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  1. I wrote a few days ago on starting pitchers that we are likely to see in the dog days of summer. This of course assumes that the Twins are going to continue down the horrid path that they've gotten off to in the first 40 games of the season, and expiring deals like Michael Pineda and J.A. Happ are moved. The bullpen also contains two names who were brought in on one year deals, one throwing very well, and the other getting off to a horrid start. If someone told you that one would be good and one would be bad, you may not be shocked, but the fact that Robles has outperformed Colome is surprising. If the Twins do decide that they are going to sell, those two will certainly be moved. Some other names like Tyler Duffey or Taylor Rogers could also find themselves being traded, but as I'm writing this I don't foresee it happening. Either way, with injuries, taxing bullpen arms, or relievers not performing, there will be plenty of chances for the Twins brass to bring up some young, intriguing arms. RHP Yennier Cano Cano was signed as an older international free agent in 2018 for 750,000 dollars, just before the international period was about to end. The Twins essentially traded OF Zack Granite to the Rangers for Cano, as 750,000 in international money is what the Twins received in compensation. Cano was ranked as the #2 player in the international class, behind OF Victor Victor Mesa. Cano features a unique three-quarters delivery in which he features a fastball sitting in the mid-90's, topping out at 97 MPH. Cano also features a heavy sinker which induces a lot of ground balls, and works a slider and splitter for strikeouts. Cano is currently in AA Wichita, and has gotten off to a torrid start. At the time of this writing, he's worked 6.2 innings with 12 strikeouts, no walks, and no home runs. Cano is likely going to be called up to Saint Paul in the near future, and if things go well, there is no doubt that the 27 year old will be up with the Twins. Due to his age, the ceiling is limited, but Cano could prove to be a useful middle reliever on a team the could badly use one. RHP Dakota Chalmers Chalmers was acquired as a lottery ticket arm in the 2018 trade that sent Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A's, after being a 3rd round pick in the 2015 draft, being signed way over slot at 1.2M. Chalmers battled injury issues early in his career, and received the dreaded Tommy John Surgery in 2018. Due to Chalmers missing much of the 2018 season, the Twins sent Chalmers to the Arizona Fall League in 2019, where things didn't go according to plan. Chalmers made 6 starts, totaling 17.2 IPs, allowing 17 hits and 12 walks. However, Chalmers, who has always had 80 grade stuff, struck out 25 batters. Despite the rough outing in 2019, the Twins added Chalmers to the 40 man roster. Chalmers has continued to work as a starter in 2021 at AA Wichita, but the results still haven't turned around. Chalmers has walked 4 in 8.2 innings, and given up 8 hits, including 4 home runs. Due to Chalmers having 20 or 25 grade control, his chances at starting seem slim to none. Getting Chalmers in the bullpen as an effectively wild pitcher is the best hope for both him and the Twins brass. RHP Tom Hackimer Hackimer is an under the radar pitcher within the Twins organization, not appearing on any top prospect list on any site. However, Hackimer has been a very effective reliever in the minors, largely due to his unique delivery. The Twins righty throws with a submarine type wind-up, which he compares to former Astros reliever Joe Smith. Hackimer doesn't have blow you away type stuff, with a fastball that sits around 90 MPH, topping out at 94 MPH, but due to the spin rate and unique arm angle, it plays faster than it is. He also features a big, sweeping slider that can get right handed hitters out. He is also working on developing a changeup in order to get left handed hitters out more effectively, but it's a work in progress. If Hackimer is ever going to crack the big leagues, at least with the Twins, this is going to be the year he does so. He is not on the 40 man roster as of now, but with the expected trades, the Twins can make a move to get him a look if they feel like he can succeed. Hackimer is currently at AAA Saint Paul, putting up a scoreless 7.1 innings pitched, and 11 strikeouts. During his minor league career, he's thrown 176.1 innings of 2.65 ERA, while striking out 204 batters.
  2. Before we get too deep into things, let’s step back for a quick reminder of how the Twins acquired pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers. JHOAN DURAN The 22-year-old Duran is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Diamondbacks in December 2014 and worked his way up the ladder. In late July of 2018, he came to the Twins organization with outfielders Ernie de la Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal. Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell was the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Player Development for eight years. He said of trading Duran, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization.” Get to know Jhoan Duran from this story from January, shortly after he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. At that time, he spoke of his best pitches. ““Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” DAKOTA CHALMERS Dakota Chalmers was the 3rd round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. The highly-touted, hard-throwing prospect showed great stuff, but early in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery. In August of 2018, the Twins traded veteran closer Fernando Rodney to the A’s for Chalmers, knowing he would not be able to pitch until at least the second half of the 2019 season. He began making rehab appearances last July, and on July 30th, he debuted with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After a rough first start, he was really good in his final four starts before the end of the regular season. He then went up to Pensacola and pitched for them in the playoffs. And after that, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings. Like Duran, Chalmers became an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after the season. We caught up with the 23-year-old at Twins Fest as well for this Get to Know him story. --------------------------------------- Now, back to their performances on Sunday. For each, it was their first appearance in Summer Camp intra-squad games. Hard to know what to expect. As pitching coach Wes Johnson pointed out, they weren’t necessarily looking for results. “I told those guys that it wasn’t, for me, as much about balls and strikes - as crazy as that sounds - it was How was their presence? We gave them some different situations. We started their second innings with runners on.” But it was hard not to notice that they each threw two scoreless innings, despite those situations. Also, Johnson added, “Both of those guys had to go through the heart of our order. That’s not easy. In my opinion, we have the best offense in baseball.” https://twitter.com/HagemanParker/status/1284955121277964296 Johnson said that Nelson Cruz provided the biggest compliment, “Nelson Cruz came up to me and said ‘Hey, both of those guys who just threw, they impressed me. They looked like they belonged, and they were in control.’ And I 100% agree with Nelson obviously.” Following Sunday’s game, Rocco Baldelli excitedly discussed Duran, Chalmers, and also hard-throwing reliever Jorge Alcala. He said, "I think all three of those guys are going to be impacting us at the big league level, and probably soon... The type of stuff we're talking about is the type of stuff that impacts major league games." Duran hit triple digits multiple times in 2019 in Ft. Myers and Pensacola. Chalmers has reached 97 at times. Alcala works 94 to 97 too. But for each of them, they have multiple pitches that could become, and maybe soon, plus pitches. Will that happen in 2020? While Duran and Chalmers have the stuff and the potential to be big league, impact starters, they are young. Also, in 2020, it becomes about opportunity. The Twins have a veteran pitching staff. Jose Berrios, Jake Odorizzi, Kenta Maeda, Rich Hill and Homer Bailey would appear to be the starting five at the beginning of the season. In addition, Randy Dobnak, Devin Smeltzer and Lewis Thorpe all showed something in 2019 in the big leagues and give the team major-league-ready starting pitcher depth. So for 2020, especially the shortened 2020 season, it’s hard to envision a scenario in which they get the call to start this year. However, as Wes Johnson pointed out, “Crazy things happen, as you guys know. It’s crazy times. It’s going to be tough to answer that question. There’s always that possibility. We wouldn't have them here if we didn’t think that if we needed to we could call on them and bring them up.” Maybe even more important, these pitchers indicate that the Twins player development, and specifically, their pitcher development has come a long way. It also speaks to their pro scouting department to tout these guys as targets in that large group of late 2018 trades. Baldelli is excited about what they can be. “Those guys are going to help us win for a very long time.They don't just have pretty good stuff. They don't just have pretty good ability. They have elite traits that are going to allow them to get a lot of outs, a lot of swings and misses.” The reigning AL Manager of the Year specifically mentioned one of Duran’s pitches that he thinks can be great. “I don't even know what anyone wants to call the pitch Duran throws, as well, the splinker pitch, or I don't even know what to call it, but it's coming in hot. It moves and just kind of disappears.” https://twitter.com/SethTweets/status/1284997265300566018 While it is OK to question the plate discipline of Eddie Rosario, just watch the movement of that Jhoan Duran pitch from Sunday again. That’s not a pitch that can be hit, certainly not with any authority. The future is bright for the Twins, and specifically for these high-upside Twins pitchers. Remember that Jordan Balazovic isn’t even in the current Twins 60-player pool. Baldelli thinks this group is going to be special, and more importantly, it really continues to enforce just how much depth the Twins have on the mound. Baldelli noted, "What we're watching is not typical. You could watch some really good major league baseball and not see some of the stuff those guys threw out there today." So while Dakota Chalmers and Jhoan Duran are unlikely to make starts for the Twins in 2020, it’s not impossible to think that they could contribute out of the bullpen for stints if needed. And, it’s exciting to think of what they can become - and what it means for the health of the Twins organization - if they continue to develop and gain consistency moving forward. Their futures are quite bright.
