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  1. “I don’t know about other organizations, but it’s unprecedented in our history of the way we’ve drafted over the course of years. To take four high school position players with consecutive picks, I don’t think a lot of teams have done that.” Deron Johnson, Twins Senior Advisor to Scouting, continued, “I’m proud. It’s a bold move, I think.I don’t know many teams that have done that in the past. So far so good with the results.” Johnson, as you recall, became the Twins scouting director in 2008 and held the position through the 2016 season when he received his promotion to the Senior Scouting Advisor role. Alex Kirilloff has been one of the most impressive hitters in all of minor league baseball in 2018. Ben Rortvedt’s development both at the plate and behind the plate has been noticed by the organization. Jose Miranda’s 2018 season started slow in Cedar Rapids, but he’s been raking since and recently earned his promotion to Ft. Myers. Akil Baddoo remains in Cedar Rapids at this point, but he’s been very impressive at the plate and in center field and continues to improve. Deron Johnson insists that the plan coming into the draft wasn’t necessarily to take four high school kids right away. “You have a plan, but being able to watch our system over the years, I knew that we were in need of some position players. It just so happened.” Here is a quick look back at the top four Twins draft picks in 2016 through the eyes of Deron Johnson. ALEX KIRILLOFF “He hasn’t missed a beat since he had that layoff.” That layoff, of course, was missing the 2017 season due to Tommy John surgery. As you know, Kirilloff has not only been arguably the top hitter in the Twins minor leagues this year, but maybe one of the best in all of minor league baseball. He spent the first 65 games of his 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He hit .333/.391/.607 (.999) with 20 doubles, five triples, 13 home runs and 56 RBI. He played in the Midwest League All-Star Game and then immediately was promoted to Ft. Myers. He represented the Twins on Team USA at the Futures Game, and went 2-for-2. In his 47 games with the Miracle, he has hit .365/.385/.547 (.932) with 19 doubles, two triples, four home runs and 37 RBI. The Twins used the 15th overall pick to take Kirilloff who played high school ball for Plum High School near Pittsburgh. While they drafted him in 2016, they had known about him for a couple of years already. He made a major impression on Johnson at Petco Park in San Diego a year before the draft. Johnson, recalled, “He hit a ball during the Perfect Game All-American Game in Petco. I mean, it was an absolute bomb. Left-handers don’t hit balls out a lot at that park. Mostly right-handers because the ball kind of travels there. That showed me that this guy’s got power.” Johnson saw him again early in the 2016 season. “I saw him a couple of times. I saw him two or three games in Florida early in spring and we identified him as a guy going into the draft.” Shortly before the draft, Johnson traveled to Pittsburgh to see Kirilloff play. Unfortunately, the game was rained out. It ended up creating a great opportunity for the scout. “ I got a chance to see him practice. A lot of times, it’s better than seeing the games. I got a chance to speak with the kid, see how he goes about his business, see how he interacts with his teammates, and that was great. Plus we had a lot of looks on him too.” BEN RORTVEDT There is this perception that players from northern states can’t get seen by scouts as easily as players from southern states. There is some truth to that, but the top prep players now are playing in the summer baseball circuit across the country, and they are the showcases necessary if players want to get drafted. That is where Rortvedt was first seen. Johnson pointed out, “We got a lot of looks in the summer. He played against the best guys. He was on that Perfect Game tour, played in the All-America Game. We definitely relied on Mike Ruth, Mike Radcliff, and Mark Wilson, the scout that had the area at the time. We had a lot of coverage on him. We had a lot of looks.” Rortvedt was the Twins second-round draft pick, the 56th overall pick in the draft, out of Verona High School in Verona, Wisconsin. He split that season between the GCL and Elizabethton. He made the jump to Cedar Rapids in 2017, and admittedly he struggled with the bat. But he was gaining experience and making improvements. He returned to Cedar Rapids to start the 2018 season. In 39 games, he hit .276/.325/.386 (.711) with 12 extra base hits. He has now played 39 games since being promoted to Ft. Myers. He has hit .244/.342/.351 (.693) with eight extra base hits (including a two home run game). Behind the plate, he is blessed with a very strong arm and has gained a reputation for working well with his pitchers. But there is a thought, a hope that he will be able to continue making strides offensively as well. Johnson believes in Rortvedt’s offensive potential. “I think he can. I think he’s strong. For him, I think it’s all about approach .He’s got a nice swing. He’s a very strong young man. A lot of that’s been addressed. Drive the ball. If he can consistently learn to and want to drive the ball, the sky's the limit for him. He’s one of the younger guys again in the Florida State League. He doesn’t strike out much, makes contact. He’s got raw power. There’s no question about that. Is he going to be a 25-home run guy? Well, I’m not going to say he can’t.” But again, his defense is where he can really affect a game. “His defense has improved immensely. He can really throw. He can stop a running game. He’s athletic behind the plate. Someone quoted me after the draft where I said that he looks like he was born to catch. I truly believe that He looks like a catcher. He looks like one of those old school catchers from the ‘50s. The big forearms, the squared jaw. The real strong face. He’s young. He’s still got some immaturity. He’s not grown up yet. It’s going to take some time, but he works at it. He really gives a good effort. His game-calling has really improved. I think all aspects of his game have gotten better.” JOSE MIRANDA The Twins added the 73rd overall pick in the 2017 as part of the compensation round. Miranda was another guy that the Twins had seen quite a bit of, including at a Perfect Game event. Miranda actually grew up in Florida. According to Johnson, “He had played in the States. His mom is a flight attendant located in Florida. He went to high school in Florida his freshman and sophomore years, and then he moved back to Puerto Rico.” He started out this season at Cedar Rapids and like the weather conditions, he was cold. As the temperatures, Miranda’s bat heated up. In 104 total games with the Kernels, he hit .277/.326/.434 (.760) with 22 doubles, 13 home runs and 72 RBI. He has now played in eight games since being promoted to the Ft. Myers Miracle. He had his coming out party, of sorts, at Perfect Game. “We didn’t know who he was. (Delvin) Perez was the main guy. (Long-time Twins scout) Freddie Thon said, let’s take a look at this guy. I kind of like this guy.” “We saw him, and we like everything about him. We’ve always liked his bat. His defense is getting better. He’s found a home at 3B. He’s going to be a big man.” Miranda was drafted as a shortstop, but it was known that he wouldn’t stay there, though he did make one start there since joining the Miracle. He split much of his time in Cedar Rapids between second base and third base. AKIL BADDOO In the 2015 draft, the Twins used their second round pick (73rd pick) on right-handed pitcher Kyle Cody, a Wisconsin native who had spent three years at the University of Kentucky. For a few reasons, Cody did not sign with the Twins. Because they did not sign him, the Twins received the 74th overall pick of the 2016 draft. The Twins went to a familiar place for this selection. They signed a tremendous athlete out of high school in Georgia. In 2010, they drafted Niko Goodrum out of Fayette County High School in Georgia. In 2012, the Twins used the second overall pick in the draft on Byron Buxton who went to Appling County High School in Baxley, Georgia. Akil Baddoo continues that line of Twins great athletes selected by the Twins out of Georgia. Johnson noted, “Akil is coming into his own. He always kind of knew the strike zone as a high school kid. He’s from Georgia and he plays some really good competition. Georgia is one of the few areas in the country, along with Southern California and Florida and Texas, they play a lot of good baseball. It’s been a hotbed, not just for us, but for the industry.” Georgia Tech and Kennesaw State are a couple of powerhouse colleges, but the prep ranks are loaded with great talent. In fact, when the Twins used the 74th overall pick in Akil Baddoo, he became the seventh Georgia high school kid drafted in 2016. Josh Lowe was the 13th overall pick by the Rays. With the 14th pick, Cleveland’s selection was Will Benson. Carter Kierboom was the 28th overall pick by the Nationals. Taylor Trammell went to the Reds with the 35th pick. The Angels selected Brandon Marsh with the 60th overall pick. Alex Speas went #63 to the Texas Rangers. Johnson saw all of them, but he wondered why Baddoo wasn’t always mentioned in the same breath as some of those top picks. “He’s from out in the country, a little town called Conyers. Akil, everyone knew him, but he was the second tier of that group. Taylor Trammell came out that year. Three or four first-round picks come out of Atlanta that year. I was always curious why people weren’t talking about Akil more. We got a lot of looks at him.” He was seen a lot the summer before he was drafted. But it was very late in the summer when Baddoo took another step forward in the eyes of the Twins scouts. “We saw him at a Puerto Rico event the winter before the draft. The Mets put together a showcase where they bring a team from the States, and they play against Puerto Rican kids. It’s a great event. It’s after other events so you don’t get a lot of kids to show up. They’re tired. But Akil was there. He showed his passion for baseball. We liked him during the summer and were excited to see him show up. He went off there. He hit the ball hard, drove some balls, ran hard.” Baddoo was the Twins Daily choice for short-season Minor League Hitter of the Year in 2017 when he split the season between the GCL and Elizabethton. He has now played in 101 games this season for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He has hit .241/.354/.413 (.767) with 19 doubles, nine triples and ten home runs. He also has 21 stolen bases in 26 attempts. Baddoo is a great athlete and has the built of a football player. “He’s strong. He’s like a running back. For me, he’s running better than when we drafted him. He’s a 70 runner. He’s playing way better defense. Mike Quade’s done a really good job with him defensively. He was a little raw defensively, but he’s got a different throwing action, but he can throw the ball. That’s maybe the one negative, the throwing. He’s getting much better. He’s got a chance to be a plus base runner.” ----------------------------------------------------------------- It is certainly not normal for a team to use four draft picks in the top two rounds and use each of them on high school hitters. To this point, the Twins front office has to be thrilled with all four picks. Each has experienced success and advanced up the organizational ladder appropriately, maybe even aggressive in some cases. 2016 was Deron Johnson’s final draft as scouting director, replaced by Sean Johnson. He says he is enjoying his new role where he gets to scout in many places. He was involved in the amateur scouting, the pro scouting and has had a chance to do some work internationally as well. But he has the right to be proud and excited about what the future might hold for his final draft. “I got a chance to see all those guys this summer, and it was fun to see. I got to see Alex. He’s done tremendously. Ben has been doing really well. He’s really improved defensively and his bat is coming on, so that is encouraging. Baddoo, despite his batting average, his peripheral numbers are really good. He’s hitting for some power, a bunch of doubles and stolen bases. And Miranda, I was there when he started heating up too.” Johnson continued. “It’s encouraging seeing those kids play well. I think Alex Is the oldest at 20-years-old. Akil won’t be 20 until the end of the year. It’s awesome seeing those guys have that kind of success this early in their career. ” But what is just as exciting as the top four picks, there are several other players that the Twins drafted in 2016 who remain in the organization and also have a chance to reach the big leagues. Will they? There’s no way to know that yet, of course, but several are on the right path. Soon, we will continue the conversation with Deron Johnson and discuss the rest of the Twins 2016 draft. It is a draft class that the Twins and their front office should be excited about.
