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  1. I also added in a few prospects with extreme statistical profiles, just for fun. Image courtesy of Andrew West/The News-Press via Imagn Content Services, LLC Noah Cardenas For my life, I can’t figure out why Noah Cardenas isn’t well-regarded as a prospect. Catchers who can hit are rare; catchers who can hit and field well are unique, and Cardenas might be that kind of player. Let’s start with the bat: his .302/.407/.426 line at UCLA has translated well to a .261/.421/.413 one over his first full season in professional ball, 99 games with the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Despite a hitting environment that favors pitchers, Cardenas rode his excellent feel for the plate to an 18.2% walk rate, good for 3rd in the Florida League; his .421 OBP placed him 4th. Fielding is more difficult to analyze—even major league stats remain shaky these days—but Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin refer to him as a “glove-driven” catcher, and the Pac-12 honored Cardenas with an honorable mention on their All-Defensive Team in 2019. He’s a touch older than your typical A-ball player—he celebrated his 23rd birthday on September 10th—but Cardenas should remain firmly on your radar over the next few years. Cody Laweryson “Fun” is seldom a word that describes a prospect, but the word fits Cody Laweryson’s bill perfectly. A 14th-round pick out of Maine in 2019, Laweryson shocked with a monstrous 15-strikeout performance to end his time in rookie ball but entered a hiatus thanks to the canceled minor league season in 2020. His 2021 season was forgettable, but he returned with a dominating 2022 campaign. Laweryson silenced bats with a 1.62 ERA, flipping between starting and relief, striking out 30.2% of hitters while walking just 7.2%. He even stepped up his game at AA, holding a 1.06 ERA over 59 ⅔ innings in a hitter-friendly environment. Laweryson’s secret sauce is deception, a crane-like delivery with slanted arms and raised elbows that would fit perfectly next to Michael Jackson in the Thriller music video. Hitters can barely see the ball as a barrage of limbs fly toward the plate, masking Laweryson’s pitches until too late. The Twins chose not to protect Laweryson in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, opening up the chance for another team to poach him. Brent Headrick In May, Matthew Lenz told us we should start noticing Brent Headrick. He was on to something. After struggling with command in 2021, Headrick shifted into high gear in 2022, punching out batters at an elite rate—31%, to be exact—while limiting walks with Joe Musgrove-esque control. Even a promotion into a hitters' lion's den—the Texas League—couldn’t slow down Headrick’s reign; his K-BB% barely budged after joining the Wind Surge. While not a velocity expert, Headrick works with a deceptive delivery, placing pitches in their proper location before punching out the batter with a high fastball or a diving breaking ball. The Twins agree that Headrick is fascinating; the team chose to protect him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, perhaps paving a path for the Illinois State product to pitch for the major league club in 2023. Others Prospect evaluation is far from perfect, but one can often parse through the noise, instead focusing on the statistical freak shows who have become major league stars in recent seasons. Steven Kwan rode an elite contact profile to a 4.4 fWAR season; our own Luis Arraez broke out and won a silver slugger in 2022; Cristian Javier’s absurd minor league K numbers have translated to a career 30.9% K rate in the majors. These players were dinged for other drawbacks, but their outlier abilities have carried them to major league success. Here are a few guys in the Twins organization who stick out: Jaylen Nowlin Jaylen Nowlin struck out 35.9% of hitters in 2022. His command was dreadful enough to omit from this paragraph—his walk rate could scare the less courageous among us—but that punch-out rate will keep him around, maybe translating to major league playing time. Austin Schulfer The nearly 27-year-old Austin Schulfer is knocking loud enough on the Twins’ door that the neighbors are starting to get irritated. His strikeout and walk rates moved in the wrong direction in 2022, but his groundball rate jumped from average to 58.3%, good for tops in the system amongst all pitchers with 50 innings. Only seven qualified MLB relievers could claim a better penchant for grounders in 2022. Noah Miller 19-year-olds aren’t supposed to walk 16.2% of the time in their first full season in professional baseball, especially when they play in an offensively stunted environment. Noah Miller’s extra-base authority lagged, but his feel for the zone is already elite. View full article
  2. Noah Cardenas For my life, I can’t figure out why Noah Cardenas isn’t well-regarded as a prospect. Catchers who can hit are rare; catchers who can hit and field well are unique, and Cardenas might be that kind of player. Let’s start with the bat: his .302/.407/.426 line at UCLA has translated well to a .261/.421/.413 one over his first full season in professional ball, 99 games with the Fort Myers Mighty Mussels. Despite a hitting environment that favors pitchers, Cardenas rode his excellent feel for the plate to an 18.2% walk rate, good for 3rd in the Florida League; his .421 OBP placed him 4th. Fielding is more difficult to analyze—even major league stats remain shaky these days—but Eric Longenhagen and Tess Taruskin refer to him as a “glove-driven” catcher, and the Pac-12 honored Cardenas with an honorable mention on their All-Defensive Team in 2019. He’s a touch older than your typical A-ball player—he celebrated his 23rd birthday on September 10th—but Cardenas should remain firmly on your radar over the next few years. Cody Laweryson “Fun” is seldom a word that describes a prospect, but the word fits Cody Laweryson’s bill perfectly. A 14th-round pick out of Maine in 2019, Laweryson shocked with a monstrous 15-strikeout performance to end his time in rookie ball but entered a hiatus thanks to the canceled minor league season in 2020. His 2021 season was forgettable, but he returned with a dominating 2022 campaign. Laweryson silenced bats with a 1.62 ERA, flipping between starting and relief, striking out 30.2% of hitters while walking just 7.2%. He even stepped up his game at AA, holding a 1.06 ERA over 59 ⅔ innings in a hitter-friendly environment. Laweryson’s secret sauce is deception, a crane-like delivery with slanted arms and raised elbows that would fit perfectly next to Michael Jackson in the Thriller music video. Hitters can barely see the ball as a barrage of limbs fly toward the plate, masking Laweryson’s pitches until too late. The Twins chose not to protect Laweryson in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, opening up the chance for another team to poach him. Brent Headrick In May, Matthew Lenz told us we should start noticing Brent Headrick. He was on to something. After struggling with command in 2021, Headrick shifted into high gear in 2022, punching out batters at an elite rate—31%, to be exact—while limiting walks with Joe Musgrove-esque control. Even a promotion into a hitters' lion's den—the Texas League—couldn’t slow down Headrick’s reign; his K-BB% barely budged after joining the Wind Surge. While not a velocity expert, Headrick works with a deceptive delivery, placing pitches in their proper location before punching out the batter with a high fastball or a diving breaking ball. The Twins agree that Headrick is fascinating; the team chose to protect him in the upcoming Rule 5 draft, perhaps paving a path for the Illinois State product to pitch for the major league club in 2023. Others Prospect evaluation is far from perfect, but one can often parse through the noise, instead focusing on the statistical freak shows who have become major league stars in recent seasons. Steven Kwan rode an elite contact profile to a 4.4 fWAR season; our own Luis Arraez broke out and won a silver slugger in 2022; Cristian Javier’s absurd minor league K numbers have translated to a career 30.9% K rate in the majors. These players were dinged for other drawbacks, but their outlier abilities have carried them to major league success. Here are a few guys in the Twins organization who stick out: Jaylen Nowlin Jaylen Nowlin struck out 35.9% of hitters in 2022. His command was dreadful enough to omit from this paragraph—his walk rate could scare the less courageous among us—but that punch-out rate will keep him around, maybe translating to major league playing time. Austin Schulfer The nearly 27-year-old Austin Schulfer is knocking loud enough on the Twins’ door that the neighbors are starting to get irritated. His strikeout and walk rates moved in the wrong direction in 2022, but his groundball rate jumped from average to 58.3%, good for tops in the system amongst all pitchers with 50 innings. Only seven qualified MLB relievers could claim a better penchant for grounders in 2022. Noah Miller 19-year-olds aren’t supposed to walk 16.2% of the time in their first full season in professional baseball, especially when they play in an offensively stunted environment. Noah Miller’s extra-base authority lagged, but his feel for the zone is already elite.
  3. Minnesota’s current front office regime has tended to rely on internal options to bolster the bullpen. Will any of these prospects join the big-league squad as relievers in 2023? Image courtesy of Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports In recent years, the front office has shied away from investing in bullpen options. Joe Smith was the team’s lone free agent signing last winter, and he wasn’t on the club by the season’s end. Minnesota also traded away Taylor Rogers on the eve of Opening Day for Emilio Pagan and Chris Paddack. Jhoan Duran became the team’s top reliever after being a former top prospect. Can any of these players follow in Duran’s footsteps in 2023? Triple-A: Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022), Austin Schulfer (ETA: 2023), Evan Sisk (ETA: 2023) Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the club may still utilize him as a starter in 2023. He split time between both roles at Triple-A last season, and all his big-league innings came as a reliever. As a 22-year-old, there is still time for development, and the Twins hope he can continue to stick as a starter. Schulfer dominated Double-A last season before running into some trouble at Triple-A. He only allowed one earned run in 15 appearances before his promotion. In a six-game span at Triple-A, he allowed nine earned runs and a .982 OPS in 6 2/3 innings to inflate his overall numbers. The 26-year-old struck out nearly ten batters per nine innings for the season and had a 1.04 WHIP. Sisk was one of the most successful left-handed pitchers in the Twins organization last season. The 25-year-old made 50 appearances between Double- and Triple-A with a 1.57 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. He posted a 10.9 K/9 and held lefties to a .286 OPS in over 106 at-bats. Surprisingly, he didn’t get an opportunity during the 2022 season, but he should fit into the team’s plans during 2023. Double-A: Denny Bentley (ETA: 2023), Steven Cruz (ETA: 2024), Osiris German (ETA: 2024), Francis Peguero (ETA: 2024) Bentley spent time at High- and Double-A last season while posting a 3.56 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. He struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings, so the Twins sent him to the AFL to build off his solid season. Unfortunately, the AFL is a very hitter-friendly environment, and Bentley has struggled with command. The 24-year-old has walked 14 batters in 11 1/3 innings, but it is a small sample size. Cruz (23yo) and German (24yo) were a year and a half younger than the competition at Double-A this season, and both were given the opportunity to pitch in late-inning situations. In his final 34 appearances (50 innings), Cruz had a 3.35 ERA and 51 strikeouts while holding batters to a .680 OPS. German posted a 3.02 ERA with 9.9 K/9 in 43 appearances. Both players should get more time at Double-A before moving up the ladder. Minnesota acquired Peguero from the Reds as part of the Sonny Gray trade. Injuries limited him to 17 appearances at Double-A in 2022, so the team sent him to the AFL. In 11 innings, he has posted a 2.45 ERA with a 1.64 WHIP and 7.4 K/9. High-A: Hunter McMahon (ETA: 2024) Minnesota acquired McMahon back in 2020 from the Nationals for Ryne Harper. As a 24-year-old, he broke out and pitched at three different levels last season. He pitched 70 innings (39 appearances), between Low- and High-A, with a 1.67 ERA with batters hitting .171/.219/.296 (.515) against him. He struggled in a brief taste of Double-A by allowing multiple earned runs in three of his four appearances. To be even more successful, McMahon needs to see his strikeout totals continue to improve. Obviously, there are plenty of relievers throughout the Twins system that aren’t mentioned above. Other starting pitching prospects might shift to bullpen roles if they can’t improve as starters. Some of the best relievers in franchise history (Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, Taylor Rogers ) were failed starters that shifted to the bullpen and found their eventual ticket to the big leagues. Duran was used primarily as a starter throughout his professional career before dominating as a reliever last season. Overall, it can be tough to project an organization’s depth at reliever, especially as the role of the pitcher continues to evolve. How many of these relievers will get an opportunity in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. In recent years, the front office has shied away from investing in bullpen options. Joe Smith was the team’s lone free agent signing last winter, and he wasn’t on the club by the season’s end. Minnesota also traded away Taylor Rogers on the eve of Opening Day for Emilio Pagan and Chris Paddack. Jhoan Duran became the team’s top reliever after being a former top prospect. Can any of these players follow in Duran’s footsteps in 2023? Triple-A: Ronny Henriquez (ETA: 2022), Austin Schulfer (ETA: 2023), Evan Sisk (ETA: 2023) Henriquez made his big-league debut in 2022 as a reliever, but the club may still utilize him as a starter in 2023. He split time between both roles at Triple-A last season, and all his big-league innings came as a reliever. As a 22-year-old, there is still time for development, and the Twins hope he can continue to stick as a starter. Schulfer dominated Double-A last season before running into some trouble at Triple-A. He only allowed one earned run in 15 appearances before his promotion. In a six-game span at Triple-A, he allowed nine earned runs and a .982 OPS in 6 2/3 innings to inflate his overall numbers. The 26-year-old struck out nearly ten batters per nine innings for the season and had a 1.04 WHIP. Sisk was one of the most successful left-handed pitchers in the Twins organization last season. The 25-year-old made 50 appearances between Double- and Triple-A with a 1.57 ERA and a 1.02 WHIP. He posted a 10.9 K/9 and held lefties to a .286 OPS in over 106 at-bats. Surprisingly, he didn’t get an opportunity during the 2022 season, but he should fit into the team’s plans during 2023. Double-A: Denny Bentley (ETA: 2023), Steven Cruz (ETA: 2024), Osiris German (ETA: 2024), Francis Peguero (ETA: 2024) Bentley spent time at High- and Double-A last season while posting a 3.56 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP. He struck out nearly 12 batters per nine innings, so the Twins sent him to the AFL to build off his solid season. Unfortunately, the AFL is a very hitter-friendly environment, and Bentley has struggled with command. The 24-year-old has walked 14 batters in 11 1/3 innings, but it is a small sample size. Cruz (23yo) and German (24yo) were a year and a half younger than the competition at Double-A this season, and both were given the opportunity to pitch in late-inning situations. In his final 34 appearances (50 innings), Cruz had a 3.35 ERA and 51 strikeouts while holding batters to a .680 OPS. German posted a 3.02 ERA with 9.9 K/9 in 43 appearances. Both players should get more time at Double-A before moving up the ladder. Minnesota acquired Peguero from the Reds as part of the Sonny Gray trade. Injuries limited him to 17 appearances at Double-A in 2022, so the team sent him to the AFL. In 11 innings, he has posted a 2.45 ERA with a 1.64 WHIP and 7.4 K/9. High-A: Hunter McMahon (ETA: 2024) Minnesota acquired McMahon back in 2020 from the Nationals for Ryne Harper. As a 24-year-old, he broke out and pitched at three different levels last season. He pitched 70 innings (39 appearances), between Low- and High-A, with a 1.67 ERA with batters hitting .171/.219/.296 (.515) against him. He struggled in a brief taste of Double-A by allowing multiple earned runs in three of his four appearances. To be even more successful, McMahon needs to see his strikeout totals continue to improve. Obviously, there are plenty of relievers throughout the Twins system that aren’t mentioned above. Other starting pitching prospects might shift to bullpen roles if they can’t improve as starters. Some of the best relievers in franchise history (Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, Taylor Rogers ) were failed starters that shifted to the bullpen and found their eventual ticket to the big leagues. Duran was used primarily as a starter throughout his professional career before dominating as a reliever last season. Overall, it can be tough to project an organization’s depth at reliever, especially as the role of the pitcher continues to evolve. How many of these relievers will get an opportunity in 2023? