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  1. Rumors started last night. It appears both sides took the night to sleep on it, and on Thursday morning have finalized a deal that sends Twins top reliever Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker to the Padres in exchange for starter Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan. There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP). But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. What are your thoughts on this deal? View full article
  2. There was no Twins game last Thursday, but there was still activity at 1 Twins Way as the team completed a trade with the Padres. Heading to San Diego was Taylor Rogers, Brent Rooker and a whole bunch of cash. Coming back to Minneapolis was Chris Paddack, Emilio Pagan and the always interesting “player to be named later.” So far - and understandably so - there has been very little information released on the future mystery player aside from one tweet from Darren “Doogie” Wolfson. Anything beyond that is complete speculation. But speculation can be fun, so let’s take a closer look at who the Twins might be adding in the next few weeks. To give me an idea of players who might be included, I plugged the trade into Baseball Trade Values. Obviously, this isn't an exact science, but it’s probably the least biased way to come up with a list of names. Plugging in the trade as it happened, the simulator had the Twins giving up 4.9 more value points than it received. The potential inclusion of any of the Padres top prospects would tip the scale heavily in the Twins favor, but there are a number of prospects in the next tier who could make sense as this “player to be named later.” Typically, when a trade like this occurs, the teams agree to a list of players and conditions. It could be as simple as having six names on a list and the Twins get to pick one name off of that list on May 1. It could be something more complex. It could be - and this case might be - something that makes a whole lot of sense. Let’s take a look at some names that may be on that list. And why the Twins may want them. Ranked from least likely to most likely to be a Twin, in my opinion. Joshua Mears, Outfield. Ranked in the system’s Top 10 by both MLB.com and Baseball America, Mears was drafted in 2019. His power is his calling card. He already has two home runs in three games this season in high-A, but has struck out in eight of his twelve at bats. As the top-rated prospect on my list and - in my opinion - the likelihood that the Twins prefer pitching, I think the chances of Mears being the player is small. Samuel Zavana, Outfield. Zavana checks in on BA’s list at #12, but missed MLB.com’s. Zavala fits the profile of what the Twins like with a scouting report that includes things like “regarded as one of the best pure hitters” in his signing class and having “long possessed a knack for finding the barrel.” The 17-year-old would make a ton of sense. But in trying to sleuth this out, Zavala will be playing in the complex league this year, so the Twins won't even get a chance to scout him between now and then. So if it were to be him, why not just include him in the original deal? Victor Acosta, Shortstop. Acosta, like Zavana, will be playing in a complex league this summer. Ranked #11 by MLB and #12 by BA, I put Acosta a notch above Zavana because he has more defensive value. But, again, if you can’t see him in the next month, wouldn’t you have wanted to get him into your complex as soon as possible? Robert Gasser, Pitcher. Gasser is ranked #9 on both sites after being selected in the Competitive Balance, B Round in the 2021 draft. After getting 15 innings of pro ball under his belt last year, Gasser, a lefty, made his High-A debut last week. It was brutal. Four walks, four hits, seven outs. I don’t think a single game is a reason the Twins wouldn’t trade for him though, I think it’s because the Padres would be less likely to include him on the list. The next guy is a complete wild-card who technically fits Doogie’s profile. Adrian Morejon, Pitcher. Morejan, 23, is a highly-regarded Cuban left-hander who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s a “non-roster” guy because he’s on the 60-day Injured List, so he wouldn’t require a 40-man move. Morejan has 16 games of MLB experience under his belt and spent the last five seasons ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100. While not expected to return to the mound until later this season, it’s been a year since his surgery. Being a PTBNL could just be a way of giving the Twins a chance to get a greater feel of how his recovery is going. Remember, this trade all came together very quickly. For what it's worth, even though there are over 100 potential players for this to be, I’d bet on it being one of these three over the field. Full disclosure: I like taking long odds. It’s not often successful. Victor Lizarraga, Pitcher. Signed out of Mexico last year and ranked #13 by MLB and #15 by BA, Lizarraga is pitching in Low-A ball at 18 this year. He would make a ton of sense as a lottery ticket in a trade such as this. He’s a fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher with shaky command. Kevin Kopps, Pitcher. Kopps, currently in AA, ranks #14 on BA’s list and #16 on MLB’s list. Drafted in the 3rd round last year, Kopps spread his 14 ⅔ innings over three levels, striking out 22 and notching three saves. Kopps is serving as a closer using one big weapon: a breaking ball that has been nearly unhittable. Some call it a cutter, some call it a slider. Baseball America calls it the best slider in the system. The Twins, if I had to guess, would deploy whatever it is in the same way they used Sergio Romo’s and Tyler Clippard’s sliders. Kopps, who turns 25 soon, has Tommy John in his rearview and could soon be a bullpen option for whatever team he is on. Jarlin Susana, Pitcher. Susana is ranked #18 by MLB.com and the just-turned-18-year-old has an impressive and imposing 6’ 6”, 235-pound frame. Signed in January by the Padres for $1.7 million, Susana has a big-time fastball that can touch 100 and a slider that is next best pitch (among the four he throws). So what separates him from the other complex league pitchers? Because of when he signed, he can’t be traded until later this month. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe Susana is the player to be named later. (The Padres also added many other international free agents in mid-January who become eligible to be traded later this month. Among them are two 16-year-old infielders, Yendry Rojas and Rosman Verdugo. Neither are as highly regarded as Susana, though. Rojas, from Cuba, is a very good hitter with decent size (6' 1", 190) and speed and Verdugo, from Mexico, was considered the top prospect from Mexico.) What do you think? Who do you prefer? View full article
  3. So far - and understandably so - there has been very little information released on the future mystery player aside from one tweet from Darren “Doogie” Wolfson. Anything beyond that is complete speculation. But speculation can be fun, so let’s take a closer look at who the Twins might be adding in the next few weeks. To give me an idea of players who might be included, I plugged the trade into Baseball Trade Values. Obviously, this isn't an exact science, but it’s probably the least biased way to come up with a list of names. Plugging in the trade as it happened, the simulator had the Twins giving up 4.9 more value points than it received. The potential inclusion of any of the Padres top prospects would tip the scale heavily in the Twins favor, but there are a number of prospects in the next tier who could make sense as this “player to be named later.” Typically, when a trade like this occurs, the teams agree to a list of players and conditions. It could be as simple as having six names on a list and the Twins get to pick one name off of that list on May 1. It could be something more complex. It could be - and this case might be - something that makes a whole lot of sense. Let’s take a look at some names that may be on that list. And why the Twins may want them. Ranked from least likely to most likely to be a Twin, in my opinion. Joshua Mears, Outfield. Ranked in the system’s Top 10 by both MLB.com and Baseball America, Mears was drafted in 2019. His power is his calling card. He already has two home runs in three games this season in high-A, but has struck out in eight of his twelve at bats. As the top-rated prospect on my list and - in my opinion - the likelihood that the Twins prefer pitching, I think the chances of Mears being the player is small. Samuel Zavana, Outfield. Zavana checks in on BA’s list at #12, but missed MLB.com’s. Zavala fits the profile of what the Twins like with a scouting report that includes things like “regarded as one of the best pure hitters” in his signing class and having “long possessed a knack for finding the barrel.” The 17-year-old would make a ton of sense. But in trying to sleuth this out, Zavala will be playing in the complex league this year, so the Twins won't even get a chance to scout him between now and then. So if it were to be him, why not just include him in the original deal? Victor Acosta, Shortstop. Acosta, like Zavana, will be playing in a complex league this summer. Ranked #11 by MLB and #12 by BA, I put Acosta a notch above Zavana because he has more defensive value. But, again, if you can’t see him in the next month, wouldn’t you have wanted to get him into your complex as soon as possible? Robert Gasser, Pitcher. Gasser is ranked #9 on both sites after being selected in the Competitive Balance, B Round in the 2021 draft. After getting 15 innings of pro ball under his belt last year, Gasser, a lefty, made his High-A debut last week. It was brutal. Four walks, four hits, seven outs. I don’t think a single game is a reason the Twins wouldn’t trade for him though, I think it’s because the Padres would be less likely to include him on the list. The next guy is a complete wild-card who technically fits Doogie’s profile. Adrian Morejon, Pitcher. Morejan, 23, is a highly-regarded Cuban left-hander who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s a “non-roster” guy because he’s on the 60-day Injured List, so he wouldn’t require a 40-man move. Morejan has 16 games of MLB experience under his belt and spent the last five seasons ranked in Baseball America’s Top 100. While not expected to return to the mound until later this season, it’s been a year since his surgery. Being a PTBNL could just be a way of giving the Twins a chance to get a greater feel of how his recovery is going. Remember, this trade all came together very quickly. For what it's worth, even though there are over 100 potential players for this to be, I’d bet on it being one of these three over the field. Full disclosure: I like taking long odds. It’s not often successful. Victor Lizarraga, Pitcher. Signed out of Mexico last year and ranked #13 by MLB and #15 by BA, Lizarraga is pitching in Low-A ball at 18 this year. He would make a ton of sense as a lottery ticket in a trade such as this. He’s a fastball/curveball/changeup pitcher with shaky command. Kevin Kopps, Pitcher. Kopps, currently in AA, ranks #14 on BA’s list and #16 on MLB’s list. Drafted in the 3rd round last year, Kopps spread his 14 ⅔ innings over three levels, striking out 22 and notching three saves. Kopps is serving as a closer using one big weapon: a breaking ball that has been nearly unhittable. Some call it a cutter, some call it a slider. Baseball America calls it the best slider in the system. The Twins, if I had to guess, would deploy whatever it is in the same way they used Sergio Romo’s and Tyler Clippard’s sliders. Kopps, who turns 25 soon, has Tommy John in his rearview and could soon be a bullpen option for whatever team he is on. Jarlin Susana, Pitcher. Susana is ranked #18 by MLB.com and the just-turned-18-year-old has an impressive and imposing 6’ 6”, 235-pound frame. Signed in January by the Padres for $1.7 million, Susana has a big-time fastball that can touch 100 and a slider that is next best pitch (among the four he throws). So what separates him from the other complex league pitchers? Because of when he signed, he can’t be traded until later this month. Maybe it’s a coincidence. Or maybe Susana is the player to be named later. (The Padres also added many other international free agents in mid-January who become eligible to be traded later this month. Among them are two 16-year-old infielders, Yendry Rojas and Rosman Verdugo. Neither are as highly regarded as Susana, though. Rojas, from Cuba, is a very good hitter with decent size (6' 1", 190) and speed and Verdugo, from Mexico, was considered the top prospect from Mexico.) What do you think? Who do you prefer?