  2. Projected Starter: Mitch Garver Likely Backup: Ryan Jeffers Depth: Willians Astudillo, Tomás Telis Prospects: Ben Rortvedt THE GOOD Few teams have a starting catcher as good as Mitch Garver. No teams have a backup catcher as good as Ryan Jeffers – to the extent you'd call him a "backup" given this appears to be a straight 50/50 timeshare. The Twins are in a pretty optimal situation with two starting-caliber catchers on hand. Although questions marks surround both Garver and Jeffers to some extent, each backstop has proven his mettle in the majors after stepping in with big expectations and big pressure. In 2019, after coming up short in their offseason pursuits of free agents Yasmani Grandal and Robinson Chirinos, the Twins turned to Garver as the primary partner for veteran Jason Castro. Garver's future behind the plate was somewhat in doubt after another concussion ended his 2018 campaign, while Castro was trying to come back from knee surgery. It was a bit of a precarious situation. It worked out nicely, in part because Castro rebounded with a .767 OPS, but mainly because Garver broke through with a spectacular season that earned him Silver Slugger honors and catapulted him immediately into the upper echelon of major-league catchers. He slashed .273/.365/.630 with 31 home runs and a .404 wOBA in 391 plate appearance, producing 3.9 fWAR in just 93 games. Garver's offensive explosion was accompanied by clear improvements on the defensive end, as he graded out very well by pitch-framing metrics and earned more confidence from Twins pitchers. While the luster wore off from his breakout during in injury-marred and abbreviated 2020 campaign, Garver is a prime rebound candidate and remains a high-quality starting option. The uncertainties attached to Garver are much easier to stomach given last year's emergence of Jeffers, who answered the call for Minnesota's beleaguered catching corps. Showing up as a 23-year-old rookie, he showed astonishing poise and preparedness, slashing .273/.355/.436 while grading out well defensively. Jeffers received Twins Daily's nod for Rookie of the Year, and made such an impression that his spot on the 2021 Opening Day roster was at no point in doubt. He might not offer the upside to match what Garver showed in 2019, but Jeffers has instantly established himself as a high-floor timeshare partner, balancing out Garver's risk factor while enabling Rocco Baldelli to take it easy on both of them. The manager can rotate his top two catchers steadily to regulate their workloads, without ever sacrificing high-end offense or defense. How many other teams can say that? THE BAD While the Twins have an admirable 1-2 punch atop the depth chart at catcher, neither player is necessarily a slam dunk. Garver's immense struggles in 2020, when his OPS plummeted by nearly 500 points and he struck out in 46% of his plate appearances, can't be completely ignored, mitigating circumstances aside. He won't be that bad again, and got off on the right foot this year with a ringing single in his first spring training AB, but Garver will not escape the shadow of his 2020 season until he goes out on the field in real games and firmly proves it a fluke. As for Jeffers, his successful first stint in the majors carried no specific indicators of unsustainability, but all standard caveats apply. It was a 26-game sample for a 23-year-old who'd previously played only 24 games above Single-A. He needs to substantiate that performance while holding up to the rigors of a full MLB season as catcher – no small task. In terms of depth behind these two, the Twins aren't in bad shape with Tomás Telis, Ben Rortvedt and Willians Astudillo (who may round out the Opening Day roster as a third catcher). Needless to say, they'd see a huge drop-off in the quality of their catching rotation if either Garver or Jeffers goes down. THE BOTTOM LINE Minnesota's catching situation is the envy of much of the league. You'd be hard-pressed to find another club that would be in as comfortable shape as the Twins if their 1A option became unavailable. In fact, as spring training gets underway, it's not entirely clear Garver should be the 1A, given that Jeffers earned enough trust last season to start both playoff games. Regardless of how you want to stack them, these two provide Minnesota with a decisive competitive advantage behind the plate compared to nearly all rivals. For a deeper dive into position's long-term outlook, check out Cody Christie's future position analysis at catcher. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. With spring training officially underway and a new season rapidly approaching, it's time to kick off my annual position-by-position analysis of the Minnesota Twins roster. Today, we break down the team's very strong outlook behind the plate.Projected Starter: Mitch Garver Likely Backup: Ryan Jeffers Depth: Willians Astudillo, Tomás Telis Prospects: Ben Rortvedt THE GOOD Few teams have a starting catcher as good as Mitch Garver. No teams have a backup catcher as good as Ryan Jeffers – to the extent you'd call him a "backup" given this appears to be a straight 50/50 timeshare. The Twins are in a pretty optimal situation with two starting-caliber catchers on hand. Although questions marks surround both Garver and Jeffers to some extent, each backstop has proven his mettle in the majors after stepping in with big expectations and big pressure. In 2019, after coming up short in their offseason pursuits of free agents Yasmani Grandal and Robinson Chirinos, the Twins turned to Garver as the primary partner for veteran Jason Castro. Garver's future behind the plate was somewhat in doubt after another concussion ended his 2018 campaign, while Castro was trying to come back from knee surgery. It was a bit of a precarious situation. It worked out nicely, in part because Castro rebounded with a .767 OPS, but mainly because Garver broke through with a spectacular season that earned him Silver Slugger honors and catapulted him immediately into the upper echelon of major-league catchers. He slashed .273/.365/.630 with 31 home runs and a .404 wOBA in 391 plate appearance, producing 3.9 fWAR in just 93 games. Garver's offensive explosion was accompanied by clear improvements on the defensive end, as he graded out very well by pitch-framing metrics and earned more confidence from Twins pitchers. While the luster wore off from his breakout during in injury-marred and abbreviated 2020 campaign, Garver is a prime rebound candidate and remains a high-quality starting option. For a deeper dive into position's long-term outlook, check out Cody Christie's future position analysis at catcher. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  4. Current Catchers: Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers Garver was limited to 23 games in 2020 and he hit .167/.247/.264 with three extra-base hits. It was going to be hard to live up to his 2019 season when he posted a .995 OPS with 31 home runs and 16 doubles in 93 games. While it’s unlikely for Garver to replicate those totals, his 2020 season was impacted by a right intercostal strain. He will be 30-years old next year and the Twins have team control over him for three more seasons. Jeffers impressed in his first taste of the big leagues, especially on the defensive side of the ball. His Strike Rate was the highest in the American League and he was especially good at getting strike calls on the edges of the zone. His offensive numbers weren’t too shabby either as he posted a .791 OPS with three home runs. Many scouts saw him as a bat-only catcher coming out of college, so it shows how much the Twins have been able to do with him since he joined the system in 2018. 40-Man Options Garver and Jeffers figure to get the bulk of the time behind the plate in 2021, but the Twins have other options that add depth to the organization. Willians Astudillo still has options remaining so the Twins can stash him at St. Paul and then bring him up when needed at the big-league level. Since joining the Twins, he has hit .294/.319/.428 with only 13 strikeouts in over 317 plate appearances. Before this year’s Rule 5 Draft, the Twins added Ben Rortvedt, a 2016 second-round pick, to the 40-man roster. He finished the 2019 season at Double-A and his OPS has risen in every professional season. He will likely start the year at Double-A, especially with some of the other more veteran catchers in the organization. On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other catching options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Telis has over 120 games played at the big-league level and he did well during his first year in the Twins organization. At Triple-A, he hit .330/.364/.490 with 31 extra-base hits and a 33 to 16 strikeout to walk ratio. Hamilton, a 2016 draft pick, reached Triple-A in 2019 and he has shown the ability to play multiple defensive positions. He ended 2019 with a .660 OPS and 26 extra-base hits in 99 games. Williams spent time at Low- and High-A in 2019 and he was limited to a .192 batting average. However, he got on base over 33% of the time and ended with a .749 OPS after collecting 26 extra-base hits in 74 games. Casanova was a 2018 draft pick and he spent 2019 at the same levels as Williams. His 2019 strikeout percentage is the highest among all the catchers in the system. Minnesota took Isola out of college in 2019 and he made it all the way to Low-A in his professional debut. He destroyed the ball in seven games with the E-Twins as he went 10-for-25 and posted a 1.029 OPS. Salva has been in the organization since 2016 and he spent his first three years in the GCL. Last season at E-Town, he posted a .710 OPS, his highest total of his professional career. Morales made his stateside debut in 2019 and he will have a chance to move to Low-A in 2021. What do you think about the future of catcher in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -Second Base -First Base -Shortstop -Third Base MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker and Edwar Colina would have been obvious additions to the 40-man roster on Friday, but the Twins added them during the season. That left Jordan Balazovic as the one easy choice for them to add to their 40-man roster, and on Friday they did. In addition, they added catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-hander Bailey Ober as well. That said, there are a lot of good prospects that were left off of the roster still. The Rule 5 draft will take place December 10th, and players such as Akil Baddoo, Jose Miranda, Yunior Severino, Wander Javier, Luis Rijo, Gabriel Maciel, Griffin Jax, Tyler Wells, and Charlie Barnes were left unprotected. For a more complete list, click here. BACK TO BALAZOVIC The 22-year-old right-hander was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2016 out of St. Martin Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto). His area scout that signed him was Walt Burrows. After an impressive debut in the GCL that summer, he really struggled at the same level in 2017. However, he was a new pitcher in 2018. In late May, he moved up to Ceadr Rapids and was quite impressive. He went 7-3 with a 3.94 ERA. In 61 2/3 innings, he had 78 strikeouts with just 18 walks. The season pushed his prospect status very high, reaching into the top ten among Twins prospects and even into some national Top 100 lists. In 2019, he spent the first month with the Kernels. He went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in four starts before moving up to the Miracle. In his first Miracle start, he tossed seven no-hit innings and struck out ten batters. He went 6-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 more games. Combined, he had 129 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 93 2/3 innings. His season ended with a playoff start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1170147185297678336 When Deron Johnson drafted Balazovic, he saw a lanky pitcher with raw ability and a strong understanding of pitching. Johnson later told me that when he saw him again in 2018, he was now touching 95 and his breaking pitches were much sharper. Balazovic was added to the Twins alternate site roster for the final month of the season. Also, it's pronounced (buh-law-zuh-vic)... More on Jordan Balazovic: Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Prospects: Part 2 (31-40) (Sept 2020) Get to Know: Jordan Balazovic (Dec 2016) Why Jordan Balazovic has the Makings of an Ace (Nov 2019) Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #5 Jordan Balazovic (Feb 2020) Three Twins Players Hurt Most Without a Minor League Season (June 2020) Who Should the Twins Protect from the Rule 5 Draft? (Nov 2020) BACKING BAILEY When it comes to putting up numbers, Bailey Ober has done just that. He was the Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston where he was the country's Freshman of the Year. Unfortunately, the 6-9 righty had Tommy John surgery which cost him a season and his recovery pushed him down in the draft. He has missed time since joining the Twins organization too. However, when he has pitched, he has been really good. In 2018, he went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA in Ft. Myers before moving up to AA Pensacola where he went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Combined, he struck out 100 and walked just nine batters in 78 2/3 innings. More On Ober Get to Know: RHP Bailey Ober (Jan 2018) Bailey Ober on his 2019 Success (Sept 2019) BACKSTOP BEN Ben Rortvedt has also been added to the Twins 40-man roster. The Verona, Wisconsin, native was the first of two straight second round picks in 2016, one pick ahead of Jose Miranda. He has been invited to big-league spring training the past two seasons. In 2019, he started in Ft. Myers. After 24 games, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he played in 55 games. Combined, he hit .239/.332/.355 (.687) with 16 doubles and seven homers before an late-season knee injury ended his regular season. He attempted to play in the Arizona Fall League but was unable to and had knee surgery. Rortvedt is strong and athletic behind the plate. He's got good agility and a strong arm. He's really improved on his pitch framing in recent seasons as well. He's smart, works well with pitchers and is able to call a strong game. More On Rortvedt Twins Select Ben Rortvedt with the 56th Overall Pick (June 2016) Kernels Catcher Ben Rortvedt is Catching On (May 2017) Looking Back: Twins Take Four Prep Bats Atop 2016 Draft (Aug 2018) What are your thoughts on the Twins additions to the 40-man roster? The roster currently has 37 players on it: 19 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders and eight outfielders.
