surprise Saguaros, he was in right field and led the team with three hits on the day. Down 8-4 at the time and in his third at-bat, Wallner picked up the first of those three hits with a single the opposite way that put runners on first and second with no outs. Unfortunately that’s as far as he’d make it as their rally attempt was snuffed out with three consecutive outs after that. He’d add another single in the seventh inning with a line drive to right field, and this time ended up stranded on third. With the score 9-5 going into the top of the ninth, Wallner followed a leadoff single with his sixth home run of the AFL season, a blast into right field that made it the final of 9-7. Wallner finished off his time in the AFL playing left field in Friday’s 4-3 loss against the Mesa Solar Sox. He grounded out to first base in his first at-bat in the second inning, then singled in the fourth with a ground ball into right field. The Scorpions took a 1-0 lead in the inning on four total singles and a sac fly, but Wallner ended up stranded on third after reaching there with only one out. After a double, single, and another sac fly made it 2-0 in the fifth, he drew a walk to put runners on first and second. They extended the lead to 3-0 with another single before a double-play ball ended any further threat. Leading 3-2 in the seventh and final inning of the contest, Wallner went down swinging before the Solar Sox clubbed two home runs in the bottom half to walk it off. The power hitting outfielder ends his time in the AFL with an outstanding .303/.405/.606 batting line, good for a 1.011 OPS that led the Scorpions roster and was 10th overall in the league. His six home runs were tied for third in league play while his 15 RBI also led the Scorpions and ranked 10th in the league. For comparison, Royce Lewis won the AFL MVP award during the 2019 season with a .353/.411/.565 line and .975 OPS, having 85 at-bats compared to Wallner’s 66. In 18 total games, Wallner walked 9 times and struck out 27 times, batting primarily in the middle of the Scorpions lineup. Despite his 2021 season being limited to 66 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels, I’d fully expect Wallner to begin the 2022 season in the middle of the Wichita Wind Surge’s lineup. Zach Featherstone: 1 appearance, 1 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 0 K; 8.10 ERA, 2.20 WHIP, 12 K, 9 BB, 10 IP overall. Featherstone made his lone appearance on the week in Friday’s walk off loss to Mesa, being tabbed as the first relief pitcher summoned to start the third inning. With the game still scoreless, he delivered a one-two-three inning, getting a groundout and a pair of fly outs on just 12 pitches (7 for strikes). The left-hander made appearances in 11 of the Scorpions 30 games on the season, totaling 10 innings pitched with a 12-to-9 strikeout-to-walk ratio. He allowed 9 earned runs on 13 hits and finished with a 2.20 WHIP, 8.10 ERA, and .310 batting average against. Featherstone spent all of the 2021 season in Cedar Rapids’ bullpen, amassing 107 K’s in 73 1/3 innings pitched that was good for a 2.13 ERA, but as was apparent in the AFL needs to continue working on limiting free passes. I’d expect him to be with Wichita to begin the 2022 season. Andrew Bechtold: 2 games, 2-for-3, R, RBI, BB, 0 K; .237/.333/.305 (.638 OPS) overall. Bechtold saw action in two of the Scorpions three games on the week, getting the start at first base in one while entering as a pinch hitter and designated hitter in the other. His first game of the week came in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over the Salt River Rafters, where he came on as a pinch hitter for the leadoff man in the fifth inning and got a rally started by drawing a one-out walk. After an error he was on third base and scored their second run of the game on a single two batters later. Before the inning was over the Scorpions would tie the game at three. In the bottom of the sixth Bechtold delivered the most important at-bat of the game for Scottsdale, with a sacrifice fly into right field that scored the go-ahead and winning run. While Bechtold did not have a home run in AFL play, he did collect four doubles in 16 games after hitting 18 home runs and 23 doubles with the Wind Surge in 99 games. Depending on offseason roster moves Bechtold could be back in double-A, but with further improvement in his average and on-base percentage should see time with the St. Paul Saints in 2022. Kody Funderburk: Did not pitch; 6.11 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 22 K, 6 BB, 17 2/3 IP overall. With just three games on the week Funderburk’s spot in the rotation did not come up to close out the AFL season, but he finished his time there very strong with wins in his final three starts. Those three wins led the Scorpions pitching staff and was also the second most among all AFL pitchers. His 17 2/3 IP also ranked third on the roster, while his 22 strikeouts ranked second on the team and seventh in the league. His final ERA, WHIP, and BAA numbers are skewed by his first few starts where he gave up some runs in bunches, but the 22-to-6 K-to-BB ratio is a good stat to hang his hat on, as was his excellent finish. Funderburk pitched at two levels during the 2021 season, starting ten games with Cedar Rapids before finishing with seven appearances out of the bullpen with Wichita. I’d expect him to be back in double-A to begin the 2022 season as part of the Wind Surge’s starting rotation, looking to build on his limited innings in 2021. Michael Helman: 2 games, 0-for-4, BB, 0 K, SB; .216/.355/.255 (.610 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman saw playing time in two of three games on the week, with one of those appearances coming as a pinch hitter part of the way through. In Tuesday’s loss at Surprise, Helman entered the game as a pinch hitter for the DH in the seventh inning with runners on first and third after Wallner delivered a single. His ground ball toward second base turned into an error and allowed a run to score, closing the gap on the scoreboard to four runs. After Wallner’s home run in the ninth, Helman grounded out to short for the first out as their comeback attempt came up short. In Wednesday’s win over Salt River Helman batted ninth in the lineup and played center field. He popped out in the second inning, grounded out to short to leadoff the fifth, then drew the second of two consecutive walks in the sixth inning that loaded the bases with one out. Bechtold followed him with his sac fly that gave the Scorpions the lead and with second base open, he stole his seventh base of the AFL season. Those seven steals led the Scottsdale roster and was good for fourth in the league. He was not caught stealing once during the season, and had three games where he stole two bases. In 16 games in the AFL, Helman scored 10 runs and played all around the diamond, including plenty of run in center field as he continued to expand his positional versatility. He spent all of 2021 with Cedar Rapids, and should move up to Wichita in 2022. Like Bechtold, he didn’t hit a home run during AFL play, but was among organizational leaders with 19 during the regular season. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 1 IP, H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 3.86 ERA, 1.21 WHIP, 18 K, 7 BB, 14 IP overall. After pitching in the Fall Stars Game during week five, Laweryson finished his AFL season with a lone appearance in Wednesday’s 4-3 win over Salt River. With his team down 3-1 going into the fifth, he came on as the second relief pitcher to start the inning. He allowed a one-out single but retired the other three hitters he faced, including ending the inning with a swinging strikeout after a good battle with MLB.com’s #45 overall prospect, Brett Baty of the New York Mets. Laweryson pitched in eight games with the Scorpions, including one start, and for the most part was asked to go multiple innings as he finished with 14 total innings. He held opposing hitters to a .189 batting average against, allowing 10 hits and 7 walks, while striking out 18 hitters. That K total ranked fourth on the Scorpions pitching staff. After missing the first few months of the 2021 season, the right-hander started fourteen games with Cedar Rapids but totaled just 58 2/3 innings. It’s possible he begins the 2022 season in double-A, but also would not surprise me to see him back with the Kernels looking to lengthen his outings as a starter. Evan Sisk: 1 appearance, 2 1/3 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 7.59 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 14 K, 9 BB, 10 2/3 IP overall. Like his other relief pitching teammates, Sisk made just one appearance in the season’s final week, getting the ball in Tuesday’s 9-7 loss to the Surprise Saguaros. With the score 8-4 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Sisk was summoned to start the inning as the third reliever of the game for Scottsdale. He bookended a strikeout with a pair of walks, before a balk then moved both runners into scoring position. A single to the next hitter scored one before a mound visit got him back on track. He picked up a strikeout and a groundout to end the inning without any further damage, but did put an end to his scoreless inning streak at 6 total innings pitched. Like Funderburk, Sisk had a bit of a rough start to his time in the AFL, but finished strong. After allowing eight earned runs total in his first five appearances, he allowed just one over his final five to end the season. Over those final five games, Sisk allowed just two hits, walked three, and struck out nine in 6 2/3 innings. As he’s new to the Twins organization, I’d expect him to begin the 2022 season back in the bullpen in double-A looking to improve upon his control, much like Featherstone. Thanks for following the 2021 AFL season along with me, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who were there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. With the power-hitting Matt Wallner sitting out the first half of the week after being hit in the face by a pitch last Thursday, it was a trio of Minnesota Twins pitchers who shined in Week 4 of the Arizona Fall League season. A starting pitcher even picked up two of their team’s three wins on the week. Overall the Scottsdale Scorpions had their first .500 or better record over their six games, going 3-3 while facing the same team three days in a row to close it out. They’ll look to continue that upward trend as a squad in Week 5. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 1-for-9, 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K; .269/.381/.596 (.977 OPS) overall. Wallner didn’t see his first action of the week until Thursday, in the Scorpions 6-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, as he recovered from being hit in the face by a pitch last week. He batted sixth in the lineup and played left field in the game. He flew out to center field in the second inning, was called out on strikes in the fifth and eighth innings, and grounded out in the ninth for the final out of the contest to finish 0-for-4. On defense, he collected an outfield assist by cutting down a runner at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. There were few opportunities for Scottsdale in the game, as they finished just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left only six men on base as a team. His second game of the week came in Saturday’s 11-7 win over Peoria, where he was the cleanup hitter and on the other side of the outfield in right. He got the Scorpions started with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at two. It was his first double of the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 9.82 ERA, 2.45 WHIP 7 1/3 IP) overall. The left-hander made two relief appearances on the week with the first of those coming in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Surprise Saguaros. With his team out front by five runs, he was summoned to finish the game for the Scorpions in the ninth. He walked the first man he faced in the frame but then got two quick outs, including a strikeout, before a single and another walk loaded the bases to make it a little interesting. But he recovered on the next hitter, getting a fly out to finish the game in the win column for Scottsdale. His second outing of the week was in Friday’s 12-1 loss to the Javelinas. With the score 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Featherstone got the call as the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions. A pair of one-out singles put runners on base before he allowed a three-run home run to Jose Cabellero that broke the game open for Peoria. He then retired the next two hitters he faced, including a strikeout to end his inning, but the homerun he allowed was a bit of a catalyst for Peoria as they scored six more runs in the final two innings. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 3-for-13, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 5 K; .231/.333/.308 (.641 OPS) overall. Bechtold played in three games last week, playing a different position on the field in each as he continues to display his versatility around the infield. In Tuesday’s 10-9 win in extra-innings over Salt River Bechtold batted seventh and served as the catcher. Though he finished 0-for-5 in this one, his RBI groundout in a four-run eighth inning helped the Scorpions take a 9-8 lead going into the final frame. As the catcher, he also threw a runner out at second base on a steal attempt in the seventh inning after the Rafters had taken an 8-4 lead with a two-run home run. Bechtold was at first base and batting cleanup in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Mesa, where he finished his day 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s. With the score tied at one in the third inning, Bechtold came to the plate with runners on second and third, and drove an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single and 3-1 lead for his team. His other at-bats included a fly out and two strikeouts, and on defense he had a throwing error attempting to deliver the ball to the pitcher covering first base. The final action of the week for Bechtold came in the Scorpions 11-7 win on Saturday against Peoria, where he was back to batting seventh but on the other side of the diamond at third base. He drew a walk to lead off the second inning and scored Scottsdale’s first run of the inning three batters later that gave them a 3-2 lead. In the third inning his one-out double got a rally started and trotted home again on a three-run home run from teammate Will Wilson. Bechtold then capped the Scorpions scoring on the game with a two-run single in the eighth inning that was too hot to handle for the shortstop, as he could only deflect the ball into center field. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double, walk, two runs scored, and two RBI for a strong finish to his week. Kody Funderburk: 2 starts, 7 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, BB, 12 K; 7.36 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (14 2/3 IP) overall. Funderburk was tabbed for two starts on the week, and he collected the win in both of them, evening his win-loss record in AFL play to 2-2. In his 3 2/3 IP in Monday’s 8-3 win over Surprise, Funderburk was charged with two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six Saguaros. As you can tell from that pitching line, he dealt with a lot of baserunners, but was able to limit some of the damage with big strikeouts. In the first frame, a single and a walk put multiple runners on base, but he bore down and struck out two hitters to end the threat. In the second he allowed one run after a double and an RBI single, but after another single he got another strikeout to keep the Saguaros tally at just one. In the third inning it was a one-out triple that led to another run, but he got the other three hitters he faced out, including another K to end the inning. In the fourth he got two quick strikeouts before a pair of singles ended his outing, but it was enough to be awarded the win by AFL/exhibition rules and encouraging outing compared to his first few weeks. He continued that upward trajectory in Saturday’s 11-7 win over the Peoria Javelinas, striking out another six hitters while this time finishing four innings. In all he allowed two runs on four hits and walked none. The Javelinas got to him early with a pair of runs in the first on three hits, but he got out of the jam by picking off a runner at first base. He allowed only a single in the second inning, then the third and fourth frames were both of the one-two-three variety, including two strikeouts in each. When his day was done his team was up 8-2 and the win would again be his. Michael Helman: 4 games, 5-for-15, 2B, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .256/.347/.302 (.649 OPS) overall. Helman saw the most action of any Twins player this week, playing in four games and collecting five hits in total. On Monday, his 2-for-5 effort came out of the leadoff spot in the batting order while he played center field. He doubled to lead off the third inning, stole third base, and then scampered home on another double for a 3-1 lead. In the fourth, he singled and stole second base before being left stranded after two runs had already scored. The double was his second of the AFL season and is the second time he’s stolen two bases in a game thus far. Back in action again on Thursday against Peoria, Helman was flipped in the order to batting ninth, and was back roaming center field. Though his team was shutout in the game, Helman collected two of their seven total hits with singles in each of the sixth and eighth innings, finishing 2-for-3 on the day. He played for a third day in a row on Friday, again against Peoria in another blowout loss. He again batted ninth and played center field, closing his week with an 0-for-3 effort. His plate appearances included a ground out to first, pop out to short, and fly out to right field as the Scorpions had only five hits and three walks in the game as a team. On defense he also had a throwing error trying to gun down a runner at home in the seventh inning. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 2/3 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (13 IP) overall. After impressing in the the first half of the AFL season Laweryson saw action in just one game during Week 4, though he did go multiple frames. His lone appearance came in Thursday’s shutout loss to the Javelinas and he was summoned in the middle of the second inning after four consecutive walks had led to one run and the bases were still loaded. He got a ground ball that should have ended the threat there, but a throwing error from the shortstop allowed one more run to score and extended the inning. On his next pitch he got another groundball and this time the shortstop didn’t misfire. Laweryson went on to retire seven men in a row, including three strikeouts through the third and fourth innings. He even came out for the fifth, but a leadoff walk and ground out put an end to his day after 44 pitches. Overall he struck out three, including two in the fourth inning, in his 2 2/3 innings pitched. He was charged with an earned run as the next reliever gave up an RBI double to the first hitter he faced that made the score 5-0 Peoria. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K; 8.64 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (8 1/3 IP) overall. Sisk saw action in two of the Scorpions wins on the week, pitching middle innings in both Tuesday’s and Saturday’s games. In the first, he was called in from the bullpen with two outs in the fifth inning after a bases-clearing double. He got his batter to fly out to right field to end the inning without any further damage. Back out for the sixth he retired the side in order, including a strikeout to punctuate his perfect outing. In the second game on Saturday, Sisk was brought on to start the seventh inning, and needed just 11 pitches to retire the side. He got two groundballs and a strikeout to complete a perfect week and lower both his ERA and WHIP on the AFL season substantially. After a rough introduction to the AFL, Sisk has retired all ten hitters he has faced in his last three outings, including four of them via strikeout. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. Overall the Scottsdale Scorpions had their first .500 or better record over their six games, going 3-3 while facing the same team three days in a row to close it out. They’ll look to continue that upward trend as a squad in Week 5. Matt Wallner: 2 games, 1-for-9, 2B, 2 RBI, 0 BB, 4 K; .269/.381/.596 (.977 OPS) overall. Wallner didn’t see his first action of the week until Thursday, in the Scorpions 6-0 loss to the Peoria Javelinas, as he recovered from being hit in the face by a pitch last week. He batted sixth in the lineup and played left field in the game. He flew out to center field in the second inning, was called out on strikes in the fifth and eighth innings, and grounded out in the ninth for the final out of the contest to finish 0-for-4. On defense, he collected an outfield assist by cutting down a runner at second base trying to stretch a single into a double. There were few opportunities for Scottsdale in the game, as they finished just 0-for-2 with runners in scoring position and left only six men on base as a team. His second game of the week came in Saturday’s 11-7 win over Peoria, where he was the cleanup hitter and on the other side of the outfield in right. He got the Scorpions started with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning to tie the game at two. It was his first double of the AFL season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 4 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 9.82 ERA, 2.45 WHIP 7 1/3 IP) overall. The left-hander made two relief appearances on the week with the first of those coming in Monday’s 8-3 win over the Surprise Saguaros. With his team out front by five runs, he was summoned to finish the game for the Scorpions in the ninth. He walked the first man he faced in the frame but then got two quick outs, including a strikeout, before a single and another walk loaded the bases to make it a little interesting. But he recovered on the next hitter, getting a fly out to finish the game in the win column for Scottsdale. His second outing of the week was in Friday’s 12-1 loss to the Javelinas. With the score 3-1 heading into the bottom of the sixth, Featherstone got the call as the second reliever of the game for the Scorpions. A pair of one-out singles put runners on base before he allowed a three-run home run to Jose Cabellero that broke the game open for Peoria. He then retired the next two hitters he faced, including a strikeout to end his inning, but the homerun he allowed was a bit of a catalyst for Peoria as they scored six more runs in the final two innings. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 3-for-13, 2B, 2 R, 5 RBI, BB, 5 K; .231/.333/.308 (.641 OPS) overall. Bechtold played in three games last week, playing a different position on the field in each as he continues to display his versatility around the infield. In Tuesday’s 10-9 win in extra-innings over Salt River Bechtold batted seventh and served as the catcher. Though he finished 0-for-5 in this one, his RBI groundout in a four-run eighth inning helped the Scorpions take a 9-8 lead going into the final frame. As the catcher, he also threw a runner out at second base on a steal attempt in the seventh inning after the Rafters had taken an 8-4 lead with a two-run home run. Bechtold was at first base and batting cleanup in Wednesday’s 5-4 loss to Mesa, where he finished his day 1-for-4 with a pair of RBI’s. With the score tied at one in the third inning, Bechtold came to the plate with runners on second and third, and drove an 0-2 pitch into center field for a two-run single and 3-1 lead for his team. His other at-bats included a fly out and two strikeouts, and on defense he had a throwing error attempting to deliver the ball to the pitcher covering first base. The final action of the week for Bechtold came in the Scorpions 11-7 win on Saturday against Peoria, where he was back to batting seventh but on the other side of the diamond at third base. He drew a walk to lead off the second inning and scored Scottsdale’s first run of the inning three batters later that gave them a 3-2 lead. In the third inning his one-out double got a rally started and trotted home again on a three-run home run from teammate Will Wilson. Bechtold then capped the Scorpions scoring on the game with a two-run single in the eighth inning that was too hot to handle for the shortstop, as he could only deflect the ball into center field. He finished 2-for-4 with his fourth double, walk, two runs scored, and two RBI for a strong finish to his week. Kody Funderburk: 2 starts, 7 2/3 IP, 11 H, 4 ER, BB, 12 K; 7.36 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (14 2/3 IP) overall. Funderburk