  3. If you watched Sunday afternoon’s Minnesota Twins intra-squad game, you got to see two innings on the mound for two of the team’s top pitching prospects. And, I think it is fair to say that they both impressed!Before we get too deep into things, let’s step back for a quick reminder of how the Twins acquired pitching prospects Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers. JHOAN DURAN The 22-year-old Duran is from the Dominican Republic. He signed with the Diamondbacks in December 2014 and worked his way up the ladder. In late July of 2018, he came to the Twins organization with outfielders Ernie de la Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel as part of the Eduardo Escobar deal. Twins Bench Coach Mike Bell was the Diamondbacks’ Vice President of Player Development for eight years. He said of trading Duran, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go. I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization.” Get to know Jhoan Duran from this story from January, shortly after he was added to the Twins 40-man roster. At that time, he spoke of his best pitches. ““Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” DAKOTA CHALMERS Dakota Chalmers was the 3rd round draft pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. The highly-touted, hard-throwing prospect showed great stuff, but early in 2018, he had Tommy John surgery. In August of 2018, the Twins traded veteran closer Fernando Rodney to the A’s for Chalmers, knowing he would not be able to pitch until at least the second half of the 2019 season. He began making rehab appearances last July, and on July 30th, he debuted with the Ft. Myers Miracle. After a rough first start, he was really good in his final four starts before the end of the regular season. He then went up to Pensacola and pitched for them in the playoffs. And after that, he went to the Arizona Fall League where he struck out 25 batters in 17 2/3 innings. Like Duran, Chalmers became an easy choice to add to the 40-man roster after the season. We caught up with the 23-year-old at Twins Fest as well for this Get to Know him story. --------------------------------------- Now, back to their performances on Sunday. For each, it was their first appearance in Summer Camp intra-squad games. Hard to know what to expect. As pitching coach Wes Johnson pointed out, they weren’t necessarily looking for results. “I told those guys that it wasn’t, for me, as much about balls and strikes - as crazy as that sounds - it was How was their presence? We gave them some different situations. We started their second innings with runners on.” But it was hard not to notice that they each threw two scoreless innings, despite those situations. Also, Johnson added, “Both of those guys had to go through the heart of our order. That’s not easy. In my opinion, we have the best offense in baseball.” While it is OK to question the plate discipline of Eddie Rosario, just watch the movement of that Jhoan Duran pitch from Sunday again. That’s not a pitch that can be hit, certainly not with any authority. The future is bright for the Twins, and specifically for these high-upside Twins pitchers. Remember that Jordan Balazovic isn’t even in the current Twins 60-player pool. Baldelli thinks this group is going to be special, and more importantly, it really continues to enforce just how much depth the Twins have on the mound. Baldelli noted, "What we're watching is not typical. You could watch some really good major league baseball and not see some of the stuff those guys threw out there today." So while Dakota Chalmers and Jhoan Duran are unlikely to make starts for the Twins in 2020, it’s not impossible to think that they could contribute out of the bullpen for stints if needed. And, it’s exciting to think of what they can become - and what it means for the health of the Twins organization - if they continue to develop and gain consistency moving forward. Their futures are quite bright. Click here to view the article
  4. First, some background. The “couple other guys” Johnson referenced were Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. All three were optioned to the minor league side this week but all are highly touted arms in the organization. Chalmers, who was acquired in the Fernando Rodney trade in 2018, impressed in the Arizona Fall League. He flashed a mid-90s fastball and, what one American League scout told Baseball America, the best curveball in the fall league. He has swing-and-miss stuff, the critical lifeblood to becoming a successful modern pitcher. In 17.2 innings facing the game’s most promising prospects, Chalmers struck out 25. That said, he also walked 12 in that same time. Johnson referenced velocity when comparing Chalmers to Alcala and Duran. The latter two have seen their fastballs touch triple-digit territory while Chalmers has not. Johnson says there is a mechanical reason for this. Here are the three pitchers from their 2019 season: Chalmers differs in his delivery in the use of his lower half, beginning with his feet. This is the critical component of a pitcher’s mechanics as pitchers who have the tendency to get to their toes limit their velocity ceilings. This is something that Jose Berrios' has wrestled with last season using quad-dominant mechanics. Johnson spoke extensively about the subject last spring, noting how having contact into the ground through the heel (but really the entire foot) aids in creating additional hip speed by engaging the gluteus muscle along with the quadriceps muscle. Here are shots of the pitchers’ feet. Notice that Chalmers’ foot is entirely on his toe while Alcala and Duran maintain more contact throughout. Chalmers gets quad dominant quickly. This leads to reduced hip speed which leads to lower peak velocity. Velocity, it is said, comes from the ground up. More issues can spring from these mechanics. When using predominately the quad muscle, less velocity and more stress is put on the arm. It may be one of the reasons Chalmers required Tommy John surgery in April 2018 while with Oakland, placing additional strain on the UCL. Another factor is command. When rotating from a stable full-foot, there is consistency in the mechanics. The Twins aren’t guessing on all this either. Sure, they can look at the video or watch a bullpen session and see this happening, but with the various array technological devices at their disposal, they can break down exactly what these movements mean to the pitcher. Starting with the release and working backwards, the Twins have available to them the standard pitch flight data systems available, like Trackman and Rapsodo devices, which measure the velocity and spin rates. They can track release point consistency as well. They have a legion of Edgertronic cameras which isolate all or small portions of the delivery, including how the ball comes out of the hand. These programs have now been widely utilized throughout baseball. Even some high school programs have invested in that equipment. Here is where things start getting advanced. From the ground up, the Twins recently invested in Newtforce ground plates. These data-collect mounds allows the Twins to capture how much pressure and where during the delivery process it is being created or applied. They can tell a pitcher just how much force they are generating from their back leg. On the field, the Twins have a Simi Motion system installed at Target Field and now at Hammond Stadium. This system can feed the team’s analysts information on components like hip speed, the driving factor in velocity, or valgus stress applied on the elbow (which could be an indicator of potential injury risk). In short, the Twins are no longer just visually assessing pitchers and telling them to make changes. They come armed with more data than NASA. The Twins players themselves are not necessarily diving into all the data after every pitch or every outing. Taylor Rogers says that he does not look at the information unless a coach notices something is off. Others have used the numbers to improve. Trevor May spent last season adding to his velocity and cited hip speed as a factor. The key has been having a coaching staff and analytic department that has worked together to identify and deliver the message to the player in ways that can help them understand how it will help them on the field. The other aspect is implementing the plan that the Twins create for their pitchers. Chalmers, for example, could be told exactly what he needs to do -- i.e. stay in his heel more and engage his glute more -- and be on board with the plan, but that specific movement may require additional physical preparation on Chalmers’ part. A pitcher could lack some hip mobility that would restrict his movements. The Twins training staff assesses all their players to figure out how their bodies move and then creates a plan to help them reach optimal movements. Chalmers told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs that he had spent the off-season working on strengthening his core and lower half to stabilize his delivery. Still, given Johnson’s quotes this spring, the Twins haven’t seen Chalmers incorporate those changes in his mechanics just yet. Furthermore, Chalmers will be on an innings restriction so his work this spring has been varied from that of Alcala and Duran. If he does, we may see an uptick in his velocity, command and health this season. When contemplating the immediate potential of the three arms just sent down to the minor league camp, Johnson says the Twins are looking for swing-and-misses to add to the big league staff. “Those are the guys that impact your bullpen. We don't need ground ball guys coming in out of the 'pen.” Swings and misses can come from breaking balls, such as on Chalmers’ impressive bender, but velocity always helps play it up. 96 is cool but 99 is really cool. While this is a story of just one minor league pitcher’s journey, the real takeaway is how impressive the Twins development system has become in a short period of time. With numerous tools and minds at their disposal, the Minnesota Twins could soon be a pitcher development factory unrivaled in the game.
  5. Minnesota Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson assigned homework to the local media this week. 'I’ll challenge you with this, then,' he told no one specifically in the media scrum. 'Go back and watch what [Dakota] Chalmers did. He didn't throw one over 96. We've had a couple other guys hit 100. There's one big, distinct difference between those three guys. I'll let y'all find that one out.' Here’s what we found.First, some background. The “couple other guys” Johnson referenced were Jorge Alcala and Jhoan Duran. All three were optioned to the minor league side this week but all are highly touted arms in the organization. Chalmers, who was acquired in the Fernando Rodney trade in 2018, impressed in the Arizona Fall League. He flashed a mid-90s fastball and, what one American League scout told Baseball America, the best curveball in the fall league. He has swing-and-miss stuff, the critical lifeblood to becoming a successful modern pitcher. In 17.2 innings facing the game’s most promising prospects, Chalmers struck out 25. That said, he also walked 12 in that same time. Johnson referenced velocity when comparing Chalmers to Alcala and Duran. The latter two have seen their fastballs touch triple-digit territory while Chalmers has not. Johnson says there is a mechanical reason for this. Here are the three pitchers from their 2019 season: Download attachment: FSFrameGIFImage (2).gif Chalmers differs in his delivery in the use of his lower half, beginning with his feet. This is the critical component of a pitcher’s mechanics as pitchers who have the tendency to get to their toes limit their velocity ceilings. This is something that Jose Berrios' has wrestled with last season using quad-dominant mechanics. Johnson spoke extensively about the subject last spring, noting how having contact into the ground through the heel (but really the entire foot) aids in creating additional hip speed by engaging the gluteus muscle along with the quadriceps muscle. Here are shots of the pitchers’ feet. Notice that Chalmers’ foot is entirely on his toe while Alcala and Duran maintain more contact throughout. Chalmers gets quad dominant quickly. This leads to reduced hip speed which leads to lower peak velocity. Velocity, it is said, comes from the ground up. Download attachment: IMG_5412.jpg More issues can spring from these mechanics. When using predominately the quad muscle, less velocity and more stress is put on the arm. It may be one of the reasons Chalmers required Tommy John surgery in April 2018 while with Oakland, placing additional strain on the UCL. Another factor is command. When rotating from a stable full-foot, there is consistency in the mechanics. The Twins aren’t guessing on all this either. Sure, they can look at the video or watch a bullpen session and see this happening, but with the various array technological devices at their disposal, they can break down exactly what these movements mean to the pitcher. Starting with the release and working backwards, the Twins have available to them the standard pitch flight data systems available, like Trackman and Rapsodo devices, which measure the velocity and spin rates. They can track release point consistency as well. They have a legion of Edgertronic cameras which isolate all or small portions of the delivery, including how the ball comes out of the hand. These programs have now been widely utilized throughout baseball. Even some high school programs have invested in that equipment. Here is where things start getting advanced. From the ground up, the Twins recently invested in Newtforce ground plates. These data-collect mounds allows the Twins to capture how much pressure and where during the delivery process it is being created or applied. They can tell a pitcher just how much force they are generating from their back leg. On the field, the Twins have a Simi Motion system installed at Target Field and now at Hammond Stadium. This system can feed the team’s analysts information on components like hip speed, the driving factor in velocity, or valgus stress applied on the elbow (which could be an indicator of potential injury risk). In short, the Twins are no longer just visually assessing pitchers and telling them to make changes. They come armed with more data than NASA. The Twins players themselves are not necessarily diving into all the data after every pitch or every outing. Taylor Rogers says that he does not look at the information unless a coach notices something is off. Others have used the numbers to improve. Trevor May spent last season adding to his velocity and cited hip speed as a factor. The key has been having a coaching staff and analytic department that has worked together to identify and deliver the message to the player in ways that can help them understand how it will help them on the field. The other aspect is implementing the plan that the Twins create for their pitchers. Chalmers, for example, could be told exactly what he needs to do -- i.e. stay in his heel more and engage his glute more -- and be on board with the plan, but that specific movement may require additional physical preparation on Chalmers’ part. A pitcher could lack some hip mobility that would restrict his movements. The Twins training staff assesses all their players to figure out how their bodies move and then creates a plan to help them reach optimal movements. Chalmers told Twins Daily’s Seth Stohs that he had spent the off-season working on strengthening his core and lower half to stabilize his delivery. Still, given Johnson’s quotes this spring, the Twins haven’t seen Chalmers incorporate those changes in his mechanics just yet. Furthermore, Chalmers will be on an innings restriction so his work this spring has been varied from that of Alcala and Duran. If he does, we may see an uptick in his velocity, command and health this season. When contemplating the immediate potential of the three arms just sent down to the minor league camp, Johnson says the Twins are looking for swing-and-misses to add to the big league staff. “Those are the guys that impact your bullpen. We don't need ground ball guys coming in out of the 'pen.” Swings and misses can come from breaking balls, such as on Chalmers’ impressive bender, but velocity always helps play it up. 96 is cool but 99 is really cool. While this is a story of just one minor league pitcher’s journey, the real takeaway is how impressive the Twins development system has become in a short period of time. With numerous tools and minds at their disposal, the Minnesota Twins could soon be a pitcher development factory unrivaled in the game. Click here to view the article
  6. Dakota Chalmers was drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft by the Oakland A’s. A highly-touted prep pitcher from Georgia, he signed a seven-figure signing bonus, more than twice the slot number for the 97th overall pick. Immensely talented and strong-armed, Chalmers recorded a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. He missed time due to injury. When he returned to Beloit in 2018, he made two appearances and walked eight and struck out ten batters in five innings. He was pitching hurt. Soon after, he had Tommy John surgery. Back home in Georgia, what happened next was completely unexpected. In late August, he was traded to the Twins in exchange for veteran reliever Fernando Rodney. “It wasn’t remotely on my mind at all. I was out sweeping leaves off my back porch when they called me.” Chalmers continued, “It didn’t really settle in until I had all that handled and I was in Ft. Myers rehabbing. And then it was such a smooth transition. Fortunately I was so busy, I didn't have time to think about anything.” There were some difficult logistical changes following the trade. He didn’t know anyone in the Twins organization. He got to Fort Myers to continue his rehabilitation from surgery. Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you chose to look at it), there were several Twins minor leaguers there rehabbing from elbow surgery. “It helps to have guys who have had it already. It’s nice to know you can help and encourage your teammates. It’s such an up and down process. I think it’s good to have players around each other. For me, it’s nice to have guys go through things with you, as much as it sucks. It’s something that’s part of our game, you deal with it and get back as soon as possible.” But for the most part, everything went well throughout his rehab process. He said that there weren’t any physical setbacks in his rehab. Sure, the schedule would have had him throwing for the first time during the holidays, but it was just pushed back as there was no rush. Just before the Florida State League All-Star break, he was added to the Miracle roster and began his rehab with the GCL Twins. On July 2nd, he went 1 1/3 innings. He faced ten batters and gave up six runs (five earned) on two hits, a walk and two hit batters. All four outs were strikeouts. The results didn’t matter at all. He was back on the mound. He made three more starts in the GCL and gave up just one run on six hits over 12 innings. On July 30th, he was added back to Miracle roster and made his first official start in about 15 months. Of course, even that couldn’t be easy. “My first real game, there was lightning everywhere. Everywhere. Every lightning bolt, we thought it would get cancelled. It was a little distracting. Obviously I was a little nervous just getting back into the swing of things. It was a mess. It got cancelled after one inning. It was crazy, but I settled in and had a strong finish to the year.” He went four innings in his next start and then threw at least five innings in his final three starts of the year. In those starts, he gave up three runs (two earned) on nine hits in 16 1/3 innings. He walked seven, but he also struck out 23 batters. And with his stuff and those final starts, he earned a promotion to Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos and he made one playoff start. He threw three no-hit innings. “It was certainly fun pitching in that environment.” He had worked a total of 34 2/3 innings, so the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League. Along with just accumulating innings, Chalmers had some goals in mind, including finding more consistency. “Historically in my career, I’ve had ups and downs in starts. I would have a good start, bad start. I had about three or four good, not great,but quality starts to end the year with the Miracle. So I was really just trying to not focus on making any adjustments, just trying to ride out my first season, stay healthy and see how many good ones I could stack on top of each other.” He continued, “Then we ran into some troubles late in the Fall League and those were mechanical problems that we knew that we had to fix. The Fall League was about pitching more innings, and the offseason was for fixing those issues.” Chalmers started the championship game for the Salt River Rafters, helping the team to the Arizona Fall League title. At the end of November, Chalmers received the call that he had been added to the Twins 40-man roster. It hadn’t been something that he had thought about throughout the season and in the rehab process. “I wouldn’t say that I really even thought of it. I was more focused on getting back on the field healthy. I knew it was going to be a short year coming off of Tommy John. I had an inclination that I might go to the Fall League at the beginning of the year. My goal was to finish the Fall League healthy and get a good start on spring training. The 40-man was more of a timing thing. It was out of my control. I pitched as well as I could, had some ups and downs, and that’s what they chose to do.” Chalmers has big-time stuff. He is certainly one to watch especially as his first-full season is set to begin with big-league spring training in a couple of weeks. Chalmers has a big arm. His fastball gets good movement and he throws it anywhere from 92 to 97 mph. He has a curveball that can be sharp.Some days, his best pitch is a changeup with good fade and drop. He spent his offseason back home in Georgia. He worked on adding a cutter. He also worked on throwing strikes.He spent time in the weight room too. “Trying to strengthen my core and lower half so I could stabilize my delivery. Keep my head online and throw my strikes.” He was invited to Twins Fest and enjoyed the opportunity.”It’s cool seeing some faces that you only have seen on the TV, and that’s always cool. Any time you can expand your baseball community, and the baseball world is such a small world. Any time you can add another name to that list it’s good, to have somebody on your side. ” After all the ups and downs, in about two weeks, he will head to Ft. Myers and report to his first big-league spring training. ------------------------------------------------ Get to know more about Dakota Chalmers and about 170 other Twins prospects in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF (for immediate download). Order your copies today! Use promo code ONEFIVE to get 15% off of print books through January 30th.
