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  1. Minnesota isn't going to end the team's playoff losing streak this year, but plenty of former Twins are helping their team fight for the playoffs. Here is one former Twin assisting each NL playoff contender. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  2. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? 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
  3. Kenta Maeda is going under the knife today after a somewhat disappointing 2021 season. The extent of the injury will be known when the surgery is complete. (Editor's Update: Maeda had Tommy John surgery on Wednesday.) So, two seasons after the deal, can we answer yet which team won the Kenta Maeda trade? Minnesota had many reasons to be interested in trading for Kenta Maeda before the 2020 season. He had shown positive signs during his time in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers had an influx of starting pitching. He pitched over 125 innings in each of his first four big-league seasons, but the team tended to move him to a bullpen role as the season came to a close. Injury concerns might have been one of the reasons the Dodgers tried to limit Maeda’s innings. (At least that sounds better than trying to limit how much they had to pay him.) When he initially signed from Japan, his physical exam revealed “irregularities” in his right elbow. At the time, MLB.com said, “the strong suspicion is that he will need Tommy John reconstruction at some point.” This prognosis resulted in a very team-friendly eight-year contract which guaranteed Maeda a minimum of $25 million with a chance to be worth over $106 million. This gave the Dodgers some wiggle room if Maeda did go under the knife. He pitched over 600 innings for the Dodgers, and they went on multiple World Series runs, and his elbow wasn’t an issue. Team-controlled starting pitching is one of baseball’s most valuable assets, so Maeda was an easy target for the Twins. His team-friendly deal was a positive, and he hadn’t shown any injury concerns up to this point. Any team trading for a player gets access to their medical records, so there must not have been anything out of the ordinary regarding Maeda’s physical. Plus, the Twins saw their winning window was open, and Maeda helped make the team better. Maeda provided Minnesota with everything they wanted and more during his first season with the club. He finished runner-up for the Cy Young Award after a dominating season where he posted a 2.70 ERA and an MLB-leading 0.75 WHIP. He struck out 80 batters in 66 2/3 innings while only issuing ten walks. From the other perspective, Brusdar Graterol has pitched less than 50 innings for the Dodgers. He has posted a 3.50 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. Graterol makes hitting triple-digits look easy, but he has yet to develop into a dominant late-inning reliever. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2023, and he can’t reach free agency until 2026, so there is plenty of time for the 22-year-old to develop. Two minor league players and a draft pick were also part of this trade. Luke Raley went back to LA after initially being part of the Brian Dozier trade. He has 30 big-league games under his belt, and he has hit .169/.246/.237 with two extra-base hits. He has mashed with a .982 OPS at Triple-A this season, and 29 extra-base hits in 58 games. The Dodger also received a 2020 competitive balance round pick (66th overall), which they used to select Clayton Beeter. He has been used in an opener style role this season while posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 13.8 K/9. Minnesota received Jair Camargo, who has hit .233/.281/.452 with 21 extra-base hits at High-A Cedar Rapids this year. Maeda’s recent injury news means there is a good chance he misses all of the 2022 season, and that might be the season Minnesota needs him the most. Also, a missed season means the next time he steps on the mound will be during his age-35 campaign. So what do you think? Which team do you think won the trade, or is it still too early to judge? 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
  4. Minnesota had many reasons to be interested in trading for Kenta Maeda before the 2020 season. He had shown positive signs during his time in Los Angeles, and the Dodgers had an influx of starting pitching. He pitched over 125 innings in each of his first four big-league seasons, but the team tended to move him to a bullpen role as the season came to a close. Injury concerns might have been one of the reasons the Dodgers tried to limit Maeda’s innings. (At least that sounds better than trying to limit how much they had to pay him.) When he initially signed from Japan, his physical exam revealed “irregularities” in his right elbow. At the time, MLB.com said, “the strong suspicion is that he will need Tommy John reconstruction at some point.” This prognosis resulted in a very team-friendly eight-year contract which guaranteed Maeda a minimum of $25 million with a chance to be worth over $106 million. This gave the Dodgers some wiggle room if Maeda did go under the knife. He pitched over 600 innings for the Dodgers, and they went on multiple World Series runs, and his elbow wasn’t an issue. Team-controlled starting pitching is one of baseball’s most valuable assets, so Maeda was an easy target for the Twins. His team-friendly deal was a positive, and he hadn’t shown any injury concerns up to this point. Any team trading for a player gets access to their medical records, so there must not have been anything out of the ordinary regarding Maeda’s physical. Plus, the Twins saw their winning window was open, and Maeda helped make the team better. Maeda provided Minnesota with everything they wanted and more during his first season with the club. He finished runner-up for the Cy Young Award after a dominating season where he posted a 2.70 ERA and an MLB-leading 0.75 WHIP. He struck out 80 batters in 66 2/3 innings while only issuing ten walks. From the other perspective, Brusdar Graterol has pitched less than 50 innings for the Dodgers. He has posted a 3.50 ERA with 33 strikeouts in 46 1/3 innings. Graterol makes hitting triple-digits look easy, but he has yet to develop into a dominant late-inning reliever. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2023, and he can’t reach free agency until 2026, so there is plenty of time for the 22-year-old to develop. Two minor league players and a draft pick were also part of this trade. Luke Raley went back to LA after initially being part of the Brian Dozier trade. He has 30 big-league games under his belt, and he has hit .169/.246/.237 with two extra-base hits. He has mashed with a .982 OPS at Triple-A this season, and 29 extra-base hits in 58 games. The Dodger also received a 2020 competitive balance round pick (66th overall), which they used to select Clayton Beeter. He has been used in an opener style role this season while posting a 2.89 ERA and a 1.12 WHIP with 13.8 K/9. Minnesota received Jair Camargo, who has hit .233/.281/.452 with 21 extra-base hits at High-A Cedar Rapids this year. Maeda’s recent injury news means there is a good chance he misses all of the 2022 season, and that might be the season Minnesota needs him the most. Also, a missed season means the next time he steps on the mound will be during his age-35 campaign. So what do you think? Which team do you think won the trade, or is it still too early to judge? 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
  5. Brusdar Graterol is no longer a Twin. In what looks like a trade that worked for both teams, the Los Angeles Dodgers acquired him in exchange for Kenta Maeda. The latter being part of the Cy Young conversation eases the sting of parting with a dazzling prospect like Graterol. But that might not be the only benefit of the trade. “If Graterol celebrates like that in a Twins uniform, it very well may have torn the fanbase asunder, never to be joined again,” said Jeremy Hornbacher, a Hamline grad student specializing in Minnesota sports pathology. Hornbacher is referencing the flame-throwing reliever throwing his glove and cap in the air to celebrate Clay Bellinger’s game-saving catch in the 7th inning of the Dodgers’ 6-5 defeat of the Padres on Wednesday. San Diego’s Manny Machado clearly took exception, mouthing “[Expletive] you” and “I’ll be waiting for you” to Graterol. The pitcher responded by blowing him a kiss. “Minnesota has two very strong fan cultures that meet in certain spots and diverge in others,” said Hornbacher. “One is unreasonably defensive of the hometown team’s players, and one is pathologically obsessed with playing the game the ‘right’ way, whatever that means. “Graterol doing that in a Twins uniform, much less in a playoff game? The result would have been mass chaos, Anderson-on-Anderson violence across the state.” Hornbacher says years of analysis led him to this conclusion. “Going all the way back to 1961, I’ve not found one instance of a Minnesota fan acknowledging that the opposition had a valid concern regarding the behavior of a Minneapolis or St. Paul-based athlete,” said the Roseville native. “This runs headlong into the more recent phenomenon of people with mortgages and kids calling KFAN to deride players as knuckleheads or prima donnas for showing the barest hint of emotion.” When asked to speculate on the toll this would take, Hornbacher shuddered. “I think we’d lose Willmar,” said Hornbacher. “Entire towns just…gone. That trade not only solidified the rotation, it saved lives.”