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins cycled through pitchers like crazy in 2022. Needing a franchise-record 37 to get through the season, more than a handful of players saw their first opportunity. Knowing the farm has some options is also a great reality. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints (graphics by Thieres Rabelo) Starting pitching will always be the focal point of a Major League franchise, but we’ve seen how impactful having a dominant bullpen can be. After retooling the relief unit on the fly this year, Minnesota will look to have stronger internal options for 2023 and beyond. This group of up-and-comers could certainly factor into the equation. Before getting to the winner, here are a few pitchers were in the running: Honorable Mention - Bobby Milacki (Cedar Rapids) - 36 G 2.83 ERA 1.194 WHIP 9.6 K/9 3.1 BB/9 Malik Barrington (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 33 G 3.61 ERA 1.186 WHIP 11.5 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Matt Mullenbach (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 30 G 1.60 ERA 1.111 WHIP 9.2 K/9 2.2 BB/9 #5 Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) - 36 G 51.1 IP 2.98 ERA 1.305 WHIP 10.2 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Hicks was signed by the Twins in July 2021 after going undrafted out of the University of North Carolina and pitching in Indy Ball. Working solely as a reliever this year for Fort Myers, Hicks racked up strikeouts in bunches. Across over 50 innings of work, Hicks only got beat for a homer three times. His command still has room for improvement, and at 24 years old he was well above the average age in the Florida State League, but Hicks certainly earned himself the opportunity to compete at the next level in 2023. #4 Hunter McMahon (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 43 G 73.2 IP 2.81 ERA 0.896 WHIP 9.3 K/9 2.0 BB/9 McMahon was a 9th-round selection by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Minnesota acquired him in 2020 when they sent reliever Ryne Harper to Washington following his DFA to make room for Josh Donaldson. He pitched at three levels this season but predominantly split time between High and Low-A. His 76 strikeouts to just 16 walks were a result of an ability to pound the zone and dictate at-bats to hitters. McMahon routinely worked the highest leverage innings and also picked up seven saves. #3 Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) - 43 G 55.1 IP 3.09 ERA 1.012 WHIP 9.9 K/9 2.6 BB/9 A 19th-round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Schulfer has continually elevated his stock since. This season the talented righty compiled a 0.39 ERA across 23 innings at Double-A to earn his promotion. Schulfer scuffled some in his first taste at Triple-A, but the strikeouts remained. He was burned a bit by walks and a jump in H/9, but adjustments are something he’s shown an aptitude to make. This was Schulfer’s first season working as a reliever, and he racked up eight saves in the process. Runner-Up - Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 35 G 94.2 IP 0.982 WHIP 10.6 K/9 2.6 BB/9 Laweryson was taken in the 14th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Maine. He worked primarily as a starter throughout the start of his professional career until transitioning into a relief role this season. The 2.57 ERA at High-A Cedar Rapids earned him a promotion, and a 1.06 ERA in just shy of 60 innings at Double-A was an eye-opener. Over the entirety of the year Laweryson gave up just two home runs, and his 111/27 K/BB indicates how much command and stuff he possesses. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year - Evan Sisk (Wichita/St. Paul) - 46 G 57.0 IP 1.58 ERA 1.053 WHIP 10.4 K/9 4.4 BB/9 Last summer the Minnesota Twins sent veteran starter J.A. Happ to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Evan Sisk. Minnesota was going downhill and had no need for the veteran to keep taking the mound, and Sisk represented an opportunity to net something in return. Since the deal, the Twins have morphed Sisk into a promising weapon in the pen. During the 2021 season, Sisk posted a 3.91 ERA but it came with a 5.9 BB/9. Topping out at the Double-A level, that frequency of free passes was never going to be workable in the Majors. This season Sisk has shaved nearly two walks per nine off the total and continued to rack up strikeouts in droves. He’s a lefty with a funky delivery that works to get on hitters with a bit of deception. Repeating Double-A Wichita to start for Minnesota, Sisk owned a 33/11 K/BB across 28 1/3 innings. The free passes ballooned a bit at Triple-A St. Paul when he went 33/17 K/BB in 28 2/3 innings. There’s no doubt a big league reliever here, and the more he can command the zone while controlling the base paths, the higher his ceiling will grow. Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2021: Jovani Moran 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger View full article
  6. Starting pitching will always be the focal point of a Major League franchise, but we’ve seen how impactful having a dominant bullpen can be. After retooling the relief unit on the fly this year, Minnesota will look to have stronger internal options for 2023 and beyond. This group of up-and-comers could certainly factor into the equation. Before getting to the winner, here are a few pitchers were in the running: Honorable Mention - Bobby Milacki (Cedar Rapids) - 36 G 2.83 ERA 1.194 WHIP 9.6 K/9 3.1 BB/9 Malik Barrington (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 33 G 3.61 ERA 1.186 WHIP 11.5 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Matt Mullenbach (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids) - 30 G 1.60 ERA 1.111 WHIP 9.2 K/9 2.2 BB/9 #5 Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) - 36 G 51.1 IP 2.98 ERA 1.305 WHIP 10.2 K/9 3.9 BB/9 Hicks was signed by the Twins in July 2021 after going undrafted out of the University of North Carolina and pitching in Indy Ball. Working solely as a reliever this year for Fort Myers, Hicks racked up strikeouts in bunches. Across over 50 innings of work, Hicks only got beat for a homer three times. His command still has room for improvement, and at 24 years old he was well above the average age in the Florida State League, but Hicks certainly earned himself the opportunity to compete at the next level in 2023. #4 Hunter McMahon (Fort Myers/Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 43 G 73.2 IP 2.81 ERA 0.896 WHIP 9.3 K/9 2.0 BB/9 McMahon was a 9th-round selection by the Washington Nationals in the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Minnesota acquired him in 2020 when they sent reliever Ryne Harper to Washington following his DFA to make room for Josh Donaldson. He pitched at three levels this season but predominantly split time between High and Low-A. His 76 strikeouts to just 16 walks were a result of an ability to pound the zone and dictate at-bats to hitters. McMahon routinely worked the highest leverage innings and also picked up seven saves. #3 Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) - 43 G 55.1 IP 3.09 ERA 1.012 WHIP 9.9 K/9 2.6 BB/9 A 19th-round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Schulfer has continually elevated his stock since. This season the talented righty compiled a 0.39 ERA across 23 innings at Double-A to earn his promotion. Schulfer scuffled some in his first taste at Triple-A, but the strikeouts remained. He was burned a bit by walks and a jump in H/9, but adjustments are something he’s shown an aptitude to make. This was Schulfer’s first season working as a reliever, and he racked up eight saves in the process. Runner-Up - Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids/Wichita) - 35 G 94.2 IP 0.982 WHIP 10.6 K/9 2.6 BB/9 Laweryson was taken in the 14th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft from the University of Maine. He worked primarily as a starter throughout the start of his professional career until transitioning into a relief role this season. The 2.57 ERA at High-A Cedar Rapids earned him a promotion, and a 1.06 ERA in just shy of 60 innings at Double-A was an eye-opener. Over the entirety of the year Laweryson gave up just two home runs, and his 111/27 K/BB indicates how much command and stuff he possesses. 2022 Minnesota Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year - Evan Sisk (Wichita/St. Paul) - 46 G 57.0 IP 1.58 ERA 1.053 WHIP 10.4 K/9 4.4 BB/9 Last summer the Minnesota Twins sent veteran starter J.A. Happ to the St. Louis Cardinals in exchange for Evan Sisk. Minnesota was going downhill and had no need for the veteran to keep taking the mound, and Sisk represented an opportunity to net something in return. Since the deal, the Twins have morphed Sisk into a promising weapon in the pen. During the 2021 season, Sisk posted a 3.91 ERA but it came with a 5.9 BB/9. Topping out at the Double-A level, that frequency of free passes was never going to be workable in the Majors. This season Sisk has shaved nearly two walks per nine off the total and continued to rack up strikeouts in droves. He’s a lefty with a funky delivery that works to get on hitters with a bit of deception. Repeating Double-A Wichita to start for Minnesota, Sisk owned a 33/11 K/BB across 28 1/3 innings. The free passes ballooned a bit at Triple-A St. Paul when he went 33/17 K/BB in 28 2/3 innings. There’s no doubt a big league reliever here, and the more he can command the zone while controlling the base paths, the higher his ceiling will grow. Past Winners of the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year Award 2021: Jovani Moran 2019: Anthony Vizcaya 2018: Andrew Vasquez 2017: John Curtiss 2015 & 2016: Trevor Hildenberger
  7. With the Wichita Wind Surge regular season over, only the St. Paul Saints were in action tonight. Short staffed from a pitching perspective, the Saints got behind and never rallied. TRANSACTIONS RHP Tyler Beck added to Triple-A St. Paul from Double-A Wichita SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 9, St. Paul 1 Box Score Tonight Austin Schulfer started for the Saints but threw to just three batters after a throw from catcher Ryan Jeffers hit him in the back of the head. He did walk off under his own power and indications are that he should be fine. Tyler Beck, recently added from Double-A Wichita having pitched just one inning this year due to injury, then gave up five runs on four hits and four walks across 1 2/3 innings. Indianapolis tagged St. Paul pitching for one run in the 1st inning, five runs in the 2nd inning, one run in the 4th inning, and another in the 6th inning before the Saints could answer. Wander Javier lifted a sacrifice fly, scoring John Andreoli to break up the shutout, but that was the end of their scoring. Indianapolis wiped that away with a run in the 8th inning and they completed the 9-1 victory. WIND SURGE WISDOM The regular season is over for the Wichita Wind Surge. Winning the finale, they finished the season 78-59. After going 35-33 in the first half, it was a 43-26 second half record that vaulted the Wind Surge into the Texas League Division Series. Wichita will play host to the Tulsa Drillers, who went just 29-40 in the second half after a near opposite 40-27 mark in the first half. Wichita has been a dominant 26-10 at home during the second half while Tulsa has gone just 13-23 on the road. Second rank Twins Daily prospect Brooks Lee was recently promoted to Wichita and will provide a significant boost to the lineup. Edouard Julien and Alex Isola have also been catalysts for the Wind Surge this season. With Kody Funderburk going in the final, he would seem unlikely to pitch in the series. Twins rookie Louie Varland’s brother Gus Varland has pitched 70 2/3 innings for Tulsa this year and should appear in the series. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Evan Sisk (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Hitter of the Day – John Andreoli (St. Paul) - 2-3, R, BB PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-3, K #16 - Ronny Henriquez (Minnesota) - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (5:35PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games! View full article
  8. TRANSACTIONS RHP Tyler Beck added to Triple-A St. Paul from Double-A Wichita SAINTS SENTINEL Indianapolis 9, St. Paul 1 Box Score Tonight Austin Schulfer started for the Saints but threw to just three batters after a throw from catcher Ryan Jeffers hit him in the back of the head. He did walk off under his own power and indications are that he should be fine. Tyler Beck, recently added from Double-A Wichita having pitched just one inning this year due to injury, then gave up five runs on four hits and four walks across 1 2/3 innings. Indianapolis tagged St. Paul pitching for one run in the 1st inning, five runs in the 2nd inning, one run in the 4th inning, and another in the 6th inning before the Saints could answer. Wander Javier lifted a sacrifice fly, scoring John Andreoli to break up the shutout, but that was the end of their scoring. Indianapolis wiped that away with a run in the 8th inning and they completed the 9-1 victory. WIND SURGE WISDOM The regular season is over for the Wichita Wind Surge. Winning the finale, they finished the season 78-59. After going 35-33 in the first half, it was a 43-26 second half record that vaulted the Wind Surge into the Texas League Division Series. Wichita will play host to the Tulsa Drillers, who went just 29-40 in the second half after a near opposite 40-27 mark in the first half. Wichita has been a dominant 26-10 at home during the second half while Tulsa has gone just 13-23 on the road. Second rank Twins Daily prospect Brooks Lee was recently promoted to Wichita and will provide a significant boost to the lineup. Edouard Julien and Alex Isola have also been catalysts for the Wind Surge this season. With Kody Funderburk going in the final, he would seem unlikely to pitch in the series. Twins rookie Louie Varland’s brother Gus Varland has pitched 70 2/3 innings for Tulsa this year and should appear in the series. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Evan Sisk (St. Paul) - 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 3 K Hitter of the Day – John Andreoli (St. Paul) - 2-3, R, BB PROSPECT SUMMARY We will again keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #9 - Matt Wallner (Minnesota) - 1-3, K #16 - Ronny Henriquez (Minnesota) - 4.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 2 BB, 2 K TUESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Indianapolis (5:35PM CST) - RHP Simeon Woods Richardson Tulsa @ Wichita (7:05PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Monday’s games!
