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  1. When you look through this summer’s Fort Myers Miracle roster, you can see it’s packed with several of the Minnesota Twins’ top prospects. At least ten players were selected within the top five rounds of the annual MLB amateur entry draft and others were international players that garnered hefty signing bonuses. Eight players among MLB.com’s pre-season top 30 Twins prospects are currently toiling in the Florida heat for the Miracle and another is currently on the Fort Myers Injured List.One name you won’t find on many list of high round picks or consensus top-ranked prospects is Hector Lujan. You would have to go to some kind of top “performers” list to find Lujan and, when you do, you’re likely to find the relief pitcher’s name near the top of that list. Lujan got off to a sluggish start this season, surrendering six runs, all earned, in his first five appearances out of the Miracle bullpen, covering 12 2/3 innings from opening day through April 22. Over the six-plus weeks that followed, however, Lujan threw 22 innings during 12 appearances without giving up another earned run, while notching a 28/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His performance earned him Twins Daily’s Relief Pitcher of the Month award for May. The Corona, California, native was selected by the Twins with their 35th round pick in the 2015 draft out of Westmont College, just three rounds after the Twins selected his college teammate, Andrew Vasquez with their 32nd round pick. As you can imagine, the draft week experience for Lujan was perhaps somewhat different than it was for those Miracle teammates that were selected among the top few rounds of the draft. Lujan knew he’d be waiting until the final day of the draft to learn his fate. “I remember getting a text (early) in the morning,” he recalled in an interview last week. “My scout texted me, ‘you ready for this?’ I was like, ‘whatever opportunity you give me, I’m ready.’ Right then and there, I woke up. It was like 5:45 in the morning. I’d just gotten the text and I woke up. I just couldn’t go back to sleep. I woke up, my hands were sweating the entire day. “Rounds were going through, they hit 20, I decided to go for a drive, try to relax. I could see all the names of my buddies going and I was getting excited. Then I decided to come back home, it was like the 30th round. I sat down, relaxed, and then I saw Vasquez go. Texted him and as soon as I texted him, I got a message from him saying ‘thank you,’ and right then I looked at my phone again and my scout’s saying, ‘hey, we took you in the 35th round. Welcome to the Twins.’ “Right then and there, I just jumped up, almost hit the ceiling fan. My parents were excited, so it was an awesome moment.” The 35th round. And the right-hander wears the number 35 on the back of his Fort Myers jersey. Just a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Being selected with just five rounds remaining in the 40-round draft could make you question your chances of professional success on the field, but that wasn’t Lujan’s mindset. “Honestly, at the time for me, it was just like, you know what? I’m excited whether I was the very last pick or the very first pick, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I just wanted an opportunity to play. Just, you know what, I’m going to make the most out of it. However long my career is, whether it’s five, ten, twenty years. It was just an exciting moment. I was like, I’ve got to take advantage of it as best I can.” After moderate success with the Twins’ rookie league teams in his draft year and 2016, Lujan appeared to find his stride at Cedar Rapids in 2017 where he notched a 1.33 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 42 appearances, all in relief, and converted 17 of 19 save opportunities for the Kernels. His results weren’t as strong a year ago in his first season at class High-A in Fort Myers, but he did finish the campaign with a very strong August, striking out 16 and walking only two batters in 12 1/3 innings of work. His WHIP that month was a stingy 0.63 and batters hit just .133 against him. The six-plus week of near perfection beginning in late April this spring came to a crashing end on June 5 when the Florida Fire Frogs touched him up for three runs on six hits in two innings of work. After that hiccup, Lujan was philosophical about things. “I try to just take the positives and negatives and kind of just flush it after,” he said the next day. “Then the next day, just carry on. There’s plenty more outings for me.” What does a pitcher think about when he’s out there experiencing that kind of outing after several weeks of nothing but success? “When I was out there, I felt like I was making good pitches and the results just weren’t going my way,” he said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘hey you know what, you got yourself into this mess, you can keep getting yourself out.’ “Sometimes, my thing, I go out there and try to get everybody out. Put up zeros and help our team win. Everybody has those outings where things aren’t just falling your way. Whether it’s a bloop hit, if you’re getting hit, if you’re walking guys, not getting calls. I just kept telling myself, ‘you know what? It is what it is. Let’s go, keep attacking the zone. Make the guy put the ball in play and get some outs.’ I’ve got my defense behind me; I’m just going to keep letting them work and make good pitches and let the rest play out.” And when it’s all played out? “You’ve just got to flush it and once the inning’s over, ‘right, that happened,’ and just focus on your next inning.” That poise has been noticed by manager Toby Gardenhire. “That’s part of growing up as a pitcher. Part of growing up as a player, in general,” Gardenhire noted. “Lujan’s done a really good job with that, where he doesn’t let things affect him that much. He’s got a really good split-change thing that he’s throwing right now. Has a good breaking ball. He attacks hitters. He doesn’t get flustered out there. He’s got a lot of things that you want in a reliever. He’s doing really good.” Lujan’s next inning came three nights later against Jupiter, when he hung a zero on the board in his inning of work to preserve a 4-2 win for his club and tally his fifth save of the season. Heading into the final series of the first half of the Florida State League season, the Miracle owned a slim one-game lead in the South Division standings and Lujan sounded like he’s enjoying the playoff race with his teammates. “Overall yeah, Awesome teammates, the team chemistry right now is fantastic. We’re lucky enough to be in a playoff race, to clinch the first half. I wouldn’t want any other guys behind me, so it’s pretty awesome.” Manager Toby Gardenhire OK’d Lujan hitting ground balls to infielders during batting practice. “He always comes out and hits fungos. He doesn’t want to shag out in the outfield with the outfielders, so I said, ‘whatever you want to do, just don’t get hurt.’” Click here to view the article
  2. One name you won’t find on many list of high round picks or consensus top-ranked prospects is Hector Lujan. You would have to go to some kind of top “performers” list to find Lujan and, when you do, you’re likely to find the relief pitcher’s name near the top of that list. Lujan got off to a sluggish start this season, surrendering six runs, all earned, in his first five appearances out of the Miracle bullpen, covering 12 2/3 innings from opening day through April 22. Over the six-plus weeks that followed, however, Lujan threw 22 innings during 12 appearances without giving up another earned run, while notching a 28/4 strikeout-to-walk ratio. His performance earned him Twins Daily’s Relief Pitcher of the Month award for May. The Corona, California, native was selected by the Twins with their 35th round pick in the 2015 draft out of Westmont College, just three rounds after the Twins selected his college teammate, Andrew Vasquez with their 32nd round pick. As you can imagine, the draft week experience for Lujan was perhaps somewhat different than it was for those Miracle teammates that were selected among the top few rounds of the draft. Lujan knew he’d be waiting until the final day of the draft to learn his fate. “I remember getting a text (early) in the morning,” he recalled in an interview last week. “My scout texted me, ‘you ready for this?’ I was like, ‘whatever opportunity you give me, I’m ready.’ Right then and there, I woke up. It was like 5:45 in the morning. I’d just gotten the text and I woke up. I just couldn’t go back to sleep. I woke up, my hands were sweating the entire day. “Rounds were going through, they hit 20, I decided to go for a drive, try to relax. I could see all the names of my buddies going and I was getting excited. Then I decided to come back home, it was like the 30th round. I sat down, relaxed, and then I saw Vasquez go. Texted him and as soon as I texted him, I got a message from him saying ‘thank you,’ and right then I looked at my phone again and my scout’s saying, ‘hey, we took you in the 35th round. Welcome to the Twins.’ “Right then and there, I just jumped up, almost hit the ceiling fan. My parents were excited, so it was an awesome moment.” The 35th round. And the right-hander wears the number 35 on the back of his Fort Myers jersey. Just a coincidence? Maybe, maybe not. Being selected with just five rounds remaining in the 40-round draft could make you question your chances of professional success on the field, but that wasn’t Lujan’s mindset. “Honestly, at the time for me, it was just like, you know what? I’m excited whether I was the very last pick or the very first pick, it doesn’t matter,” he said. “I just wanted an opportunity to play. Just, you know what, I’m going to make the most out of it. However long my career is, whether it’s five, ten, twenty years. It was just an exciting moment. I was like, I’ve got to take advantage of it as best I can.” After moderate success with the Twins’ rookie league teams in his draft year and 2016, Lujan appeared to find his stride at Cedar Rapids in 2017 where he notched a 1.33 ERA and 0.91 WHIP over 42 appearances, all in relief, and converted 17 of 19 save opportunities for the Kernels. His results weren’t as strong a year ago in his first season at class High-A in Fort Myers, but he did finish the campaign with a very strong August, striking out 16 and walking only two batters in 12 1/3 innings of work. His WHIP that month was a stingy 0.63 and batters hit just .133 against him. The six-plus week of near perfection beginning in late April this spring came to a crashing end on June 5 when the Florida Fire Frogs touched him up for three runs on six hits in two innings of work. After that hiccup, Lujan was philosophical about things. “I try to just take the positives and negatives and kind of just flush it after,” he said the next day. “Then the next day, just carry on. There’s plenty more outings for me.” What does a pitcher think about when he’s out there experiencing that kind of outing after several weeks of nothing but success? “When I was out there, I felt like I was making good pitches and the results just weren’t going my way,” he said. “I just kept telling myself, ‘hey you know what, you got yourself into this mess, you can keep getting yourself out.’ “Sometimes, my thing, I go out there and try to get everybody out. Put up zeros and help our team win. Everybody has those outings where things aren’t just falling your way. Whether it’s a bloop hit, if you’re getting hit, if you’re walking guys, not getting calls. I just kept telling myself, ‘you know what? It is what it is. Let’s go, keep attacking the zone. Make the guy put the ball in play and get some outs.’ I’ve got my defense behind me; I’m just going to keep letting them work and make good pitches and let the rest play out.” And when it’s all played out? “You’ve just got to flush it and once the inning’s over, ‘right, that happened,’ and just focus on your next inning.” That poise has been noticed by manager Toby Gardenhire. “That’s part of growing up as a pitcher. Part of growing up as a player, in general,” Gardenhire noted. “Lujan’s done a really good job with that, where he doesn’t let things affect him that much. He’s got a really good split-change thing that he’s throwing right now. Has a good breaking ball. He attacks hitters. He doesn’t get flustered out there. He’s got a lot of things that you want in a reliever. He’s doing really good.” Lujan’s next inning came three nights later against Jupiter, when he hung a zero on the board in his inning of work to preserve a 4-2 win for his club and tally his fifth save of the season. Heading into the final series of the first half of the Florida State League season, the Miracle owned a slim one-game lead in the South Division standings and Lujan sounded like he’s enjoying the playoff race with his teammates. “Overall yeah, Awesome teammates, the team chemistry right now is fantastic. We’re lucky enough to be in a playoff race, to clinch the first half. I wouldn’t want any other guys behind me, so it’s pretty awesome.” Manager Toby Gardenhire OK’d Lujan hitting ground balls to infielders during batting practice. “He always comes out and hits fungos. He doesn’t want to shag out in the outfield with the outfielders, so I said, ‘whatever you want to do, just don’t get hurt.’”
  3. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 0, Lehigh Valley 7 Box Score Rochester found themselves in an early hole. Zack Littell got knocked around for four first inning runs. He would settle in a little from there and pitch into the fifth inning. He ended up allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out two and walking two. The Red Wings were limited to six hits with only two of them being for extra bases. Jordany Valdespin went 2-for-3 out of the number nine spot in the order. He was the lone Red Wings hitter to collect multiple hits. John Andreoli reached base two times including his first double of the season. Randy Cesar collected his second double. Andrew Vasquez pitched 1 1/3 innings and struck out four. No… that’s not a typo. Ryan Eades ran into some trouble in the final frames. He gave up two runs on three hits in a little over two innings. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 1, Mobile 2 Box Score Griffin Jax was strong, but the Blue Wahoos lost for the first time on Sunday. Jax stranded base runners in all five innings he worked and left the game with a 1-0 lead. Blue Wahoos starters have allowed one run in 20.0 innings so far this season. Pensacola didn’t collect an extra-base hit for the first time this season and the club was limited to four hits in the entire game. Pensacola actually scored first in this one as Drew Maggi scored on a fielder’s choice by Brian Schales. That would be the lone run for the Blue Wahoos. It turned into a bullpen game for Pensacola. Jeff Ames took over for Jax. He allowed one run on three hits in just under two innings of work. Tyler Jay pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. He was followed by Dusten Knight who tossed two scoreless frames with a pair of strikeouts. Sam Clay took the loss but it was more to do with the runner starting on second base in extra innings. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 1, Charlotte 2 (10 Innings) Box Score Royce Lewis helped to get things going in the first inning. With one out, he walked and then stole second, which one was of two steals on the day. Trevor Larnach advanced Lewis to third before Jose Miranda drove him in with an RBI-single. Bailey Ober was the story of this game as he dominated on the mound. In six innings of work, he scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run. He struck out 11 and walked only one. Calvin Faucher took over for Ober and was just as good. He struck out four in two innings and limited the Stone Crabs to one hit. Calvin Faucher pitched two scoreless frames and limited Charlotte to one hit while striking out four. Alex Phillips took the loss. He allowed the runner to score from second base in extra innings. However, he struck out four in 1 2/3 innings of work. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 4 (6 Innings- Rain Shortened) Box Score After trailing 2-0, the Kernels scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game. Joe Cronin walked before a Michael Davis singled moved him into scoring position. Gilberto Celestino plated a run with a line-drive single to cut the score to 2-1. DaShawn Keirsey singled to tie the game, but that’s when the scoring stopped for Cedar Rapids. Josh Winder started for the Kernels and pitched five innings. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking three. Joe Record was saddled with the loss after he surrendered two unearned runs in less than an inning of work. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Bailey Ober, Fort Myers (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 11 K, 1 BB) TD Hitter of the Day- Aaron Whitefield, Fort Myers (2-for-4, 2 2B) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, BB, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - No Game #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 0-4, BB, 3K #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-4, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – 0-for-4, BB, K #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – 0-4 #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, K #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 1-3, RBI, 2 K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 K, 2 BB #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 0-3, BB, K #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – Did not play #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 2-5, RBI, K MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Syracuse (5:35 CST) – LHP Justin Nicolino (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Pensacola @ Mobile (6:35 CST) – RHP Sean Poppen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Dunedin (5:30 CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs. Kane County (6:35 CST) – RHP Andrew Cabezas (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games.