  6. On Friday, the Minnesota Twins announced that they have added catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-handed pitchers Jordan Balazovic and Bailey Ober to their 40-man roster.Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker and Edwar Colina would have been obvious additions to the 40-man roster on Friday, but the Twins added them during the season. That left Jordan Balazovic as the one easy choice for them to add to their 40-man roster, and on Friday they did. In addition, they added catcher Ben Rortvedt and right-hander Bailey Ober as well. That said, there are a lot of good prospects that were left off of the roster still. The Rule 5 draft will take place December 10th, and players such as Akil Baddoo, Jose Miranda, Yunior Severino, Wander Javier, Luis Rijo, Gabriel Maciel, Griffin Jax, Tyler Wells, and Charlie Barnes were left unprotected. For a more complete list, click here. BACK TO BALAZOVIC The 22-year-old right-hander was the Twins fifth-round draft pick in 2016 out of St. Martin Secondary School in Mississauga, Ontario (a suburb of Toronto). His area scout that signed him was Walt Burrows. After an impressive debut in the GCL that summer, he really struggled at the same level in 2017. However, he was a new pitcher in 2018. In late May, he moved up to Ceadr Rapids and was quite impressive. He went 7-3 with a 3.94 ERA. In 61 2/3 innings, he had 78 strikeouts with just 18 walks. The season pushed his prospect status very high, reaching into the top ten among Twins prospects and even into some national Top 100 lists. In 2019, he spent the first month with the Kernels. He went 2-1 with a 2.18 ERA in four starts before moving up to the Miracle. In his first Miracle start, he tossed seven no-hit innings and struck out ten batters. He went 6-4 with a 2.84 ERA in 15 more games. Combined, he had 129 strikeouts and just 25 walks over 93 2/3 innings. His season ended with a playoff start for the Pensacola Blue Wahoos. When Deron Johnson drafted Balazovic, he saw a lanky pitcher with raw ability and a strong understanding of pitching. Johnson later told me that when he saw him again in 2018, he was now touching 95 and his breaking pitches were much sharper. Balazovic was added to the Twins alternate site roster for the final month of the season. Also, it's pronounced (buh-law-zuh-vic)... More on Jordan Balazovic: Seth's Preliminary Top 50 Prospects: Part 2 (31-40) (Sept 2020)Get to Know: Jordan Balazovic (Dec 2016)Why Jordan Balazovic has the Makings of an Ace (Nov 2019)Twins Daily 2020 Top Prospects: #5 Jordan Balazovic (Feb 2020)Three Twins Players Hurt Most Without a Minor League Season (June 2020)Who Should the Twins Protect from the Rule 5 Draft? (Nov 2020)BACKING BAILEY When it comes to putting up numbers, Bailey Ober has done just that. He was the Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston where he was the country's Freshman of the Year. Unfortunately, the 6-9 righty had Tommy John surgery which cost him a season and his recovery pushed him down in the draft. He has missed time since joining the Twins organization too. However, when he has pitched, he has been really good. In 2018, he went 4-0 with a 1.58 ERA in Ft. Myers before moving up to AA Pensacola where he went 3-0 with a 0.75 ERA. Combined, he struck out 100 and walked just nine batters in 78 2/3 innings. More On Ober Get to Know: RHP Bailey Ober (Jan 2018)Bailey Ober on his 2019 Success (Sept 2019) BACKSTOP BEN Ben Rortvedt has also been added to the Twins 40-man roster. The Verona, Wisconsin, native was the first of two straight second round picks in 2016, one pick ahead of Jose Miranda. He has been invited to big-league spring training the past two seasons. In 2019, he started in Ft. Myers. After 24 games, he moved up to Double-A Pensacola where he played in 55 games. Combined, he hit .239/.332/.355 (.687) with 16 doubles and seven homers before an late-season knee injury ended his regular season. He attempted to play in the Arizona Fall League but was unable to and had knee surgery. Rortvedt is strong and athletic behind the plate. He's got good agility and a strong arm. He's really improved on his pitch framing in recent seasons as well. He's smart, works well with pitchers and is able to call a strong game. More On Rortvedt Twins Select Ben Rortvedt with the 56th Overall Pick(June 2016)Kernels Catcher Ben Rortvedt is Catching On (May 2017)Looking Back: Twins Take Four Prep Bats Atop 2016 Draft (Aug 2018) What are your thoughts on the Twins additions to the 40-man roster? The roster currently has 37 players on it: 19 pitchers, four catchers, six infielders and eight outfielders. Click here to view the article
  7. As Nick wrote earlier this week, this will be an offseason filled with uncertainty. How much will payroll be decreased? When will free agents sign? Will anything much happen before February? Will there be Winter Meetings? Well, certainly there won’t be a big gathering in a hotel as there normally is. But there certainly will be a Rule 5 draft… right? And with that, teams have until November 20th to add players to their 40 man roster. With teams less likely to spend big money in the offseason, could acquiring players in other ways, including the Rule 5 draft, be an option? On the other side, will teams wanting to cut back want to spend $100,000 to add a player that may or may not be offered back to their previous team for $50,000? Since the completion of the World Series, the Twins have been able to remove their free agents from the 40-man roster. Sergio Romo also became a free agent when the Twins declined his option for 2021. The Twins have claimed pitchers Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell. Nick Gordon will need to come off of the 60-Day Injured List, and when that happens the team will be at 34 players on their 40-man roster. Will he stay on the 40-man roster? If not, he would need to clear waivers, and even if he did, he would become a minor league free agent. Also before then, teams will need to offer 2021 contracts to their current arbitration-eligible players. If they don’t, those players will become free agents as well. Certainly Eddie Rosario is the most likely to be non-tendered, but the team has several arbitration-eligible players. With that as the backdrop, the Twins could potentially add as many as eight or even nine players from their system to their 40-man roster (pending others being removed from the 40-man). So, here is a quick reminder of what players will be eligible for the 2020 Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2016 (during the minor league season). Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2017. Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again. Players drafted or signed during the 2014 season became free agents after the World Series was complete. So, let’s take a look at the eligible players, starting with The Givens: THE GIVENS When I first reviewed which players might need to be added to the 40-man roster (last January), I felt that there were four “Givens.” Three of them made their MLB debut in 2020. Alex Kirilloff (#1) - The 2016 first-round pick was added to the Twins roster for the 2020 playoffs. He became the third player to make his MLB debut in the playoffs, the first ever to start a game in that scenario. (The other two were A’s Mark Kiger and Royals Adalberto Mondesi) Kirilloff is such a natural hitter, he was an easy choice to add. It’s done. Brent Rooker (#3) - The Twins Competitive Balance pick after the first round in 2017 from Mississippi State has provided a lot of power with his bat since the team drafted him. A few weeks before Kirilloff, Rooker made his big-league debut and hit well. He knocked his first home run in a game in St. Louis. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and needed season-ended surgery. But again, was an easy choice then, and it happened in-season. Edwar Colina (#4) - Colina was the one maybe surprising name to some that he would have been included in the Given category. He was signed in late September of 2015 and has slowly but consistently worked his way up the organizational ladder. But when a pitcher hits triple digits with a fastball and is known to have “the best slider in the organization,” he’s a given. He was added to the 40-man roster and called up on the final weekend. His one game did not go well, but that shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion on his upside. So, ,who was Given #2 when this was done in January? RHP Jordan Balazovic - The right-hander from Canada remains an easy choice to be added to the Twins 40-man roster. He’s 6-5 and lean, though he has also added strength and velocity to his frame over the past couple of seasons. People believe that he can be a starting pitcher, which is a key point. OTHER POSSIBLES This is where it gets more difficult. When so few players get selected in the Rule 5 draft, is it necessary to protect as many players? Or, are so few players selected because more (or the right) players get added to 40-man rosters. Of course, making it even more difficult to determine who should be added is the fact that there was no minor league season. These players did not get a typical, normal opportunity to earn a spot on the 40-man roster or not. So, for me, I saw many of the players for a week in spring training. They had a few more days of spring training after I left there before they were sent home. They were quarantined and there was no minor league season. A few of these players were at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. Approximately 60 players were invited to the instructional league. Those are the new points for the Twins to factor into their decisions. That’s not a lot. While I have this group ranked by how I would consider adding them, I think the Twins should have a good conversation to consider each. (which they most certainly have) OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and great power-speed combination potential. Had there been a 2020 season, he likely would have began as a DH before gradually moving back to center field. C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the 2019 season at Pensacola before a knee injury ended his season. Terrific defensively and very strong. Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are likely going to be the big-league catchers. Williams Astudillo may or may not remain on the 40-man roster and in the organization. Tomas Telis has been re-signed on a minor league contract. Rortvedt should be considered for a roster spot. SS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster last offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. The hope would have been that after a strong 2020 season, he would have been a Given. He didn’t play in 2020, another missed season. But, they have invested in him and he is still young and still immensely talented. RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5. Of all the players left off the Twins 40-man roster last year, Rijo was the one I was most worried about losing. Still young, he was throwing 95 at times in 2019 with three pitches. Now he’s a year older, hopefully more mature and strong. 3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles much more as a third baseman. He’s got good size and strength and could develop into a power hitting option. RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020. He was invited to big-league spring training, but he was not in the Twins player pool. But he is another guy who profiles as a starter, which matters. 2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup. He got into several games in spring training and did a nice job. OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense. Twins bench coach Mike Bell is very familiar with Maciel and his potential. LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester). Barnes was invited to Twins spring training and had a nice showing. Originally, he was not added to the player pool, but he was added later in the summer and got a couple of weeks of work in that atmosphere. RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up video game numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance. He did not work at the Twins alternate site or participate in instructional league. LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, and because of that, he probably profiles well as the type of player that does get selected in the Rule 5 draft. RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed most of that year and had all of 2020 to keep working his way back to full strength without rushing. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level? If so, he’s worth a roster spot. LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers in 2019 before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches.He has proven strong and durable as well. 1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. 2020 was a big year for him as he was starting to really come into his own. Hopefully that can happen in 2021. 1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He was invited to Twins spring training and performed well. He also spent the 2020 season at the Twins alternate site in 2020. Others in their first year of eligibility: Tyler Benninghoff, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Jimmy Kerrigan, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Janigson Villalobos. Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020. Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone,Tom Hackimer, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Lachlan Wells, Aaron Whitefield. SUMMARY The Twins again have several interesting options for guys who could be added to the 40-man roster or potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Like the rest of the offseason, it’s hard to feel confident about anything that’s going to happens and that includes what the Rule 5 draft might look like. PREDICTION If forced to make an official prediction, I think that the Twins will only add Jordan Balazovic and Ben Rortvedt to the 40-man roster in two weeks. Balazovic is the given. I just think that having strong catchers is important, and Rortvedt fits that category with his defense, and there is still offensive potential too. I think they’ll be busy in free agency and will want those roster spots available to them. They may be busy with trades too, including some of these players mentioned on the Possibles list. What do you think?