  9. Honorable Mention Hunter Wood (St. Paul Saints) 5 G, 4.2 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP Evan Sisk (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) 8G, 10.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 13 K, 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP. Miguel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids Kernels) 7 G, 9.2 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 11 K, 0.93, 1.97 WHIP Malik Barrington (Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) 6 G, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 16 K, 1.54 ERA, 1.60 WHIP Isaiah Rivera (FCL Twins) 5 G, 5 IP, 3 H, 1, R, 1 ER, 8 SO, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIPS Number Three: Austin Schulfer (St. Paul Saints) 7 G, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP After giving up just one run over 15 games and 23 innings in Wichita (0.38 ERA), Schulfer was promoted to the Saints. He made one Triple-A appearance before the calendar turned to June. Among his seven appearances in June, he went 3-0 with a save. He continued to throw strikes. Schulfer was the Twins 19th round pick in 2018 out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was worked out of the bullpen and as a starter at various times in his career. In 2021, he started for Wichita and led the Twins minor leagues in Innings Pitched. Could Schulfer debut in the much-maligned Twins bullpen yet this season? We shall see. Number Two: Bobby Milacki (Cedar Rapids Kernels) 7 G, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K, 0.77 ERA, 0.94 WHIP Milacki is the son of a former major-leaguer, Bob Milacki, who pitched for the Orioles in the early '90s. The son was drafted by the Nationals in 2018. He headed to the independent leagues, and early in the 2021 season, the Twins signed him from Joliet in the Frontier League. He pitched well in limited duty with the Mighty Mussels a year ago. This year, the 26-year-old has pitched well out of the bullpen in Cedar Rapids. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, Milacki is 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 21 games for the Kernels this season. In 35 innings, he has 13 walks and 34 strikeouts. He also keeps the ball in the ballpark. He's allowed just two homers all season. Twins Daily Minor League Reliever of the Month: Denny Bentley (Wichita Wind Surge) 10 G, 11.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 BB, 16 SO, 1.59 ERA, 1.50 WHIP Bentley was the Twins 33rd round draft pick in 2018 out of Howard College in Texas. Following the lost 2020 season, he broke out in a big way in 2022. He recorded nine saves in Ft. Myers before ending the season pitching well in Cedar Rapids. In 58 1/3 combined innings, he walked 33 but struck out 87 batters (13.4 K/9). The 24-year-old began the 2022 season with the Kernels before getting a promotion to Wichita at the end of May. His first Wind Surge outing came on June 1. He certainly walked too many batters, but he continues to rack up strikeouts at a very impressive rate. What are your thoughts on the choices? Who would get your vote for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month?
  10. There were a number of incredible performances from the 'pen over the last month. See who we've selected as our Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month! Honorable Mention Hunter Wood (St. Paul Saints) 5 G, 4.2 IP, H, 0 R, 4 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 1.07 WHIP Evan Sisk (Wichita Wind Surge, St. Paul Saints) 8G, 10.2 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 6 H, 4 BB, 13 K, 0.84 ERA, 0.94 WHIP. Miguel Rodriguez (Cedar Rapids Kernels) 7 G, 9.2 IP, 12 H, 5 R, 1 ER, 7 BB, 11 K, 0.93, 1.97 WHIP Malik Barrington (Fort Myers Mighty Mussels) 6 G, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 7 BB, 16 K, 1.54 ERA, 1.60 WHIP Isaiah Rivera (FCL Twins) 5 G, 5 IP, 3 H, 1, R, 1 ER, 8 SO, 1.80 ERA, 0.80 WHIPS Number Three: Austin Schulfer (St. Paul Saints) 7 G, 8.1 IP, 6 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 7 SO, 2.16 ERA, 1.08 WHIP After giving up just one run over 15 games and 23 innings in Wichita (0.38 ERA), Schulfer was promoted to the Saints. He made one Triple-A appearance before the calendar turned to June. Among his seven appearances in June, he went 3-0 with a save. He continued to throw strikes. Schulfer was the Twins 19th round pick in 2018 out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. He was worked out of the bullpen and as a starter at various times in his career. In 2021, he started for Wichita and led the Twins minor leagues in Innings Pitched. Could Schulfer debut in the much-maligned Twins bullpen yet this season? We shall see. Number Two: Bobby Milacki (Cedar Rapids Kernels) 7 G, 11.2 IP, 7 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 4 BB, 10 K, 0.77 ERA, 0.94 WHIP Milacki is the son of a former major-leaguer, Bob Milacki, who pitched for the Orioles in the early '90s. The son was drafted by the Nationals in 2018. He headed to the independent leagues, and early in the 2021 season, the Twins signed him from Joliet in the Frontier League. He pitched well in limited duty with the Mighty Mussels a year ago. This year, the 26-year-old has pitched well out of the bullpen in Cedar Rapids. Blessed with a mid-90s fastball, Milacki is 4-0 with a 2.31 ERA in 21 games for the Kernels this season. In 35 innings, he has 13 walks and 34 strikeouts. He also keeps the ball in the ballpark. He's allowed just two homers all season. Twins Daily Minor League Reliever of the Month: Denny Bentley (Wichita Wind Surge) 10 G, 11.1 IP, 9 H, 3 R, 2 ER, 8 BB, 16 SO, 1.59 ERA, 1.50 WHIP Bentley was the Twins 33rd round draft pick in 2018 out of Howard College in Texas. Following the lost 2020 season, he broke out in a big way in 2022. He recorded nine saves in Ft. Myers before ending the season pitching well in Cedar Rapids. In 58 1/3 combined innings, he walked 33 but struck out 87 batters (13.4 K/9). The 24-year-old began the 2022 season with the Kernels before getting a promotion to Wichita at the end of May. His first Wind Surge outing came on June 1. He certainly walked too many batters, but he continues to rack up strikeouts at a very impressive rate. What are your thoughts on the choices? Who would get your vote for Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month? View full article
  11. Oh, what a relief it is... I think we all understand that feeling of relief. And that's true in baseball. When a manager goes to his bullpen for a reliever, it sometimes can feel like an oxymoron. The job of a relief pitcher is often to come into the late innings of games and get the last outs of the game. There are a few relievers and situations when fans feel comfortable, but often the situations can cause some anxious moments. Which relief pitchers provided their teammates with great relief in May? Find out below. It is always fun giving credit where credit is due, and with our monthly awards, we certainly do just that. Today, you'll get to read about four Twins minor-league relievers. My guess is many of you haven't heard of as many as three of the top four. I've also included several Honorable Mentions who had strong May performances out of the bullpen and deserve to be noticed. This is our final award for May, so before we get started, you can see who the April Reliever of the Month was, and who all of the other May award winners are. Of course, we want these to be interactive. Feel free to tell us if we're wrong, or, more importantly, if others should have been mentioned too. How would you rank these performers. Let's get started. Previous Relief Pitchers of the Month: April – Tyler Viza, Wichita Wind Surge Previous Twins Daily May 2022 Awards: Minor League Hitter of the Month – Spencer Steer, Wichita/St. Paul Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month – Steve Hajjar, Ft. Myers Twins Hitter of the Month – Luis Arraez Twins Pitcher of the Month – Sonny Gray Honorable Mentions RHP Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids) – 6 G, 1 GS, 1.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 13 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 14 K, .152 RHP Ian Hamilton (St. Paul) – 9 G, 0.77 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 16 K, .146 LHP Evan Sisk (Wichita) – 8 G, 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 11 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 15 K, .195 RHP Andrew Cabezas (Cedar Rapids) – 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 9 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 14 K, .121 RHP Hunter McMahon (Ft. Myers) – 9 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 13 1/3 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 15 K, .191 The Top Four Twins Minor League Relievers for May 2022 #4 RHP Malik Barrington (Ft. Myers) 8 G, 1 GS, 1.50 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12 IP, 8 H, 1 B, 20 K, .186 A Jacksonville native, Barrington pitched at Albany State in Georgia. While he went undrafted, he signed to play in the United Shores Professional Baseball League, the same league the team signed Randy Dobnak from. He pitched in just five games for the FCL Twins last year. A burly 6-3 and 230 pounds, Barrington gets strength from his lower half and is able to throw hard. He also has a solid mix of pitches, though he has been inconsistent with them. While several relievers had strong Mays, Barrington is the choice here because of that fancy 20:1 K:BB ratio. Already 24, the Twins could push him, or they can keep working with him and let him develop at his own pace to see how far up the organizational ladder he can climb. #3 RHP Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) 9 G, 1.32 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 13 2/3 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 18 K, .163 After working out of the Wind Surge rotation, and leading the Twins minor leagues in innings pitched last year, he returned to Wichita and pitched out of the bullpen. In 15 games and 23 innings, he gave up just one earned run (0.39 ERA) on 11 hits and four walks (0.65 WHIP). He struck out 30 batters (11.7 K/9). Late in May, he was finally promoted to the Saints and gave up one run on two hits over two innings in his Triple-A debut. Again, we like relievers who don’t walk many batters and miss a lot of bats. Schulfer was the Twins 19th round pick in 2018 from UW-Milwaukee. The 26-year-old is now just a phone call away from the big-league dream, in an organization that appears to need some more bullpen options. #2 RHP Bradley Hanner (Cedar Rapids) 8 G, 0.77 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 11 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 16 K, .083 Hanner was the Twins 21st round pick in the 2019 draft out of Patrick & Henry Community College. In 2021, he pitched in Ft. Myers where he posted a 7.13 ERA in 26 games and 41 2/3 innings. However, he had 49 strikeouts (and 34 walks) and a big arm with a mid-90s fastball and a big slider that has emerged as a great pitch for him in 2022. It’s pretty clear that