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  1. The Minnesota Twins will be in the market for an answer at shortstop again in 2022. With Andrelton Simmons gone, they’ll inevitably have someone new covering the position. So, who will it be? Assuming Minnesota doesn’t decide to slide second basemen Jorge Polanco, back across the diamond, they’ll need an answer at shortstop for the upcoming season. Polanco going back to his old position would allow Luis Arraez to start and an avenue for consistent playing time geared towards Jose Miranda. That said, it’d also be a decision in reverse with Polanco having been moved off the position in an attempt to avoid his defensive deficiencies there. Having lost the 2021 season due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis won’t be an option out of the gate, and Austin Martin looks more the part of an outfielder than an infielder. Fortunately for Derek Falvey, this free-agent crop is littered with good shortstop options. So, let’s rank them by considering a fit and potential contract. 5. Marcus Semien What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, the Twins were runner-up for Semien’s services before he chose the Toronto Blue Jays. At that time, the longtime Athletics infielder was coming off a .679 OPS in 2020. Fast-forward to where we are now, and he posted an .873 OPS with a career-high 45 home runs. Semien isn’t going to win the MVP, that’s ticketed for Shohei Ohtani, but he’ll be in the top five and could finish right behind teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a first-time All-Star, Semien just recently turned 31-years-old. He’s going to get paid and should be looking for no less than a four-year deal. Right now, that isn’t going to fit into the Twins plans given the uncertainty of Lewis’s future role. Coming off such a poor season, that type of commitment could pigeonhole Minnesota negatively in the immediate future. 4. Corey Seager If there’s a guy in this group that doesn’t change teams, I will bet on it being Seager. A second straight season with an OPS north of .900, the Dodgers shortstop has established himself as one of baseball’s best players. He’ll be 28-years-old next season and has spent his entire seven-year career with Los Angeles. Finding something in the range of six to eight years would seem suitable for him, and that’s not going to come cheap. After acquiring Trea Turner at the deadline this season, it would make sense for the Dodgers to run it back with their up-the-middle-duo. The Dodgers are also set to lose Chris Taylor to free agency this offseason, and some of that blow could be cushioned by retaining the services of Seager. He’s been so good for so long, and it’s plenty logical that his prime remains in front of him. 3. Carlos Correa Having just turned 27-years-old, Correa is the youngest option on this list, and he’s quite possibly the most talented. Injury concerns have been a part of his past, by the Astros shortstop did play in 148 games this season. His .850 OPS was not a career-high, but the 26 long balls were. Correa has the cheating scandal tied to him, but it’s clear that the talent is there with or without additional help. A serious on-base threat, Correa has posted a least a 124 OPS+ in five of his seven big-league seasons. He presents the combination of contact, power, and plus-defensive ability, which only enhances his premium at the position. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a bigger deal than Seager or Semien, but I think that could go either way, and I believe he’s the best bet for future success. 2. Trevor Story Once assumed to be ticketed out of Colorado at any point during the 2021 season, Story hung on and finished the year there. His .801 OPS was the second-lowest tally of his career, and his 24 dingers matched the lowest full-season totally of his career. Still posting a 103 OPS+, he was above league average, but there’s nothing about 2021 that substantially increased his earning potential. This is Story’s big chance for a long-term payday as well, which would seem counter-productive to the Twins plans. That said, if he’s open to a one-year deal in hopes of increasing his value, that’s where Minnesota should look to pounce. He, too, combines strong defense with contact and power, making the offensive addition equally as enticing. 1. Javier Baez This looked like a better fit when Minnesota still employed Baez’s brother-in-law, Jose Berrios. That said, the soon-to-be 29-year-old still fits wonderfully for the Twins. He’s an elite defender that should be looking to regain some positive momentum on a one-year deal, and Minnesota can afford to pay him handsomely over a single season. Baez posted a lackluster .775 OPS with the Chicago Cubs but turned it on to the tune of a .886 mark in 47 games with the New York Mets. His actual production is probably somewhere in the middle of that, but he should trend above the career .783 OPS as he enters his prime. Javy is an elite defender, can play on both sides of second base if needed and would be a great teacher for Minnesota’s blossoming infield talent. A fan and clubhouse favorite, this is where I’d throw my money if I held the Twins bankroll. 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. Assuming Minnesota doesn’t decide to slide second basemen Jorge Polanco, back across the diamond, they’ll need an answer at shortstop for the upcoming season. Polanco going back to his old position would allow Luis Arraez to start and an avenue for consistent playing time geared towards Jose Miranda. That said, it’d also be a decision in reverse with Polanco having been moved off the position in an attempt to avoid his defensive deficiencies there. Having lost the 2021 season due to a torn ACL, Royce Lewis won’t be an option out of the gate, and Austin Martin looks more the part of an outfielder than an infielder. Fortunately for Derek Falvey, this free-agent crop is littered with good shortstop options. So, let’s rank them by considering a fit and potential contract. 5. Marcus Semien What a difference a year makes. Last offseason, the Twins were runner-up for Semien’s services before he chose the Toronto Blue Jays. At that time, the longtime Athletics infielder was coming off a .679 OPS in 2020. Fast-forward to where we are now, and he posted an .873 OPS with a career-high 45 home runs. Semien isn’t going to win the MVP, that’s ticketed for Shohei Ohtani, but he’ll be in the top five and could finish right behind teammate Vladimir Guerrero Jr. As a first-time All-Star, Semien just recently turned 31-years-old. He’s going to get paid and should be looking for no less than a four-year deal. Right now, that isn’t going to fit into the Twins plans given the uncertainty of Lewis’s future role. Coming off such a poor season, that type of commitment could pigeonhole Minnesota negatively in the immediate future. 4. Corey Seager If there’s a guy in this group that doesn’t change teams, I will bet on it being Seager. A second straight season with an OPS north of .900, the Dodgers shortstop has established himself as one of baseball’s best players. He’ll be 28-years-old next season and has spent his entire seven-year career with Los Angeles. Finding something in the range of six to eight years would seem suitable for him, and that’s not going to come cheap. After acquiring Trea Turner at the deadline this season, it would make sense for the Dodgers to run it back with their up-the-middle-duo. The Dodgers are also set to lose Chris Taylor to free agency this offseason, and some of that blow could be cushioned by retaining the services of Seager. He’s been so good for so long, and it’s plenty logical that his prime remains in front of him. 3. Carlos Correa Having just turned 27-years-old, Correa is the youngest option on this list, and he’s quite possibly the most talented. Injury concerns have been a part of his past, by the Astros shortstop did play in 148 games this season. His .850 OPS was not a career-high, but the 26 long balls were. Correa has the cheating scandal tied to him, but it’s clear that the talent is there with or without additional help. A serious on-base threat, Correa has posted a least a 124 OPS+ in five of his seven big-league seasons. He presents the combination of contact, power, and plus-defensive ability, which only enhances his premium at the position. I wouldn’t be shocked if he gets a bigger deal than Seager or Semien, but I think that could go either way, and I believe he’s the best bet for future success. 2. Trevor Story Once assumed to be ticketed out of Colorado at any point during the 2021 season, Story hung on and finished the year there. His .801 OPS was the second-lowest tally of his career, and his 24 dingers matched the lowest full-season totally of his career. Still posting a 103 OPS+, he was above league average, but there’s nothing about 2021 that substantially increased his earning potential. This is Story’s big chance for a long-term payday as well, which would seem counter-productive to the Twins plans. That said, if he’s open to a one-year deal in hopes of increasing his value, that’s where Minnesota should look to pounce. He, too, combines strong defense with contact and power, making the offensive addition equally as enticing. 1. Javier Baez This looked like a better fit when Minnesota still employed Baez’s brother-in-law, Jose Berrios. That said, the soon-to-be 29-year-old still fits wonderfully for the Twins. He’s an elite defender that should be looking to regain some positive momentum on a one-year deal, and Minnesota can afford to pay him handsomely over a single season. Baez posted a lackluster .775 OPS with the Chicago Cubs but turned it on to the tune of a .886 mark in 47 games with the New York Mets. His actual production is probably somewhere in the middle of that, but he should trend above the career .783 OPS as he enters his prime. Javy is an elite defender, can play on both sides of second base if needed and would be a great teacher for Minnesota’s blossoming infield talent. A fan and clubhouse favorite, this is where I’d throw my money if I held the Twins bankroll. 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. For the second consecutive off-season, Minnesota is in the market for a starting shortstop. Fans may want the team to spend big, but all of the top-tier free agents have flaws. Minnesota has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27) 2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+ As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age. Flaws: Injury history Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28) 2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+ Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. Flaws: Injury history Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31) 2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+ Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. Flaws: Age Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+ Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore. Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+ Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS. Flaws: Home/Road Splits To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do). Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? 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 has the opportunity to make a big splash this winter by jumping in on (arguably) the best free-agent shortstop class in baseball history. It will cost the team a lot of money to be in the mix for the top-tier players. To put that in perspective, Francisco Lindor was supposed to be part of this free agent group, but he signed a 10-year, $341 million deal with the Mets. Each of these players comes with some red flags that interested clubs will need to consider. Carlos Correa (2022 Age: 27) 2021 Stats: 7.2 WAR, .279/.366/.485 (.850), 26 HR, 34 2B, 131 OPS+ As a 27-year old, Correa is reaching free agency at the prime of his career, and he is the top free agent in this winter’s crop of available players. It’s likely going to take $30 million per season for six years or more to sign Correa. Injuries have been part of his professional career, but he has played 99 games or more in five of his seven big-league seasons. There’s also a good chance he will need to move off shortstop as he continues to age. Flaws: Injury history Corey Seager (2022 Age: 28) 2021 Stats: 3.7 WAR, .306/.394/.521 (.915), 16 HR, 22 2B, 145 OPS+ Like Correa, injuries have been part of Seager’s story, including missing a good chunk of 2021 with a hand fracture. He’s played over 130 games in three of his six full big-league seasons. His 2020 playoff run was outstanding as he won the World Series and NLCS MVP. Teams that miss out on Correa will likely turn to Seager, but he is a year older and has missed more time in his big-league career. Flaws: Injury history Marcus Semien (2022 Age: 31) 2021 Stats: 7.1 WAR, .265/.334/.538 (.873), 45 HR, 39 2B, 133 OPS+ Minnesota was interested in signing Semien last winter, but he decided to go to Toronto. His season north of the border was memorable as he will likely finish in the top-5 for the AL MVP. He is the oldest shortstop among the top-tier free agents, and he played all of last year at second base. Last winter, he signed a one-year deal for $18 million, and he will be getting a pay raise in the months ahead. Flaws: Age Javier Baez (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.5 WAR, .265/.319/.494 (.813), 31 HR, 18 2B, 117 OPS+ Baez is certainly an exciting player, but he swings and misses a lot. He led the National League with 184 strikeouts, and he has struck out 144 or more times in each of the last four full seasons. As far as contracts go, he is projected to get a lower average value than the names above because his personality can rub people the wrong way. Can Josh Donaldson and Baez coexist in the same clubhouse? That might not be an experiment a team wants to explore. Flaws: Strikeouts, Volatility Trevor Story (2022 Age: 29) 2021 Stats: 4.2 WAR, .251/.329/.471 (.801), 24 HR, 34 2B, 103 OPS+ Story has been a 20-20 player throughout his professional career. He is also hitting free agency at a tough time as he is coming off a poor campaign by his standards. There are also concerns about how he will fare outside of Coors Field. At home, he hit .303/.369/.603 (.972) while on the road, he was limited to a .752 OPS. Flaws: Home/Road Splits To read more about these shortstops and other off-season options, make sure to pre-order your copy of the 2022 Offseason Handbook. Designed to serve as an essential companion for the Twins offseason ahead, this digital Handbook places you in the shoes of the general manager, equipping you with all the information you need to construct your own team-building blueprint (or predict what the real front office will do). Which flaws worry you the most? Will the Twins make offers to any of these players? 