  6. Wednesday was about as ugly as it gets. After giving away the game to Houston on Tuesday, Minnesota watched their Postseason hopes go up in flames, for an 18th consecutive loss. Now out of the end-of-season-tournament, how can we put a Twins spin on the great baseball action still left? If you missed what the San Diego Padres did yesterday afternoon and into the evening, that’s really too bad. It’s performances like those that define October baseball. The Twins are out of it, and so are countless other teams. In fact, the entirety of the AL Central is now eliminated. That doesn’t mean there aren’t avenues to pull for guys that once made an impact in a Minnesota uniform. Ryan Pressly – Houston Astros This one is tough personally because Ryan and his wife Kat are people I’ve gotten to know. They are both awesome individuals, and Ryan evolving into one of the game’s best relievers has been fun to see. Watching him take his abilities to a whole new level in embracing different techniques in Houston was also exciting. The downside is that he’s teammates with Carlos Correa, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve. I can get past them having just beaten the Twins, and I can even move on from the fact that those guys cheated so substantially. What rubs me the wrong way is that the trio remains brazen, unapologetic, and completely aloof when it comes to their public perception. Ryan, go shove, but the rest of the Astros can shove it. Liam Hendriks and Robbie Grossman – Oakland Athletics Hendriks is hardly a secret anymore. He’s been one of baseball’s best relievers for a number of years, and some new hardware should be coming his way for the performance in 2020. Recently fresh off defeating the Chicago White Sox, there’s plenty to like about that outcome as well. Grossman went from a disaster year defensively with the Twins to a complete turnaround and one of the better glue guys in baseball. He’s not a household name, and while he’s always going to be an OBP-guru, he’ll never rack up the accolades. Both are extremely easy to root for, however. Go Athletics! Aaron Hicks – New York Yankees It’ll be a cold day in hell before I every cheer for the Yankees in a baseball game. That said, former top prospect Aaron Hicks remains among my favorite to follow around the game. He’s been great with New York when healthy, and although it crushed the Twins, the diving catch he made to steal a game winning hit from Max Kepler last summer was nothing short of amazing. Go Aaron, boo Yankees. Nick Anderson – Tampa Bay Rays A first-class organization is always easy to pull for, and the Rays are in the driver’s seat this season as a one seed. Nick Anderson is someone I touch on constantly through Twitter as it still irks me that Derek Falvey let this one get away. The former Twins prospect was tearing up Triple-A and was never given a chance to even flash his stuff at the big-league level. Instead he’s gone on to become one of the nastiest relievers in all of baseball. He’s a Minnesota native, and would’ve looked great in the Twins baby blues. Hopefully, he’s part of a Rays squad that downs the Evil Empire. Brandon Kintzler – Miami Marlins What a season it has been for this team. They needed to basically reconstruct an entire roster just days into an already weird year, and then made the Postseason despite being expected to perform as somewhat of a bottom feeder. Kintzler closed out games for the Twins a couple of years ago and is now doing the same for Miami. He was under-appreciated here and always seemed like a good due. Certainly not going to blow the ball by anyone, but he can serve up ground balls with the best of them. This is a Cinderella story I can get behind. Brusdar Graterol – Los Angeles Dodgers Kenta Maeda came over to the Twins and performed like an absolute ace. There’s nothing wrong with both teams benefitting from a good trade, and it seems like that’s what at play here. Minnesota’s former top pitching prospect closed out a series win following Clayton Kershaw last night. He throws 100 and is always smiling. The Bazooka is a level-headed kid that’s going to see plenty more success. The Dodgers are the favorites, and with good reason. If you want to get behind a near sure thing, this is your team. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  7. All offseason the talk was that the Minnesota Twins needed an ace. Someone that could slot into the rotation at the level of Jose Berrios or higher would fit that bill. There was plenty of consternation when it took moving Brusdar Graterol to land the piece, but Kenta Maeda is here to stay. The Dodgers signed Maeda out of Japan and his first season in the majors came at 28-years-old. Despite being relied upon for over 500 innings while with Los Angeles, Maeda was often shuffled back and forth between the rotation and bullpen. Given their overall pitching strength it was a luxury LA had, but one that wore on the Japanese star. Deemed expendable this offseason and enticed by a flame throwing prospect, the Dodgers made the move and Minnesota got their guy. Dubbed a number three in the Dodgers rotation behind the likes of Clayton Kershaw and Walker Buehler, there was always plenty of upside for the Twins to exploit. Fast forward to the final week of the 2020 Major League Baseball season and Minnesota seems to have found their ace. Through 10 starts Maeda owns a sparkling 2.52 ERA. He has a career best 10.5 K/9 and also is allowing a career low 1.5 BB/9. He leads the league with a 5.3 H/9 and also has a league leading 0.758 WHIP. He’s got a 5-1 record in the decisions column, and Minnesota is 7-3 when he takes the ball. He’s yet to miss a quality start in any turn, and he’s gone at least 6.0 IP in seven of his 10 total outings. No matter how you define the role of an ace Kenta Maeda has embodied it this season. He’s been dominant. He’s been reliable. He’s been consistent. Now it also looks like he’ll be rewarded as Minnesota’s game one starter in the Wild Card round of the Postseason. Starting on Wednesday the 23rd against the Tigers, he lines up to toe take the ball when the Twins open a home playoff series. There could certainly be some handwringing over the fact that it’s Maeda and not Jose Berrios being entrusted with the opportunity to set the tone in a short series, however this elevation of ability is probably good for both of them. Berrios really struggled out of the gate this year for the Twins, and despite being dominant of late, he had an uphill battle to climb. It was hoped that 2020 would be another step forward for Jose, and while the sum of all parts may represent as much, it’s again been a tale of two halves. As Minnesota looks to rebuild their rotation again in 2021, with plenty of departures pending, it will be a welcome relief that Berrios is joined by another constant in Maeda. Neither of these guys will crack true ace status across baseball, reserved for just the top ten or so arms in the sport. However, both can pitch as staff aces, and the ability to be interchangeable or play off of one another is something that Rocco Baldelli and his staff have to be excited about for years to come. It’s certainly not easy moving on from a prospect that has been talked up for so long. When you have an opportunity to cash in for proven, upper level talent though, you have to jump at it. Maybe Brusdar Graterol will turn out to be more than Maeda ever is, but by that time Minnesota will be long past the current window they’re looking to capitalize on. You wanted an ace Twins fans, and he’s here, in the form of Kenta Maeda. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  8. Few if any high school baseball games were played this spring and college baseball saw their schedules ended almost before it could get started. For MLB organizations, evaluating talent leading into the 2020 MLB Draft is going to bring challenges never experience by front offices. Now, baseball announced a slew of changes to the draft for this year and these changes could hurt the Twins more than other teams.Many news outlets began reporting at the end of last week that the MLB amateur draft would be limited to five rounds with the event being held over two days, June 10-11. Beyond the fifth round, teams can sign undrafted players, but the maximum signing bonus is $20,000. From most accounts, front offices wanted a longer draft, but the owners pushed back, as a cost-savings measure. It also allows some teams to continue to pay their employees. Minnesota’s front office made decisions that cost the team multiple picks before they knew the draft was going to be shortened. The Twins lost their third-round pick for signing free agent Josh Donaldson as he rejected a qualifying offer from the Braves. Also, the club traded away their competitive balance second-round pick as part of the trade involving Kenta Maeda and Brusdar Graterol. This leaves the Twins with their first-round pick (27th overall), second-round pick (59th overall), fourth round-pick (128th overall) and fifth-round pick (158th overall). Only having two picks in the top 127 players drafted is a tough pill to swallow, but so is only having four total picks. Fewer picks mean the Twins will have an even smaller bonus pool for signing players. Minnesota’s $4,528,600 bonus pool is the fourth smallest as they only rank above the Braves, Yankees, and Astros. Another consideration for shortening the draft is there is little known about what kind of minor league season will be played in 2020. MLB might use the current pandemic to push for one item they have wanted, fewer affiliated minor league teams. One of Minnesota’s longest affiliates might not survive the current situation. Teams already have players in their system and the traditional 40-round draft doesn’t make sense if there aren’t multiple rookie league rosters to fill. There will also be some tough decisions for draft-eligible players. If a player isn’t taken in the first five rounds, is it worth it to sign for $20,000? Many minor league players are already struggling to make ends meet and signing bonuses in previous years could help a player to have some financial stability before making it to the big leagues. With that being said, some of these undrafted players are going to sign. Since there will be a larger pool than normal of undrafted players, this group will have more freedom to decide which organization to join. Players and agents can look up the farm system rankings for any team. As a player, would you want to go to play for the Twins, MLB.com’s 7th ranked farm system? Or would it make more sense to go and play for an organization in the bottom ranking’s bottom half with less resistance to the big leagues? Minnesota isn’t the lone organization or group hurt by what is left of the 2020 MLB Draft. Other organizations, college seniors and some minorities will be facing an uphill battle to make their professional baseball dreams come true. What are your thoughts on the changes to this year’s MLB Draft? 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 Click here to view the article