  4. Spoiler alert...Every team in the organization lost on Sunday. Now that that's out of the way, there were still some very strong performances. Three of the four minor league affiliates were within two runs or fewer. There were also some strong starting and relief appearances from minor league hurlers. Who shined on Sunday? I'm glad you asked...RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 0, Lehigh Valley 7 Box Score Rochester found themselves in an early hole. Zack Littell got knocked around for four first inning runs. He would settle in a little from there and pitch into the fifth inning. He ended up allowing five runs on seven hits while striking out two and walking two. The Red Wings were limited to six hits with only two of them being for extra bases. Jordany Valdespin went 2-for-3 out of the number nine spot in the order. He was the lone Red Wings hitter to collect multiple hits. John Andreoli reached base two times including his first double of the season. Randy Cesar collected his second double. Andrew Vasquez pitched 1 1/3 innings and struck out four. No… that’s not a typo. Ryan Eades ran into some trouble in the final frames. He gave up two runs on three hits in a little over two innings. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 1, Mobile 2 Box Score Griffin Jax was strong, but the Blue Wahoos lost for the first time on Sunday. Jax stranded base runners in all five innings he worked and left the game with a 1-0 lead. Blue Wahoos starters have allowed one run in 20.0 innings so far this season. Pensacola didn’t collect an extra-base hit for the first time this season and the club was limited to four hits in the entire game. Pensacola actually scored first in this one as Drew Maggi scored on a fielder’s choice by Brian Schales. That would be the lone run for the Blue Wahoos. It turned into a bullpen game for Pensacola. Jeff Ames took over for Jax. He allowed one run on three hits in just under two innings of work. Tyler Jay pitched 1 2/3 innings of scoreless ball. He was followed by Dusten Knight who tossed two scoreless frames with a pair of strikeouts. Sam Clay took the loss but it was more to do with the runner starting on second base in extra innings. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 1, Charlotte 2 (10 Innings) Box Score Royce Lewis helped to get things going in the first inning. With one out, he walked and then stole second, which one was of two steals on the day. Trevor Larnach advanced Lewis to third before Jose Miranda drove him in with an RBI-single. Bailey Ober was the story of this game as he dominated on the mound. In six innings of work, he scattered four hits and allowed one unearned run. He struck out 11 and walked only one. Calvin Faucher took over for Ober and was just as good. He struck out four in two innings and limited the Stone Crabs to one hit. Calvin Faucher pitched two scoreless frames and limited Charlotte to one hit while striking out four. Alex Phillips took the loss. He allowed the runner to score from second base in extra innings. However, he struck out four in 1 2/3 innings of work. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 2, Wisconsin 4 (6 Innings- Rain Shortened) Box Score After trailing 2-0, the Kernels scored a pair of runs in the top of the sixth to tie the game. Joe Cronin walked before a Michael Davis singled moved him into scoring position. Gilberto Celestino plated a run with a line-drive single to cut the score to 2-1. DaShawn Keirsey singled to tie the game, but that’s when the scoring stopped for Cedar Rapids. Josh Winder started for the Kernels and pitched five innings. He allowed two runs on five hits while striking out five and walking three. Joe Record was saddled with the loss after he surrendered two unearned runs in less than an inning of work. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY TD Pitcher of the Day- Bailey Ober, Fort Myers (6.0 IP, 0 ER, 4 H, 11 K, 1 BB) TD Hitter of the Day- Aaron Whitefield, Fort Myers (2-for-4, 2 2B) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - 0-3, BB, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - Injured List #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - No Game #4 - Trevor Larnach (Ft. Myers) – 0-4, BB, 3K #5 - Wander Javier (EST) - No Game #6 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - 0-4, 2 K #7 - Jhoan Duran (Ft. Myers) – Did not pitch #8 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - Did not pitch #9 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch #10 - Akil Baddoo (Ft. Myers) – 0-for-4, BB, K #11 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List #12 - Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) - Injured List #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Ft. Myers) – 0-4 #14 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - 0-4, K #15 - Yunior Severino (Cedar Rapids) – Did not play #16 - Gilberto Celestino (Cedar Rapids) – 1-3, RBI, 2 K #17 - Zack Littell (Rochester) – 4.1 IP, 5 ER, 7 H, 2 K, 2 BB #18 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – 0-3, BB, K #19 - Jorge Alcala (Pensacola) – Did not play #20 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) – 2-5, RBI, K MONDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Syracuse (5:35 CST) – LHP Justin Nicolino (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Pensacola @ Mobile (6:35 CST) – RHP Sean Poppen (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Fort Myers vs. Dunedin (5:30 CST) – LHP Charlie Barnes (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Cedar Rapids vs. Kane County (6:35 CST) – RHP Andrew Cabezas (0-0, 0.00 ERA) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Sunday’s games. Click here to view the article
  5. Before we get into it, here’s a look back at the players I’ve covered in this series so far: Jhoan Duran Alex Kirilloff Lewis Thorpe Royce Lewis Each of the previous installments of this series focuses on a specific aspect of a player's game or homes in on a particular performance. This will be more of an overview. We’re in the era of the 13-man pitching staff. Every team in baseball cycles through a great number of relievers each season, but there figure to be plenty of opportunities in the Twins’ bullpen this coming season. Relief Candidates on the 40-Man Roster The only relief pitcher who still has prospect status is Andrew Vasquez, but there are also all those starting pitchers who debuted last season who appear to be on the outside looking in. Might it make sense to give one of Chase De Jong, Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, Kohl Stewart or Lewis Thorpe a shot in the bullpen? None of those guys have pitched much in relief, and some don’t fit a typical reliever profile, but it wasn’t long ago you could have said those same things about Taylor Rogers. There’s already been some talk of Fernando Romero (who is no longer technically a prospect) getting a look in the pen, maybe the Twins will consider a conversion for one of these prospects. Romero may have the most tantalizing arsenal of that group, but it's interesting to note that both Littell and Gonsalves had better strikeout rates in Triple A last season. Romero averaged 6.8 K/9 in 90 2/3 innings with Rochester while Gonsalves was at 8.5 K/9 in 100 1/3 innings and Littell had 8.3 K/9 in 106 innings. Back to Vasquez, in terms of true relievers, he ranks third on the lefty depth chart behind Rogers and Gabriel Moya. There's a great chance he'll see time in the majors again if that remains the case. The Vasquatch has dominated the minor leagues, pitching to a 1.52 ERA, 1.12 WHIP and 13.4 K/9. Who’s Next on the Farm? Before we get to the prospects, there are a few minor league veteran guys who have an outside chance at working their way up into a low-leverage role. Guys like Ryne Harper, Dario Alvarez, Mike Morin, Zack Weiss and Jeffery Ames. I’m sure the Twins will add a few other relievers on minor league deals. Some of those guys won’t even last through spring training, but others will get an opportunity to show what they’ve got in Rochester. This front office seems to be intrigued by fringy relief pitchers, though they’ve mostly acquired them through waivers (Matt Magill, Oliver Drake, David Hale, Dillon Gee, Nik Turley and Drew Rucinski among others). I assume they’ll continue to be active on that front as well. The guys this front office do not seem to like are all the relief pitchers drafted in the earlier rounds under Terry Ryan. Jake Reed is pretty much the last man standing among that group. He’s 26-years-old and has 61 Triple-A appearances under his belt, so what are they waiting for? Well, behind Reed’s sterling 1.92 ERA in the 89 innings he’s pitched for the Red Wings the past two seasons is a less impressive 8.4 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9. Still, production is production, and Reed should be the first man up if the front office is in the position where they need to add a relief arm to the 40-man roster. It’d be a shame if he doesn’t get a look at some point. Another name of note in Triple A is Ryan Eades. Drafted in the second round as a starter back in 2013, Eades has primarily worked out of the bullpen the past two seasons. After posting just a 6.9 K/9 in 2017, he hiked that all the way up to 10.4 K/9 last season. The really great part was that he also lowered his walk rate from 3.4 BB/9 to 2.6 BB/9 last year. Eades was outstanding in the six starts he made, posting a 0.45 ERA and 0.90 WHIP, but the longest he went was four innings. Could he be the perfect opener? Eades is 27-years-old, so there’s really no use in leaving him in the minors should an opportunity present itself. Behind Reed and Eades is another bunch of guys who’ve only reached Double A. Tyler Jay is certainly the highest-profile name among them. For me, the question is does the velocity come back? If it does, I could see Jay move up very quickly. If not, well, he didn’t exactly inspire confidence by posting a 4.22 ERA and 1.58 WHIP last season. So let’s forget about Jay for a minute. The name I really want you to come away from this article with is Cody Stashak. The Twins converted him to the bullpen last season and it was a roaring success. The 24-year-old right-hander was one of the best pitchers in all of Double A. It’s not like Stashak was a failed starter by any means. In 2017, Stashak had a 3.89 ERA, 1.10 WHIP over 16 starts. His strikeout rate was a fairly modest 7.8 K/9, but he was certainly getting the job done. Stashak was forced to the DL in late July, had a few rehab appearances out of the bullpen with the GCL Twins, then made his final three outings of the year in relief for Chattanooga. I’m not sure the reasoning behind why they decided to keep him in the bullpen, but it’s looking like a very wise decision. In 2018, Stashak had a 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP and 11.2 K/9. He also continued to have very good control, posting a 2.3 BB/9, giving him a K:BB ratio of 4.93. There were 289 players who pitched 50 innings or more in Double A last season. Stashak ranked fifth in K-BB%, eighth in FIP, 12th in strikeout rate and 16th in swinging strike rate. It was basically your dream scenario when you move a guy to the pen. Here’s a quick look back at one of Stashak appearances from last year just to give you an idea of who he is. This is every single pitch of this particular outing, so there’s no sugar coating involved. I’d hoped to pull some more video on him, but MiLB.tv was malfunctioning, so this also wasn’t a cherry-picked outing. It just happened to be the one I was able to get. https://twitter.com/BaseballByTom/status/1087101499073839109 Stashak also ended the year particularly strong, allowing just two earned runs over his final 23 innings (0.78 ERA). If he carries that performance over to this season, he may be knocking at the door for his major league debut. This front office has made some eyebrow-raising decisions with relief prospects, but most of the guys they’ve passed over had some degree of wildness. That hasn’t been an issue for Stashak. Speaking of guys who moved from the rotation to the bullpen, there’s also Devin Smeltzer, a lefty who the Twins acquired from the Dodgers in the Brian Dozier trade. He didn’t have the same type of dynamite transition as Stashak, but his strikeout rate did see an incredible jump. After striking out just 53 batters in 70 1/3 innings as a starter (6.8 K/9), Smeltzer rung up 30 batters in just 25 1/3 innings out of the bullpen (10.7 K/9) in 2018. One guy who could be a huge x-factor is Jorge Alcala. The flame-throwing right-hander who the Twins got from Houston in the Ryan Pressly trade could really rocket up to the majors if he successfully transitioned to a relief role, not that I’ve heard that’s the plan for him. Alcala made 16 starts and another eight appearances in relief in 2018, performing about the same in either role. He struck out 104 batters in 99 1/3 innings last season. Anybody who hasn’t pitched in Double A is a longshot to make it all the way up to the majors in one year, but hey, Andrew Vasquez did it. Quite a few members of last year’s Miracle bullpen were college draftees who will now be entering their age 24 or even 25 seasons. Guys like Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Colton Davis, Adam Bray and Tom Hackimer. If one of them really takes off, there doesn’t seem to be much reason not to fast track them, though a Vasquez-type ascent would be surprising. More than 160 players are featured in the Prospect Handbook.We had a ton of fun putting the book together and we’re really excited for people to read it. Recognizing these minor league players for their efforts and ability is a big motivating factor in the project, so we would love for you to pick up a copy. Click here for more information on the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook
  6. Here in mid-December, the Twins have the following pitchers written onto next year's Opening Day roster in ink, more or less: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Addison Reed. I would consider Trevor Hildenberger close to a lock, so long as he doesn't look like a total mess in spring training. That's eight members of a 12-man (possibly 13-man) staff. So the mission here seems clear, right? Add four more pitchers via free agency or trade – probably one starter and three relievers – and you're all set. It's not quite that simple. While I certainly think the Twins need to add more, and will, there are a few considerations that should be kept in mind as they attack the open market. * The 40-man roster is full. Any new addition on a major-league contract will require the Twins to drop one of their existing players. You might argue that's not the biggest deterrent, considering there are a number candidates for removal on the current roster (I marked nine that I would consider to be "at-risk" below) but it's something to note. * Adalberto Mejia is out of options next year. So is Matt Magill, but I don't think the Twins are too concerned about losing him. Mejia is the kind of arm a rebuilding team needs to hold onto. In 2017 he threw fairly well for Minnesota as a rookie, posting a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts (he also put up a 2.83 ERA in six starts at Rochester). This year he was hampered by injuries but still turned in a 2.01 ERA in five outings for the Twins, and 3.27 over 63 innings at Triple-A. The left-hander has consistently performed since coming over to the Twins, with solid stuff to match. He doesn't turn 26 until next June. I'd go so far as to say that Mejia should be assured a spot as much as the "locks" I listed above, and if you're open to using him as a starter (or perhaps more fittingly a primary), then boom, you've got your rotation completed. * Fernando Romero deserves his shot. He isn't out of options yet, but will be in 2020, so the Twins need to get him settled in a big-league role. You could send him back to Triple-A to start the year but it feels kinda pointless – Romero showed he belonged during an MLB debut this year, and offers more upside than almost anyone else in the mix. I've argued that it might be best to bring him along as a multi-inning fireman reliever. * Andrew Vasquez decimates left-handed hitters. You might feel inclined to find a lefty specialist on the open market, with top bullpen southpaw Taylor Rogers serving in more of a matchup-agnostic setup role. But then again, you might already have that piece on hand in Vasquez, who was added to the 40-man roster during the season in advance of his Rule 5 eligibility, getting a taste of the majors in September. In 69 total innings last year Vasquez held left hitters to a .196/.274/.235 line over 114 PA, with a 38% strikeout rate. The prior year, same-sided batters went .200/.297/.200 against him, managing zero extra-base hits in 75 PA. There's always risk in going with a relatively untested and inexperienced option, but Vasquez is the kind of effective, inexpensive role-filler that can really be an asset to a team like the Twins. * Pitching staffs are fundamentally transforming. Like it or not, the rigid designations of "starter" and "reliever" are fading in today's game. Using openers, and piggybacking starters, should both be concepts in play as you assemble the staff – as should flexibility in the ninth inning. This can help guide your strategy. For instance, if you do end up going with a rotation featuring five right-handers, you might want an extra southpaw reliever that you could plug in for the first inning against a lefty-heavy lineup. Or maybe you want to plan on trying to get 3-4 innings apiece from Mejia and Kohl Stewart every fifth day. With an open-minded approach, there are a lot of options and possibilities. * The rotation lacks continuity going forward. Three of Minnesota's expected starters – Gibson, Odorizzi and Pineda, will be free agents after next season. In terms of rotation members that the Twins can comfortably count on past 2019, Berrios pretty much starts and ends the list. So the quest for rotation help this offseason shouldn't necessarily be limited to short-term commitments. A multi-year deal would make a lot of sense... if it's the right guy.