  8. In just over two weeks (November 20th), the Twins and the rest of the league will have to submit their additions to their 40-man rosters. 2020 was a lost season for many minor leaguers, so who do the Twins need to add… or risk losing to the Rule 5 draft?As Nick wrote earlier this week, this will be an offseason filled with uncertainty. How much will payroll be decreased? When will free agents sign? Will anything much happen before February? Will there be Winter Meetings? Well, certainly there won’t be a big gathering in a hotel as there normally is. But there certainly will be a Rule 5 draft… right? And with that, teams have until November 20th to add players to their 40 man roster. With teams less likely to spend big money in the offseason, could acquiring players in other ways, including the Rule 5 draft, be an option? On the other side, will teams wanting to cut back want to spend $100,000 to add a player that may or may not be offered back to their previous team for $50,000? Since the completion of the World Series, the Twins have been able to remove their free agents from the 40-man roster. Sergio Romo also became a free agent when the Twins declined his option for 2021. The Twins have claimed pitchers Ian Gibaut and Brandon Waddell. Nick Gordon will need to come off of the 60-Day Injured List, and when that happens the team will be at 34 players on their 40-man roster. Will he stay on the 40-man roster? If not, he would need to clear waivers, and even if he did, he would become a minor league free agent. Also before then, teams will need to offer 2021 contracts to their current arbitration-eligible players. If they don’t, those players will become free agents as well. Certainly Eddie Rosario is the most likely to be non-tendered, but the team has several arbitration-eligible players. With that as the backdrop, the Twins could potentially add as many as eight or even nine players from their system to their 40-man roster (pending others being removed from the 40-man). So, here is a quick reminder of what players will be eligible for the 2020 Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2016 (during the minor league season).Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2017.Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again.Players drafted or signed during the 2014 season became free agents after the World Series was complete.So, let’s take a look at the eligible players, starting with The Givens: THE GIVENS When I first reviewed which players might need to be added to the 40-man roster (last January), I felt that there were four “Givens.” Three of them made their MLB debut in 2020. Alex Kirilloff (#1) - The 2016 first-round pick was added to the Twins rosterfor the 2020 playoffs. He became the third player to make his MLB debut in the playoffs, the first ever to start a game in that scenario. (The other two were A’s Mark Kiger and Royals Adalberto Mondesi) Kirilloff is such a natural hitter, he was an easy choice to add. It’s done. Brent Rooker (#3) - The Twins Competitive Balance pick after the first round in 2017 from Mississippi State has provided a lot of power with his bat since the team drafted him. A few weeks before Kirilloff, Rooker made his big-league debutand hit well. He knocked his first home run in a game in St. Louis. Unfortunately, he was hit by a pitch and needed season-ended surgery. But again, was an easy choice then, and it happened in-season. Edwar Colina (#4) - Colina was the one maybe surprising name to some that he would have been included in the Given category. He was signed in late September of 2015 and has slowly but consistently worked his way up the organizational ladder. But when a pitcher hits triple digits with a fastball and is known to have “the best slider in the organization,” he’s a given. He was added to the 40-man roster and called up on the final weekend. His one game did not go well, but that shouldn’t change anyone’s opinion on his upside. So, ,who was Given #2 when this was done in January? RHP Jordan Balazovic - The right-hander from Canada remains an easy choice to be added to the Twins 40-man roster. He’s 6-5 and lean, though he has also added strength and velocity to his frame over the past couple of seasons. People believe that he can be a starting pitcher, which is a key point.OTHER POSSIBLES This is where it gets more difficult. When so few players get selected in the Rule 5 draft, is it necessary to protect as many players? Or, are so few players selected because more (or the right) players get added to 40-man rosters. Of course, making it even more difficult to determine who should be added is the fact that there was no minor league season. These players did not get a typical, normal opportunity to earn a spot on the 40-man roster or not. So, for me, I saw many of the players for a week in spring training. They had a few more days of spring training after I left there before they were sent home. They were quarantined and there was no minor league season. A few of these players were at the Twins alternate site in St. Paul. Approximately 60 players were invited to the instructional league. Those are the new points for the Twins to factor into their decisions. That’s not a lot. While I have this group ranked by how I would consider adding them, I think the Twins should have a good conversation to consider each. (which they most certainly have) OF Akil Baddoo - The 74th overall pick in the 2016 draft out of high school in Georgia. Missed most of 2019 season with Tommy John surgery, but is a great athlete who has a good approach at the plate and great power-speed combination potential. Had there been a 2020 season, he likely would have began as a DH before gradually moving back to center field.C Ben Rortvedt - 2nd round pick in 2016 from Wisconsin. He has moved up the system pretty quickly and spent half of the 2019 season at Pensacola before a knee injury ended his season. Terrific defensively and very strong. Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are likely going to be the big-league catchers. Williams Astudillo may or may not remain on the 40-man roster and in the organization. Tomas Telis has been re-signed on a minor league contract. Rortvedt should be considered for a roster spot.SS Wander Javier - Left off the 40-man roster last offseason, he went unclaimed. Still immensely talented and could break out at any time. The hope would have been that after a strong 2020 season, he would have been a Given. He didn’t play in 2020, another missed season. But, they have invested in him and he is still young and still immensely talented.RHP Luis Rijo - 21-year-old from Venezuela posted a 2.86 ERA in 107 innings in Cedar Rapids in 2019 but still went unclaimed in the Rule 5. Of all the players left off the Twins 40-man roster last year, Rijo was the one I was most worried about losing. Still young, he was throwing 95 at times in 2019 with three pitches. Now he’s a year older, hopefully more mature and strong.3B Jose Miranda - The 73rd overall pick in 2016 draft from Puerto Rico, Miranda has hit some and displays a lot of power potential. Has played some second base but profiles much more as a third baseman. He’s got good size and strength and could develop into a power hitting option.RHP Griffin Jax - Jax was also left unprotected and went unclaimed this year. He’s already had success in AA and could be MLB ready sometime in 2020. He was invited to big-league spring training, but he was not in the Twins player pool. But he is another guy who profiles as a starter, which matters.2B Yunior Severino - Enough of an international prospect that he received two nine-figure signing bonuses. He had a solid season in E-Town in 2018. Unfortunately fractured his thumb early in the 2019 season. Could break out in 2020 if he stays in the lineup. He got into several games in spring training and did a nice job.OF Gabriel Maciel - Signed with the Diamondbacks in June 2016 from Brazil. Came to the Twins in the Eduardo Escobar trade in July 2018. Not a big guy, but he hits a lot of line drives, runs really well and plays good outfield defense. Twins bench coach Mike Bell is very familiar with Maciel and his potential.LHP Charlie Barnes - 4th round pick in 2017 from Clemson. He lefty pitched at three levels in 2019 (8 starts in Ft. Myers, 13 starts in Pensacola, 4 starts in Rochester). Barnes was invited to Twins spring training and had a nice showing. Originally, he was not added to the player pool, but he was added later in the summer and got a couple of weeks of work in that atmosphere.RHP Bailey Ober - Twins 12th round pick in 2017 out of the College of Charleston, he has put up video game numbers when he has been on the mound. If healthy, he’s got a chance. He did not work at the Twins alternate site or participate in instructional league.LHP Jovani Moran - The lefty dominated the lower levels of the minors, but injuries cost him time in 2019. But, he’s young, left-handed and has a couple of plus-pitches. Definitely could contribute in 2021, and because of that, he probably profiles well as the type of player that does get selected in the Rule 5 draft.RHP Tyler Wells - Wells may have been an easy add in 2019 if he hadn’t missed the season due to Tommy John surgery. He rehabbed most of that year and had all of 2020 to keep working his way back to full strength without rushing. Can he get back to his 2018 performance level? If so, he’s worth a roster spot.LHP Bryan Sammons - The Twins 8th round pick in 2017 from Western Carolina, he dominated at Ft. Myers in 2019 before spending the final four months of the season in Pensacola. Left-handed, he has four quality pitches.He has proven strong and durable as well.1B/OF Trey Cabbage - 4th round pick in 2015 from high school in Tennessee. Broke out early in Cedar Rapids in 2019 and showed some of his immense power potential in 2019. 2020 was a big year for him as he was starting to really come into his own. Hopefully that can happen in 2021.1B Zander Wiel - Twins 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt. Wiel wasn’t added or selected after his 2019 season in Rochester in which he hit 40 doubles and 24 home runs. He was invited to Twins spring training and performed well. He also spent the 2020 season at the Twins alternate site in 2020.Others in their first year of eligibility:Tyler Benninghoff, David Banuelos, Andrew Bechtold, Mark Contreras, Ernie De La Trinidad, Calvin Faucher, Jordan Gore, Derek Molina, Ricky Ramirez, Joe Record, Yeremi De La Cruz, Jesus Feliz, Osiris German, Jimmy Kerrigan, Michael Montero, Junior Navas, Daniel Ozoria, Ruben Santana, Jesus Toledo, Janigson Villalobos.Others returning to Rule 5 eligibility after 2020.Melvi Acosta, Adam Bray, Yeltsin Encarnacion, Zach Featherstone,Tom Hackimer, Caleb Hamilton, Hector Lujan, Ryan Mason, Alex Robinson, Carlos Suniaga, Tyler Watson, Lachlan Wells, Aaron Whitefield.SUMMARY The Twins again have several interesting options for guys who could be added to the 40-man roster or potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Like the rest of the offseason, it’s hard to feel confident about anything that’s going to happens and that includes what the Rule 5 draft might look like. PREDICTION If forced to make an official prediction, I think that the Twins will only add Jordan Balazovic and Ben Rortvedt to the 40-man roster in two weeks. Balazovic is the given. I just think that having strong catchers is important, and Rortvedt fits that category with his defense, and there is still offensive potential too. I think they’ll be busy in free agency and will want those roster spots available to them. They may be busy with trades too, including some of these players mentioned on the Possibles list. What do you think? Click here to view the article
  9. Last month, Twins Daily ranked infielder Jose Miranda as the Twins #20 prospect. Last week, he arrived in Ft. Myers for his fourth spring training. Twins Daily caught up with the slugger to discuss several topics including being drafted, his strengths, what he’s working on, and his world-famous cousin.Along with his work in preparation for his 2020 baseball seasons, Jose Miranda also got to spend a little time with his cousin, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Yes, the same Lin-Manuel Miranda who won awards for his Broadway play In the Heights and later gained international renown for writing and starring in the immensely popular play Hamilton. According to Jose Miranda, “My dad is his dad’s cousin.” While they have only met and conversed a handful of times (the 40-year-old Lin-Manuel grew up in New York but frequently visited Puerto Rico), they had a nice chat this past offseason. “He’s friendly, humble. If you see him, you would never guess he was famous like that.” Photo by Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY “I like music. Not into singing or doing some instrumental, but I like reggaeton, music in Spanish.” Jose Miranda then added, “Sports was my primary thing since growing.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jose Miranda grew up in Puerto Rico. He was born in the village of Manati in the north central part of the island. He said he spent one semester of his ninth grade year with his mom in Miami. He returned to Puerto Rico and attended Leadership Christian Academy in Guaynabo, a city just south and west of San Juan and just east of Bayamon. Miranda became well-known as a baseball prospect nationally. He had a pretty good sense of where he might be drafted, and thought he knew which teams were most likely to select him. “I was expecting to go in the second round or the third round. I had communications with three or four teams. I think the Twins weren’t the favorites. I thought I was going to go to the Phillies or the Blue Jays. They were talking to me more.” A lot of times, teams will know who they want and then try to act as if they are uninterested, hoping that the player will get to them. The Twins were thrilled that Miranda was still available when they made their first of two straight Competitive Balance picks after the second round of the 2016 draft. As Twins Hall of Famer Brad Radke said that night, “With the 73rd selection of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Minnesota Twins select Jose Miranda, a shortstop from Leadership Christian Academy, Puerto Rico.” Of that night, Miranda noted, “That was my first goal. I worked so hard for that. I wanted to be in the first few rounds. My senior year, I was just working out, working out, working out, working out, playing, playing, and then I got called, and my dream came true, and now my dream is to get to the bigs.” Because of uncertainty in where he might be drafted, the Miranda family did not have a big party. The first two rounds and the Competitive Balance picks are made on the first night of the draft. The third round through the tenth round picks are made on Day 2. So Miranda was at home with his dad and his grandma. However, news of his selection traveled quickly. “My phone blew up. Texts from everyone. Twitter. Instagram.” One pick later, the Twins selected outfielder Akil Baddoo with the 74th pick, the fourth straight high school hitter that the Twins drafted that year. The Twins had drafted outfielder Alex Kirilloff with the 15th overall pick. Their second-round pick was catcher Ben Rortvedt. The group remains close. “We communicate, and we talk a lot. We’re friends.. I talk more with Akil Baddoo, but I talk to every one of those guys. They’re super cool, and they like to work.” ------------------------------------------------------------------ There is a pride that you hear in the voice of players who grew up in Puerto Rico. And the Twins have drafted and signed many players from Puerto Rico. In talking to Jose Miranda, it is quite clear he is proud to be from Puerto Rico. “For me, if I was born again, I’d want to be born in Puerto Rico. It’s my island. It’s where I grew up. I love it. My family is there. It's such a small island. Everyone is rooting for you when you’re here. I love it. ” The Puerto Rican players will often get together for dinners or just hang out and talk about baseball. Having that support from the players who have made it to the big leagues and from the island is motivating. “It’s a motivating thing because we know they were here before. They went from the minors, from rookie ball to the bigs. They tell us, you’ve got to trust the process, and if you do things right, you will get promoted to the bigs. One day, you’re going to play up here with us. That’s the main goal. Jose Miranda has been moving up the Twins organizational ladder one level at a time. Following the draft, he played 55 games for the GCL Twins. In 2017, he played in 54 games for the Elizabethton Twins and hit .283 with eight doubles and 11 home runs. He moved up to full-season ball in 2018. He played in 104 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He hit .277/.326/.434 (.760) with 22 doubles and 13 home runs. He ended the season with 27 games in Ft. Myers where he helped the Miracle to the Florida State League championship. He began 2019 with the MIracle. In 118 games, he hit .248/.299/.364 (.663) with 25 doubles and eight home runs. Statistics in the Florida State League always have to be taken with a grain of salt, especially with a 21-year-old. “It’s pretty hard. Sometimes you hit some balls that you think are going to go or they’re going to fall, but they get there and they catch them. Sometimes you get frustrated, but it just is what it is. It’s a tough league, but you have to live with it.” That’s where a player needs more than just tools and physical strength. It’s where players can get challenged with the mental aspects of the game. “Just got to stay hard in your mind, strong. Just stay positive. Keep working. You’ve just got to keep working, and you can’t stop working.” Starting pitchers Jordan Balazovic and Dakota Chalmers were promoted from Ft. Myers to Pensacola for their playoff run. Jose Miranda was the lone hitter that was promoted for the Southern League playoffs. He went 3-for-5 with a double in his one regular season game. Then in five playoff games for the Blue Wahoos, Miranda hit .368/.429/.526 (.955). “I think I had a little more confidence going into the offseason. In my mind, I was like, at least I finished in Double-A. It was a little jump. It was at the end, but I finished at Double-A.