  4. So the day before the season starts the Twins traded away the head of their bullpen and supposed closer. Taylor Rogers made up half of the projected fWAR of the Twins bullpen per Fangraphs. What was the front office thinking? By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete. The Pursuit of Value By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from. In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless. When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him Relievers are Unpredictable Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle. Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade. In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt. That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run. Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below! View full article
  5. While Opening Day was bearing down on the Minnesota Twins, weather delayed things just a bit. With the schedule now set to open on Friday, the front office continued working as they acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan from the Padres in exchange for closer Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker. What does that do to the roster? First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers. Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there. Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him. Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move. Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks. Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal. Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year. The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around. A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around. Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys. When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance. Time to play ball. View full article
  6. By now we’re all probably approaching the end of the grieving stage of losing Taylor Rogers in a massive Opening Day deal that brought Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan to Minnesota. That being said, it’s probably time to consider why on earth the Twins would trade away their star closer at the start of a season in which they intend to compete. The Pursuit of Value By now we’ve come to expect the Twins front office to always search for value above all else when they’re making any kind of deal. In fairness, their successes across the last year are few and far between, but it’s easy to see the thought process they’re operating from. In parting with Rogers, the Twins give up one year of a relief pitcher who may not even finish the season with the team if things fall apart before the trade deadline. In return, they receive a rotation-ready starting pitcher in Chris Paddack who’s under control for three years in addition to reliever Emilio Pagan who’s under control for two years. They did of course also ship out Brent Rooker, but by all accounts, he was likely on the verge of getting cut loose regardless. When looking at pure value, it’s hard to argue against this trade. There’s almost no scenario where Rogers amasses more bWAR, fWAR, or whatever measurement you can find in his lone season in San Diego than Paddack and Pagan will in Minnesota across their five combined years. The math is certainly on the Twins' side for this trade. This however doesn’t tell the whole story as it misses the context of the Twins parting with their best reliever right before a 2022 season where they may desperately need him Relievers are Unpredictable Another core value of the Falvine era, the Twins simply don’t value relief pitchers highly. And to be honest, they probably shouldn’t. Relievers often burn bright for a few years before fading away. We see it year after year whether it’s Alex Colomé just stinking it up out of nowhere or Trevor Rosenthal succumbing to injury. Pitchers as a whole are always risky, but historically speaking relievers are particularly fickle. Taylor Rogers may repeat his incredible performance in 2022, in fact, I’d bet on it. That being said, he did suffer a significant finger injury in 2021. Although he’s recovered and was looking great in the spring, he’s now into his 30s and the odds of a recurrence or even a new injury grows ever stronger. Is that reason for the Twins to look to actively dump their closer? No. But it does at least help explain why Rogers wasn’t untouchable in trade. In addition to the risk of Rogers' performance or health slipping, it’s entirely possible several other arms step up in a big way to fill the void. Between pitchers such as Jorge Alcala who appeared to break out in the second half or newly bullpen-bound Jhoan Duran sitting in triple digits, it’s not hard to find candidates to take the lead in this group. Between AAA and the existing bullpen, there are several options to get some looks in high leverage and I see several taking the baseball world by storm in 2022. This group is undisputedly more talented than the bullpen the Twins fielded at the end of 2021 who by the way were rock solid without Taylor Rogers in the mix. To be clear, there’s nothing wrong with hating this trade. The self-anointed “competitive” Twins roster just got a huge downgrade in their bullpen on paper no matter how you shake it. In addition, this could have been avoided had they just been more aggressive in signing legitimate starting pitching pre-lockout. Even for one year of Taylor Rogers, the Twins are taking a gamble on Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan bouncing back. It’s one that’s not so different from the many bets the front office made last season that left them bankrupt. That being said, aside from the personal attachment that comes with losing a homegrown star like Rogers, it’s easy to understand why the Twins made this deal. There’s a decent chance that we look back on this trade as a “win” for the Twins, and there’s a non-zero chance it can turn out to be an absolute home run. Should the Twins have stood pat with Rogers or perhaps asked for more in return? Do you think this deal will work out for the Twins in the long run? Let us know below!
  7. First and foremost, the first guy Minnesota gave up was a pillar in the clubhouse for the Twins. If there’s a way for this to go pear-shaped, it’s in disrupting chemistry we’ve heard talked about so highly coming into the season. Rogers was the Twins MLBPA player rep and worked with the owners through the lockout. He handled the media well and was extremely well-liked by his peers. Through a baseball lens, Rogers is 31-years-old and coming off a finger injury that limited him to just 40 1/3 innings last season. He was sure to be traded at the deadline, but that came off the table when he hit the Injured List. Appearing in his first All-Star game, a neat experience in his home state of Colorado, Rogers posted a 3.35 ERA with a 13.2 K/9 and 1.8 BB/9. When healthy, he’s been among the best closers in baseball the past few seasons, and his 2.52 FIP tells the tale there. Somewhat of a footnote in this deal, Rooker goes to the Padres after being beaten out by Kyle Garlick for the final outfield spot. He shined in seven games for Minnesota during 2020, but the .688 OPS last season simply wasn’t going to play. When he was drafted 35th overall back in 2017, it was immediately known he would be a bat-only player. San Diego will put him in a corner outfield spot, but he’s incredibly stretched there. Although the power certainly plays, there’s a lot of swing and miss in his game as well. A fresh start could prove beneficial for him. Dealing Rogers the day before Minnesota takes the field may be risky, but the return absolutely justifies a move. Chris Paddack comes to Minnesota as a former darling rookie. He posted a 3.33 ERA across 26 games for the Padres in 2019. He averages 94 mph on his fastball, and outside of 2020, he’s posted strong FIP numbers. The 5.07 ERA in 2021 wasn’t pretty, but the peripherals suggest there’s more to unlock. Although his strikeout numbers have fallen a bit the past three seasons, he’s also lowered his walk and home run rates. There’s swing-and-miss stuff to be exploited here, and pitching coach Wes Johnson will immediately get to work on pushing those tweaks. Paddack is under team control through the 2024 season from a contractual standpoint. This alone may be the most significant boost for Minnesota. At just 26-years-old, the Twins can mold Paddack throughout the next three seasons and hope to push his stuff towards the top-end of their rotation. He would join Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan, and Bailey Ober as arms already locked in for next season. Making just $2.25 million through arbitration this year, Paddack’s expense is minimal. Joining Paddack and adding back into the Twins pen is Emilio Pagan, who will be with his fifth team in six big league seasons. Last year, his 63 1/3 innings with San Diego was nearly career-high, but it came with a career-worst 2.3 HR/9 and a 4.83 ERA. Pagan’s 5.22 FIP suggests he was actually worse than the surface numbers, but just two seasons ago, the Tampa Bay Rays had him looking like one of the best pen arms in the game. Under team control next season, Minnesota can opt to keep him around for another year. The addition of Paddack obviously shuffles the rotation. As it was currently constructed, Ryan was set to be followed by Sonny Gray, Bailey Ober, Dylan Bundy, and Chris Archer. Paddack will need to slot in somewhere, and the most likely candidate to be bumped in my mind is Ober. He could go to a long relief role out of the bullpen until the point in which a starter begins to struggle. Bundy may be the lowest ceiling talent of the group, but given he was signed as a starter for $5 million early in the offseason, I’m not sure he’s the guy that would get moved around. A ripple effect of this situation is what happens with Josh Winder. He looks to have made the big league roster but was already going to be pitching out of the bullpen in a long relief role. Now with Ober in that mix, too, there are a lot of innings needed to keep starting arms fresh, and the hope is that there’s only so many to go around. Obviously, Pagan will slot in somewhere during the middle innings. He’s not a back-end option for Minnesota at this point. Replacing Rogers will be some combination of Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, and Jhoan Duran. With Duran’s stuff playing so well this spring, it seemed sensible to use him immediately in relief rather than continuing to develop him as a starter. He now may be the frontrunner for the closer role if Rocco Baldelli and Johnson opt to keep Duffey and Alcala in their previously established late-inning spots. It would be a big ask for the young prospect, but the reality here is that Minnesota appears intent on developing their pen arms and not paying handsomely in relief. That’s certainly a viable strategy when you’ve seemingly made it work with a handful of guys. When viewing this from the top, the Twins now pay less for three years of a starter with upside and a reliever who has been very good than they did for a closer coming off an injury and slated for free agency with a bat tossed in. It’s hard not to see this as a win for Minnesota, and while the volatility of relief arms remains immense, betting on the horses you have is definitely not a bad stance. Time to play ball.