was tabbed for two starts on the week, and he collected the win in both of them, evening his win-loss record in AFL play to 2-2. In his 3 2/3 IP in Monday’s 8-3 win over Surprise, Funderburk was charged with two runs on seven hits and one walk, while striking out six Saguaros. As you can tell from that pitching line, he dealt with a lot of baserunners, but was able to limit some of the damage with big strikeouts. In the first frame, a single and a walk put multiple runners on base, but he bore down and struck out two hitters to end the threat. In the second he allowed one run after a double and an RBI single, but after another single he got another strikeout to keep the Saguaros tally at just one. In the third inning it was a one-out triple that led to another run, but he got the other three hitters he faced out, including another K to end the inning. In the fourth he got two quick strikeouts before a pair of singles ended his outing, but it was enough to be awarded the win by AFL/exhibition rules and encouraging outing compared to his first few weeks. He continued that upward trajectory in Saturday’s 11-7 win over the Peoria Javelinas, striking out another six hitters while this time finishing four innings. In all he allowed two runs on four hits and walked none. The Javelinas got to him early with a pair of runs in the first on three hits, but he got out of the jam by picking off a runner at first base. He allowed only a single in the second inning, then the third and fourth frames were both of the one-two-three variety, including two strikeouts in each. When his day was done his team was up 8-2 and the win would again be his. Michael Helman: 4 games, 5-for-15, 2B, 2 R, 0 BB, 2 K, 2 SB; .256/.347/.302 (.649 OPS) overall. Helman saw the most action of any Twins player this week, playing in four games and collecting five hits in total. On Monday, his 2-for-5 effort came out of the leadoff spot in the batting order while he played center field. He doubled to lead off the third inning, stole third base, and then scampered home on another double for a 3-1 lead. In the fourth, he singled and stole second base before being left stranded after two runs had already scored. The double was his second of the AFL season and is the second time he’s stolen two bases in a game thus far. Back in action again on Thursday against Peoria, Helman was flipped in the order to batting ninth, and was back roaming center field. Though his team was shutout in the game, Helman collected two of their seven total hits with singles in each of the sixth and eighth innings, finishing 2-for-3 on the day. He played for a third day in a row on Friday, again against Peoria in another blowout loss. He again batted ninth and played center field, closing his week with an 0-for-3 effort. His plate appearances included a ground out to first, pop out to short, and fly out to right field as the Scorpions had only five hits and three walks in the game as a team. On defense he also had a throwing error trying to gun down a runner at home in the seventh inning. Cody Laweryson: 1 appearance, 2 2/3 IP, H, ER, BB, 3 K; 4.15 ERA, 1.23 WHIP (13 IP) overall. After impressing in the the first half of the AFL season Laweryson saw action in just one game during Week 4, though he did go multiple frames. His lone appearance came in Thursday’s shutout loss to the Javelinas and he was summoned in the middle of the second inning after four consecutive walks had led to one run and the bases were still loaded. He got a ground ball that should have ended the threat there, but a throwing error from the shortstop allowed one more run to score and extended the inning. On his next pitch he got another groundball and this time the shortstop didn’t misfire. Laweryson went on to retire seven men in a row, including three strikeouts through the third and fourth innings. He even came out for the fifth, but a leadoff walk and ground out put an end to his day after 44 pitches. Overall he struck out three, including two in the fourth inning, in his 2 2/3 innings pitched. He was charged with an earned run as the next reliever gave up an RBI double to the first hitter he faced that made the score 5-0 Peoria. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 0 H, 0 BB, 2 K; 8.64 ERA, 1.56 WHIP (8 1/3 IP) overall. Sisk saw action in two of the Scorpions wins on the week, pitching middle innings in both Tuesday’s and Saturday’s games. In the first, he was called in from the bullpen with two outs in the fifth inning after a bases-clearing double. He got his batter to fly out to right field to end the inning without any further damage. Back out for the sixth he retired the side in order, including a strikeout to punctuate his perfect outing. In the second game on Saturday, Sisk was brought on to start the seventh inning, and needed just 11 pitches to retire the side. He got two groundballs and a strikeout to complete a perfect week and lower both his ERA and WHIP on the AFL season substantially. After a rough introduction to the AFL, Sisk has retired all ten hitters he has faced in his last three outings, including four of them via strikeout. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  17. Matt Wallner continued to display his big power in Week 3 of the Arizona Fall League season with two more home runs, but Minnesota Twins hitting prospects playing with him in the desert combined to go 0-for-20 after having strong starts. Pitchers also had a rough go in Week 3, but one continued to impress while a pair of relievers did have nice bounce-back outings. Overall on the week the Scottsdale Scorpions had just two wins in six games and are now 5-11 on the season. They will look to put together their first winning record of the AFL campaign in Week 4. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 2-for-9, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K; .278/.400/.611 (1.011 OPS) overall. While Wallner only had two hits on the week, they were both big ones and raised his OPS during the AFL season over .100 points from Week 2 to Week 3. Wallner played right field and batted sixth in the lineup in Scottsdale’s first game of the week, a 7-6 loss to Glendale on Monday. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Wallner drew a walk that put runners on first and second base before another walk loaded the bases. He then trotted home on Jeter Downs’ grand slam that pulled the Scorpions within one run. He was the final out of the game when he grounded out to the pitcher with the tying run on first base. He finished this one 0-for-4 with one walk, the run scored, and one strikeout. In Tuesday’s 11-2 loss to Surprise Wallner was one of the few bright spots for Scottsdale as he scored both of their runs and as a team managed just five hits. In his first at-bat with one out in the second inning, Wallner blasted a moonshot solo home run to right field. His third home run of the AFL season made the score 2-1. He also drew a walk in the ninth inning and came around to score on a single three batters later. In the game Wallner was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, the home run, a walk, and one strikeout. He played left field and again batted sixth. The final action of the week for Wallner came in Thursday’s 11-4 win over Mesa where he batted fifth in the lineup and was back in right field. He struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat but didn’t waste any time in his second one to lead off the third inning. He took a big hack at the first pitch he saw and drove it over the fence the opposite way, giving his team a 5-1 lead at the time. The game got a little interesting for Wallner from there. In the fifth and sixth innings he was hit by pitches in both at-bats. The second of those resulted in an RBI, but hit him in the face. He was subsequently removed from the game, requiring some stitches but avoiding anything serious. In total, he reached base three times in the win, finishing with a 1-for-2 batting line with the home run, one strikeout, and two HBP’s and finished his week tied for second in the league in home runs with four in 36 at-bats on the season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; 8.44 ERA, 2.25 WHIP (5 1/3 IP) overall. Featherstone established a bit of a theme for Twins relief pitchers in AFL games this week with a forgettable first appearance that was followed by a rebound effort. He was the first reliever out of the bullpen in Monday’s loss to Glendale to start the fifth inning. He struck out the first hitter he faced and then got out number two on a liner to center. But from there it was walk, single, single, single, and another walk before he was pulled with two runs already in and responsible for the bases being loaded. Two more runs would be charged to him before the inning was over and Scottsdale was down 5-1 after five. Back in action for the Scorpions 11-4 win over the Solar Sox on Thursday, Featherstone was tabbed this time to pitch the eighth inning with his team up by seven. It was a one-two-three effort requiring thirteen pitches, with the final two hitters going down swinging. In 5 1/3 innings thus far for Featherstone, he has a 9:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio he’ll look to improve upon in the season’s final three weeks. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 0-for-9, R, 6 BB, 3 K; .235/.366/.324 (.689 OPS) overall. Although Bechtold didn’t collect a hit on the week as he was moved up in the lineup, he did draw an impressive six walks in his three games, raising his OBP on the AFL season to .366. In their 7-6 loss to the Desert Dogs on Monday, Bechtold was 0-for-3 but drew the first two of those free passes while serving as the DH and batting fifth in front of Wallner. He drew those walks in the fourth and sixth innings but made it no farther than first base. Playing third base and moving up to third in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Salt River, Bechtold drew three walks and struck out twice in his five plate appearances. After drawing a free pass in the first inning and being among those to load the bases, Bechtold got to third base with just one out, but Scottsdale was only able to score one run in front of him for an early lead. His other walks came in the third inning (stranded on second) and the ninth (that put the tying run in scoring position), but was unable to notch a run scored on the game. Bechtold’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 6-5 win over Glendale, where he batted cleanup and played catcher. He was 0-for-4 on the game, but drew his final base on balls of the week in the eighth inning and later scored on a two-run double that ended up being big runs for the Scorpions as the game went to extra innings before they were able to win it in the eleventh. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; 10.29 ERA, 2.71 WHIP (7 IP) overall. The left-handed Funderburk was tabbed to start Tuesday’s game against Surprise, which they ended up losing big. He was saddled with his second loss of the AFL season. The Saguaros got to him early with the first three hitters of the game reaching base, the third with an RBI single to open the game’s scoring. Another RBI single later in the frame put the Scorpions in a 2-0 hole before their first at-bat. The second inning was much easier for Funderburk. He needed just six pitches to record three outs in one-two-three fashion, picking up a swinging strikeout to end the frame. The third inning was more like the first, except this time the hits came more in the form of doubles. After a leadoff single Funderburk got his second strikeout of the outing, but the consecutive doubles that followed led to two more runs. To finish the inning and his outing, he did notch his fourth strikeout (swinging) on three pitches. Michael Helman: 3 games, 0-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K; .214/.333/.250 (.583 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman did not have a hit in his three games, but due to a few base on balls did score a couple of runs in his time on the field in Week 3, including a game winner. He had to wait until Wednesday’s game against Salt River to see some action. He batted eighth and played left field. His at-bats included a pair of pop-outs to the infield, a lineout to center, and one strikeout. His next game was on Friday in the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale. His two walks in five plate appearances helped them win the game. The first of those free passes came in the seventh inning, and he would score the second run of the inning to tie the game at three. In the eighth his second walk loaded the bases before a Christian Koss double scored two to put the Scorpions ahead 5-4 at the time. After lining into a double play to end the 10th inning, Helman started the 11th on second base with the game still tied, after a (intentional?!) balk moved him to third, Helman was able to trot home for the walk-off winning run on a Koss single to right field. He played second base this time around and again batted eighth in the lineup. Helman was again in the lineup, batting sixth and playing center field, for the Scorpions in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to Surprise. It was an 0-for-4 effort a game the Scorpions outhit the Saguaros 10-7 as a team. He reached base on an error to leadoff the second inning, grounded out to third in the fourth, popped out to first in the sixth, and flew out to center in the seventh to account for all his plate appearances. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (9 IP) overall. After impressing with strikeouts in the season’s first two weeks, Laweryson got his job done in different fashion in Week 3, lowering his ERA to 1.00 on the AFL season in the process with just one strikeout in two appearances. In Wednesday's 3-2 loss against Salt River, Laweryson was brought on to start the sixth inning with the score already 3-2. The first batter reached base on an error, but he was able to retire the next three hitters with a strikeout and two more grounders to keep his team in front. He threw 15 pitches, with nine going for strikes (2 swinging) in this outing. With his team down 6-1 after a bases loaded two-run single in the seventh, Laweryson was summoned with runners on first and second base and two outs in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Saguaros. Looking to limit the damage in the frame any further, Laweryson did allow his first big hit of the AFL season, a two-run double to the first batter he faced that made it 8-1, but he was not responsible for those runners. He got a lineout to end the inning after that and with a clean slate in the eighth delivered a scoreless frame. He allowed two hits in his 1 1/3 innings in this one and will look to get back to punching out hitters in Week 4. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 14.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (5 IP) overall. Like Featherstone before him, Sisk had a rough first appearance followed by a solid second in Week 3 of AFL action. In their big loss on Tuesday, Sisk was brought in from the bullpen to start the fifth inning with the score already 7-1 Surprise. He got the first two outs on a grounder and flyout around a walk, before a single put runners on first and second, and a double to the next hitter brought them both home for a 9-1 Saguaros lead. Another walk prompted a mound visit before he got the final out of the inning on a fly ball to center field. In the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale on Friday, Sisk was tabbed for the sixth inning with the score 2-1 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He made quick work of the hitters he faced, retiring them in order with the first of those two outs coming via strikeouts on foul tips that teammate Bechtold held onto as the catcher. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  18. Overall on the week the Scottsdale Scorpions had just two wins in six games and are now 5-11 on the season. They will look to put together their first winning record of the AFL campaign in Week 4. Matt Wallner: 3 games, 2-for-9, 2 HR, 3 R, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 3 K; .278/.400/.611 (1.011 OPS) overall. While Wallner only had two hits on the week, they were both big ones and raised his OPS during the AFL season over .100 points from Week 2 to Week 3. Wallner played right field and batted sixth in the lineup in Scottsdale’s first game of the week, a 7-6 loss to Glendale on Monday. Down 6-1 in the bottom of the eighth, Wallner drew a walk that put runners on first and second base before another walk loaded the bases. He then trotted home on Jeter Downs’ grand slam that pulled the Scorpions within one run. He was the final out of the game when he grounded out to the pitcher with the tying run on first base. He finished this one 0-for-4 with one walk, the run scored, and one strikeout. In Tuesday’s 11-2 loss to Surprise Wallner was one of the few bright spots for Scottsdale as he scored both of their runs and as a team managed just five hits. In his first at-bat with one out in the second inning, Wallner blasted a moonshot solo home run to right field. His third home run of the AFL season made the score 2-1. He also drew a walk in the ninth inning and came around to score on a single three batters later. In the game Wallner was 1-for-3 with two runs scored, the home run, a walk, and one strikeout. He played left field and again batted sixth. The final action of the week for Wallner came in Thursday’s 11-4 win over Mesa where he batted fifth in the lineup and was back in right field. He struck out on three pitches in his first at-bat but didn’t waste any time in his second one to lead off the third inning. He took a big hack at the first pitch he saw and drove it over the fence the opposite way, giving his team a 5-1 lead at the time. The game got a little interesting for Wallner from there. In the fifth and sixth innings he was hit by pitches in both at-bats. The second of those resulted in an RBI, but hit him in the face. He was subsequently removed from the game, requiring some stitches but avoiding anything serious. In total, he reached base three times in the win, finishing with a 1-for-2 batting line with the home run, one strikeout, and two HBP’s and finished his week tied for second in the league in home runs with four in 36 at-bats on the season. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K; 8.44 ERA, 2.25 WHIP (5 1/3 IP) overall. Featherstone established a bit of a theme for Twins relief pitchers in AFL games this week with a forgettable first appearance that was followed by a rebound effort. He was the first reliever out of the bullpen in Monday’s loss to Glendale to start the fifth inning. He struck out the first hitter he faced and then got out number two on a liner to center. But from there it was walk, single, single, single, and another walk before he was pulled with two runs already in and responsible for the bases being loaded. Two more runs would be charged to him before the inning was over and Scottsdale was down 5-1 after five. Back in action for the Scorpions 11-4 win over the Solar Sox on Thursday, Featherstone was tabbed this time to pitch the eighth inning with his team up by seven. It was a one-two-three effort requiring thirteen pitches, with the final two hitters going down swinging. In 5 1/3 innings thus far for Featherstone, he has a 9:4 strikeout-to-walk ratio he’ll look to improve upon in the season’s final three weeks. Andrew Bechtold: 3 games, 0-for-9, R, 6 BB, 3 K; .235/.366/.324 (.689 OPS) overall. Although Bechtold didn’t collect a hit on the week as he was moved up in the lineup, he did draw an impressive six walks in his three games, raising his OBP on the AFL season to .366. In their 7-6 loss to the Desert Dogs on Monday, Bechtold was 0-for-3 but drew the first two of those free passes while serving as the DH and batting fifth in front of Wallner. He drew those walks in the fourth and sixth innings but made it no farther than first base. Playing third base and moving up to third in the lineup in Wednesday’s 3-2 loss to Salt River, Bechtold drew three walks and struck out twice in his five plate appearances. After drawing a free pass in the first inning and being among those to load the bases, Bechtold got to third base with just one out, but Scottsdale was only able to score one run in front of him for an early lead. His other walks came in the third inning (stranded on second) and the ninth (that put the tying run in scoring position), but was unable to notch a run scored on the game. Bechtold’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 6-5 win over Glendale, where he batted cleanup and played catcher. He was 0-for-4 on the game, but drew his final base on balls of the week in the eighth inning and later scored on a two-run double that ended up being big runs for the Scorpions as the game went to extra innings before they were able to win it in the eleventh. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 3 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 4 K; 10.29 ERA, 2.71 WHIP (7 IP) overall. The left-handed Funderburk was tabbed to start Tuesday’s game against Surprise, which they ended up losing big. He was saddled with his second loss of the AFL season. The Saguaros got to him early with the first three hitters of the game reaching base, the third with an RBI single to open the game’s scoring. Another RBI single later in the frame put the Scorpions in a 2-0 hole before their first at-bat. The second inning was much easier for Funderburk. He needed just six pitches to record three outs in one-two-three fashion, picking up a swinging strikeout to end the frame. The third inning was more like the first, except this time the hits came more in the form of doubles. After a leadoff single Funderburk got his second strikeout of the outing, but the consecutive doubles that followed led to two more runs. To finish the inning and his outing, he did notch his fourth strikeout (swinging) on three pitches. Michael Helman: 3 games, 0-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K; .214/.333/.250 (.583 OPS) overall. Like Bechtold, Helman did not have a hit in his three games, but due to a few base on balls did score a couple of runs in his time on the field in Week 3, including a game winner. He had to wait until Wednesday’s game against Salt River to see some action. He batted eighth and played left field. His at-bats included a pair of pop-outs to the infield, a lineout to center, and one strikeout. His next game was on Friday in the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale. His two walks in five plate appearances helped them win the game. The first of those free passes came in the seventh inning, and he would score the second run of the inning to tie the game at three. In the eighth his second walk loaded the bases before a Christian Koss double scored two to put the Scorpions ahead 5-4 at the time. After lining into a double play to end the 10th inning, Helman started the 11th on second base with the game still tied, after a (intentional?!) balk moved him to third, Helman was able to trot home for the walk-off winning run on a Koss single to right field. He played second base this time around and again batted eighth in the lineup. Helman was again in the lineup, batting sixth and playing center field, for the Scorpions in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to Surprise. It was an 0-for-4 effort a game the Scorpions outhit the Saguaros 10-7 as a team. He reached base on an error to leadoff the second inning, grounded out to third in the fourth, popped out to first in the sixth, and flew out to center in the seventh to account for all his plate appearances. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances, 2 1/3 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 K; 1.00 ERA, 0.89 WHIP (9 IP) overall. After impressing with strikeouts in the season’s first two weeks, Laweryson got his job done in different fashion in Week 3, lowering his ERA to 1.00 on the AFL season in the process with just one strikeout in two appearances. In Wednesday's 3-2 loss against Salt River, Laweryson was brought on to start the sixth inning with the score already 3-2. The first batter reached base on an error, but he was able to retire the next three hitters with a strikeout and two more grounders to keep his team in front. He threw 15 pitches, with nine going for strikes (2 swinging) in this outing. With his team down 6-1 after a bases loaded two-run single in the seventh, Laweryson was summoned with runners on first and second base and two outs in Saturday’s 8-4 loss to the Saguaros. Looking to limit the damage in the frame any further, Laweryson did allow his first big hit of the AFL season, a two-run double to the first batter he faced that made it 8-1, but he was not responsible for those runners. He got a lineout to end the inning after that and with a clean slate in the eighth delivered a scoreless frame. He allowed two hits in his 1 1/3 innings in this one and will look to get back to punching out hitters in Week 4. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 2 IP, 2 H, 2 ER, 2 BB, 2 K; 14.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (5 IP) overall. Like Featherstone before him, Sisk had a rough first appearance followed by a solid second in Week 3 of AFL action. In their big loss on Tuesday, Sisk was brought in from the bullpen to start the fifth inning with the score already 7-1 Surprise. He got the first two outs on a grounder and flyout around a walk, before a single put runners on first and second, and a double to the next hitter brought them both home for a 9-1 Saguaros lead. Another walk prompted a mound visit before he got the final out of the inning on a fly ball to center field. In the Scorpions extra-inning win over Glendale on Friday, Sisk was tabbed for the sixth inning with the score 2-1 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He made quick work of the hitters he faced, retiring them in order with the first of those two outs coming via strikeouts on foul tips that teammate Bechtold held onto as the catcher. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Week two for Minnesota Twins prospects in the Arizona Fall League included one hitter continuing to show his power, infielders racking up hits, two pitchers making a start during the week with one of them continuing to flash elite strikeout numbers in the early going. Overall on the week, the Scottsdale Scorpions went just 1-5 and gave up runs in bunches in several of their games. They will look to rebound as a team in week three. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-16, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K; .296/.375/.519 (.894 OPS) overall. Wallner started off week two just as he finished week one, with a home run in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Salt River. His second blast of the fall season led off the second inning and put Scottsdale up 1-0 early in the game. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Wednesday, hitting third and playing right field in the Scorpions 11-9 loss to the Solar Sox. His first four at-bats included a pop-out to the catcher and three strikeouts, but helped start their attempt at a comeback with a single on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth. He would later come around to score the Scorpions final run of the game. In Thursday’s 17-2 loss to Surprise Wallner in left field and batting third again. You can tell from the score there wasn’t much going right for the Scorpions in this one, but Wallner contributed one of their two runs batted in with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. For the game he was 0-for-2 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Wallner’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 10-8 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. As the cleanup hitter in this one, he would finish 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. He singled in the fifth inning and drew a walk to load the bases in the ninth, but would end up stranded in scoring position both times. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, H, 1 BB, 2 K; 2.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP overall. The left-hander saw action in two games on the week, with his first appearance coming in Tuesday’s 12-4 win over the Desert Dogs. He was the first reliever summoned and pitched a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed a single and struck out two hitters in the outing. In Thursday’s blowout loss to the Saguaros, Featherstone was the last reliever called upon and got the final two outs of the game for the Scorpions. After six of the first seven hitters of the eighth inning reached base and four runs had already scored, he was brought in with runners on first and second. He got a flyout then walked one to reload the bases before a pair of wild pitches got away from him and two more runs came across home plate for Surprise. He got a groundout later in that at-bat to finally end the onslaught. Andrew Bechtold: 4 games, 6-for-17, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K; .320/.346.440 (.786 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the designated hitter and batted sixth in Monday’s loss to the Rafters, but like Wallner, he had a big game as they combined for five of the Scorpions 10 hits on the day. Bechtold finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. His double in the fourth inning put Scottsdale in front 2-1, and he scored his run on a double a batter later. Leading off the sixth inning Bechtold clubbed another double to center field, but ended up stranded on second base. He also drew a walk in the second inning. In Wednesday's game against Mesa, Bechtold moved up into the cleanup spot behind Wallner.. He played first base in this one and had another two-hit day. He singled in both the first and eighth innings and scored a run in the eighth when the Scorpions cut the Solar Sox lead to 9-7. Bechtold’s third game of the week was on Thursday and he was the catcher, batting fifth. He finished 1-for-4 to collect one of the Scorpions four hits on the game. He singled in the second inning and was left on base. He also grounded out in the fourth, flew out in the sixth, and struck out in the ninth. Behind the dish he allowed one passed ball and three bases were stolen by the Saguaros. In Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Salt River Bechtold was at third base and again hitting cleanup in the lineup. He extended his hitting streak to his first six games in the AFL with a 1-for-4 effort. He singled in the first inning to drive in the Scorpions only run of the game. Unfortunately, in his other three at-bats, he struck out but has otherwise been impressive thus far in Arizona with a .320 batting average. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Funderburk made the start in Wednesday’s loss to Mesa after allowing three unearned runs in his two innings. He walked the first two batters of the game but came back with a strikeout before inducing a double-play ball for a scoreless inning. In the second, it was a walk and single followed by an error on Bechtold at first base that allowed the first unearned run to score. An RBI groundout and RBI single later in the inning accounted for the other two before Funderburk got the final out on a grounder to third to cap his outing. In his two innings he allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out one. Michael Helman: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB; .353/.450/.412 (.862 OPS) overall. Helman saw action in three games on the week, playing third base, second base, and center field in the games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He batted ninth in all three contests and collected three more hits to keep his batting average in AFL play above .350 thus far. Against Mesa on Wednesday Helman picked up singles in the third and eighth innings. He led off the third inning with his first of the game, and would score from first on a double from the next batter to cut the Mesa lead to 3-2 at the time. His second single in the eighth was of the RBI variety and made the score 9-6 Solar Sox. In all he finished 2-for-5 with one strikeout as a hitter, but also had two errors in the field. In the all-around clunker of a game against Surprise on Thursday Helman was 0-for-3 with a lineout, fly out, and groundout, his first AFL game without a hit so far on the season. Against Peoria on Friday, Helman got back to his hitting ways, and also caused some havoc on the base paths. In his first at-bat in the third inning he drew a walk and promptly stole second base. He would then score Scottsdale’s first run of the game on a single before they took a 3-1 lead on a home run from early standout Jeter Downs. In the fourth Helman delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1 and he again took second base to get himself into scoring position, though he wouldn’t make it any farther around the bases. He finished this game 1-for-3 with the run scored, an RBI, walk, and the two stolen bases for a nice finish to his week. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (1 start), 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K; 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, including a start in Friday’s loss to the Javelina’s. His first game of the week was in Tuesday’s win over Glendale where he pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed a single to the first hitter he faced, but then retired the other six he faced in a row, including two strikeouts. In his start on Friday he was sharp for the first two innings, striking out four hitters and allowing only two baserunners after an error from his third baseman and a walk in the second inning. Back out for the third he surrendered a single and a double around a lineout before being replaced by the bullpen. In his 2 1/3 innings he was charged with one run on two hits and a walk while striking out four. So far on the season Laweryson leads the Scorpions pitching staff in innings pitched (6 2/3), and strikeouts, and his 12 K’s rank second among all pitchers in the AFL. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Sisk made two relief outings on the week and was roughed up a little in each, though strikeouts came in bunches in one of those outings. In Monday’s loss to Salt River Sisk was unable to record an out in the sixth inning and by the time it was over the Rafters had taken a 5-4 lead. A leadoff double was followed by two walks and a hit batter before he was removed. Responsible for the bases being loaded, three more runs would end up being charged to him and the Scorpions were not able to fully recover the rest of the way. On Thursday Sisk was the first reliever summoned after the Scorpions starter went 3 1/3 innings and he struck out the first hitter he faced. But that was then followed by a single and a two-run home run that put Surprise out front 6-2. He then hit a batter before picking up his second strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth it was a lot better for the lefty to end week two on a high note as all three hitters went down swinging on pitches up in the zone. In his 1 2/3 innings in this one, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk, but all five of his outs came on K’s. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. Overall on the week, the Scottsdale Scorpions went just 1-5 and gave up runs in bunches in several of their games. They will look to rebound as a team in week three. Matt Wallner: 4 games, 5-for-16, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, 9 K; .296/.375/.519 (.894 OPS) overall. Wallner started off week two just as he finished week one, with a home run in Monday’s 7-6 loss to Salt River. His second blast of the fall season led off the second inning and put Scottsdale up 1-0 early in the game. After a day off, Wallner was back in the lineup on Wednesday, hitting third and playing right field in the Scorpions 11-9 loss to the Solar Sox. His first four at-bats included a pop-out to the catcher and three strikeouts, but helped start their attempt at a comeback with a single on an 0-2 pitch in the ninth. He would later come around to score the Scorpions final run of the game. In Thursday’s 17-2 loss to Surprise Wallner in left field and batting third again. You can tell from the score there wasn’t much going right for the Scorpions in this one, but Wallner contributed one of their two runs batted in with a sacrifice fly in the third inning. For the game he was 0-for-2 with a walk and a pair of strikeouts. Wallner’s final game of the week came in Friday’s 10-8 loss to the Peoria Javelinas. As the cleanup hitter in this one, he would finish 1-for-4 with three strikeouts. He singled in the fifth inning and drew a walk to load the bases in the ninth, but would end up stranded in scoring position both times. Zach Featherstone: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, H, 1 BB, 2 K; 2.45 ERA, 1.91 WHIP overall. The left-hander saw action in two games on the week, with his first appearance coming in Tuesday’s 12-4 win over the Desert Dogs. He was the first reliever summoned and pitched a scoreless fourth inning. He allowed a single and struck out two hitters in the outing. In Thursday’s blowout loss to the Saguaros, Featherstone was the last reliever called upon and got the final two outs of the game for the Scorpions. After six of the first seven hitters of the eighth