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------- In his career, Miranda has split time between third base and second base, with an occasional game played at shortstop. However, he has begun to play more third base. While his third base-second base mix was about 50/50 in 2018, he played third base nearly two-thirds of the time in 2019. Most scouts believe that is the position he is most likely to play. For his part, Miranda doesn’t mind playing either position. “I feel comfortable at both. If you can tell me now which one I want to play, I don’t have an answer right now. I like to play both, or all three. I like to play shortstop too. But right now it’s more third and second. Whatever they want me to play, I’ll play it.” ----------------------------------------------------------------- 2020 will be a big year for Jose Miranda. Following the season, he will be Rule 5 draft-eligible if he is not added to the Twins 40-man roster. To prepare for the season, he really worked hard. “First of all, I was working on my body because I wanted to lose some weight. Last year I felt a little sloppy, a little slow. So I told my trainer we had to work on my weight to get a little faster, to gain a little agility. And then my swing, and my swing mechanics.” When asked for his goals, he didn’t mention numbers and statistics. “One of my main goals is just to stay healthy for the whole year. Stay healthy, and then control what I can control.” Off the field, Miranda has some very exciting news as well. He will soon become a father. “We’re having a baby. Super exciting.” Miranda’s girlfriend is due in April. She is in Puerto Rico but hopefully about a month after the baby is born, mother and child will come to the States to be with Jose. A big year indeed! Click here to view the article
  10. Along with his work in preparation for his 2020 baseball seasons, Jose Miranda also got to spend a little time with his cousin, Lin-Manuel Miranda. Yes, the same Lin-Manuel Miranda who won awards for his Broadway play In the Heights and later gained international renown for writing and starring in the immensely popular play Hamilton. According to Jose Miranda, “My dad is his dad’s cousin.” While they have only met and conversed a handful of times (the 40-year-old Lin-Manuel grew up in New York but frequently visited Puerto Rico), they had a nice chat this past offseason. “He’s friendly, humble. If you see him, you would never guess he was famous like that.” Photo by Hannah Gaber-USA TODAY “I like music. Not into singing or doing some instrumental, but I like reggaeton, music in Spanish.” Jose Miranda then added, “Sports was my primary thing since growing.” ---------------------------------------------------------------------------------- Jose Miranda grew up in Puerto Rico. He was born in the village of Manati in the north central part of the island. He said he spent one semester of his ninth grade year with his mom in Miami. He returned to Puerto Rico and attended Leadership Christian Academy in Guaynabo, a city just south and west of San Juan and just east of Bayamon. Miranda became well-known as a baseball prospect nationally. He had a pretty good sense of where he might be drafted, and thought he knew which teams were most likely to select him. “I was expecting to go in the second round or the third round. I had communications with three or four teams. I think the Twins weren’t the favorites. I thought I was going to go to the Phillies or the Blue Jays. They were talking to me more.” A lot of times, teams will know who they want and then try to act as if they are uninterested, hoping that the player will get to them. The Twins were thrilled that Miranda was still available when they made their first of two straight Competitive Balance picks after the second round of the 2016 draft. As Twins Hall of Famer Brad Radke said that night, “With the 73rd selection of the 2016 MLB Draft, the Minnesota Twins select Jose Miranda, a shortstop from Leadership Christian Academy, Puerto Rico.” Of that night, Miranda noted, “That was my first goal. I worked so hard for that. I wanted to be in the first few rounds. My senior year, I was just working out, working out, working out, working out, playing, playing, and then I got called, and my dream came true, and now my dream is to get to the bigs.” Because of uncertainty in where he might be drafted, the Miranda family did not have a big party. The first two rounds and the Competitive Balance picks are made on the first night of the draft. The third round through the tenth round picks are made on Day 2. So Miranda was at home with his dad and his grandma. However, news of his selection traveled quickly. “My phone blew up. Texts from everyone. Twitter. Instagram.” One pick later, the Twins selected outfielder Akil Baddoo with the 74th pick, the fourth straight high school hitter that the Twins drafted that year. The Twins had drafted outfielder Alex Kirilloff with the 15th overall pick. Their second-round pick was catcher Ben Rortvedt. The group remains close. “We communicate, and we talk a lot. We’re friends.. I talk more with Akil Baddoo, but I talk to every one of those guys. They’re super cool, and they like to work.” ------------------------------------------------------------------ There is a pride that you hear in the voice of players who grew up in Puerto Rico. And the Twins have drafted and signed many players from Puerto Rico. In talking to Jose Miranda, it is quite clear he is proud to be from Puerto Rico. “For me, if I was born again, I’d want to be born in Puerto Rico. It’s my island. It’s where I grew up. I love it. My family is there. It's such a small island. Everyone is rooting for you when you’re here. I love it. ” The Puerto Rican players will often get together for dinners or just hang out and talk about baseball. Having that support from the players who have made it to the big leagues and from the island is motivating. “It’s a motivating thing because we know they were here before. They went from the minors, from rookie ball to the bigs. They tell us, you’ve got to trust the process, and if you do things right, you will get promoted to the bigs. One day, you’re going to play up here with us. That’s the main goal. Jose Miranda has been moving up the Twins organizational ladder one level at a time. Following the draft, he played 55 games for the GCL Twins. In 2017, he played in 54 games for the Elizabethton Twins and hit .283 with eight doubles and 11 home runs. He moved up to full-season ball in 2018. He played in 104 games with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He hit .277/.326/.434 (.760) with 22 doubles and 13 home runs. He ended the season with 27 games in Ft. Myers where he helped the Miracle to the Florida State League championship. He began 2019 with the MIracle. In 118 games, he hit .248/.299/.364 (.663) with 25 doubles and eight home runs. Statistics in the Florida State League always have to be taken with a grain of salt, especially with a 21-year-old. “It’s pretty hard. Sometimes you hit some balls that you think are going to go or they’re going to fall, but they get there and they catch them. Sometimes you get frustrated, but it just is what it is. It’s a tough league, but you have to live with it.” That’s where a player needs more than just tools and physical strength. It’s where players can get challenged with the mental aspects of the game. “Just got to stay hard in your mind, strong. Just stay positive. Keep working. You’ve just got to keep working, and you can’t stop working.” Starting pitchers Jordan Balazovic and Dakota Chalmers were promoted from Ft. Myers to Pensacola for their playoff run. Jose Miranda was the lone hitter that was promoted for the Southern League playoffs. He went 3-for-5 with a double in his one regular season game. Then in five playoff games for the Blue Wahoos, Miranda hit .368/.429/.526 (.955). “I think I had a little more confidence going into the offseason. In my mind, I was like, at least I finished in Double-A. It was a little jump. It was at the end, but I finished at Double-A.” ------------------------------------------------------------------------- In his career, Miranda has split time between third base and second base, with an occasional game played at shortstop. However, he has begun to play more third base. While his third base-second base mix was about 50/50 in 2018, he played third base nearly two-thirds of the time in 2019. Most scouts believe that is the position he is most likely to play. For his part, Miranda doesn’t mind playing either position. “I feel comfortable at both. If you can tell me now which one I want to play, I don’t have an answer right now. I like to play both, or all three. I like to play shortstop too. But right now it’s more third and second. Whatever they want me to play, I’ll play it.” ----------------------------------------------------------------- 2020 will be a big year for Jose Miranda. Following the season, he will be Rule 5 draft-eligible if he is not added to the Twins 40-man roster. To prepare for the season, he really worked hard. “First of all, I was working on my body because I wanted to lose some weight. Last year I felt a little sloppy, a little slow. So I told my trainer we had to work on my weight to get a little faster, to gain a little agility. And then my swing, and my swing mechanics.” When asked for his goals, he didn’t mention numbers and statistics. “One of my main goals is just to stay healthy for the whole year. Stay healthy, and then control what I can control.” Off the field, Miranda has some very exciting news as well. He will soon become a father. “We’re having a baby. Super exciting.” Miranda’s girlfriend is due in April. She is in Puerto Rico but hopefully about a month after the baby is born, mother and child will come to the States to be with Jose. A big year indeed!
  11. Before we look at the 2020 Honorable Mentions, a quick look at last year’s Honorable Mentions shows that 2019 Twins Top Rookie Luis Arraez was mentioned, referred to as a “Hit Machine.” Also, Jordan Balazovic went from Honorable Mention to, well, you’ll see him profiled soon. So which players who received votes this year will climb the prospect ladder in 2020? ALREADY DEBUTED Four players who made their MLB debuts in 2019. These players may not have super-stardom in their futures, but as we saw last year, they absolutely can be contributors to winning teams. Randy Dobnak went from non-drafted free agent who spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids to a guy who pitched well at four levels in the Twins system in 2019, including at the big league level, on his way to the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Likewise, Devin Smeltzer pitched in some big games and performed well at various times throughout the year. LaMonte Wade debuted mid-summer, and after an injury, he played most every day in September. Hard-throwing Jorge Alcala moved from a starting role to the bullpen late in the season and received a mid-September promotion to the big leagues. OTHERS ON 40-MAN ROSTER Along with those four players, a few other Honorable Mention players are on the Twins 40-man roster. Nick Gordon was added after the 2018 season. This past November, the Twins added Luke Raley and Dakota Chalmers to their 40-man roster, putting them one call away from the big leagues. In addition, Luis Rijo and Griffin Jax were two guys that Twins fans (and probably the Twins too) were worried about potentially losing in the Rule 5 draft. They were not selected, but as we know, both have the potential to move up this list. RETURNING FROM INJURIES Injuries are a part of the game, any game, and several Twins prospects fought injuries in 2019. Injuries can mean missed time and fewer development opportunities. They can sometimes be played through and affect performance. Ben Rortvedt suffered a knee injury late in the season, but he had surgery and should return at 100% in 2020. Akil Baddoo’s season ended in mid-May. He had Tommy John surgery and is excited to return to the field. Nick Gordon’s season started late due to a stomach ailment. His season ended early because of a knee injury. In between, he played well in Rochester. Luke Raley got off to a fast start for the Red Wings in April but at the end of the month he hurt his ankle and had surgery. He returned for the Arizona Fall League. Bailey Ober fought elbow injuries at times during the season, but when he took the mound, he was great. Yunior Severino fractured his thumb early in the season for Cedar Rapids. He was able to return in August. And Dakota Chalmers returned in the second half from his Tommy John surgery. You see the names, and you know several of them were previously Top 20 prospects, some even Top 10 guys. If healthy, their talent could push them quickly back up the rankings. WE HARDLY KNOW YE Spencer Steer had a strong first impression in pro ball. The Twins third-round pick from Oregon played for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in his debut. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins organization along with Sergio Romo (and cash) from the Miami Marlins for Lewin Diaz at the trade deadline. He’s got a big fastball and a solid pitch mix. Willie Joe Garry was a Twins draft pick in 2018 out of high school from Mississippi. He is a tremendous athlete with great speed and improving power. He’s got all the tools and is one to watch in 2020. DEADLINE TRADES 2018 The Twins were not good in 2018, and at the deadline, the front office traded several expiring contracts (and 1 1/4 seasons of Ryan Pressly) for a plethora of prospects. A couple of those prospects will be profiled later in this series, but a lot of them received votes and would appear in the 21 through 35 range of Twins prospect. Clearly that flurry of trade activity has much helped the Twins' prospect depth. From the Dodgers for Brian Dozier, the Twins received both Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley. From the Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar, the Twins received Gabriel Maciel. From the Yankees for Lance Lynn, the Twins received Luis Rijo. From the Astros for Ryan Pressly, the Twins acquired Jorge Alcala. From the A’s for Fernando Rodney, the Twins acquired Dakota Chalmers. Tomorrow, we will begin our look into the Top 20 Twins prospects with prospects 16-20. Be sure to check every day to see where your favorite Twins prospects rank. And feel free to ask questions and leave your comments below. 2020 MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECT HANDBOOK For more information on these Honorable Mentions, pick up a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF (for immediate download). Order your copies today! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Over the next couple of weeks, Twins Daily will be counting down our Top 20 Minnesota Twins Prospects. We start today by discussing several Honorable Mentions, guys who received votes but finished outside the Top 20. Today’s players illustrates the depth that is developing in the organization.Before we look at the 2020 Honorable Mentions, a quick look at last year’s Honorable Mentions shows that 2019 Twins Top Rookie Luis Arraez was mentioned, referred to as a “Hit Machine.” Also, Jordan Balazovic went from Honorable Mention to, well, you’ll see him profiled soon. So which players who received votes this year will climb the prospect ladder in 2020? ALREADY DEBUTED Four players who made their MLB debuts in 2019. These players may not have super-stardom in their futures, but as we saw last year, they absolutely can be contributors to winning teams. Randy Dobnak went from non-drafted free agent who spent all of 2018 in Cedar Rapids to a guy who pitched well at four levels in the Twins system in 2019, including at the big league level, on his way to the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Likewise, Devin Smeltzer pitched in some big games and performed wellat various times throughout the year. LaMonte Wade debutedmid-summer, and after an injury, he played most every day in September. Hard-throwing Jorge Alcala moved from a starting role to the bullpen late in the season and received a mid-September promotion to the big leagues. OTHERS ON 40-MAN ROSTER Along with those four players, a few other Honorable Mention players are on the Twins 40-man roster. Nick Gordon was added after the 2018 season. This past November, the Twins added Luke Raley and Dakota Chalmers to their 40-man roster, putting them one call away from the big leagues. In addition, Luis Rijo and Griffin Jax were two guys that Twins fans (and probably the Twins too) were worried about potentially losing in the Rule 5 draft. They were not selected, but as we know, both have the potential to move up this list. RETURNING FROM INJURIES Injuries are a part of the game, any game, and several Twins prospects fought injuries in 2019. Injuries can mean missed time and fewer development opportunities. They can sometimes be played through and affect performance. Ben Rortvedt suffered a knee injury late in the season, but he had surgery and should return at 100% in 2020. Akil Baddoo’s season ended in mid-May. He had Tommy John surgery and is excited to return to the field. Nick Gordon’s season started late due to a stomach ailment. His season ended early because of a knee injury. In between, he played well in Rochester. Luke Raley got off to a fast start for the Red Wings in April but at the end of the month he hurt his ankle and had surgery. He returned for the Arizona Fall League. Bailey Ober fought elbow injuries at times during the season, but when he took the mound, he was great. Yunior Severino fractured his thumb early in the season for Cedar Rapids. He was able to return in August. And Dakota Chalmers returned in the second half from his Tommy John surgery. You see the names, and you know several of them were previously Top 20 prospects, some even Top 10 guys. If healthy, their talent could push them quickly back up the rankings. WE HARDLY KNOW YE Spencer Steer had a strong first impression in pro ball. The Twins third-round pick from Oregon played for Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in his debut. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins organization along with Sergio Romo (and cash) from the Miami Marlins for Lewin Diaz at the trade deadline. He’s got a big fastball and a solid pitch mix. Willie Joe Garry was a Twins draft pick in 2018 out of high school from Mississippi. He is a tremendous athlete with great speed and improving power. He’s got all the tools and is one to watch in 2020. DEADLINE TRADES 2018 The Twins were not good in 2018, and at the deadline, the front office traded several expiring contracts (and 1 1/4 seasons of Ryan Pressly) for a plethora of prospects. A couple of those prospects will be profiled later in this series, but a lot of them received votes and would appear in the 21 through 35 range of Twins prospect. Clearly that flurry of trade activity has much helped the Twins' prospect depth. From the Dodgers for Brian Dozier, the Twins received both Devin Smeltzer and Luke Raley. From the Diamondbacks for Eduardo Escobar, the Twins received Gabriel Maciel. From the Yankees for Lance Lynn, the Twins received Luis Rijo. From the Astros for Ryan Pressly, the Twins acquired Jorge Alcala. From the A’s for Fernando Rodney, the Twins acquired Dakota Chalmers. Tomorrow, we will begin our look into the Top 20 Twins prospects with prospects 16-20. Be sure to check every day to see where your favorite Twins prospects rank. And feel free to ask questions and leave your comments below. 2020 MINNESOTA TWINS PROSPECT HANDBOOK For more information on these Honorable Mentions, pick up a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF(for immediate download). Order your copies today! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  13. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall) Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion. In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1184302618157338625 Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game. Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded. After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time. To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall) Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall) Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week. He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat: 2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead. 3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead. 5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River. 7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night. https://twitter.com/JonathanMayo/status/1185760714591367168 In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall) The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out. In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall) Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week. -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday. https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1186706048989585408 -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  14. The Salt River Rafters finished week five of the Arizona Fall League season with a 3-3 record that kept themselves atop the East division standings. After a big week four that saw him collect several accolades, Royce Lewis finally appeared somewhat human, but Luke Raley more than picked up the slack with a monster week that could go a long way toward his 2020 prospects with the big-league club. Dakota Chalmers also had another strong start and reliever Zach Neff continued to baffle his opponents with his savvy. Continue reading to see just how big Raley came up for the Rafters, and how all the #MNTwinsInTheAFL performed in week 5 of the AFL season! (This report includes the games played through 10/20)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall) Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion. In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak: Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game. Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded. After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time. To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall) Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall) Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week. He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat: 2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead. 3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead. 5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River. 7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night. In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall) The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out. In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall) Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week. -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday. -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  15. Week four of the AFL season was likely the most interesting to the casual prospect follower, as it featured the circuit’s all-star showcase on Saturday, where the Minnesota Twins top prospect cemented his status with an MVP performance. In the other games during the week the Salt River Rafters went 2-2 to maintain their lead in the East division. That top prospect also continued an impressive hit streak, while the pitchers were a mixed bag. To find out how all your #MNTwinsInTheAFL prospects performed on the week, keep reading! (This report includes the games played through 10/13)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall) Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday. Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single. While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded. In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game. In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman. While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall) Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth. Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play. Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win. In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall) The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall) Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone. The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner. -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game. -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  16. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall) Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday. Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single. https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1181784345494712321 While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded. In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game. In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1183208852595961858 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman. While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall) Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth. Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play. Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win. In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall) The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall) Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone. The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner. -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game. -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  17. The Salt River Rafters went 4-1 on the week in the Arizona Fall League and enter week four with the best record in the league and with a two-and-a-half game lead in the East division. Royce Lewis continued to stand out as a hitter and got some more time in the outfield on the week, while a starting pitcher also had a fantastic outing while showcasing his big fastball. Multiple Twins prospects were also named to the East roster of the Fall Stars Game that will be played on Saturday at the Rafters home ballpark. Keep reading to find out how all the #MNTwinsInTheAFL fared on the week! (This report includes the games played through 10/6)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall) It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game. He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback. While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7. Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early. With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games. This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall) After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale. He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day. In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall) While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs. Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning. In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall) The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday. He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall) Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts. His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall) Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season. In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field. It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up). -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday: Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  18. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall) It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game. He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback. While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7. Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early. With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games. This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1181784345494712321 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall) After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale. He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day. In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall) While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs. Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning. In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall) The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday. He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall) Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts. His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall) Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season. In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field. It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up). -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1181642442316992512 Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  19. In week 2 of the Arizona Fall League season, the Salt River Rafters went 4-1 to end the week tied atop the East Division standings at 6-4. After coming out scorching hot in the seasons first week, Royce Lewis continued that in week two with his bat while also adding his speed on the basepaths to the display of tools he’s shown thus far in the desert. Along with Lewis, a pitcher may have started making a name for himself with a level of efficiency and dominance on the week that’s quite eye-opening.To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall) Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale. He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended. After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3: In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways. In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward. That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day. He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts. He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching. He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall) Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other. In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one. That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River. Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall) Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame. In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that. Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall) Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa. He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts. On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches. If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with. Other AFL and Minor League Links -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall) -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development) Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  20. To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall) Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale. He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended. After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1178155779427164160 In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways. In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward. That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day. He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts. He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching. He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall) Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other. In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one. That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River. Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall) Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame. In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that. Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall) Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa. He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts. On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches. If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with. Other AFL and Minor League Links -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall) -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development) Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  21. The first week of the AFL season is in the books, and boy was it a good one from one of the games' top prospects. After somewhat of a down year with his bat, Royce Lewis showed there’s still a lot of promise there with multiple big games. He also showed off his defensive chops with a spectacular catch…as an outfielder. In addition to Lewis’ big week, a pitcher also made a strong impression in his first start, and a catcher continued to show why he’s so highly regarded as a defensive backstop.Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall) Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season. Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other. He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run: After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game. In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall) Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall) Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game. In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made. I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall) Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week. In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game. In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall). Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings. He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall). The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out. In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall). The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona. -For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline: Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  22. Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall) Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season. Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other. He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1174876147072425984 After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game. In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run: https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1175947963769774085 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall) Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall) Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game. In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made. I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall) Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week. In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game. In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall). Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings. He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall). The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out. In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall). The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona. -For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1175926873135534080 Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  23. Each MLB team typically sends seven players to the AFL (there are exceptions), and they are split up amongst the six teams that make up the league. The Minnesota Twins prospects will again be on the roster of the Salt River Rafters, with pitchers Dakota Chalmers, Moises Gomez, Jovani Moran, and Zach Neff being joined by position players Royce Lewis, Ben Rortvedt, and Luke Raley. It will be Raley’s second time going to the AFL, though his season was cut short there in 2018. They will join prospects from the rosters of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays. Last season, the Twins were represented in the AFL by pitchers Adam Bray, Griffin Jax, Hector Lujan, and Devin Smeltzer with position players Travis Blankenhorn, Jaylin Davis, and Luke Raley joining them (Brent Rooker was supposed to be there but ended up being kept out due to injury). Devin Smeltzer and Jaylin Davis went on from the AFL to make their major league debut during the 2019 season, though in Davis’ case it was with the San Francisco Giants and not the Twins. Each week I’ll be recapping the action for all the Twins representatives during their time in the desert of Arizona, so who are the players they sent? How have their careers gone thus far and what will I be looking for from each of them in the AFL as we head into October? 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospects in the AFL: — Royce Lewis, IF (20 years old) The number one overall selection from the 2017 draft began his professional career by excelling in his first two seasons all the way up to the high-A level and validating his status as an elite prospect. While he continued his ascent to Double-A during the 2019 season, it could be considered one where he endured his first real struggles. His OPS on the season was just .661 while he had gone .788 and .803 the years prior. It hasn’t affected his stock too much among prospect evaluators, as he still remains a top-20 prospect on multiple lists and will show you flashes of all his tools when you watch him play, but it’s also typical for a top prospect to go through some growing pains when pushed until they’re challenged. Beginning the season as a 19-year old, Lewis was the second youngest player in the Florida State League, and he continued to be near the top of the Double-A list when he was promoted to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, resulting in him not taking an at-bat against a younger pitcher the entire season. A large reason for the drop in overall numbers this year was his struggles against same-sided pitchers. While he crushed lefties to the tune of a .315/.351/.500 triple slash line, that dipped to .211/.271/.331 against right-handers. His only month of the season where his OPS was above .700 was July, where it was a solid .788. The AFL will be a great environment for Lewis to finish his 2019 season, among his top prospect peers where he can continue to learn and be challenged. Despite him being a shortstop to this point in his career, what would not surprise me given how AFL rosters are put together and utilized, is if Lewis spends most of his time on the diamonds in Arizona elsewhere, whether at other infield spots or the outfield (as of publishing this article, Lewis is the starting third baseman in the season opener). — Ben Rortvedt, C (21 - turns 22 on 9/25) It took a few seasons for Rortvedt’s bat to start showing it’s potential to go along with his strong defense behind the plate, but that changed some during the 2018 season where he had an OPS of .710 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Fort Myers. He then came out hot to start the 2019 season with the Miracle and after just 24 games moved up to the Blue Wahoos. He was a monster with his bat over the first two months of the season, hitting a combined .274/.377/.487 through 35 games, but cooled off as the season wore on by hitting just .213/.302/.300 after that. He did maintain a strong walk rate throughout the year however, as he drew a free pass in 11.9% of his plate appearances. Before the year started, he also was somewhat of a poster-boy for the Minnesota Twins seemingly unorthodox catcher development program pointed out during spring training, and that’s because he was already a stellar defender employing some of those practices. He’s thrown out 43% of basestealers over his career but was even better than that in 2019 by catching 30 out of 58 attempts (52%). He gets rave reviews for his receiving and even if the bat never becomes more than average, that defense would make him a strong backup catching option for the Twins in the future. Rortvedt is the exact type of player I think the AFL is perfect for. A prospect at the high-levels of the minors that can contribute soon, playing a demanding position with a bunch of his peers that he can talk shop with, and his parent MLB team perhaps needing another option in the near future. While he likely won’t alter any internal opinions unless he torches the league, Rortvedt can establish himself high on the depth chart in 2020 when a need behind the plate arises in the majors with a strong showing. — Dakota Chalmers, RHP (22 - turns 23 on 10/8) Chalmers came to the organization at the 2018 deadline when the Twins sent Fernando Rodney to the Oakland Athletics. He didn’t pitch for the Twins until late this year however as he had undergone Tommy John surgery before he was acquired. He can throw in the upper 90’s and has a swing-and-miss breaking ball that can give opposing hitters fits —when he throws them for strikes, which has been his battle as a prospect thus far. While he struck out 12.5/9IP in his 34 2/3 innings this season, he also walked 6.0/9IP and is likely his biggest emphasis in the AFL this fall. There’re a couple of categories Chalmers falls into as a prospect heading to the AFL, those being he needs to throw some innings to make up development time, and also needs protecting on the 40-man roster if the Twins don’t want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft this December. He’s probably the only pitching prospect from the Twins that could make traditional starts for the Rafters this season, and will look to build upon the success he had with Fort Myers in his final three starts where he was 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA and .440 OPS against in 16 1/3 innings where he struck out 23 and walked seven. — Moises Gomez, RHP (22) Gomez came in a number three on Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year award balloting on the strength of a fantastic season spent between the Kernels and Miracle. In 32 appearances he pitched 52 2/3 innings, allowing just 28 hits and 21 base on balls while striking out 78 (13.3/9IP). He surrendered just a .155 batting average against and racked up 10 saves. As an international signing during the 2014 season, Gomez will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason. While I don’t think he’s a large risk to lose as he’s only reached high-A to this point, the AFL will serve as a good barometer for if the Twins will push him to start the 2020 season. The Twins have seen plenty of relievers rise from Double-A (or even Fort Myers) to the majors the past two seasons, and Gomez could be one to watch for next year. — Luke Raley, OF (25 as of 9/19) It will be the second year in a row in the AFL for Raley, but hopefully this time he’ll be able to stick around a bit longer as his time there was finished after just four games in 2018. Raley was perhaps the prospect center piece (at the time) of the Twins trade of Brian Dozier to the Dodgers that also brought in Devin Smeltzer, and that was due to the breakout of his bat. His 2019 season in Triple-A was cut very short thanks to an ankle injury that kept him out from May until August, when he returned only to play a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. He was a force in the middle of the Red Wings lineup at the beginning of the year, clubbing seven home runs in 33 games while batting above .300. Despite being on the bigger side, Raley is able to sneak up on opponents with his overall athleticism and is a solid corner outfield defender with a strong arm. He’ll rack up a healthy amount of strikeouts with a big swing geared for power, but also shows a good approach at the plate and attacks pitches he can mash. He’s another guy that is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December in an organization full of young outfielders, so if he’s going to earn a 40-man roster spot he likely needs to take advantage of his time in Arizona and work himself back into the grind of a season. — Jovani Moran, LHP (22) Moran is a bit of a personal favorite of mine, stemming back to his 2017 and 2018 seasons where he struck out every hitter he faced in the Applachian, Midwest, and Florida State Leagues. That’s a slight exaggeration, but for any pure reliever to strike out 16.4/9IP or over 100 hitters in the course of a season in the minors is impressive. He was the runner-up to Andrew Vasquez in our 2018 Relief Pitcher of the Year award, and while he wasn’t as impressive during 2019 at Double-A there was still a lot to like. He struck out 50 in 34 1/3 innings (13.1/9IP) and after a rough May that resulted in a month-long trip to the injured list, he returned to his dominant ways. From his return on July 5th through the end of the season he posted a 2.78 ERA, .550 OPS against, and struck out 30 over 22 2/3 innings. He had reigned in his control with Fort Myers to end 2018 with a 2.3BB/9IP walk-rate in his time there, but it jumped to a career high 6.0BB/9IP in 2019. He’ll need to work on getting that control back in the AFL, a league where that problem could be magnified by the skill level of his competition. He’s demonstrated he can miss bats with all of his pitches due to the movement he gets and may just need to learn that he can also get away with that inside the strike zone, as he’s allowed only six home runs in 158 career innings. Moran will also be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but as a pitcher who doesn’t bring elite velocity, I find it unlikely for him to be picked unless he blows hitters away in the AFL like he has in the past. But of course, if he does that it wouldn’t surprise me that he gets protected. — Zach Neff, LHP (23) Neff was drafted by the Twins in the 31st round of the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State after spending his first three seasons in college at Austin Peay and worked his way up to Fort Myers during the 2019 season. He also appeared at #5 in our Relief Pitcher of the Year voting for his efforts. He’s not overpowering by any means with a fastball that flirts around 90MPH, but still managed to post a strong strikeout rate of 11.0/9IP on the year thanks to a solid three-pitch mix. As a left-handed pitcher you might expect him to rack up most of his numbers against same-sided hitters, but he actually fared better against righties with a .569 OPS allowed vs. .622 against lefties. Neff is an intriguing choice to send to the AFL, as it will be by far the stiffest competition he has faced and is not eligible for the Rule 5 draft until the 2021 season, but as a 23-year old with four years of collegiate experience it shouldn’t be a huge adjustment. I’ll be watching to see if he can pitch himself to Double-A to start the 2020 season, or if he’ll end up back in Fort Myers to keep improving. Good luck to all seven of the Minnesota Twins prospects participating in the AFL this year, and I’m looking forward to following along with everyone here at Twins Daily! Hopefully Lewis and company can push Salt River to the championship game again this season! I’ll be doing a recap of everyone’s performance on a weekly basis, but if there is anything specific you would like to see included in these recaps, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to see if I can work them in. If you’d like to get an idea of what to expect, here is the final recap from the 2018 AFL season. Other AFL and Minor League Links: - With the MiLB seasons coming to a close in September, Baseball America released several postseason lists, including: Classification All-Stars (Jaylin Davis, Devin Smeltzer, Lewin Diaz, Trevor Larnach, and Cody Laweryson are included) Twins Minor League Player of the Year (Trevor Larnach) Overall MiLB All-Star Team (Trevor Larnach makes 2nd team) - MLB.com also released their end of year Top 100 prospect list. Twins included are Royce Lewis (#9), Alex Kirilloff (#16), Brusdar Graterol (#54), Jordan Balazovic (#77), and Trevor Larnach (#78). -MLB Pipeline also put out a list of the top prospect each team has sent to the AFL, with Royce Lewis represented for the Twins and is one of two former #1 overall picks playing this season (Mickey Moniak) -On 9/19 MLB/MiLB.com also put out a list of sleeper prospects for each team in the AFL, highlighting Ben Rortvedt for the Twins and his arm to throw out runners. -Recap and interview with Royce Lewis after his big game on Thursday night that included: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1174879659030245376 Please feel free to ask any questions about the AFL or the players who are there!
  24. As of your reading of this article, the Arizona Fall League season has gotten underway for the 2019 season. If you’re thinking that seems a bit early, you are not mistaken as the schedule has been changed to closer align with the end of the minor league seasons and major league playoff schedules in October. They’ve also added a wrinkle where the AFL teams will face off against Mexican League teams from September 24th through October 5th. For anyone who doesn’t know, the Arizona Fall League is a short-season circuit where every team in major league baseball sends some of their prospects in October. It is often used as a proving ground for players looking to take the final steps to their MLB dreams. Many of the top prospects in baseball play here every season looking to make a final impression for a call-up next year, but there are also many experienced minor leaguers at the upper levels that are evaluated for protection on the 40-man roster, and those trying to make up some development time after an injury. These minor league games in October can determine a lot going into the next MLB season for these players and MLB rosters, and that’s why I love following the league so closely.Each MLB team typically sends seven players to the AFL (there are exceptions), and they are split up amongst the six teams that make up the league. The Minnesota Twins prospects will again be on the roster of the Salt River Rafters, with pitchers Dakota Chalmers, Moises Gomez, Jovani Moran, and Zach Neff being joined by position players Royce Lewis, Ben Rortvedt, and Luke Raley. It will be Raley’s second time going to the AFL, though his season was cut short there in 2018. They will join prospects from the rosters of the Arizona Diamondbacks, Colorado Rockies, Miami Marlins, and Tampa Bay Rays. Last season, the Twins were represented in the AFL by pitchers Adam Bray, Griffin Jax, Hector Lujan, and Devin Smeltzer with position players Travis Blankenhorn, Jaylin Davis, and Luke Raley joining them (Brent Rooker was supposed to be there but ended up being kept out due to injury). Devin Smeltzer and Jaylin Davis went on from the AFL to make their major league debut during the 2019 season, though in Davis’ case it was with the San Francisco Giants and not the Twins. Each week I’ll be recapping the action for all the Twins representatives during their time in the desert of Arizona, so who are the players they sent? How have their careers gone thus far and what will I be looking for from each of them in the AFL as we head into October? 