  8. There is no question that the Twins prioritized adding starting pitching this offseason. To this point, they had added Sonny Gray in a trade with the Reds, and free-agent deals with veterans Dylan Bundy and Chris Archer. On Thursday, they added Padres right-hander Chris Paddack and reliever Emilio Pagan in exchange for All-Star closer Taylor Rogers and outfielder Brent Rooker. The Twins are sending $6.6 million to the Padres (essentially paying Rogers' 2022 salary, per Ken Rosenthal), and the Twins will be getting a Player to be Named Later. The trade adds a young, team-controlled, backend-of-the-rotation starting pitcher (Paddack) to the team. In return, the Twins downgraded their bullpen a notch (Rogers vs. Pagan) and traded away a prospect they were likely going to lose for nothing (Rooker). In addition, while losing Rogers is difficult, years of team control make the deal make some sense. Rogers can become a free agent at the end of the 2022 season. Paddack has three more years of team control, and Pagan has two more years of team control. Emilio Pagan is a 30-year old with over four years of service time. He will make $2.3 million in 2022 and eligible for arbitration in 2023. He played for the Mariners in 2017, the A's in 2018, the Rays in 2019, and the Padres the last two years. Last year, he went 4-3 with a 4.83 ERA. In 63 1/3 innings, he walked 18 and struck out 69 batters. During his season with the Rays, he posted his best season (which will surprise no one). He went 4-2 with 20 saves and a 2.31 ERA and a career-high 12.3 K/9 (96 K, 13 BB in 70 IP). Pagan's weakness throughout his career has been that he give up too many home runs. He's always maintained a solid strikeout rate, and his career walk rate is a decent 2.3 BB/9. But he's been susceptible to the long ball, which balances an outstanding ability to keep runners off base. (He has a 1.031! career WHIP). But he's not Taylor Rogers. The 31-year-old Rogers was the Twins 11th round pick in 2012 out of the University of Kentucky. In 2013, he was the Twins Daily Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. He made his debut in 2016 and has pitched in 319 games for the Twins over six seasons. He is 17-18 with 50 saves. In 314 2/3 innings, he struck out 361 batters (10.3). He is coming off of his best season in 2021. He went 2-4 with nine saves. In 40 1/3 innings, he walked just eight (2 intentional) and struck out 59 batters (13.2 K/9). He made his first All Star team, though he also missed the last two months of the season with a finger injury. He will also be a free agent at the end of the year. In addition, Rogers has served as the team's player representative the past two seasons and led the Twins players through some rough years. He heads to the Padres where he will be able to compete against his brother Taylor and the Giants frequently. The main target for the Twins in this trade is Paddack. He's only 26 years old. As a 23-year-old rookie in 2019, he went 9-7 with a 3.33 ERA. He had 153 strikeouts and 31 walks in 140 2/3 innings. Things haven't been real good since. In 2020, he went 4-5 with a 4.73 ERA. In 2021, he was 7-7 with a 5.07 ERA, though as people have pointed out, his FIP was just 3.78. While he throws a lot of strikes, his strikeout rate has dropped from 9.8 to 8.8 to 82 over his three seasons in the big leagues. The other piece the Twins sent in return was Brent Rooker, who was drafted by the Twins in the Competitive Balance Round after the first round in 2017 after an amazing Triple Crown season in his final year at Mississippi State. The powerful slugger debuted in 2020 and hit .316 with two doubles and a homer in seven games before being hit by a pitch ended his season. In 2021, he played in 58 games with the Twins, but surprisingly wasn't called up until late July . He hit .201/.291/.397 (.688) with 10 doubles and nine home runs. It became increasingly clear that he wasn't going to get extended run with the Twins. In fact, the 'final' roster spot with the Twins appeared to be between Rooker and Kyle Garlick. With this move, we have our answer. In fact, it's possible that's the direction the Twins were already looking. If so, it's very possible that Rooker may have been DFAd to make room to add Garlick to the roster. This story will continue to be edited as details and nuances are added. What are your thoughts on this deal?
  9. The Minnesota Twins acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan from the San Diego Padres for Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker. Here are my thoughts on the trade.
  10. The Minnesota Twins acquired Chris Paddack and Emilio Pagan from the San Diego Padres for Taylor Rogers and Brent Rooker. Here are my thoughts on the trade. View full video
  11. The Minnesota Twins announced on Sunday morning that three more players have been assigned to minor-league spring training. Outfielder Jake Cave and left-handed pitchers Devin Smeltzer and Jovani Moran will not be on the Twins Opening Day roster. UPDATE - following the game, Jake Faria was sent to minor-league camp, and it was announced that Cody Stashak will stay in Ft. Myers with some biceps tendinitis. The Twins open their season on Thursday, and their Opening Day roster is becoming more clear today after three players were sent to minor-league camp. After throwing 11 scoreless innings this spring, Devin Smeltzer was sent to minor-league camp. He missed most of the 2021 season with a herniated disk in his neck. Now healthy, he was very impressive this spring and it is likely he will pitch for the Twins during the 2022 season. Jovani Moran is the Twins' top relief pitcher prospect. He made his MLB debut in September 2021, but he will begin his 2022 season in St. Paul with the Saints. And Jake Cave was outrighted to minor league camp as well. He will travel to Louisville where the Saints season begins on Tuesday. The Twins spring training roster now stands at 33. They will need to get down to 28 on the active roster before Thursday's opener. There are four non-roster players. Right-hander Jake Faria and lefty Danny Coulombe remain. Infielder Daniel Robertson and outfielder Kyle Garlick are also still in big-league camp. Will any of those four players make the Opening Day roster? Garlick and his ability to mash left-handed pitching would seem to be competing with Brent Rooker for one spot. With the 28-man roster only available to teams through May 1, it is a huge decision to add a non-roster player to the 40-man roster. Will they risk losing a couple of depth pieces by adding them to the 40-man roster for three to four weeks? Will they risk losing a player or two on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster. We may know the answer to those questions by the end of today, certainly within the next 36 hours. UPDATE Following Sunday's game, the Twins announced that Jake Faria was being sent to minor-league camp and will join the Saints in Louisville for the Triple-A opener. Also, Cody Stashak will remain in Ft. Myers to work through some biceps tendinitis. How do you think the Opening Day roster will shape up? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below. View full article
  12. The Twins open their season on Thursday, and their Opening Day roster is becoming more clear today after three players were sent to minor-league camp. After throwing 11 scoreless innings this spring, Devin Smeltzer was sent to minor-league camp. He missed most of the 2021 season with a herniated disk in his neck. Now healthy, he was very impressive this spring and it is likely he will pitch for the Twins during the 2022 season. Jovani Moran is the Twins' top relief pitcher prospect. He made his MLB debut in September 2021, but he will begin his 2022 season in St. Paul with the Saints. And Jake Cave was outrighted to minor league camp as well. He will travel to Louisville where the Saints season begins on Tuesday. The Twins spring training roster now stands at 33. They will need to get down to 28 on the active roster before Thursday's opener. There are four non-roster players. Right-hander Jake Faria and lefty Danny Coulombe remain. Infielder Daniel Robertson and outfielder Kyle Garlick are also still in big-league camp. Will any of those four players make the Opening Day roster? Garlick and his ability to mash left-handed pitching would seem to be competing with Brent Rooker for one spot. With the 28-man roster only available to teams through May 1, it is a huge decision to add a non-roster player to the 40-man roster. Will they risk losing a couple of depth pieces by adding them to the 40-man roster for three to four weeks? Will they risk losing a player or two on waivers to make room on the 40-man roster. We may know the answer to those questions by the end of today, certainly within the next 36 hours. UPDATE Following Sunday's game, the Twins announced that Jake Faria was being sent to minor-league camp and will join the Saints in Louisville for the Triple-A opener. Also, Cody Stashak will remain in Ft. Myers to work through some biceps tendinitis. How do you think the Opening Day roster will shape up? Leave your thoughts in the Comments below.