inning reached base and four runs had already scored, he was brought in with runners on first and second. He got a flyout then walked one to reload the bases before a pair of wild pitches got away from him and two more runs came across home plate for Surprise. He got a groundout later in that at-bat to finally end the onslaught. Andrew Bechtold: 4 games, 6-for-17, 2 R, 2 2B, 2 BB, 8 K; .320/.346.440 (.786 OPS) overall. Bechtold was the designated hitter and batted sixth in Monday’s loss to the Rafters, but like Wallner, he had a big game as they combined for five of the Scorpions 10 hits on the day. Bechtold finished 2-for-4 with a run scored and RBI. His double in the fourth inning put Scottsdale in front 2-1, and he scored his run on a double a batter later. Leading off the sixth inning Bechtold clubbed another double to center field, but ended up stranded on second base. He also drew a walk in the second inning. In Wednesday's game against Mesa, Bechtold moved up into the cleanup spot behind Wallner.. He played first base in this one and had another two-hit day. He singled in both the first and eighth innings and scored a run in the eighth when the Scorpions cut the Solar Sox lead to 9-7. Bechtold’s third game of the week was on Thursday and he was the catcher, batting fifth. He finished 1-for-4 to collect one of the Scorpions four hits on the game. He singled in the second inning and was left on base. He also grounded out in the fourth, flew out in the sixth, and struck out in the ninth. Behind the dish he allowed one passed ball and three bases were stolen by the Saguaros. In Saturday’s 8-1 loss to Salt River Bechtold was at third base and again hitting cleanup in the lineup. He extended his hitting streak to his first six games in the AFL with a 1-for-4 effort. He singled in the first inning to drive in the Scorpions only run of the game. Unfortunately, in his other three at-bats, he struck out but has otherwise been impressive thus far in Arizona with a .320 batting average. Kody Funderburk: 1 start, 2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 3 BB, K; 9.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Funderburk made the start in Wednesday’s loss to Mesa after allowing three unearned runs in his two innings. He walked the first two batters of the game but came back with a strikeout before inducing a double-play ball for a scoreless inning. In the second, it was a walk and single followed by an error on Bechtold at first base that allowed the first unearned run to score. An RBI groundout and RBI single later in the inning accounted for the other two before Funderburk got the final out on a grounder to third to cap his outing. In his two innings he allowed two hits, walked three, and struck out one. Michael Helman: 3 games, 3-for-11, 2 R, 2 BB, 1 K, 2 SB; .353/.450/.412 (.862 OPS) overall. Helman saw action in three games on the week, playing third base, second base, and center field in the games on Wednesday, Thursday, and Friday. He batted ninth in all three contests and collected three more hits to keep his batting average in AFL play above .350 thus far. Against Mesa on Wednesday Helman picked up singles in the third and eighth innings. He led off the third inning with his first of the game, and would score from first on a double from the next batter to cut the Mesa lead to 3-2 at the time. His second single in the eighth was of the RBI variety and made the score 9-6 Solar Sox. In all he finished 2-for-5 with one strikeout as a hitter, but also had two errors in the field. In the all-around clunker of a game against Surprise on Thursday Helman was 0-for-3 with a lineout, fly out, and groundout, his first AFL game without a hit so far on the season. Against Peoria on Friday, Helman got back to his hitting ways, and also caused some havoc on the base paths. In his first at-bat in the third inning he drew a walk and promptly stole second base. He would then score Scottsdale’s first run of the game on a single before they took a 3-1 lead on a home run from early standout Jeter Downs. In the fourth Helman delivered an RBI single to make it 4-1 and he again took second base to get himself into scoring position, though he wouldn’t make it any farther around the bases. He finished this game 1-for-3 with the run scored, an RBI, walk, and the two stolen bases for a nice finish to his week. Cody Laweryson: 2 appearances (1 start), 4 1/3 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K; 1.35 ERA, 0.90 WHIP overall. Laweryson pitched in two games on the week, including a start in Friday’s loss to the Javelina’s. His first game of the week was in Tuesday’s win over Glendale where he pitched the seventh and eighth innings. He allowed a single to the first hitter he faced, but then retired the other six he faced in a row, including two strikeouts. In his start on Friday he was sharp for the first two innings, striking out four hitters and allowing only two baserunners after an error from his third baseman and a walk in the second inning. Back out for the third he surrendered a single and a double around a lineout before being replaced by the bullpen. In his 2 1/3 innings he was charged with one run on two hits and a walk while striking out four. So far on the season Laweryson leads the Scorpions pitching staff in innings pitched (6 2/3), and strikeouts, and his 12 K’s rank second among all pitchers in the AFL. Evan Sisk: 2 appearances, 1 2/3 IP, 3 H, 6 ER, 3 BB, 5 K; 18.00 ERA, 3.00 WHIP overall. Sisk made two relief outings on the week and was roughed up a little in each, though strikeouts came in bunches in one of those outings. In Monday’s loss to Salt River Sisk was unable to record an out in the sixth inning and by the time it was over the Rafters had taken a 5-4 lead. A leadoff double was followed by two walks and a hit batter before he was removed. Responsible for the bases being loaded, three more runs would end up being charged to him and the Scorpions were not able to fully recover the rest of the way. On Thursday Sisk was the first reliever summoned after the Scorpions starter went 3 1/3 innings and he struck out the first hitter he faced. But that was then followed by a single and a two-run home run that put Surprise out front 6-2. He then hit a batter before picking up his second strikeout to end the inning. In the fifth it was a lot better for the lefty to end week two on a high note as all three hitters went down swinging on pitches up in the zone. In his 1 2/3 innings in this one, he allowed two runs on two hits and a walk, but all five of his outs came on K’s. Check back every week to see how Minnesota Twins prospects have played during the AFL season, and please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY: — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Wednesday is Opening Day in the Arizona Fall League. After a year without it, six teams will begin their six-week season. The Twins have sent seven players and one coach to play for the Scottsdale Scorpions. Learn a little more about each and what they want to get out of their time in the AFL. The Scottsdale Scorpions team contains seven players from the Twins, Giants, “Guardians,” Rays, and Red Sox. As was announced just last week, the Twins are sending four pitchers and three position players. Right-hander Cody Laweryson and lefties Kody Funderburk, Zach Featherstone, and Evan Sisk will get some extra innings on the mound. Outfielder Matt Wallner, infielder Andrew Bechtold, and utility man Michael Helman will get more opportunities at the plate and in the field. For the Twins representatives, it is their first time playing in the league. Most of them hadn’t even been to Arizona for the Fall League as a fan. The lone exception is Kody Funderburk, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and frequented the ballparks in the Fall. The southpaw was a two-way player at Dallas Baptist, but he has been solely a pitcher since joining the Twins as their 15th round draft pick in 2018. He began this season at High-A Cedar Rapids, where he made ten starts and was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings, he had 59 strikeouts. He moved up to Double-A Wichita, and all seven of his appearances came out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.25 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Ryan Smith has earned praise for his terrific work as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wind Surge, the same role he will have for Scottsdale. Smith noted, “Prior to last week, I had never been in Arizona!” The Twins prospects finished the season in either Cedar Rapids or Wichita. Both teams made the playoffs. They got a couple of weeks off before heading to Arizona for a week of practice. Each player has things they want to work on during their time in the Fall League. Likewise, Smith intends to continue to improve himself during his time there. He said, “ I’d like to continue to sharpen my communication (and Spanish-speaking) skills with this new group of players.” For Evan Sisk, the Fall League provides him with an opportunity to work on pitches and such. He came to the Twins at the trade deadline from the Cardinals in the J.A. Happ trade and spent the final two months working in the Wind Surge bullpen. He will also get to know these Twins teammates better. Minnesota native Matt Wallner missed about two months of the 2021 season because of a broken hamate bone. This time will allow him to get some of those missed at-bats back. He noted, “Working on seeing and being more comfortable against the better arms in this league.” Kernels starter Cody Laweryson missed time early in the season. His season began in June, and he made 14 starts. In 58 2/3 innings, he had 73 strikeouts. For him, it is mainly about working on his confidence. “My biggest thing to work on is keeping my confidence high no matter how my outings are going.” Like Funderburk, Zach Featherstone was a two-way player in college. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft as a first baseman/outfielder. He spent that first year in the organization as a hitter. However, he quickly moved to the mound. Unfortunately, after just a handful of innings in 2017, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was ready for a rehab appearance when a hurricane shut down the GCL season. Like others, he did not pitch in 2020. So you can imagine what it meant for him to get back on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021. And he was terrific. By season’s end, he was the Kernels closer, and his pitches were much sharper. He noted, “I’m going to be working on getting ahead of hitters more often, attacking the strike zone with all three of my pitches.” Featherstone throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider that can be devastating at times. Michael Helman was drafted as a middle infielder in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. His power arrived in 2021. In 121 pro games between 2018 and 2019, he had 19 doubles and seven homers. In 111 games for the Kernels in 2021, he hit 21 doubles and 19 home runs. Helman did so while spending time playing all over the diamond. Having played one pro game in the outfield over his first two pro seasons, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, and 26 games in center field. He played 20 games in the middle infield. He pointed out, “I would like to become more of a complete player all around both on the offensive and defensive sides. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing more outfield or infield. I guess it just depends on where they want to work me in.” In the season’s first half, he split his time between first base and third base. After the Twins promoted Jose Miranda to St. Paul, Bechtold played more third base. In 99 games, he hit 23 doubles and 18 home runs. The day after the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, Bechtold played his first game as a catcher. It is something he had been working on for about a month. “I’m definitely going to be continuing to work on my catching. Catching for me was a project the last month or so of the season, and we put in a lot of work. I was able to catch in a game in Double-A this year because of how well the progression we were working on worked. I know catching is a valuable tool for me to have. I’m excited to continue to work on it and continue to get more experience. Along with catching, I want to continue to develop as much range as possible at third base and continue to fine-tune my approach at the plate.” The Arizona Fall League is something that baseball fans should include on their bucket list. And for players, the opportunity to play in the league is tremendous. The players should be excited about this opportunity, and they all are. Bechtold said, “I’m most looking forward to playing against guys you may not normally see, whether that’s because of the league they are in or level. I think the AFL is a great opportunity to see guys first-hand and see how you compare to some of the other organizations’ top talents. I think playing with high-caliber players for an extended period of time pushes you and forces you to play your best baseball, so I’m looking forward to that.” It is about testing yourself against prospects from around baseball. Featherstone said, “I’m looking forward to getting to compete against some of the best minor league competition from this year.” Laweryson explained, “I would say I’m most looking forward to the competition I’m going to face and the great players I’m going to be playing with.” Wallner echoed the sentiment, “ Looking forward to competing against upper-level competition that’s out here.” And so did Helman, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against some great competition.” One of the great things about the Fall League and playing with coaches and players from other organizations is the chance to learn from others. Maybe try something that will click for them and help them achieve another level of success. Smith is undoubtedly looking forward to that. “I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with coaches and players from other organizations, as well as enjoying the great fall weather out in AZ. ” To summarize, Bechtold said, “I’ve heard a lot about it just being a baseball fan growing up, and I always knew it was something I would want to play in one day if given the opportunity. I think the Twins have a good group of guys here, so I’m excited to experience it with them and really take it all in and enjoy my time here.” In the past, I have chatted with players after the AFL season is complete to hear their experiences. Most are just thrilled to have had the opportunity to have met such great players and people from other organizations. It’s fun to see if they were able to accomplish some of the things they wanted to. Each week throughout the AFL season, Twins Daily will update how the Twins prospects have performed. View full article
  22. After a one-year hiatus, the Arizona Fall League is back. This league combines some of baseball’s best prospects, so who are Minnesota’s top five prospects heading to the AFL? The Arizona Fall League started in 1992 as an off-season league where some of baseball’s best up-and-coming prospects can take the field together. Six teams make up the AFL, and each club plays a 30-game schedule. According to MLB.com, “Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with the league boasting 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, eight World Series MVPs, 103 Silver Sluggers, 96 Gold Gloves and 32 Rookies of the Year.” Will any of the names mentioned below be able to add to the accolades mentioned above? Here are the top five Twins prospects heading to the 2021 Arizona Fall League: 5. Michael Helman, 2B/OF 2021 Stats: .246/.336/.462 (.798), 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B, 87 K, 51 BB (111 G) Helman ended the 2019 season at High-A, and he spent all of 2021 at the same level. He was over 2.5 years older than the average age of the competition at that level. During the 2021 season, he was among the organization leaders in homers. He is listed as a second baseman on the AFL rosters, even though he primarily played in the outfield this season. This might be an opportunity to get him more reps in the infield. 4. Kody Funderburk, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 82 K, 28 BB (67.0 IP) Minnesota selected Funderburk with their 15th round pick back in 2018. During the 2019 season, he struggled at Low-A as he posted a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 13 appearances (10 starts). Funderburk posted strong numbers between High- and Double-A this season while being used as a starter and a reliever. He has only pitched 155 innings as a professional, so this is likely an opportunity for him to get more innings under his belt. 3. Zach Featherstone, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K, 42 BB (55.0 IP) Entering 2021, Featherstone was limited to 18 1/3 innings since the Twins drafted him as a position player in 2016. None of those innings came above the rookie leagues. Minnesota pushed him to High-A this season, where the 25-year old was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. Featherstone posted an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 out of the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, he also walked nearly seven batters per nine. This is likely an opportunity to get Featherstone some more innings so he can work on his control. 2. Andrew Bechtold, 3B 2021 Stats: .239/.328/.459 (.786), 18 HR, 23 2B, 131 K, 45 BB (99 Games) Originally, Bechtold was a fifth-round pick by the Twins back in 2017. His college experience at Maryland helped him post an .829 OPS at Elizabethton. He struggled in 2018 at Low-A as his OPS dropped by 236 points. The Twins sent him back to Low-A in 2019, and he split time between Low- and High-A with a .738 OPS. Like Helman, he was among the organization leaders in homers this season. Defensively, he continues to play at third base with some time at first. 1. Matt Wallner, OF 2021 Stats: .265/.350/.504 (.854), 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 100 K, 28 BB (68 Games) Wallner strikes out a bunch, but he has light-tower power, which puts him at the top of this list. He came in as the organization’s 12th best prospect in the most recent Twins Daily prospect rankings. A broken hamate bone limited him to 68 games, so sending him to the AFL to recoup some last at-bats makes sense. In a third of his plate appearances this season, he struck out, so that will be something to watch in Arizona. How would you rank these players? What will you be looking for in the AFL? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  23. The Scottsdale Scorpions team contains seven players from the Twins, Giants, “Guardians,” Rays, and Red Sox. As was announced just last week, the Twins are sending four pitchers and three position players. Right-hander Cody Laweryson and lefties Kody Funderburk, Zach Featherstone, and Evan Sisk will get some extra innings on the mound. Outfielder Matt Wallner, infielder Andrew Bechtold, and utility man Michael Helman will get more opportunities at the plate and in the field. For the Twins representatives, it is their first time playing in the league. Most of them hadn’t even been to Arizona for the Fall League as a fan. The lone exception is Kody Funderburk, who grew up in Mesa, Arizona, and frequented the ballparks in the Fall. The southpaw was a two-way player at Dallas Baptist, but he has been solely a pitcher since joining the Twins as their 15th round draft pick in 2018. He began this season at High-A Cedar Rapids, where he made ten starts and was 1-3 with a 3.18 ERA. In 45 1/3 innings, he had 59 strikeouts. He moved up to Double-A Wichita, and all seven of his appearances came out of the bullpen. He posted a 1.25 ERA and had 23 strikeouts in 21 2/3 innings. Ryan Smith has earned praise for his terrific work as the hitting coach of the Wichita Wind Surge, the same role he will have for Scottsdale. Smith noted, “Prior to last week, I had never been in Arizona!” The Twins prospects finished the season in either Cedar Rapids or Wichita. Both teams made the playoffs. They got a couple of weeks off before heading to Arizona for a week of practice. Each player has things they want to work on during their time in the Fall League. Likewise, Smith intends to continue to improve himself during his time there. He said, “ I’d like to continue to sharpen my communication (and Spanish-speaking) skills with this new group of players.” For Evan Sisk, the Fall League provides him with an opportunity to work on pitches and such. He came to the Twins at the trade deadline from the Cardinals in the J.A. Happ trade and spent the final two months working in the Wind Surge bullpen. He will also get to know these Twins teammates better. Minnesota native Matt Wallner missed about two months of the 2021 season because of a broken hamate bone. This time will allow him to get some of those missed at-bats back. He noted, “Working on seeing and being more comfortable against the better arms in this league.” Kernels starter Cody Laweryson missed time early in the season. His season began in June, and he made 14 starts. In 58 2/3 innings, he had 73 strikeouts. For him, it is mainly about working on his confidence. “My biggest thing to work on is keeping my confidence high no matter how my outings are going.” Like Funderburk, Zach Featherstone was a two-way player in college. The Twins drafted him in the 12th round of the 2016 draft as a first baseman/outfielder. He spent that first year in the organization as a hitter. However, he quickly moved to the mound. Unfortunately, after just a handful of innings in 2017, he had Tommy John surgery. He missed the 2018 and 2019 seasons. He was ready for a rehab appearance when a hurricane shut down the GCL season. Like others, he did not pitch in 2020. So you can imagine what it meant for him to get back on the mound for the Cedar Rapids Kernels in 2021. And he was terrific. By season’s end, he was the Kernels closer, and his pitches were much sharper. He noted, “I’m going to be working on getting ahead of hitters more often, attacking the strike zone with all three of my pitches.” Featherstone throws a low-to-mid-90s fastball, a curveball, and a slider that can be devastating at times. Michael Helman was drafted as a middle infielder in the 11th round of the 2018 draft out of Texas A&M. His power arrived in 2021. In 121 pro games between 2018 and 2019, he had 19 doubles and seven homers. In 111 games for the Kernels in 2021, he hit 21 doubles and 19 home runs. Helman did so while spending time playing all over the diamond. Having played one pro game in the outfield over his first two pro seasons, he played 42 games in left field, 27 games in right field, and 26 games in center field. He played 20 games in the middle infield. He pointed out, “I would like to become more of a complete player all around both on the offensive and defensive sides. I’m not sure if I’ll be playing more outfield or infield. I guess it just depends on where they want to work me in.” In the season’s first half, he split his time between first base and third base. After the Twins promoted Jose Miranda to St. Paul, Bechtold played more third base. In 99 games, he hit 23 doubles and 18 home runs. The day after the Wind Surge clinched a playoff spot, Bechtold played his first game as a catcher. It is something he had been working on for about a month. “I’m definitely going to be continuing to work on my catching. Catching for me was a project the last month or so of the season, and we put in a lot of work. I was able to catch in a game in Double-A this year because of how well the progression we were working on worked. I know catching is a valuable tool for me to have. I’m excited to continue to work on it and continue to get more experience. Along with catching, I want to continue to develop as much range as possible at third base and continue to fine-tune my approach at the plate.” The Arizona Fall League is something that baseball fans should include on their bucket list. And for players, the opportunity to play in the league is tremendous. The players should be excited about this opportunity, and they all are. Bechtold said, “I’m most looking forward to playing against guys you may not normally see, whether that’s because of the league they are in or level. I think the AFL is a great opportunity to see guys first-hand and see how you compare to some of the other organizations’ top talents. I think playing with high-caliber players for an extended period of time pushes you and forces you to play your best baseball, so I’m looking forward to that.” It is about testing yourself against prospects from around baseball. Featherstone said, “I’m looking forward to getting to compete against some of the best minor league competition from this year.” Laweryson explained, “I would say I’m most looking forward to the competition I’m going to face and the great players I’m going to be playing with.” Wallner echoed the sentiment, “ Looking forward to competing against upper-level competition that’s out here.” And so did Helman, “I’m looking forward to the opportunity to play against some great competition.” One of the great things about the Fall League and playing with coaches and players from other organizations is the chance to learn from others. Maybe try something that will click for them and help them achieve another level of success. Smith is undoubtedly looking forward to that. “I’m really looking forward to the collaboration with coaches and players from other organizations, as well as enjoying the great fall weather out in AZ. ” To summarize, Bechtold said, “I’ve heard a lot about it just being a baseball fan growing up, and I always knew it was something I would want to play in one day if given the opportunity. I think the Twins have a good group of guys here, so I’m excited to experience it with them and really take it all in and enjoy my time here.” In the past, I have chatted with players after the AFL season is complete to hear their experiences. Most are just thrilled to have had the opportunity to have met such great players and people from other organizations. It’s fun to see if they were able to accomplish some of the things they wanted to. Each week throughout the AFL season, Twins Daily will update how the Twins prospects have performed.