  7. In November, the Minnesota Twins added five players to their 40-man roster. One of those players was right-handed pitcher Dakota Chalmers. This past weekend at Target Field, we caught up with the hard-throwing 23-year-old about the whirlwind of his career since joining the Twins in August 2018.Dakota Chalmers was drafted in the third round of the 2015 draft by the Oakland A’s. A highly-touted prep pitcher from Georgia, he signed a seven-figure signing bonus, more than twice the slot number for the 97th overall pick. Immensely talented and strong-armed, Chalmers recorded a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. He missed time due to injury. When he returned to Beloit in 2018, he made two appearances and walked eight and struck out ten batters in five innings. He was pitching hurt. Soon after, he had Tommy John surgery. Back home in Georgia, what happened next was completely unexpected. In late August, he was traded to the Twins in exchange for veteran reliever Fernando Rodney. “It wasn’t remotely on my mind at all. I was out sweeping leaves off my back porch when they called me.” Chalmers continued, “It didn’t really settle in until I had all that handled and I was in Ft. Myers rehabbing. And then it was such a smooth transition. Fortunately I was so busy, I didn't have time to think about anything.” There were some difficult logistical changes following the trade. He didn’t know anyone in the Twins organization. He got to Fort Myers to continue his rehabilitation from surgery. Fortunately (or unfortunately, however you chose to look at it), there were several Twins minor leaguers there rehabbing from elbow surgery. “It helps to have guys who have had it already. It’s nice to know you can help and encourage your teammates. It’s such an up and down process. I think it’s good to have players around each other. For me, it’s nice to have guys go through things with you, as much as it sucks. It’s something that’s part of our game, you deal with it and get back as soon as possible.” But for the most part, everything went well throughout his rehab process. He said that there weren’t any physical setbacks in his rehab. Sure, the schedule would have had him throwing for the first time during the holidays, but it was just pushed back as there was no rush. Just before the Florida State League All-Star break, he was added to the Miracle roster and began his rehab with the GCL Twins. On July 2nd, he went 1 1/3 innings. He faced ten batters and gave up six runs (five earned) on two hits, a walk and two hit batters. All four outs were strikeouts. The results didn’t matter at all. He was back on the mound. He made three more starts in the GCL and gave up just one run on six hits over 12 innings. On July 30th, he was added back to Miracle roster and made his first official start in about 15 months. Of course, even that couldn’t be easy. “My first real game, there was lightning everywhere. Everywhere. Every lightning bolt, we thought it would get cancelled. It was a little distracting. Obviously I was a little nervous just getting back into the swing of things. It was a mess. It got cancelled after one inning. It was crazy, but I settled in and had a strong finish to the year.” He went four innings in his next start and then threw at least five innings in his final three starts of the year. In those starts, he gave up three runs (two earned) on nine hits in 16 1/3 innings. He walked seven, but he also struck out 23 batters. And with his stuff and those final starts, he earned a promotion to Double-A Pensacola Blue Wahoos and he made one playoff start. He threw three no-hit innings. “It was certainly fun pitching in that environment.” He had worked a total of 34 2/3 innings, so the Twins sent him to the Arizona Fall League. Along with just accumulating innings, Chalmers had some goals in mind, including finding more consistency. “Historically in my career, I’ve had ups and downs in starts. I would have a good start, bad start. I had about three or four good, not great,but quality starts to end the year with the Miracle. So I was really just trying to not focus on making any adjustments, just trying to ride out my first season, stay healthy and see how many good ones I could stack on top of each other.” He continued, “Then we ran into some troubles late in the Fall League and those were mechanical problems that we knew that we had to fix. The Fall League was about pitching more innings, and the offseason was for fixing those issues.” Chalmers started the championship game for the Salt River Rafters, helping the team to the Arizona Fall League title. At the end of November, Chalmers received the call that he had been added to the Twins 40-man roster. It hadn’t been something that he had thought about throughout the season and in the rehab process. “I wouldn’t say that I really even thought of it. I was more focused on getting back on the field healthy. I knew it was going to be a short year coming off of Tommy John. I had an inclination that I might go to the Fall League at the beginning of the year. My goal was to finish the Fall League healthy and get a good start on spring training. The 40-man was more of a timing thing. It was out of my control. I pitched as well as I could, had some ups and downs, and that’s what they chose to do.” Chalmers has big-time stuff. He is certainly one to watch especially as his first-full season is set to begin with big-league spring training in a couple of weeks. Chalmers has a big arm. His fastball gets good movement and he throws it anywhere from 92 to 97 mph. He has a curveball that can be sharp.Some days, his best pitch is a changeup with good fade and drop. He spent his offseason back home in Georgia. He worked on adding a cutter. He also worked on throwing strikes.He spent time in the weight room too. “Trying to strengthen my core and lower half so I could stabilize my delivery. Keep my head online and throw my strikes.” He was invited to Twins Fest and enjoyed the opportunity.”It’s cool seeing some faces that you only have seen on the TV, and that’s always cool. Any time you can expand your baseball community, and the baseball world is such a small world. Any time you can add another name to that list it’s good, to have somebody on your side. ” After all the ups and downs, in about two weeks, he will head to Ft. Myers and report to his first big-league spring training. ------------------------------------------------ Get to know more about Dakota Chalmers and about 170 other Twins prospects in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF(for immediate download). Order your copies today! Use promo code ONEFIVE to get 15% off of print books through January 30th. Click here to view the article
  8. The Twins added Dakota Chalmers to the 40-man roster earlier this offseason. Here's a rapid-fire review of his final outing of 2019, which was also his Double-A debut. Chalmers pitched 3 1/3 no-hit innings out of the pen for Pensacola.
  9. A 40-man roster spot is a precious commodity, especially for a contenting team. When prospects are added during the offseason, it says something about the organization's belief in those talents, and their potential MLB impact. As we size up the five newly rostered players, what types of roles might they play in the franchise's near future?By nature, entering the 40-man roster puts prospects in position for a somewhat imminent arrival in the big leagues. Once added, a player can only be optioned in three different seasons before the club is essentially forced to keep him in the majors or lose him. So the clock is now ticking for Jhoan Duran, Dakota Chalmers, Luke Raley, Gilberto Celestino, and Travis Blankenhorn. Technically, the Twins could keep all five in the minors through 2023 without risk of losing them, but recent history tells us they'll be arriving much sooner. Last year, Minnesota's 40-man additions ahead of the Rule 5 protection deadline were Luis Arraez, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Nick Gordon. Two of those guys reached the majors in 2019, with one breaking out as a rookie, and Gordon is poised to do so in early 2020. The prior year's wave of additions – Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, and Lewis Thorpe – all received call-ups within two years of being selected. As I look at the pivotal impacts made by Arraez and Littell this year, I can't help but ponder how soon, and to what extent, this new class might begin to factor in. None are premier, nationally touted prospects at this point, but then, neither were the aforementioned duo. Peering through an optimistic lens, here's a look at what these five new 40-man roster additions could potentially bring to the table: Jhoan Duran, RHP Age: 21 2019 Stats (A+/AA): 115 IP, 3.76 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.19 WHIP There was a lot of buzz around Duran and his standout changeup in spring training. He lived up to the hype during his first full season in the Twins system, piling up strikeouts with an overpowering arsenal and finishing the year in Double-A as a 21-year-old. Like Brusdar Graterol, the right-hander can touch triple digits, and he has developed his "splinker" into a weapon along with the quality change-piece. The depth of his arsenal and relatively advanced workload build (he's thrown 100+ innings in each of the past two years without showing obvious wear) keep him on a starter's track. In that capacity, he truly does have front-of-rotation potential – and if he reaches it, oh MAN what a get for renting Eduardo Escobar to the D-backs last year – but he might take a bit longer to enter the MLB mix. If the Twins elect to slide him into a bullpen role, temporarily or permanently, his arrival could come early in the 2020 campaign. Dominant back-end reliever looks like his floor right now. Dakota Chalmers, RHP Age: 23 2019 Stats (A+/Rk): 34.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 12.5 K/9, 6.0 BB/9, 1.24 WHIP Dominant back-end reliever is more realistically the ceiling for Chalmers, but it's an achievable one in the short term. This hard-throwing right-hander was even more of a coup than Duran, having been acquired in August of 2018 for aging Fernando Rodney. It was a little surprising to see the A's give up on Chalmers, who they went significantly overslot to sign out of high school as a third-round draft pick in 2015, but not that much. He hasn't been too effective in the minors, besieged by injuries and erratic control, and the latter has definitely been present since he switched organizations. Still, the Twins felt compelled to protect him because the potency of his arm is easy to see. Clearly they felt another team might be inclined to give him a shot in their bullpen straightaway. It only stands to reason that Minnesota might take a look soon, should Chalmers come out firing at Double-A next year. Thus far he's worked exclusively as a starter in the Twins system, but that feels like a fanciful plan for a guy who has worked 35+ IP once in five seasons since being drafted, and never anywhere close to 100. If he switches to relieving, he could be on the fast-track, with closer potential if he can stay healthy and rein in his command. Luke Raley, OF Age: 25 2019 Stats (AAA/Rk): 158 PA, .310/.361/.517, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 29 R Raley isn't a guy that screams "upside" but he exudes plenty of "useful" vibes. Acquired alongside Devin Smeltzer at the 2018 deadline for Brian Dozier, Raley has been a steady offensive force since the trade. There's nothing flashy about his skill set – a decent corner outfielder who can hit for average with a bit of pop from the left side – but he's polished and basically MLB-ready. In fact, he likely would've already debuted in 2019, had he not suffered an ankle injury requiring surgery in May. Raley is a seemingly redundant presence on the roster, stuck behind two lefty-swinging corner outfielders (Wade and