  13. The Twins have completed several rounds of roster cuts this spring with another handful to go. Still, several non-roster invitees remain in camp and have a legitimate shot at making the Opening Day roster. The Twins are down to just six non-roster players remaining on their spring roster. Several players were sent to minor-league camp so that they can head up to Minnesota this weekend. The Saints season starts on Tuesday in Louisville. The six non-roster players remaining in the big-league camp include left-handed pitchers Devin Smeltzer and Danny Coulombe, right-handed pitcher Jake Faria, infielder Daniel Robertson, and outfielders Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave. While there are certainly several good reasons to not add non-roster players to the 40-man roster knowing that the active roster will drop back to 26 players by May 1st. However, here are three players that I think do have a realistic opportunity to make the Twins Opening Day roster. Jake Faria Jake Faria had limited success in Tampa Bay’s rotation all the way back in 2017 when he posted a 3.43 ERA across just under 90 innings in his debut. After bouncing around for a while and not pitching in 2020, the right-hander finds himself as a realistic bullpen option for the Twins on Opening Day. With the lockout leading up to a short Spring Training ramp-up, the Twins are likely to employ some sort of “piggyback” method to start the season to allow the rotation to ramp up and remain healthy. Faria has been used in a multi-inning role this spring which could be a hint that the Twins may be taking a look at him to fill such a piggybacking role. He’s allowed just one run in his five spring innings and his mix of a split-finger and breaking ball could make him more prepared to navigate the entirety of a lineup than a traditional right-handed pitcher with just a fastball and slider. While no sure thing, Faria is a name to watch in the waning days of Spring Training. Kyle Garlick Kyle Garlick could make the 2022 roster again in the same role as 2021 as the backup right-handed masher in the outfield. Ideally the Twins would give him all of Max Kepler’s at bats against left-handers, against whom Garlick posted an incredible .878 OPS in 2021 before being shut down with a core muscle injury. The counter argument is it would come at the expense of Brent Rooker’s roster spot, who is a home--grown talent and some feel still has a ceiling higher than a platoon bat such as Garlick. That said, Rooker hasn't played in a game for a week with a shoulder soreness, so an IL stint is possible. Since the two right-handers are fairly equal on defense, the Twins could easily see Garlick as the obvious option. In addition to his 2021, Garlick has absolutely punished southpaws during his entire career, posting an incredible .865 OPS against them thus far. It may take giving up on Brent Rooker, but the immediate payoff of Garlick being the matchup role player in the outfield seems like a sure bet to provide some value. Jake Cave The Twins just can’t seem to quit Jake Cave. Thus far he’s outlasted Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino in camp with only a few more cuts to make. It’s hard to imagine the squad heading north with the 29-year-old Cave who owns a paltry .202/.263/.332 (.595) slash line since the start of 2020, especially since Nick Gordon’s ability to fill in at center field from the left side of the plate makes him redundant. That being said, the fact that he’s still with the team is worth wondering whether Cave may just stick around. In Cave’s favor, he has logged 144 games in center field in his career, a resume that the Twins may value given Byron Buxton’s injury history. He’s also improved defensively over the years, performing around league average on defense in 2020 and 2021 at the position. Another left handed bat in the outfield may not make much sense on paper, especially one you would expect absolutely nothing from offensively. That being said, Cave’s ability to man center field may be seen as a worthy trade off compared to someone like Kyle Garlick who only fills a very specific role offensively and is confined to the corners. The cuts are likely coming in short order with only a few decisions left to be made. Are there any other remaining non roster invitees that could sneak their way into Target Field on Opening Day? Let us know below! View full article
  14. The Twins are down to just six non-roster players remaining on their spring roster. Several players were sent to minor-league camp so that they can head up to Minnesota this weekend. The Saints season starts on Tuesday in Louisville. The six non-roster players remaining in the big-league camp include left-handed pitchers Devin Smeltzer and Danny Coulombe, right-handed pitcher Jake Faria, infielder Daniel Robertson, and outfielders Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave. While there are certainly several good reasons to not add non-roster players to the 40-man roster knowing that the active roster will drop back to 26 players by May 1st. However, here are three players that I think do have a realistic opportunity to make the Twins Opening Day roster. Jake Faria Jake Faria had limited success in Tampa Bay’s rotation all the way back in 2017 when he posted a 3.43 ERA across just under 90 innings in his debut. After bouncing around for a while and not pitching in 2020, the right-hander finds himself as a realistic bullpen option for the Twins on Opening Day. With the lockout leading up to a short Spring Training ramp-up, the Twins are likely to employ some sort of “piggyback” method to start the season to allow the rotation to ramp up and remain healthy. Faria has been used in a multi-inning role this spring which could be a hint that the Twins may be taking a look at him to fill such a piggybacking role. He’s allowed just one run in his five spring innings and his mix of a split-finger and breaking ball could make him more prepared to navigate the entirety of a lineup than a traditional right-handed pitcher with just a fastball and slider. While no sure thing, Faria is a name to watch in the waning days of Spring Training. Kyle Garlick Kyle Garlick could make the 2022 roster again in the same role as 2021 as the backup right-handed masher in the outfield. Ideally the Twins would give him all of Max Kepler’s at bats against left-handers, against whom Garlick posted an incredible .878 OPS in 2021 before being shut down with a core muscle injury. The counter argument is it would come at the expense of Brent Rooker’s roster spot, who is a home--grown talent and some feel still has a ceiling higher than a platoon bat such as Garlick. That said, Rooker hasn't played in a game for a week with a shoulder soreness, so an IL stint is possible. Since the two right-handers are fairly equal on defense, the Twins could easily see Garlick as the obvious option. In addition to his 2021, Garlick has absolutely punished southpaws during his entire career, posting an incredible .865 OPS against them thus far. It may take giving up on Brent Rooker, but the immediate payoff of Garlick being the matchup role player in the outfield seems like a sure bet to provide some value. Jake Cave The Twins just can’t seem to quit Jake Cave. Thus far he’s outlasted Trevor Larnach and Gilberto Celestino in camp with only a few more cuts to make. It’s hard to imagine the squad heading north with the 29-year-old Cave who owns a paltry .202/.263/.332 (.595) slash line since the start of 2020, especially since Nick Gordon’s ability to fill in at center field from the left side of the plate makes him redundant. That being said, the fact that he’s still with the team is worth wondering whether Cave may just stick around. In Cave’s favor, he has logged 144 games in center field in his career, a resume that the Twins may value given Byron Buxton’s injury history. He’s also improved defensively over the years, performing around league average on defense in 2020 and 2021 at the position. Another left handed bat in the outfield may not make much sense on paper, especially one you would expect absolutely nothing from offensively. That being said, Cave’s ability to man center field may be seen as a worthy trade off compared to someone like Kyle Garlick who only fills a very specific role offensively and is confined to the corners. The cuts are likely coming in short order with only a few decisions left to be made. Are there any other remaining non roster invitees that could sneak their way into Target Field on Opening Day? Let us know below!