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. Injuries to top prospects can be frustrating to a fan base, especially for a player as highly touted as Royce Lewis. He was supposed to be the team’s shortstop of the future with the chance to take over that role at some point in 2022. His injury might end up being a blessing in disguise, because the Twins can take advantage of a rare plethora of free agent shortstops. In some offseasons the free agent shortstop class can be almost non-existent. This past winter saw multiple above average shortstops hit the market including Marcus Siemen, Didi Gregorius, and Simmons. Only Gregorius signed a multi-year deal, so Siemen and Simmons will have to compete with other star players for free agent deals (Age for 2022 season in parentheses). Francisco Lindor (28): Lindor was dealt out of the AL Central this winter and will spend the 2021 campaign with the Mets. It seems most likely for the Mets and their new ownership to work out a contract extension to lock-up Lindor. He’s one of baseball’s most marketable superstars and he already seems like a natural fit in the Big Apple. It’s going to cost north of $300 million to sign him and that is more money than the Twins are going to be willing to spend. Javier Baez (29): Last season, Baez struggled to the tune of a .598 OPS in over 235 plate appearances. However, in the previous four seasons he averaged 25 home runs and 30 doubles per year with a .822 OPS. On top of that, he’s one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops. There’s also a connection between Jose Berrios and Baez as they are brother in-laws and both hale from Puerto Rico. Maybe bringing Baez into the fold will encourage Berrios to sign an extension with Minnesota. Carlos Correa (27): Correa is the youngest player on this list, but he’s also missed time throughout his big-league career. In fact, the 2016 campaign was his lone season with more than 110 games played. There’s no denying his on-field production when he is on the field. He’s averaged a 5.2 WAR in every season where he has played 99 games or more. Also, he’s a well-rounded infielder as he finished second in SABR’s SDI among AL shortstops last season. The injury history might scare some teams away, but it can also bring down his free agent price. Trevor Story (29): Story debuted in 2016 and he’s done nothing but mash since that point. Among shortstops, he has the most home runs during that time-period even though he has fewer at-bats than the next three players behind him in the standings. Story isn’t as strong defensively as some of the others on this list, but he can more than hold his own. He ranks as the seventh best shortstop according to Defensive Runs Above Average since making his debut. Story might be a sneaky good player for the Twins to target next winter. Corey Seager (28): Seager’s star power has dwindled during his time in LA, especially with MVP winners Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger anchoring the line-up. Unfortunately, he missed nearly all the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he came back strongly and led the NL in doubles the next season. Last year, he posted career highs in batting average and slugging percentage as the Dodgers claimed the World Series title. Will LA be willing to let one of their best players leave in free agency because of the team’s other stars? Which player do you think would be the best fit in Minnesota? Will the team spend big on a shortstop even with Lewis returning from injury? 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
  6. You've made a mistake. You need to make amends. Let the Houston Astros help you navigate the fraught, tricky waters of a public apology.Now that you've stepped in it, you need to step out of it. This is how to apologize, the Astros Way: When possible, don’t.See above. Just don’t do it. People will quote you, ask follow-up questions, and point out inconsistencies in your story. Bummer City, Population: You! Seriously, don’t.If the media or public demands a statement, see if you can do it by whomping on various household items, like it’s Morse code or something. People might get the joke, think it’s funny, and move on to a different story.If the media or public demands that you use your words, craft an insincere, hollow public statement, admit nothing and read with the affect of a hostage holding that day's newspaper to demonstrate proof of life.If that simply isn't good enough, construct your apology in the most passive voice possible, speak in vague generalities, and change the subject. Examples:BAD: I am sorry for what I did. I am responsible for my actions and accept whatever the penalty is, even if it’s a lifetime ban.GOOD: I regret the actions of the team while I was there. I don’t want to relitigate the past and am looking forward to the new season.GREAT: At the end of the day, it is what it is. Next question.GALAXY BRAIN: I don’t think I should be held accountable.Everyone is going to mad after #5 even if you mean it! You really should have paid attention to the first two guidelines above. Why didn’t you read the first two guidelines? They were put at the top for a good reason!Save a bunch of kids from imminent danger. People love kids. Those kids are sometimes on buses and those buses might be driving up a perilous mountain pass in a winter storm. If that bus starts teetering along the edge of a crevasse, get out of your car and get those kids to safety before the bus plummets thousands of feet. You’re no longer Alex Bregman, Houston cheater, you’re Alex Bregman, brave hero of the Greeley (CO) Death Bus. Click here to view the article
  7. Now that you've stepped in it, you need to step out of it. This is how to apologize, the Astros Way: When possible, don’t. See above. Just don’t do it. People will quote you, ask follow-up questions, and point out inconsistencies in your story. Bummer City, Population: You! Seriously, don’t. If the media or public demands a statement, see if you can do it by whomping on various household items, like it’s Morse code or something. People might get the joke, think it’s funny, and move on to a different story. If the media or public demands that you use your words, craft an insincere, hollow public statement, admit nothing and read with the affect of a hostage holding that day's newspaper to demonstrate proof of life. If that simply isn't good enough, construct your apology in the most passive voice possible, speak in vague generalities, and change the subject. Examples: BAD: I am sorry for what I did. I am responsible for my actions and accept whatever the penalty is, even if it’s a lifetime ban. GOOD: I regret the actions of the team while I was there. I don’t want to relitigate the past and am looking forward to the new season. GREAT: At the end of the day, it is what it is. Next question. GALAXY BRAIN: I don’t think I should be held accountable. [*]Everyone is going to mad after #5 even if you mean it! You really should have paid attention to the first two guidelines above. Why didn’t you read the first two guidelines? They were put at the top for a good reason! [*]Save a bunch of kids from imminent danger. People love kids. Those kids are sometimes on buses and those buses might be driving up a perilous mountain pass in a winter storm. If that bus starts teetering along the edge of a crevasse, get out of your car and get those kids to safety before the bus plummets thousands of feet. You’re no longer Alex Bregman, Houston cheater, you’re Alex Bregman, brave hero of the Greeley (CO) Death Bus.
  8. At Twins Daily, we spent a lot of time preparing for the 2012 Major League Baseball Draft. The Minnesota Twins had the #2 pick and we spent more than a month, behind the leadership of Jeremy Nygaard, considering who the options might be for the Twins. After the Astros selected Carlos Correa with the first pick, the Twins drafted outfielder Byron Buxton, a prep star from Appling County High School in Georgia. Two picks later, the Baltimore Orioles drafted right-handed pitcher Kevin Gausman from LSU. I really liked the idea of the Twins drafting Gausman then. Now, you can count me as someone who would love to see the Twins sign Gausman now that the Cincinnati Reds have non-tendered him.LOOKING BACK With a quick look back at the days leading up to the 2012 draft, it was pretty apparent that Byron Buxton was the best athlete in the draft. The Twins were in need of a catcher, and Mike Zunino was early the top college catching prospect in the draft. Gausman, along with Kyle Zimmer (University of San Francisco) and Mark Appel (Stanford, and the #1 overall pick the previous year) were the college pitching names to know. Many were surprised when the Astros took Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy with the first overall pick. Of course, we have since learned that the Twins had Correa in ahead of the draft and most believe that he was Number One on their draft list as well. The Twins took Buxton. The Mariners drafted Zunino next and then the Orioles selected Gausman one pick before the Royals selected Zimmer. In mid-May of 2012, Jeremy posted an interview with Kevin Gausman while he was still pitching for LSU. While I am always intrigued by immensely athletic baseball players from the prep ranks, as we got closer to the draft, I admit that I went public with the though that I would like to see the Twins draft Gausman. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost, he was a college pitcher who could be ready for the big leagues very quickly. And he was. He debuted with the Orioles less than a year later, on May 23rd, 2013. But it wasn't just that. It was reports of his stuff. Not only was he consistently working with a fastball in the mid-90s, but he sometimes had games where he reached 98 mph regularly. In addition, he had a really, really good changeup and great makeup. There were some concerns about his ability to spin the ball but there was hope that he could develop his curve ball and his slider. A college pitcher at one of the best baseball schools in the country who throws in the mid-90s with five pitches and plus-plus makeup. His Career To Date Gausman debuted in 2013 and spent parts of six seasons with the Orioles. He pitched in 150 games and made 127 starts. 15 of those 23 relief appearances came in his rookie season. In 2016, he worked 179 2/3 innings and posted a 3.61 ERA while pitching mostly in the AL East. The following season, he made 34 starts and posted a 4.68 ERA in 186 2/3 innings. In 21 starts at the beginning of 2018, he was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA. At the July trade deadline in 2018, he was traded to Atlanta with reliever Darren O'Day in exchange for four minor leaguers and some international bonus pool money. He went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in ten starts. Last season, he earned $9.35 million in his second year of arbitration. But 2019 did not go well for Gausman. He made 16 starts for the Braves and went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP over 80 innings. He had a couple of stints on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Atlanta DFAd him and Cincinnati claimed him in early August. He made 15 appearances for the Reds (one start) and went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. That brings us to Monday when the Reds non-tendered him, making him a free agent. The "Stuff" In 2019, 57% of Gausman's pitches were fastballs which averaged 94.0 mph. That is up slightly from where he was in 2018. From 2013-2017, his fastball averaged between 94.7 and 95.9 mph. In college, his "typical" fastball was about 94 mph but he threw it anywhere from 92 to 98 mph. After throwing his slider about 13-14% of the time between 2016 and 2018, he threw just his slider just 2% of the time in 2019. He threw his changeup about 5.5% of the time the last couple of seasons. The pitch has consistently been ten mph slower than his fastball, which is a good differential. In 2019, he threw his split-finger pitch 35% of the time after it has been between 16-22% previously in his career. I won't pretend to be an expert or a video guy, but he continued to throw hard and throw pitches in the strike zone. He got equal or even higher percentages of swings and misses. In other words, he has the same or at least similar stuff now as he had at the beginning of his major league career. I do know who has a good reputation for being able to find the strengths of a pitcher and even add some velocity. That's the reputation that Wes Johnson has, and with the help of the Research and Development group, just maybe they can find the key to getting Gausman to top form. Gausman has the pedigree, the high draft pick status, and the stuff that earned him that spot. His arm has remained pretty healthy through his first seven big league seasons. That report of "plus makeup" certainly indicates his ability to work and to work within a team environment. And, he won't turn 29 until days after the calendar changes to 2020. And Now... Seven-and-a-half years later, I would love to see a scenario where the Twins have Byron Buxton manning centerfield and Kevin Gausman on the mound. Teaming the duo with another 2012 first-round draft pick in Jose Berrios and the team might have three strong 5.5 players. If Johnson and company can work their magic on Gausman and just get him back to his peak performance, the Twins could have found a very solid #3 starter to fall right between Berrios and Odorizzi in the rotation. Even if they can just get him to his career average numbers, he would make a solid #5 starter for 150 to 170 innings. Because of his relative youth, I don't expect that Gausman's services will come terribly cheaply. I would also expect that he might prefer a one-year, make-good deal. The Twins made a similar deal a year ago with Jonathan Schoop. Schoop was coming off of an injury-plagued season which followed a solid career. Schoop played well for the Twins and would have played more if not for the emergence of Luis Arraez. Personally, and admittedly, I'm probably a bit high on Gausman and believe in his stuff and the makeup he is touted for. I would be willing to get a little creative. I'd consider offering a one year, $5.5 million deal. I would structure it such that Gausman would make $4 million in 2020. I'd include a team option for 2021 at about $8 million but have a $1.5 million buyout. In fact, I would love to include a second option year, at about $10 million, but in that, I would prefer the buyout drop to $1 million. That would mean Gausman could then become a free agent at age 31, the more "normal" free agency age. At those numbers, it would be fairly low risk but there could be some relatively high reward. Even better, it wouldn't keep them from going after he upper-echelon free agents that are out there this offseason. In my mind, of all of the non-tendered free agents, I think that Kevin Gausman clearly has the highest potential. What do you think? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Non-Tendered Players That Could Interest the Twins - Get To Know 'Em: Kevin Gausman - Looking Forward by Looking Back (2012 Draft) Click here to view the article