  7. The Twins have addressed their two biggest needs on the position-player side, adding C.J. Cron at first base and Jonathan Schoop at second. They are reportedly still monitoring the DH market, and might add another catcher yet, but now the front office is turning its attention to the pitching staff. It's obvious that Minnesota could stand to add multiple impact arms. But circumstances will make this a more complicated undertaking than it appears.Here in mid-December, the Twins have the following pitchers written onto next year's Opening Day roster in ink, more or less: Jose Berrios, Kyle Gibson, Jake Odorizzi, Michael Pineda, Trevor May, Taylor Rogers, Addison Reed. I would consider Trevor Hildenberger close to a lock, so long as he doesn't look like a total mess in spring training. That's eight members of a 12-man (possibly 13-man) staff. So the mission here seems clear, right? Add four more pitchers via free agency or trade – probably one starter and three relievers – and you're all set. It's not quite that simple. While I certainly think the Twins need to add more, and will, there are a few considerations that should be kept in mind as they attack the open market. * The 40-man roster is full. Any new addition on a major-league contract will require the Twins to drop one of their existing players. You might argue that's not the biggest deterrent, considering there are a number candidates for removal on the current roster (I marked nine that I would consider to be "at-risk" below) but it's something to note. Download attachment: 40manatrisk1216.png * Adalberto Mejia is out of options next year. So is Matt Magill, but I don't think the Twins are too concerned about losing him. Mejia is the kind of arm a rebuilding team needs to hold onto. In 2017 he threw fairly well for Minnesota as a rookie, posting a 4.50 ERA in 21 starts (he also put up a 2.83 ERA in six starts at Rochester). This year he was hampered by injuries but still turned in a 2.01 ERA in five outings for the Twins, and 3.27 over 63 innings at Triple-A. The left-hander has consistently performed since coming over to the Twins, with solid stuff to match. He doesn't turn 26 until next June. I'd go so far as to say that Mejia should be assured a spot as much as the "locks" I listed above, and if you're open to using him as a starter (or perhaps more fittingly a primary), then boom, you've got your rotation completed. * Fernando Romero deserves his shot. He isn't out of options yet, but will be in 2020, so the Twins need to get him settled in a big-league role. You could send him back to Triple-A to start the year but it feels kinda pointless – Romero showed he belonged during an MLB debut this year, and offers more upside than almost anyone else in the mix. I've argued that it might be best to bring him along as a multi-inning fireman reliever. * Andrew Vasquez decimates left-handed hitters. You might feel inclined to find a lefty specialist on the open market, with top bullpen southpaw Taylor Rogers serving in more of a matchup-agnostic setup role. But then again, you might already have that piece on hand in Vasquez, who was added to the 40-man roster during the season in advance of his Rule 5 eligibility, getting a taste of the majors in September. In 69 total innings last year Vasquez held left hitters to a .196/.274/.235 line over 114 PA, with a 38% strikeout rate. The prior year, same-sided batters went .200/.297/.200 against him, managing zero extra-base hits in 75 PA. There's always risk in going with a relatively untested and inexperienced option, but Vasquez is the kind of effective, inexpensive role-filler that can really be an asset to a team like the Twins. * Pitching staffs are fundamentally transforming. Like it or not, the rigid designations of "starter" and "reliever" are fading in today's game. Using openers, and piggybacking starters, should both be concepts in play as you assemble the staff – as should flexibility in the ninth inning. This can help guide your strategy. For instance, if you do end up going with a rotation featuring five right-handers, you might want an extra southpaw reliever that you could plug in for the first inning against a lefty-heavy lineup. Or maybe you want to plan on trying to get 3-4 innings apiece from Mejia and Kohl Stewart every fifth day. With an open-minded approach, there are a lot of options and possibilities. * The rotation lacks continuity going forward. Three of Minnesota's expected starters – Gibson, Odorizzi and Pineda, will be free agents after next season. In terms of rotation members that the Twins can comfortably count on past 2019, Berrios pretty much starts and ends the list. So the quest for rotation help this offseason shouldn't necessarily be limited to short-term commitments. A multi-year deal would make a lot of sense... if it's the right guy. Click here to view the article
  8. As you recall, following the minor league season, Twins Daily announced the minor league awards: Hitter of the Year: Alex Kirilloff Starting Pitcher of the Year: Tyler Wells Relief Pitcher of the Year: Andrew Vasquez In a minor league system, the players get to know each other and develop relationships and many friendships. Even in this small group of three, there are some interesting connections. So, I thought it would be fun to see what each had to say about the others’ seasons. Tyler Wells on Andrew Vasquez In the offseason, Vasquez works out with fellow Twins Daily 2018 award winner Tyler Wells at Performance Fitness for Athletes. Wells was really happy for Vasquez. “He’s improved every year. I was extremely happy for him. I was really proud. He’s one of my best friends. It’s good to see someone get rewarded for all the hard work and adversity. Seeing him in The Show made me want to work my butt off even more.” Tyler Wells on Alex Kirilloff The Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Year, Tyler Wells, is also close with Kirilloff. The two were drafted in 2016, played together in Elizabethton and have remained close. Of Kirilloff, Wells said, “Alex and I are really really close. We have gone through quite a bit as far as just being friends. Seeing what he did was unbelievable. Truly was unbelievable. Being around him, he always makes you want to be a better baseball player, in general. It makes you want to work harder. He’s always finding a way to get better, always thinking about it. From rooming with him in E-Town, that’s something I inherited from him that summer. Now it’s like, don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Stay consistent. What can you do to refine this little thing? We all know, Alex is one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. He never stops trying to get better and that rubs off on his teammates.” Andrew Vasquez on Alex Kirilloff Vasquez said of Kirilloff, "I played with him for a brief time in Elizabethton when he first got drafted. I just remembered that he was a very good hitter. It was very noticeable. You could tell he had an approach and knew what he was doing. A high school guy, he was really impressive. He was always putting good swings on the ball." Andrew Vasquez on Tyler Wells Vasquez spoke of Wells. “He had a great year. He took what he needed to improve on and focus on and it really showed this year. He lost a little weight. I was kind of worried because sometimes when guys lose weight, they can lose velo, but he kept his velo and his stamina increased. I distinctly remember in 2017 that he would have trouble going late into games, pitch count would get high and he’d get tired. This year, he made these changes and was able to sustain it. He threw really well.” Alex Kirilloff on Tyler Wells Fellow 2018 Twins Daily award winner Alex Kirilloff is a close friend of Wells since they were drafted in 2016 and played together in Elizabethton. “I think he had a great season. He did a great job last offseason. He started a new diet. He really stuck with his workout regimen and his offseason goal and plan. He lost all that weight. I’m impressed with that. He pitched well in spring training and backed it up on the field all year. I think that he has a lot of potential and hope he will have another big year.” Kirilloff continued, “Off the field, fun guy to be around, a lot of energy. Just a good guy to get behind every five days and know he’s going to battle out there on the mound. That’s always nice to have. I hope he puts together another good season next year and we’ll see what happens.” Alex Kirilloff on Andrew Vasquez Hitter of the Year, Alex Kirilloff saw Vasquez’s 2018 progression from the Florida State League to the big leagues. “It definitely is motivational for everyone, really. You don’t see that too often, but when we do see it, you keep yourself in check and realize that you are not too far away from it. Sometimes you feel like you are a million years away, but when you see a guy like Andrew do it all in one year, you push yourself to work harder and work toward that goal as well. So it was definitely pretty cool to see. I was extremely happy for him.” Later this week, we will announce more about the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Be sure to stop back and order your copies when it becomes available. For now, you can order discounted copies of the previous Twins Prospect Handbooks here.
  9. In coming days, you will see much more information about the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Tom Froemming, Cody Christie and I have been putting far too many hours in over the last couple of months to put together a quality product that can recognize the efforts of so many talented young Twins prospects. Below, you will see some excerpts from the soon-to-be-released Twins Prospect Handbook. Each year, we write feature articles on the three Twins Daily minor league full-season award winners. I had the chance to have phone interviews with the three winners recently. One question that I asked each of them was their thoughts on each other.As you recall, following the minor league season, Twins Daily announced the minor league awards: Hitter of the Year: Alex KirilloffStarting Pitcher of the Year: Tyler WellsRelief Pitcher of the Year: Andrew VasquezIn a minor league system, the players get to know each other and develop relationships and many friendships. Even in this small group of three, there are some interesting connections. So, I thought it would be fun to see what each had to say about the others’ seasons. Tyler Wells on Andrew Vasquez In the offseason, Vasquez works out with fellow Twins Daily 2018 award winner Tyler Wells at Performance Fitness for Athletes. Wells was really happy for Vasquez. “He’s improved every year. I was extremely happy for him. I was really proud. He’s one of my best friends. It’s good to see someone get rewarded for all the hard work and adversity. Seeing him in The Show made me want to work my butt off even more.” Tyler Wells on Alex Kirilloff The Twins Daily Starting Pitcher of the Year, Tyler Wells, is also close with Kirilloff. The two were drafted in 2016, played together in Elizabethton and have remained close. Of Kirilloff, Wells said, “Alex and I are really really close. We have gone through quite a bit as far as just being friends. Seeing what he did was unbelievable. Truly was unbelievable. Being around him, he always makes you want to be a better baseball player, in general. It makes you want to work harder. He’s always finding a way to get better, always thinking about it. From rooming with him in E-Town, that’s something I inherited from him that summer. Now it’s like, don’t get too high, don’t get too low. Stay consistent. What can you do to refine this little thing? We all know, Alex is one of the greatest hitters the game has ever seen. He never stops trying to get better and that rubs off on his teammates.” Andrew Vasquez on Alex Kirilloff Vasquez said of Kirilloff, "I played with him for a brief time in Elizabethton when he first got drafted. I just remembered that he was a very good hitter. It was very noticeable. You could tell he had an approach and knew what he was doing. A high school guy, he was really impressive. He was always putting good swings on the ball." Andrew Vasquez on Tyler Wells Vasquez spoke of Wells. “He had a great year. He took what he needed to improve on and focus on and it really showed this year. He lost a little weight. I was kind of worried because sometimes when guys lose weight, they can lose velo, but he kept his velo and his stamina increased. I distinctly remember in 2017 that he would have trouble going late into games, pitch count would get high and he’d get tired. This year, he made these changes and was able to sustain it. He threw really well.” Alex Kirilloff on Tyler Wells Fellow 2018 Twins Daily award winner Alex Kirilloff is a close friend of Wells since they were drafted in 2016 and played together in Elizabethton. “I think he had a great season. He did a great job last offseason. He started a new diet. He really stuck with his workout regimen and his offseason goal and plan. He lost all that weight. I’m impressed with that. He pitched well in spring training and backed it up on the field all year. I think that he has a lot of potential and hope he will have another big year.” Kirilloff continued, “Off the field, fun guy to be around, a lot of energy. Just a good guy to get behind every five days and know he’s going to battle out there on the mound. That’s always nice to have. I hope he puts together another good season next year and we’ll see what happens.” Alex Kirilloff on Andrew Vasquez Hitter of the Year, Alex Kirilloff saw Vasquez’s 2018 progression from the Florida State League to the big leagues. “It definitely is motivational for everyone, really. You don’t see that too often, but when we do see it, you keep yourself in check and realize that you are not too far away from it. Sometimes you feel like you are a million years away, but when you see a guy like Andrew do it all in one year, you push yourself to work harder and work toward that goal as well. So it was definitely pretty cool to see. I was extremely happy for him.” Later this week, we will announce more about the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. Be sure to stop back and order your copies when it becomes available. For now, you can order discounted copies of the previous Twins Prospect Handbooks here. Click here to view the article
  10. Earlier this week, Twins Daily announced the Short Season Pitcher and Hitter of the Year, and tonight we switch to the full season awards, beginning with the Relief Pitcher of the Year. In recent history, this award has been an indicator of a player making the major leagues at some point—­John Curtiss won in 2017 and also made his MLB debut, and before that Trevor Hildenberger won in 2015 and 2016 before becoming the stalwart in the bullpen he is now with the Minnesota Twins.There were several standout strikeout arms in the Twins system when it came to relief pitchers, as you will see below. Some of them have spent time in the majors this season, while a few others appear ready for their opportunity. Short profiles of our top five are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Nick Anderson, Rochester Red Wings – 39 G, 8-2, 4 Saves, 3.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 60.0 IP, 49 H, 19 BB, 88 KGabriel Moya, Rochester Red Wings – 26 G, 1-1, 4 Saves, 1.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 42.2 IP, 38 H, 12 BB, 50 KJohn Curtiss, Rochester Red Wings – 38 G, 2-4, 10 Saves, 3.42 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 55.1 IP, 41 H, 31 BB, 61 KRyne Harper, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – 38 G, 1-5, 6 Saves, 3.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 65.0 IP, 61 H, 10 BB, 86 KThese are the top five players to receive votes for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year #5 – Jake Reed, Rochester Red Wings – 30 G, 0-3, 2 Saves, 1.89 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 47.2 IP, 34 H, 21 BB, 50 K For a few years now, it has seemed like Jake Reed was knocking on the door to the major leagues, but in part due to some injuries, hasn’t yet made the jump. I’ll say quite frankly that he should have, at least for September of this year (and last year for that matter). The ERA to finish his season is great, but he really turned it on as the season wore on, appearing in both July and August’s Relief Pitcher of the Month entries. In that time frame Reed appeared in 16 games, pitching 26 total innings and allowing just four earned runs (1.38 ERA) on 10 hits and 10 walks (good for a 0.77 WHIP), while striking out 29. #4 – Alan Busenitz, Rochester Red Wings – 27 G, 2-3, 7 Saves, 2.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 32 H, 8 BB, 45 K Despite appearing in 28 games with the Twins in 2017 and delivering a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, Busenitz has been on the Triple A shuttle several times this season, never quite being able to settle in. He was excellent in the minors again in 2018, including the month of May in which he didn’t allow a single run in eight appearances and 13 total innings. He was recognized in both May and June’s Relief Pitcher of the Month awards, and in that stretch over a period of 13 MiLB appearances, did not allow a run while striking out 27 in 23 innings pitched. #3 – Cody Stashak, Fort Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts – 37 G, 2-1, 4 Saves, 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 59.2 IP, 49 H, 15 BB, 74 K Stashak was a starting pitcher for the first two years of his professional career, and a decent one, after being drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns University. But that changed in 2018, as the Twins put him in the bullpen for its entirety. He didn’t miss a beat, sustaining a sub 3.00 ERA, sub 1.10 WHIP, and sub .240 batting average against while increasing his K-rate. Stashak has always had good control, and that also didn’t leave him out of the ‘pen allowing him to have the best K/BB ratio of his career. From July through the end of the season, spanning 17 appearances and 23 innings pitched, Stashak allowed just two earned runs (0.78 ERA) on 19 hits and only 2 walks, while striking out 25. He was #2 in July’s Relief Pitcher of the Month entry and made honorable mention in two others during the season. #2 – Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle – 37 G, 9-3, 8 Saves, 2.49 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 76.0 IP, 45 H, 35 BB, 107 K If you paid attention during the year or have been clicking the links throughout this article, you know of the legend that is Jovani Moran already. He took home the monthly relief pitcher honors in June and July and received an honorable mention twice. The first thing you’ll notice with him is obviously the K’s. After striking out literally everybody with Elizabethton in 2017 (almost, his rate was 16.4/9IP) and taking home the Short Season Pitcher of the Year award, Moran continued that success with the Kernels and Miracle in 2018, finishing with a rate of 12.7K/9IP between his two stops. Surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2016 seemingly ended his development path as a starter, but what they’ve found as a reliever is hard to ignore. Listed at 6’1” and 170 lbs, Moran hasn’t been known for his velocity, but may have kicked it up some in the bullpen. He has also improved the movement of his secondary pitches, led by a great changeup and improving breaking ball. Moran is one to watch closely moving forward. #1 – Andrew Vasquez, Fort Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – 40 G, 1-2, 6 Saves, 1.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 50 H, 21 BB, 108 K If you thought Moran’s strikeout total was egregious, take a look at Andrew Vasquez’s. There’s a reason the left-handed Vasquez jumped from Fort Myers all the way to the Twins bullpen during the 2018 season—he has been as untouchable as his slider is elite. Like Moran, Vasquez made appearances on several of the monthly awards, including winning in August before his September callup to the majors. Leading to his recent MLB debut, Vasquez has had a standout minor league career since being drafted by the Twins in the 32nd round of the 2015 draft out of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. His career minor league ERA is just 1.52 in four seasons and he has struck out 13.4/9IP. While his fastball will only touch the 90’s, as Twins farm director Jeremy Zoll noted to Twins Daily, “It’s all about the slider with Andrew.” Because of this pitch, he didn’t allow a single extra-base-hit to same-sided hitters during his 2017 season that ended with a trip to the Arizona Fall League (fun fact only I may know since I wrote about it: his first hit allowed in the AFL was a double to a lefty). His efforts during that 2017 campaign also landed him at #5 in this award category last year. Zoll went on to talk about how Brad Steil, Luis Ramirez (Vasquez’s pitching coach in rookie ball), and the Twins pushed him to rely on the pitch after turning pro. “The slider is your thing, make it your thing. He really owned that this year. I think he realized that not only lefties, but righties were having a really hard time hitting it too. Once he got to Double A it was like ‘All right, I’m catching a groove here’ and you could see his confidence boost. It’s been really fun to see him have that type of success, starting in high-A and ending up in the big leagues.” You can definitely see that boost in confidence talked about in his numbers on the year. With Fort Myers, Vasquez pitched 32.2 innings with a 1.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 37:13 K to BB ratio. With the Lookouts, those numbers improved to 31.0 innings with a 1.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and a 59:4 K to BB ratio. Then, before he was called up to the Twins he made four appearances with the Rochester Red Wings, pitching 5.2 innings and striking out 12 of the 28 hitters he faced (42.3%). It was an easy decision to add Vasquez to the 40-man when rosters expanded for September based on his numbers and the fact that he would have to be protected in the offseason anyway. Twins fans should be able to see that slider plenty of times over the final month and get an idea of what the future could hold for the 6’6” left-hander. It’s very apparent how much the Twins believe in Vasquez and his slider, as Zoll closed by recalling a conversation with Tim O’Neill, one of their national cross-checkers, who said, “How about the kid from Westmont?!” Zoll went on, “It’s an interesting story and situation to see that type of profile, having a reliever with that type of slider. Where did you learn that thing and how can we teach other people? Maybe there’s something in the water. We’ll have to ship that out to Fort Myers.” Definitely look into that, Mr. Zoll! Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez and the rest of the relievers recognized by Twins Daily for their efforts in 2018. Vasquez has the ingredients to stick around for a while, even if it’s just to devastate left-handed hitters. The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Jake Reed, 4) Alan Busenitz, 5) Cody StashakJeremy Nygaard – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Alan Busenitz, 4) Cody Stashak, 5) Nick AndersonCody Christie – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Gabriel Moya, 4) Cody Stashak, 5) Alan BusenitzTom Froemming – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Ryne Harper, 5) Nick AndersonSteve Lein – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Ryne Harper, 5) Nick AndersonTed Schwerzler – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jake Reed, 3) John Curtiss, 4) Alan Busenitz, 5) Jovani MoranWhat do you think? How would your ballot look? Click here to view the article