  9. Many news outlets began reporting at the end of last week that the MLB amateur draft would be limited to five rounds with the event being held over two days, June 10-11. Beyond the fifth round, teams can sign undrafted players, but the maximum signing bonus is $20,000. From most accounts, front offices wanted a longer draft, but the owners pushed back, as a cost-savings measure. It also allows some teams to continue to pay their employees. Minnesota’s front office made decisions that cost the team multiple picks before they knew the draft was going to be shortened. The Twins lost their third-round pick for signing free agent Josh Donaldson as he rejected a qualifying offer from the Braves. Also, the club traded away their competitive balance second-round pick as part of the trade involving Kenta Maeda and Brusdar Graterol. This leaves the Twins with their first-round pick (27th overall), second-round pick (59th overall), fourth round-pick (128th overall) and fifth-round pick (158th overall). Only having two picks in the top 127 players drafted is a tough pill to swallow, but so is only having four total picks. Fewer picks mean the Twins will have an even smaller bonus pool for signing players. Minnesota’s $4,528,600 bonus pool is the fourth smallest as they only rank above the Braves, Yankees, and Astros. Another consideration for shortening the draft is there is little known about what kind of minor league season will be played in 2020. MLB might use the current pandemic to push for one item they have wanted, fewer affiliated minor league teams. One of Minnesota’s longest affiliates might not survive the current situation. Teams already have players in their system and the traditional 40-round draft doesn’t make sense if there aren’t multiple rookie league rosters to fill. There will also be some tough decisions for draft-eligible players. If a player isn’t taken in the first five rounds, is it worth it to sign for $20,000? Many minor league players are already struggling to make ends meet and signing bonuses in previous years could help a player to have some financial stability before making it to the big leagues. With that being said, some of these undrafted players are going to sign. Since there will be a larger pool than normal of undrafted players, this group will have more freedom to decide which organization to join. Players and agents can look up the farm system rankings for any team. As a player, would you want to go to play for the Twins, MLB.com’s 7th ranked farm system? Or would it make more sense to go and play for an organization in the bottom ranking’s bottom half with less resistance to the big leagues? Minnesota isn’t the lone organization or group hurt by what is left of the 2020 MLB Draft. Other organizations, college seniors and some minorities will be facing an uphill battle to make their professional baseball dreams come true. What are your thoughts on the changes to this year’s MLB Draft? 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
  10. Welcome to the Grapefruit League South! Under MLB’s new proposal, the Twins would play in a division that includes the Boston Red Sox, Atlanta Braves, Tampa Bay Rays, and Baltimore Orioles. With most of the original AL East and a strong Braves team, Minnesota’s path to the postseason will be tougher, but could it make the team stronger over the course of the season? The Cellar Baltimore is not going anywhere this season, especially coming off a season where the club lost 108 games. The Orioles are likely happy to be getting out of playing the Yankees 19-times this season. Other than that, they would see most of the AL East on a regular basis under this plan. Most teams in the Grapefruit League South should take full advantage of a rebuilding Baltimore squad. There are few up-and-coming stars on Baltimore’s roster and their farm system isn’t exactly overflowing with MLB talent. It seems like the Orioles are destined for the cellar no matter what division they are placed in for 2020. Predicted Division Finish: 5th The Mighty Have Fallen Boston entered this off-season with one goal, cut payroll and get under the luxury tax threshold. After messing up a three-team trade including the Twins, the Red Sox were still able to make a deal to dump Mookie Betts and David Price while acquiring some decent prospects (one of which has been injured since the team made the trade). Minnesota versus Boston seems like such an intriguing storyline for the 2020 season. The Twins can use the cancelled Brusdar Graterol trade as motivation and run over one of the top organizations in recent years. The Red Sox aren’t exactly in win-now mode, so they may have less to play for in a season where the divisions are realigned. Predicted Division Finish: 4th The Contenders Tampa Bay and Atlanta are certainly more difficult than Cleveland and Chicago in the AL Central. That being said, the Twins were already expected to finish higher than these two teams in the regular season. MLB.com had the Twins, Rays and Braves ranked as the fourth, fifth and sixth team in their early-season Power Rankings. Tampa seems to always find a way to compete in a tough division and Atlanta is on the rise. Realistically, anything could happen in an altered season with the possibility of an electronic strike zone, new ballparks and a shortened schedule. Atlanta would also likely need to adjust to using a full-time designated hitter after having little to no time to prepare for the transition. The Braves still have Ronald Acuna, who might be the MLB’s second-best player behind Mike Trout. Predicted Division Finish: 2nd (Atlanta) and 3rd (Tampa) The Favorite? The Twins were supposed to be good, like really good. A historically good offense, a dominate bullpen and depth at starting pitching made it hard not to conjure up memories of the 1987 and 1991 season. Minnesota also saw plenty of line-up pieces deal with injuries last season. A completely healthy line-up would offer little rest for a pitching staff from one through nine in the line-up. Rich Hill could also be healthy for the majority of the season. Realistically, the Braves, Rays and Twins would likely beat-up on each other throughout a shortened season and teams would need to take advantage of games against the Orioles and Red Sox. This is a significantly tougher division for the Twins, but it could make them more playoff ready and that could be a concern for other team’s across baseball. Predicted Division Finish: 1st How do you feel like the division would turn out? 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
  11. Wilson Ramos Many fans will be upset when mentioning the Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps trade. Ramos was a top-65 prospect by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. He recorded seven hits in his first two professional games, and it seemed like he could team up with Joe Mauer as a tremendous catching duo. Having Mauer still behind the plate made a catching prospect more expendable. Minnesota also needed more relief help during the 2010 campaign. If Capps had helped the Twins to an extended playoff run, his trade might have been forgotten. Instead, Twins fans watched Ramos blossom into an All-Star catcher with the Nationals and Rays. WAR Acquired: 0.9 WAR (Before Capps Resigned) WAR Lost: 10.4 WAR Matt Garza Trading Matt Garza for Delmon Young seemed like a perfect fit for both teams at the time with each player being a highly ranked prospect. Tampa needed more pitching to help them take the next step and Young provided a powerful right-handed bat between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the Twins line-up. Tampa would ride Garza to a World Series run, while the Twins made playoff appearances but Young was never a difference maker. Young, a former number one overall pick, finished second in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting. After joining Minnesota, he hit .287/.324/.429 (.753) but his bat never reached the potential he showed as a prospect and his defense was atrocious. Garza was the ALCS MVP and provided WAR totals of 3.4 or above in two of his three seasons in Tampa. WAR Acquired: 1.0 WAR WAR Lost: 8.5 WAR Alex Meyer and Trevor May These two trades seemed to get lumped together since they happened in the same off-season. With both trades above, the Twins were sending away top-100 prospects, but these trades were a little different. Minnesota dealt established outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere in exchange for pitching prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May along with Vance Worley. Meyer struggled as he moved through the upper levels on the minor leagues and he would only pitch in parts of four seasons in the organization. Eventually, he was traded to the Angels before injuries ended his career. He played 22 games at the big-league level and retired after his age-27 season. When trading for May, the Twins likely saw him as a starting pitching prospect, but he has found his niche in the Twins bullpen. Last season, he posted a sub-3.00 ERA while striking out 79 batters in 64 1/3 innings. He can be a free agent at season’s end so he will have plenty to pitch for during the 2020 campaign. WAR Acquired: -0.6 (Meyer), 2.0 (May), and -1.1 (Worley) WAR Lost: 7.0 (Span) and 4.1 (Revere) How did the Twins fare in these trades involving former top-100 prospects? 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
  12. Throughout the history of the Minnesota Twins, there have been few trades of top prospects in the organization. Minnesota has been forced to build from within and this has meant teams have been required to live and die through prospect development. Brusdar Graterol was clearly a top-100 prospect so how have the Twins done when trading away, or for other top prospects?Wilson Ramos Many fans will be upset when mentioning the Wilson Ramos for Matt Capps trade. Ramos was a top-65 prospect by Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus. He recorded seven hits in his first two professional games, and it seemed like he could team up with Joe Mauer as a tremendous catching duo. Having Mauer still behind the plate made a catching prospect more expendable. Minnesota also needed more relief help during the 2010 campaign. If Capps had helped the Twins to an extended playoff run, his trade might have been forgotten. Instead, Twins fans watched Ramos blossom into an All-Star catcher with the Nationals and Rays. WAR Acquired: 0.9 WAR (Before Capps Resigned) WAR Lost: 10.4 WAR Matt Garza Trading Matt Garza for Delmon Young seemed like a perfect fit for both teams at the time with each player being a highly ranked prospect. Tampa needed more pitching to help them take the next step and Young provided a powerful right-handed bat between Joe Mauer and Justin Morneau in the Twins line-up. Tampa would ride Garza to a World Series run, while the Twins made playoff appearances but Young was never a difference maker. Young, a former number one overall pick, finished second in the 2007 Rookie of the Year voting. After joining Minnesota, he hit .287/.324/.429 (.753) but his bat never reached the potential he showed as a prospect and his defense was atrocious. Garza was the ALCS MVP and provided WAR totals of 3.4 or above in two of his three seasons in Tampa. WAR Acquired: 1.0 WAR WAR Lost: 8.5 WAR Alex Meyer and Trevor May These two trades seemed to get lumped together since they happened in the same off-season. With both trades above, the Twins were sending away top-100 prospects, but these trades were a little different. Minnesota dealt established outfielders Denard Span and Ben Revere in exchange for pitching prospects Alex Meyer and Trevor May along with Vance Worley. Meyer struggled as he moved through the upper levels on the minor leagues and he would only pitch in parts of four seasons in the organization. Eventually, he was traded to the Angels before injuries ended his career. He played 22 games at the big-league level and retired after his age-27 season. When trading for May, the Twins likely saw him as a starting pitching prospect, but he has found his niche in the Twins bullpen. Last season, he posted a sub-3.00 ERA while striking out 79 batters in 64 1/3 innings. He can be a free agent at season’s end so he will have plenty to pitch for during the 2020 campaign. WAR Acquired: -0.6 (Meyer), 2.0 (May), and -1.1 (Worley) WAR Lost: 7.0 (Span) and 4.1 (Revere) How did the Twins fare in these trades involving former top-100 prospects? 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 Click here to view the article