  9. LOOKING BACK With a quick look back at the days leading up to the 2012 draft, it was pretty apparent that Byron Buxton was the best athlete in the draft. The Twins were in need of a catcher, and Mike Zunino was early the top college catching prospect in the draft. Gausman, along with Kyle Zimmer (University of San Francisco) and Mark Appel (Stanford, and the #1 overall pick the previous year) were the college pitching names to know. Many were surprised when the Astros took Carlos Correa from the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy with the first overall pick. Of course, we have since learned that the Twins had Correa in ahead of the draft and most believe that he was Number One on their draft list as well. The Twins took Buxton. The Mariners drafted Zunino next and then the Orioles selected Gausman one pick before the Royals selected Zimmer. In mid-May of 2012, Jeremy posted an interview with Kevin Gausman while he was still pitching for LSU. While I am always intrigued by immensely athletic baseball players from the prep ranks, as we got closer to the draft, I admit that I went public with the though that I would like to see the Twins draft Gausman. Why? Several reasons. First and foremost, he was a college pitcher who could be ready for the big leagues very quickly. And he was. He debuted with the Orioles less than a year later, on May 23rd, 2013. But it wasn't just that. It was reports of his stuff. Not only was he consistently working with a fastball in the mid-90s, but he sometimes had games where he reached 98 mph regularly. In addition, he had a really, really good changeup and great makeup. There were some concerns about his ability to spin the ball but there was hope that he could develop his curve ball and his slider. A college pitcher at one of the best baseball schools in the country who throws in the mid-90s with five pitches and plus-plus makeup. His Career To Date Gausman debuted in 2013 and spent parts of six seasons with the Orioles. He pitched in 150 games and made 127 starts. 15 of those 23 relief appearances came in his rookie season. In 2016, he worked 179 2/3 innings and posted a 3.61 ERA while pitching mostly in the AL East. The following season, he made 34 starts and posted a 4.68 ERA in 186 2/3 innings. In 21 starts at the beginning of 2018, he was 5-8 with a 4.43 ERA. At the July trade deadline in 2018, he was traded to Atlanta with reliever Darren O'Day in exchange for four minor leaguers and some international bonus pool money. He went 5-3 with a 2.87 ERA in ten starts. Last season, he earned $9.35 million in his second year of arbitration. But 2019 did not go well for Gausman. He made 16 starts for the Braves and went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA and a 1.49 WHIP over 80 innings. He had a couple of stints on the injured list with plantar fasciitis. Atlanta DFAd him and Cincinnati claimed him in early August. He made 15 appearances for the Reds (one start) and went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings. That brings us to Monday when the Reds non-tendered him, making him a free agent. The "Stuff" In 2019, 57% of Gausman's pitches were fastballs which averaged 94.0 mph. That is up slightly from where he was in 2018. From 2013-2017, his fastball averaged between 94.7 and 95.9 mph. In college, his "typical" fastball was about 94 mph but he threw it anywhere from 92 to 98 mph. After throwing his slider about 13-14% of the time between 2016 and 2018, he threw just his slider just 2% of the time in 2019. He threw his changeup about 5.5% of the time the last couple of seasons. The pitch has consistently been ten mph slower than his fastball, which is a good differential. In 2019, he threw his split-finger pitch 35% of the time after it has been between 16-22% previously in his career. I won't pretend to be an expert or a video guy, but he continued to throw hard and throw pitches in the strike zone. He got equal or even higher percentages of swings and misses. In other words, he has the same or at least similar stuff now as he had at the beginning of his major league career. I do know who has a good reputation for being able to find the strengths of a pitcher and even add some velocity. That's the reputation that Wes Johnson has, and with the help of the Research and Development group, just maybe they can find the key to getting Gausman to top form. Gausman has the pedigree, the high draft pick status, and the stuff that earned him that spot. His arm has remained pretty healthy through his first seven big league seasons. That report of "plus makeup" certainly indicates his ability to work and to work within a team environment. And, he won't turn 29 until days after the calendar changes to 2020. And Now... Seven-and-a-half years later, I would love to see a scenario where the Twins have Byron Buxton manning centerfield and Kevin Gausman on the mound. Teaming the duo with another 2012 first-round draft pick in Jose Berrios and the team might have three strong 5.5 players. If Johnson and company can work their magic on Gausman and just get him back to his peak performance, the Twins could have found a very solid #3 starter to fall right between Berrios and Odorizzi in the rotation. Even if they can just get him to his career average numbers, he would make a solid #5 starter for 150 to 170 innings. Because of his relative youth, I don't expect that Gausman's services will come terribly cheaply. I would also expect that he might prefer a one-year, make-good deal. The Twins made a similar deal a year ago with Jonathan Schoop. Schoop was coming off of an injury-plagued season which followed a solid career. Schoop played well for the Twins and would have played more if not for the emergence of Luis Arraez. Personally, and admittedly, I'm probably a bit high on Gausman and believe in his stuff and the makeup he is touted for. I would be willing to get a little creative. I'd consider offering a one year, $5.5 million deal. I would structure it such that Gausman would make $4 million in 2020. I'd include a team option for 2021 at about $8 million but have a $1.5 million buyout. In fact, I would love to include a second option year, at about $10 million, but in that, I would prefer the buyout drop to $1 million. That would mean Gausman could then become a free agent at age 31, the more "normal" free agency age. At those numbers, it would be fairly low risk but there could be some relatively high reward. Even better, it wouldn't keep them from going after he upper-echelon free agents that are out there this offseason. In my mind, of all of the non-tendered free agents, I think that Kevin Gausman clearly has the highest potential. What do you think? MORE FROM TWINS DAILY - Non-Tendered Players That Could Interest the Twins - Get To Know 'Em: Kevin Gausman - Looking Forward by Looking Back (2012 Draft)
  10. Miguel Sano is in his fifth big league season and he has over 1,600 big league plate appearances. He started his professional career already in the limelight because MLB’s investigation into his age. Heck, there was even a movie made about his signing. He looked like a slam dunk big league player, a future superstar. Now, he’s 26-years old and one must wonder if he will ever be able to become the superstar he seemed destined to become.Age Questions Back in 2012, one of the first pieces I wrote for Twins Daily examined the questions surrounding Miguel Sano’s age. MLB completed an investigation into his age, but the results were inconclusive. Sano had to drop his asking price and the Twins were happy to sign the young shortstop for $3.15 million. His family lived in a small dirt floored home in the Dominican, so the influx in money had to be a shock to the system. In that original article, I wrote… “For players from the Dominican, there is plenty of pressure to find some way to lie about their age to escape the poverty they are subject to in their home country. According to Sports Illustrated on average, a 16-year old player brings in about $65,000 with their signing bonus. Add two years to their age and an 18-year old signs for an average of $20,000. That is a big difference in a country where the per capita income is only $8,900. A player who shows any sign of promise is going to try and ‘adjust’ their age to put their family in a better place for the future.” The age issue hasn’t been brought up in recent years and that’s probably a good thing for Twins Territory. His age certainly didn’t take away from his high expectations entering the minor leagues. High Expectations Baseball America had Sano ranked in their top-100 prospects for five consecutive seasons (2010-2014). He ranked as the number nine prospect in 2014 and peaked as the number six overall prospect in 2014. MLB.com had him as the 4th best prospect in 2014 while Baseball Prospectus had him just outside the top-10 (11th). Most of the baseball world expected him to turn into one of baseball’s best players. Sano made his Stateside debut in 2011 and he had a breakout year in Elizabethton. In 66 games, he collected 45 extra-base hits and had a .988 OPS. Out of Appalachian League players (minimum of 45 game), only Eddie Rosario had a higher OPS than Sano. He would head into the off-season as the team’s highest-ranked prospect. Over the next four seasons, Sano continued to pound minor league pitching. He combined for an .893 OPS in 2012, a .992 OPS in 2013, and a .918 OPS in 2015. The only thing that was able to slow him down was Tommy John surgery and that cost him the entire 2014 season. He made his big-league debut in 2015 and there was still potential for him to be a superstar. Big League Career During a strong rookie campaign, Sano burst onto the scene with 36 extra-base hits and a .916 OPS in 80 games. He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston’s Carlos Correa and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. In 2016, Sano ran into a little bit of a sophomore slump. He still his 25 home runs and 22 doubles, but his OPS dropped to .781 and he struck out 178 times in 116 games. He was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2017 following a tremendous first half (21 HR and a .906 OPS). He cooled off a little in the second half as he only managed 10 extra-base hits and a .742 OPS in 32 games. MLB had to investigate Sano multiple times in 2018 but this time it wasn’t about his age. He was accused of sexual assault by a Twins photographer. The Office of the Commission of Baseball concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a suspension. Sano was also driving a car when it ran over a police officer in the Dominican Republic. In traffic court, the police found no intent on his part to hurt the officer. Some of these incidents might have impacted his performance last year. In 71 games, he hit .199/.281/.398 with 27 extra-base hits. Minnesota even sent him down to High-A to try to reset his career. Shifting Expectations Sano is certainly putting up strong numbers this season with a 1.009 OPS in his first 14 games. However, I don’t know if he should be seen in the same light as he was when he was signed as a 16-year old. At that time, he looked like he could be the cornerstone of a franchise, a player to be built around. Now, the perspective has changed. He seems like he could be a good player, but I don’t think he is a player the Twins will build around. Sano had the potential to be a superstar and he could still surprise in the years ahead. That being said, it’s more likely his superstar potential is slowly fading away. Do you think Sano can still be considered a superstar? Would you build future Twins rosters around him? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  11. Age Questions Back in 2012, one of the first pieces I wrote for Twins Daily examined the questions surrounding Miguel Sano’s age. MLB completed an investigation into his age, but the results were inconclusive. Sano had to drop his asking price and the Twins were happy to sign the young shortstop for $3.15 million. His family lived in a small dirt floored home in the Dominican, so the influx in money had to be a shock to the system. In that original article, I wrote… “For players from the Dominican, there is plenty of pressure to find some way to lie about their age to escape the poverty they are subject to in their home country. According to Sports Illustrated on average, a 16-year old player brings in about $65,000 with their signing bonus. Add two years to their age and an 18-year old signs for an average of $20,000. That is a big difference in a country where the per capita income is only $8,900. A player who shows any sign of promise is going to try and ‘adjust’ their age to put their family in a better place for the future.” The age issue hasn’t been brought up in recent years and that’s probably a good thing for Twins Territory. His age certainly didn’t take away from his high expectations entering the minor leagues. High Expectations Baseball America had Sano ranked in their top-100 prospects for five consecutive seasons (2010-2014). He ranked as the number nine prospect in 2014 and peaked as the number six overall prospect in 2014. MLB.com had him as the 4th best prospect in 2014 while Baseball Prospectus had him just outside the top-10 (11th). Most of the baseball world expected him to turn into one of baseball’s best players. Sano made his Stateside debut in 2011 and he had a breakout year in Elizabethton. In 66 games, he collected 45 extra-base hits and had a .988 OPS. Out of Appalachian League players (minimum of 45 game), only Eddie Rosario had a higher OPS than Sano. He would head into the off-season as the team’s highest-ranked prospect. Over the next four seasons, Sano continued to pound minor league pitching. He combined for an .893 OPS in 2012, a .992 OPS in 2013, and a .918 OPS in 2015. The only thing that was able to slow him down was Tommy John surgery and that cost him the entire 2014 season. He made his big-league debut in 2015 and there was still potential for him to be a superstar. Big League Career During a strong rookie campaign, Sano burst onto the scene with 36 extra-base hits and a .916 OPS in 80 games. He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston’s Carlos Correa and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. In 2016, Sano ran into a little bit of a sophomore slump. He still his 25 home runs and 22 doubles, but his OPS dropped to .781 and he struck out 178 times in 116 games. He was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2017 following a tremendous first half (21 HR and a .906 OPS). He cooled off a little in the second half as he only managed 10 extra-base hits and a .742 OPS in 32 games. MLB had to investigate Sano multiple times in 2018 but this time it wasn’t about his age. He was accused of sexual assault by a Twins photographer. The Office of the Commission of Baseball concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a suspension. Sano was also driving a car when it ran over a police officer in the Dominican Republic. In traffic court, the police found no intent on his part to hurt the officer. Some of these incidents might have impacted his performance last year. In 71 games, he hit .199/.281/.398 with 27 extra-base hits. Minnesota even sent him down to High-A to try to reset his career. Shifting Expectations Sano is certainly putting up strong numbers this season with a 1.009 OPS in his first 14 games. However, I don’t know if he should be seen in the same light as he was when he was signed as a 16-year old. At that time, he looked like he could be the cornerstone of a franchise, a player to be built around. Now, the perspective has changed. He seems like he could be a good player, but I don’t think he is a player the Twins will build around. Sano had the potential to be a superstar and he could still surprise in the years ahead. That being said, it’s more likely his superstar potential is slowly fading away. Do you think Sano can still be considered a superstar? Would you build future Twins rosters around him? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  12. Houston Astros The Astros won the World Series two years ago and are coming off a franchise record 103 wins. Houston’s lineup and top starting pitchers are among the league’s best. This is just one of the many reasons the club will be at the top of the AL for the third consecutive year. It’s crazy to think how deep this lineup is with the likes of Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve. Gone from the rotation are Charlie Morton (free agent) and Lance McCullers Jr. (Tommy John surgery). Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are a strong one-two punch and the team added Wade Miley to be the club’s number three pitcher. While the club might not get to 100 wins, it’s Houston’s division to lose. Oakland Athletics The As won 97 games last season and no, that’s not a typo. Oakland rode a strong offense built around a lot of power to a surprising playoff berth. Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Matt Olson and Stephen Piscotty are all capable of hitting 25+ home runs. Former top prospect Jurickson Profar is going to try and find himself by the Bay. Former Twin Robbie Grossman could also play a role in the outfield. Last season, Oakland’s biggest weakness was their rotation. The club is scheduled to start the year with Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, and Frankie Montas. That’s not exactly a murder’s row of a rotation. Can the bullpen bail them out for the second consecutive year? Oakland will take a step back this season but could contend for the second Wild Card spot. Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout just got paid and he is well worth the price of admission. Unfortunately for Angels fans, there isn’t much else to get excited about in LA. Shohei Ohtani certainly brought some excitement last season but he had Tommy John surgery so his two-way playing will be limited to DH duties. Albert Pujols isn’t getting any younger, so Justin Bour was brought in for first base. A few new acquisitions could help the club. Jonathan Lucroy could add something behind the plate, but he’s been trending in the wrong direction offensively. Cody Allen add some stability to the late-innings. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill could surprise at the back-end of the rotation. New manager Brad Ausmus could guide LA to a wild card but don’t count on it. Seattle Mariners The list of players departed from Seattle’s roster could form the core of a strong roster. Robinson Cano, James Paxton, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura, and Mike Zunino are all gone. Seattle is in rebuild mode and the team’s above them on this preview should be able to beat up on what’s left of the Mariners. Edwin Encarnacion joins the club, but it was only to help trade away players like Carlos Santana and Jean Segura. Jay Bruce, Mitch Haniger, and Dee Gordon are still in the in the lineup. Kyle Seager will start the year on the DL. Felix Hernandez is only 32, but he has a lot of miles on his arm and has struggled recently. Seattle won’t be focused on winning this year. Eyes are on the future. Texas Rangers There’s not much in Texas except a whole lot of rebuilding. Joey Gallo can clobber the ball. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor form a decent middle infield. Their top prospects don’t figure to get much time in Arlington in 2019. This leaves players like Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Hunter Pence to fill-in until other younger players are ready to take over. Former Twin Lance Lynn is scheduled to be the number two starter. Let that sink in for a minute. The good news is there should be plenty of long balls for fans to catch if they sit through the Texas heat. Also, the club should end up with a top draft pick next summer. What do you think about the AL West? Can anyone catch Houston? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  13. Houston is coming off a 103-win season and the Astros have won the AL West in two consecutive seasons. Oakland and Seattle were in the playoff hunt last season. Los Angeles has the best player in the galaxy, while Texas seems destined for a second consecutive 90 loss campaign. Can anyone catch Houston? Or will the Astros be crowned kings of the Wild West?Houston Astros The Astros won the World Series two years ago and are coming off a franchise record 103 wins. Houston’s lineup and top starting pitchers are among the league’s best. This is just one of the many reasons the club will be at the top of the AL for the third consecutive year. It’s crazy to think how deep this lineup is with the likes of Carlos Correa, George Springer, Alex Bregman, and Jose Altuve. Gone from the rotation are Charlie Morton (free agent) and Lance McCullers Jr. (Tommy John surgery). Justin Verlander and Gerrit Cole are a strong one-two punch and the team added Wade Miley to be the club’s number three pitcher. While the club might not get to 100 wins, it’s Houston’s division to lose. Oakland Athletics The As won 97 games last season and no, that’s not a typo. Oakland rode a strong offense built around a lot of power to a surprising playoff berth. Matt Chapman, Khris Davis, Matt Olson and Stephen Piscotty are all capable of hitting 25+ home runs. Former top prospect Jurickson Profar is going to try and find himself by the Bay. Former Twin Robbie Grossman could also play a role in the outfield. Last season, Oakland’s biggest weakness was their rotation. The club is scheduled to start the year with Mike Fiers, Marco Estrada, Brett Anderson, and Frankie Montas. That’s not exactly a murder’s row of a rotation. Can the bullpen bail them out for the second consecutive year? Oakland will take a step back this season but could contend for the second Wild Card spot. Los Angeles Angels Mike Trout just got paid and he is well worth the price of admission. Unfortunately for Angels fans, there isn’t much else to get excited about in LA. Shohei Ohtani certainly brought some excitement last season but he had Tommy John surgery so his two-way playing will be limited to DH duties. Albert Pujols isn’t getting any younger, so Justin Bour was brought in for first base. A few new acquisitions could help the club. Jonathan Lucroy could add something behind the plate, but he’s been trending in the wrong direction offensively. Cody Allen add some stability to the late-innings. Matt Harvey and Trevor Cahill could surprise at the back-end of the rotation. New manager Brad Ausmus could guide LA to a wild card but don’t count on it. Seattle Mariners The list of players departed from Seattle’s roster could form the core of a strong roster. Robinson Cano, James Paxton, Nelson Cruz, Edwin Diaz, Jean Segura, and Mike Zunino are all gone. Seattle is in rebuild mode and the team’s above them on this preview should be able to beat up on what’s left of the Mariners. Edwin Encarnacion joins the club, but it was only to help trade away players like Carlos Santana and Jean Segura. Jay Bruce, Mitch Haniger, and Dee Gordon are still in the in the lineup. Kyle Seager will start the year on the DL. Felix Hernandez is only 32, but he has a lot of miles on his arm and has struggled recently. Seattle won’t be focused on winning this year. Eyes are on the future. Texas Rangers There’s not much in Texas except a whole lot of rebuilding. Joey Gallo can clobber the ball. Elvis Andrus and Rougned Odor form a decent middle infield. Their top prospects don’t figure to get much time in Arlington in 2019. This leaves players like Shin-Soo Choo, Asdrubal Cabrera, and Hunter Pence to fill-in until other younger players are ready to take over. Former Twin Lance Lynn is scheduled to be the number two starter. Let that sink in for a minute. The good news is there should be plenty of long balls for fans to catch if they sit through the Texas heat. Also, the club should end up with a top draft pick next summer. What do you think about the AL West? Can anyone catch Houston? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  14. Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999) 2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB ETA: 2020 2018 Ranking: 1 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6 What’s To Like A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more. HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/975328810831941633 He is aggressive and yet he rarely takes a swing that looks out of control. He doesn’t strike out real often (15.0% in Cedar Rapids and 16.8% in Ft. Myers). He will use the whole field, though he typically has shown much more power to his pull side. Very few hit .300 in MLB anymore, but he could be a .280-.300 type of hitter. HIT FOR POWER - Through the first 32 games of the season, Lewis was hitting .305, but he had just four doubles and one home run. Many were clamoring for him to be promoted to Ft. Myers because he had spent 18 games with the Kernels to end 2017. Over his next 43 games with the Kernels, the power arrived. He hit .323, but he added 19 doubles and eight home runs. He earned his promotion to the Miracle, and while he struggled some, he showed really good power in the pitcher-friendly parks for the Florida State League. In 46 games, he hit six doubles, three triples and knocked five home runs. (For comparison’s sake, Alex Kirilloff had seven homers in 65 games for the Miracle) While 30 home runs may be excessive, but Lewis could be a 20-25 homer per year guy during his big league career. SPEED - Byron Buxton. Who is the one player in the Twins organization who might - might! - be faster than Royce Lewis. As important as the pure speed, Lewis knows how to utilize his speed on the baseball diamond. His 28 stolen bases led the organization. He was caught just eight times and he is still learning the finer points. He is able to go from first-to-home or first-to-third really well. He also shows good instincts most of the time on the bases. He also uses his speed on defense. DEFENSE - Lewis has good range both up the middle and deep into the 5.5 hole. There are times when he winds up (no, not like Shawon Dunston for those of you who are in my age category) a little bit. He does a really nice job going back on pop ups and he takes leadership on the infield, another important trait for a shortstop. Tom Froemming put Lewis's defense under the Prospect Spotlight. Take a look below. In the video, I was at the game in Cedar Rapids when he made the running catch down the left field line. First, it reminded me of Derek Jeter, but when he caught it and knew it was a great catch, he had a Griffey Jr-like smile. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pNhG2RIZkI ARM - Lewis has a strong arm. He can make all of the throws. For those that think his future may be better out in center field, he has plenty of arm to play out there. INTANGIBLES - Lewis is a natural leader. By that I mean that he doesn’t have to work to lead, but teammates gravitate to him. He has a great charisma that plays well on the field and in the clubhouse. Lewis works hard. He added weight last season through a regimented lifting program in-season. He’s got good size. He’s tall and he’s strong but he has added the size and strength without losing any speed. In addition, Lewis never takes a play off. He hustles out every grounder. He looks to take second on singles to the outfield. He has instincts. And while some may not think that it matters, but when you watch Royce Lewis play baseball and practice, you can see the joy that he has, the love of the game. It is an intangible, but it is one of the reasons that Francisco Lindor is so much fun to watch and cheer for even if he is on the Twins top competitor. What’s Left To Work On The easy response for Lewis as far as things he needs to work out would be the cliche, “He needs to continue working on everything” or “He just needs more at-bats” or “He just needs more real-time situations on defense.” Well, let’s just say that cliches usually become cliches for a reason, because they’re true. Lewis does simply need more at-bats. He needs to continue working up the ladder and seeing pitchers with better command of their pitch mix. He needs to see more sharp sliders down and away so that he can keep working on trying to lay off of them. There are still question marks about Lewis’s defense. While I’ve talked to several people who saw him play in 2018 that said he took big strides and there is more of a certainty that he can be at least an average defensive shortstop. There are still some scouts who think that his speed and instinct would best play in center field. Lewis can make the great play. As noted, he has great range and can make the great plays. He just needs to keep working and be more consistent on the routine plays and the routine throws. Again, needs more time at shortstop and more opportunities. What makes Lewis so exciting as a prospect is that he does everything so well already. But what makes him so intriguing is knowing that he can still improve all areas of his game (even quite a bit in some places). While he is ahead of the pace at this point in this career than top young shortstops Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, the Twins can be as patient as they need to be. What’s Next Royce Lewis is traveling to Ft. Myers today and will report as a non-roster invite to Minnesota Twins spring training. He will get the opportunity to work with and learn from the veterans, and also work with and be seen by the big-league coaches. With just 46 games in High-A Ft. Myers, plus a playoff run that that led to a Florida State League championship, it is likely that he will begin the season with the Miracle. It is very likely that he will spend most of his season with the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola. While I think that the odds are low that Lewis surfaces in the big leagues in 2019, I wouldn’t put anything past him. With Jorge Polanco now signed long-term, Jonathan Schoop set to spend the year in a Twins uniform, and Nick Gordon in Triple A, the Twins do not need to rush this talented prospect in 2019. I would not be surprised if Lewis is the Twins Opening Day shortstop and #2 hitter when they open the 2020 season (though being promoted 20 days later might make more economic sense). Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 19. Jorge Alcala, RHP 18. LaMonte Wade, OF 17. Zack Littell, RHP 16. Gilberto Celestino, OF 15. Yunior Severino, 2B 14. Ben Rortvedt, C 13. Ryan Jeffers, C 12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP 11. Nick Gordon, SS 10. Akil Baddoo, OF 9. Blayne Enlow, RHP 8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP 6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF 5. Wander Javier, SS 4. Trevor Larnach, OF 3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis Get to know more about Royce Lewis and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.
  15. We have spent the last two weeks counting down the Twins Daily Top 20 Minnesota Twins prospects heading into the 2019 season. Today, we arrive at #1. It will surprise no one that shortstop Royce Lewis fits the top spot. The first overall pick in the 2017 draft had a strong 2018 season between Cedar Rapids. He didn’t turn 19 until early June. He is a consensus Top 10 prospect among national publications. This weekend, he will report to Ft. Myers for his first big-league spring training. All of that, and it is important to note that it was not an easy decision for any of the voters. Alex Kirilloff had an incredible return to the diamond in 2018, putting up some of the best offensive numbers in all of minor league baseball. Brusdar Graterol has a triple-digit fastball and potentially three above-average pitches. He could give the Twins a true ace in the not-too-distant future. The Twins drafted a College World Series hero in the first round in 2018, and he had a solid professional debut. The Twins have a Top 5 minor league system, so it is meaningful and well-considered that we continue to rank Royce Lewis as the #1 Twins prospect. Below you will find out more about the future star. Hopefully you have enjoyed this Top 20 series and have renewed hope that there are several future stars in the system. With this information, we certainly encourage you to share your thoughts on Lewis, but also consider how you would rank the Twins top prospects.Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999) 2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB ETA: 2020 2018 Ranking: 1 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6 What’s To Like A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more. HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers.