something has clicked for Hanner this season in Cedar Rapids, and the numbers have been fantastic. You see his numbers for May. Overall this season, he is 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP. In 20 innings, he has struck out 22 batters and walked seven. That equates to a 3.2 BB/9 rate, which can surely come down a little more, but it is significantly better than the 7.3 BB/9 he posted in 2021. Most months, Hanner’s numbers would probably make him the pitcher of the month. Same is true of Schulfer. That tells you just how good the May… Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is… RHP Matthew Swain (Ft. Myers) 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.42 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB (2 IBB), 16 K, .081 BAA When the Twins selected Matthew Swain in the 23rd round of the 2019 draft out of Georgia Gwinnett College, they knew they had a talented pitcher with potential. Swain stands 6’7” and a sturdy 230 pounds. He possesses a strong arm with mid-to-high 90s fastball velocity. He’s got a couple of secondary pitches that still need some work but have come a long way. In 2021, he spent the season with the Mighty Mussels. In 35 games, he pitched 60 2/3 innings. He had a 4.60 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. He struck out 70 batters (10.4 K/9), but he walked 31 batters (4.6 BB/9). He went 6-2 with five saves last year with Ft. Myers. He returned in 2022, and he has been incredible. In 13 games, he is 2-1 with seven saves. In 19 innings, he has given up only an unearned run. He’s only allowed four hits (1.9 H/9), four walks (1.9 BB/9), and struck out 27 batters (12.8 K/9). In May, he walked two batters… both intentionally. Now that Schulfer has been promoted to St. Paul, if there is a pitcher who most deserves a promotion to the next level, it is the 24-year-old Swain. He could join the Cedar Rapids Kernels soon, one would think. ------------- This is an impressive group of relievers coming off of an incredible month of May. What do you think of the performances, the pitchers, and maybe how you would have ranked them? View full article
  12. It is always fun giving credit where credit is due, and with our monthly awards, we certainly do just that. Today, you'll get to read about four Twins minor-league relievers. My guess is many of you haven't heard of as many as three of the top four. I've also included several Honorable Mentions who had strong May performances out of the bullpen and deserve to be noticed. This is our final award for May, so before we get started, you can see who the April Reliever of the Month was, and who all of the other May award winners are. Of course, we want these to be interactive. Feel free to tell us if we're wrong, or, more importantly, if others should have been mentioned too. How would you rank these performers. Let's get started. Previous Relief Pitchers of the Month: April – Tyler Viza, Wichita Wind Surge Previous Twins Daily May 2022 Awards: Minor League Hitter of the Month – Spencer Steer, Wichita/St. Paul Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Month – Steve Hajjar, Ft. Myers Twins Hitter of the Month – Luis Arraez Twins Pitcher of the Month – Sonny Gray Honorable Mentions RHP Cody Laweryson (Cedar Rapids) – 6 G, 1 GS, 1.38 ERA, 0.62 WHIP, 13 IP, 7 H, 1 BB, 14 K, .152 RHP Ian Hamilton (St. Paul) – 9 G, 0.77 ERA, 0.94 WHIP, 11 2/3 IP, 6 H, 5 BB, 16 K, .146 LHP Evan Sisk (Wichita) – 8 G, 1.59 ERA, 0.97 WHIP, 11 1/3 IP, 8 H, 3 BB, 15 K, .195 RHP Andrew Cabezas (Cedar Rapids) – 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 9 1/3 IP, 4 H, 2 BB, 14 K, .121 RHP Hunter McMahon (Ft. Myers) – 9 G, 1.35 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 13 1/3 IP, 9 H, 4 BB, 15 K, .191 The Top Four Twins Minor League Relievers for May 2022 #4 RHP Malik Barrington (Ft. Myers) 8 G, 1 GS, 1.50 ERA, 0.75 WHIP, 12 IP, 8 H, 1 B, 20 K, .186 A Jacksonville native, Barrington pitched at Albany State in Georgia. While he went undrafted, he signed to play in the United Shores Professional Baseball League, the same league the team signed Randy Dobnak from. He pitched in just five games for the FCL Twins last year. A burly 6-3 and 230 pounds, Barrington gets strength from his lower half and is able to throw hard. He also has a solid mix of pitches, though he has been inconsistent with them. While several relievers had strong Mays, Barrington is the choice here because of that fancy 20:1 K:BB ratio. Already 24, the Twins could push him, or they can keep working with him and let him develop at his own pace to see how far up the organizational ladder he can climb. #3 RHP Austin Schulfer (Wichita/St. Paul) 9 G, 1.32 ERA, 0.66 WHIP, 13 2/3 IP, 8 H, 1 BB, 18 K, .163 After working out of the Wind Surge rotation, and leading the Twins minor leagues in innings pitched last year, he returned to Wichita and pitched out of the bullpen. In 15 games and 23 innings, he gave up just one earned run (0.39 ERA) on 11 hits and four walks (0.65 WHIP). He struck out 30 batters (11.7 K/9). Late in May, he was finally promoted to the Saints and gave up one run on two hits over two innings in his Triple-A debut. Again, we like relievers who don’t walk many batters and miss a lot of bats. Schulfer was the Twins 19th round pick in 2018 from UW-Milwaukee. The 26-year-old is now just a phone call away from the big-league dream, in an organization that appears to need some more bullpen options. #2 RHP Bradley Hanner (Cedar Rapids) 8 G, 0.77 ERA, 0.51 WHIP, 11 2/3 IP, 3 H, 3 BB, 16 K, .083 Hanner was the Twins 21st round pick in the 2019 draft out of Patrick & Henry Community College. In 2021, he pitched in Ft. Myers where he posted a 7.13 ERA in 26 games and 41 2/3 innings. However, he had 49 strikeouts (and 34 walks) and a big arm with a mid-90s fastball and a big slider that has emerged as a great pitch for him in 2022. It’s pretty clear that something has clicked for Hanner this season in Cedar Rapids, and the numbers have been fantastic. You see his numbers for May. Overall this season, he is 3-0 with a 0.45 ERA and a 0.60 WHIP. In 20 innings, he has struck out 22 batters and walked seven. That equates to a 3.2 BB/9 rate, which can surely come down a little more, but it is significantly better than the 7.3 BB/9 he posted in 2021. Most months, Hanner’s numbers would probably make him the pitcher of the month. Same is true of Schulfer. That tells you just how good the May… Twins Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month is… RHP Matthew Swain (Ft. Myers) 8 G, 0.00 ERA, 0.42 WHIP, 12.0 IP, 3 H, 2 BB (2 IBB), 16 K, .081 BAA When the Twins selected Matthew Swain in the 23rd round of the 2019 draft out of Georgia Gwinnett College, they knew they had a talented pitcher with potential. Swain stands 6’7” and a sturdy 230 pounds. He possesses a strong arm with mid-to-high 90s fastball velocity. He’s got a couple of secondary pitches that still need some work but have come a long way. In 2021, he spent the season with the Mighty Mussels. In 35 games, he pitched 60 2/3 innings. He had a 4.60 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP. He struck out 70 batters (10.4 K/9), but he walked 31 batters (4.6 BB/9). He went 6-2 with five saves last year with Ft. Myers. He returned in 2022, and he has been incredible. In 13 games, he is 2-1 with seven saves. In 19 innings, he has given up only an unearned run. He’s only allowed four hits (1.9 H/9), four walks (1.9 BB/9), and struck out 27 batters (12.8 K/9). In May, he walked two batters… both intentionally. Now that Schulfer has been promoted to St. Paul, if there is a pitcher who most deserves a promotion to the next level, it is the 24-year-old Swain. He could join the Cedar Rapids Kernels soon, one would think. ------------- This is an impressive group of relievers coming off of an incredible month of May. What do you think of the performances, the pitchers, and maybe how you would have ranked them?
  13. A 19th round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft, Austin Schulfer was selected out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As a senior sign, Schulfer dominated rookie ball with Elizabethton but was over a year older than the average age for the league. In 2019 he went to Low-A Cedar Rapids and while the ERA took a step backward, the strikeouts ticked upwards. Like everyone else, Schulfer missed 2020 due to a canceled minor league season. Playing for Wichita all of last year, he turned in 24 starts and a 4.34 ERA with a slightly decreased 8.6 K/9. Returning to Wichita this season, again old for the level at 26, he broke out in a new role. Minnesota had transitioned the righty to a relief role and so far the results are encouraging. Through 23 innings at Double-A, Schulfer owned a minuscule 0.39 ERA. He acted as the closer for the Wind Surge and picked up seven saves while finishing 12 games. As impressive and dominant as the 30/4 K/BB is, allowing zero homers and just 4.3 H/9 was something extraordinary. Promoted to Triple-A St. Paul before the calendar turned to June, he’ll now have the opportunity to prove it. Schulfer is a competitor in every sense of the word. He’s an avid gamer and has grown a solid following among the popular MLB The Show community. He displayed his skills on the popular streaming service, Twitch, during the Covid shutdown and became something of a fan favorite. Now back on the mound and looking to highlight his skills there, it’s clear a new path forward may be the one that gets him to the big leagues. Among the keys to his success this season has been a ground ball rate of over 60%. As a starter Schulfer hovered around 48% when it came to fly balls. He’s never been too susceptible to the long ball, but line drives have hurt him in the past. Blowing pitches by opposing batters while limiting the opportunity for damage is as perfect of a combination as it gets. Minor league velocity is largely untracked, but the expectation for pitchers moving to relief should always be a slight uptick. Whether deception or the ability to focus on two pitches, the change has worked in his favor. Batted ball numbers don’t suggest things are too out of whack either. While his 2.15 FIP and 2.97 xFIP are both above the present ERA, both would represent solid production. There’s really no reason to believe a prospect is going to take Minnesota’s bullpen by storm and wind up being their closer down the stretch. What can happen here, however, is that the Twins find another usable middle relief arm amongst a group that so badly needs help. Although the Twins bullpen has been largely fine in high leverage, finding consistency in getting them there has been a challenge. Rocco Baldelli and the front office have needed to use a revolving door behind starters that routinely are done during the middle innings. While not being able to fire off Joe Smith, Jhoan Duran, or Emilio Pagan early or nightly, they’ll need trusted help to bridge the gap. I’d bet handsomely that Minnesota addresses that area at the trade deadline, but if they build a level of confidence in another player or two at St. Paul, it winds up benefiting them greatly.