  13. The annual release of Topps Heritage is upon us. While fancy cards and chrome recreations are all the rage nowadays, there’s no great offering for set collectors than the yearly unveiling of Heritage. A throwback to the 1971 design this year, Topps has collectors looking to add the best new rookies in a nod to yesteryear. Specifically, for the Twins, Topps Heritage is somewhat of a mixed bag to start 2020. There wasn’t much in the way of big-league debuts last season, and Luis Arraez is no longer a rookie chase card. After seeing his first rookie card in 2020 Topps Series 1, Lewis Thorpe gets number two in this set. Heritage is home to the first rookie of former pitcher Brusdar Graterol, and although he’s now with the Los Angeles Dodgers, it should still be a neat opportunity to collect the fireballer. There’s a handful of usual suspects among the base set checklist, and the Twins land four players (Gonzalez, Rosario, Sano, and Kepler) within the 100-card high number short print group. Last season we saw Byron Buxton appear as an action variation card, and until those trickle onto the market within the coming days, we won’t know what to fully expect. Although the point of Heritage is set collecting and nostalgia, there’s always the inclusion of chrome versions for a select number of cards. That checklist is again 100 deep and includes five different parallels. Eddie Rosario, Max Kepler, and Jorge Polanco make up the Twins chase cards there. Chrome exclusives can be found in Spring Mega boxes as well, and that expands Twins players to Luis Arraez, Mitch Garver, Willians Astudillo, Jose Berrios, and Miguel Sano. Hits rarely drive a Heritage product aside from key rookies, and there’s nothing of note for Minnesota fans here. There are two throwback autos in Sal Campisi and Tom Tischinski. Worn out subjects Bert Blyleven and Rod Carew also provide some in, while a 1/1 Harmon Killebrew cut can be had. There’s a couple of relics, both jersey swatches and mint coin types to chase as well. As a whole, Heritage is a must rip product for new and old Topps fans alike. I’d have preferred to see a better autograph subject for Minnesota in the set, but maybe there’s an intriguing inclusion or two in High Number later this year. You can find Heritage at hobby stores for roughly $100/box or in multiple retail formats beginning on February 26. Checklist here For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  14. Twins Daily's Top 20 Twins Prospects of 2020 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B: Strong infield D and contact swing keep him on Top 20 radar. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Tremendous pro debut in 2019 with 5-to-1 K/BB ratio in A-ball. 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF: The innate power is finally starting to show up in games. 17. Misael Urbina, OF: Standout athlete flashing every tool as an unrefined teenager. 16. Edwar Colina, RHP: Big arm, wicked slider. If he keeps sharpening control, watch out. 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Freshly drafted righty shows big potential with funky delivery. 14. Matt Wallner, OF: Former MN prep star fared well during first exposure to pro ranks. 13. Wander Javier, SS: Disastrous 2019 season doesn't fully diminish shortstop's shine. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Skills came together during spectacular second half in A-ball. 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Keeps missing bats at the highest levels. His upside endures. 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Progression has been gradual, but steady. Could turn a corner. 9. Brent Rooker, OF: Immense power just might offset K's and lack of defensive value. 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS: All projection at this point, but toolsy teen offers plenty to dream on. 7. Ryan Jeffers, C: Two-way standout at catcher has impressed at every stop through AA. 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Hard-throwing whiff machine could impact 2020 Twins as a reliever. 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Sturdily built sterling performer has makings of a long-term SP. 4: Brusdar Graterol, RHP: The now-departed young flamethrower was an ultra-rare talent. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF: Hits for average and power, shaping up as prototypical star RF. 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Remains one of the best pure hitters in the minors. Handled AA at 21. 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Pure ability too blinding to look past, but there is work to be done. POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C: 1 IF: 5 OF: 6 RHP: 7 LHP: 1 Two obvious areas of deficiency in the breakdown above: catcher and left-handed pitching. That's not by coincidence – they are notoriously tough spots to amass impact talent – but I don't see these scarcities as particularly alarming for the Twins. Pitching is pitching. Yeah, it might be nice to have a few more southpaws in the mix, but a righty-heavy staff isn't such a detriment right now for the Twins, and the MLB-ready Thorpe looms large as a lefty threat. As for the catcher position, Ben Rortvedt is right on the fringe of this list in our honorable mentions, and in the Graterol trade, the Twins acquired a 20-year-old catcher named Jair Camargo who is at least kind of intriguing. https://twitter.com/jimcallisMLB/status/1227029116152668167 Oh, yeah... Graterol. THE LOSS OF GRATEROL After tabulating votes two weeks ago, we had our Top 20 list fully compiled and finalized. Rollout on the site was already underway when news of the Kenta Maeda trade surfaced. At that point, our options were to reset on the fly, or just run the rankings as planned. We chose the latter, because it seemed valuable to provide context as to what the Twins gave up for Maeda. Graterol was, from our panel's view, the organization's No. 1 pitching prospect before departing. But those rankings didn't necessarily reflect a future in the bullpen, which now seems firmer than ever. And even with all the noise filtered out, Graterol wasn't separated from Balazovic or Duran by much. The Twins have developed three upper-echelon – albeit not quite elite – pitching prospects, giving them the luxury to part with an undeniably stellar talent like Graterol. And, if you're wondering which player now slides into our Top 20, with everyone else bumping up a spot in his absence? It's Rortvedt, who was just mentioned. FEELING THE DRAFT Graterol wasn't the only valuable asset Minnesota lost in the Maeda trade. The Twins also forfeited their Comp B pick in the coming MLB Draft (67th overall), and based on how they've drafted as of late, this could deprive them of a pretty special player. Scouting director Sean Johnson is running a ridiculously effective unit for Minnesota. The top three players on our prospect list (Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach) are first-round picks from successive years (2016-2018). All are consensus Top 100 guys. That says a lot. The Twins have also shown some ability to unearth gems beyond the first wave, like prospect No. 10 Enlow (76th overall), No. 9 Rooker (39th), and No. 7 Jeffers (59th). Add in the fact that signing Josh Donaldson cost the Twins their third-round pick (99th overall), and the toll taken on this year's draft class by these win-now moves is considerable. You won't find me complaining, but it's something to keep in mind. WATCH THE THRONE The top two spots on our list remain unchanged from last year, but Lewis and Kirilloff have definitely loosened their grips – especially Lewis at No. 1. His youth, athleticism, pedigree, and makeup were enough to keep the shortstop locked in as the leader and our list, and he's still in a healthy position on most national rankings. But between the scant production last year – .236/.290/.371 with poor plate discipline – and the echoing questions concerning defense and swing mechanics, there's vulnerability here. Any number of players from the list could plausibly take over that top billing a year from now. Kirilloff, Larnach, Balazovic, and Jeffers feel most viable to me, if Lewis were to slip. Of course, there's also a plenty good chance Lewis rebounds in a huge way to re-stake his claim among the game's elite young talents. WHERE THEY STAND Baseball America released its ranking of MLB farm systems last week and had the Twins eighth. Bleacher Report has them sixth. By just about any measure, Minnesota boasts a top-10 system in the game, with a majority of its best talents rapidly approaching MLB-readiness. With the Twins bursting through their contention window, the timing could not be better. Strap in folks. Fun times are ahead. On a final note, I'd like to say that while I was researching and compiling entries for this series, two of my most invaluable resources were Tom Froemming's YouTube channel and Twitter page. If you enjoy Twins minor-league coverage and aren't following both, I highly recommend doing so. Tom puts together so much awesome video content and analysis. PAST TWINS DAILY TOP PROSPECT LISTS: TD 2019 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2016 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2015 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. We've spent the past couple weeks profiling our picks for the Top 20 (and beyond) prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization. Now, as spring training gets underway in earnest, these exciting young talents will bring the team's minor-league complex to life. Let's step back and take stock of the Twins' system as it stands entering the 2020 season.Twins Daily's Top 20 Twins Prospects of 2020 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B: Strong infield D and contact swing keep him on Top 20 radar. 19. Cole Sands, RHP: Tremendous pro debut in 2019 with 5-to-1 K/BB ratio in A-ball. 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF: The innate power is finally starting to show up in games. 17. Misael Urbina, OF: Standout athlete flashing every tool as an unrefined teenager. 16. Edwar Colina, RHP: Big arm, wicked slider. If he keeps sharpening control, watch out. 15. Matt Canterino, RHP: Freshly drafted righty shows big potential with funky delivery. 14. Matt Wallner, OF: Former MN prep star fared well during first exposure to pro ranks. 13. Wander Javier, SS: Disastrous 2019 season doesn't fully diminish shortstop's shine. 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF: Skills came together during spectacular second half in A-ball. 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP: Keeps missing bats at the highest levels. His upside endures. 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP: Progression has been gradual, but steady. Could turn a corner. 9. Brent Rooker, OF: Immense power just might offset K's and lack of defensive value. 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS: All projection at this point, but toolsy teen offers plenty to dream on. 7. Ryan Jeffers, C: Two-way standout at catcher has impressed at every stop through AA. 