  16. One question I get often on Twins Daily and on Twitter: "When could we expect to see Royce Lewis in the big leagues with the Twins?" To answer that question, I thought it might make some sense to look at two recently drafted shortstops selected high in their particular drafts who have gone on to big league successes, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa. Maybe a glimpse at their timelines might help us better understand a possible timeline for Royce Lewis. Let’s start also by saying that anything below this point likely assumes health. That’s never a guarantee, and it certainly can effect a timeline. Secondly, Correa and Lindor are proven All-Stars already. They are players that Lewis often gets compared to, and that’s not necessarily fair either. Royce Lewis gets comps to Derek Jeter, not to Lenny Faedo. But as Lewis has said frequently, while he enjoys watching those players and their games, he is not trying to be the next Player X. Instead, he insisted in a podcast interview this past offseason, “Being comped with players is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, I want to be Royce Lewis. I don’t want to be Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor, as amazing as those people are. I just want to be Royce Lewis, and I want to be my own type of person and bring something new to the game that others may have already brought but in my own special way.” THE DRAFT Royce Lewis: As we know, Lewis was the Twins top pick and the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He had turned 18 years old just a week before being selected. Carlos Correa: Houston surprised many people in and around the game of baseball when they selected Correa with the first overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He didn’t turn 18 until a few weeks after his draft season (September). Francisco Lindor: Lindor grew up in Puerto Rico, but he went to high school in Florida. Cleveland made him the #8 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He turned 18 five months after he was drafted (November). DRAFT SEASON Royce Lewis (2017): Lewis signed quickly and the Twins sent him to Ft. Myers where he began his professional career in the GCL. He homered in his first at-bat. He played 36 games there and hit .271/.390/.414 (.803). We were then surprised that he was sent to Low-A Cedar Rapids (Midwest League) where he played in 18 games and hit .296/.363/.394 (.757). Carlos Correa (2012): After signing, the Astros sent Correa to the GCL. He played in 39 games and hit .232/.270/.355 (.625) before ending that season with 11 games in the Appalachian League. Francisco Lindor (2011): Lindor signed a bit later and his pro career began with just five games in the New York/Penn League. FIRST FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2018): Lewis returned to Cedar Rapids to start the season. He played in 75 games for the Kernels and hit .315/.368/.485 (.853). About a month ago, he was promoted to High-A Ft. Myers where he has now hit .329/.418/.506 (.924) after his big game last night. Combined, he has 29 doubles and 12 home runs. Lewis turned 19 in early June. Carlos Correa (2013): The Astros had Correa begin his first full professional season in the Midwest League with Quad Cities. He spent the full season with the Bandits where he hit .320/.405/.467 (.872) in 117 games. He hit 33 doubles, three triples and nine homers. Correa played the whole season at age 18. Francisco Lindor (2012): Cleveland had Lindor start his first season in the Midwest League as well with Lake County. He played 122 games for the Captains and hit .257/.352/.355 (.707). He hit 24 doubles, three triples and six home runs. He spent the full season at age 18. SECOND FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2019): To be determined. Lewis will turn 20 in early June. Carlos Correa (2014): Correa was 19 years old throughout his second full season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full season. In mid-June, Correa’s season came to an end when he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year. He played well to that point, hitting .325/.416/.510 (.926) in just 62 games at High-A Lancaster in the California League. He hit 16 doubles, six triples and six home runs in his partial season. He turned 19 after the season. Francisco Lindor (2013): Lindor began his second full season at High-A Carolina of the Carolina League. In 83 games, he hit .306/.373/.410 (.783). He moved up to AA Akron for his final 21 games of the season. Smaller sample, but he hit .289/.407/.395 (.801). Combined, Lindor hit 22 doubles, seven triples and two home runs. He turned 19 after the season. THIRD FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2020): To be determined. He will turn 21 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2015): Correa successfully rehabbed his broken leg and was invited to big league spring training. He began the season at AA where he hit .385/.459/.726 (1.185) in 29 games before being pushed forward to AAA. He spent less time in AAA, just 24 games, and hit .276/.345/.449 (.794). Between AA and AAA, he hit 21 doubles, three triples and ten homers. He was called up to the Astros and made his MLB debut on June 8, 2015 (age 20 years, 259 days). Despite playing just 99 games with the Astros, he won the American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .279 with 21 doubles, a triple and 22 home runs. He turned 21 late in the MLB season. Francisco Lindor (2014): Lindor began the 2014 season where he ended the 2013 season, at AA. In 88 games, he hit .278/.352/.389 (.741). He ended the season with 38 games at AAA Columbus and hit .273/.307/.388 (.695). Combined, he hit 16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. He turned 21 a month after the season completed. FOURTH FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2021): To be determined. He will turn 22 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2016): Correa’s first full season with the Astros. As a 21-year-old, he played in 153 games and hit .274 with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. Francisco Lindor (2015): Lindor began his 2015 at AAA. He played 59 games there and hit .284/.350/.402 (.752) with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Six days after Correa, he was called up and made his MLB debut on June 14, 2015 (age 21 years, 212 days). In 99 games for Cleveland, Lindor hit .313/.353/.482 (.835) with 22 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs. He finished runner up to Correa for Rookie of the Year. Correa and Lindor have had terrific starts to their careers. They are both in their fourth season in the big leagues now and have established themselves as stars. Correa won that 2015 Rookie of the Year award. He was an All-Star in 2017 and then helped lead the Astros to a World Series title. Lindor has been a three-time All-Star, and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. He led Cleveland to the World Series in 2016 when they fell in a tough Game 7 to the Cubs. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Carlos Correa made his MLB debut three years after being drafted, almost to the date. It was in his third full season as a professional. It was especially aggressive considering he missed half of a season with a broken leg. Francisco Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after her was drafted out of high school. It was halfway through his fourth full season. Obviously Royce Lewis’s debut will not be based on Correa and Lindor’s timeline. It will be based on his progress at each level and the Twins front office’s plan for his arrival, and what they want him to accomplish at least stop along the way. However, here are some scenarios: Correa debuted three months before his 21st birthday. For Lewis, that would be Opening Day 2020. Correa debuted approximately three years after his draft day. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2020. Lindor debuted about four months before he turned 22 years old. For Lewis, that would mean Opening Day 2021. Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after he was drafted. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2021. That’s a pretty big range for when we could see Royce Lewis debut in the big leagues. And again, I have to reiterate that prospect and player development is not necessarily linear. Players develop at different rates. That’s important to remember and remind yourself before you get to this next paragraph. Lewis is in his first full professional season. I’m guessing you noticed that both Lindor and Correa spent their entire first full season in the Midwest League. By season’s end, Lewis will have about 50 games in the Florida State League. We could say the Lewis is about a half-season ahead of Correa and Lindor were at the same stage. Additionally, I’m sure you noticed that the power numbers that Lewis has displayed surpass the power numbers shown by Correa and Lindor. Those two didn’t show much power until they got to the big leagues. There is reason for excitement. But you’ll notice that Cleveland was a lot more patient with Lindor than Houston was with Correa, especially when you consider that he missed about half a year. If you want my opinion, I think there is an outside chance, but a chance nonetheless, that Twins fans could see Royce Lewis at Target Field late in the 2019 season. I fully expect the Twins to invite Lewis to big league spring training next year, and I expect that he will make an impression on the coaches. In addition to Lewis’s development offensively and defensively, a call up in 2019 may depend as much on the Twins season and playoff competitiveness. AGGRESSIVE: July 2019 is very aggressive. Lewis will have just turned 20 and could help the Twins down the stretch. REALISTIC: June 2020 is probably the most realistic timeline for Lewis. PATIENT: June 2021 is a patient approach, especially considering how quickly the Twins have moved Lewis to this point, but Francisco Lindor has turned out quite good despite a slower approach. It is a question I get often. I try to answer in a realistic manner, but I did want to dig into the development timeline of two great young shortstops, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. While they are just two data points, it gives us something to compare to, something that could be achievable. So now it’s your turn? When do you think Royce Lewis will be able to make his MLB debut? What do you think the determining factors should be for his promotion?
  17. On Monday night, 2017 #1 overall pick Royce Lewis faced 2018 #1 overall pick Casey Mize in Lakeland, Florida. It was the Florida State League debut for Mize. It was Lewis’s 21st game with the Miracle. On this night, Lewis went 2-for-2 with a home run against Mize, and 4-for-6 with two home runs overall as the Miracle topped the Flying Tigers 13-0. Obviously it was a fun matchup, but it is a matchup that fans of the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers hope to see a lot of over the next decade, or more. As a hard-throwing right-hander, Mize is likely to fly through the Tigers system and could debut as early as midseason 2019. But it gets me wondering just when we might see that match up at Comerica Park or Target Field.One question I get often on Twins Daily and on Twitter: "When could we expect to see Royce Lewis in the big leagues with the Twins?" To answer that question, I thought it might make some sense to look at two recently drafted shortstops selected high in their particular drafts who have gone on to big league successes, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa. Maybe a glimpse at their timelines might help us better understand a possible timeline for Royce Lewis. Let’s start also by saying that anything below this point likely assumes health. That’s never a guarantee, and it certainly can effect a timeline. Secondly, Correa and Lindor are proven All-Stars already. They are players that Lewis often gets compared to, and that’s not necessarily fair either. Royce Lewis gets comps to Derek Jeter, not to Lenny Faedo. But as Lewis has said frequently, while he enjoys watching those players and their games, he is not trying to be the next Player X. Instead, he insisted in a podcast interview this past offseason, “Being comped with players is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, I want to be Royce Lewis. I don’t want to be Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor, as amazing as those people are. I just want to be Royce Lewis, and I want to be my own type of person and bring something new to the game that others may have already brought but in my own special way.” THE DRAFT Royce Lewis: As we know, Lewis was the Twins top pick and the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He had turned 18 years old just a week before being selected. Carlos Correa: Houston surprised many people in and around the game of baseball when they selected Correa with the first overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He didn’t turn 18 until a few weeks after his draft season (September). Francisco Lindor: Lindor grew up in Puerto Rico, but he went to high school in Florida. Cleveland made him the #8 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He turned 18 five months after he was drafted (November). DRAFT SEASON Royce Lewis (2017): Lewis signed quickly and the Twins sent him to Ft. Myers where he began his professional career in the GCL. He homered in his first at-bat. He played 36 games there and hit .271/.390/.414 (.803). We were then surprised that he was sent to Low-A Cedar Rapids (Midwest League) where he played in 18 games and hit .296/.363/.394 (.757). Carlos Correa (2012): After signing, the Astros sent Correa to the GCL. He played in 39 games and hit .232/.270/.355 (.625) before ending that season with 11 games in the Appalachian League. Francisco Lindor (2011): Lindor signed a bit later and his pro career began with just five games in the New York/Penn League. FIRST FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2018): Lewis returned to Cedar Rapids to start the season. He played in 75 games for the Kernels and hit .315/.368/.485 (.853). About a month ago, he was promoted to High-A Ft. Myers where he has now hit .329/.418/.506 (.924) after his big game last night. Combined, he has 29 doubles and 12 home runs. Lewis turned 19 in early June. Carlos Correa (2013): The Astros had Correa begin his first full professional season in the Midwest League with Quad Cities. He spent the full season with the Bandits where he hit .320/.405/.467 (.872) in 117 games. He hit 33 doubles, three triples and nine homers. Correa played the whole season at age 18. Francisco Lindor (2012): Cleveland had Lindor start his first season in the Midwest League as well with Lake County. He played 122 games for the Captains and hit .257/.352/.355 (.707). He hit 24 doubles, three triples and six home runs. He spent the full season at age 18. SECOND FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2019): To be determined. Lewis will turn 20 in early June. Carlos Correa (2014): Correa was 19 years old throughout his second full season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full season. In mid-June, Correa’s season came to an end when he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year. He played well to that point, hitting .325/.416/.510 (.926) in just 62 games at High-A Lancaster in the California League. He hit 16 doubles, six triples and six home runs in his partial season. He turned 19 after the season. Francisco