  14. Last week Nash Walker wrote about Matt Canterino as an arm the Minnesota Twins should look to accelerate for a bullpen role in 2022. I couldn’t agree with him more and opined he should be on the active roster by August 1. A lesser known name was recently promoted to St. Paul, and Austin Schulfer could find his way into the mix by the end of 2022 as well. A 19th round pick during the 2018 Major League Baseball draft, Austin Schulfer was selected out of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. As a senior sign, Schulfer dominated rookie ball with Elizabethton but was over a year older than the average age for the league. In 2019 he went to Low-A Cedar Rapids and while the ERA took a step backward, the strikeouts ticked upwards. Like everyone else, Schulfer missed 2020 due to a canceled minor league season. Playing for Wichita all of last year, he turned in 24 starts and a 4.34 ERA with a slightly decreased 8.6 K/9. Returning to Wichita this season, again old for the level at 26, he broke out in a new role. Minnesota had transitioned the righty to a relief role and so far the results are encouraging. Through 23 innings at Double-A, Schulfer owned a minuscule 0.39 ERA. He acted as the closer for the Wind Surge and picked up seven saves while finishing 12 games. As impressive and dominant as the 30/4 K/BB is, allowing zero homers and just 4.3 H/9 was something extraordinary. Promoted to Triple-A St. Paul before the calendar turned to June, he’ll now have the opportunity to prove it. Schulfer is a competitor in every sense of the word. He’s an avid gamer and has grown a solid following among the popular MLB The Show community. He displayed his skills on the popular streaming service, Twitch, during the Covid shutdown and became something of a fan favorite. Now back on the mound and looking to highlight his skills there, it’s clear a new path forward may be the one that gets him to the big leagues. Among the keys to his success this season has been a ground ball rate of over 60%. As a starter Schulfer hovered around 48% when it came to fly balls. He’s never been too susceptible to the long ball, but line drives have hurt him in the past. Blowing pitches by opposing batters while limiting the opportunity for damage is as perfect of a combination as it gets. Minor league velocity is largely untracked, but the expectation for pitchers moving to relief should always be a slight uptick. Whether deception or the ability to focus on two pitches, the change has worked in his favor. Batted ball numbers don’t suggest things are too out of whack either. While his 2.15 FIP and 2.97 xFIP are both above the present ERA, both would represent solid production. There’s really no reason to believe a prospect is going to take Minnesota’s bullpen by storm and wind up being their closer down the stretch. What can happen here, however, is that the Twins find another usable middle relief arm amongst a group that so badly needs help. Although the Twins bullpen has been largely fine in high leverage, finding consistency in getting them there has been a challenge. Rocco Baldelli and the front office have needed to use a revolving door behind starters that routinely are done during the middle innings. While not being able to fire off Joe Smith, Jhoan Duran, or Emilio Pagan early or nightly, they’ll need trusted help to bridge the gap. I’d bet handsomely that Minnesota addresses that area at the trade deadline, but if they build a level of confidence in another player or two at St. Paul, it winds up benefiting them greatly. View full article
  15. The Minnesota Twins won their sixth-straight game Tuesday, beating the Tigers 2-0. Sonny Gray was marvelous, delivering seven shutout innings while striking out 10 batters. Tonight’s system recap includes highlights from that Twins victory plus an overview of some of the top performers in the minor leagues, including Evan Sisk, Austin Schulfer, Michael Helman and Anthony Prato.
  16. The Minnesota Twins won their sixth-straight game Tuesday, beating the Tigers 2-0. Sonny Gray was marvelous, delivering seven shutout innings while striking out 10 batters. Tonight’s system recap includes highlights from that Twins victory plus an overview of some of the top performers in the minor leagues, including Evan Sisk, Austin Schulfer, Michael Helman and Anthony Prato. View full video
  17. On a night of severe weather in the Twin Cities, there was electricity throughout the Twins' farm system on Wednesday. From stellar pitching outings courtesy of the Saints and Mussels to offensive thunderstorms from Cedar Rapids, there were flurries of action across the farm. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins selected the contract of RHP Yennier Cano from St. Paul Saints. SAINTS SENTINAL Box Score Columbus 6, St. Paul 5 (F/12) Despite a solid starting pitching outing and late-inning push, the Saints fell just short in extras to the Clippers on Wednesday night in Columbus. The Saints tallied three runs in the ninth inning to tout a 4-1 lead but ultimately fell short after giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off in the 12th. The Saints struck first in the first thanks to a double from the red-hot Elliot Soto (6) who was later scored by a Curtis Terry RBI single. Terry continued his strong evening at the plate with a leadoff double (9) in the ninth and later scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Jermaine Palacios. The Saints then rallied off of a pair of singles from Caleb Hamilton and David Banuelos to plate two more runs in the inning. The highlight story of the evening came from the arm of starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez. In his third start of the year, the Delray Beach native threw six no-hit innings on 88 pitches, striking out seven batters and walking four. Gonzales is 2-1 on the year and touts an impressive 2.45 ERA through two starts in May and a 1.16 WHIP on the year. WIND SURGE WISDOM Box Score Wichita 4, NW Arkansas 3 A dominant outing from Matt Canterino and a timely spread of extra-base hits propelled the Wind Surge to a 3-1 win against NW Arkansas on Wednesday night in Wichita. Perhaps the most highly touted pitching prospect in the organization, Canterino lived up to the hype on Wednesday, tossing four innings of scoreless ball with six strikeouts while only allowing two hits. After an injury-ridden 2021, Canterino has an incredible 1.31 ERA through seven starts in 2022. Wichita struck the scoreboard early thanks to a pair of doubles in the second inning. Forest Lake product Matt Wallner led off the inning with a two-bagger to center and was later scored thanks to a double by Michael Helman. The two-hit combo proved successful for Wichita again in the sixth. After a Dennis Ortega single, Leobaldo Cabrera launched a 3-1 pitch over the center-field wall to give the Surge a 3-0 lead and secure his first home run of the season. Wichita added to their lead in the ninth thanks to an Austin Martin triple that scored DaShawn Keirsey from first. The insurance run proved critical, with the Naturals mounting a three-run comeback in their last frame that would fall just short. Despite the comeback, Austin Schulfer cut off NW Arkansas' rally and earned his fifth save of the season. KERNELS NUGGETS Box Score Cedar Rapids 7, Peoria 1 A night after getting blown out, the Kernels returned the favor with a dominant win over Peoria on Wednesday afternoon. Cedar Rapids used a massive eighth inning with a trio of runs between the first and fifth innings to notch their league-leading 21st win of the young season. Cedar Rapids got the party started thanks to a two-out triple from Twins Daily Top 20 prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Three pitches later, Seth Gray laced a double to center field to put the Kernels on the board. Encarnacion-Strand had a stellar day at the office, going 3-for-4 with two runs and a walk. The 22-year-old is now slashing an impressive .370/.430/1.032 on the year and already has 74 hits. The talented prospect would score his first run of the game in the fifth. Thanks to a pair of walks and a single from Encarnacion-Strand, the Kernels plated two runs thanks to RBI walks from Charles Mack and Alerick Soularie. With a two-run lead going into the eighth, the Kernels put the nail in the coffin. With the bases loaded thanks to a walk, throwing error, and hit-by-pitch, Morales delivered arguably his biggest hit of the year. On the first pitch of his at-bat, the La Victoria, Venezuela native crushed a grand slam over the left-center field wall (2) to break open the flood gates for Cedar Rapids. Starting pitcher Sean Mooney (W, 1-0) was excellent through five innings, striking out four while only allowing one run on four hits. Mooney pounded the zone all night, throwing 54 of his 68 pitches for strikes while allowing zero Peoria walks. Cody Lawyerson (H,3) was even more effective in the bullpen, tossing three innings of scoreless, no-hit ball while striking out two. Melvi Acosta sealed the deal with a scoreless ninth inning on the bump. MUSSEL MATTERS Box Score Fort Myers 3, Palm Beach 0 It's tough to follow up a no-hitter. Yet the Fort Myers pitching staff provided a pretty darn good silver lining on Wednesday night. A night after a combined no-no, a combo of five Mighty Mussels pitchers propelled the ballclub to a masterpiece shutout win, allowing only three hits on the night. Starting pitcher Travis Adams (W, 2-0) was dominant through five, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out six. Adams has been stellar so far this year, posting a 1.80 ERA through five starts, all of which have been five innings. Malik Barrington, Regi Grace, and Matthew Swain (S,5) held the fort down for the Mussels' bullpen, tossing four innings of one-hit ball while striking out a combined eight Palm Beach batters. Fort Myers mustered together three runs thanks to five singles, a double, and a walk. And while the scoreboard may not have shown it, the Mussels totaled a whopping ten hits on the night. Eight of nine batters in the Fort Myers lineup tallied hits and Jake Rucker and Kyler Fedko each tallied multi-hit games. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids)- 3-for-4, 3B, R, BB Pitcher of the Day: Chi Chi Gonzales (St. Paul)- 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 3B, RBI, #9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, RBI, K #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-for-4, BB #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-4, 3B, 2 R, BB #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-3, 2 BB, K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (11:05 CST) - RHP Jake Faria (0-2, 8.31 ERA) Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Louie Varland (3-1, 3.16 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Aaron Rozek (3-1, 5.82 ERA) Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (1-1, 5.82 ERA) View full article
  18. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins selected the contract of RHP Yennier Cano from St. Paul Saints. SAINTS SENTINAL Box Score Columbus 6, St. Paul 5 (F/12) Despite a solid starting pitching outing and late-inning push, the Saints fell just short in extras to the Clippers on Wednesday night in Columbus. The Saints tallied three runs in the ninth inning to tout a 4-1 lead but ultimately fell short after giving up three runs in the bottom of the ninth and a walk-off in the 12th. The Saints struck first in the first thanks to a double from the red-hot Elliot Soto (6) who was later scored by a Curtis Terry RBI single. Terry continued his strong evening at the plate with a leadoff double (9) in the ninth and later scored on a fielder's choice off the bat of Jermaine Palacios. The Saints then rallied off of a pair of singles from Caleb Hamilton and David Banuelos to plate two more runs in the inning. The highlight story of the evening came from the arm of starting pitcher Chi Chi Gonzalez. In his third start of the year, the Delray Beach native threw six no-hit innings on 88 pitches, striking out seven batters and walking four. Gonzales is 2-1 on the year and touts an impressive 2.45 ERA through two starts in May and a 1.16 WHIP on the year. WIND SURGE WISDOM Box Score Wichita 4, NW Arkansas 3 A dominant outing from Matt Canterino and a timely spread of extra-base hits propelled the Wind Surge to a 3-1 win against NW Arkansas on Wednesday night in Wichita. Perhaps the most highly touted pitching prospect in the organization, Canterino lived up to the hype on Wednesday, tossing four innings of scoreless ball with six strikeouts while only allowing two hits. After an injury-ridden 2021, Canterino has an incredible 1.31 ERA through seven starts in 2022. Wichita struck the scoreboard early thanks to a pair of doubles in the second inning. Forest Lake product Matt Wallner led off the inning with a two-bagger to center and was later scored thanks to a double by Michael Helman. The two-hit combo proved successful for Wichita again in the sixth. After a Dennis Ortega single, Leobaldo Cabrera launched a 3-1 pitch over the center-field wall to give the Surge a 3-0 lead and secure his first home run of the season. Wichita added to their lead in the ninth thanks to an Austin Martin triple that scored DaShawn Keirsey from first. The insurance run proved critical, with the Naturals mounting a three-run comeback in their last frame that would fall just short. Despite the comeback, Austin Schulfer cut off NW Arkansas' rally and earned his fifth save of the season. KERNELS NUGGETS Box Score Cedar Rapids 7, Peoria 1 A night after getting blown out, the Kernels returned the favor with a dominant win over Peoria on Wednesday afternoon. Cedar Rapids used a massive eighth inning with a trio of runs between the first and fifth innings to notch their league-leading 21st win of the young season. Cedar Rapids got the party started thanks to a two-out triple from Twins Daily Top 20 prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Three pitches later, Seth Gray laced a double to center field to put the Kernels on the board. Encarnacion-Strand had a stellar day at the office, going 3-for-4 with two runs and a walk. The 22-year-old is now slashing an impressive .370/.430/1.032 on the year and already has 74 hits. The talented prospect would score his first run of the game in the fifth. Thanks to a pair of walks and a single from Encarnacion-Strand, the Kernels plated two runs thanks to RBI walks from Charles Mack and Alerick Soularie. With a two-run lead going into the eighth, the Kernels put the nail in the coffin. With the bases loaded thanks to a walk, throwing error, and hit-by-pitch, Morales delivered arguably his biggest hit of the year. On the first pitch of his at-bat, the La Victoria, Venezuela native crushed a grand slam over the left-center field wall (2) to break open the flood gates for Cedar Rapids. Starting pitcher Sean Mooney (W, 1-0) was excellent through five innings, striking out four while only allowing one run on four hits. Mooney pounded the zone all night, throwing 54 of his 68 pitches for strikes while allowing zero Peoria walks. Cody Lawyerson (H,3) was even more effective in the bullpen, tossing three innings of scoreless, no-hit ball while striking out two. Melvi Acosta sealed the deal with a scoreless ninth inning on the bump. MUSSEL MATTERS Box Score Fort Myers 3, Palm Beach 0 It's tough to follow up a no-hitter. Yet the Fort Myers pitching staff provided a pretty darn good silver lining on Wednesday night. A night after a combined no-no, a combo of five Mighty Mussels pitchers propelled the ballclub to a masterpiece shutout win, allowing only three hits on the night. Starting pitcher Travis Adams (W, 2-0) was dominant through five, allowing only two hits and two walks while striking out six. Adams has been stellar so far this year, posting a 1.80 ERA through five starts, all of which have been five innings. Malik Barrington, Regi Grace, and Matthew Swain (S,5) held the fort down for the Mussels' bullpen, tossing four innings of one-hit ball while striking out a combined eight Palm Beach batters. Fort Myers mustered together three runs thanks to five singles, a double, and a walk. And while the scoreboard may not have shown it, the Mussels totaled a whopping ten hits on the night. Eight of nine batters in the Fort Myers lineup tallied hits and Jake Rucker and Kyler Fedko each tallied multi-hit games. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids)- 3-for-4, 3B, R, BB Pitcher of the Day: Chi Chi Gonzales (St. Paul)- 6.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 4 BB, 7 K PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-5, 3B, RBI, #9 - Matt Canterino (Wichita) - 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 6 K #10 - Emmanuel Rodriguez (Ft. Myers) - 1-for-4, RBI, K #16 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 0-for-4, BB #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 3-for-4, 3B, 2 R, BB #19 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 0-for-3, 2 BB, K THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS St. Paul @ Columbus (11:05 CST) - RHP Jake Faria (0-2, 8.31 ERA) Wichita @ NW Arkansas (7:05 PM CST) - RHP Louie Varland (3-1, 3.16 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Peoria (6:35 PM CST) - LHP Aaron Rozek (3-1, 5.82 ERA) Palm Beach @ Fort Myers (6:00 PM CST) - RHP Pierson Ohl (1-1, 5.82 ERA)