Jake Cave) who are stuck behind two lefty-swinging corner outfielders (Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario). But the Twins saw fit to add him anyway, which says something. Of note: Raley has considerable experience at first base, which could quickly come into play should the Twins bring back C.J. Cron, who put up a .685 OPS against right-handed pitchers this year. With benches getting deeper in 2020, it's not hard to envision Raley making a fast impact in a platoon role. Gilberto Celestino, OF Age: 20 2019 Stats (A/A+): 536 PA, .315/.385/.491, 8 HR, 54 RBI, 58 R Perhaps the most surprising and intriguing addition of this batch, given that Celestino is 20 and has played only eight games above the Low-A level. In a sense it's hard to imagine any MLB club rostering such a young and raw player, but then again maybe not: Celestino is a toolsy center fielder with good speed who flashed his offensive upside during a spectacular second half at Cedar Rapids. Hitting just .219/.299/.290 at the end of May, he upgraded to .315/.385/.491 over the next 69 games before earning a late-season promotion to High-A. Although Minnesota justifiably felt the need to shield Celestino from a bottom-rung team that might've tried to Rule 5 him and stash him, he's the only one on this list that doesn't realistically have a shot at figuring into the semi-immediate picture. His potential down the line, however, is enormous. Around the same time Oakland invested heavily in Chalmers out of high school, the Astros spent $2.5 million to sign a teenaged Celestino out of the Dominican Republic. His tools and athleticism have long been lauded and they all came together last summer at Cedar Rapids. Travis Blankenhorn, IF Age: 23 2019 Stats (A+/AA): 471 PA, .277/.321/.466, 19 HR, 54 RBI, 56 R Among the five players on this list, Blankenhorn is the only one who wasn't brought in by the new front office – in fact, he's the only one who wasn't added around the deadline last year. He's an increasingly rare remnant of the previous regime, but one that could stick for some time. Drafted in the third round out of a Pennsylvania high school in 2015, Blankenhorn didn't storm the minors, following a more traditional progressive curve. His production has consistently been solid, outside of a rough 2018 in the pitcher-friendly FSL, but never outstanding enough to merit top prospect status; in our latest midseason rankings at Twins Daily, we had him at No. 20, and he peaked on our list at No. 9 in 2017. But that doesn't mean much. Arraez never gained much traction on top prospect lists either, up until he burst onto the scene as a Rookie of the Year contender for the Twins this season. Blankenhorn's circumstances are somewhat similar to those of Arraez a year ago: somewhat fringey prospect still learning the ropes in Double-A. Blankenhorn hasn't posted an .800 OPS anywhere north of rookie ball. But the decision to protect him, amidst a slew of their own guys, tells us not only that this front office is high on the blatantly athletic 23-year-old, but that they suspect others are too. His innate strength has always been evident – Blanknhorn won the FSL Home Run Derby in 2018, amidst a season where he struggled to a .686 OPS – and is now starting to transfer into games. He launched 18 homers in 93 games at Double-A this year, while bouncing capably between second base and left field. The defensive versatility, and blossoming power, set him up to provide value in the near future. He's a very different player than Arraez, but it's not implausible Blankenhorn could be a functionally similar rookie asset – left-handed bat that you want in the lineup, capable of being used at second, third, or left – as soon as 2020. Click here to view the article
  10. By nature, entering the 40-man roster puts prospects in position for a somewhat imminent arrival in the big leagues. Once added, a player can only be optioned in three different seasons before the club is essentially forced to keep him in the majors or lose him. So the clock is now ticking for Jhoan Duran, Dakota Chalmers, Luke Raley, Gilberto Celestino, and Travis Blankenhorn. Technically, the Twins could keep all five in the minors through 2023 without risk of losing them, but recent history tells us they'll be arriving much sooner. Last year, Minnesota's 40-man additions ahead of the Rule 5 protection deadline were Luis Arraez, LaMonte Wade Jr., and Nick Gordon. Two of those guys reached the majors in 2019, with one breaking out as a rookie, and Gordon is poised to do so in early 2020. The prior year's wave of additions – Stephen Gonsalves, Zack Littell, and Lewis Thorpe – all received call-ups within two years of being selected. As I look at the pivotal impacts made by Arraez and Littell this year, I can't help but ponder how soon, and to what extent, this new class might begin to factor in. None are premier, nationally touted prospects at this point, but then, neither were the aforementioned duo. Peering through an optimistic lens, here's a look at what these five new 40-man roster additions could potentially bring to the table: Jhoan Duran, RHP Age: 21 2019 Stats (A+/AA): 115 IP, 3.76 ERA, 10.6 K/9, 3.1 BB/9, 1.19 WHIP There was a lot of buzz around Duran and his standout changeup in spring training. He lived up to the hype during his first full season in the Twins system, piling up strikeouts with an overpowering arsenal and finishing the year in Double-A as a 21-year-old. Like Brusdar Graterol, the right-hander can touch triple digits, and he has developed his "splinker" into a weapon along with the quality change-piece. The depth of his arsenal and relatively advanced workload build (he's thrown 100+ innings in each of the past two years without showing obvious wear) keep him on a starter's track. In that capacity, he truly does have front-of-rotation potential – and if he reaches it, oh MAN what a get for renting Eduardo Escobar to the D-backs last year – but he might take a bit longer to enter the MLB mix. If the Twins elect to slide him into a bullpen role, temporarily or permanently, his arrival could come early in the 2020 campaign. Dominant back-end reliever looks like his floor right now. Dakota Chalmers, RHP Age: 23 2019 Stats (A+/Rk): 34.2 IP, 3.63 ERA, 12.5 K/9, 6.0 BB/9, 1.24 WHIP Dominant back-end reliever is more realistically the ceiling for Chalmers, but it's an achievable one in the short term. This hard-throwing right-hander was even more of a coup than Duran, having been acquired in August of 2018 for aging Fernando Rodney. It was a little surprising to see the A's give up on Chalmers, who they went significantly overslot to sign out of high school as a third-round draft pick in 2015, but not that much. He hasn't been too effective in the minors, besieged by injuries and erratic control, and the latter has definitely been present since he switched organizations. Still, the Twins felt compelled to protect him because the potency of his arm is easy to see. Clearly they felt another team might be inclined to give him a shot in their bullpen straightaway. It only stands to reason that Minnesota might take a look soon, should Chalmers come out firing at Double-A next year. Thus far he's worked exclusively as a starter in the Twins system, but that feels like a fanciful plan for a guy who has worked 35+ IP once in five seasons since being drafted, and never anywhere close to 100. If he switches to relieving, he could be on the fast-track, with closer potential if he can stay healthy and rein in his command. Luke Raley, OF Age: 25 2019 Stats (AAA/Rk): 158 PA, .310/.361/.517, 8 HR, 23 RBI, 29 R Raley isn't a guy that screams "upside" but he exudes plenty of "useful" vibes. Acquired alongside Devin Smeltzer at the 2018 deadline for Brian Dozier, Raley has been a steady offensive force since the trade. There's nothing flashy about his skill set – a decent corner outfielder who can hit for average with a bit of pop from the left side – but he's polished and basically MLB-ready. In fact, he likely would've already debuted in 2019, had he not suffered an ankle injury requiring surgery in May. Raley is a seemingly redundant presence on the roster, stuck behind two lefty-swinging corner outfielders (Wade and Jake Cave) who are stuck behind two lefty-swinging corner outfielders (Max Kepler and Eddie Rosario). But the Twins saw fit to add him anyway, which says something. Of note: Raley has considerable experience at first base, which could quickly come into play should the Twins bring back C.J. Cron, who put up a .685 OPS against right-handed pitchers this year. With benches getting deeper in 2020, it's not hard to envision Raley making a fast impact in a platoon role. Gilberto Celestino, OF Age: 20 2019 Stats (A/A+): 536 PA, .315/.385/.491, 8 HR, 54 RBI, 58 R Perhaps the most surprising and intriguing addition of this batch, given that Celestino is 20 and has played only eight games above the Low-A level. In a sense it's hard to imagine any MLB club rostering such a young and raw player, but then again maybe not: Celestino is a toolsy center fielder with good speed who flashed his offensive upside during a spectacular second half at Cedar Rapids. Hitting just .219/.299/.290 at the end of May, he upgraded to .315/.385/.491 over the next 69 games before earning a late-season promotion to High-A. Although Minnesota justifiably felt the need to shield Celestino from a bottom-rung team that might've tried to Rule 5 him and stash him, he's the only one on this list that doesn't realistically have a shot at figuring into the semi-immediate picture. His potential down the line, however, is enormous. Around the same time Oakland invested heavily in Chalmers out of high school, the Astros spent $2.5 million to sign a teenaged Celestino out of the Dominican Republic. His tools and athleticism have long been lauded and they all came together last summer at Cedar Rapids. Travis Blankenhorn, IF Age: 23 2019 Stats (A+/AA): 471 PA, .277/.321/.466, 19 HR, 54 RBI, 56 R Among the five players on this list, Blankenhorn is the only one who wasn't brought in by the new front office – in fact, he's the only one who wasn't added around the deadline last year. He's an increasingly rare remnant of the previous regime, but one that could stick for some time. Drafted in the third round out of a Pennsylvania high school in 2015, Blankenhorn didn't storm the minors, following a more traditional progressive curve. His production has consistently been solid, outside of a rough 2018 in the pitcher-friendly FSL, but never outstanding enough to merit top prospect status; in our latest midseason rankings at Twins Daily, we had him at No. 20, and he peaked on our list at No. 9 in 2017. But that doesn't mean much. Arraez never gained much traction on top prospect lists either, up until he burst onto the scene as a Rookie of the Year contender for the Twins this season. Blankenhorn's circumstances are somewhat similar to those of Arraez a year ago: somewhat fringey prospect still learning the ropes in Double-A. Blankenhorn hasn't posted an .800 OPS anywhere north of rookie ball. But the decision to protect him, amidst a slew of their own guys, tells us not only that this front office is high on the blatantly athletic 23-year-old, but that they suspect others are too. His innate strength has always been evident – Blanknhorn won the FSL Home Run Derby in 2018, amidst a season where he struggled to a .686 OPS – and is now starting to transfer into games. He launched 18 homers in 93 games at Double-A this year, while bouncing capably between second base and left field. The defensive versatility, and blossoming power, set him up to provide value in the near future. He's a very different player than Arraez, but it's not implausible Blankenhorn could be a functionally similar rookie asset – left-handed bat that you want in the lineup, capable of being used at second, third, or left – as soon as 2020.