  15. Minnesota's Opening Day roster has shifted dramatically since spring training began. Now, the team is honing in on the 28 players that will come north with the club. Major League Baseball recently announced that teams will be able to carry 28-player rosters until May 1. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of injuries. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Ryan Jeffers, Gary Sanchez One of the biggest remaining questions is whether or not the Twins will carry a third catcher. Jeffers can't start every game behind the plate, and Sanchez is known as one of baseball's worst defenders. Minnesota's only other catcher on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, but it seems more likely for him to stay in St. Paul until there is a need at the big-league level. If Jeffers or Sanchez struggles behind the plate, Godoy is one phone call away from Target Field. Infielders (7): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Gio Urshela, Carlos Correa, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker** Correa's addition undoubtedly changes the face of the infield, including solidifying the team's up-the-middle defense. Minnesota has made it clear that Arraez won't be getting regular playing time in the outfield, leaving him as a backup infield option at multiple positions. Last season, Arraez's defense was significantly improved at third base, so maybe he and Urshella will be fighting for playing time at the hot corner. Barring injury, Gordon and Rooker fill out the bench, but neither has a path to a consistent starting job. Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach** With three corner outfielders, the Twins will need to be strategic about getting at-bats for each player. Larnach isn't a true fourth outfielder, so the team may want him in St. Paul to get regular at-bats. Kirilloff can spend time at first base, which is his best defensive position. Rooker is also on the roster, but the team is hesitant to play him defensively in the outfield. Gilberto Celestino is the lone outfielder on the 40-man roster left off this projected Opening Day roster. He was terrific in St. Paul last year, and he's one injury away from taking over a big-league role. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Archer Randy Dobnak's injury took him out of contention for an Opening Day roster spot. Minnesota signed Archer to serve as Dobnak's replacement at the rotation's backend. Archer's deal is a low-risk option for the Twins as it is highly incentive-based, but he has a chance to prove he is healthy. Also, it's important to consider that the Twins won't need a fifth starter very regularly at the beginning of the season. In some years, off-days and weather delays can push back the need for a fifth starter, but that won't be the case this season. Bullpen (10): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Joe Smith, Cody Stashak, Jharel Cotton, Jovani Moran**, Griffin Jax**, Jhon Romero** This spring, Rogers has looked strong, which is a good sign for the bullpen's backend. Smith was the team's most significant offseason addition to the bullpen. He comes with over 13 years of big-league experience. Minnesota needed another right-handed relief option, and Smith filled that role. Cotton and Stashak have started in the past, so they can pitch multiple innings when needed. If there were a 26-man roster, the last three names would be fighting for a job. All three could enjoy a big-league paycheck for the season's first month with expanded rosters. What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Which on the bubble players will miss the cut? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  16. One year ago, the Twins decided to move on from their longtime fixture in left field, Eddie Rosario. The team's first season in his absence did not feature much stability at the position. In 2022, the Twins will try to clarify the future in left, which remains fairly murky at the moment – albeit with some quality options in place. Projected Starter: Alex Kirilloff Likely Backup: Nick Gordon Depth: Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker Prospects: Emmanuel Rodriguez, Alerick Soularie THE GOOD Among all positions for the Twins last year (aside from pitcher), left field saw the most different names rotate through: a total of eight players made at least one start there. This speaks to their depth of usable corner outfielders, which remains intact – seven of those players are back in camp this spring. (Minus Rob Refsnyder, who signed with the Red Sox during the offseason.) When Eddie Rosario departed, Alex Kirilloff was lined up as his replacement in left, a natural opening to be filled by the organization's MLB-ready top prospect. And yet, Kirilloff ended up ranking fifth in starts at the position, spending much more of his time (pre-surgery) at first base while Trevor Larnach led the team in left field starts with 51. I would imagine that still represents the front office's long-term vision: Kirilloff at first, Larnach in left. Two former first-round draft picks and impact bats entrenched at the positions for which they are best suited. However, it's probably not a feasible path forward in the immediate future, both because Miguel Sanó is occupying first base and because Larnach's late-season plunge in 2021 cast doubt on his readiness. Hardly the worst thing in the world. Left field might not be Kirilloff's BEST position, but it's certainly one he can play. And the most important thing is getting his bat into the lineup. With his surgically repaired wrist appearing to be in the clear, it's time to once again let loose the purest swing in the organization. I assume the plan is to trot him out regularly in left, because there are no other obvious paths to everyday playing time for him, and no other obvious answers out there. But the Twins have not operated like a team prepping him for such an assignment. THE BAD Do the Twins actually want to use Kirilloff in left field? Unclear. There's no reason to think he can't play a perfectly solid left field, and he's looked fine during his opportunities there. But for whatever reason, those opportunities have been far and few between. Last year, as the Twins sorted through a multitude of different players to fill in, Kirilloff drew only 11 total starts at the position. In a minor-league career that spanned 281 games, he started in left field a total of 10 times. He started more times in center! The team's lack of interest in seeing Kirilloff play left field shows no signs of dissipating. He has started only two games there this spring. It certainly suggests that the Twins aren't planning on using Kirilloff regularly in left field for any extended length of time. Once you move past him, the options at the position become significantly less exciting, at least in the short-term. The club now seems firmly committed to keeping Luis Arraez (who started 24 games in left last year) in the infield. Brent Rooker's glove is not be trusted. Jake Cave and Kyle Garlick are uninspiring non-roster options. Nick Gordon is a pure plug-and-play backup who lacks the bat to be an asset in a corner outfield spot. Larnach is the one who holds the key. While there's plenty of reason to remain bullish on his future, it's hard to imagine the Twins are going to plug him right back into the Opening Day lineup after the way his rookie year concluded. Following a good start with the Twins, Larnach got thoroughly dominated for two months. From June 15th through August 15th, he slashed .193/.279/.298 with a 38.3% K-rate. He was then demoted to Triple-A, where he posted a .611 OPS in 10 games before being shut down. When major-league pitchers spot a weakness, they take advantage, and that's what happened here as they began to unload an endless bevy of breaking balls and changeups on Larnach, who mashed fastballs (.296 BA, .512 SLG) but struggled mightily against offspeed (.143 BA, .179 SLG). THE BOTTOM LINE Assuming Larnach goes back to Triple-A to build confidence and prove he's ready, Kirilloff should be in line for the lion's share of playing time in left field from day one. Unless the Twins have other plans. Which their behavior suggests they might. With only 10 days until the regular season gets underway, they are running short on time to orchestrate their final designs. Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop View full article
  17. Projected Starter: Alex Kirilloff Likely Backup: Nick Gordon Depth: Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker Prospects: Emmanuel Rodriguez, Alerick Soularie THE GOOD Among all positions for the Twins last year (aside from pitcher), left field saw the most different names rotate through: a total of eight players made at least one start there. This speaks to their depth of usable corner outfielders, which remains intact – seven of those players are back in camp this spring. (Minus Rob Refsnyder, who signed with the Red Sox during the offseason.) When Eddie Rosario departed, Alex Kirilloff was lined up as his replacement in left, a natural opening to be filled by the organization's MLB-ready top prospect. And yet, Kirilloff ended up ranking fifth in starts at the position, spending much more of his time (pre-surgery) at first base while Trevor Larnach led the team in left field starts with 51. I would imagine that still represents the front office's long-term vision: Kirilloff at first, Larnach in left. Two former first-round draft picks and impact bats entrenched at the positions for which they are best suited. However, it's probably not a feasible path forward in the immediate future, both because Miguel Sanó is occupying first base and because Larnach's late-season plunge in 2021 cast doubt on his readiness. Hardly the worst thing in the world. Left field might not be Kirilloff's BEST position, but it's certainly one he can play. And the most important thing is getting his bat into the lineup. With his surgically repaired wrist appearing to be in the clear, it's time to once again let loose the purest swing in the organization. I assume the plan is to trot him out regularly in left, because there are no other obvious paths to everyday playing time for him, and no other obvious answers out there. But the Twins have not operated like a team prepping him for such an assignment. THE BAD Do the Twins actually want to use Kirilloff in left field? Unclear. There's no reason to think he can't play a perfectly solid left field, and he's looked fine during his opportunities there. But for whatever reason, those opportunities have been far and few between. Last year, as the Twins sorted through a multitude of different players to fill in, Kirilloff drew only 11 total starts at the position. In a minor-league career that spanned 281 games, he started in left field a total of 10 times. He started more times in center! The team's lack of interest in seeing Kirilloff play left field shows no signs of dissipating. He has started only two games there this spring. It certainly suggests that the Twins aren't planning on using Kirilloff regularly in left field for any extended length of time. Once you move past him, the options at the position become significantly less exciting, at least in the short-term. The club now seems firmly committed to keeping Luis Arraez (who started 24 games in left last year) in the infield. Brent Rooker's glove is not be trusted. Jake Cave and Kyle Garlick are uninspiring non-roster options. Nick Gordon is a pure plug-and-play backup who lacks the bat to be an asset in a corner outfield spot. Larnach is the one who holds the key. While there's plenty of reason to remain bullish on his future, it's hard to imagine the Twins are going to plug him right back into the Opening Day lineup after the way his rookie year concluded. Following a good start with the Twins, Larnach got thoroughly dominated for two months. From June 15th through August 15th, he slashed .193/.279/.298 with a 38.3% K-rate. He was then demoted to Triple-A, where he posted a .611 OPS in 10 games before being shut down. When major-league pitchers spot a weakness, they take advantage, and that's what happened here as they began to unload an endless bevy of breaking balls and changeups on Larnach, who mashed fastballs (.296 BA, .512 SLG) but struggled mightily against offspeed (.143 BA, .179 SLG). THE BOTTOM LINE Assuming Larnach goes back to Triple-A to build confidence and prove he's ready, Kirilloff should be in line for the lion's share of playing time in left field from day one. Unless the Twins have other plans. Which their behavior suggests they might. With only 10 days until the regular season gets underway, they are running short on time to orchestrate their final designs. Catch Up on the Rest of Our 2022 Previews: Position Analysis: Catcher Position Analysis: First Base Position Analysis: Second Base Position Analysis: Third Base Position Analysis: Shortstop