  19. The Twins pitching staff as a whole had a solid first month of the season, but the starting rotation really shined. Check out who the Twins Daily writers voted as the Twins Daily Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Month. When the Twins Daily Writers sat down to review the minor league relief pitchers, it was a tough decision with all the strong numbers from this month. Who would be the pitcher of the month? Especially with it being so early, the four minor league affiliates: The St. Paul Saints (12-10), Wichita Wind Surge (12-8), Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (11-7) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (15-4) are teams Major League pipelines dream of. Stacked with talent and above .500 in early April, the relievers chosen this month have been responsible for a lot of the success of their teams. The Minor Leagues have implemented the pitch clock which has put a little more pressure on pitching, but these pitchers aren’t letting that phase them. The pitching is solid in the minor leagues, and pitchers like Osiris German, Evan Sisk, and Hunter McMahon continue to grow in their potential while others take a commanding lead in the first month of the season. With so many outstanding choices on the mound, let's see how Twins Daily writers voted. Honorable Mention #2: Denny Bentley LHP 6G, 0.96 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 4H, 2BB, 13K Bentley is back in Iowa after splitting his time between Iowa and Florida last season and was on the opening day roster. Bentley has been impressive in his just 9 1/3 innings pitched with two saves and 0.96 ERA. In his second game of the season, he got his first win versus the Quad City River Bandits after relieving Sean Mooney. In his following appearance, Bentley’s a top 3 reliever for the month, he’s had several 1-2-3 innings, or at least zero-run innings. His ERA and WHIP have dropped considerably in 2022 compared to 2021. His discipline continues to grow, and his stats continue to be strong. Bentley was drafted in 2018 by the Twins in the 33rd round of the 2018 draft out of Howard College, a Junior College in Big Springs, Texas. With the exception of not playing baseball in 2020 along with the rest of the minor leagues, he has been with the Twins since being drafted. Honorable Mention #1: Austin Schulfer RHP 7G, 0.00 ERA, .71 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 5H, 3BB, 14K Austin is in his second season with the Surge but has been making an impact on minor league baseball since his time with the Kernels in 2019. Early in that season, he and teammate Jose Martinez recorded the 15th combined no-no in Cedar Rapids history. Last year, he was in the Wind Surge starting rotation and led the Twins minor leagues in innings pitched has given him experience and confidence. Schulfer’s April is off to a great start, registering one of the lowest WHIP’s among the other April award contenders at 0.71 and striking out 14 hitters in 11 innings. He also recorded three saves in his seven games pitched. Schulfer was the only UW-Milwaukee player drafted in 2018. He was picked by the Twins in the 19th round, 574th overall. Before coming to the Twins he left UWM in 2018 leading his college team in innings pitched (91.1) and wins (6). Relief Pitcher of the Month: Tyler Viza 12G, 0.97 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9H, 3BB, 21K Tyler Viza’s first month with the Twins has been nothing short of spectacular. Viza has pitched in only six games for the Surge and is already making an impact. He has three wins and struck out 21 hitters in just over 12 innings. Viza was drafted in 2013 by the Phillies in the 32nd round. He stayed with them through 2019 when he became a free agent. He signed with the Padres who were hurting for starting pitching. Viza was signed as a free agent on March 20 to the Twins, just two weeks before opening day, out of the independent American Association. The bullpen pitching of the minor league teams has been a huge asset to the Twins affiliates so far in April. If you were to rank your top 3 for the month of April, are these the three you would have ranked? In the same order? Who are you looking forward to making the Minor League Awards next month? View full article
  20. When the Twins Daily Writers sat down to review the minor league relief pitchers, it was a tough decision with all the strong numbers from this month. Who would be the pitcher of the month? Especially with it being so early, the four minor league affiliates: The St. Paul Saints (12-10), Wichita Wind Surge (12-8), Fort Myers Mighty Mussels (11-7) and Cedar Rapids Kernels (15-4) are teams Major League pipelines dream of. Stacked with talent and above .500 in early April, the relievers chosen this month have been responsible for a lot of the success of their teams. The Minor Leagues have implemented the pitch clock which has put a little more pressure on pitching, but these pitchers aren’t letting that phase them. The pitching is solid in the minor leagues, and pitchers like Osiris German, Evan Sisk, and Hunter McMahon continue to grow in their potential while others take a commanding lead in the first month of the season. With so many outstanding choices on the mound, let's see how Twins Daily writers voted. Honorable Mention #2: Denny Bentley LHP 6G, 0.96 ERA, 0.64 WHIP, 9.1 IP, 4H, 2BB, 13K Bentley is back in Iowa after splitting his time between Iowa and Florida last season and was on the opening day roster. Bentley has been impressive in his just 9 1/3 innings pitched with two saves and 0.96 ERA. In his second game of the season, he got his first win versus the Quad City River Bandits after relieving Sean Mooney. In his following appearance, Bentley’s a top 3 reliever for the month, he’s had several 1-2-3 innings, or at least zero-run innings. His ERA and WHIP have dropped considerably in 2022 compared to 2021. His discipline continues to grow, and his stats continue to be strong. Bentley was drafted in 2018 by the Twins in the 33rd round of the 2018 draft out of Howard College, a Junior College in Big Springs, Texas. With the exception of not playing baseball in 2020 along with the rest of the minor leagues, he has been with the Twins since being drafted. Honorable Mention #1: Austin Schulfer RHP 7G, 0.00 ERA, .71 WHIP, 11.1 IP, 5H, 3BB, 14K Austin is in his second season with the Surge but has been making an impact on minor league baseball since his time with the Kernels in 2019. Early in that season, he and teammate Jose Martinez recorded the 15th combined no-no in Cedar Rapids history. Last year, he was in the Wind Surge starting rotation and led the Twins minor leagues in innings pitched has given him experience and confidence. Schulfer’s April is off to a great start, registering one of the lowest WHIP’s among the other April award contenders at 0.71 and striking out 14 hitters in 11 innings. He also recorded three saves in his seven games pitched. Schulfer was the only UW-Milwaukee player drafted in 2018. He was picked by the Twins in the 19th round, 574th overall. Before coming to the Twins he left UWM in 2018 leading his college team in innings pitched (91.1) and wins (6). Relief Pitcher of the Month: Tyler Viza 12G, 0.97 ERA, 0.73 WHIP, 12.1 IP, 9H, 3BB, 21K Tyler Viza’s first month with the Twins has been nothing short of spectacular. Viza has pitched in only six games for the Surge and is already making an impact. He has three wins and struck out 21 hitters in just over 12 innings. Viza was drafted in 2013 by the Phillies in the 32nd round. He stayed with them through 2019 when he became a free agent. He signed with the Padres who were hurting for starting pitching. Viza was signed as a free agent on March 20 to the Twins, just two weeks before opening day, out of the independent American Association. The bullpen pitching of the minor league teams has been a huge asset to the Twins affiliates so far in April. If you were to rank your top 3 for the month of April, are these the three you would have ranked? In the same order? Who are you looking forward to making the Minor League Awards next month?
  21. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Iowa 1 Box Score Some nights, great pitching and Jose Miranda is all you need to secure a win. Tonight was one of those nights. Charlie Barnes got the start on the mound for St. Paul tonight and he was excellent in a shortened outing. He went four innings and allowed only one run, while accumulating four strikeouts. Barnes threw 70 pitches in this one and wasn’t showing signs of slowing down, so his removal from the game is likely to keep him fresh for potential major league service in the future. The one Cubs run came in the top of the third on an Abiatal Avelino RBI single off Barnes. Fortunately, though, the Saints struck in the bottom of the inning when Jose Miranda belted a no-doubter three-run shot. That blast proved to be all the Saints would need. After Barnes was removed, Beau Burrows entered the game in the fifth, charged with getting the fifteen-out save (not a thing). Burrows was even more fantastic, though, as he didn’t allow a hit until the ninth inning and struck out six Cubs. He did allow two hits in the ninth, but did not allow a run over all five of his innings, and the Saints took the game 3-1. St. Paul improves to 2-1 in the Triple-A Final Stretch. WIND SURGE WISDOM Double-A Central Championship Series Game 3: NW Arkansas 6, Wichita 2 (NW Arkansas wins series 3-0) Box Score Needing a win after their top two arms got roughed up in games one and two, the Wind Surge put the ball in the capable right hand of Austin Schulfer tonight in Riverfront Stadium’s playoff debut. However, a fourth inning grand slam ruined the night for Schulfer and the Surge, and their comeback hopes in this game and in the series never got started. The packed home crowd was amped up early and Jermaine Palacios gave them something to cheer about in the second when he stroked a ball 400 feet the left and bat-flipped the Surge to a 1-0 lead. The Naturals grabbed that run back in the third with a sac fly scoring Blake Perkins, who advanced two bases on an errant Schulfer pickoff attempt. After a close out call at the plate kept Wichita from retaking the lead, Brewer Hicklen, who made a game-saving catch in Game 1, pumped a grand slam over the left field wall to take the air out of the Wichita crowd and give NW Arkansas a 5-1 lead. Spencer Steer doubled and later scored on an Andrew Bechtold groundout in the fourth, but the offense couldn’t build on that and the next run of the game came in the seventh in favor of the Naturals, making it 6-2. In fact, the Surge didn’t put together a meaningful threat the rest of the game and that 6-2 scoreline was enough to earn the Naturals a dog-pile on the infield grass. Schulfer ended up pitching four innings, allowing five runs (four earned) while striking out four. He gave way to Kody Funderburk, who allowed just one run in three innings. Jordan Gore finished the game with two innings of scoreless work. On offense, the Surge grabbed seven hits but, as they have for much of the stretch run, they struggled to bring runs in. Jermaine Palacios and Austin Martin had multi-hit games. KERNELS NUGGETS High-A Central Championship Series Game 3: Cedar Rapids 8, Quad Cities 4 (Cedar Rapids leads series 2-1) Box Score After splitting the first two games, the Kernels endured a lengthy delay and turned to the long ball, bopping 4 homers en route to a crucial 8-4 Game 3 victory. Quad Cities opened their account in the first inning with a Logan Porter RBI single, but DaShawn Kiersey Jr. had an answer in the form of a two-run homer that gave the Kernels a 2-1 second-inning lead. In the third inning, the Kernels loaded the bases but their threat was interrupted by a rain delay. Well over an hour later, the game picked up again and Kiersey flew out to end the threat, permanently this time. In the fourth, though, Edouard Julien doubled the Cedar Rapids lead with a solo homer, and a few batters later, Alex Isola followed suit. Isola’s blast was worth three though, and the Kernels took a 6-1 lead. Quad Cities got a run back in the fifth, but Julien was back at it again in the sixth, with another solo bomb. And, Michael Helman added on another when he doubled and later scored on a Matt Wallner sac fly. Quad Cities got two runs back in the seventh to cut the lead to 8-4 that was as close as their comeback attempts would get and the Cedar Rapids Kernels are one win away from the title. Casey Legumina got the start for Cedar Rapids and allowed one run in two innings but after the lengthy delay, this one became a bullpen game. Adam Rozek matched Legumina, allowing one run over the third and fourth innings. Derek Molina took over and pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed two runs, though only one was earned. Carlos Suniaga allowed a few hits, but finished the game with two scoreless innings. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Beau Burrows (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K Hitter of the Day - Edouard Julien (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR, BB, K PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-3, BB #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, BB, HR (16), 3 RBI #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-3, RBI, 2 K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, BB #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, K #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2B, R, 2 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Drew Strotman (9-4, 5.13 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (3-3, 4.55 ERA in regular season) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Friday’s games!