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP: Hard-throwing whiff machine could impact 2020 Twins as a reliever. 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP: Sturdily built sterling performer has makings of a long-term SP. 4: Brusdar Graterol, RHP: The now-departed young flamethrower was an ultra-rare talent. 3. Trevor Larnach, OF: Hits for average and power, shaping up as prototypical star RF. 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF: Remains one of the best pure hitters in the minors. Handled AA at 21. 1. Royce Lewis, SS: Pure ability too blinding to look past, but there is work to be done. POSITIONAL BREAKDOWN C: 1 IF: 5 OF: 6 RHP: 7 LHP: 1 Two obvious areas of deficiency in the breakdown above: catcher and left-handed pitching. That's not by coincidence – they are notoriously tough spots to amass impact talent – but I don't see these scarcities as particularly alarming for the Twins. Pitching is pitching. Yeah, it might be nice to have a few more southpaws in the mix, but a righty-heavy staff isn't such a detriment right now for the Twins, and the MLB-ready Thorpe looms large as a lefty threat. As for the catcher position, Ben Rortvedt is right on the fringe of this list in our honorable mentions, and in the Graterol trade, the Twins acquired a 20-year-old catcher named Jair Camargo who is at least kind of intriguing. Oh, yeah... Graterol. THE LOSS OF GRATEROL After tabulating votes two weeks ago, we had our Top 20 list fully compiled and finalized. Rollout on the site was already underway when news of the Kenta Maeda trade surfaced. At that point, our options were to reset on the fly, or just run the rankings as planned. We chose the latter, because it seemed valuable to provide context as to what the Twins gave up for Maeda. Graterol was, from our panel's view, the organization's No. 1 pitching prospect before departing. But those rankings didn't necessarily reflect a future in the bullpen, which now seems firmer than ever. And even with all the noise filtered out, Graterol wasn't separated from Balazovic or Duran by much. The Twins have developed three upper-echelon – albeit not quite elite – pitching prospects, giving them the luxury to part with an undeniably stellar talent like Graterol. And, if you're wondering which player now slides into our Top 20, with everyone else bumping up a spot in his absence? It's Rortvedt, who was just mentioned. FEELING THE DRAFT Graterol wasn't the only valuable asset Minnesota lost in the Maeda trade. The Twins also forfeited their Comp B pick in the coming MLB Draft (67th overall), and based on how they've drafted as of late, this could deprive them of a pretty special player. Scouting director Sean Johnson is running a ridiculously effective unit for Minnesota. The top three players on our prospect list (Lewis, Kirilloff, Larnach) are first-round picks from successive years (2016-2018). All are consensus Top 100 guys. That says a lot. The Twins have also shown some ability to unearth gems beyond the first wave, like prospect No. 10 Enlow (76th overall), No. 9 Rooker (39th), and No. 7 Jeffers (59th). Add in the fact that signing Josh Donaldson cost the Twins their third-round pick (99th overall), and the toll taken on this year's draft class by these win-now moves is considerable. You won't find me complaining, but it's something to keep in mind. WATCH THE THRONE The top two spots on our list remain unchanged from last year, but Lewis and Kirilloff have definitely loosened their grips – especially Lewis at No. 1. His youth, athleticism, pedigree, and makeup were enough to keep the shortstop locked in as the leader and our list, and he's still in a healthy position on most national rankings. But between the scant production last year – .236/.290/.371 with poor plate discipline – and the echoing questions concerning defense and swing mechanics, there's vulnerability here. Any number of players from the list could plausibly take over that top billing a year from now. Kirilloff, Larnach, Balazovic, and Jeffers feel most viable to me, if Lewis were to slip. Of course, there's also a plenty good chance Lewis rebounds in a huge way to re-stake his claim among the game's elite young talents. WHERE THEY STAND Baseball America released its ranking of MLB farm systems last week and had the Twins eighth. Bleacher Report has them sixth. By just about any measure, Minnesota boasts a top-10 system in the game, with a majority of its best talents rapidly approaching MLB-readiness. With the Twins bursting through their contention window, the timing could not be better. Strap in folks. Fun times are ahead. On a final note, I'd like to say that while I was researching and compiling entries for this series, two of my most invaluable resources were Tom Froemming's YouTube channel and Twitter page. If you enjoy Twins minor-league coverage and aren't following both, I highly recommend doing so. Tom puts together so much awesome video content and analysis. PAST TWINS DAILY TOP PROSPECT LISTS: TD 2019 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2018 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2017 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2016 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects TD 2015 Minnesota Twins Top Prospects MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  16. From the album: Blue Wahoos Photos

    Luis Arraez and friends sing karaoke Photo: Daniel Venn
  17. Brusdar Graterol is a Dodger, of course, but we passed the point of no return in terms of adjusting our list. Instead of our usual breakdown of what’s to like, what’s left to work on and what’s next, I thought it would be more interesting to have a conversation about ranking prospects in general.Position: RHP Age: 21 (DOB 8/26/1998) 2019 Stats (AA/MLB/AAA/A-): 70.2 IP, 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 9.1 BB% ETA: Debuted in 2019 2019 Ranking: 3 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 60 | MLB: 83 | ATH: 49 | BP: 32 I was very slow to come around on Graterol as a top prospect. Two years ago, I had him 17th on my list, eight spots lower than anyone else at Twins Daily. Seth called that out in the comments, I responded by saying “I try not to rank relief pitchers inside my top 10.” So here’s where I take my victory lap, right? Nope. Brusdar Graterol can be a starter. Well, as long as the organization who controls him has enough patience to see that path through. The triple-digit fastball obviously is the headliner, but Graterol’s slider is also a true plus pitch and his changeup shows enough potential. One of the things I find most amusing about prospect rankings is what I like to call the Proximity Penalty. Generally, the closer a guy is to the big leagues, the more pessimistic his overall outlook becomes. It’s easier to dream on an 18-year-old in rookie ball than a guy who’s moved up a bit and has been exposed to advanced hitters. Graterol is only 21-years-old, eight months younger than Matt Canterino, the Twins’ top pitching selection in last year’s draft. He’s also younger than Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Jhoan Duran and he’s about the same age as Jordan Balazovic. Painting Brusdar into a corner seems extremely shortsighted at this point. He has time to develop pitches, adjust his mechanics and stretch out his arm. He just needs to be afforded that time. Prior to being shut down in late May, Graterol pitched to a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .188/.282/.279 (.561 OPS) batting line in 47 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in Double A. That’s not a failed starter. Well, at least in terms of performance. The gorilla in the room is, of course, his health. Graterol has a lengthy injury history, but it seems strange to me a guy as young as him could be written off as not being able to shoulder (literally) a starter’s workload. We’re not sure exactly what Boston saw on the medicals that scared them off, but I’m confident of this: If Graterol had a significant injury, the Twins would have completely shut him down last season. I find it hard to believe they’d risk further injury by having him pitch a bunch of low-leverage innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year. There’s also the fact that he was sitting triple-digits at Yankee Stadium in early October. Seemed fine to me. Graterol was going to be in the bullpen for the Twins, and I’d assume that’s also where he’ll be with the Dodgers. But what if Los Angeles flips him to a non-contender willing take the time to develop him as a starter? Does he magically become a better prospect? I don’t know, maybe I was right back in 2018. In my writeup, I went out of my way to point out that a lot of people believe in the mantra “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” and called Graterol one of the highest ceiling/lowest floor prospects in all of baseball. I also said he definitely has true ace potential, and still believe that (pending medicals). Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP Check back Monday for #3! Graterol may be gone, but you can learn more about 170 Twins minor leaguers in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $14.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $9.99) MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. Position: RHP Age: 21 (DOB 8/26/1998) 2019 Stats (AA/MLB/AAA/A-): 70.2 IP, 2.29 ERA, 1.02 WHIP, 25.7 K%, 9.1 BB% ETA: Debuted in 2019 2019 Ranking: 3 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 60 | MLB: 83 | ATH: 49 | BP: 32 I was very slow to come around on Graterol as a top prospect. Two years ago, I had him 17th on my list, eight spots lower than anyone else at Twins Daily. Seth called that out in the comments, I responded by saying “I try not to rank relief pitchers inside my top 10.” So here’s where I take my victory lap, right? Nope. Brusdar Graterol can be a starter. Well, as long as the organization who controls him has enough patience to see that path through. The triple-digit fastball obviously is the headliner, but Graterol’s slider is also a true plus pitch and his changeup shows enough potential. One of the things I find most amusing about prospect rankings is what I like to call the Proximity Penalty. Generally, the closer a guy is to the big leagues, the more pessimistic his overall outlook becomes. It’s easier to dream on an 18-year-old in rookie ball than a guy who’s moved up a bit and has been exposed to advanced hitters. Graterol is only 21-years-old, eight months younger than Matt Canterino, the Twins’ top pitching selection in last year’s draft. He’s also younger than Dustin May, the Dodgers’ top pitching prospect, Jhoan Duran and he’s about the same age as Jordan Balazovic. Painting Brusdar into a corner seems extremely shortsighted at this point. He has time to develop pitches, adjust his mechanics and stretch out his arm. He just needs to be afforded that time. Prior to being shut down in late May, Graterol pitched to a 1.89 ERA and held opponents to a .188/.282/.279 (.561 OPS) batting line in 47 2/3 innings as a 20-year-old starting pitcher in Double A. That’s not a failed starter. Well, at least in terms of performance. The gorilla in the room is, of course, his health. Graterol has a lengthy injury history, but it seems strange to me a guy as young as him could be written off as not being able to shoulder (literally) a starter’s workload. We’re not sure exactly what Boston saw on the medicals that scared them off, but I’m confident of this: If Graterol had a significant injury, the Twins would have completely shut him down last season. I find it hard to believe they’d risk further injury by having him pitch a bunch of low-leverage innings out of the bullpen at the end of the year. There’s also the fact that he was sitting triple-digits at Yankee Stadium in early October. Seemed fine to me. Graterol was going to be in the bullpen for the Twins, and I’d assume that’s also where he’ll be with the Dodgers. But what if Los Angeles flips him to a non-contender willing take the time to develop him as a starter? Does he magically become a better prospect? I don’t know, maybe I was right back in 2018. In my writeup, I went out of my way to point out that a lot of people believe in the mantra “there’s no such thing as a pitching prospect” and called Graterol one of the highest ceiling/lowest floor prospects in all of baseball. I also said he definitely has true ace potential, and still believe that (pending medicals). Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP 5. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 4. Brusdar Graterol, RHP Check back Monday for #3! Graterol may be gone, but you can learn more about 170 Twins minor leaguers in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $14.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $9.99) MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. There's been plenty of drama since an agreement first came to light last week on a blockbuster trade that would send Brusdar Graterol to Boston (via Los Angeles) and bring right-hander Kenta Maeda to the Twins. Once very much in doubt, a deal is now confirmed (pending medicals!), albeit with some alterations from its original form. Graterol, outfielder Luke Raley, and a 2020 Comp B draft pick (67th overall) are headed to the Dodgers in a deal fo Maeda, a low-level prospect, and cash.To bring everyone up to speed: The Twins emerged last Wednesday as the third team in a massive trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers, which would've sent Mookie Betts and David Price to LA in exchange for prospect Alex Verdugo and Graterol, whom the Dodgers were to acquire from Minnesota in exchange for Maeda. The following night, it was reported that Boston was backing off amidst concerns in Graterol's medical files (and/or cold feet from ownership in the face of public backlash, depending on which accounts you want to believe). By Saturday, the Twins were said to be ready to drop the whole thing and move on. But it bears noting they took a similar hardline stance with Josh Donaldson, as the team signaled it was ready to bow out before ultimately getting its desired deal. With the way both these situations have played out, there's no knocking the front office's steadfast resolve. In this case, the Twins and Dodgers simply shut out the wayward Red Sox and made a deal on their own, with Graterol, Raley, and a fairly valuable draft pick going to Los Angeles in exchange for Maeda, an as-yet unnamed prospect, and $10 million to cover a portion of his already affordable contract. Minnesota gave a little more and got a little more. At the end of the day, it's still from my view a very good move for all the reasons I laid out here. The Red Sox made a separate deal with the Dodgers, sending Mookie Betts and David Price, along some money, to LA in exchange for prospects OF Alex Verdugo and SS Jeter Downs. We'll update this article with more information as it becomes available, but for now, how are you feeling about the deal – finally – getting done? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  20. To bring everyone up to speed: The Twins emerged last Wednesday as the third team in a massive trade between the Red Sox and Dodgers, which would've sent Mookie Betts and David Price to LA in exchange for prospect Alex Verdugo and Graterol, whom the Dodgers were to acquire from Minnesota in exchange for Maeda. The following night, it was reported that Boston was backing off amidst concerns in Graterol's medical files (and/or cold feet from ownership in the face of public backlash, depending on which accounts you want to believe). By Saturday, the Twins were said to be ready to drop the whole thing and move on. But it bears noting they took a similar hardline stance with Josh Donaldson, as the team signaled it was ready to bow out before ultimately getting its desired deal. With the way both these situations have played out, there's no knocking the front office's steadfast resolve. In this case, the Twins and Dodgers simply shut out the wayward Red Sox and made a deal on their own, with Graterol, Raley, and a fairly valuable draft pick going to Los Angeles in exchange for Maeda, an as-yet unnamed prospect, and $10 million to cover a portion of his already affordable contract. Minnesota gave a little more and got a little more. At the end of the day, it's still from my view a very good move for all the reasons I laid out here. https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1226638132218679296 https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1226644982225870857 https://twitter.com/Ken_Rosenthal/status/1226643432820682759 The Red Sox made a separate deal with the Dodgers, sending Mookie Betts and David Price, along some money, to LA in exchange for prospects OF Alex Verdugo and SS Jeter Downs. We'll update this article with more information as it becomes available, but for now, how are you feeling about the deal – finally – getting done? 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. Brusdar Graterol is no longer part of the Twins organization, but the club still has a triple-digit flame thrower in the minor leagues. Jhoan Duran came to the Twins from the Diamondbacks as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Since that time, he has continued to move up prospect rankings and he could be a top-100 prospect at this time next season.Age: 22 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2019 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 115.0 IP, 3.76 ERA, 136/40 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP ETA: 2020 2019 Ranking: 7 2018 Ranking: Not in the organization National Top 100 Rankings BA: 96 | MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like Duran might have been one of the biggest risers in the entire Twins system last year. He made it all the way to Double-A last year where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. His 115 innings were a career high and he has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. Also, Duran led the Twins minor league system with 136 strikeouts. He has all the traits teams are looking for when it comes to starting pitchers at the big league level. His four-seam fastball is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s and he can crank it into triple-digits. To get strikeouts, he uses a 90+ mph two-seamer that acts more like a sinker/splitter. His curveball continues to improve and his change-up continues to get more work. Duran has a solid frame at 6-foot-5 and he has continued to add weight through his professional career. Since last year at this time, he has gone from 220 pounds to 232 pounds. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020. What’s Left To Work On For any pitcher with Duran’s velocity, there are going to be questions about whether or not he can find consistent success as a starting pitcher. This coming season will be critical for him to prove he can be a starter for the long-term. He needs to continue compiling innings to show he can meet the ever-changing demands on big-league pitchers. Command has also been an issue throughout his professional career because of an inconsistent delivery. That being said, he threw strikes on nearly 65% of his pitches and he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second consecutive season. His secondary pitches improved last season, but he will need to continue to get work with them as he gets closer to the majors. The Twins are in win-now mode and the club was already planning on moving a top pitching prospect to the bullpen. Could the Twins ask Duran to do the same thing? What’s Next Duran ended the year with seven starts at Double-A and that is likely where he will spend the majority of the 2020 season. Minnesota has added plenty of depth to the big-league rotation, so the club doesn’t have to feel like Duran needs to be rushed. He can continue to improve at Double-A with the chance to move to Triple-A in the season’s second half. Who knows? Maybe he could be a late-season addition to the bullpen like the Twins did with Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Duran and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers. Click here to view the article
  22. Age: 22 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2019 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 115.0 IP, 3.76 ERA, 136/40 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP ETA: 2020 2019 Ranking: 7 2018 Ranking: Not in the organization National Top 100 Rankings BA: 96 | MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like Duran might have been one of the biggest risers in the entire Twins system last year. He made it all the way to Double-A last year where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. His 115 innings were a career high and he has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. Also, Duran led the Twins minor league system with 136 strikeouts. He has all the traits teams are looking for when it comes to starting pitchers at the big league level. His four-seam fastball is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s and he can crank it into triple-digits. To get strikeouts, he uses a 90+ mph two-seamer that acts more like a sinker/splitter. His curveball continues to improve and his change-up continues to get more work. Duran has a solid frame at 6-foot-5 and he has continued to add weight through his professional career. Since last year at this time, he has gone from 220 pounds to 232 pounds. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020. What’s Left To Work On For any pitcher with Duran’s velocity, there are going to be questions about whether or not he can find consistent success as a starting pitcher. This coming season will be critical for him to prove he can be a starter for the long-term. He needs to continue compiling innings to show he can meet the ever-changing demands on big-league pitchers. Command has also been an issue throughout his professional career because of an inconsistent delivery. That being said, he threw strikes on nearly 65% of his pitches and he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second consecutive season. His secondary pitches improved last season, but he will need to continue to get work with them as he gets closer to the majors. The Twins are in win-now mode and the club was already planning on moving a top pitching prospect to the bullpen. Could the Twins ask Duran to do the same thing? What’s Next Duran ended the year with seven starts at Double-A and that is likely where he will spend the majority of the 2020 season. Minnesota has added plenty of depth to the big-league rotation, so the club doesn’t have to feel like Duran needs to be rushed. He can continue to improve at Double-A with the chance to move to Triple-A in the season’s second half. Who knows? Maybe he could be a late-season addition to the bullpen like the Twins did with Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Duran and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.