  18. Major League Baseball recently announced that teams will be able to carry 28-player rosters until May 1. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of injuries. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Ryan Jeffers, Gary Sanchez One of the biggest remaining questions is whether or not the Twins will carry a third catcher. Jeffers can't start every game behind the plate, and Sanchez is known as one of baseball's worst defenders. Minnesota's only other catcher on the 40-man roster is José Godoy, but it seems more likely for him to stay in St. Paul until there is a need at the big-league level. If Jeffers or Sanchez struggles behind the plate, Godoy is one phone call away from Target Field. Infielders (7): Luis Arraez, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Gio Urshela, Carlos Correa, Nick Gordon, Brent Rooker** Correa's addition undoubtedly changes the face of the infield, including solidifying the team's up-the-middle defense. Minnesota has made it clear that Arraez won't be getting regular playing time in the outfield, leaving him as a backup infield option at multiple positions. Last season, Arraez's defense was significantly improved at third base, so maybe he and Urshella will be fighting for playing time at the hot corner. Barring injury, Gordon and Rooker fill out the bench, but neither has a path to a consistent starting job. Outfielders (4): Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff, Trevor Larnach** With three corner outfielders, the Twins will need to be strategic about getting at-bats for each player. Larnach isn't a true fourth outfielder, so the team may want him in St. Paul to get regular at-bats. Kirilloff can spend time at first base, which is his best defensive position. Rooker is also on the roster, but the team is hesitant to play him defensively in the outfield. Gilberto Celestino is the lone outfielder on the 40-man roster left off this projected Opening Day roster. He was terrific in St. Paul last year, and he's one injury away from taking over a big-league role. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Dylan Bundy, Joe Ryan, Bailey Ober, Chris Archer Randy Dobnak's injury took him out of contention for an Opening Day roster spot. Minnesota signed Archer to serve as Dobnak's replacement at the rotation's backend. Archer's deal is a low-risk option for the Twins as it is highly incentive-based, but he has a chance to prove he is healthy. Also, it's important to consider that the Twins won't need a fifth starter very regularly at the beginning of the season. In some years, off-days and weather delays can push back the need for a fifth starter, but that won't be the case this season. Bullpen (10): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Jorge Alcala, Caleb Thielbar, Joe Smith, Cody Stashak, Jharel Cotton, Jovani Moran**, Griffin Jax**, Jhon Romero** This spring, Rogers has looked strong, which is a good sign for the bullpen's backend. Smith was the team's most significant offseason addition to the bullpen. He comes with over 13 years of big-league experience. Minnesota needed another right-handed relief option, and Smith filled that role. Cotton and Stashak have started in the past, so they can pitch multiple innings when needed. If there were a 26-man roster, the last three names would be fighting for a job. All three could enjoy a big-league paycheck for the season's first month with expanded rosters. What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Which on the bubble players will miss the cut? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  19. Nelson Cruz, Josh Donaldson, and Mitch Garver are no longer with the Minnesota Twins. Does that mean Twins fans should be worried about DH production this season? In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  20. In recent years, Nelson Cruz was penciled in as the team's primary designated hitter, and he performed at a high level in this role. Throughout the offseason, the Twins planned to rotate through various players in the DH role, but there has been a roster turnover since the lockout ended. Here are some of the names expected to fill the DH role in 2022. Gary Sánchez 2021 Stats: .204/.307/.423 (.730), 13 2B, 23 HR, 121 K, 117 G It seems likely for Sánchez to get the majority of his at-bats in the DH role this season because he is atrocious behind the plate. Sánchez has played 74 games as a DH for his career while hitting .224/.306/.469 (.775) with 11 doubles and 19 home runs. If Ryan Jeffers misses time or struggles, Sánchez will be pressed into service behind the plate. He's also in his final year of team control, and he likely wants to hit the market known for being a catcher and not just as a DH. There is an outside chance that Minnesota will include Sánchez in a trade before Opening Day, and then the team will have to turn to other DH options. Miguel Sanó 2021 Stats: .223/.312/.466 (.778), 24 2B, 30 HR, 183 K, 135 G Expectations were for Sanó to be used more regularly at the DH spot this season with Cruz out of the picture. Since switching to first base, he's made marginal defensive improvements, but SABR's SDI ranks him as the second-worst defensive first baseman. Also, Sanó isn't a stranger to the DH position as he's played nearly as many games at DH (155) as first base (195). He has a .753 OPS as the DH for his career, which is lower than when he plays a defensive position. Minnesota has a $14 million team option attached to Sanó with a $2.75 million buyout for next season. That's a steep price to pay for someone that has shifted to a more regular DH role. Brent Rooker 2021 Stats: .201/.291/.397 (.688), 10 2B, 9 HR, 70 K, 58 G Rooker has run out of things to prove in the minor leagues as he has a .932 OPS in nearly an entire season at Triple-A. The 27-year-old was used sporadically at the big-league level in 2020-21, and a DH role might be his best shot to earn a permanent role. Last season, he lost out on an Opening Day roster spot because the team was concerned with his defensive ability in the outfield. Those concerns likely remain, but Rooker is already behind the aforementioned names, and he may be relegated to a bench role this season. Other Options All three players mentioned seem to fit the prototypical DH mold, but others on the Twins roster will have the opportunity to fill the DH spot. Twins manager Rocco Baldelli has preached a mantra around giving players adequate rest, including moving a regular position player to the DH role for the day. Four outfielders currently project to make the Opening Day roster, so one of those players could fill in at DH on any given day. Besides the outfielders, Luis Arraez and Jorge Polanco have played through in-season injuries in the past. A day at DH may take some of the wear and tear off their knees (Arraez) and ankles (Polanco). Jose Miranda is also coming off a tremendous season, but he doesn't have a clear roster spot this spring. Would the team consider bringing him up to get at-bats in a DH role? Some other powerful prospects like Matt Wallner and Aaron Sabato are also working their way towards Target Field. Minnesota's DH plan seemed much clearer at the beginning of the offseason, but those plans have changed. Now, these options seem worse than the Twins' production out of the DH spot with Cruz. Should Twins fans be worried about production from the DH spot? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. Recently, I had the privilege to sit down with three outstanding wives of Minnesota Twins players. After the meeting was over, I sat back in my chair and took a deep breath because as impressive as the players are, their wives are the real MVPs, and these are their stories. I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family. The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers. Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there. Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff." "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team." "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us." "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful. While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? Babies. The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving. As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  22. I have been watching baseball for as long as I can remember. I have always loved everything about baseball; the sounds of the park, the food, and every play on the field. I learned a lot watching what happens on the field, in the dugout, and the bullpen, but one thing that I had yet to learn was that the struggle to get to that place meant putting a lot of stuff on hold, including relationships. Since they were in high school, Allie and Sarah have been with their husbands, Brent Rooker and Mitchell Garver, respectively. While the couples have been together for over ten years, "together" is a relative term when you're in a baseball family. The term "grind" was mentioned frequently in the interview because that's what being a baseball player is. When the guys aren't playing, they are training. There is never a time when they aren't getting ready for the next game. Because the guys are always on the go, independence has always been important to the wives. All women have their own lives, careers, and individuality, which is empowering. At the same time, they are proud to be Mrs. Cave, Mrs. Garver, and Mrs. Rooker. Saige, Sarah, and Allie are friends, daughters, career women, and mothers. The time they spent growing up while they supported their spouses, Allie and Sarah didn't know in high school or even early into college that the guys would play baseball outside of college. Contrary to popular belief, the women with their spouses from an early age genuinely don't rely on their spouses "being drafted ." The reality of players making it into the majors is that Less than eleven in 100, or about 10.5 percent, of NCAA senior male baseball players, will get drafted by a Major League Baseball (MLB) team. Approximately one in 200 or roughly 0.5 percent of high school senior boys playing interscholastic baseball will eventually be drafted by an MLB team. Allie and Sarah knew that their individuality and success were just as crucial as their husband's baseball careers. Allie and Brent Rooker went to different colleges out of high school, and long-distance didn't stop until after the Minnesota Twins drafted Brent in the 1st round (35th overall pick) of the 2017 amateur draft. Along with Brent being drafted, he and Allie got engaged in 2017. Still, there was no time to get into family mode because Allie graduated as an RN and started