  22. The fun-filled season that was Wichita's 2021 campaign came to an end tonight, but Cedar Rapids brought themselves within one game of a championship. Also, the Saints played! Check it all out in tonight's Minor League Report! SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 3, Iowa 1 Box Score Some nights, great pitching and Jose Miranda is all you need to secure a win. Tonight was one of those nights. Charlie Barnes got the start on the mound for St. Paul tonight and he was excellent in a shortened outing. He went four innings and allowed only one run, while accumulating four strikeouts. Barnes threw 70 pitches in this one and wasn’t showing signs of slowing down, so his removal from the game is likely to keep him fresh for potential major league service in the future. The one Cubs run came in the top of the third on an Abiatal Avelino RBI single off Barnes. Fortunately, though, the Saints struck in the bottom of the inning when Jose Miranda belted a no-doubter three-run shot. That blast proved to be all the Saints would need. After Barnes was removed, Beau Burrows entered the game in the fifth, charged with getting the fifteen-out save (not a thing). Burrows was even more fantastic, though, as he didn’t allow a hit until the ninth inning and struck out six Cubs. He did allow two hits in the ninth, but did not allow a run over all five of his innings, and the Saints took the game 3-1. St. Paul improves to 2-1 in the Triple-A Final Stretch. WIND SURGE WISDOM Double-A Central Championship Series Game 3: NW Arkansas 6, Wichita 2 (NW Arkansas wins series 3-0) Box Score Needing a win after their top two arms got roughed up in games one and two, the Wind Surge put the ball in the capable right hand of Austin Schulfer tonight in Riverfront Stadium’s playoff debut. However, a fourth inning grand slam ruined the night for Schulfer and the Surge, and their comeback hopes in this game and in the series never got started. The packed home crowd was amped up early and Jermaine Palacios gave them something to cheer about in the second when he stroked a ball 400 feet the left and bat-flipped the Surge to a 1-0 lead. The Naturals grabbed that run back in the third with a sac fly scoring Blake Perkins, who advanced two bases on an errant Schulfer pickoff attempt. After a close out call at the plate kept Wichita from retaking the lead, Brewer Hicklen, who made a game-saving catch in Game 1, pumped a grand slam over the left field wall to take the air out of the Wichita crowd and give NW Arkansas a 5-1 lead. Spencer Steer doubled and later scored on an Andrew Bechtold groundout in the fourth, but the offense couldn’t build on that and the next run of the game came in the seventh in favor of the Naturals, making it 6-2. In fact, the Surge didn’t put together a meaningful threat the rest of the game and that 6-2 scoreline was enough to earn the Naturals a dog-pile on the infield grass. Schulfer ended up pitching four innings, allowing five runs (four earned) while striking out four. He gave way to Kody Funderburk, who allowed just one run in three innings. Jordan Gore finished the game with two innings of scoreless work. On offense, the Surge grabbed seven hits but, as they have for much of the stretch run, they struggled to bring runs in. Jermaine Palacios and Austin Martin had multi-hit games. KERNELS NUGGETS High-A Central Championship Series Game 3: Cedar Rapids 8, Quad Cities 4 (Cedar Rapids leads series 2-1) Box Score After splitting the first two games, the Kernels endured a lengthy delay and turned to the long ball, bopping 4 homers en route to a crucial 8-4 Game 3 victory. Quad Cities opened their account in the first inning with a Logan Porter RBI single, but DaShawn Kiersey Jr. had an answer in the form of a two-run homer that gave the Kernels a 2-1 second-inning lead. In the third inning, the Kernels loaded the bases but their threat was interrupted by a rain delay. Well over an hour later, the game picked up again and Kiersey flew out to end the threat, permanently this time. In the fourth, though, Edouard Julien doubled the Cedar Rapids lead with a solo homer, and a few batters later, Alex Isola followed suit. Isola’s blast was worth three though, and the Kernels took a 6-1 lead. Quad Cities got a run back in the fifth, but Julien was back at it again in the sixth, with another solo bomb. And, Michael Helman added on another when he doubled and later scored on a Matt Wallner sac fly. Quad Cities got two runs back in the seventh to cut the lead to 8-4 that was as close as their comeback attempts would get and the Cedar Rapids Kernels are one win away from the title. Casey Legumina got the start for Cedar Rapids and allowed one run in two innings but after the lengthy delay, this one became a bullpen game. Adam Rozek matched Legumina, allowing one run over the third and fourth innings. Derek Molina took over and pitched 2 1/3 innings and allowed two runs, though only one was earned. Carlos Suniaga allowed a few hits, but finished the game with two scoreless innings. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day - Beau Burrows (St. Paul) - 5.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 6 K Hitter of the Day - Edouard Julien (Cedar Rapids) - 2-for-4, 2 R, 2 RBI, 2 HR, BB, K PROSPECT SUMMARY #2 - Austin Martin (Wichita) - 2-for-3, BB #6 - Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 1-for-3, BB, HR (16), 3 RBI #12 - Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-3, RBI, 2 K #13 - Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) - 0-for-3, BB #16 - Brent Rooker (Minnesota) - 1-for-3, K #20 - Spencer Steer (Wichita) - 1-for-4, 2B, R, 2 K SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Iowa @ St. Paul (6:05 PM CST) - RHP Drew Strotman (9-4, 5.13 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:30 PM CST) - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (3-3, 4.55 ERA in regular season) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Friday’s games! View full article
  23. Two teams in the system won via the walk-off on Saturday. Read all about that and more in this edition of the minor league report. TRANSACTIONS C Jeferson Morales promoted to A+ Cedar Rapids RHP Luis Rijo placed on 7-day IL at A+ Cedar Rapids (right elbow sprain) C Allante Hall transferred to A Fort Myers LHP Sean Gilmartin placed on 7-day IL at AA Wichita C Jair Camargo placed on 7-day IL at A+ Cedar Rapids retroactive to August 6th (right hamstring strain) RHP Josh Winder placed on 7-day IL at AAA St. Paul retroactive to July 22nd (right shoulder impingement) Saints Sentinel St. Paul 4, Louisville 2 Box Score Ian Hamilton: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None St. Paul was nearly no-hit on Saturday. Bo Takahashi held the squad hitless while he was on the mound but the team was able to pounce on rehabbing reliever Tejay Antone for their first hit, and their first run of the game. The run tied the game; a fact aided in no small part by the Saints pitching staff on Saturday. It was a bullpen game and Ian Hamilton drew the first straw. Hamilton was able to shed his previous issues with command, and staunchly allowed no Reds hitter to reach base via the walk. All in all, Hamilton tossed three quality innings. The game was even at one headed into the 9th inning. Ryan Mason ran into some trouble, and before anyone could even realize it, the bases were loaded. The Bats plated a run but nearly scored another if Jimmy Kerrigan did not hose the runner at home with a great play: It looked as if Louisville was going to walk away with a win, but Mark Contreras had other plans. He sent a ball to what was previously an undocumented dimension with his game-tying blast: Édgar García ran into some trouble in the top half of the 10th inning, but was able to escape any real damage. In the bottom half of the inning, Ben Rortvedt was called upon to pinch hit for J.T. Riddle and send the home crowd into a frenzy with a walk-off two-run bomb: Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 5, Midland 4 Box Score SP: Austin Schulfer: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: Caleb Hamilton (7), Jermaine Palacios (16) Multi-hit games: Caleb Hamilton (2-for-3, HR, 2B, R, 4 RBI) The Wind Surge won a thriller on Saturday. Austin Schulfer carried the squad early with yet another wonderful start. The right-hander has been workhorse-like in 2021 with nearly 80 innings on the year; an impressive total considering the non-existent 2020 minor league season. Caleb Hamilton backed his starter quickly with a 2nd inning, two-run homer. The 26-year-old is now creeping up on his career-high in homers for a season (9) which he set in 2017. In the least surprising news since the election of George Washington, Jermaine Palacios crushed his 16th homer of the year on Saturday. The blast moved Palacios into the top 10 for homeruns among all minor league shortstops. Yes, all of them. His new-found power is real and, if you happen to be the unfortunate soul pitching to him, terrifying. The game was knotted at three headed into the 9th inning. The Rockhounds inched ahead thanks to a Jonah Bride homer, but the Wind Surge refused to end quietly. With the bases loaded, Caleb Hamilton sent everyone home with a sacrifice fly that scored not one, but two runs. Take a look for yourself: Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 4 Box Score SP: Tyler Beck: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None The Kernels lost a clean game on Saturday. Tyler Beck’s line looks uglier than reality. Four runs is poor no matter how it’s sliced, but Beck’s runs came in the form of a duo of two-run shots. The sudden nature of home runs reflects a pitcher who was more unlucky than poor. Two pitches made the difference between four earned runs and a potentially better outing. In any case, the Kernels offense did little to help Beck. Wander Javier’s 7th inning triple was the lone extra-base hit by Cedar Rapids in the game. In total, only four base hits came off the bats of Kernels hitters on Saturday. For an inkling of good news from this game, Breckin Williams and Andrew Cabezas combined for three perfect innings of relief. The two righties punched out four batters in total. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 5, Dunedin 3 Box Score SP: Miguel Rodriguez: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jesus Feliz (2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-4, R) Fort Myers won a (somewhat) close one on Saturday. Despite falling down into a quick 1-0 pit, the Mighty Mussels easily rebounded. In the 2nd inning, Ruben Santana grounded home a run and Misael Urbina walked home another to steal the lead from Dunedin. Jesus Feliz singled home a third run in the 3rd inning, and a wild pitch in the 5th plated the final two runs scored by Fort Myers on the night. One has to unleash a truly reckless pitch to score two baserunners. If only the play was televised. Both Charles Mack and Nick Anderson reached base four times on Saturday. They combined for enough walks to challenge an old-persons home. But that’s enough for the offense. Let’s honor the pitchers who paved the path for the Mighty Mussels on Saturday. Beyond Miguel Rodriguez, whose great performance was self-evident, Zarion Sharpe held the Blue Jays scoreless for four crucial innings. Combining both of their pitching lines gives you one singular starter who gave up just one run over seven innings of work. That will play. Originally, I had written that the Mighty Mussels “won a comfortable one on Saturday”, but that became false in the 9th inning. Steven Cruz was called upon to guard a four-run lead. He would end the game with a two-run lead. But hey, the size of the lead does not matter at all as long as it holds. Complex Chronicles Game one: FCL Twins 5, FCL Red Sox 11 Box Score SP: Erasmo Moreno: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K R: Emmanuel Rodriguez (5) Multi-hit games: Emmanuel Rodriguez (3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI) This game was a continuation of the battle that began yesterday, but was suspended. Perhaps the FCL Twins would have preferred it if the matchup was just canceled instead. FCL Twins pitchers were struck well and often by the FCL Red Sox offense. No Twin escaped the endeavor without a wounded ERA with the lone exception of John Wilson. There was good news on the offensive front, however. Emmanuel Rodriguez knocked around a pair of extra-base hits, and Alerick Soularie finally graced a baseball diamond as a member of the Twins. Other than that, it is best to leave this game to the history books. Game two: FCL Twins 5, FCL Red Sox 1 Box Score SP: Develson Aria: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K HR: Alerick Soularie (1), Ricardo Oliver (1) Multi-hit games: Alerick Soularie (2-for-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI), Alexander Pena (2-for-4, RBI) While the first game was considerably unremarkable, game two was anything but. This type of glow-up has not been seen since George Gordon Meade took over command of the Army of the Potomac. In a level of irony well-suited for Alanis Morissette, the FCL Twins scored as many runs in this game as they had in the previous encounter. Alerick Soularie demanded that his presence be acknowledged as he blasted his first career homer in the first inning of the game. In all, three runs would be scored before three outs were netted. All three pitchers for the FCL Twins left the game with a clean slate. Develson Aria proved that he is more than just a phenomenal name, and he held the Red Sox scoreless in his start. Danny Moreno and Samuel Perez were called upon to relieve Aria, and both players evaded allowing any earned runs. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Austin Schulfer Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Caleb Hamilton PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-3 #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 0-4, 2 K #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 1-4, R, K #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – Did not play #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 0-4, K #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 1-5, 2 R, K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-4, BB, K #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-4, K #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-4, 3B, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (FCL Twins) – 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Dunedin @ Fort Myers (10:00 AM) RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Midland @ Wichita (12:05 PM) RHP Cole Sands Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (1:05 PM) RHP Cody Laweryson Louisville @ St. Paul (1:05 PM) LHP Lewis Thorpe View full article