  23. The three-team mega blockbuster involving the Minnesota Twins, Boston Red Sox, and Los Angeles Dodgers is finally complete. At this point, most Twins fans are aware of what happened - a deal was in place on February 4th, sending Graterol to Boston as part of the return for offloading Mookie Betts and David Price to the Dodgers. However, that soon changed after Boston came to the conclusion that Graterol was not destined to be a starting pitcher. This was a conclusion that the Twins publicly announced well in advance of the trade. Chaos, medical speculation, and finger pointing ensued, and the entire trade between the three teams was put on ice. This was perhaps the most dramatic trade saga of my Minnesota Twins fandom, maybe ranking behind the Johan Santana rumors that dominated the entire 2008 offseason. I will spare you all the back-and-forth rumors between Boston getting cold feet and the revised agreement between the three teams, as this is a massive movement of players. Instead, the changes in the Twins aspect is highlighted below: 2/4 Twins Agreement V1 Twins trade Brusdar Graterol to Boston. Twins acquire Kenta Maeda from Los Angeles. 2/9 Twins Agreement V2 Twins trade Brusdar Graterol, 2020 Comp B Draft Pick, and Luke Raley to Los Angeles Twins acquire Kenta Maeda, $10M in cash assets, and Jair Camargo © from Los Angeles. The second version is much more complex, but paints a better picture of the Twins 2020 mindset. While the delay was agonizing, irritating, and heart-burn inducing, I think the Twins used time to their advantage and improved their haul from the first version. Let’s review what changed from the first trade to the second, and how the Twins sacrificed future unknowns for increased flexibility to improve the 2020 club at a later date. The 67th Pick In the 2020 MLB Draft Here’s a look at the Twins’ last 25 second round picks - ranging from pick number 37 to 92. There’s a lot of variability here, with 71% of the bWAR coming from the combination of Scott Baker and Jesse Crain. The Twins have failed to receive value from the second round in the last decade, but the second round picks from the Falvine regime are legitimate prospects within the system. The jury is out on anyone drafted from 2016 onward. Make no mistake - the Twins are taking an unprecedented risk for this organization by trading a draft pick this high, especially after losing the #99 pick for signing Josh Donaldson. However, there’s a very realistic chance this pick doesn’t reach the MLB level. If the player were to reach the majors, it would likely be in year outside of the Twins current competitive window. There’s plenty of second round draft talent currently in the system to supplement the current core. Another way to look at the value of this pick is by equating it to a monetary value. Fangraphs placed the value of the 67th pick in 2019 at $4.1M. That factors in a signing bonus subtracted from projected future value, based on historic WAR from players picked in that slot. That’s an interesting way to look at this part of the trade, considering the dollar amount that Los Angeles is providing. $10M in Cash Assets Cash. Don’t worry, this isn’t meant to line the pockets of the Pohlads. This is spending money for the 2020 Trade Deadline in late July/early August. This allows them to acquire an asset at the deadline using more financial capital, and less prospect capital. Judging from their pre-Donaldson free agent signings, it’s clear that Falvey and Levine crave financial flexibility. Here are several ways to look at this incoming cash, beyond use in a trade scenario: Covering the majority of Kenta Maeda’s base salary ($12.5M through 2023) Covering Maeda’s full 2020 contract, if he hits the majority of his incentives. Pays for the #67 Comp B draft pick, with roughly $5.9M in excess value. This is a huge benefit over the previous agreement, as it protects the Twins if Maeda flames out, or allows more budget room to acquire a pricier trade target in July. The $10M from Los Angeles will go to valid use in many scenarios. Luke Raley for Jair Camargo Luke Raley boomerangs back to the organization that dealt him to Minnesota for Brian Dozier in 2018. In exchange, the Twins are receiving a low-level catching prospect in Jair Camargo. Camargo is a young catcher at 20 years old, and played at Class A last year in the Great Lakes league. His offensive line was middling with a .642 OPS, but he is rumored to have a strong exit velocity from his bat (90 MPH+) with a high hard hit percentage. The Twins seem to like that offensive profile, and the fact it's coming from a catcher is extra appealing. It never hurts to add catching depth at any level. The Twins are giving up Raley, who was a fine prospect, but he suffered through an injury for the majority of 2019. He projects as a corner outfield platoon/bench piece, and that role is valuable to MLB clubs. However, the Twins outfield depth is immense, with a young starting core on the MLB team, and multiple top 100 ranked outfield prospects behind him in Trevor Larnach and Alex Kirilloff. Even with blockages in front of him, and top prospects behind him - Raley was competing alongside multiple outfielders at a similar level of development. Jake Cave, LaMonte Wade Jr, and Brent Rooker are all fellow outfielders with similar ages and projections to Raley. All of these similar corner outfielders were occupying 40-man roster spots. The major benefit in trading away Raley to Los Angeles, is that it immediately opens up a 40-man roster spot for the 2020 team. Camargo is years away from being added, and is essentially a lottery ticket at a premium position. For now, the open 40-man roster vacancy creates a large amount of flexibility. The open spot can be used for Jhoulys Chacín, an injury replacement, or a future acquisition. Brusdar Graterol Is Gone - But To A Different Opponent Fair trades are supposed to hurt, right? This aspect did not change, as pitchers who throw 100 MPH+ do not grow on trees. It still hurts to lose Graterol, but the same analysis that applied a few days ago remains the same. The Twins are betting that Graterol will remain in the bullpen, and are filling an area of need in the starting rotation, from an area of strength on the 2020 team. Unlike Boston, Los Angeles is fine with Graterol’s likely reliever projection. The Twins are hoping Graterol doesn’t turn into Aroldis Chapman. So why is the version of the trade more beneficial to the Twins, in relation to Brusdar? Simple, the Twins won’t have to face him nearly as much over the next few years if he’s pitching in the National League, compared to two guaranteed series per year against Boston. Of course, that could change with a few late October match-ups against Los Angeles, but we’d all be very pleased if that’s the case. It’ll be much easier to root for him in Dodger Blue for the next few years. The End Result The one constant between the two versions of this trade is that Kenta Maeda is still coming to the Twins, as the #3 starter to open the season. The Twins had to get a bit more creative after Boston shied away from Graterol, but Los Angeles was a flexible trade partner. While the first version of this trade was already risky with the Twins shipping away Graterol’s sky-high potential, the second version adds even more risk to the equation. The loss of the Comp B draft pick and Luke Raley could come back to sting in their own rights. However, I’m glad the Twins doubled down, as the increased roster and financial flexibility for 2020 are the only known factors in this entire deal.