  11. There were several standout strikeout arms in the Twins system when it came to relief pitchers, as you will see below. Some of them have spent time in the majors this season, while a few others appear ready for their opportunity. Short profiles of our top five are to follow, but first, some players worthy of honorable mention. These players also received votes. Others Receiving Votes Nick Anderson, Rochester Red Wings – 39 G, 8-2, 4 Saves, 3.30 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, 60.0 IP, 49 H, 19 BB, 88 K Gabriel Moya, Rochester Red Wings – 26 G, 1-1, 4 Saves, 1.90 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 42.2 IP, 38 H, 12 BB, 50 K John Curtiss, Rochester Red Wings – 38 G, 2-4, 10 Saves, 3.42 ERA, 1.30 WHIP, 55.1 IP, 41 H, 31 BB, 61 K Ryne Harper, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – 38 G, 1-5, 6 Saves, 3.60 ERA, 1.09 WHIP, 65.0 IP, 61 H, 10 BB, 86 K These are the top five players to receive votes for Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year. Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year #5 – Jake Reed, Rochester Red Wings – 30 G, 0-3, 2 Saves, 1.89 ERA, 1.15 WHIP, 47.2 IP, 34 H, 21 BB, 50 K For a few years now, it has seemed like Jake Reed was knocking on the door to the major leagues, but in part due to some injuries, hasn’t yet made the jump. I’ll say quite frankly that he should have, at least for September of this year (and last year for that matter). The ERA to finish his season is great, but he really turned it on as the season wore on, appearing in both July and August’s Relief Pitcher of the Month entries. In that time frame Reed appeared in 16 games, pitching 26 total innings and allowing just four earned runs (1.38 ERA) on 10 hits and 10 walks (good for a 0.77 WHIP), while striking out 29. #4 – Alan Busenitz, Rochester Red Wings – 27 G, 2-3, 7 Saves, 2.48 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 40.0 IP, 32 H, 8 BB, 45 K Despite appearing in 28 games with the Twins in 2017 and delivering a 1.99 ERA and 0.98 WHIP, Busenitz has been on the Triple A shuttle several times this season, never quite being able to settle in. He was excellent in the minors again in 2018, including the month of May in which he didn’t allow a single run in eight appearances and 13 total innings. He was recognized in both May and June’s Relief Pitcher of the Month awards, and in that stretch over a period of 13 MiLB appearances, did not allow a run while striking out 27 in 23 innings pitched. #3 – Cody Stashak, Fort Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts – 37 G, 2-1, 4 Saves, 2.87 ERA, 1.07 WHIP, 59.2 IP, 49 H, 15 BB, 74 K Stashak was a starting pitcher for the first two years of his professional career, and a decent one, after being drafted in the 13th round of the 2015 draft out of St. Johns University. But that changed in 2018, as the Twins put him in the bullpen for its entirety. He didn’t miss a beat, sustaining a sub 3.00 ERA, sub 1.10 WHIP, and sub .240 batting average against while increasing his K-rate. Stashak has always had good control, and that also didn’t leave him out of the ‘pen allowing him to have the best K/BB ratio of his career. From July through the end of the season, spanning 17 appearances and 23 innings pitched, Stashak allowed just two earned runs (0.78 ERA) on 19 hits and only 2 walks, while striking out 25. He was #2 in July’s Relief Pitcher of the Month entry and made honorable mention in two others during the season. #2 – Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels/Fort Myers Miracle – 37 G, 9-3, 8 Saves, 2.49 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 76.0 IP, 45 H, 35 BB, 107 K If you paid attention during the year or have been clicking the links throughout this article, you know of the legend that is Jovani Moran already. He took home the monthly relief pitcher honors in June and July and received an honorable mention twice. The first thing you’ll notice with him is obviously the K’s. After striking out literally everybody with Elizabethton in 2017 (almost, his rate was 16.4/9IP) and taking home the Short Season Pitcher of the Year award, Moran continued that success with the Kernels and Miracle in 2018, finishing with a rate of 12.7K/9IP between his two stops. Surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow in 2016 seemingly ended his development path as a starter, but what they’ve found as a reliever is hard to ignore. Listed at 6’1” and 170 lbs, Moran hasn’t been known for his velocity, but may have kicked it up some in the bullpen. He has also improved the movement of his secondary pitches, led by a great changeup and improving breaking ball. Moran is one to watch closely moving forward. #1 – Andrew Vasquez, Fort Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – 40 G, 1-2, 6 Saves, 1.30 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 69.1 IP, 50 H, 21 BB, 108 K If you thought Moran’s strikeout total was egregious, take a look at Andrew Vasquez’s. There’s a reason the left-handed Vasquez jumped from Fort Myers all the way to the Twins bullpen during the 2018 season—he has been as untouchable as his slider is elite. Like Moran, Vasquez made appearances on several of the monthly awards, including winning in August before his September callup to the majors. Leading to his recent MLB debut, Vasquez has had a standout minor league career since being drafted by the Twins in the 32nd round of the 2015 draft out of Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA. His career minor league ERA is just 1.52 in four seasons and he has struck out 13.4/9IP. While his fastball will only touch the 90’s, as Twins farm director Jeremy Zoll noted to Twins Daily, “It’s all about the slider with Andrew.” Because of this pitch, he didn’t allow a single extra-base-hit to same-sided hitters during his 2017 season that ended with a trip to the Arizona Fall League (fun fact only I may know since I wrote about it: his first hit allowed in the AFL was a double to a lefty). His efforts during that 2017 campaign also landed him at #5 in this award category last year. Zoll went on to talk about how Brad Steil, Luis Ramirez (Vasquez’s pitching coach in rookie ball), and the Twins pushed him to rely on the pitch after turning pro. “The slider is your thing, make it your thing. He really owned that this year. I think he realized that not only lefties, but righties were having a really hard time hitting it too. Once he got to Double A it was like ‘All right, I’m catching a groove here’ and you could see his confidence boost. It’s been really fun to see him have that type of success, starting in high-A and ending up in the big leagues.” You can definitely see that boost in confidence talked about in his numbers on the year. With Fort Myers, Vasquez pitched 32.2 innings with a 1.38 ERA, 1.13 WHIP, and 37:13 K to BB ratio. With the Lookouts, those numbers improved to 31.0 innings with a 1.16 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, and a 59:4 K to BB ratio. Then, before he was called up to the Twins he made four appearances with the Rochester Red Wings, pitching 5.2 innings and striking out 12 of the 28 hitters he faced (42.3%). It was an easy decision to add Vasquez to the 40-man when rosters expanded for September based on his numbers and the fact that he would have to be protected in the offseason anyway. Twins fans should be able to see that slider plenty of times over the final month and get an idea of what the future could hold for the 6’6” left-hander. It’s very apparent how much the Twins believe in Vasquez and his slider, as Zoll closed by recalling a conversation with Tim O’Neill, one of their national cross-checkers, who said, “How about the kid from Westmont?!” Zoll went on, “It’s an interesting story and situation to see that type of profile, having a reliever with that type of slider. Where did you learn that thing and how can we teach other people? Maybe there’s something in the water. We’ll have to ship that out to Fort Myers.” Definitely look into that, Mr. Zoll! Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez and the rest of the relievers recognized by Twins Daily for their efforts in 2018. Vasquez has the ingredients to stick around for a while, even if it’s just to devastate left-handed hitters. The Ballots In an attempt to be transparent, here are the votes from our Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth Stohs – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Jake Reed, 4) Alan Busenitz, 5) Cody Stashak Jeremy Nygaard – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Alan Busenitz, 4) Cody Stashak, 5) Nick Anderson Cody Christie – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Gabriel Moya, 4) Cody Stashak, 5) Alan Busenitz Tom Froemming – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Ryne Harper, 5) Nick Anderson Steve Lein – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jovani Moran, 3) Cody Stashak, 4) Ryne Harper, 5) Nick Anderson Ted Schwerzler – 1) Andrew Vasquez, 2) Jake Reed, 3) John Curtiss, 4) Alan Busenitz, 5) Jovani Moran What do you think? How would your ballot look?
  12. Earlier this week, we announced the Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Month (Alex Kirilloff). Today, we discuss some of the top relief pitchers in the Twins minor leagues in August. I’ll be honest, even with the honorable mentions, there could have been even more. But when we get to the top of the list, you’ll fully understand the choice. You’ll also get to learn a little more about some guys you may not know as much about. Previous Relief Pitchers of the Month for 2018: April 2018: Nick Anderson, Rochester Red Wings May 2018: Todd Van Steensel, Chattanooga Lookouts June 2018: Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels July 2018: Jovani Moran, Ft. Myers Miracle August 2018:Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for August, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Colton Davis, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 17 K.Ryan Eades, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3 GS, 1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 22 K.Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 6 G, 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 11 KRyne Harper, Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 13 H, 3 BB, 21 K.Jose Martinez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 5 G, 2.77 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 15 KMichael Montero, GCL Twins, 5 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 8 KJovani Moran, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 23 K.Cody Stashak, Chattanooga Lookouts, 7 G, 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 8 KTHE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Johan Quezada - Elizabethton/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 0.75 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 15 K Quezada signed with the Twins way back in 2012. He was a skinny kid. Since then, he has grown to 6-8 and over 240 pounds. He was posting upper-90s velocities until shoulder problems cost him the 2017 season. He returned this year and got into some games in Elizabethton. However, he has done a nice job since joining the Kernels in the middle of August. Recent reports had him hitting 99 mph again. He is already 24. He signed a little later and the shoulder issues have cost him time, but he is certainly one to watch over the next year as he could move fast if he can stay healthy. In August, opponents hit just .209/.261/.233 (.493) off of him. #4 - Jake Reed - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 5 BB,18 K Lots of talk about Byron Buxton, and deservingly so. Because he’s one of us and struck out a ton of batters in Rochester this year, we also hear a lot, wondering why Nick Anderson wasn’t promoted. However, it is inexplicable to me that Jake Reed didn’t get called up for September. They were fortunate that he wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft a year ago. After this season, it’s much more unlikely that he would again. His season started out slow, but since June 1st, he has a 1.43 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. August was his best month as he didn’t give up runs, didn’t allow base runners and even walked less than he did over the course of the season. Opponents hit just .143/.234/.167 (.401) off of him in the month, and he missed a lot of bats. #3 - Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 22 K While he can occasional struggle with his control, Derek Molina is very intriguing because he misses a lot of bats. And, he’s only been pitching full time since the Twins made him their 14th-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Merced College in California. In August, things came together nicely for him. Opponents hit just ..146/.196/.188 (.384) against him. Molina throws a good fastball, a solid curveball and an improving changeup. Check out this Q&A with Molina from earlier this season. #2 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1.42 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 16 K Three rounds after taking this month’s top reliever, the Twins selected his Westmont College teammate Hector Lujan. Lujan had a terrific 2017 season in which he led the Twins minor leagues in saves for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After a slow start with the Miracle this year, he really came on strong. August was easily his best month. His control improved and his stuff definitely helped him miss bats. For the month, opponents hit just .133/.170/.200 (.370) against him. He will participate in the Arizona Fall League this year. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – LHP Andrew Vasquez - 9 G, 0.61 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 30 K Andrew Vasquez pitched in the Florida State League All-Star Game in mid-June. Following the game, he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. He spent almost exactly one month with the Lookouts before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester. He spent about eight days with the Red Wings, and following the August 31st game, he was told that he was heading to the big leagues. As we have seen in his two short appearances with the Twins, Vasquez is primarily a slider pitcher. His fastball sits 89-90 mph, but it is his breaking ball that can be absolutely devastating to opposing hitter. A quick look at his above-mentioned stat line for August, he averaged over two strikeouts per inning. In August, opponents hit just .157/.259/.176 (.435) off of him. Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College (after three years at UC-Santa Barbara). He went to the GCL that year where he walked 15 batters (and struck out 22) in 12 1/3 innings. He was moved along slowly as he worked through his control issues. But once he had command of his control, he flew up the system. This year, he has 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. He was an easy pick to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, so the Twins brought him up for September. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in August throughout the Twins minor league system, and at least another handful probably could have been mentioned. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but it was a great month, which culminated in his first big league call-up. Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August 2018. Click here to view the article
  13. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for August, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Colton Davis, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 2.19 ERA, 1.14 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 6 H, 8 BB, 17 K. Ryan Eades, Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3 GS, 1.00 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 18.0 IP, 15 H, 5 BB, 22 K. Moises Gomez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 6 G, 2.19 ERA, 0.81 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 11 K Ryne Harper, Rochester Red Wings, 9 G, 3.06 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 17.2 IP, 13 H, 3 BB, 21 K. Jose Martinez, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 5 G, 2.77 ERA, 0.85 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 15 K Michael Montero, GCL Twins, 5 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.95 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 8 H, 4 BB, 8 K Jovani Moran, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 3.12 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 17.1 IP, 11 H, 8 BB, 23 K. Cody Stashak, Chattanooga Lookouts, 7 G, 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 10.2 IP, 10 H, 0 BB, 8 K THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Johan Quezada - Elizabethton/Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 0.75 ERA, 1.00 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 3 BB, 15 K Quezada signed with the Twins way back in 2012. He was a skinny kid. Since then, he has grown to 6-8 and over 240 pounds. He was posting upper-90s velocities until shoulder problems cost him the 2017 season. He returned this year and got into some games in Elizabethton. However, he has done a nice job since joining the Kernels in the middle of August. Recent reports had him hitting 99 mph again. He is already 24. He signed a little later and the shoulder issues have cost him time, but he is certainly one to watch over the next year as he could move fast if he can stay healthy. In August, opponents hit just .209/.261/.233 (.493) off of him. #4 - Jake Reed - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 0.71 ERA, 0.87 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 5 BB,18 K Lots of talk about Byron Buxton, and deservingly so. Because he’s one of us and struck out a ton of batters in Rochester this year, we also hear a lot, wondering why Nick Anderson wasn’t promoted. However, it is inexplicable to me that Jake Reed didn’t get called up for September. They were fortunate that he wasn’t selected in the Rule 5 draft a year ago. After this season, it’s much more unlikely that he would again. His season started out slow, but since June 1st, he has a 1.43 ERA and 38 strikeouts in 37 2/3 innings. August was his best month as he didn’t give up runs, didn’t allow base runners and even walked less than he did over the course of the season. Opponents hit just .143/.234/.167 (.401) off of him in the month, and he missed a lot of bats. #3 - Derek Molina - Cedar Rapids Kernels - 6 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 13.1 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 22 K While he can occasional struggle with his control, Derek Molina is very intriguing because he misses a lot of bats. And, he’s only been pitching full time since the Twins made him their 14th-round pick in the 2017 draft out of Merced College in California. In August, things came together nicely for him. Opponents hit just ..146/.196/.188 (.384) against him. Molina throws a good fastball, a solid curveball and an improving changeup. Check out this Q&A with Molina from earlier this season. #2 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 1.42 ERA, 0.63 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 6 H, 2 BB, 16 K Three rounds after taking this month’s top reliever, the Twins selected his Westmont College teammate Hector Lujan. Lujan had a terrific 2017 season in which he led the Twins minor leagues in saves for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. After a slow start with the Miracle this year, he really came on strong. August was easily his best month. His control improved and his stuff definitely helped him miss bats. For the month, opponents hit just .133/.170/.200 (.370) against him. He will participate in the Arizona Fall League this year. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts/Rochester Red Wings – LHP Andrew Vasquez - 9 G, 0.61 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 30 K Andrew Vasquez pitched in the Florida State League All-Star Game in mid-June. Following the game, he was promoted to Double-A Chattanooga. He spent almost exactly one month with the Lookouts before being promoted to Triple-A Rochester. He spent about eight days with the Red Wings, and following the August 31st game, he was told that he was heading to the big leagues. As we have seen in his two short appearances with the Twins, Vasquez is primarily a slider pitcher. His fastball sits 89-90 mph, but it is his breaking ball that can be absolutely devastating to opposing hitter. A quick look at his above-mentioned stat line for August, he averaged over two strikeouts per inning. In August, opponents hit just .157/.259/.176 (.435) off of him. Vasquez was the Twins 32nd-round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College (after three years at UC-Santa Barbara). He went to the GCL that year where he walked 15 batters (and struck out 22) in 12 1/3 innings. He was moved along slowly as he worked through his control issues. But once he had command of his control, he flew up the system. This year, he has 108 strikeouts in 69 1/3 innings. He was an easy pick to be added to the 40-man roster in the offseason, so the Twins brought him up for September. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in August throughout the Twins minor league system, and at least another handful probably could have been mentioned. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but it was a great month, which culminated in his first big league call-up. Congratulations to Andrew Vasquez, the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for August 2018.