Lindor (2013): Lindor began his second full season at High-A Carolina of the Carolina League. In 83 games, he hit .306/.373/.410 (.783). He moved up to AA Akron for his final 21 games of the season. Smaller sample, but he hit .289/.407/.395 (.801). Combined, Lindor hit 22 doubles, seven triples and two home runs. He turned 19 after the season. THIRD FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2020): To be determined. He will turn 21 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2015): Correa successfully rehabbed his broken leg and was invited to big league spring training. He began the season at AA where he hit .385/.459/.726 (1.185) in 29 games before being pushed forward to AAA. He spent less time in AAA, just 24 games, and hit .276/.345/.449 (.794). Between AA and AAA, he hit 21 doubles, three triples and ten homers. He was called up to the Astros and made his MLB debut on June 8, 2015 (age 20 years, 259 days). Despite playing just 99 games with the Astros, he won the American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .279 with 21 doubles, a triple and 22 home runs. He turned 21 late in the MLB season. Francisco Lindor (2014): Lindor began the 2014 season where he ended the 2013 season, at AA. In 88 games, he hit .278/.352/.389 (.741). He ended the season with 38 games at AAA Columbus and hit .273/.307/.388 (.695). Combined, he hit 16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. He turned 21 a month after the season completed. FOURTH FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2021): To be determined. He will turn 22 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2016): Correa’s first full season with the Astros. As a 21-year-old, he played in 153 games and hit .274 with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. Francisco Lindor (2015): Lindor began his 2015 at AAA. He played 59 games there and hit .284/.350/.402 (.752) with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Six days after Correa, he was called up and made his MLB debut on June 14, 2015 (age 21 years, 212 days). In 99 games for Cleveland, Lindor hit .313/.353/.482 (.835) with 22 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs. He finished runner up to Correa for Rookie of the Year. Correa and Lindor have had terrific starts to their careers. They are both in their fourth season in the big leagues now and have established themselves as stars. Correa won that 2015 Rookie of the Year award. He was an All-Star in 2017 and then helped lead the Astros to a World Series title. Lindor has been a three-time All-Star, and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. He led Cleveland to the World Series in 2016 when they fell in a tough Game 7 to the Cubs. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Carlos Correa made his MLB debut three years after being drafted, almost to the date. It was in his third full season as a professional. It was especially aggressive considering he missed half of a season with a broken leg. Francisco Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after her was drafted out of high school. It was halfway through his fourth full season. Obviously Royce Lewis’s debut will not be based on Correa and Lindor’s timeline. It will be based on his progress at each level and the Twins front office’s plan for his arrival, and what they want him to accomplish at least stop along the way. However, here are some scenarios: Correa debuted three months before his 21st birthday. For Lewis, that would be Opening Day 2020.Correa debuted approximately three years after his draft day. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2020.Lindor debuted about four months before he turned 22 years old. For Lewis, that would mean Opening Day 2021.Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after he was drafted. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2021.That’s a pretty big range for when we could see Royce Lewis debut in the big leagues. And again, I have to reiterate that prospect and player development is not necessarily linear. Players develop at different rates. That’s important to remember and remind yourself before you get to this next paragraph. Lewis is in his first full professional season. I’m guessing you noticed that both Lindor and Correa spent their entire first full season in the Midwest League. By season’s end, Lewis will have about 50 games in the Florida State League. We could say the Lewis is about a half-season ahead of Correa and Lindor were at the same stage. Additionally, I’m sure you noticed that the power numbers that Lewis has displayed surpass the power numbers shown by Correa and Lindor. Those two didn’t show much power until they got to the big leagues. There is reason for excitement. But you’ll notice that Cleveland was a lot more patient with Lindor than Houston was with Correa, especially when you consider that he missed about half a year. If you want my opinion, I think there is an outside chance, but a chance nonetheless, that Twins fans could see Royce Lewis at Target Field late in the 2019 season. I fully expect the Twins to invite Lewis to big league spring training next year, and I expect that he will make an impression on the coaches. In addition to Lewis’s development offensively and defensively, a call up in 2019 may depend as much on the Twins season and playoff competitiveness. AGGRESSIVE: July 2019 is very aggressive. Lewis will have just turned 20 and could help the Twins down the stretch. REALISTIC: June 2020 is probably the most realistic timeline for Lewis. PATIENT: June 2021 is a patient approach, especially considering how quickly the Twins have moved Lewis to this point, but Francisco Lindor has turned out quite good despite a slower approach. It is a question I get often. I try to answer in a realistic manner, but I did want to dig into the development timeline of two great young shortstops, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. While they are just two data points, it gives us something to compare to, something that could be achievable. So now it’s your turn? When do you think Royce Lewis will be able to make his MLB debut? What do you think the determining factors should be for his promotion? Click here to view the article
  18. Tonight in Los Angeles, the Dodgers will take on the Houston Astros in Game 1 of the 2017 World Series. It will be Clayton Kershaw versus Dallas Keuchel on the mound. There is so much talent, young talent, in this series. From 2012 to 2014, Cory Hepola was the host for Houston Astros Pre & PostGame LIVE, as well as their Emmy Award-winning magazine show called Astros Bases Loaded. The talented anchor from Perham, Minnesota, earned two Emmy nominations for Comcast Sports in Houston where he also anchored daily sportscasts. He got to know some of the Astros biggest stars as they were just entering the big leagues. Today, he shares some of his thoughts and stories from his time covering the team. In 2015, Cory Hepola of Minnesota to be an anchor on the KARE-11’s Sunrise show. He won an . This year, he made the move to weekend anchor where he teams as co-host with his wife Camille Williams. The couple has three kids, all under the age of three. During his years in Houston, Hepola had a front-row seat to some pretty bad baseball teams, and yet they were a team that had new leadership and a clear plan toward winning baseball.Perham (MN) native Cory Hepola has worked in several markets around the country. One of his first jobs was as a sports anchor at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. It was back in the days when Trevor Plouffe and Danny Valencia played for the Red Wings. Recently, Cory was kind enough to spend some time answering our questions about the development of the Astros, who he covered from 2012-2014. Twins Daily (TD): In your three years working in sports in Houston, what was the general feeling in and around the team, the organization and the fans? Cory Hepola (CH): I was around the Astros from 2012-2014, so essentially, the worst years in franchise history. People weren't talking about them; they were completely off the radar. But, at CSN Houston, we all felt very strongly that Jeff Luhnow had a unique, forward-thinking vision. He's brilliant and we knew they'd be much better starting in 2015. He's done an excellent job of adding free agents around their core nucleus of young talent. TD: But things were kind of coming into place as some young players were getting their first opportunities. For instance, Jose Altuve was a rookie and getting playing time. What were your thoughts on him at the time, and are you surprised by what he's become? CH: Jose Altuve is one of the best stories in baseball. Tried out at an open camp in Venezuela and was cut because he was too short. Came back the next year and was signed, for cheap. I think that experience has given him perspective; he knows what it's like to be cut or to be told you're not good enough, and it drives him. In 2014 - I watched him every day in awe. He hit over .340 and stole 56 bags. Honestly, I remember Mike Stanton (my CSN analyst) saying he could get even better and I secretly rolled my eyes. No way. But, since then he's added power, raising his OPS by over 100 points. He hits everything hard and is terrific at 2B. TD: Also, Dallas Keuchel has won a Cy Young since then, but what were your thoughts on him when he first came up? CH: I interviewed Dallas Keuchel at spring training in 2014. He was coming off a couple of years where he really struggled as a starter and in the bullpen. At that point, Keuchel was just hoping to make the team. He told me he wanted that fifth starter spot, but would be fine as a long reliever. But, Brent Strom came in as the Astros new pitching coach that year and he REALLY helped Keuchel develop and control his slider, which turned him into a superstar. It just shows you don't have to throw 100 MPH, just control it. TD: I believe you noted that George Springer had just been called up too. He was the Astros player on the now-popular Sports Illustrated cover that said the Astros would be the 2017 World Series champion. What were your thoughts on Springer, who has now become an All Star too? CH: We couldn't wait for Springer to get called up in 2014. We knew he would be an instant impact player with his speed in center field & his power, but there were concerns about his strikeouts. He brought an instant energy to the clubhouse and is one of the leaders there. TD: In 2012, the Astros had the number one overall pick. At the time, they surprised teams by taking shortstop Carlos Correa out of Puerto Rico. You had the opportunity to interview him after the draft. What were your thoughts on him at the time and now that he's become a star? CH: In 2013, we would look up Correa and Buxton's stats - and compare them - every night while watching the Astros game! I met Correa at spring training in 2014 and knew he was going to be a superstar. He was 19 and already had that "IT" factor. Wasn't intimidated, wasn't cocky, but was mature and confident in who he was and where he as going. He told me: in the offseason, he went back to Puerto Rico to work with his Dad on his house. He didn't spend much of his signing bonus because - as he told me - he hadn't proven anything yet. He was the first one at the facility every day and the last one to leave. He reminded me of a young Alex Rodriguez, to be honest, because of his size and maturity at such a young age. TD: Any other memories or personnel from your time in Houston, covering the Astros? CH: It's so fun to see the Astros in the World Series because of where they were at a few years ago, although I do miss our great team at CSN Houston. I wish we could've been a part of this, watching these guys earn this incredible ride. Also, Art Howe - who was one of our analysts - is an absolute saint. Don't believe the "Moneyball" narrative. I learned so much from watching baseball with Art and he is one of the most genuine, caring people I know. TD: Do you see any comparison between those 2012-2014 Astros teams you covered and the Twins rosters since you've moved back to Minnesota? CH: Yes, I do see some similarities with how the Astros constructed their plan and the Twins. I expect to see the Twins now start to add a few helpful free agents here and there as this new front office has been able to evaluate the players in their system, who they like, who they want to keep and where. I met Derek Falvey in May and was blown away - not only by his baseball knowledge - but his leadership skills. Not many 34-year-olds understand what drives people to succeed, but I believe he does. TD: Astros-Dodgers... what's your prediction for the World Series? CH: Man, it's hard not to like the Dodgers, but I'll go with the Astros because I'd love to see the city of Houston win it all! A big Thank you to Cory Hepola for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer some of our questions about the Houston Astros as they play Game 1 of World Series tonight. Be sure to follow Cory on Twitter at @CoryHepola, and tune in to KARE-11 news at 5, 6 and 10 on Saturdays and Sundays. ---------------------------------------------------------- As an aside, I’ve known Cory and his family for probably 30 years. I happened to coach him in Little League and Babe Ruth as he was growing up in Perham. I like to tell him that he was ahead of the curve on analytics, understanding the value of getting on base. He knew the strike zone like few others at those ages. He also played a really good first base, able to scoop up almost anything. Basketball was his big sport in high school, but it’s fun for me to see him succeeding in a career that he’s been dreaming about for so long. I’ll close this article with Cory's story of meeting his kindergarten teacher that pulled at a lot of heart strings across the country. Click here to view the article