  24. The Arizona Fall League started in 1992 as an off-season league where some of baseball’s best up-and-coming prospects can take the field together. Six teams make up the AFL, and each club plays a 30-game schedule. According to MLB.com, “Nearly 60 percent of all AFL players make a Major League roster, with the league boasting 321 All-Stars, 21 MVPs, six Cy Young Award winners, eight World Series MVPs, 103 Silver Sluggers, 96 Gold Gloves and 32 Rookies of the Year.” Will any of the names mentioned below be able to add to the accolades mentioned above? Here are the top five Twins prospects heading to the 2021 Arizona Fall League: 5. Michael Helman, 2B/OF 2021 Stats: .246/.336/.462 (.798), 19 HR, 21 2B, 4 3B, 87 K, 51 BB (111 G) Helman ended the 2019 season at High-A, and he spent all of 2021 at the same level. He was over 2.5 years older than the average age of the competition at that level. During the 2021 season, he was among the organization leaders in homers. He is listed as a second baseman on the AFL rosters, even though he primarily played in the outfield this season. This might be an opportunity to get him more reps in the infield. 4. Kody Funderburk, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 82 K, 28 BB (67.0 IP) Minnesota selected Funderburk with their 15th round pick back in 2018. During the 2019 season, he struggled at Low-A as he posted a 4.68 ERA and a 1.42 WHIP in 13 appearances (10 starts). Funderburk posted strong numbers between High- and Double-A this season while being used as a starter and a reliever. He has only pitched 155 innings as a professional, so this is likely an opportunity for him to get more innings under his belt. 3. Zach Featherstone, LHP 2021 Stats: 2.13 ERA, 1.27 WHIP, 93 K, 42 BB (55.0 IP) Entering 2021, Featherstone was limited to 18 1/3 innings since the Twins drafted him as a position player in 2016. None of those innings came above the rookie leagues. Minnesota pushed him to High-A this season, where the 25-year old was 1.7 years older than the average age of the competition. Featherstone posted an eye-popping 15.2 K/9 out of the bullpen this season. Unfortunately, he also walked nearly seven batters per nine. This is likely an opportunity to get Featherstone some more innings so he can work on his control. 2. Andrew Bechtold, 3B 2021 Stats: .239/.328/.459 (.786), 18 HR, 23 2B, 131 K, 45 BB (99 Games) Originally, Bechtold was a fifth-round pick by the Twins back in 2017. His college experience at Maryland helped him post an .829 OPS at Elizabethton. He struggled in 2018 at Low-A as his OPS dropped by 236 points. The Twins sent him back to Low-A in 2019, and he split time between Low- and High-A with a .738 OPS. Like Helman, he was among the organization leaders in homers this season. Defensively, he continues to play at third base with some time at first. 1. Matt Wallner, OF 2021 Stats: .265/.350/.504 (.854), 15 HR, 14 2B, 2 3B, 100 K, 28 BB (68 Games) Wallner strikes out a bunch, but he has light-tower power, which puts him at the top of this list. He came in as the organization’s 12th best prospect in the most recent Twins Daily prospect rankings. A broken hamate bone limited him to 68 games, so sending him to the AFL to recoup some last at-bats makes sense. In a third of his plate appearances this season, he struck out, so that will be something to watch in Arizona. How would you rank these players? What will you be looking for in the AFL? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. There were several tight games tonight on the farm in the Twins organization, but it was another Louie Varland start of dominance that paces the highlights. TRANSACTIONS Charlie Barnes was returned to the Saints after being the 29th man on Tuesday. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Indianapolis 2 Box Score Playing an afternoon matinee in Indianapolis, the Saints sent Beau Burrows to the bump. He tossed 6 1/3 innings of four-hit ball allowing just a single run. Burrows walked two and punched out six in what was among his best outings this season. St. Paul scored first as Sherman Johnson singled home Damek Tomscha in the 2nd inning. After allowing an equalizer in the bottom half, St. Paul added again in the 3rd inning. Jimmy Kerrigan drove in Jose Miranda on a single to center. Putting some distance between the clubs, Caleb Hamilton singled in the 4th inning to score Tomscha and make it a 3-1 game. Things got a bit dicey in the 9th inning when Yennier Cano allowed some traffic to turn into a run. He loaded the bases with a walk on a 3-2 pitch but generated a ground ball to end the game. Miranda continued his amazing season with a 3-for-4 effort and Tomscha had a multi-hit game as well tallying two doubles. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 10, Wichita 5 (Game 1) Box Score Suspended yesterday, here’s what Steve had to say about the action that did get played: Unfortunately for the Wind Surge, they played much of this game through some drizzle before the conditions became too much for them to continue. They had not yet completed five innings, so the game was suspended in the top of the fifth and will resume tomorrow. It had been a mixed bag before the game was paused, as Simeon Woods Richardson delivered a fantastic performance for the first three innings of the game, but upon his exit the Travelers struck to take the 4-1 lead against Ben Gross. In his outing, Woods Richardson allowed just two hits while striking out five in his three innings. He definitely looked like a top prospect in this one as compared to his prior outings. Of his 47 pitches in the game, 32 went for strikes (68%), including a whopping 12 swinging strikes. He got those swings and misses on all of his pitches as well, with his changeup especially (to my eyes) looking like it was fooling everyone. Wichita got their lone run in the bottom of the second thanks to an RBI infield single from Aaron Whitefield. Picking up in the 5th inning, Trey Cabbage made his presence felt launching his 18th homer of the year, a two-run shot that drew Wichita within one at 4-3. A 6th inning grand slam for Arkansas allowed a five-run inning to provide plenty of distance. Wichita attempted to make things interesting in the 8th inning when Andrew Bechtold singled in Cabbage and Aaron Whitefield drove in Spencer Steer. That 9-5 deficit was the closest things would get, and with Arkansas adding another run in the 9th inning, this one stayed out of reach. Wichita 6, Arkansas 4 (F/7 Game 2) Box Score Jordan Balazovic was on the bump for game two of this non-traditional doubleheader. It wasn’t his sharpest outing and the Twins top pitching prospect went just 3 2/3 innings allowing four runs on four hits and four walks while striking out five batters. Down 2-0 after the first inning, Wichita answered with two runs of their own in the 2nd inning. Jermaine Palacios singled driving in Leobaldo Cabrera, and Andrew Bechtold plated Palacios on a single of his own. Again trailing after the 4th inning, the Wind Surge answered with Spencer Steer ripping a bases loaded double to bring everyone home. Grabbing their first lead of the contest, Cedar Rapids was now on top 5-4. During a 6th inning Bechtold walk, Whitefield swiped third base and scored on an error by the Travelers backstop. 6-4 is where this on would end, and Roy Morales was the lone player to record a multi-hit effort going 3-for-4 on the evening. KERNELS NUGGETS Peoria 2, Cedar Rapids 1 Box Score Louie Varland has been dominant at the two levels of Class A ball this season, and he turned in another great start tonight for the Kernels. Working six innings, Varland allowed two runs (just one earned) on four hits and no walks. He punched out 11 batters on the evening and dropped his ERA to 2.10. Derek Molina struck out four batters over the final two innings. Jair Camargo drove in Aaron Sabato with a 5th inning single knotting the game at one, but that was the only run production the Kernels could muster and they fell just short. Camargo had a two-hit night and accounted for half of Cedar Rapids total. MUSSEL MATTERS Fort Myers 5, Tampa 2 Box Score Needing just seven total strikeouts to set a new team record, the Mighty Mussels eclipsed the team total set by the Miracle back in 2019. Starter John Stankiewicz picked up six of the necessary punch outs and worked six innings allowing just a single run on five hits and a walk. After getting behind in the first, Charles Mack recorded his second triple of the season plating both Misael Urbina and Will Holland to take the lead. Mack then drew a bases-loaded walk in the third to drive in Alerick Soularie before Jake Rucker was hit and allowed Christian Encarnacion-Strand to score. Kyle Fedko was hit by a pitch and allowed Holland to score. Three runs came across in the inning, and none were generated by a ball put in play. Tampa drew closers with a solo shot in the 9th inning, but the left the bases loaded and wound up on the short side of the scoreboard. Despite being scheduled for a twin bill, rain again impacted tonight’s plans and turned this into a one game, nine-inning affair. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Scheduled Day Off TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Louie Varland (Cedar Rapids) - 6.0 IP, 4 H, 2 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 11 K Hitter of the Day - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-4, R PROSPECT SUMMARY #1 - Royce Lewis (rehab) - Out for season (torn ACL) #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 1-2, R, BB, K #3 - Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) - 3.2 IP, 4 H 4 R, 4 ER, 4 BB, 5 K #4 - Simeon Woods Richardson (Wichita) - Did not pitch #5 - Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) - Injured List (elbow strain) #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 3-4, R #7 - Joe Ryan (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #8 - Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) - Injured List (right elbow strain) #9 - Chase Petty (Complex) - No game #10 - Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) - Temporarily Inactive List #11 - Josh Winder (St. Paul) - Injured List (right shoulder impingement) #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 0-3, BB #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - Did not play #14 - Drew Strotman (St. Paul) - Did not pitch #15 - Noah Miller (Complex) - No game #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - Did not play (Paternity List) #17 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Out for season (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) - 1-3, R, BB #19 - Cole Sands (Wichita) - Did not pitch #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-3, 3 RBI THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Derek Law (1-0, 3.20 ERA) Arkansas @ Wichita (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Chris Vallimont (5-7, 6.33 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - RHP Sean Mooney (0-1, 9.00 ERA) Tampa @ Fort Myers, Game 1 (6:00 PM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! 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