  14. Jose Berrios is one of very few Twins players who has actually taken a step forward so far this season. He should be the least of our concerns, but you can’t ignore what’s been a continuing downward trend of late. The Rangers hit three home runs off Berrios, as he gave up five runs and lasted just four innings in a loss at Texas Saturday night.Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs) Berrios: 25 Game Score, 4.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 58.0% strikes (51 of 88 pitches) Home Runs: Cave (9) Multi-Hit Games: Forsythe (3-for-4, 2B), Mauer (2-for-4, 2B), Cave (2-for-4, 2B, HR) WPA of 0.1 or higher: Forsythe .143, Cave .115 WPA of -0.1 or lower: Sano -.108, Grossman -.128, Polanco -.200, Berrios -.297 Download attachment: WinChart91.png This is the fifth consecutive start in which Berrios has failed to record an out in the sixth inning. Over that stretch, Jose has a 6.65 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 1.77 K:BB ratio and has given up seven home runs in just 21 2/3 innings pitched. I’m not sure if this is fatigue, though I doubt that, and there doesn't seem to be any evidence, such as a dip in velocity. Maybe he’s tipping his pitches again? Either way, having Berrios on a backslide would be a pretty rotten way to end what’s been a rotten year for Twins baseball. Here’s hoping he can turn it around from here forward. That start didn’t put the Twins in much of a position to win tonight, but it did serve as an opportunity to get Andrew Vasquez’s major league debut out of the way. He gave up a hit and a run while recording two outs. The run was unearned because Vasquez committed two errors in the inning. The 6-foot-6 lefty was as advertised on the mound, throwing his slider on 11 of his 16 pitches while topping out at 90.1 mph, per Baseball Savant. Jake Cave had another great night, going 2-for-4 with a double and a mammoth homer. He even added a nice catch in center field. Joe Mauer also collected two hits and Logan Forsythe had a three-hit night. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Bullpen91.png Next Three Games Sun at TEX, 2:05 pm CT: TBD (Zack Littell to be primary pitcher) vs. Yohander Mendez Mon at HOU, 1:10 pm CT: TBD Tue at HOU, 7:10 pm CT: TBD Last Three Games MIN 10, TEX 7: Tex-plosion! CLE 5, MIN 3: Odorizzi Fades, Busenitz Blows It MIN 4, CLE 3: Astudillo Gets First Homer, Mauer Scores 1,000th Run Click here to view the article
  15. Snapshot (chart via FanGraphs) Berrios: 25 Game Score, 4.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 6 K, 3 BB, 58.0% strikes (51 of 88 pitches) Home Runs: Cave (9) Multi-Hit Games: Forsythe (3-for-4, 2B), Mauer (2-for-4, 2B), Cave (2-for-4, 2B, HR) WPA of 0.1 or higher: Forsythe .143, Cave .115 WPA of -0.1 or lower: Sano -.108, Grossman -.128, Polanco -.200, Berrios -.297 This is the fifth consecutive start in which Berrios has failed to record an out in the sixth inning. Over that stretch, Jose has a 6.65 ERA, 1.75 WHIP, 1.77 K:BB ratio and has given up seven home runs in just 21 2/3 innings pitched. I’m not sure if this is fatigue, though I doubt that, and there doesn't seem to be any evidence, such as a dip in velocity. Maybe he’s tipping his pitches again? Either way, having Berrios on a backslide would be a pretty rotten way to end what’s been a rotten year for Twins baseball. Here’s hoping he can turn it around from here forward. That start didn’t put the Twins in much of a position to win tonight, but it did serve as an opportunity to get Andrew Vasquez’s major league debut out of the way. He gave up a hit and a run while recording two outs. The run was unearned because Vasquez committed two errors in the inning. The 6-foot-6 lefty was as advertised on the mound, throwing his slider on 11 of his 16 pitches while topping out at 90.1 mph, per Baseball Savant. Jake Cave had another great night, going 2-for-4 with a double and a mammoth homer. He even added a nice catch in center field. Joe Mauer also collected two hits and Logan Forsythe had a three-hit night. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Three Games Sun at TEX, 2:05 pm CT: TBD (Zack Littell to be primary pitcher) vs. Yohander Mendez Mon at HOU, 1:10 pm CT: TBD Tue at HOU, 7:10 pm CT: TBD Last Three Games MIN 10, TEX 7: Tex-plosion! CLE 5, MIN 3: Odorizzi Fades, Busenitz Blows It MIN 4, CLE 3: Astudillo Gets First Homer, Mauer Scores 1,000th Run
  16. Andrew Vasquez (52) LHP DOB: 9/14/1994; Age: 24 Position: LHP Bats: S, Throws: L Height: 6'6", Weight: 228 lbs Acquired: Drafted in the 32nd round in 2015 Because I love Thyrlos' rankings (especially of Rooker), I'm going to use his write up yet again to describe why I'm intrigued by a guy like Vasquez. Ranked at #46 by Thrylos, Vasquez also pitched in the AFL this past off season to the tune of: 1.42 ERA, 9H, 5BB, and 14K in 12.2 IP. He keeps that up and me thinks he could be someone that also moves up the rankings quite a bit this year. Bold prediction: he becomes a Top 25 prospect this year with an outside chance of seeing some time with the Twins in September. (I know, I know...40 Man Roster moves...blah blah blah.)
  17. Keep reading to find out more on the night in the Twins minor league system on Monday. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. TRANSACTIONS Chattanooga put RHP Omar Bencomo (foot) and infielder Chris Paul finger) on the disabled list. Catcher Brian Olson was activated. Also, the Twins signed RHP Austin Adams from the Sugar Land Skeeters and placed him on the Lookouts roster. Adams is 31-years-old and pitched in 53 games for Cleveland between 2014 and 2016. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester Box Score The Red Wings enjoyed a rare night off to watch the Stephen Gonsalves MLB debut. OK, it was a scheduled off-day, but still… https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/1031537024556298241 Also, Kennys Vargas was named the International League’s hitter of the week. https://twitter.com/RocRedWings/status/1031560369263849472 CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 6, Montgomery 2 Box Score The Lookouts used some well-timed long balls to take control of this game. Early on, Luke Raley hit his third Lookout homer, and later, Jimmy Kerrigan hit a long, three-run homer, his fifth with Chattanooga this year. Brian Navarreto went 3-for-4 with a couple of RBIs. Jaylin Davis reached .300 with a 2-for-4 night. He added a walk. Tyler Wells started and went the first five innings. He gave up two runs on seven hits and a walk. He struck out three batters. Williams Ramirez struck out three batters over two scoreless innings. Andrew Vasquez then gave up just one hit over two scoreless innings. He struck out six. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers Box Score The Miracle were also given the day off to watch Gonsalves debut. Or, it’s a scheduled day off. https://twitter.com/MiracleBaseball/status/1031553733543383042 KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 12, Wisconsin 4 Box Score Down 4-3 going into the eighth inning, the Kernels scored four runs in the eighth and another five runs in the ninth to run away with the win in Wisconsin. Gabriel Maciel went 3-for-5 with his second triple and three runs scored. Ryan Jeffers was also 3-for-5 with three runs. Michael Helman went 2-for-4 with a walk and his second double. Trevor Larnach went 2-for-4 with a walk, his fifth double, and three runs scored. Those four were the first four hitters in the Kernels lineup. Number five hitter, Ben Rodriguez, added four RBIs. His 18th double cleared the bases. Tyler Watson started and was charged with four runs on four hits in 5 2/3 innings. He walked five and struck five out. Johan Quezada made his Kernels debut. After missing most of the past two years with shoulder injuries. On this day, he faced ten batters and got ten outs, six via the strikeout. E-TWINS E-TALK Game 1 - Elizabethton 8, Johnson City 6 Box Score The E-Twins scored six runs in the second inning and held on for a win in Game 1. Kody Funderburk made the start. The lefty gave up four runs on seven hits over 3 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four. Blair Lakso came in and got the win. He gave up two runs on two hits and five walks in 1 1/3 innings. Tanner Howell recorded his first E-Twins save with two innings of scoreless ball. He gave up one hit and walked one. Yeltsin Encarnacion led the offense. He went 3-for-3 with his fifth double. He scored three runs and stole his second base. Yunior Severino went 2-for-4 with two RBI. Gilberto Celestino was 2-for-4 with his third double and his eighth stolen base. Jared Akins hit his third double, and Ricky De La Torre hit his ninth. Game 2 - Elizabethton 3, Johnson City 2 (9 innings) Box Score With two outs in the bottom of the ninth, Trevor Casanova singled to score Yeltsin Encarnacion and give the E-Twins the win. https://twitter.com/ETwinsBaseball/status/1031760417146785792 Brian Rapp started and gave up two runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four. Pedro Garcia came on and did well. He threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings. In the extra innings, both the eighth and the ninth, he was able to leave the bases loaded and keep the game tied. He gave up three hits, walked three and struck out four. Casanova led the way. He went 2-3 with a sacrifice fly to give him two of the three RBIs. The other run scored on a pinch-hit single by Chris Williams. Roberto Molina also had two hits. Gilberto Celestino went 1-for-3 with two walks. GCL TWINS TALK GCL Twins 0, GCL Rays 6 Box Score The Twins again had the opportunity to try to hit against Rays pitching prospect and 2018 first-round pick Matthew Libertore. It is the third time in the last few weeks that the Twins have faced the lefty. On this day, Libertore gave up three hits over five shutout innings. He struck out eight without issuing a walk. In the three starts combined, he has thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings. He’s given up six hits, walked none and struck out 19. Shane Carrier led the offense with a 2-for-4 game. Erick Rivera added his fourth double. Andriu Marin started. He gave up two runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. He walked one, hit one and struck out five. Dylan Stowell gave up two unearned runs on one hit and two walks in his 1 1/3 innings. He struck out three. Erik Cha recorded the next four outs. He struck out one and didn’t allow a base runner. Niklas Rimmel gave up two runs on four hits over the final two innings. He struck out two. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Gabriel Maciel, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3-5, 3B(2), 3 R). Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Johan Quezada, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed. #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #4 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #5 - Stephen Gonsalves (Minnesota) - 1.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K #6 - Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, BB, 2B(5), 3 R, RBI, K #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - Did not play #8 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play #9 -Wander Javier - out of for the season #10 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #12 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #13 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #14 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #15 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #16 - Yunior Severino (Elizabethton) - 2-4, 2 RBI, R, K | 1-5, R, 2 K #17 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - Out for the season (wrist) #18 - Ryan Jeffers (Cedar Rapids) - 3-5, 3 R #19 - Jacob Pearson (Cedar Rapids) - 0-5, 2 K, SB(6) #20 - Luis Arraez (Chattanooga) - 0-3, BB, R, K #21 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled *Since Wander Javier is out, I’d add #21 to the list. SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Pawtucket @ Rochester (6:05 CST, completion of a suspended game + regularly scheduled game) - LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-1, 4.26 ERA), RHP Michael Pineda (rehab) Chattanooga @ Montgomery (6:35 CST) - TBD Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30 CST) - RHP Clark Beeker (4-7, 4.73 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (7:00 CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak (8-5, 3.35 ERA) Greeneville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) - Luis Rijo (4-1, 2.06 ERA) GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (9:00 am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s games, or ask any questions you may have.