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospects in the AFL: — Royce Lewis, IF (20 years old) The number one overall selection from the 2017 draft began his professional career by excelling in his first two seasons all the way up to the high-A level and validating his status as an elite prospect. While he continued his ascent to Double-A during the 2019 season, it could be considered one where he endured his first real struggles. His OPS on the season was just .661 while he had gone .788 and .803 the years prior. It hasn’t affected his stock too much among prospect evaluators, as he still remains a top-20 prospect on multiple lists and will show you flashes of all his tools when you watch him play, but it’s also typical for a top prospect to go through some growing pains when pushed until they’re challenged. Beginning the season as a 19-year old, Lewis was the second youngest player in the Florida State League, and he continued to be near the top of the Double-A list when he was promoted to the Pensacola Blue Wahoos, resulting in him not taking an at-bat against a younger pitcher the entire season. A large reason for the drop in overall numbers this year was his struggles against same-sided pitchers. While he crushed lefties to the tune of a .315/.351/.500 triple slash line, that dipped to .211/.271/.331 against right-handers. His only month of the season where his OPS was above .700 was July, where it was a solid .788. The AFL will be a great environment for Lewis to finish his 2019 season, among his top prospect peers where he can continue to learn and be challenged. Despite him being a shortstop to this point in his career, what would not surprise me given how AFL rosters are put together and utilized, is if Lewis spends most of his time on the diamonds in Arizona elsewhere, whether at other infield spots or the outfield (as of publishing this article, Lewis is the starting third baseman in the season opener). — Ben Rortvedt, C (21 - turns 22 on 9/25) It took a few seasons for Rortvedt’s bat to start showing it’s potential to go along with his strong defense behind the plate, but that changed some during the 2018 season where he had an OPS of .710 with the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Fort Myers. He then came out hot to start the 2019 season with the Miracle and after just 24 games moved up to the Blue Wahoos. He was a monster with his bat over the first two months of the season, hitting a combined .274/.377/.487 through 35 games, but cooled off as the season wore on by hitting just .213/.302/.300 after that. He did maintain a strong walk rate throughout the year however, as he drew a free pass in 11.9% of his plate appearances. Before the year started, he also was somewhat of a poster-boy for the Minnesota Twins seemingly unorthodox catcher development program pointed out during spring training, and that’s because he was already a stellar defender employing some of those practices. He’s thrown out 43% of basestealers over his career but was even better than that in 2019 by catching 30 out of 58 attempts (52%). He gets rave reviews for his receiving and even if the bat never becomes more than average, that defense would make him a strong backup catching option for the Twins in the future. Rortvedt is the exact type of player I think the AFL is perfect for. A prospect at the high-levels of the minors that can contribute soon, playing a demanding position with a bunch of his peers that he can talk shop with, and his parent MLB team perhaps needing another option in the near future. While he likely won’t alter any internal opinions unless he torches the league, Rortvedt can establish himself high on the depth chart in 2020 when a need behind the plate arises in the majors with a strong showing. — Dakota Chalmers, RHP (22 - turns 23 on 10/8) Chalmers came to the organization at the 2018 deadline when the Twins sent Fernando Rodney to the Oakland Athletics. He didn’t pitch for the Twins until late this year however as he had undergone Tommy John surgery before he was acquired. He can throw in the upper 90’s and has a swing-and-miss breaking ball that can give opposing hitters fits —when he throws them for strikes, which has been his battle as a prospect thus far. While he struck out 12.5/9IP in his 34 2/3 innings this season, he also walked 6.0/9IP and is likely his biggest emphasis in the AFL this fall. There’re a couple of categories Chalmers falls into as a prospect heading to the AFL, those being he needs to throw some innings to make up development time, and also needs protecting on the 40-man roster if the Twins don’t want to risk losing him in the Rule 5 draft this December. He’s probably the only pitching prospect from the Twins that could make traditional starts for the Rafters this season, and will look to build upon the success he had with Fort Myers in his final three starts where he was 1-0 with a 1.10 ERA and .440 OPS against in 16 1/3 innings where he struck out 23 and walked seven. — Moises Gomez, RHP (22) Gomez came in a number three on Twins Daily’s Minor League Relief Pitcher of the Year award balloting on the strength of a fantastic season spent between the Kernels and Miracle. In 32 appearances he pitched 52 2/3 innings, allowing just 28 hits and 21 base on balls while striking out 78 (13.3/9IP). He surrendered just a .155 batting average against and racked up 10 saves. As an international signing during the 2014 season, Gomez will be eligible for the Rule 5 draft this offseason. While I don’t think he’s a large risk to lose as he’s only reached high-A to this point, the AFL will serve as a good barometer for if the Twins will push him to start the 2020 season. The Twins have seen plenty of relievers rise from Double-A (or even Fort Myers) to the majors the past two seasons, and Gomez could be one to watch for next year. — Luke Raley, OF (25 as of 9/19) It will be the second year in a row in the AFL for Raley, but hopefully this time he’ll be able to stick around a bit longer as his time there was finished after just four games in 2018. Raley was perhaps the prospect center piece (at the time) of the Twins trade of Brian Dozier to the Dodgers that also brought in Devin Smeltzer, and that was due to the breakout of his bat. His 2019 season in Triple-A was cut very short thanks to an ankle injury that kept him out from May until August, when he returned only to play a rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. He was a force in the middle of the Red Wings lineup at the beginning of the year, clubbing seven home runs in 33 games while batting above .300. Despite being on the bigger side, Raley is able to sneak up on opponents with his overall athleticism and is a solid corner outfield defender with a strong arm. He’ll rack up a healthy amount of strikeouts with a big swing geared for power, but also shows a good approach at the plate and attacks pitches he can mash. He’s another guy that is eligible for the Rule 5 draft this December in an organization full of young outfielders, so if he’s going to earn a 40-man roster spot he likely needs to take advantage of his time in Arizona and work himself back into the grind of a season. — Jovani Moran, LHP (22) Moran is a bit of a personal favorite of mine, stemming back to his 2017 and 2018 seasons where he struck out every hitter he faced in the Applachian, Midwest, and Florida State Leagues. That’s a slight exaggeration, but for any pure reliever to strike out 16.4/9IP or over 100 hitters in the course of a season in the minors is impressive. He was the runner-up to Andrew Vasquez in our 2018 Relief Pitcher of the Year award, and while he wasn’t as impressive during 2019 at Double-A there was still a lot to like. He struck out 50 in 34 1/3 innings (13.1/9IP) and after a rough May that resulted in a month-long trip to the injured list, he returned to his dominant ways. From his return on July 5th through the end of the season he posted a 2.78 ERA, .550 OPS against, and struck out 30 over 22 2/3 innings. He had reigned in his control with Fort Myers to end 2018 with a 2.3BB/9IP walk-rate in his time there, but it jumped to a career high 6.0BB/9IP in 2019. He’ll need to work on getting that control back in the AFL, a league where that problem could be magnified by the skill level of his competition. He’s demonstrated he can miss bats with all of his pitches due to the movement he gets and may just need to learn that he can also get away with that inside the strike zone, as he’s allowed only six home runs in 158 career innings. Moran will also be eligible for the Rule 5 draft, but as a pitcher who doesn’t bring elite velocity, I find it unlikely for him to be picked unless he blows hitters away in the AFL like he has in the past. But of course, if he does that it wouldn’t surprise me that he gets protected. — Zach Neff, LHP (23) Neff was drafted by the Twins in the 31st round of the 2018 draft out of Mississippi State after spending his first three seasons in college at Austin Peay and worked his way up to Fort Myers during the 2019 season. He also appeared at #5 in our Relief Pitcher of the Year voting for his efforts. He’s not overpowering by any means with a fastball that flirts around 90MPH, but still managed to post a strong strikeout rate of 11.0/9IP on the year thanks to a solid three-pitch mix. As a left-handed pitcher you might expect him to rack up most of his numbers against same-sided hitters, but he actually fared better against righties with a .569 OPS allowed vs. .622 against lefties. Neff is an intriguing choice to send to the AFL, as it will be by far the stiffest competition he has faced and is not eligible for the Rule 5 draft until the 2021 season, but as a 23-year old with four years of collegiate experience it shouldn’t be a huge adjustment. I’ll be watching to see if he can pitch himself to Double-A to start the 2020 season, or if he’ll end up back in Fort Myers to keep improving. Good luck to all seven of the Minnesota Twins prospects participating in the AFL this year, and I’m looking forward to following along with everyone here at Twins Daily! Hopefully Lewis and company can push Salt River to the championship game again this season! I’ll be doing a recap of everyone’s performance on a weekly basis, but if there is anything specific you would like to see included in these recaps, let me know and I’ll be more than happy to see if I can work them in. If you’d like to get an idea of what to expect, here is the final recap from the 2018 AFL season. Other AFL and Minor League Links: - With the MiLB seasons coming to a close in September, Baseball America released several postseason lists, including: Classification All-Stars (Jaylin Davis, Devin Smeltzer, Lewin Diaz, Trevor Larnach, and Cody Laweryson are included)Twins Minor League Player of the Year (Trevor Larnach)Overall MiLB All-Star Team (Trevor Larnach makes 2nd team)- MLB.com also released their end of year Top 100 prospect list. Twins included are Royce Lewis (#9), Alex Kirilloff (#16), Brusdar Graterol (#54), Jordan Balazovic (#77), and Trevor Larnach (#78). -MLB Pipeline also put out a list of the top prospect each team has sent to the AFL, with Royce Lewis represented for the Twins and is one of two former #1 overall picks playing this season (Mickey Moniak) -On 9/19 MLB/MiLB.com also put out a list of sleeper prospects for each team in the AFL, highlighting Ben Rortvedt for the Twins and his arm to throw out runners. -Recap and interview with Royce Lewis after his big game on Thursday night that included: Please feel free to ask any questions about the AFL or the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  25. Ben Rortvedt had a four-hit game for Pensacola, including a walk-off base knock in extra innings, Lewin Diaz stayed hot, Jimmy Kerrigan slugged two homers for Rochester, Wander Javier had a couple of extra-base hits and 2019 draftee Matt Wallner had three hits for E-Town. Come see what else happened across the system Friday.TRANSACTIONS LHP Jeremy Bleich assigned to Rochester. The Twins acquired him from Boston for cash considerations. He had a 5.59 ERA and 1.50 WHIP in 19 1/3 innings with the Red Sox’s Triple-A affiliate. RHP Jonathan Cheshire assigned to Pensacola. The Twins purchased his contract from the Atlantic League’s Somerset Patriots. He had a 0.55 ERA and 6.33 K:BB ratio in 16 1/3 innings pitched this year. Cedar Rapids activated RHP Carlos Suniaga from the IL. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 4, Indianapolis 1 Box Score Adam Bray: 4.0 IP, 2 H, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 K, 70.5% strikes (31 of 44 pitches) HR: Alejandro De Aza (1), Jimmy Kerrigan 2 (6) Multi-hit games: Kerrigan (2-for-3, 2 HR), Wilin Rosario (2-for-3, BB) Adam Bray, Sam Clay and Ian Krol managed to combine to hold Indianapolis to just one run, quite an accomplishment, considering the offensive boom in Triple-A this season. Bray set the tone, giving up just a pair of hits over the first four innings. The only run he allowed was on a solo homer. Clay followed with three perfect frames before Krol struck out five batters over the final two innings. Alejandro De Aza hit his first homer since joining the system and Kimmy Kerrigan added two home runs of his own. Kerrigan already has as many homers in 20 Triple-A games (6) as he had in 47 games in Pensacola this season. BLUE WAHOO BITES Pensacola 4, Mobile 3 Box Score Charlie Barnes: 7.0 IP, 7 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 6 K, 71.7% strikes (66 of 92 pitches) HR: Lewin Diaz (6) Multi-hit games: Ben Rortvedt (4-for-5, 2B), Diaz (3-for-4, 2B, HR, BB), Trevor Larnach (2-for-5) The Blue Wahoos scored the game-tying run in the bottom of the fifth inning thanks to a Lewin Diaz solo homer. This game remained knotted up until Ben Rortvedt walked it off in the 10th. Rortvedt had four hits and drove in a pair of runs tonight. Charlie Barnes had a great start, giving up seven hits and no walks over seven innings. He had six strikeouts and surrendered three runs, though only one was earned. Jorge Alcala followed with two perfect innings in his first appearance as a traditional reliever this season. Jovani Moran managed to navigate around the bonus runner who starts the extra innings at second base, setting up the walk off. In addition to the home run, Diaz also had a double, a single and a walk. He now has a .950 OPS in his first 32 games at the Double-A level. MIRACLE MATTERS Lakeland 6, Fort Myers 0 Box Score Blayne Enlow: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 68.2% strikes (60 of 88 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Jose Miranda (2-for-4) Miracle starter Blayne Enlow got knocked around a bit in this one, but on the positive side, he did complete seven innings for the third time this season. Moises Gomez finished things off by striking out four batters over two perfect innings. Jose Miranda had the only two Forty Myers hits on the evening, both singles. KERNELS NUGGETS Wisconsin 10, Cedar Rapids 5 Box Score Andrew Cabezas: 3.0 IP, 7 H, 6 ER, 1 BB, 3 K, 64.6% stikes (42 of 65 pitches) HR: None Multi-hit games: Wander Javier (2-for-4 2B, 3B) Rough start for Andrew Cabezas tonight. That put the Kernels in a deep hole they couldn’t dig themselves out of. Wander Javier had a big night, hitting a double and his first triple with Cedar Rapids. The Kernels entered the bottom of the ninth down 10-1, but scored three runs before the first out of the inning was recorded. It was an encouraging sign there’s still some fight left in this team. E-TWINS E-NOTES Bristol 3, Elizabethton 2 Box Score Cody Laweryson: 5.0 IP, 5 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Matt Wallner (3-for-5, 2 2B), Charles Mack (2-for-5), Seth Gray (2-for-5), Parker Phillips (2-for-5) Elizabethton entered the top of the ninth inning trailing 3-1 but put together a nice two-out rally. Carles Mack, Seth Gray and Parker Phillips all singled, scratching across a run. That brought up Matt Wallner, who already had three hits. Unfortunately, he hit a fly out to centerfield to end the game. Sawyer Gipson-Long gave up three runs over the first two innings, but the E-Twins pitching staff was outstanding after that. Cody Laweryson came in and covered the next five innings. He struck out eight batters. Dylan Thomas pitched a scoreless ninth. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Red Sox 10, GCL Twins 4 Box Score Regi Grace: 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K HR: None Multi-hit games: Luis Milla (2-for-3), Jake Hirabayashi (2-for-4) STARS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day: Cody Laweryson, Elizabethton Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day: Ben Rortvdet, Pensacola TOP PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Top 20 Prospects performed: 1. Royce Lewis (FM): 0-for-4, E (throw) 2. Alex Kirilloff (PNS): 0-for-5, 2 K 4. Trevor Larnach (PNS): 2-for-5, 2 R, 2 K 5. Wander Javier (CR): 2-for-4, 2B, 3B, 2 R, RBI, 2 K 10. Blayne Enlow (FM): 7.0 IP, 8 H, 6 R, 5 ER, 3 BB, 4 K, 68.2% strikes (60 of 88 pitches), E (pickoff) 12. Nick Gordon (ROC): 0-for-4, K 15. Matt Wallner (ELZ): 3-for-5, 2 2B, RBI (assist, threw a runner out at home) 16. Ben Rortvedt (PNS): 4-for-5, 2B, 2 RBI 18. Jorge Alcala (PNS): 2.0 IP, 0 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 0 K, 68.4% strikes (13 of 19 pitches) 19. Misael Urbina (DSL): 3-for-4, 2B, 2 3B, 2 R, 3 RBI, BB SATURDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Rochester vs. Indianapolis, 6:05 pm CT (TBD) Pensacola at Jacksonville, 5:35 pm CT (Griffin Jax) Fort Myers vs. Lakeland, 5:00 pm CT (Lachlan Wells) Cedar Rapids vs. Clinton, 6:35 pm CT (TBD) Elizabethton at Bristol, 5:30 pm CT (Prelander Berroa) GCL Twins vs. GCL Red Sox, 9:00 am CT (TBD) Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss the games. Click here to view the article
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