  19. Perham (MN) native Cory Hepola has worked in several markets around the country. One of his first jobs was as a sports anchor at WROC-TV in Rochester, New York. It was back in the days when Trevor Plouffe and Danny Valencia played for the Red Wings. Recently, Cory was kind enough to spend some time answering our questions about the development of the Astros, who he covered from 2012-2014. Twins Daily (TD): In your three years working in sports in Houston, what was the general feeling in and around the team, the organization and the fans? Cory Hepola (CH): I was around the Astros from 2012-2014, so essentially, the worst years in franchise history. People weren't talking about them; they were completely off the radar. But, at CSN Houston, we all felt very strongly that Jeff Luhnow had a unique, forward-thinking vision. He's brilliant and we knew they'd be much better starting in 2015. He's done an excellent job of adding free agents around their core nucleus of young talent. TD: But things were kind of coming into place as some young players were getting their first opportunities. For instance, Jose Altuve was a rookie and getting playing time. What were your thoughts on him at the time, and are you surprised by what he's become? CH: Jose Altuve is one of the best stories in baseball. Tried out at an open camp in Venezuela and was cut because he was too short. Came back the next year and was signed, for cheap. I think that experience has given him perspective; he knows what it's like to be cut or to be told you're not good enough, and it drives him. In 2014 - I watched him every day in awe. He hit over .340 and stole 56 bags. Honestly, I remember Mike Stanton (my CSN analyst) saying he could get even better and I secretly rolled my eyes. No way. But, since then he's added power, raising his OPS by over 100 points. He hits everything hard and is terrific at 2B. TD: Also, Dallas Keuchel has won a Cy Young since then, but what were your thoughts on him when he first came up? CH: I interviewed Dallas Keuchel at spring training in 2014. He was coming off a couple of years where he really struggled as a starter and in the bullpen. At that point, Keuchel was just hoping to make the team. He told me he wanted that fifth starter spot, but would be fine as a long reliever. But, Brent Strom came in as the Astros new pitching coach that year and he REALLY helped Keuchel develop and control his slider, which turned him into a superstar. It just shows you don't have to throw 100 MPH, just control it. TD: I believe you noted that George Springer had just been called up too. He was the Astros player on the now-popular Sports Illustrated cover that said the Astros would be the 2017 World Series champion. What were your thoughts on Springer, who has now become an All Star too? CH: We couldn't wait for Springer to get called up in 2014. We knew he would be an instant impact player with his speed in center field & his power, but there were concerns about his strikeouts. He brought an instant energy to the clubhouse and is one of the leaders there. TD: In 2012, the Astros had the number one overall pick. At the time, they surprised teams by taking shortstop Carlos Correa out of Puerto Rico. You had the opportunity to interview him after the draft. What were your thoughts on him at the time and now that he's become a star? CH: In 2013, we would look up Correa and Buxton's stats - and compare them - every night while watching the Astros game! I met Correa at spring training in 2014 and knew he was going to be a superstar. He was 19 and already had that "IT" factor. Wasn't intimidated, wasn't cocky, but was mature and confident in who he was and where he as going. He told me: in the offseason, he went back to Puerto Rico to work with his Dad on his house. He didn't spend much of his signing bonus because - as he told me - he hadn't proven anything yet. He was the first one at the facility every day and the last one to leave. He reminded me of a young Alex Rodriguez, to be honest, because of his size and maturity at such a young age. TD: Any other memories or personnel from your time in Houston, covering the Astros? CH: It's so fun to see the Astros in the World Series because of where they were at a few years ago, although I do miss our great team at CSN Houston. I wish we could've been a part of this, watching these guys earn this incredible ride. Also, Art Howe - who was one of our analysts - is an absolute saint. Don't believe the "Moneyball" narrative. I learned so much from watching baseball with Art and he is one of the most genuine, caring people I know. TD: Do you see any comparison between those 2012-2014 Astros teams you covered and the Twins rosters since you've moved back to Minnesota? CH: Yes, I do see some similarities with how the Astros constructed their plan and the Twins. I expect to see the Twins now start to add a few helpful free agents here and there as this new front office has been able to evaluate the players in their system, who they like, who they want to keep and where. I met Derek Falvey in May and was blown away - not only by his baseball knowledge - but his leadership skills. Not many 34-year-olds understand what drives people to succeed, but I believe he does. TD: Astros-Dodgers... what's your prediction for the World Series? CH: Man, it's hard not to like the Dodgers, but I'll go with the Astros because I'd love to see the city of Houston win it all! A big Thank you to Cory Hepola for taking time out of his incredibly busy schedule to answer some of our questions about the Houston Astros as they play Game 1 of World Series tonight. Be sure to follow Cory on Twitter at @CoryHepola, and tune in to KARE-11 news at 5, 6 and 10 on Saturdays and Sundays. ---------------------------------------------------------- As an aside, I’ve known Cory and his family for probably 30 years. I happened to coach him in Little League and Babe Ruth as he was growing up in Perham. I like to tell him that he was ahead of the curve on analytics, understanding the value of getting on base. He knew the strike zone like few others at those ages. He also played a really good first base, able to scoop up almost anything. Basketball was his big sport in high school, but it’s fun for me to see him succeeding in a career that he’s been dreaming about for so long. I’ll close this article with Cory's story of meeting his kindergarten teacher that pulled at a lot of heart strings across the country. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jdBT5t_azLs
  20. There are six players in the big leagues who are 22 to 24 years old and hitting under .220 heading into Monday’s games. I thought it would be interesting to see if their teams have done anything about those players. Have they been demoted? Will they be demoted? Have they been moved in the lineup at all? I think I found some consistencies in the research. Dansby Swanson - 23 - SS - Atlanta Braves 2017 Stats*: .139/.162/.194 (.357) in 74 plate appearances over 18 games. Swanson was the first overall draft pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt. Inexplicably, Dave Stewart decided to trade the Georgia native to Atlanta (with two others) for Shelby Miller. The Braves called him up late last year. He played in 38 big league games, he hit .302/.361/.442 (.803) in 145 plate appearances. He had 34 strikeouts, but he also walked 13 times. Part of his struggles this season can be tied to his strikeout-to-walk rate. He has 19 strikeouts to go with just two walks. He began the 2017 season as Atlanta’s second-place hitter. He stayed in that spot for the first 14 games. He then got a day off. At that point he was in a 3-33 slump which dropped his average to .131. When he returned to the lineup this past weekend, he had been moved to the eighth spot. Swanson seems to be taking the struggles in stride. When he was given his one game off, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “When you’re going like this each at-bat is kind of a battle,” Swanson said. “I was just talking to some people about how, it’s like, they throw those perfect breaking balls on certain counts and they make certain pitches, and then when you do hit balls hard people seem to be standing right there and stuff. But you’ve got to do your best to not let that affect you — just because you’re not getting the result doesn’t mean you’re not doing the right thing. “This game, it’s hard. It’s just a weird concept because you can execute everything perfectly and not be successful, whereas in football if you run a play perfectly you’re going to be successful, or in basketball if you shoot the perfect shot it’s going in. It’s just funny how, in this (sport), you can take the perfect swing and it doesn’t matter. Nothing’s really in your control except your immediate action.” Tim Anderson - 24 - SS - Chicago White Sox 2017 Stats*: .179/.203/.254 (.457) in 69 plate appearances Anderson was the White Sox first-round pick in 2013 out of Community College. He was called up in mid-June and played in 99 games. He hit .283/.306/.432 (.738). Those that have watched the White Sox since his call up know what his issue can be. Throw him a breaking ball outside of the strike zone, and he’ll probably still swing at it. Last year, he saw just 3.7 pitches per plate appearance. This year, that number is down to just 3.3. But the White Sox obviously see him as a future star and leader on the team. . This spring, they locked him up to a six year, $25 million contract. With a couple of option years, the value of the contract could exceed $51 million. So, he’s probably got some leeway. He began the season by batting second the first seven games, and then he moved up to the leadoff spot for three games. After a day off, he has hit second four times and led off twice. Through 16 games, Rich Renteria has chosen to keep Anderson near the top of the order. Orlando Arcia - 22 - SS - Milwaukee Brewers 2017 Stats*: .210/.234/.306 (.541) in 64 plate appearances over the first 18 games Arcia was signed out of Venezuela. He is the younger brother of former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. He is known for his premiere defense at shortstop, which may surprise those of us who watched Oswaldo out in the outfield in Target Field. He was called up late last year and played in 55 games for the Brewers last year. He hit .219/.273/.358 (.631). The Brewers have him up primarily for his defense and are letting him grow into the offensive side of the game. That is shown, in part, by the fact that they have had him hitting eighth or even ninth in their lineup in each game he’s played. Brewers manager Craig Counsell recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Development is not a straight line," Counsell said. "Failure is part of it. You don’t know for who and when, but you know that there’s going to be struggles, and you have to get through those times. That’s when most of the learning happens and the biggest adjustments are going to happen." "Look, I don’t want to see guys struggle. It’s hard seeing guys struggle. But I know also a lot of good can come from the struggle, and that’s what I always remain hopeful about." Jose Peraza - 22 - 2B/SS - Cincinnati Reds 2017 Stats*: .216/.256/.257 (.513) in 78 plate appearances over 18 games Peraza actually made his MLB debut in 2015 when he played in seven games for the Dodgers before being involved in his second, three-team trade in his young career. It sent him to Cincinnati. In 2016, he hit .324/.352/.411 (.762) in 72 games and 256 plate appearances. He played around the infield, but mostly in the two middle spots. This year, he is off to a slow start. However, in all 18 games he has played, he has hit first or second. Chad Dotson from Redleg Nation doesn’t think that Peraza is in any danger of a demotion: As far as I know, there has been no public discussion about either sending Peraza down or dropping him in the lineup. In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that Peraza will be demoted. He’s still just 22 years old, and current management has reason to be patient with the young guys at the heart of the rebuild. This is a season for the Reds to see who they have and what they can do. Peraza will get a much longer leash than 3 weeks. (Plus, his defense has been good.) Trevor Story - 24 - SS - Colorado Rockies 2017 Stats*: .169/.270/.415 (.686) in 74 plate appearances over 19 games Story was the big story early last season. In his MLB debut last year, he hit two home runs. He had six home runs in his first four games. Unfortunately, his season ended after just 97 games due to injury, but he finished by hitting 21 doubles and 27 home runs. He hit .272/.341/.567 (.909). So, it’s clear that he isn’t off to the same kind of start as he was last year. However, he has continued to show the home run power. Rockies fans are surprised when Story hits a single so far this year. He started the season hitting fifth, and batted fourth or fifth each of the first seven games. Since then, he has hit primarily sixth, but also has three games where he’s batted seventh as well. So for now, he has been dropped a little in the lineup. Carlos Correa - 23 - SS - Houston Astros 2017 Stats*: .197/.286/.295 (.581) with 70 plate appearances in 16 games. Correa was the top pick in the 2012 MLB draft, one pick ahead of Byron Buxton. Correa was called up halfway through the 2015 season and hit 22 homers on his way to the AL Rookie of the Year. In 2016, he hit .274/.361/.451 (.811) with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. 2017 hasn’t started out real well for Correa. However, he has been the Astros cleanup hitter each game that he’s played this season, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. SUMMARY So what have we noticed from reviewing the six players above? Maybe you’ll think through some more, but here are a few things I noticed. If you go on Twitter or read comments sections, there are two distinct groups of fans for each of these players. There are the ones who want a guy demoted (or even just given up on), and there are those that will support said player as long as it takes. Here’s a good example from Twitter regarding Dansby Swanson: https://twitter.com/santoniobrown/status/855572705994846208 2.) Defense - you’ll notice that each of these players plays an up-the-middle position, and plays it well. While Buxton is the only outfielder, most of them are shortstops. Each is known for being a plus defender. 3.) Byron Buxton was the Twins #3 hitter on Opening Day. Having watched him play this spring, it was an aggressive, but understandable plan. Not because of any numbers he put up in spring training, but because of the quality of the at-bats that he was having. After struggling for five games, Paul Molitor moved him down the lineup and he’s primarily been batting ninth since. He’s been pinch-hit for three times and sat out a couple of games too. Swanson stayed in the second spot for 14 games before being moved down this weekend. Story has dropped from five to seven. But the rest have stayed in their spots. 4.) Online searching tells me that none of the other players are in any danger of being demoted, at least not in the near future. 5.) Patience is what is being preached. That’s not new. Player development is not linear. Not everyone develops at the same time. Sometimes being optioned helps. Sometimes a player needs to figure things out in the big leagues. 6.) Walk and strikeout rates are pretty consistently telling in seeing player struggles. I don’t think that surprises anyone. Players that have a better control of the strike zone have a tendency to avoid longer slumps, and they don’t get themselves out by swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Now, we don’t watch these other teams play as often as we watch the Twins. It’s also pretty certain from the stats and the strikeout rates that Buxton’s struggles have exceeded even those mentioned above. Personally, I would like to see the Twins continue to play Buxton most every day and let him try to work through this. Finally, here is a list of the 27 players who entered Monday’s game with a sub-.200 batting average. Jose Reyes - .104 Ryan Schimpf - .109 Jose Bautista - .132 Devon Travis - .136 Dansby Swanson - .139 Danny Valencia - .145 Curtis Granderson - .149 Travis Jankowski - .160 Mike Napoli - .162 Erick Aybar - .164 Trevor Story - .169 Alex Gordon - .169 Dexter Fowler - .169 Maikel Franco - .171 Scott Schebler - .175 Austin Hedges - .175 Tim Anderson - .179 Brett Gardner - .182 Jonathan Villar - .185 Rougned Odor - .187 Alcides Escobar - .190 Danny Espinosa - .191 Domingo Santana - .193 Adonis Garcia - .194 Justin Bour - .194 Carlos Gonzalez - .197 Carlos Correa - .197 It’s an interesting mix, isn’t it? There are young players and there are old players. There are some former All-Stars, and there are guys you had to look up to see what team they even play for. It’s easy to jump to conclusions early in a season even though we all know it’s a very small sample. But with Buxton, the question that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have to be asking themselves is: What is best for Byron Buxton’s long-term future? Learn in the big leagues or learn in AAA Rochester. The problem is, there is no way to know which answer is more correct than the other. Share your thoughts.