  18. It’s fair to say that The Debut of Stephen Gonsalves didn’t go as well as he would have liked. Debuts rarely do. But for the rest of his life, he can be called a big leaguer. And that’s what every player in the minor leagues dreams of. Monday in the minor leagues, both Rochester and Ft. Myers got a rare day off. But there was some terrific pitching and powerful hitting for Chattanooga. They also added a former big leaguer to their roster. Cedar Rapids scored a dozen and got a great relief appearance. Elizabethton played neighboring Johnson City in a doubleheader. And the GCL Twins got to face first-round pick Matthew Libertore for the third time.Keep reading to find out more on the night in the Twins minor league system on Monday. As always, please feel free to discuss and ask questions. TRANSACTIONS Chattanooga put RHP Omar Bencomo (foot) and infielder Chris Paul finger) on the disabled list. Catcher Brian Olson was activated. Also, the Twins signed RHP Austin Adams from the Sugar Land Skeeters and placed him on the Lookouts roster. Adams is 31-years-old and pitched in 53 games for Cleveland between 2014 and 2016.RED WINGS REPORTRochester Box Score The Red Wings enjoyed a rare night off to watch the Stephen Gonsalves MLB debut. OK, it was a scheduled off-day, but still… Brian Rapp started and gave up two runs on five hits over 4 2/3 innings. He walked two and struck out four. Pedro Garcia came on and did well. He threw 4 1/3 scoreless innings. In the extra innings, both the eighth and the ninth, he was able to leave the bases loaded and keep the game tied. He gave up three hits, walked three and struck out four. Casanova led the way. He went 2-3 with a sacrifice fly to give him two of the three RBIs. The other run scored on a pinch-hit single by Chris Williams. Roberto Molina also had two hits. Gilberto Celestino went 1-for-3 with two walks. GCL TWINS TALK GCL Twins 0, GCL Rays 6 Box Score The Twins again had the opportunity to try to hit against Rays pitching prospect and 2018 first-round pick Matthew Libertore. It is the third time in the last few weeks that the Twins have faced the lefty. On this day, Libertore gave up three hits over five shutout innings. He struck out eight without issuing a walk. In the three starts combined, he has thrown 14 2/3 scoreless innings. He’s given up six hits, walked none and struck out 19. Shane Carrier led the offense with a 2-for-4 game. Erick Rivera added his fourth double. Andriu Marin started. He gave up two runs on six hits over 3 2/3 innings. He walked one, hit one and struck out five. Dylan Stowell gave up two unearned runs on one hit and two walks in his 1 1/3 innings. He struck out three. Erik Cha recorded the next four outs. He struck out one and didn’t allow a base runner. Niklas Rimmel gave up two runs on four hits over the final two innings. He struck out two. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Hitter of the Day: Gabriel Maciel, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3-5, 3B(2), 3 R). Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day: Johan Quezada, Cedar Rapids Kernels (3.1 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 6 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed. #1 - Royce Lewis (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #4 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #5 - Stephen Gonsalves (Minnesota) - 1.1 IP, 6 H, 4 ER, 2 BB, 3 K #6 - Trevor Larnach (Cedar Rapids) - 2-4, BB, 2B(5), 3 R, RBI, K #7 - Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) - Did not play #8 - Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play #9 -Wander Javier - out of for the season #10 - Zack Littell (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #11 - Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) - Did not pitch #12 - LaMonte Wade (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #13 - Travis Blankenhorn (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #14 - Lewis Thorpe (Rochester) - No Game Scheduled #15 - Ben Rortvedt (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled #16 - Yunior Severino (Elizabethton) - 2-4, 2 RBI, R, K | 1-5, R, 2 K #17 - Lewin Diaz (Ft. Myers) - Out for the season (wrist) #18 - Ryan Jeffers (Cedar Rapids) - 3-5, 3 R #19 - Jacob Pearson (Cedar Rapids) - 0-5, 2 K, SB(6) #20 - Luis Arraez (Chattanooga) - 0-3, BB, R, K #21 - Jose Miranda (Ft. Myers) - No Game Scheduled *Since Wander Javier is out, I’d add #21 to the list. SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Pawtucket @ Rochester (6:05 CST, completion of a suspended game + regularly scheduled game) - LHP Lewis Thorpe (0-1, 4.26 ERA), RHP Michael Pineda (rehab) Chattanooga @ Montgomery (6:35 CST) - TBD Ft. Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30 CST) - RHP Clark Beeker (4-7, 4.73 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Beloit (7:00 CST) - RHP Randy Dobnak (8-5, 3.35 ERA) Greeneville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) - Luis Rijo (4-1, 2.06 ERA) GCL Rays @ GCL Twins (9:00 am CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask any questions about Monday’s games, or ask any questions you may have. Click here to view the article
  19. It’s hard to believe that the minor league seasons are reaching their second half and the Twins have had some strong performances throughout the system. As we approach the 4th of July, it’s again time to celebrate with some awards. Tonight, we start our series of Twins Daily Minor League Monthly awards by looking at the top relief pitchers in the Twins system during the month of June. (Over the next few days, we’ll also announce our choices for the top starting pitchers and hitters for June. Also, be sure to stop back often throughout the Fourth of July week as we are about to begin our midseason Top 40 prospect rankings.) Previous Relief Pitchers of the Month for 2018: April 2018: Nick Anderson, Rochester Red Wings May 2018: Todd Van Steensel, Chattanooga Lookouts June 2018: Well, just keep reading (if you happened to not look at the graphic that you clicked on to read this story.Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for June, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Tyler Duffey, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 2.03 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 11 KJared Finkel, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 7 G, 3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 KGabriel Moya, Rochester Red Wings, 10 G (3 GS), 1. 59, 1.06 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 16 KTHE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 6 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 13 K The Twins 35th round draft pick in 2016 out of Westmont College had a real solid month with the Miracle in June. After a breakout 2017 season in Cedar Rapids in which he posted a 1.13 ERA and 17 saves, 2018 has had some ups and downs. However, he now has a 3.18 in 39 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .240/.283/.340 (623) off of him in June. #4 - Paco Rodriguez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 6 K Rodriguez was the second-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Later that season, he made his big league debut and stayed in the big leagues through the 2015 season. Unfortunately, he fought several injuries. Fast-forward to this year, and after the season started, the Twins signed him as a free agent. Soon after, he spent a couple of weeks with the Miracle before moving up to Chattanooga in late May. The southpaw had a strong month for the Lookouts. Opponents hit just .206/.300/.294 (.594) off of the 27-year-old during the month. #3 - Alan Busenitz - Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins - 8 G, 3.07 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 0 BB, 13 K Busenitz wasn’t as good in June as he was in April and May, but he was still quite good. While fans wanted him up soon, he did get called back up with a week left in June, though he was again optioned before the month’s end. Opponents hit just .228/.241/.333 (.575) off of him. Most impressive was 13 strikeouts and zero walks. Despite his 6.43 ERA with the Twins this year, he has a 12-2 strikeout to walk ratio. #2 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 6 G, 2.79 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 3 H, 7 BB, 17 K Vasquez represented the Twins and the Miracle in the Florida State League All-Star game in June and threw a scoreless inning (if you want to add that to his above stats). As you can see, there are times that Vasquez can struggle with control, but he limits hits by utilizing a tremendous slider that can miss a lot of bats. Like Lujan, Vasquez was drafted out of Westmont College in 2016 in the 32nd round. Following the All-Star break, he was promoted to Chattanooga. He’s made two appearances and has 10 strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Cedar Rapids Kernels – LHP Jovani Moran - 6 G, 0.90 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 4 H, 7 BB, 23 K Moran was the Twins seventh-round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico. He missed the 2016 season after having surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He returned strong in 2017, and he was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. For Elizabethton, he gave up just one run in 24 2/3 innings (0.36 ERA), and had just six walks to go with 45 strikeouts. Moran began the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He struggled with his control in April when he had 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in just 7 1/3 innings for the Kernels. Since then, he has been much improved. In May, he had 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 18 innings. As you see above, he had 23 strikeouts and seven walks in 15 innings. Still not great control, but his swing-and-miss stuff make the walks more bearable. Moran is not a big guy .He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs in at about 170 pounds. He’s got a good whip-like action and some deception in his delivery. His fastball reaches into the low-90s, and he’s got a good slider and changeup. He really just needs to keep working and developing, and gaining strength could help him add a little more velocity. He’s a really good athlete who fields the position well. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in June throughout the Twins minor league system. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but again, congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2018, Jovani Moran of the Cedar Rapids Kernels. Click here to view the article
  20. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for June, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION Tyler Duffey, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 2.03 ERA, 1.35 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 12 H, 6 BB, 11 K Jared Finkel, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 7 G, 3.75 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 10 H, 3 BB, 5 K Gabriel Moya, Rochester Red Wings, 10 G (3 GS), 1. 59, 1.06 WHIP, 17.0 IP, 15 H, 3 BB, 16 K THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Hector Lujan - Ft. Myers Miracle - 6 G, 2.13 ERA, 1.11 WHIP, 12.2 IP, 12 H, 2 BB, 13 K The Twins 35th round draft pick in 2016 out of Westmont College had a real solid month with the Miracle in June. After a breakout 2017 season in Cedar Rapids in which he posted a 1.13 ERA and 17 saves, 2018 has had some ups and downs. However, he now has a 3.18 in 39 2/3 innings. Opponents hit just .240/.283/.340 (623) off of him in June. #4 - Paco Rodriguez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 7 G, 0.90 ERA, 1.10 WHIP, 10.0 IP, 7 H, 4 BB, 6 K Rodriguez was the second-round pick of the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012. Later that season, he made his big league debut and stayed in the big leagues through the 2015 season. Unfortunately, he fought several injuries. Fast-forward to this year, and after the season started, the Twins signed him as a free agent. Soon after, he spent a couple of weeks with the Miracle before moving up to Chattanooga in late May. The southpaw had a strong month for the Lookouts. Opponents hit just .206/.300/.294 (.594) off of the 27-year-old during the month. #3 - Alan Busenitz - Rochester Red Wings/Minnesota Twins - 8 G, 3.07 ERA, 0.89 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 13 H, 0 BB, 13 K Busenitz wasn’t as good in June as he was in April and May, but he was still quite good. While fans wanted him up soon, he did get called back up with a week left in June, though he was again optioned before the month’s end. Opponents hit just .228/.241/.333 (.575) off of him. Most impressive was 13 strikeouts and zero walks. Despite his 6.43 ERA with the Twins this year, he has a 12-2 strikeout to walk ratio. #2 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle/Chattanooga Lookouts - 6 G, 2.79 ERA, 1.03 WHIP, 9.2 IP, 3 H, 7 BB, 17 K Vasquez represented the Twins and the Miracle in the Florida State League All-Star game in June and threw a scoreless inning (if you want to add that to his above stats). As you can see, there are times that Vasquez can struggle with control, but he limits hits by utilizing a tremendous slider that can miss a lot of bats. Like Lujan, Vasquez was drafted out of Westmont College in 2016 in the 32nd round. Following the All-Star break, he was promoted to Chattanooga. He’s made two appearances and has 10 strikeouts in 4 1/3 innings. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Cedar Rapids Kernels – LHP Jovani Moran - 6 G, 0.90 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 15.0 IP, 4 H, 7 BB, 23 K Moran was the Twins seventh-round draft pick in 2015 out of high school in Puerto Rico. He missed the 2016 season after having surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. He returned strong in 2017, and he was the Twins Daily short-season Minor League Pitcher of the Year. For Elizabethton, he gave up just one run in 24 2/3 innings (0.36 ERA), and had just six walks to go with 45 strikeouts. Moran began the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He struggled with his control in April when he had 12 walks and 12 strikeouts in just 7 1/3 innings for the Kernels. Since then, he has been much improved. In May, he had 26 strikeouts and seven walks in 18 innings. As you see above, he had 23 strikeouts and seven walks in 15 innings. Still not great control, but his swing-and-miss stuff make the walks more bearable. Moran is not a big guy .He stands 6-foot-1 and weighs in at about 170 pounds. He’s got a good whip-like action and some deception in his delivery. His fastball reaches into the low-90s, and he’s got a good slider and changeup. He really just needs to keep working and developing, and gaining strength could help him add a little more velocity. He’s a really good athlete who fields the position well. There were several strong relief pitcher performances in June throughout the Twins minor league system. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but again, congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for June 2018, Jovani Moran of the Cedar Rapids Kernels.