  11. The Minnesota Twins have announced that right-handed pitchers Jhoan Duran and Dakota Chalmers, infielder Travis Blankenhorn and outfielders Luke Raley and Gilberto Celestino have been added to the team's 40-man roster. The Twins roster now sits at 37 players.Jhoan Duran was the obvious choice. He split the 2019 season between Ft. Myers and Pensacola. He is touted for his fastball which has hit triple digits on multiple occasions. He is viewed as a starting pitcher. The Twins acquired him in July 2018 from the Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade. Dakota Chalmers came to the Twins in August 2018 from the A's in exchange for Fernando Rodney. Chalmers had recently undergone Tommy John surgery, but he is touted for having a big fastball. He also has the makings of plus change up and curveball. He returned to action in the second half of 2019 for the Ft. Myers Miracle. When their season ended, he and Jordan Balazovic were promoted to Pensacola for their playoff run. Gilberto Celestino joined the Twins in July 2018, with Jorge Alcala who was added to the roster in September, in the Ryan Pressly trade. After a slow start, he was on fire his final two-plus months in Cedar Rapids. He ended the season with a couple of weeks in Ft. Myers where he continued to hit. He also plays an elite caliber centerfield. Luke Raley came to the Twins with Devin Smeltzer in the July 2018 Brian Dozier trade from the Dodgers. He missed most of the 2019 season but returned to play in the Arizona Fall League. Travis Blankenhorn was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He spent about two weeks in Ft. Myers this year before hitting 18 homers for Pensacola. The biggest name left off of the roster is Wander Javier. The Twins signed the shortstop from the Dominican Republic in 2015 for a $4 million signing bonus. Griffin Jax and Luis Rijo are two starting pitchers who could potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Share your thoughts on the Twins decisions. Here is our listing of players who were eligible to be protected. Click here to view the article
  12. Jhoan Duran was the obvious choice. He split the 2019 season between Ft. Myers and Pensacola. He is touted for his fastball which has hit triple digits on multiple occasions. He is viewed as a starting pitcher. The Twins acquired him in July 2018 from the Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade. Dakota Chalmers came to the Twins in August 2018 from the A's in exchange for Fernando Rodney. Chalmers had recently undergone Tommy John surgery, but he is touted for having a big fastball. He also has the makings of plus change up and curveball. He returned to action in the second half of 2019 for the Ft. Myers Miracle. When their season ended, he and Jordan Balazovic were promoted to Pensacola for their playoff run. Gilberto Celestino joined the Twins in July 2018, with Jorge Alcala who was added to the roster in September, in the Ryan Pressly trade. After a slow start, he was on fire his final two-plus months in Cedar Rapids. He ended the season with a couple of weeks in Ft. Myers where he continued to hit. He also plays an elite caliber centerfield. Luke Raley came to the Twins with Devin Smeltzer in the July 2018 Brian Dozier trade from the Dodgers. He missed most of the 2019 season but returned to play in the Arizona Fall League. Travis Blankenhorn was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He spent about two weeks in Ft. Myers this year before hitting 18 homers for Pensacola. The biggest name left off of the roster is Wander Javier. The Twins signed the shortstop from the Dominican Republic in 2015 for a $4 million signing bonus. Griffin Jax and Luis Rijo are two starting pitchers who could potentially be lost in the Rule 5 draft. Share your thoughts on the Twins decisions. Here is our listing of players who were eligible to be protected.
  13. With Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart and Martin Perez removed from the Twins 40-man roster on Monday, as well as six Twins players being free agents, the Twins 40-man roster is currently at 31 players. Here’s the quick version: Pitchers (16): Jorge Alcala, Jose Berrios, Randy Dobnak, Tyler Duffey, Brusdar Graterol, Ryne Harper, Trevor Hildenberger, Zack Littell, Trevor May, Sean Poppen, Taylor Rogers, Fernando Romero, Devin Smeltzer, Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe, Matt Wisler. Catchers (2): Willians Astudillo, Mitch Garver Infielders (7): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, CJ Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, Nick Gordon, Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano Outfielders: (5) Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, LaMonte Wade DH(1): Nelson Cruz Recall that the players who are added to the 40-man roster can’t be DFA'd until spring training, so the team will likely not want to fill up their roster now. But as you can see, there are still players on this list that need to be offered arbitration (or not) and there are several players who could be DFA'd for when the team signs free agents. ---------------------------------- Last year, the Twins added three players to their 40-man roster. The “givens” at that time were Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade. We included Luis Arraez as the first “on the bubble” name. The third “on the bubble” name mentioned here a year ago was RH RP Nick Anderson who was traded to the Marlins and pitched tremendously for the Marlins and the Rays as a rookie in 2019. ---------------------------------- So, let’s get to the players that the team will consider adding to their 40-man roster. As a reminder, here are some of the criteria for who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2015 (during the minor league season). Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2016. Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again. Players drafted or signed during the 2013 season became free agents after the World Series was complete. That includes Johan Quezada and Jose Martinez. That is why Kohl Stewart, who went unclaimed on Monday, was able to become a free agent. If the Twins signed them (or other minor league free agents) before the Rule 5 draft, they would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft. But back to the players needing to be added or risk losing to the Rule 5 draft, I’ll break them into a few categories. The Givens are players that I think have to be added or there is a high likelihood that they will be selected by another team. The next group is a group of players that I think will probably be added, though not quite as obviously. The final group includes players that I would consider On The Bubble. It will be interesting to see which of these guys are added later this month. How many spots will be available on the team’s 40-man roster at that time? The Givens Several players that would have been Givens were already added to the 40-man roster and called up late in the season. In fact, there were several guys who may have been borderline who were added already. For instance, Brusdar Graterol and Jorge Alcala were going to be added. No question. Here are a couple more. RHP Jhoan Duran - He came to the Twins in July 2018 from the Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade. Duran throws hard. He hit triple-digits with a fastball several times in many of his starts. He went just 2-9 despite a 3.23 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) for the Miracle. He had 95 strikeouts in 78 innings.He moved up to AA Pensacola where he went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA in seven starts. He struck out 41 batters in 37 innings. The 21-year-old stands 6-5 and has the potential for a starting pitcher’s mix. RHP Dakota Chalmers - Chalmers was a third-round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. He throws hard, but he has often struggled with control. He also fought injury and had Tommy John surgery early in 2018. The Twins acquired him in August in the Fernando Rodney trade. He returned to the mound in the second half of the 2019 season. After rehabbing in the GCL, the 23-year-old finished the regular season in Ft. Myers with the Miracle. He pitched for the Blue Wahoos in the playoffs and then headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more innings. He has a mid-90s fastball and good spin on his curveball. He also throws a changeup that is good when on. The Probables 2B/3B Travis Blankenhorn - The 23-year-old struggled in 2018 in Ft. Myers, as many do in the Florida State League, so he began 2019 with the Miracle. After just 15 games, he was promoted to AA Pensacola. He took off from there. In 93 games with the Blue Wahoos, he hit .278 with 18 doubles and 18 home runs. He was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He is one of the best athletes in the organization and has power and speed. OF Gilberto Celestino - The same year Javier signed with the Twins, the Astros signed Gilberto Celestino to a $2.25 million signing bonus. He came to the Twins in 2018 in the Ryan Pressly trade (with Jorge Alcala). He began 2019 by really struggling in Cedar Rapids, but he was on fire the final three months of the season and ended the year with the Miracle. And there, in 30 at-bats, he hit .300/.344/.433 (.767) OF Luke Raley - Raley was the Dodgers seventh-round pick in 2016 out of Division 2 Lake Erie College. He played well, and in July 2018, he came to the Twins with Devin Smeltzer in the Brian Dozier trade. He started 2019 in Rochester and was playing well when he hurt his ankle and needed surgery. It ended his season though he did play in the Arizona Fall League. He has power, and can play all three outfield positions, though center field is a stretch. On the Bubble RHP Luis Rijo - He came to the Twins from the Yankees in the July 2018 Lance Lynn trade. In 2018 in Cedar Rapids, he impressed by often hitting 95 and 96 mph with his fastball. He went 5-8 with a 2.86 ERA over 107 innings pitched. If he had spent time in Ft. Myers, he would probably be a Given, but could a team stash him for the full 2019 season? SS Wander Javier - When you sign an amateur to a $4 million signing bonus, you’d like to think that this decision would be easy, and maybe it is. But Javier has unfortunately missed nearly two seasons because of injury (most of 2016 in DSL and all of 2018). His 2019 started late and in 80 games, he hit just .177 with nine doubles and 11 home runs. He also had 17 errors. So, could he play in the big leagues today? Probably not. But he has as much talent as anyone in the organization, so a team might be willing to stash the 20-year-old on their big league roster for his potential. RHP Griffin Jax - The Twins third-round pick in 2016 out of the Air Force Academy. He signed and while he had commitments to the military, he pitched each summer. He has been able to pitch consistently since early in the 2018 season. He spent most of the 2019 season in Double-A Pensacola but made a couple of starts at Triple-A Rochester too. In 23 starts, he went a combined 5-7 with a 2.90 ERA. In 127 1/3 innings, he walked just 27 and struck out 94 (6.6 K/9). The Next This is a group that contains some intriguing names. While they aren’t obvious choices, there could be a team that likes them enough to take a shot with a Rule 5 pick. 1B Zander Wiel - The 26-year-old hit .254 with 40 doubles, five triples and 24 RBI at AAA Rochester in 2019 while performing adequately at first base. IF/OF Trey Cabbage - The 22-year-old was the Twins 4th round pick in 2015 out of high school in Tennessee. He is incredibly strong and hit a combined 15 homers in 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. LHP Sam Clay - Fourth round pick in 2014 from Georgia Tech, Clay reached AAA in 2019. In 123 2/3 innings above High A, he has not given up a home run. In 69 1/3 innings in 2019 (2/3 of the innings in AA), he walked 28 and struck out 72 batters. RHP Moises Gomez - The 22-year-old Venezuelan posted a 1-4 record with 10 saves and a 2.91 ERA this season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He also struck out 15 batters in 11 innings in the Arizona Fall League (we won’t mention the nine walks). RHP Jake Reed - We have brought him up as a Must-Add each of the last few seasons. He hasn’t been added, and he hasn’t been selected. Now 27, he is coming off of a 2019 season in which he posted a 5.76 ERA in Rochester (though he struck out 92 batters in 75 innings). RHP Tom Hackimer - The side-winding 25-year-old was the Twins 4th round pick in 2016 from St. John's. When healthy, he has been very productive. In 56 2/3 innings in 2019, he struck out 75 batters. The Rest Here is a list of other players who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft in the Twins organization. LHP Alex Robinson RHP Miguel De Jesus LHP Lachlan Wells RHP Yancarlos Baez RHP Melvi Acosta RHP Adam Bray RHP Andro Cutura LHP Zach Featherstone RHP Randy LeBlanc RHP Hector Lujan RHP Andriu Marin RHP Ryan Mason LHP Jovani Moran RHP Alex Schick RHP Carlos Suniaga LHP Andrew Vasquez LHP Tyler Watson RHP Tyler Wells IF Joe Cronin SS Yeltsin Encarnacion C Caleb Hamilton 3B Brian Schales OF Aaron Whitefield OF Malique Ziegler In the comments below, discuss my ranking and rank them by how you would protect them. We saw in 2019, and in 2018 too, that the Twins front office will make moves and keep that Rochester Connection quite active, so being on the 40-man roster is a big deal, but we have also seen that it can be altered frequently throughout a season. So, who do you think will be added? Does the fact that the Twins 40-man roster is currently at just 31 and there are others who could be DFAd still make you think they will add as many as eight players in two weeks?