  24. TRANSACTIONS C Jeferson Morales promoted to A+ Cedar Rapids RHP Luis Rijo placed on 7-day IL at A+ Cedar Rapids (right elbow sprain) C Allante Hall transferred to A Fort Myers LHP Sean Gilmartin placed on 7-day IL at AA Wichita C Jair Camargo placed on 7-day IL at A+ Cedar Rapids retroactive to August 6th (right hamstring strain) RHP Josh Winder placed on 7-day IL at AAA St. Paul retroactive to July 22nd (right shoulder impingement) Saints Sentinel St. Paul 4, Louisville 2 Box Score Ian Hamilton: 3 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 4 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None St. Paul was nearly no-hit on Saturday. Bo Takahashi held the squad hitless while he was on the mound but the team was able to pounce on rehabbing reliever Tejay Antone for their first hit, and their first run of the game. The run tied the game; a fact aided in no small part by the Saints pitching staff on Saturday. It was a bullpen game and Ian Hamilton drew the first straw. Hamilton was able to shed his previous issues with command, and staunchly allowed no Reds hitter to reach base via the walk. All in all, Hamilton tossed three quality innings. The game was even at one headed into the 9th inning. Ryan Mason ran into some trouble, and before anyone could even realize it, the bases were loaded. The Bats plated a run but nearly scored another if Jimmy Kerrigan did not hose the runner at home with a great play: It looked as if Louisville was going to walk away with a win, but Mark Contreras had other plans. He sent a ball to what was previously an undocumented dimension with his game-tying blast: Édgar García ran into some trouble in the top half of the 10th inning, but was able to escape any real damage. In the bottom half of the inning, Ben Rortvedt was called upon to pinch hit for J.T. Riddle and send the home crowd into a frenzy with a walk-off two-run bomb: Wind Surge Wisdom Wichita 5, Midland 4 Box Score SP: Austin Schulfer: 5 IP, 5 H, 1 ER, 2 BB, 6 K HR: Caleb Hamilton (7), Jermaine Palacios (16) Multi-hit games: Caleb Hamilton (2-for-3, HR, 2B, R, 4 RBI) The Wind Surge won a thriller on Saturday. Austin Schulfer carried the squad early with yet another wonderful start. The right-hander has been workhorse-like in 2021 with nearly 80 innings on the year; an impressive total considering the non-existent 2020 minor league season. Caleb Hamilton backed his starter quickly with a 2nd inning, two-run homer. The 26-year-old is now creeping up on his career-high in homers for a season (9) which he set in 2017. In the least surprising news since the election of George Washington, Jermaine Palacios crushed his 16th homer of the year on Saturday. The blast moved Palacios into the top 10 for homeruns among all minor league shortstops. Yes, all of them. His new-found power is real and, if you happen to be the unfortunate soul pitching to him, terrifying. The game was knotted at three headed into the 9th inning. The Rockhounds inched ahead thanks to a Jonah Bride homer, but the Wind Surge refused to end quietly. With the bases loaded, Caleb Hamilton sent everyone home with a sacrifice fly that scored not one, but two runs. Take a look for yourself: Kernels Nuggets Cedar Rapids 1, Quad Cities 4 Box Score SP: Tyler Beck: 6 IP, 5 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 5 K HR: None Multi-hit games: None The Kernels lost a clean game on Saturday. Tyler Beck’s line looks uglier than reality. Four runs is poor no matter how it’s sliced, but Beck’s runs came in the form of a duo of two-run shots. The sudden nature of home runs reflects a pitcher who was more unlucky than poor. Two pitches made the difference between four earned runs and a potentially better outing. In any case, the Kernels offense did little to help Beck. Wander Javier’s 7th inning triple was the lone extra-base hit by Cedar Rapids in the game. In total, only four base hits came off the bats of Kernels hitters on Saturday. For an inkling of good news from this game, Breckin Williams and Andrew Cabezas combined for three perfect innings of relief. The two righties punched out four batters in total. Mussel Matters Fort Myers 5, Dunedin 3 Box Score SP: Miguel Rodriguez: 3 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 4 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Jesus Feliz (2-for-4, 2B, R, RBI), Willie Joe Garry Jr. (2-for-4, R) Fort Myers won a (somewhat) close one on Saturday. Despite falling down into a quick 1-0 pit, the Mighty Mussels easily rebounded. In the 2nd inning, Ruben Santana grounded home a run and Misael Urbina walked home another to steal the lead from Dunedin. Jesus Feliz singled home a third run in the 3rd inning, and a wild pitch in the 5th plated the final two runs scored by Fort Myers on the night. One has to unleash a truly reckless pitch to score two baserunners. If only the play was televised. Both Charles Mack and Nick Anderson reached base four times on Saturday. They combined for enough walks to challenge an old-persons home. But that’s enough for the offense. Let’s honor the pitchers who paved the path for the Mighty Mussels on Saturday. Beyond Miguel Rodriguez, whose great performance was self-evident, Zarion Sharpe held the Blue Jays scoreless for four crucial innings. Combining both of their pitching lines gives you one singular starter who gave up just one run over seven innings of work. That will play. Originally, I had written that the Mighty Mussels “won a comfortable one on Saturday”, but that became false in the 9th inning. Steven Cruz was called upon to guard a four-run lead. He would end the game with a two-run lead. But hey, the size of the lead does not matter at all as long as it holds. Complex Chronicles Game one: FCL Twins 5, FCL Red Sox 11 Box Score SP: Erasmo Moreno: 3 IP, 4 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K R: Emmanuel Rodriguez (5) Multi-hit games: Emmanuel Rodriguez (3-for-4, HR, 2B, 2 R, RBI) This game was a continuation of the battle that began yesterday, but was suspended. Perhaps the FCL Twins would have preferred it if the matchup was just canceled instead. FCL Twins pitchers were struck well and often by the FCL Red Sox offense. No Twin escaped the endeavor without a wounded ERA with the lone exception of John Wilson. There was good news on the offensive front, however. Emmanuel Rodriguez knocked around a pair of extra-base hits, and Alerick Soularie finally graced a baseball diamond as a member of the Twins. Other than that, it is best to leave this game to the history books. Game two: FCL Twins 5, FCL Red Sox 1 Box Score SP: Develson Aria: 3 IP, 2 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 4 K HR: Alerick Soularie (1), Ricardo Oliver (1) Multi-hit games: Alerick Soularie (2-for-2, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI), Alexander Pena (2-for-4, RBI) While the first game was considerably unremarkable, game two was anything but. This type of glow-up has not been seen since George Gordon Meade took over command of the Army of the Potomac. In a level of irony well-suited for Alanis Morissette, the FCL Twins scored as many runs in this game as they had in the previous encounter. Alerick Soularie demanded that his presence be acknowledged as he blasted his first career homer in the first inning of the game. In all, three runs would be scored before three outs were netted. All three pitchers for the FCL Twins left the game with a clean slate. Develson Aria proved that he is more than just a phenomenal name, and he held the Red Sox scoreless in his start. Danny Moreno and Samuel Perez were called upon to relieve Aria, and both players evaded allowing any earned runs. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Austin Schulfer Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Caleb Hamilton PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) - 0-3 #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 0-4, 2 K #7 – Gilberto Celestino (St. Paul) – 1-4, R, K #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Injured List (Right Shoulder Impingement) #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – Did not play #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – 0-4, K #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – 4 IP, 4 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 6 K #13 – Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (Minnesota) – 1-5, 2 R, K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 0-4, BB, K #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-4, K #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 1-4, 3B, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (FCL Twins) – 2-5, HR, 2 R, 2 RBI, BB, K #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch SUNDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Dunedin @ Fort Myers (10:00 AM) RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long Midland @ Wichita (12:05 PM) RHP Cole Sands Quad Cities @ Cedar Rapids (1:05 PM) RHP Cody Laweryson Louisville @ St. Paul (1:05 PM) LHP Lewis Thorpe
  25. Honorable Mentions: LHP Brent Headrick, Low-A: 1-1, 1.71 ERA, 21 IP, 30 K, 10 BB, 1.24 WHIP RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long, Low-A, 3-0, 2.91 ERA, 21 2/3 IP, 31 K, 5 BB, 1.25 WHIP Number 5: RHP Chris Vallimont, Double-A Stats: 2-2, 3.22 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 34 K, 10 BB, 1.39 WHIP On the surface, Vallimont's numbers from May are arguably better than the ones he posted in June. However, the big difference was his uptick in innings. Vallimont faced exactly twice as many batters in June as he did in May - 96 versus 48 - and essentially maintained his strikeout rate. While he wasn't fantastic, he was good, which was enough to come in fifth in the vote. Number 4: RHP Ben Gross, High-A Stats: 2-0, 1.54 ERA, 23 1/3 IP, 29 K, 10 BB, 1.37 WHIP Gross will be 25-years-old before the end of the season meaning the odds that he ever reaches the majors are dwindling with each passing day. That said, his performance during the month of June was rather encouraging. Compared to May, Gross pitched six more innings, struck out seven more batters, allowed four fewer runs, and dropped his overall ERA from 4.15 to 2.66. Number 3: RHP Austin Schulfer, Double-A Stats: 1-1, 1.75 ERA, 25 2/3 IP, 28 K, 8 BB, 1.29 WHIP Like Gross, Schulfer saw his performance improve dramatically as the calendar turned from May to June. A 19th-round pick in the 2018 draft, Schulfer dropped his ERA from 5.31 to 3.33 after allowing seven less earned runs and striking out twice as many batters in 5 1/3 more innings. Again, his future may not be in the majors as he is already 25-years-old and owns a FIP north of 3.50 in his minor league career, however, it's always intriguing anytime a player posts a month as successful as Schulfer. Number 2: RHP Louie Varland, Low-A Stats: 1-0, 0.40 ERA, 22 1/3 IP, 29 K, 5 BB, 0.90 WHIP For as mediocre as Varland's May was, his June was absolutely superb. Piling up strikeouts has never been an issue for the former Concordia-St. Paul Golden Bear, but what changed for the 23-year-old in June was his ability to combine his punch outs with preventing the long ball. Varland struck out 29 batters in June compared to his 28 in May while seeing his home runs allowed (0 versus 2) and walks issued (5 versus 10) drop precipitously subsequent to a 59% increase in innings pitched (22 1/3 versus 14). Varland owns the raw stuff to be a contributor in some capacity at the major league level. The key with him, as is the case with many minor league pitchers, is improving his command to the point he did in June. If he can keep the walks low and and long ball few and far between, he could find himself pitching at Target Field someday. Number 1: RHP Josh Winder, Double-A (recently promoted to Triple-A) Stats: 2-0, 2.37 ERA, 30 1/3 IP, 35 K, 4 BB, 0.96 WHIP In a Twins' farm system that is replete with talent, perhaps no pitching prospect is more under-appreciated than Josh Winder. Winder, who did not even crack Twins Daily's Top 20 prospect list prior to the start of the season, finished in second place during last month's Starting Pitcher of the Month race after posting some ridiculous numbers and he continued his streak of dominance as spring turned to summer en route to winning this past month's honors. Unlike contemporaries Matt Canterino and Jhoan Duran, Winder possesses fluid mechanics with a consistent, repeatable motion. He get's good push off from his back leg which reduces the strain placed on his shoulder and elbow. He's only been placed on the injured list once in his minor league career, a stint that lasted exactly one week. Winder's owns a classic pitch arsenal consisting of a four-seam fastball, curveball, slider, and change-up. His fastball sits in the low- to mid-90s, though it can touch as high as 96 mph, and is graded as a 50-55 on the traditional 20-80 scouting scale according to FanGraphs. While he doesn't have one pitch that stands out as more impressive than the others, all four are at least average offerings, which has the benefit of raising his floor as a prospect. It this fact, along with his string of consistent positive performances, that drove Winder to be named to the 2021 Futures Game alongside a host of top-tier MLB prospects. Winder may never find himself among the Twins' top-10 prospects, however, arguably no pitcher in the system has risen their stock more than he has compared to prior to the season beginning. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
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