  21. There was plenty of action in the system on Tuesday as the Red Wings made up an earlier postponement with a doubleheader, along with all other affiliates being in action. The games included a couple of shutouts in favor of the good guys but one, we’ll call it an “occurrence,” stood out to me as I went through the game log for a starting pitcher in one of those, one who happened to allow ten hits in a near complete game effort. I’d guess not a single game in the majors has had this happen this year, and who knows how many other seasons before that. I challenge someone to find out for me, and in turn, inform the rest of our readers because I think it’s going to be that rare.You’re going to have to keep reading to find out exactly what I’m referring to, but be sure to add to the discussion in the comments when you find out! TRANSACTIONS There were a couple of transactions in the system on Tuesday: -The Rochester Red Wings received Joe Mauer on a rehab assignment, and he played in both games of their doubleheader. -In AA, the Chattanooga Lookouts placed Zander Wiel on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to June 10th, with SI joint dysfunction (likely means lower back pain). RED WINGS REPORT Game 1: Rochester 2, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5 Box Score In game one of the Red Wings doubleheader on Tuesday, right-hander Aaron Slegers took the mound and delivered a (shortened) complete game effort, but was also saddled with the loss. Slegers surrendered five runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks in six innings. The damage came on a three-run home run in the bottom of the first (after an error making those runs the unearned ones), and solo shots in each of the third and fourth innings. He struck out four on the day. On offense Rochester wasn’t able to string together enough hits of their own to keep up, as newcomers Cameron Rupp and Taylor Motter hit their first home runs in the organization in back-to-back fashion in the fourth to account for their only runs. Nick Gordon finished 2-for-3 on the game and as a team they had only two at-bats with runners in scoring position and left only four men on base. Joe Mauer batted first in the lineup as the DH in this one to kick off his rehab assignment and finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Game 2: Rochester 0, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 Box Score In the makeup of their May 12th postponement, Rochester trotted out the bullpen to handle game two. Gabriel Moya got the starting nod and went the first three innings. He allowed just two hits and struck out four, lowering his ERA on the season at Triple A to 1.85. It was then Tyler Duffey’s turn, and he went the next two innings, allowing two hits and striking out one to put his ERA at 1.29. John Curtiss was up next, and while he started the day with an ERA also below two at 1.61, he would not finish it that way. After a double and single to start the sixth, a triple brought in two and put the RailRiders out front. Curtiss buckled down and got a fly out and two K’s to end the inning and it would be up to the Red Wings lineup in the top of the seventh. Unfortunately, Kennys Vargas led off the inning with a strikeout, then Willians Astudillo sent a fly ball into left field that he tried to stretch into a double but was thrown at second base. Down to their last out, a walk to Wynston Sawyer brought the tying run into the batter’s box, but a groundout ended the game. The lineup again failed to get anything going in this one as well, as they had just six baserunners all game. LaMonte Wade was 1-for-2 with a walk while Astudillo finished 2-for-3 in the book. Joe Mauer again was the DH out of the leadoff spot and again went 0-for-3. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Montgomery 2 Box Score In a bullpen game, the Lookouts got an overall solid pitching effort out of four of their relievers, but offense was hard to come by as they managed just three hits on the game, all singles. Mitchell Kranson, Alex Perez, and Tanner English each had one of those hits, with Perez picking up the only RBI to drive in James Ramsey, who had drawn a walk in the fourth inning. As a team Chattanooga was 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left only four men on base. Todd Van Steensel started the game for the Lookouts and went the first 2 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on three hits (a solo home run) and a walk while striking out two. Williams Ramirez was charged with the loss as he pitched the next two innings. He walked three and gave up one run along with picking up one K. Paco Rodriguez finished the next 1 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out three. Ryne Harper finished the game’s final two frames, retiring all six men he faced including one K. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Palm Beach 0 Box Score The Miracle took the lead 1-0 in the third inning when Jimmy Kerrigan, Travis Blankenhorn, and Jaylin Davis hit consecutive singles. It might have been more, but a double-steal attempt ended with Blankenhorn being thrown out at home. They stretched their lead to 3-0 in the seventh when a Luis Arreaz double brought in Ben Rortvedt and Brandon Lopez who had each singled to start the inning. Blankenhorn finished 3-for-4 but in addition to being caught at home, was also picked off first base. The Cardinals had all zeroes on the scoreboard to that point thanks to Fort Myers starter Clark Beeker. In total, he went 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and a walk, while striking out three. Until the eighth, he had allowed just three hits but three singles in the eighth ended his day with two outs. A runner was thrown out at home by Shane Carrier, on the third of those singles to keep Palm Beach off the board. Andrew Vasquez came on to escape the remaining eighth inning jam with a strikeout, then proceeded to strike out the side in the ninth to pick up his fifth save on the year. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 7, Kane County 0 Box Score Kernels starter Randy Dobnak did his best Houdini impression in this one, scattering ten hits over eight innings to shut out the Cougars. Despite all those hits, Kane County managed only five at-bats with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Dobnak walked none and struck out two. Of his 99 pitches, 73 went for strikes as he was extremely efficient with his pitch count. His defense also played a big part as he struck out only two on the game, and no errors were committed on 30 batted balls. Cedar Rapids jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Dobnak ever took the mound, as the first three top prospects in the lineup, Akil Baddoo, Royce Lewis, and Alex Kirilloff; went for extra bases. Baddoo led off the game with his sixth home run, Lewis doubled, and Kirilloff traded places with him on a double of his own. They stretched the lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI single from Andrew Bechtold, and an RBI groundout from Trey Cabbage, then 6-0 after the eighth following doubles from Robby Rinn and Jacob Pearson (his second double of the game), and an error that allowed Pearson to score. In the ninth they tacked on another run after Baddoo led off the frame with a double and he scored on a single from Rinn. The Kernels got multiple hits from Baddoo, Lewis, Rinn (4-for-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI), Pearson (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI), and Bechtold (2-for-4, RBI, HBP). Lewis also stole his 16th base. There were no walks in the game from either team, but Cedar Rapids got the best of the 26 total hits. That “occurrence” I was talking about in the lead? Well, try this on for size: Not a single batter for the Kane County lineup pushed an at-bat to a three-ball count over Dobnak’s eight innings. Add in Martinez, and not one Cougar hitter reached three balls on the game. I don’t think that type of thing happens ever these days but couldn’t quite confirm it myself. If I go so far as to add in Cedar Rapids hitters, there were just two three-ball counts on the entire game on Tuesday night. I would have expected it to have gone quicker than two hours and thirty-nine minutes with that considered. Anyway, for fun and trying to verify my gut feeling on the rarity of this in today’s game, I did discover that Boston Braves pitcher Red Barrett holds the record for fewest pitches in a complete game as he needed just 58 pitches in a 2-0 victory against the Cincinnati Reds in 1944. That game was also the shortest in MLB history to be played at night, clocking in at one hour and fifteen minutes. Those notes aren’t the resolution to my query, but you’ve now learned the answer to some very obscure sports trivia questions. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Randy Dobnak, Cedar Rapids Kernels (W, 8 IP, 0 R, 10 H, 2 K) Twins Daily Hitter of the Day – Akil Baddoo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 K) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY 1. Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, R, 2B (13), K, SB (16) 2. Fernando Romero (Minnesota) – Did not pitch. 3. Nick Gordon (Rochester) – (2 games) 2-for-6, K 4. Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) – Did not pitch. 5. Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5, 2B (18), RBI 6. Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – Out for season with injury. 7. Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – 0-for-4, 3 K 8. Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch. 9. Brusdar Graterol (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch. 10. Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, 2 R, 2B (7), HR (6), RBI, 2 K 11. Zack Littell (Rochester) – Did not pitch. 12. Lewis Thorpe (Chattanooga) – Did not pitch. 13. Lewin Diaz (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, 2B 14. LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – (2 games) 1-for-4, BB, HBP 15. Mitch Garver (Minnesota) – 0-for-1, BB 16. Ben Rortvedt (Fort Myers) – 1-for-3, R, BB 17. Travis Blankenhorn (Fort Myers) – 3-for-4, CS, PO 18. Yunior Severino (Extended Spring Training) 19. Tyler Jay (Chattanooga) – Did not pitch. 20. Felix Jorge (Rochester) – Disabled List, still no official timetable for return. WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (5:35PM CST) – LHP Dietrich Enns (4-6, 5.85 ERA) Chattanooga @ Birmingham (7:05PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (2-4, 4.95 ERA) Fort Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30PM CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (0-0, 4.76 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (11:00AM CST) – RHP Brusdar Graterol (2-1, 1.95 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games! 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  22. You’re going to have to keep reading to find out exactly what I’m referring to, but be sure to add to the discussion in the comments when you find out! TRANSACTIONS There were a couple of transactions in the system on Tuesday: -The Rochester Red Wings received Joe Mauer on a rehab assignment, and he played in both games of their doubleheader. -In AA, the Chattanooga Lookouts placed Zander Wiel on the 7-day disabled list, retroactive to June 10th, with SI joint dysfunction (likely means lower back pain). RED WINGS REPORT Game 1: Rochester 2, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 5 Box Score In game one of the Red Wings doubleheader on Tuesday, right-hander Aaron Slegers took the mound and delivered a (shortened) complete game effort, but was also saddled with the loss. Slegers surrendered five runs (two earned) on seven hits and two walks in six innings. The damage came on a three-run home run in the bottom of the first (after an error making those runs the unearned ones), and solo shots in each of the third and fourth innings. He struck out four on the day. On offense Rochester wasn’t able to string together enough hits of their own to keep up, as newcomers Cameron Rupp and Taylor Motter hit their first home runs in the organization in back-to-back fashion in the fourth to account for their only runs. Nick Gordon finished 2-for-3 on the game and as a team they had only two at-bats with runners in scoring position and left only four men on base. Joe Mauer batted first in the lineup as the DH in this one to kick off his rehab assignment and finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout. Game 2: Rochester 0, Scranton/Wilkes-Barre 2 Box Score In the makeup of their May 12th postponement, Rochester trotted out the bullpen to handle game two. Gabriel Moya got the starting nod and went the first three innings. He allowed just two hits and struck out four, lowering his ERA on the season at Triple A to 1.85. It was then Tyler Duffey’s turn, and he went the next two innings, allowing two hits and striking out one to put his ERA at 1.29. John Curtiss was up next, and while he started the day with an ERA also below two at 1.61, he would not finish it that way. After a double and single to start the sixth, a triple brought in two and put the RailRiders out front. Curtiss buckled down and got a fly out and two K’s to end the inning and it would be up to the Red Wings lineup in the top of the seventh. Unfortunately, Kennys Vargas led off the inning with a strikeout, then Willians Astudillo sent a fly ball into left field that he tried to stretch into a double but was thrown at second base. Down to their last out, a walk to Wynston Sawyer brought the tying run into the batter’s box, but a groundout ended the game. The lineup again failed to get anything going in this one as well, as they had just six baserunners all game. LaMonte Wade was 1-for-2 with a walk while Astudillo finished 2-for-3 in the book. Joe Mauer again was the DH out of the leadoff spot and again went 0-for-3. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga 1, Montgomery 2 Box Score In a bullpen game, the Lookouts got an overall solid pitching effort out of four of their relievers, but offense was hard to come by as they managed just three hits on the game, all singles. Mitchell Kranson, Alex Perez, and Tanner English each had one of those hits, with Perez picking up the only RBI to drive in James Ramsey, who had drawn a walk in the fourth inning. As a team Chattanooga was 1-for-4 with runners in scoring position and left only four men on base. Todd Van Steensel started the game for the Lookouts and went the first 2 1/3 innings. He allowed one run on three hits (a solo home run) and a walk while striking out two. Williams Ramirez was charged with the loss as he pitched the next two innings. He walked three and gave up one run along with picking up one K. Paco Rodriguez finished the next 1 2/3 innings, walking two and striking out three. Ryne Harper finished the game’s final two frames, retiring all six men he faced including one K. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 3, Palm Beach 0 Box Score The Miracle took the lead 1-0 in the third inning when Jimmy Kerrigan, Travis Blankenhorn, and Jaylin Davis hit consecutive singles. It might have been more, but a double-steal attempt ended with Blankenhorn being thrown out at home. They stretched their lead to 3-0 in the seventh when a Luis Arreaz double brought in Ben Rortvedt and Brandon Lopez who had each singled to start the inning. Blankenhorn finished 3-for-4 but in addition to being caught at home, was also picked off first base. The Cardinals had all zeroes on the scoreboard to that point thanks to Fort Myers starter Clark Beeker. In total, he went 7 2/3 innings, allowing six hits and a walk, while striking out three. Until the eighth, he had allowed just three hits but three singles in the eighth ended his day with two outs. A runner was thrown out at home by Shane Carrier, on the third of those singles to keep Palm Beach off the board. Andrew Vasquez came on to escape the remaining eighth inning jam with a strikeout, then proceeded to strike out the side in the ninth to pick up his fifth save on the year. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 7, Kane County 0 Box Score Kernels starter Randy Dobnak did his best Houdini impression in this one, scattering ten hits over eight innings to shut out the Cougars. Despite all those hits, Kane County managed only five at-bats with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Dobnak walked none and struck out two. Of his 99 pitches, 73 went for strikes as he was extremely efficient with his pitch count. His defense also played a big part as he struck out only two on the game, and no errors were committed on 30 batted balls. Cedar Rapids jumped out to a 2-0 lead before Dobnak ever took the mound, as the first three top prospects in the lineup, Akil Baddoo, Royce Lewis, and Alex Kirilloff; went for extra bases. Baddoo led off the game with his sixth home run, Lewis doubled, and Kirilloff traded places with him on a double of his own. They stretched the lead to 4-0 in the fourth inning thanks to an RBI single from Andrew Bechtold, and an RBI groundout from Trey Cabbage, then 6-0 after the eighth following doubles from Robby Rinn and Jacob Pearson (his second double of the game), and an error that allowed Pearson to score. In the ninth they tacked on another run after Baddoo led off the frame with a double and he scored on a single from Rinn. The Kernels got multiple hits from Baddoo, Lewis, Rinn (4-for-5, 2 R, 2B, RBI), Pearson (3-for-5, 2 R, 2 2B, RBI), and Bechtold (2-for-4, RBI, HBP). Lewis also stole his 16th base. There were no walks in the game from either team, but Cedar Rapids got the best of the 26 total hits. That “occurrence” I was talking about in the lead? Well, try this on for size: Not a single batter for the Kane County lineup pushed an at-bat to a three-ball count over Dobnak’s eight innings. Add in Martinez, and not one Cougar hitter reached three balls on the game. I don’t think that type of thing happens ever these days but couldn’t quite confirm it myself. If I go so far as to add in Cedar Rapids hitters, there were just two three-ball counts on the entire game on Tuesday night. I would have expected it to have gone quicker than two hours and thirty-nine minutes with that considered. Anyway, for fun and trying to verify my gut feeling on the rarity of this in today’s game, I did discover that Boston Braves pitcher Red Barrett holds the record for fewest pitches in a complete game as he needed just 58 pitches in a 2-0 victory against the Cincinnati Reds in 1944. That game was also the shortest in MLB history to be played at night, clocking in at one hour and fifteen minutes. Those notes aren’t the resolution to my query, but you’ve now learned the answer to some very obscure sports trivia questions. STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Pitcher of the Day – Randy Dobnak, Cedar Rapids Kernels (W, 8 IP, 0 R, 10 H, 2 K) Twins Daily Hitter of the Day – Akil Baddoo, Cedar Rapids Kernels (2-for-5, 2 R, 2B, HR, RBI, 2 K) TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY 1. Royce Lewis (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, R, 2B (13), K, SB (16) 2. Fernando Romero (Minnesota) – Did not pitch. 3. Nick Gordon (Rochester) – (2 games) 2-for-6, K 4. Stephen Gonsalves (Rochester) – Did not pitch. 5. Alex Kirilloff (Cedar Rapids) – 1-for-5, 2B (18), RBI 6. Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – Out for season with injury. 