  24. First we thought he was gone. Then, we weren't so sure. At one point it looked like he definitely was going to stay. But once the dust had settled at the end of the weekend, Brusdar Graterol was indeed shipped out, sent to Los Angeles in a trade for veteran right-hander Kenta Maeda. (Obligatory: Pending physicals.) So what have we learned from this whole ordeal, and what is the fallout?Graterol was freshly of legal drinking age when he joined the Twins last season, so it's only fitting he brought the Fireballs. His average fastball velocity of 99.0 MPH registered as fifth-highest for anyone who threw in the majors. Watching Graterol establish himself at the highest level, flashing boyish enthusiasm while pumping heaters past big-league stars, was a pure delight. The Red Sox apparently reached a similar conclusion upon closer review of his medicals. They are entitled to their opinion, and while it really sucks this all got aired publicly, I'm not sure Boston's new GM Chaim Bloom is deserving of animosity. With an edict from on high to trade Betts, he's trying to make the best of an ugly situation. The idea that this was a PR-driven course correction doesn't hold water to me. By opting out on Graterol, the Red Sox instead ended up subbing in shortstop Jeter Downs as the second talent received behind centerpiece Alex Verdugo. Downs is, according to most lists, a moderately better prospect than Graterol, but ... enough to meaningfully move the needle on fan sentiment? He's barely played above Single-A. There's no such thing as a satisfactory return when trading a Mookie Betts, but Graterol is hardly unexciting. Red Sox fans just watched him blow away Yankees hitters in the playoffs at age 21 a few months ago. They weren't being asked to dream on some fanciful long-term project. So, Boston got spooked on Graterol's medicals. Okay. And while the Dodgers were clearly less spooked, they weren't willing to make the same one-on-one swap that was originally planned. Los Angeles added in $10 million (meaningless to them) and a low-level prospect to extract more value from Minnesota, in the form of outfield prospect Luke Raley and (more critically) the 67th pick in this year's draft. Based on what we can ascertain from the outside, Graterol alone would've been a fair return for Maeda, if not a bit of a heavy give by Minnesota. The Red Sox initially reached that conclusion. After seeing more files and records, their valuation changed, and LA also needed a bit extra to make it happen. I think we can conclude, based on all of this, that there is a more valid basis for concern about Graterol's arm holding up than before this whole fiasco started. But you know what? The human body is an unpredictable construct. David Price, also heading to the Dodgers as part of a (now separate) trade with Boston, seems a relevant example to cite; he's been skirting Tommy John surgery for his entire career thanks to his "very unique" elbow. Sometimes red flags just flap in the wind endlessly. There's a perfectly good chance Graterol goes on to enjoy a healthy career with no abnormal incidence of arm issues. But one thing does crystal-clear: he won't be doing it as a starter. WHAT NOW FOR THE TWINS BULLPEN? Graterol was a dynamic weapon and his absence is a negative for the bullpen picture. Duh. Then again, we hadn't been definitively planning around him as a reliever up until a couple weeks ago, and the Twins looked plenty strong on that front beforehand. Even without Graterol, Minnesota still has proven late-inning firepower in Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May. There's steady veteran support from Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard. A promising project in Matt Wisler. Ready young contributors in Zack Littell and Cody Stashak. This unit is not hurting for options, who have earned their chances. And in Fernando Romero, the Twins still have a forgotten flamethrower on hand whose raw stuff is nearly as formidable as Graterol's. That Minnesota possessed the depth to part with a talent of Graterol's caliber speaks to the job this front office has done building a robust bullpen and pitching pipeline. (Don't be shocked if hard-throwing righty Jhoan Duran becomes this year's version of the 2019 Brusdar.) None of this changes the fact that losing Graterol hurts, and the pain will likely resonate over the years as the phenom gets chances to shine on the biggest stage – probably while exhibiting the same boyish grin we came to love during our short time with him. But those are the sacrifices the Twins needed to make in the same pursuit. There's a decent chance, I think, that the 2020 journeys of Graterol and the Twins will ultimately converge at the same place: a World Series in late October. Both teams involved in this trade are counting on it. Click here to view the article
  25. Graterol was freshly of legal drinking age when he joined the Twins last season, so it's only fitting he brought the Fireballs. His average fastball velocity of 99.0 MPH registered as fifth-highest for anyone who threw in the majors. Watching Graterol establish himself at the highest level, flashing boyish enthusiasm while pumping heaters past big-league stars, was a pure delight. https://twitter.com/PitchingNinja/status/1226646422264655873 Naturally, I was very eager to see Graterol work his rare magic once again this year, potentially over an entire season (and deeper playoff run). That's why I supported the decision to keep him in the bullpen – it was a win-now move, which this franchise has historically shied away from. Ironically, Graterol has now been dealt in an even bolder win-now move. With Maeda, the Twins get an established quantity, whose impact on the 2020 team far exceeds what could've realistically been expected from Graterol as a 60-inning reliever. But in making this swap, the Twins are losing a very unique player and special person whose story is yet to be written. So while I'm excited about Maeda, I do find myself rueing Graterol's loss as the reality of his exit hits. THE GOLDEN ARM Los Angeles seems a great fit for Graterol. The Dodgers are a storied franchise, and among the top two or three 2020 World Series favorites – especially with Mookie Betts in the fold. But their bullpen could use a boost. Formerly elite closer Kenley Jansen has seen a bit of a slide in recent years and is 32. Hard-throwing hothead Joe Kelly, signed to a big deal last offseason, was a disappointment in Year 1. Graterol joins Julio Urias as premium young arms infusing this staff with exhilarating upside. Jansen is under contract through 2021, so the Dodgers closer gig figures to be up for grabs then if not sooner. That's a prestigious (and, as Jansen has shown, lucrative) title. It's also possible the Dodgers could try moving Graterol back into a starting role. But that's not happening this year, and now seems unlikely in general. VALIDITY OF INJURY CONCERNS? Under the original agreement, Graterol would've been heading to Boston, which itself wasn't a bad fit. As to why the Red Sox soured on the deal and reneged at the last moment, we don't know, and may never know. Some have insinuated it was fueled partially by negative public backlash, but the official account holds that a final review of the pitcher's medicals convinced Boston he's destined to stay in the bullpen, thus altering their asset valuation. It's really unfortunate that Graterol's health – perfectly fine from all outward signs – came under scrutiny in this process. He battled hard to come back from shoulder soreness last summer, delivering in a huge way into October and finishing on a high note. So, to now have his outlook downplayed by subjective evaluations from Boston's staff has gotta be frustrating. Then again, from the moment it came to light that Minnesota was willing to trade the top pitching prospect in any kind of deal, implications regarding their own assessments of Graterol were plain to see. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1224916635921846272 The Red Sox apparently reached a similar conclusion upon closer review of his medicals. They are entitled to their opinion, and while it really sucks this all got aired publicly, I'm not sure Boston's new GM Chaim Bloom is deserving of animosity. With an edict from on high to trade Betts, he's trying to make the best of an ugly situation. The idea that this was a PR-driven course correction doesn't hold water to me. By opting out on Graterol, the Red Sox instead ended up subbing in shortstop Jeter Downs as the second talent received behind centerpiece Alex Verdugo. Downs is, according to most lists, a moderately better prospect than Graterol, but ... enough to meaningfully move the needle on fan sentiment? He's barely played above Single-A. There's no such thing as a satisfactory return when trading a Mookie Betts, but Graterol is hardly unexciting. Red Sox fans just watched him blow away Yankees hitters in the playoffs at age 21 a few months ago. They weren't being asked to dream on some fanciful long-term project. So, Boston got spooked on Graterol's medicals. Okay. And while the Dodgers were clearly less spooked, they weren't willing to make the same one-on-one swap that was originally planned. Los Angeles added in $10 million (meaningless to them) and a low-level prospect to extract more value from Minnesota, in the form of outfield prospect Luke Raley and (more critically) the 67th pick in this year's draft. Based on what we can ascertain from the outside, Graterol alone would've been a fair return for Maeda, if not a bit of a heavy give by Minnesota. The Red Sox initially reached that conclusion. After seeing more files and records, their valuation changed, and LA also needed a bit extra to make it happen. I think we can conclude, based on all of this, that there is a more valid basis for concern about Graterol's arm holding up than before this whole fiasco started. But you know what? The human body is an unpredictable construct. David Price, also heading to the Dodgers as part of a (now separate) trade with Boston, seems a relevant example to cite; he's been skirting Tommy John surgery for his entire career thanks to his "very unique" elbow. Sometimes red flags just flap in the wind endlessly. There's a perfectly good chance Graterol goes on to enjoy a healthy career with no abnormal incidence of arm issues. But one thing does crystal-clear: he won't be doing it as a starter. WHAT NOW FOR THE TWINS BULLPEN? Graterol was a dynamic weapon and his absence is a negative for the bullpen picture. Duh. Then again, we hadn't been definitively planning around him as a reliever up until a couple weeks ago, and the Twins looked plenty strong on that front beforehand. Even without Graterol, Minnesota still has proven late-inning firepower in Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, and Trevor May. There's steady veteran support from Sergio Romo and Tyler Clippard. A promising project in Matt Wisler. Ready young contributors in Zack Littell and Cody Stashak. This unit is not hurting for options, who have earned their chances. And in Fernando Romero, the Twins still have a forgotten flamethrower on hand whose raw stuff is nearly as formidable as Graterol's. That Minnesota possessed the depth to part with a talent of Graterol's caliber speaks to the job this front office has done building a robust bullpen and pitching pipeline. (Don't be shocked if hard-throwing righty Jhoan Duran becomes this year's version of the 2019 Brusdar.) None of this changes the fact that losing Graterol hurts, and the pain will likely resonate over the years as the phenom gets chances to shine on the biggest stage – probably while exhibiting the same boyish grin we came to love during our short time with him. But those are the sacrifices the Twins needed to make in the same pursuit. There's a decent chance, I think, that the 2020 journeys of Graterol and the Twins will ultimately converge at the same place: a World Series in late October. Both teams involved in this trade are counting on it.
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