working in her field after college. And for Brent, the grind toward the majors began immediately. When the Minnesota Twins drafted Mitch Garver in the 9th round of the 2013 amateur draft, Sarah was in the middle of Veterinary School. They spent more time apart as Mitch found himself playing minor league ball with the Twins and Sarah finished her degree in Oregon. They had been together at the University of New Mexico, but Sarah had goals of becoming a vet, and she knew that would mean more time apart to attend school in Oregon, so while Mitch went off to play baseball in Florida, Sarah went to OSU to complete Vet school and graduated in 2018 with her Doctorate. Even though she graduated, she couldn’t join Mitch yet on the road as she started working in New Mexico. She officially joined Mitch in 2020, just in time for the pandemic. Saige and Jake Cave met when they were a little bit older. Saige had just graduated from college in Florida, and Jake was playing in the New York Yankees minor league system in Tampa. Saige was out walking her dog when they crossed paths, and that is the story. The simplicity of the story is as genuine as they are. She had already graduated college and was a nanny full-time. As a former D2 athlete, Saige vowed that she would never marry an athlete because she knows the grind and the demand, but she couldn't say no to Jake's charm, and the rest is history. They spent a lot of time as a new couple bouncing back and forth in Pennsylvania in the minor-league system. The travel was arduous, but luckily, Saige is from Pennsylvania and had family there. Their lives collided together in 2018 when Jake was traded from New York to Minnesota. The three women were very close and confided in me when I asked, "How important is this circle?" "It's incredibly important." Says Sarah. "I don't know what I would have done without these two," says Saige. "They literally are so welcoming and loving, and we spend all day texting and snap chatting back and forth. Allie sends the funniest stuff." "It's nice to know that someone gets it," Allie says, "Jake and Brent are also really close, and there is a picture of them from Brent's first day on the field smiling and Jake congratulating Brent." The women genuinely care for each other and look out for each other. None of the wives got the opportunity to travel with their husbands to games in 2020, which subsequently was the pandemic year, making 2021 their first full-time travel year. It blew my mind to think about that. These couples put their heart and soul into not only themselves but also grinding through rookie-ball, minor league ball, trades, and finally landing on your feet with a team, and life throws you a literal curve-ball. Their lives aren't all glam and cash-flow, which is how some people think it happens. It's not. The three of them, while they show their strong sides, show concern for what happens on the field. Sarah said that baseball is a day-to-day job. There is no guarantee, as demonstrated by the pandemic and the current lockout. If they don't have their careers, when baseball stops, so does the income, and that's a terrifying idea. All three wives recall their husbands having scary, possibly career-ending injuries and the fear that went into those moments. Brent suffered a displaced fracture of his right forearm on September 13th, 2020, when a pitch hit him against Cleveland. Jake played with a broken back in 2021 and ended up on the sixty-day injured list for rehab. And Mitch took a foul tip to the groin on June 1st, 2021, during a game with Baltimore and ended up on the injured list after emergency surgery late that night. Sarah and Allie both told me that the scariest thing for them was that they were not only not at the games where their husbands were injured, but their phones were blowing up with people asking if their husbands were okay. Having to take in that emotion and sort through the truth and what is being said in the media is very frustrating. "I am already VERY pregnant at this point and very emotional," says Sarah, "and I can't do anything for him right now, and that got to me. Thank God for the medical team." "Yes! The trainers, the Twins medical staff, they are our best friends," pipes in Allie, "They are there waiting for the guys in the waiting room to give us updates and reassure us." "They are literal lifelines," Says Saige, beyond thankful for the staff who helped bring Jake back from a broken back. "He broke his back giving himself to baseball, and it was reassuring that they were dedicated to helping him get better." Between the pandemic and injuries, 2020 and 2021 were stressful, and 2022 isn't any less stressful. While Sarah and Allie have their jobs to help cover the bills. The guys must stay in shape and ready to go to spring training at a moment's notice. Staying in baseball shape and baseball-ready means putting in eight to ten-hour days. It's bad enough when your husband is amid a lockout that threatens his career, but during the season, there are also bad days, bad games, and bad plays that haunt the guys when they come home. While the wives say they certainly need their space after a bad day, they are never petulant, maybe just a little in their head or a little off. What cures their post-game blues? Babies. The adorable babies that they come home to after a game. The kids, Gamble (Sarah and Mitch) and Blair (Allie and Brent), are close together in age and are rumored to be betrothed later in life. The oldest of the crew is Sloane, Jake and Saige's daughter, and she had the job of entertaining us and did a great job! That morning we talked; we were all in our sweats, hair up, kids and dogs everywhere. It was the most laid back conversation, and I realized that these are moms, just like me, like the other women baseball fans. Their main priorities are their families, the kids, and keeping life as simple as possible in a chaotic role. Finding the balance between being an individual, friend, daughter, wife, and mom is not easy. But they do it. And they do it with grace, messy buns, and a smile. Having a solid community is essential because the outside world can be cruel. Their husbands have a bad day at work, and everyone knows about it. What makes it harder about bad games and injuries is what people say about their husbands online. Talking to the women about what they go through, reading, and seeing those things changed my life and outlook on baseball. These three baseball players are not millionaires, as people have been screaming about on Twitter for the past six weeks. But they do fall into the 65% of MLB players who make under $1MM. The lockout is not easy on the families. Mitch is in his second year of arbitration, and makes more than league minimum, but that doesn’t change the impact of the lock out. They may make more than the average Joe, but the average Joe has one home, one State to live in, and a job he can drive to every day. These families have to be prepared for the season with housing for spring training, a house or apartment in the State where they play ball full time, and their place in their home state. Their paychecks ensure that they can afford to play next season and take care of their family in the off-season. Even with all the stress, crazy schedules, the current lockout, I have never seen stronger, happier women. These women not only empower their husbands, but they also empower each other. As a baseball fan, I was shocked that they wouldn't watch baseball without their husbands playing. But, watching their husbands play is one of the most endearing, exciting things they experience. Their first at-bats stick out as core memories for the wives. "Don't strike out" is the only thing Sarah is thinking as Mitch takes the plate for the first time on August 19th, 2017, knowing that is a genuine possibility. They laugh about their passion for the game and how it never leaves their minds. On off-days, any of them can ask their husband, "What are you thinking about?" Saige says, "Usually Jake says, 'my hitting,'" as she laughs. The players are either thinking about training for baseball, their last game, their upcoming game, or their swing. While they don't know specifics about their game day routines or superstitions, one thing they do know is the smiles on their husband's faces as they play the game they grew up loving. As dedicated as the players are to their craft, they are devoted equally at home. All three women talked about how amazing the guys are with the kids. The lockout has left the families stressed, but the ability to have more time together, which none take for granted. Already following in dad's footsteps is Sloane Cave. Sloane loves to play baseball, and Jake loves to help her play. Sloane talks about going on the field with dad and watching him play, but some of her fondest memories she will have with dad allow her to play on her youth team with dad being the coach and the mentor. She loves that one-on-one quality time with Jake. The kids have a unique advantage that many kids don't, and that's watching dad play baseball, going on the field, in the dugout, and hanging out with the other major-league players and their families. When it comes to strength, baseball players are some of the strongest athletes I have encountered. Mentally and physically, players have to be ready for quite literally anything that happens in a game, from injury to a long stretch or dive to get the ball or to be fast enough to round the bases when a line drive hugs the foul line deep into left field. But, what's more, vital to the players are the families that stand behind them. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  23. Although MLB is in the middle of a lockout, that doesn’t mean baseball as a whole is shut down. If you find yourself missing baseball, I would highly suggest getting into college baseball. There are nearly 300 Division I baseball programs in the country, so you surely should be able to find a team to root for, wherever you may live. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email. View full article