  21. In case you haven’t been following the Minnesota Twins to this point in the season, Byron Buxton has started the season really slowly. On Monday night in Texas, he went 0-2 with two walks and is now hitting just .105/.177/.140 (.318). There is really no way to sugarcoat those numbers. Nick wrote a bit about his struggles yesterday. While few have struggled to the level that Buxton has to start this season, there are a lot of hitters who are just not hitting to this point. Heading into play on Monday, 27 qualifying players (have 3.1 at bats per game their team plays for) had a batting average below .200. The average batting average in MLB was .241.There are six players in the big leagues who are 22 to 24 years old and hitting under .220 heading into Monday’s games. I thought it would be interesting to see if their teams have done anything about those players. Have they been demoted? Will they be demoted? Have they been moved in the lineup at all? I think I found some consistencies in the research. Dansby Swanson - 23 - SS - Atlanta Braves 2017 Stats*: .139/.162/.194 (.357) in 74 plate appearances over 18 games. Swanson was the first overall draft pick in the 2015 draft out of Vanderbilt. Inexplicably, Dave Stewart decided to trade the Georgia native to Atlanta (with two others) for Shelby Miller. The Braves called him up late last year. He played in 38 big league games, he hit .302/.361/.442 (.803) in 145 plate appearances. He had 34 strikeouts, but he also walked 13 times. Part of his struggles this season can be tied to his strikeout-to-walk rate. He has 19 strikeouts to go with just two walks. He began the 2017 season as Atlanta’s second-place hitter. He stayed in that spot for the first 14 games. He then got a day off. At that point he was in a 3-33 slump which dropped his average to .131. When he returned to the lineup this past weekend, he had been moved to the eighth spot. Swanson seems to be taking the struggles in stride. When he was given his one game off, he told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution: “When you’re going like this each at-bat is kind of a battle,” Swanson said. “I was just talking to some people about how, it’s like, they throw those perfect breaking balls on certain counts and they make certain pitches, and then when you do hit balls hard people seem to be standing right there and stuff. But you’ve got to do your best to not let that affect you — just because you’re not getting the result doesn’t mean you’re not doing the right thing. “This game, it’s hard. It’s just a weird concept because you can execute everything perfectly and not be successful, whereas in football if you run a play perfectly you’re going to be successful, or in basketball if you shoot the perfect shot it’s going in. It’s just funny how, in this (sport), you can take the perfect swing and it doesn’t matter. Nothing’s really in your control except your immediate action.” Tim Anderson - 24 - SS - Chicago White Sox 2017 Stats*: .179/.203/.254 (.457) in 69 plate appearances Anderson was the White Sox first-round pick in 2013 out of Community College. He was called up in mid-June and played in 99 games. He hit .283/.306/.432 (.738). Those that have watched the White Sox since his call up know what his issue can be. Throw him a breaking ball outside of the strike zone, and he’ll probably still swing at it. Last year, he saw just 3.7 pitches per plate appearance. This year, that number is down to just 3.3. But the White Sox obviously see him as a future star and leader on the team. . This spring, they locked him up to a six year, $25 million contract. With a couple of option years, the value of the contract could exceed $51 million. So, he’s probably got some leeway. He began the season by batting second the first seven games, and then he moved up to the leadoff spot for three games. After a day off, he has hit second four times and led off twice. Through 16 games, Rich Renteria has chosen to keep Anderson near the top of the order. Orlando Arcia - 22 - SS - Milwaukee Brewers 2017 Stats*: .210/.234/.306 (.541) in 64 plate appearances over the first 18 games Arcia was signed out of Venezuela. He is the younger brother of former Twins outfielder Oswaldo Arcia. He is known for his premiere defense at shortstop, which may surprise those of us who watched Oswaldo out in the outfield in Target Field. He was called up late last year and played in 55 games for the Brewers last year. He hit .219/.273/.358 (.631). The Brewers have him up primarily for his defense and are letting him grow into the offensive side of the game. That is shown, in part, by the fact that they have had him hitting eighth or even ninth in their lineup in each game he’s played. Brewers manager Craig Counsell recently told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Development is not a straight line," Counsell said. "Failure is part of it. You don’t know for who and when, but you know that there’s going to be struggles, and you have to get through those times. That’s when most of the learning happens and the biggest adjustments are going to happen." "Look, I don’t want to see guys struggle. It’s hard seeing guys struggle. But I know also a lot of good can come from the struggle, and that’s what I always remain hopeful about." Jose Peraza - 22 - 2B/SS - Cincinnati Reds 2017 Stats*: .216/.256/.257 (.513) in 78 plate appearances over 18 games Peraza actually made his MLB debut in 2015 when he played in seven games for the Dodgers before being involved in his second, three-team trade in his young career. It sent him to Cincinnati. In 2016, he hit .324/.352/.411 (.762) in 72 games and 256 plate appearances. He played around the infield, but mostly in the two middle spots. This year, he is off to a slow start. However, in all 18 games he has played, he has hit first or second. Chad Dotson from Redleg Nation doesn’t think that Peraza is in any danger of a demotion: As far as I know, there has been no public discussion about either sending Peraza down or dropping him in the lineup. In my opinion, it is highly unlikely that Peraza will be demoted. He’s still just 22 years old, and current management has reason to be patient with the young guys at the heart of the rebuild. This is a season for the Reds to see who they have and what they can do. Peraza will get a much longer leash than 3 weeks. (Plus, his defense has been good.) Trevor Story - 24 - SS - Colorado Rockies 2017 Stats*: .169/.270/.415 (.686) in 74 plate appearances over 19 games Story was the big story early last season. In his MLB debut last year, he hit two home runs. He had six home runs in his first four games. Unfortunately, his season ended after just 97 games due to injury, but he finished by hitting 21 doubles and 27 home runs. He hit .272/.341/.567 (.909). So, it’s clear that he isn’t off to the same kind of start as he was last year. However, he has continued to show the home run power. Rockies fans are surprised when Story hits a single so far this year. He started the season hitting fifth, and batted fourth or fifth each of the first seven games. Since then, he has hit primarily sixth, but also has three games where he’s batted seventh as well. So for now, he has been dropped a little in the lineup. Carlos Correa - 23 - SS - Houston Astros 2017 Stats*: .197/.286/.295 (.581) with 70 plate appearances in 16 games. Correa was the top pick in the 2012 MLB draft, one pick ahead of Byron Buxton. Correa was called up halfway through the 2015 season and hit 22 homers on his way to the AL Rookie of the Year. In 2016, he hit .274/.361/.451 (.811) with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. 2017 hasn’t started out real well for Correa. However, he has been the Astros cleanup hitter each game that he’s played this season, and that probably won’t change anytime soon. SUMMARY So what have we noticed from reviewing the six players above? Maybe you’ll think through some more, but here are a few things I noticed. If you go on Twitter or read comments sections, there are two distinct groups of fans for each of these players. There are the ones who want a guy demoted (or even just given up on), and there are those that will support said player as long as it takes. Here’s a good example from Twitter regarding Dansby Swanson: 2.) Defense - you’ll notice that each of these players plays an up-the-middle position, and plays it well. While Buxton is the only outfielder, most of them are shortstops. Each is known for being a plus defender. 3.) Byron Buxton was the Twins #3 hitter on Opening Day. Having watched him play this spring, it was an aggressive, but understandable plan. Not because of any numbers he put up in spring training, but because of the quality of the at-bats that he was having. After struggling for five games, Paul Molitor moved him down the lineup and he’s primarily been batting ninth since. He’s been pinch-hit for three times and sat out a couple of games too. Swanson stayed in the second spot for 14 games before being moved down this weekend. Story has dropped from five to seven. But the rest have stayed in their spots. 4.) Online searching tells me that none of the other players are in any danger of being demoted, at least not in the near future. 5.) Patience is what is being preached. That’s not new. Player development is not linear. Not everyone develops at the same time. Sometimes being optioned helps. Sometimes a player needs to figure things out in the big leagues. 6.) Walk and strikeout rates are pretty consistently telling in seeing player struggles. I don’t think that surprises anyone. Players that have a better control of the strike zone have a tendency to avoid longer slumps, and they don’t get themselves out by swinging at pitches outside the strike zone. Now, we don’t watch these other teams play as often as we watch the Twins. It’s also pretty certain from the stats and the strikeout rates that Buxton’s struggles have exceeded even those mentioned above. Personally, I would like to see the Twins continue to play Buxton most every day and let him try to work through this. Finally, here is a list of the 27 players who entered Monday’s game with a sub-.200 batting average. Jose Reyes - .104 Ryan Schimpf - .109 Jose Bautista - .132 Devon Travis - .136 Dansby Swanson - .139 Danny Valencia - .145 Curtis Granderson - .149 Travis Jankowski - .160 Mike Napoli - .162 Erick Aybar - .164 Trevor Story - .169 Alex Gordon - .169 Dexter Fowler - .169 Maikel Franco - .171 Scott Schebler - .175 Austin Hedges - .175 Tim Anderson - .179 Brett Gardner - .182 Jonathan Villar - .185 Rougned Odor - .187 Alcides Escobar - .190 Danny Espinosa - .191 Domingo Santana - .193 Adonis Garcia - .194 Justin Bour - .194 Carlos Gonzalez - .197 Carlos Correa - .197 It’s an interesting mix, isn’t it? There are young players and there are old players. There are some former All-Stars, and there are guys you had to look up to see what team they even play for. It’s easy to jump to conclusions early in a season even though we all know it’s a very small sample. But with Buxton, the question that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine have to be asking themselves is: What is best for Byron Buxton’s long-term future? Learn in the big leagues or learn in AAA Rochester. The problem is, there is no way to know which answer is more correct than the other. Share your thoughts. Click here to view the article
  22. Houston made the move to call up top prospect Correa over the weekend. He was the lone player drafted ahead of Buxton, and has also experienced a ton of success at the minor league level. Starting at Double-A Corpus Christi this season, Correa slashed .385/.459/.726 with seven home runs and 32 runs batted in. He added 15 stolen bases and legged out 15 doubles as well. By all accounts, Correa dominated the Texas League. The Astros sent Correa to Triple-A Fresno for 24 games following his hot start. While his average dipped (.276) he still got on base at a high clip (.345) and slugged .449. It was after just 24 games in the Pacific Coast League that Houston believed they had seen enough. In bringing up Correa, the Astros signaled a desire to maximize their current winning ways, and to continue along that path well into the summer. Now the Twins have the opportunity to follow suit. With the Cubs having promoted Kris Bryant a few weeks ago, and Correa getting the call, Byron Buxton remains the last of the elite tier of prospects expected to reach the major leagues this season. Much like Correa, Buxton suffered a lost season in 2014. Correa played in 62 games before suffering a season-ending injury. In 2014, Buxton was only able to play in 31 games after dealing with a wrist injury and then a concussion. Now 54 games into his 2015 season, there's no doubt that the countdown to his arrival is on. Unlike Correa, Buxton hasn't lit his minor league on fire. After starting incredibly cold, he has evened out and is now batting .267/.327/.475. Outside of the traditional batting line however, his speed has played tremendously, evidenced by his league-leading 11 triples and 19 stolen bases. Things are also continuously trending up for Buxton, who has batted .318/.376/.541 since May 16. There's no doubt the Twins could use a boost at the top of their lineup and Buxton profiles as an ideal leadoff hitter. Despite what Brian Dozier has done for Minnesota this season, it still makes sense to get a couple of guys on ahead of his power bat. Followed in the lineup by players like Torii Hunter and Joe Mauer, Buxton hitting ahead of that group would no doubt be a positive. On top of the added offensive boost, the Twins could transform their outfield into a positive situation less than halfway through the season. Instead of Oswaldo Arcia and Torii Hunter flanking center, Minnesota could go Eddie Rosario, Byron Buxton, and Aaron Hicks from left to right. Hunter would factor in at the DH spot and could spell Hicks in certain situations. No matter the configuration, Buxton possesses Gold Glove ability in the outfield with speed that would make Target Field look small. At this point, it's hard to imagine that we aren't past the Super 2 deadline for prospects, and whether or not the Twins are taking that into consideration really shouldn't matter. I'm not ready to suggest that Buxton will be in Minnesota by the end of the month, but Correa's promotion should be seen as more of a blueprint for the Twins to follow than anything. While believing we would see the star centerfielder sometime in August a few weeks ago, there's no doubt the timeline has changed to sometime in July at the latest. Minnesota is on a great run, and sustaining it will be done from within. Getting your best asset to the big leagues sooner rather than later is a great place to start.
  23. I'm really looking forward to this: http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/06/astros-promote-carlos-correa.html
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