7. Brent Rooker (Chattanooga) – 0-for-4, 3 K 8. Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch. 9. Brusdar Graterol (Cedar Rapids) – Did not pitch. 10. Akil Baddoo (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, 2 R, 2B (7), HR (6), RBI, 2 K 11. Zack Littell (Rochester) – Did not pitch. 12. Lewis Thorpe (Chattanooga) – Did not pitch. 13. Lewin Diaz (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, 2B 14. LaMonte Wade (Rochester) – (2 games) 1-for-4, BB, HBP 15. Mitch Garver (Minnesota) – 0-for-1, BB 16. Ben Rortvedt (Fort Myers) – 1-for-3, R, BB 17. Travis Blankenhorn (Fort Myers) – 3-for-4, CS, PO 18. Yunior Severino (Extended Spring Training) 19. Tyler Jay (Chattanooga) – Did not pitch. 20. Felix Jorge (Rochester) – Disabled List, still no official timetable for return. WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester @ Scranton/Wilkes-Barre (5:35PM CST) – LHP Dietrich Enns (4-6, 5.85 ERA) Chattanooga @ Birmingham (7:05PM CST) – LHP Lewis Thorpe (2-4, 4.95 ERA) Fort Myers @ Palm Beach (5:30PM CST) – RHP Griffin Jax (0-0, 4.76 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Kane County (11:00AM CST) – RHP Brusdar Graterol (2-1, 1.95 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  23. Important note on the selection process: In this list, I avoided putting players in their first year with the level. Because of that, I did not put Alex Kirilloff on this list, even though he has been the best player in the organization this season. Other players who were not added because of this stipulation are Zander Wiel, Tyler Wells and Brusdar Graterol. Perhaps they could be added to my next one in late July or early August if they keep performing. Here is my list... Honorable Mentions: Tyler Jay, LHP, Chattanooga Jordan Gore, 2B, Cedar Rapids Bryan Sammons, LHP, Cedar Rapids 5. Ben Rortvedt, C, Cedar Rapids Everyone knows how much of a fan I am of him. My last article for Twins Daily raved about Rotvedt as the catcher of the future. It has been an up and down season for the Verona, Wis., native. At the time I wrote my Rortvedt piece, the catcher was hitting .471 through his first four games of the season. But apparently I was the kiss of the death, as he went on a month-long slump. In a stretch that saw his batting average plummet down to .225 on May 10, Rortvedt only had eight hits in 54 at-bats (.148). In addition to his .148 batting average, his OBP slipped down to .286 and he had an OPS of just .624. After having three extra- base hits in his first four games, he had just three during that 15-game stretch. But Rortvedt has since rebounded. In the three weeks (17 games) since the slump ended, he has hit .333 (21-63) with five of the 21 hits being extra-base hits. His batting average has ballooned up to .276 with an OPS of .719. The 2016 second round pick has improved in every single area. His average has improved by 52 points, his OBP by 47 points and his OPS by an incredible 122 points. Despite his homer numbers being down a bit, his extra-base numbers are up. His strikeout numbers are up a bit, but I think it is time to move up the 20-year-old to Fort Myers. 4. LaMonte Wade, OF, Chattanooga Wade is one of the more under-the-radar prospects in the Twins organization. With Byron Buxton on the disabled list once again, I wish they would put Wade up in the majors instead of rolling with Ryan LaMarre. The 24-year-old was drafted in the ninth round in 2015 and has been as consistent as any player in the system. After dominating the Florida State League in the last half of 2016, Wade played the entire 2017 season in Double-A Chattanooga. All he did there was hit .292 with seven homers and an OPS of .805. Wade started this season in Chattanooga once again, and has done as well, or maybe even better. Currently, his average sits at .289, but has struggled a bit since coming off the DL (1-11). However, the Baltimore native was hitting .305 before the injury with an OPS of .864. That is promotion worthy. In a weird stat, he has hit six homers this year after hitting seven in 2017, but Wade does not yet have a double. Gordon was promoted to Rochester in May, and I have a feeling the former Maryland Terrapin is not far away. 3. Andrew Vasquez, LHP, Fort Myers Vasquez has pitched 1 1/3 innings with Chattanooga this year, but I do not count that as primarily being a member of the Lookouts. So, I am putting the 24-year-old as No. 3 on this list. I am a bit surprised he didn’t start the season with the Lookouts, even if he only pitched 35 2/3 innings with the Miracle in 2017. But the 24-year-old started this season in Florida, and has done even better. In 27 1/3 innings this season, Vasquez has a minuscule 0.66 ERA, along with a .210 batting average and a 1.06 WHIP. Last year, in his 35 2/3 innings, he had a 1.51 ERA and a .241 opponents batting average. His strikeout numbers are a bit down from last year, but still very good. In 2016, Vasquez struck out 52 batters in the 35 2/3 innings, and in 2017, he has struck out 30 in 27 1/3 innings. I know he was promoted to Chattanooga for a game, but then he went back to High-A Fort Myers. It is time to promote him for good. Chattanooga has a few relievers who are worthy of a promotion, so he might be promoted for good once that happens. 2. Royce Lewis, SS, Cedar Rapids Many probably think I am crazy for not putting him at the top spot. I mean, it would make sense. He has been really good for the Kernels this year. After hitting .296 last year for the Kernels in 18 games, Lewis has been on fire in 2018. In 41 games this year, last year’s top overall pick has hit .307. Lewis, who turns 19 on Tuesday, has hit three homers in 163 at-bats after hitting one in 71 last year. He only has 13 extra base hits, but that will come in time. He still has an OPS of a solid .775, including a slugging percentage of .423. Last year, in 36 games in the Gulf Coast League, Lewis had 15 stolen bases, but only three in 18 games with the Kernels. However, he has 15 in 41 games in Iowa this season, and has only been caught once. It is just a matter of time before he gets promoted to High-A Fort Myers. I am biased, so I hope he at least is in Cedar Rapids until after next weekend since I will be in Appleton for the Saturday and Sunday games. I will say, I think he will be with the Miracle by my birthday (June 16). 1. Todd Van Steensel, RHP, Chattanooga Some may think Lewis should be higher, but I chose Van Steensel since he has been so dominant with the Lookouts the last two-plus seasons. It has been a weird trip through the system for the Australian. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, but he was released after a year. Van Steensel then signed with the Twins in 2011, but then was cut after a year. After a few years in the Australian Baseball League, Minnesota signed him back and he has been with the organization ever since. With the exception of a year in which he had an ERA of 3.46 with Fort Myers in 2016, he has been lights out. He has been especially great for Chattanooga. In eight games for the Lookouts in 2016, he allowed two runs in eight innings. Coming back with the Lookouts in 2017, he was even better. In 58 2/3 innings, he only allowed nine runs and struck out 59. His opponents batting average was just .207 with a WHIP of 1.14. Even though he was outstanding in 2017, he has been even more amazing in 2018. In 15 (29 2/3 innings) games, the 27-year-old is 5-1 with an ERA of 1.82. The opposing batting average against Van Steensel is just .152 and his WHIP is a microscopic 0.78, which are both career-bests. He should be in Rochester at some point this season, which would open the door for Andrew Vasquez to be promoted. As always, feel free to tell me which Twins prospects you hope to see promoted soon.
  24. We are just about two months into the regular season, and the Minnesota Twins are under-performing. When the Twins are pitching well, the offense is non-existent and when they are hitting well, the pitching has been bad. However, it is not all bad for the organization. The minor league system has been solid, with many of the organization’s top prospects playing like it. As in the past two seasons, here is my list of the top five prospects who should be promoted. Some of the top players like Stephen Gonsalves and Nick Gordon have already been moved up a level, so we'll see who will follow shortly.Important note on the selection process: In this list, I avoided putting players in their first year with the level. Because of that, I did not put Alex Kirilloff on this list, even though he has been the best player in the organization this season. Other players who were not added because of this stipulation are Zander Wiel, Tyler Wells and Brusdar Graterol. Perhaps they could be added to my next one in late July or early August if they keep performing. Here is my list... Honorable Mentions: Tyler Jay, LHP, Chattanooga Jordan Gore, 2B, Cedar Rapids Bryan Sammons, LHP, Cedar Rapids 5. Ben Rortvedt, C, Cedar Rapids Everyone knows how much of a fan I am of him. My last article for Twins Daily raved about Rotvedt as the catcher of the future. It has been an up and down season for the Verona, Wis., native. At the time I wrote my Rortvedt piece, the catcher was hitting .471 through his first four games of the season. But apparently I was the kiss of the death, as he went on a month-long slump. In a stretch that saw his batting average plummet down to .225 on May 10, Rortvedt only had eight hits in 54 at-bats (.148). In addition to his .148 batting average, his OBP slipped down to .286 and he had an OPS of just .624. After having three extra- base hits in his first four games, he had just three during that 15-game stretch. But Rortvedt has since rebounded. In the three weeks (17 games) since the slump ended, he has hit .333 (21-63) with five of the 21 hits being extra-base hits. His batting average has ballooned up to .276 with an OPS of .719. The 2016 second round pick has improved in every single area. His average has improved by 52 points, his OBP by 47 points and his OPS by an incredible 122 points. Despite his homer numbers being down a bit, his extra-base numbers are up. His strikeout numbers are up a bit, but I think it is time to move up the 20-year-old to Fort Myers. 4. LaMonte Wade, OF, Chattanooga Wade is one of the more under-the-radar prospects in the Twins organization. With Byron Buxton on the disabled list once again, I wish they would put Wade up in the majors instead of rolling with Ryan LaMarre. The 24-year-old was drafted in the ninth round in 2015 and has been as consistent as any player in the system. After dominating the Florida State League in the last half of 2016, Wade played the entire 2017 season in Double-A Chattanooga. All he did there was hit .292 with seven homers and an OPS of .805. Wade started this season in Chattanooga once again, and has done as well, or maybe even better. Currently, his average sits at .289, but has struggled a bit since coming off the DL (1-11). However, the Baltimore native was hitting .305 before the injury with an OPS of .864. That is promotion worthy. In a weird stat, he has hit six homers this year after hitting seven in 2017, but Wade does not yet have a double. Gordon was promoted to Rochester in May, and I have a feeling the former Maryland Terrapin is not far away. 3. Andrew Vasquez, LHP, Fort Myers Vasquez has pitched 1 1/3 innings with Chattanooga this year, but I do not count that as primarily being a member of the Lookouts. So, I am putting the 24-year-old as No. 3 on this list. I am a bit surprised he didn’t start the season with the Lookouts, even if he only pitched 35 2/3 innings with the Miracle in 2017. But the 24-year-old started this season in Florida, and has done even better. In 27 1/3 innings this season, Vasquez has a minuscule 0.66 ERA, along with a .210 batting average and a 1.06 WHIP. Last year, in his 35 2/3 innings, he had a 1.51 ERA and a .241 opponents batting average. His strikeout numbers are a bit down from last year, but still very good. In 2016, Vasquez struck out 52 batters in the 35 2/3 innings, and in 2017, he has struck out 30 in 27 1/3 innings. I know he was promoted to Chattanooga for a game, but then he went back to High-A Fort Myers. It is time to promote him for good. Chattanooga has a few relievers who are worthy of a promotion, so he might be promoted for good once that happens. 2. Royce Lewis, SS, Cedar Rapids Many probably think I am crazy for not putting him at the top spot. I mean, it would make sense. He has been really good for the Kernels this year. After hitting .296 last year for the Kernels in 18 games, Lewis has been on fire in 2018. In 41 games this year, last year’s top overall pick has hit .307. Lewis, who turns 19 on Tuesday, has hit three homers in 163 at-bats after hitting one in 71 last year. He only has 13 extra base hits, but that will come in time. He still has an OPS of a solid .775, including a slugging percentage of .423. Last year, in 36 games in the Gulf Coast League, Lewis had 15 stolen bases, but only three in 18 games with the Kernels. However, he has 15 in 41 games in Iowa this season, and has only been caught once. It is just a matter of time before he gets promoted to High-A Fort Myers. I am biased, so I hope he at least is in Cedar Rapids until after next weekend since I will be in Appleton for the Saturday and Sunday games. I will say, I think he will be with the Miracle by my birthday (June 16). 1. Todd Van Steensel, RHP, Chattanooga Some may think Lewis should be higher, but I chose Van Steensel since he has been so dominant with the Lookouts the last two-plus seasons. It has been a weird trip through the system for the Australian. He was drafted by the Philadelphia Phillies in 2009, but he was released after a year. Van Steensel then signed with the Twins in 2011, but then was cut after a year. After a few years in the Australian Baseball League, Minnesota signed him back and he has been with the organization ever since. With the exception of a year in which he had an ERA of 3.46 with Fort Myers in 2016, he has been lights out. He has been especially great for Chattanooga. In eight games for the Lookouts in 2016, he allowed two runs in eight innings. Coming back with the Lookouts in 2017, he was even better. In 58 2/3 innings, he only allowed nine runs and struck out 59. His opponents batting average was just .207 with a WHIP of 1.14. Even though he was outstanding in 2017, he has been even more amazing in 2018. In 15 (29 2/3 innings) games, the 27-year-old is 5-1 with an ERA of 1.82. The opposing batting average against Van Steensel is just .152 and his WHIP is a microscopic 0.78, which are both career-bests. He should be in Rochester at some point this season, which would open the door for Andrew Vasquez to be promoted. As always, feel free to tell me which Twins prospects you hope to see promoted soon. Click here to view the article
  25. Before we share our choices for the Twins Minor League Top Five Relievers for April, here are some terrific bullpen performances that just missed the cut. HONORABLE MENTION John Curtiss, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 2.61 ERA, 1.26 WHIP, 12.2 K/9, 10.1 IP, 6 H, 7 BB, 14 K Luke Bard, Rochester Red Wings, 8 G, 3.00 ERA, 1.08 WHIP, 9.8 K/9, 12.0 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 13 K. Cody Stashak, Chattanooga Lookouts, 7 G (1 GS), 1.88 ERA, 0.91 WHIP, 10.7 K/9, 14.1 IP, 8 H, 5 BB, 17 K Ryan Mason, Ft. Myers Miracle, 8 G, 2.51 ERA, 1.19 WHIP, 8.8 K/9, 14.1 IP, 14 H, 3 H, 14 K Jovani Moran, Cedar Rapids Kernels, 8 G (1 GS), 2.50 ERA, 1.17 WHIP, 13.0 K/9, 14 H, 7 BB, 26 K. THE TOP FIVE RELIEF PITCHERS #5 - Gabriel Moya - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 1.38 ERA, 0.92 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 9 H, 3 BB,18 K Moya made the Twins Opening Day roster wen Phil Hughes began the season on the disabled list. He was sent down to Rochester in late April. The 23-year-old southpaw from Venezuela had a strong first month in Rochester (remember, he jumped up to the big leagues directly from Double-A last year). Along with the solid numbers and striking out 12.5 batters per nine innings, opponents hit just .196/.260/.326 (.586) off of him in May. #4 - Andrew Vasquez - Ft. Myers Miracle - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 14.2 IP, 15 H, 2 BB, 18 K Another left-hander, Vasquez had a one-game stint in Chattanooga already this year. The Twins 32nd round pick in 2015 out of Westmont College has been moved along slowly, in large part due to some inconsistent control. After ending 2017 with the Miracle, he pitched well in the Arizona Fall League last year. He has returned to the Miracle, but he’s in need of a promotion to AA. In May, he struck out 11 batters per nine inning. He’s blessed with what should be a dominant slider. #3 - Nick Anderson - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 1.46 ERA, 0.65 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 3 H, 5 BB, 19 K Anderson was the Twins Daily April reliever of the month, and he was nearly as good in May. The Brainerd (Minnesota) native signed with the Twins out of the independent ranks late in the 2015 season. He has been blowing hitters away ever since and now finds himself one promotion from his big league dreams. In May, opponents hit a miniscule .077/.182/.154 (.336) off of him. He’ll turn 28 in early July. It’d be great to see him debut his big fastball/slider combination by then. #2 - Alan Busenitz - Rochester Red Wings - 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.77 WHIP, 13.0 IP, 7 H, 3 BB, 19 K It is inexplicable to the writer of this article why Busenitz is not in the big leagues. He dominates AAA, and he pitched very well last year and he got just four innings early this year in the big leagues. He’s got the big fastball and what can be a very good slider. In May, opponents hit just .159/.213/.159 (.372) against him. His 13.2 K/9 shows the type of dominance that he can have. And the Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is: Chattanooga Lookouts – RHP Todd Van Steensel - 8 G, 1.13 ERA, 0.44 WHIP, 16.0 IP, 5 H, 2 BB, 17 K Van Steensel is the kind of player that you just can’t help but cheer for. Signed originally by the Phillies, he was released after one year. The Twins signed him, but after one season in Elizabethton, they released him. He played in Europe and in his native Australia and a couple of years later, the Twins brought him back, this time as a reliever. Since returning, Van Steensel has been one of the best relievers in the organization. He made over 100 appearances in Ft. Myers and despite a fantastic 2017 in Chattanooga, he’s there again in 2018. He put up incredible numbers again in May. Opponents hit just .100/.148/.120 (.268) off of him. He continues to rack up big strikeout numbers and his walk rate has certainly come down this year. Van Steensel frequently shows up in these reports, but he is very worthy of this award for May. There were several very strong relief pitcher performances in May throughout the Twins minor league system. As you can see from their representation, the Red Wings have had a strong bullpen this month. It was a good month for each of these pitchers mentioned today, but again, congratulations to the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month for May 2018, Todd Van Steensel.
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