  24. On the Twins 40-man roster, there are five position players who played college baseball. All five of these players had great success in college, leading them to get drafted in the top ten rounds of the MLB draft. Josh Donaldson, C/IF, Auburn After hitting .515 as a senior in high school, the future Twins third baseman decided to take his talents to Auburn University. In Donaldson's freshman year, he immediately made an impact on the Tigers. After seeing limited playing time for the first month of the season, he became their everyday third baseman in their series against Arkansas and never looked back. Donaldson finished his freshman campaign hitting .294/.347/.477 (.824) with seven doubles, seven home runs, and 26 RBI. Donaldson came into his sophomore year with increased responsibilities, as he was asked to catch. He made 56 starts (every game), with 36 being behind the dish and 20 being at third base. He once again was a very solid bat for the Tigers, hitting .276/.331/.487 (.818) with 16 doubles, ten home runs, and 42 RBI. This season earned him Louisville Slugger Preseason All-American status heading into his junior year. In Donaldson's junior year, he was stellar in all facets of the game. He hit .349/.444/.591 (1.035) with 19 doubles, 11 home runs, and 54 RBI. He also walked 38 times compared to only 27 strikeouts. One aspect of Donaldson’s game that really came into fruition was his baserunning. Donaldson stole 17 bases after only stealing one base between his first two years. It was clear from this standout season that Donaldson was ready for the big leagues, so he got drafted with the 48th overall pick by the Chicago Cubs after his junior season. Donaldson finished his career hitting .307/.378/.522 (.900) with 42 doubles, 28 home runs, and 122 RBI in 158 career games with the Tigers. Mitch Garver, C, University of New Mexico In 2013, the Twins used their ninth-round pick on a bat-first catcher out of the University of New Mexico by the name of Mitch Garver. A hometown kid, Garver grew up in Albuquerque, New Mexico, and was lucky enough to be able to stay at his hometown university for college at UNM. As a freshman, Garver served as the backup catcher to former Brewers farmhand Rafael Neda. He made 11 starts and hit .277/.351/.385 (.736) with five doubles and 15 RBI. Neda got drafted after this year, and Garver took the reins his sophomore year in which he started all 61 games. He improved at the plate, hitting .300/.380/.400 (.780) with 13 doubles, two home runs, 28 walks (led team), and 27 RBI. Garver went from a solid hitter his first two years to an absolute powerhouse his junior year. In his junior year, Garver once again started all 61 games, hitting .377/.438/.612 (1.050) with 27 doubles (led team), ten home runs, and 57 RBI. He earned Co-Mountain West Player of the Year honors, was named a national finalist for the Johnny Bench Award, and was named a second-team All-American by Louisville Slugger. Defensively, he was great, throwing out 39.6 percent of base stealers In his senior year, Garver once again started every game. He set the record for most consecutive games started at UNM with 181. He also hit .390/.458/.589 with 21 doubles, five triples, and six home runs. He also drove in 68 runs and was once again named a Johnny Bench finalist, Co-MW Player of the Year, and an Academic All-American for the fourth straight year. He finished his Lobo career 5th all-time in doubles and had the most career hits as a catcher in Lobo history. Ryan Jeffers, C, UNC Wilmington When Ryan Jeffers decided to go to UNC Wilmington, he would only be heading about two hours south from his hometown of Raleigh, NC. The three-time all-conference player in high school would go on to have an unbelievable career at Wilmington where he was one of the best catchers in the country. His freshman year, he served as the backup catcher behind future Diamondback farmhand Gavin Stupienski. Jeffers appeared in 13 games as a freshman, going 8-for-23 (.348) at the plate with three doubles and a home run. Although he did not see a whole lot of action in his freshman year of 2016, Jeffers showed a lot of promise and it was clear that he would be one of their best guys going forward, with Stupienski getting drafted following the 2016 season. In Jeffers’ sophomore campaign, he started 52 games and proved his success in 2016 was no fluke. He hit .328/.422/.604 (1.026) with 19 doubles, ten home runs, and 32 RBI. He also received a variety of honors, including NCCSIA First-Team All-State, ABCA All-East First-Team, and First-Team All-CAA. His third and final year at UNC Wilmington, he started all 62 games, hitting .315/.460/.635 (1.095) with 22 doubles, 16 home runs, 59 RBI, and 51 walks. He led the Colonial Athletic Association in doubles, home runs, OBP, and slugging percentage. He was once again named First-Team All-CAA and to the NCAA Greenville All-Regional team. Jeffers was rewarded for his great season by being drafted in the second round with the 59th pick by the Twins in the 2018 draft. Trevor Larnach, OF, Oregon State Despite being drafted by the San Diego Padres in the 40th round of the MLB Draft out of high school, Trevor Larnach opted not to sign and headed up to Corvallis, Oregon to start his college baseball career. Larnach’s freshman season at Oregon State was quite unremarkable. In 28 games (12 starts), Larnach hit a measly .157/.271/.176 (.447) with one double and three RBI. In increased playing time sophomore year (58 starts), Larnach hit .303/.421/.429 (.850) with 16 doubles, three home runs, 39 walks (led team), and 48 RBI (led team). He was named All-Pac-12 Conference Honorable Mention and was also named to the Corvallis Regional All-Tournament Team. The Oregon State Beavers made it to the semifinals of the College World Series before falling to LSU. In 2018, Larnach’s junior year, he was one of the best players in the country. Larnach hit .344/.458/.648 (1.106) with 18 doubles, 19 home runs, and 76 RBI. He was named to the All-American team, PAC-12 All-Conference Team, and received many other prestigious awards. On top of all of that, Larnach’s Beavers won the College World Series, much to his help. In the College World Series, Larnach hit .417/.447/.694 (1.142) with five doubles, one home run, and nine RBI. He also had the biggest hit of the World Series, a tie-breaking two home run in Oregon State’s elimination game with two outs in the top of the ninth. Larnach was drafted by the Twins in the first round (20th overall) in 2018. Larnach is a legend in Corvallis, and hopefully he can bring some of that playoff magic to the Minnesota Twins in the near future. Brent Rooker, OF, Mississippi State Rooker, unlike Larnach, was relatively unknown going into his freshman year at Mississippi State. Rooker did not see any action in his first year as a Bulldog, taking a redshirt year. His sophomore year, he played in 34 of the team’s 54 games, making 20 starts. He hit .257/.325/.378 (.703) with three doubles, two home runs, and 12 RBI. He primarily served as the team’s designated hitter and played a couple of games in left field. In Rooker's junior year, he took a major step forward. He hit .324/.376/.578 (.954) and had a team-best 11 home runs and 54 RBI. For this effort, Rooker was named to the All-SEC second team and was drafted by the Minnesota Twins in the 38th round. However, Rooker opted not to sign and came back to Mississippi State for his senior season. Rooker just did that, having a historic 2017 for the Bulldogs. Rooker absolutely mashed, hitting .387/.495/.810 (1.305!!!). Rooker set the single-season Mississippi State record for doubles in a season with 30. He led the SEC in doubles, home runs (23), batting average, OBP, slugging percentage, OPS, and RBI (82). He even stole 18 bases. He was named All-SEC first team, All-American, SEC player of the year, and National Player of the Year. Rooker’s 2017 season is one of the best seasons by any college player in recent history, and he was drafted in the first round by the Twins with the 35th overall pick. Had Rooker signed in 2016, he would have received a $1,000 signing bonus. In 2017, he received a $1.935 million dollar signing bonus. Rooker bet on himself and it paid off. Who had the best college career out of these five? Which current Twins prospects that attended college are you most excited for? Leave a comment below and start a discussion Thank you for reading, and Go Twins! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email.
  25. Trevor Larnach was front and center for a brief moment in 2021, crushing homers and brightening the future of the offense. But just as quickly as he showed up, he was gone. What can we expect from the slugging left hander moving forward? Fellow first-round picks Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff have been near each other on the Twins prospect lists for years and had similar ETAs to make their debuts at Target Field. It was only natural that when Kirilloff got the call, Larnach made the jump shortly thereafter. Kirilloff showed that a trip back to the minors was unlikely despite his season-ending injury. Larnach’s 2021 however is a bit tougher to piece together. The Good Despite just 13 at-bats in his AAA career, Larnach looked far from overmatched upon his arrival. He posted an .845 OPS through his first month with an incredible eye at the plate. The left-hander was showing off some tremendous power as well with some tape-measure home runs and hit a ball 116 mph, a strong indicator of raw power. In the outfield, Larnach did surprisingly well in some facets. Left field appeared to be a bit of a struggle, but in right field, he played the overhang incredibly well, posting an Outs Above Average of 2 and 4 Defensive Runs Saved. We've heard Larnach isn't the fleetest of foot throughout his minor league career and there's been little in the way of excitement over his defense. That being said, he showed that he not only has the ability to be a difference-maker at the plate, but that he could surprisingly be a plus defender as well. The Bad Despite Larnach’s .845 OPS in his first month, he finished with a final OPS of just .672. It’s not hard to imagine the steep decline it would take for such a drop-off. From June 1 forward, Larnach posted a slash line of .222/.301/.320, a .621 OPS. The issues were completely obvious: Larnach stopped seeing fastballs. He hit .165 and slugged .215 against breaking balls in 2021 as well as .143 and .179 against off-speed pitches. 72% of his strikeouts came against pitches other than fastballs. Further complicating his struggles was an injury sustained after fouling a ball off of his foot. It’s hard to say whether the nagging foot pain contributed to the hitting woes, but after his demotion to St. Paul Larnach struggled mightily and played in just 10 games before being shut down for the season. What’s Next? With his significant struggles fresh in our minds, it’s understandable that the former top prospect has lost some shine in some fans' eyes. He’s shown a very significant weakness that will surely be abused at the Major League level over and over again until he shows he can overcome it. That being said, Larnach is far from the stereotypical slugger. Comparing him to a similarly tremendous slugger in Brent Rooker, for example, Larnach has a much better plate approach and his eye at the plate has held up at every stop of the minor leagues. He’s also been graded as having a far superior hit tool to Rooker, meaning more contact should be expected moving forward. He still has his issues to fix against the soft stuff, but his advanced offensive approach should prevent him from collapsing into the pool of hitters who can crush the ball on the rare occasion they make contact. These adjustments would likely be easier to make if he’s 100% healthy in 2022 as well. Larnach’s early showing defensively, especially in right field, is extremely encouraging. The Twins have a rash of depth in the corner outfield with more on its way in the minors. If Larnach can be more than just a body to put out there to get his bat in the lineup, he could easily grab that job if the necessary adjustments are made at the plate. These results also have to be encouraging for the front office, who will likely have to part with controllable pieces to get the arms needed to fill out the rotation effectively. Max Kepler has long been a rumored trade asset for example. While he’s had his incredible defensive seasons in right field, Larnach being competent at the position with a step up on offense would make Kepler much easier to part with. Larnach has possibly already shown more of a ceiling against left-handed pitching with 15 hits in 90 plate appearances against southpaws in 2021. Like much of the Twins 2021 season, Larnach’s year had an encouraging start only to collapse down the stretch. That being said, such tendencies are not uncommon when it comes to rookies getting their first taste of Major League pitching. He may not be as highly rated as a possibly generational hitter such as Kirilloff, but Larnach is a pure hitter capable of adjusting. Regardless of the teams’ plans to compete in 2022, he should spend a few months in St. Paul before getting another crack at cementing a roster spot for the next six years. Come this time next offseason, we may just be talking about Trevor Larnach as a staple in the heart of the Twins 2023 lineup. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
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