  14. Re-post as the deadline to add players to the 40-man roster is 7:00 p.m. on Wednesday, November 20. Between now and March, there are many decisions that this front office will need to make. (See the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook for much more on them.). The Twins made several roster moves on Monday, and more will happen soon. One big decision that is made every November is which players to add to the 40-man roster. Being added to the 40-man roster is a really big deal for players. They make extra money in the minor leagues, but more important, a huge obstacle to being called up to the big leagues is removed. Below you will find a list of Twins minor leaguers who would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected on the 40-man roster.With Stephen Gonsalves, Kohl Stewart and Martin Perez removed from the Twins 40-man rosteron Monday, as well as six Twins players being free agents, the Twins 40-man roster is currently at 31 players. Here’s the quick version: Pitchers (16): Jorge Alcala, Jose Berrios, Randy Dobnak, Tyler Duffey, Brusdar Graterol, Ryne Harper, Trevor Hildenberger, Zack Littell, Trevor May, Sean Poppen, Taylor Rogers, Fernando Romero, Devin Smeltzer, Cody Stashak, Lewis Thorpe, Matt Wisler.Catchers (2): Willians Astudillo, Mitch GarverInfielders (7): Ehire Adrianza, Luis Arraez, CJ Cron, Marwin Gonzalez, Nick Gordon, Jorge Polanco, Miguel SanoOutfielders: (5) Byron Buxton, Jake Cave, Max Kepler, Eddie Rosario, LaMonte WadeDH(1): Nelson CruzRecall that the players who are added to the 40-man roster can’t be DFA'd until spring training, so the team will likely not want to fill up their roster now. But as you can see, there are still players on this list that need to be offered arbitration (or not) and there are several players who could be DFA'd for when the team signs free agents. ---------------------------------- Last year, the Twins added three players to their 40-man roster. The “givens” at that time were Nick Gordon and LaMonte Wade. We included Luis Arraez as the first “on the bubble” name. The third “on the bubble” name mentioned here a year ago was RH RP Nick Anderson who was traded to the Marlins and pitched tremendously for the Marlins and the Rays as a rookie in 2019. ---------------------------------- So, let’s get to the players that the team will consider adding to their 40-man roster. As a reminder, here are some of the criteria for who is eligible for the Rule 5 draft if not protected. Here is this year’s criteria: Players who signed when they were 18 or younger in 2015 (during the minor league season).Players who signed when they were 19 or older in 2016.Players who were eligible in previous seasons are also eligible again.Players drafted or signed during the 2013 season became free agents after the World Series was complete. That includes Johan Quezada and Jose Martinez. That is why Kohl Stewart, who went unclaimed on Monday, was able to become a free agent. If the Twins signed them (or other minor league free agents) before the Rule 5 draft, they would be eligible for the Rule 5 draft.But back to the players needing to be added or risk losing to the Rule 5 draft, I’ll break them into a few categories. The Givens are players that I think have to be added or there is a high likelihood that they will be selected by another team. The next group is a group of players that I think will probably be added, though not quite as obviously. The final group includes players that I would consider On The Bubble. It will be interesting to see which of these guys are added later this month. How many spots will be available on the team’s 40-man roster at that time? The Givens Several players that would have been Givens were already added to the 40-man roster and called up late in the season. In fact, there were several guys who may have been borderline who were added already. For instance, Brusdar Graterol and Jorge Alcala were going to be added. No question. Here are a couple more. RHP Jhoan Duran - He came to the Twins in July 2018 from the Diamondbacks in the Eduardo Escobar trade. Duran throws hard. He hit triple-digits with a fastball several times in many of his starts. He went just 2-9 despite a 3.23 ERA in 16 games (15 starts) for the Miracle. He had 95 strikeouts in 78 innings.He moved up to AA Pensacola where he went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA in seven starts. He struck out 41 batters in 37 innings. The 21-year-old stands 6-5 and has the potential for a starting pitcher’s mix.RHP Dakota Chalmers - Chalmers was a third-round pick of the Oakland A’s in 2015 out of high school in Georgia. He throws hard, but he has often struggled with control. He also fought injury and had Tommy John surgery early in 2018. The Twins acquired him in August in the Fernando Rodney trade. He returned to the mound in the second half of the 2019 season. After rehabbing in the GCL, the 23-year-old finished the regular season in Ft. Myers with the Miracle. He pitched for the Blue Wahoos in the playoffs and then headed to the Arizona Fall League to get more innings. He has a mid-90s fastball and good spin on his curveball. He also throws a changeup that is good when on.The Probables2B/3B Travis Blankenhorn - The 23-year-old struggled in 2018 in Ft. Myers, as many do in the Florida State League, so he began 2019 with the Miracle. After just 15 games, he was promoted to AA Pensacola. He took off from there. In 93 games with the Blue Wahoos, he hit .278 with 18 doubles and 18 home runs. He was the Twins third-round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania. He is one of the best athletes in the organization and has power and speed.OF Gilberto Celestino - The same year Javier signed with the Twins, the Astros signed Gilberto Celestino to a $2.25 million signing bonus. He came to the Twins in 2018 in the Ryan Pressly trade (with Jorge Alcala). He began 2019 by really struggling in Cedar Rapids, but he was on fire the final three months of the season and ended the year with the Miracle. And there, in 30 at-bats, he hit .300/.344/.433 (.767)OF Luke Raley - Raley was the Dodgers seventh-round pick in 2016 out of Division 2 Lake Erie College. He played well, and in July 2018, he came to the Twins with Devin Smeltzer in the Brian Dozier trade. He started 2019 in Rochester and was playing well when he hurt his ankle and needed surgery. It ended his season though he did play in the Arizona Fall League. He has power, and can play all three outfield positions, though center field is a stretch.On the Bubble RHP Luis Rijo - He came to the Twins from the Yankees in the July 2018 Lance Lynn trade. In 2018 in Cedar Rapids, he impressed by often hitting 95 and 96 mph with his fastball. He went 5-8 with a 2.86 ERA over 107 innings pitched. If he had spent time in Ft. Myers, he would probably be a Given, but could a team stash him for the full 2019 season?SS Wander Javier - When you sign an amateur to a $4 million signing bonus, you’d like to think that this decision would be easy, and maybe it is. But Javier has unfortunately missed nearly two seasons because of injury (most of 2016 in DSL and all of 2018). His 2019 started late and in 80 games, he hit just .177 with nine doubles and 11 home runs. He also had 17 errors. So, could he play in the big leagues today? Probably not. But he has as much talent as anyone in the organization, so a team might be willing to stash the 20-year-old on their big league roster for his potential.RHP Griffin Jax - The Twins third-round pick in 2016 out of the Air Force Academy. He signed and while he had commitments to the military, he pitched each summer. He has been able to pitch consistently since early in the 2018 season. He spent most of the 2019 season in Double-A Pensacola but made a couple of starts at Triple-A Rochester too. In 23 starts, he went a combined 5-7 with a 2.90 ERA. In 127 1/3 innings, he walked just 27 and struck out 94 (6.6 K/9).The Next This is a group that contains some intriguing names. While they aren’t obvious choices, there could be a team that likes them enough to take a shot with a Rule 5 pick. 1B Zander Wiel - The 26-year-old hit .254 with 40 doubles, five triples and 24 RBI at AAA Rochester in 2019 while performing adequately at first base.IF/OF Trey Cabbage - The 22-year-old was the Twins 4th round pick in 2015 out of high school in Tennessee. He is incredibly strong and hit a combined 15 homers in 2019 between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers.LHP Sam Clay - Fourth round pick in 2014 from Georgia Tech, Clay reached AAA in 2019. In 123 2/3 innings above High A, he has not given up a home run. In 69 1/3 innings in 2019 (2/3 of the innings in AA), he walked 28 and struck out 72 batters.RHP Moises Gomez - The 22-year-old Venezuelan posted a 1-4 record with 10 saves and a 2.91 ERA this season between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. He also struck out 15 batters in 11 innings in the Arizona Fall League (we won’t mention the nine walks).RHP Jake Reed - We have brought him up as a Must-Add each of the last few seasons. He hasn’t been added, and he hasn’t been selected. Now 27, he is coming off of a 2019 season in which he posted a 5.76 ERA in Rochester (though he struck out 92 batters in 75 innings).RHP Tom Hackimer - The side-winding 25-year-old was the Twins 4th round pick in 2016 from St. John's. When healthy, he has been very productive. In 56 2/3 innings in 2019, he struck out 75 batters.The Rest Here is a list of other players who are eligible for the Rule 5 draft in the Twins organization. LHP Alex RobinsonRHP Miguel De JesusLHP Lachlan WellsRHP Yancarlos BaezRHP Melvi AcostaRHP Adam BrayRHP Andro CuturaLHP Zach FeatherstoneRHP Randy LeBlancRHP Hector LujanRHP Andriu MarinRHP Ryan MasonLHP Jovani MoranRHP Alex SchickRHP Carlos SuniagaLHP Andrew VasquezLHP Tyler WatsonRHP Tyler WellsIF Joe CroninSS Yeltsin EncarnacionC Caleb Hamilton3B Brian SchalesOF Aaron WhitefieldOF Malique ZieglerIn the comments below, discuss my ranking and rank them by how you would protect them. We saw in 2019, and in 2018 too, that the Twins front office will make moves and keep that Rochester Connection quite active, so being on the 40-man roster is a big deal, but we have also seen that it can be altered frequently throughout a season. So, who do you think will be added? Does the fact that the Twins 40-man roster is currently at just 31 and there are others who could be DFAd still make you think they will add as many as eight players in two weeks? Click here to view the article
  15. After having wrapped up their East division title in week five and a place in the Arizona Fall League Championship Game, the Salt River Rafters closed out their regular season with two wins, one loss, and a tie in week six. They finished with the top record in the league at 17-11-1 (.607 winning percentage) and faced the West Division winning Surprise Saguaros on Saturday for the title. To find out how all your #MNTwinsInTheAFL closed out their regular seasons, and how that title game went down, keep reading! (This report includes the games played through 10/26 and the end of the AFL season)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-12, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K, SB; .353/.411/.565 (overall) Lewis got the start in center field in Monday’s 11-7 win over Glendale and after reaching base on a fielders choice in the top of the first, proceeded to steal his fifth base before being stranded on second. In the third inning with the Desert Dogs up 2-0, Lewis got the Rafters on the board with an RBI single before his teammates added four more to go up 5-2. Glendale took back the lead 7-5 going into the ninth inning however, but Lewis again sparked his team with an RBI double to make it 7-6 before they tacked on five more for the final of 11-7. It was another fantastic performance for Lewis, but it wasn’t the best one in this game from Twins prospects —we’ll get to that later. After a few days of rest, Lewis was back in center field on Thursday against the Mesa Solar Sox and batting third in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat of the game, but both teams were woefully deficient on offense throughout as this one ended in a 0-0 tie. The teams combined to go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 18 men on base, and struck out 18 times versus just two walks. Finishing out the regular season on Friday against Peoria, Lewis made the start at another new position in the AFL, but you’ll be pleased to learn it was at shortstop. He also batted cleanup in this abbreviated seven inning game and delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning that made the score 5-1 Rafters. As the shortstop, Lewis committed a fielding error on the first batted ball of the game and had only one other opportunity for the rest of it. He had this to say afterwards, as the Rafters still had one more game to go on Saturday: Lewis ended his impressive AFL season by being named the league’s MVP, adding further hardware to his mantle from an impressive fall campaign. He was named the hitter of the week once and also took home the MVP award during the Fall Stars Game where he hit a home run. He paced the league in hits (30) and runs scored (21) while also ranking top three in doubles (9), RBI (20), total bases (48), batting average (.353), slugging percentage (.565), and OPS (.975). If you have found yourself unimpressed with Lewis after the regular minor league season in which he admittedly struggled, my advice now is to get over it. This was the most outstanding showing by a Minnesota Twins prospect in the Arizona Fall League since I’ve been recapping it in this fashion as a blogger, which was long before your favorite website Twins Daily came into existence. Get excited, because no matter what position Lewis shows up in the majors at, he’s going to be an impact player. Don’t just take my word for it either: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K; 1-2, 5.09 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made his final start of regular season play in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs, finishing 3 2/3 innings. He allowed single runs in each of the first and second frames on RBI doubles before tossing a scoreless third inning after his offense gave him a 5-2 lead. Back out for the fourth a solo home run cut the lead to two and he walked a batter before picking up a strikeout to end his day. He mixed in four total strikeouts that pushed his total on the season to 25 in 17 2/3 innings to lead the Rafters staff. He threw 71 pitches on the game, with 42 going for strikes (59%). There was both good-to-great and bad-to-worse outings on Chalmers ledger during the AFL season, but after throwing just 34 2/3 innings in 2018 in his return from Tommy John surgery it’s hard to view his AFL performance as anything but positive. He showed a consistent high-90’s fastball and swing and miss breaking ball, and when he had command of them was dominant. That’s nothing new in relation to his prospect profile, but it was a solid step toward the 2020 season which will tell a lot more as he distances himself further from his surgery. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) While a knee injury Rortvedt had been playing with during the latter portion of the 2019 season ultimately put an end to his time in the AFL. Before that he had continued to showcase his defensive chops as a catcher while also bringing an improved bat. He’ll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and after reaching Double-A in 2019 will be looking to solidify his place near the top of the minor league depth chart among Twins catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 3-for-10, R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K; .244/.312/.439 (overall) After an impressive week 5 showing, Raley continued his emergence in the first game of week 6 with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate that out-shined his MVP teammate as alluded to above. His two hits included a two-RBI single in the third that made it 5-2 at the time, then his three-run home run in the ninth punctuated a six-run inning for the Rafters as they went back ahead for good 11-7. He also drew a walk in the sixth inning with the score tied at five, but while attempting to score the go-ahead run from third on a grounder he was thrown out at home. In Thursday’s 0-0 pitching duel with Mesa, Raley batted sixth in the lineup and was in right field. He finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout but reached base in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch. Closing out the regular season on Friday against the Javelinas Raley batted fifth behind Lewis and also finished 1-for-3. His single led off the second inning against top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley and the inning ended with him stranded on third. After missing several months of the minor league season due to an ankle injury, the AFL was mostly about making up time for Raley. It took him some time to get going but when he did, he was a force in the Rafters lineup. Over his final 10 games he had at least one hit in eight of them, and they included two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. His OPS in that time frame was over 1.000 as he slashed .333/.400/.639. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December, I expect Raley will get protected and should debut with the Twins at some point during the 2020 season. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, K; 0-1, 6.55 ERA, 2.09 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw his final action of the AFL season in Monday’s victory over Glendale, but it didn’t end as he probably would have liked. Coming on in relief of Chalmers in the fourth inning, Gomez inherited a runner in scoring position and walked his first batter before getting a ground out to keep his team up by two runs. Back out for the fifth inning Gomez got the first two hitters before trouble began to brew. He would walk the next three hitters to load the bases and end his outing. Two of those runners ended up coming around to score after his exit, to tie the game at five. After a fantastic minor league season that saw him come in third in Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting, Gomez got a nice reward and challenge by being sent to the AFL after spending less than half of the year in Fort Myers. While his 15 strikeouts in 11 total innings was nice, he also allowed runs in six of nine appearances and gave up nine free passes. I’d project he’ll start the 2020 season back with the Miracle, but if he shows improved command could again find himself promoted midsummer. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 0-1, 7.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Moran’s final appearance of the AFL season came in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Glendale when he entered the game to start the eighth inning with the Desert Dogs up 6-4. The left-hander delivered a one-two-three inning, striking out two in the process to end his season on a high note. He needed just twelve pitches and got both of those K’s on 94 MPH fastballs that hitters swung through near the top of the zone. Moran’s showing in the AFL was very similar to Gomez’s, in that he racked up strikeouts (14 in nine total innings) but also gave up walks and runs in bunches. His final outing this week was the first on the season that he did not issue at least one walk. Moran pitched with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for all of the 2019 season but did miss a few months during the summer with two separate trips to the injured list. He made up some innings in the AFL, but I’d expect him to be back with Pensacola at the start of the 2020 season looking to rediscover his magic from 2018. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, H; 1-0, 1 Save, 1.38 ERA, 0.54 WHIP (overall) Neff was called upon two more times in the season’s final week, appearing in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs and Thursday’s tie against the Solar Sox. In Monday’s contest Neff was summoned with two outs in the fifth inning after Gomez had loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. He allowed a two-run single to the first batter he faced that tied the game at five, but then got a lineout to end the inning. Starting clean in the sixth inning, Neff delivered a one-two-three frame, getting two ground outs and an infield pop out on thirteen pitches. He was charged with a blown save for giving up the game-tying hit in the fifth. In Thursday’s scoreless tie, Neff was called upon for the eighth inning and again delivered a one-two-three outing, getting each batter to pop out in the infield and requiring only five pitches to do so. That was the theme for Neff during the AFL season, recording outs in uber-efficient fashion and limiting baserunners. His 0.54 WHIP in league play ranked second on his team, and he recorded 12 strikeouts compared to just one walk in nine appearances and 13 innings pitched. He’s certainly raised his profile with his performance against the top competition of the AFL and will look to continue that into the 2020 season. Perhaps with a bump to Double-A to start the year on the merits of his AFL showing. AFL Championship Game As the East division champions for the second year in a row, the Salt River Rafters had one more game to play on Saturday for all the marbles in the AFL Championship against the West division winning Surprise Saguaros. On the mound to start the game for the Rafters was the Twins very own Dakota Chalmers, and he came out in the first inning determined to give his team his best effort. He needed 24 pitches and had full counts to three of the four hitters in the opening frame, but after walking the first hitter of the game he came back to finish off the next three with strikeouts. In the second he again walked the leadoff man, this time on four pitches, but needed just six more in the inning to get the three outs and keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the third a leadoff walk would finally catch up to him as that batter stole second base and then came around to score on a single and early 1-0 lead for Surprise. After that single Chalmers was lifted and finished with a line of one earned run on one hit and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, along with striking out three. The Rafters lineup picked him up in the top of the fourth however, as they erupted for five runs of their own to put the game out of reach. Royce Lewis led off the inning but grounded out before a hit batter, wild pitch, and single tied the game at one. Luke Raley and Colton Welker then drew walks to load the bases, and two batters later with two outs, Marlins outfield prospect Jerar Encarnacion broke it open with a grand slam and 5-1 lead that would stand until the end. Lewis tallied two hits in five at-bats on the game, including a double in the seventh inning and single to lead off the ninth. After that double in the seventh, Lewis got caught in a rundown between home and third on a comebacker to the pitcher for the inning's second out, but it would not matter. Lewis played third base and batted second in the lineup for the game. Luke Raley started the game in left field and batted fifth in the lineup, finishing 0-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch in the second inning. Raley was on third base when Encarnacion blasted the game-winning grand slam. Reliever Zach Neff also got into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he was brought on to face the left-handed hitting top of the Saguaros lineup with two outs. He allowed a double on a 3-2 breaking ball that he left over the heart of the plate but got the next hitter to chase a fastball out of the zone for an easy ground ball to first. The Rafters then took care of business in the ninth to bring home the hardware! Congratulations to all of the Minnesota Twins prospects, and those of the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks on a great season and thanks for following along during the AFL season with me! Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB Pipelines AFL Championship Game recap. -The Rafters home complex, Salt River Fields, was home to the automated ball-strike (ABS) system throughout AFL play, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with several players and prospects, including Royce Lewis, on how the system fared during the season. -Pensacola Blue Wahoos Senior Writer Bill Vilona on Royce Lewis and winning the AFL MVP award. -Vilona also caught up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer to recap his dream season that started with the Blue Wahoos. -MLB.com’s Jim Callis details eight players who stood out during the AFL Championship Game. -The Athletic’s Dan Hayes caught up with Royce Lewis to talk about his so-called struggles during the minor league season, his success in the AFL, and what he’ll be doing during the offseason (paywall). Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  16. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-12, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 2 K, SB; .353/.411/.565 (overall) Lewis got the start in center field in Monday’s 11-7 win over Glendale and after reaching base on a fielders choice in the top of the first, proceeded to steal his fifth base before being stranded on second. In the third inning with the Desert Dogs up 2-0, Lewis got the Rafters on the board with an RBI single before his teammates added four more to go up 5-2. Glendale took back the lead 7-5 going into the ninth inning however, but Lewis again sparked his team with an RBI double to make it 7-6 before they tacked on five more for the final of 11-7. It was another fantastic performance for Lewis, but it wasn’t the best one in this game from Twins prospects —we’ll get to that later. After a few days of rest, Lewis was back in center field on Thursday against the Mesa Solar Sox and batting third in the lineup. He singled in his first at-bat of the game, but both teams were woefully deficient on offense throughout as this one ended in a 0-0 tie. The teams combined to go 0-for-10 with runners in scoring position, left 18 men on base, and struck out 18 times versus just two walks. Finishing out the regular season on Friday against Peoria, Lewis made the start at another new position in the AFL, but you’ll be pleased to learn it was at shortstop. He also batted cleanup in this abbreviated seven inning game and delivered an RBI single in the fifth inning that made the score 5-1 Rafters. As the shortstop, Lewis committed a fielding error on the first batted ball of the game and had only one other opportunity for the rest of it. He had this to say afterwards, as the Rafters still had one more game to go on Saturday: https://twitter.com/MLBPipeline/status/1186699172449312770 Lewis ended his impressive AFL season by being named the league’s MVP, adding further hardware to his mantle from an impressive fall campaign. He was named the hitter of the week once and also took home the MVP award during the Fall Stars Game where he hit a home run. He paced the league in hits (30) and runs scored (21) while also ranking top three in doubles (9), RBI (20), total bases (48), batting average (.353), slugging percentage (.565), and OPS (.975). If you have found yourself unimpressed with Lewis after the regular minor league season in which he admittedly struggled, my advice now is to get over it. This was the most outstanding showing by a Minnesota Twins prospect in the Arizona Fall League since I’ve been recapping it in this fashion as a blogger, which was long before your favorite website Twins Daily came into existence. Get excited, because no matter what position Lewis shows up in the majors at, he’s going to be an impact player. Don’t just take my word for it either: https://twitter.com/BerniePleskoff/status/1188138808740462592 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.2 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 2 BB, 4 K; 1-2, 5.09 ERA, 1.64 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made his final start of regular season play in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs, finishing 3 2/3 innings. He allowed single runs in each of the first and second frames on RBI doubles before tossing a scoreless third inning after his offense gave him a 5-2 lead. Back out for the fourth a solo home run cut the lead to two and he walked a batter before picking up a strikeout to end his day. He mixed in four total strikeouts that pushed his total on the season to 25 in 17 2/3 innings to lead the Rafters staff. He threw 71 pitches on the game, with 42 going for strikes (59%). There was both good-to-great and bad-to-worse outings on Chalmers ledger during the AFL season, but after throwing just 34 2/3 innings in 2018 in his return from Tommy John surgery it’s hard to view his AFL performance as anything but positive. He showed a consistent high-90’s fastball and swing and miss breaking ball, and when he had command of them was dominant. That’s nothing new in relation to his prospect profile, but it was a solid step toward the 2020 season which will tell a lot more as he distances himself further from his surgery. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) While a knee injury Rortvedt had been playing with during the latter portion of the 2019 season ultimately put an end to his time in the AFL. Before that he had continued to showcase his defensive chops as a catcher while also bringing an improved bat. He’ll be ready to go when pitchers and catchers report to spring training and after reaching Double-A in 2019 will be looking to solidify his place near the top of the minor league depth chart among Twins catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 3-for-10, R, HR, 5 RBI, BB, 2 K; .244/.312/.439 (overall) After an impressive week 5 showing, Raley continued his emergence in the first game of week 6 with a 2-for-4 effort at the plate that out-shined his MVP teammate as alluded to above. His two hits included a two-RBI single in the third that made it 5-2 at the time, then his three-run home run in the ninth punctuated a six-run inning for the Rafters as they went back ahead for good 11-7. He also drew a walk in the sixth inning with the score tied at five, but while attempting to score the go-ahead run from third on a grounder he was thrown out at home. In Thursday’s 0-0 pitching duel with Mesa, Raley batted sixth in the lineup and was in right field. He finished 0-for-3 with a strikeout but reached base in the ninth when he was hit by a pitch. Closing out the regular season on Friday against the Javelinas Raley batted fifth behind Lewis and also finished 1-for-3. His single led off the second inning against top pitching prospect Forrest Whitley and the inning ended with him stranded on third. After missing several months of the minor league season due to an ankle injury, the AFL was mostly about making up time for Raley. It took him some time to get going but when he did, he was a force in the Rafters lineup. Over his final 10 games he had at least one hit in eight of them, and they included two doubles, three home runs, and eight RBI. His OPS in that time frame was over 1.000 as he slashed .333/.400/.639. Eligible for the Rule 5 draft in December, I expect Raley will get protected and should debut with the Twins at some point during the 2020 season. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 ER, 4 BB, K; 0-1, 6.55 ERA, 2.09 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw his final action of the AFL season in Monday’s victory over Glendale, but it didn’t end as he probably would have liked. Coming on in relief of Chalmers in the fourth inning, Gomez inherited a runner in scoring position and walked his first batter before getting a ground out to keep his team up by two runs. Back out for the fifth inning Gomez got the first two hitters before trouble began to brew. He would walk the next three hitters to load the bases and end his outing. Two of those runners ended up coming around to score after his exit, to tie the game at five. After a fantastic minor league season that saw him come in third in Twins Daily’s MiLB Relief Pitcher of the Year voting, Gomez got a nice reward and challenge by being sent to the AFL after spending less than half of the year in Fort Myers. While his 15 strikeouts in 11 total innings was nice, he also allowed runs in six of nine appearances and gave up nine free passes. I’d project he’ll start the 2020 season back with the Miracle, but if he shows improved command could again find himself promoted midsummer. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 0-1, 7.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Moran’s final appearance of the AFL season came in Wednesday’s 6-5 loss to Glendale when he entered the game to start the eighth inning with the Desert Dogs up 6-4. The left-hander delivered a one-two-three inning, striking out two in the process to end his season on a high note. He needed just twelve pitches and got both of those K’s on 94 MPH fastballs that hitters swung through near the top of the zone. Moran’s showing in the AFL was very similar to Gomez’s, in that he racked up strikeouts (14 in nine total innings) but also gave up walks and runs in bunches. His final outing this week was the first on the season that he did not issue at least one walk. Moran pitched with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos for all of the 2019 season but did miss a few months during the summer with two separate trips to the injured list. He made up some innings in the AFL, but I’d expect him to be back with Pensacola at the start of the 2020 season looking to rediscover his magic from 2018. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, H; 1-0, 1 Save, 1.38 ERA, 0.54 WHIP (overall) Neff was called upon two more times in the season’s final week, appearing in Monday’s win over the Desert Dogs and Thursday’s tie against the Solar Sox. In Monday’s contest Neff was summoned with two outs in the fifth inning after Gomez had loaded the bases with three consecutive walks. He allowed a two-run single to the first batter he faced that tied the game at five, but then got a lineout to end the inning. Starting clean in the sixth inning, Neff delivered a one-two-three frame, getting two ground outs and an infield pop out on thirteen pitches. He was charged with a blown save for giving up the game-tying hit in the fifth. In Thursday’s scoreless tie, Neff was called upon for the eighth inning and again delivered a one-two-three outing, getting each batter to pop out in the infield and requiring only five pitches to do so. That was the theme for Neff during the AFL season, recording outs in uber-efficient fashion and limiting baserunners. His 0.54 WHIP in league play ranked second on his team, and he recorded 12 strikeouts compared to just one walk in nine appearances and 13 innings pitched. He’s certainly raised his profile with his performance against the top competition of the AFL and will look to continue that into the 2020 season. Perhaps with a bump to Double-A to start the year on the merits of his AFL showing. AFL Championship Game As the East division champions for the second year in a row, the Salt River Rafters had one more game to play on Saturday for all the marbles in the AFL Championship against the West division winning Surprise Saguaros. On the mound to start the game for the Rafters was the Twins very own Dakota Chalmers, and he came out in the first inning determined to give his team his best effort. He needed 24 pitches and had full counts to three of the four hitters in the opening frame, but after walking the first hitter of the game he came back to finish off the next three with strikeouts. In the second he again walked the leadoff man, this time on four pitches, but needed just six more in the inning to get the three outs and keep the game scoreless. In the bottom of the third a leadoff walk would finally catch up to him as that batter stole second base and then came around to score on a single and early 1-0 lead for Surprise. After that single Chalmers was lifted and finished with a line of one earned run on one hit and three walks in 2 1/3 innings, along with striking out three. The Rafters lineup picked him up in the top of the fourth however, as they erupted for five runs of their own to put the game out of reach. Royce Lewis led off the inning but grounded out before a hit batter, wild pitch, and single tied the game at one. Luke Raley and Colton Welker then drew walks to load the bases, and two batters later with two outs, Marlins outfield prospect Jerar Encarnacion broke it open with a grand slam and 5-1 lead that would stand until the end. Lewis tallied two hits in five at-bats on the game, including a double in the seventh inning and single to lead off the ninth. After that double in the seventh, Lewis got caught in a rundown between home and third on a comebacker to the pitcher for the inning's second out, but it would not matter. Lewis played third base and batted second in the lineup for the game. Luke Raley started the game in left field and batted fifth in the lineup, finishing 0-for-2 with a run scored and a walk. He was also hit by a pitch in the second inning. Raley was on third base when Encarnacion blasted the game-winning grand slam. Reliever Zach Neff also got into the game in the bottom of the eighth inning, when he was brought on to face the left-handed hitting top of the Saguaros lineup with two outs. He allowed a double on a 3-2 breaking ball that he left over the heart of the plate but got the next hitter to chase a fastball out of the zone for an easy ground ball to first. The Rafters then took care of business in the ninth to bring home the hardware! https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1188195897785499648 Congratulations to all of the Minnesota Twins prospects, and those of the Miami Marlins, Tampa Bay Rays, Colorado Rockies, and Arizona Diamondbacks on a great season and thanks for following along during the AFL season with me! Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB Pipelines AFL Championship Game recap. -The Rafters home complex, Salt River Fields, was home to the automated ball-strike (ABS) system throughout AFL play, and MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with several players and prospects, including Royce Lewis, on how the system fared during the season. -Pensacola Blue Wahoos Senior Writer Bill Vilona on Royce Lewis and winning the AFL MVP award. -Vilona also caught up with Twins pitcher Devin Smeltzer to recap his dream season that started with the Blue Wahoos. -MLB.com’s Jim Callis details eight players who stood out during the AFL Championship Game. -The Athletic’s Dan Hayes caught up with Royce Lewis to talk about his so-called struggles during the minor league season, his success in the AFL, and what he’ll be doing during the offseason (paywall). Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  17. The Salt River Rafters finished week five of the Arizona Fall League season with a 3-3 record that kept themselves atop the East division standings. After a big week four that saw him collect several accolades, Royce Lewis finally appeared somewhat human, but Luke Raley more than picked up the slack with a monster week that could go a long way toward his 2020 prospects with the big-league club. Dakota Chalmers also had another strong start and reliever Zach Neff continued to baffle his opponents with his savvy. Continue reading to see just how big Raley came up for the Rafters, and how all the #MNTwinsInTheAFL performed in week 5 of the AFL season! (This report includes the games played through 10/20)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall) Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion. In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak: Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game. Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded. After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time. To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall) Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall) Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week. He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat: 2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead. 3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead. 5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River. 7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night. In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall) The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out. In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall) Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week. -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday. -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  18. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 5 games, 4-19, 2 R, 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 6 K, SB; .356/.422/.589 (overall) Lewis finally had somewhat of a quiet week in the AFL after his hitting streak came to an end at 12 games, but if this is as bad as it gets there’s nothing to worry about. He reached base in four of five games and multiple times in three of five to remain at the top of the AFL leaderboards in several categories. In Monday’s 6-5 loss to Scottsdale he batted second and played second base, finishing 1-for-4 with a run scored and drew a walk. The walk came in the top of the first and Lewis would end up stranded on second base. In their five run third inning, Lewis drove in the first run of the game with an opposite field single and would later score on a three-run homer from teammate Jerar Encarnacion. In Tuesday’s rematch with the Scorpions, runs and hits were at a premium for both teams as they combined for just three and ten combined, respectively. Lewis finished 0-for-4 and his hit streak would come to an end at 12 games thanks to a fantastic play from Philadelphia Phillies prospect, and fellow #1 overall pick, Mickey Moniak: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1184302618157338625 Lewis however, was responsible for driving in the Rafters lone run on the game with an RBI groundout in the fourth. Lewis again manned the keystone in this game. Back at third base and batting third in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Peoria, Lewis would finish 2-for-4, but did not score a run as he was picked off at second base by the catcher after his double in the third inning. He may have picked up something up from the catcher on that play however, as later in the game after he had singled and the next batter drew a walk, he stole third base (which he has done multiple times in AFL play) but would end up stranded. After a couple of days off, Lewis was back in the lineup at second base for Salt River’s 8-1 win over Surprise on Saturday. He drew a walk in the first inning and would come around to score on a single for an early 2-0 lead. He added an RBI single in the fourth inning that made the score 6-0 Rafters at the time. To close out a busy week on Sunday, Lewis went 0-for-3 with a walk in Salt River’s extra inning win over Surprise. He batted second and played third base and was on deck when the Rafters walked it off in the tenth thanks to an RBI single from Vidal Brujan of the Tampa Bay Rays organization. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, L, 4 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 0 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.50 WHIP (overall) Chalmers was the hard luck loser in Tuesday’s pitching duel, getting the start and finishing four solid innings. He allowed two earned runs on three hits and zero walks, while striking out four. He was in command of all his pitches in this one, throwing 35 of his 49 pitches for strikes (71%). He allowed a solo home run in the top of the first and an RBI double in the fourth, but in between retired seven in a row and topped out at 97.9 MPH on the radar gun. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) As detailed last week, a minor knee injury Rortvedt had been dealing with during the season with Pensacola and into the AFL has brought his fall league campaign to a close. He’ll be 100 percent well in advance of when pitchers and catchers report for spring training. Luke Raley: 6 games, 9-for-23, 5 R, 2 2B, 2 HR, 3 RBI, BB, 4 K; .236/.296/.417 (overall) Raley’s 2018 AFL season ended after just four games due to a shoulder injury, and it took him some time to get going in the AFL this year after coming back from an ankle injury suffered back in May. Entering week five with just a .510 OPS through 14 games, he found his groove in a big way in six games on the week. He collected a hit in each contest to raise his average on the season from .170 to .236, but it was his showing in Saturday’s win over Surprise that stood out the most, as it was perhaps the best performance of any hitter in the AFL on the season. Just how good you ask? Let’s take a look at-bat by at-bat: 2nd inning: Leads off frame with a hard hit single up the middle, later scores on a single for a 3-0 Rafters lead. 3rd inning: Blasts a 2-run homer to the opposite field off Kansas City Royals prospect Daniel Lynch (#69 overall prospect per MLB.com, and #8 LHP prospect) for a 5-0 lead. 5th inning: On a 2-1 pitch, Raley clubs his second home run of the game, this one a solo shot to right field, making it 8-1 Salt River. 7th inning: On perhaps his hardest hit ball of the night, Raley obliterates a pitch into the gap that hits high off the wall for a double, barely missing his third homer of the night. https://twitter.com/JonathanMayo/status/1185760714591367168 In Raley’s 4-for-4 night he would score three and drive in three. While I’m not going to detail the rest of his games on the week, he is on a current seven game hitting streak that’s completely transformed his batting line on the AFL season. I’d also encourage you to check out what he did in Monday’s game a week early, helping propel the Rafters to an especially big comeback win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, K; 5.40 ERA, 1.90 WHIP (overall) Gomez saw action in just one game on the week but made the most of it with a one-two-three outing. He came on for the seventh inning in Wednesday’s win over Peoria with the score 3-2 in favor of the Rafters and was awarded his third hold for his efforts. He threw twelve pitches with nine of them going for strikes (also was charged with an “automatic ball” to the leadoff man) and punctuated his outing with a strikeout to end the frame. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 3 H, 5 ER, 4 BB, K; 7.88 ERA, 2.38 WHIP (overall) The left-handed reliever’s first action of the week came in Monday’s loss to Scottsdale, and unfortunately for him would be charged with both a blown save and the loss. Entering the game in the eighth inning with a 5-3 lead, Scottsdale wasted no time making him work. The leadoff man doubled before he got a groundout, but then loaded the bases with consecutive walks. A sac fly was then followed by a two-run single that put the Scorpions out front 6-5 before he got the final out. In Friday’s 9-0 loss to Peoria Moran was summoned with one out and a runner on first in the top of the seventh. A wild pitch that was followed by a single put runners on the corners before a sac fly made it 4-0 Javelinas. Back out to start the eighth Moran struggled to find the strike zone, walking the first two hitters of the inning before a mound visit bought some time to warm up another reliever. He then got a pop-up to record three total outs but that was the end of his outing. Both of the runners he was responsible for would end up scoring though it didn’t matter much besides inflating his ERA as the Rafters were shut out. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, S, 2.0 IP, BB, 3 K; 1.69 ERA, 0.56 WHIP (overall) Neff has been the reliever standout among Twins prospects thus far in the AFL season, and his lone appearance on the week followed that theme. Entering Wednesdays 4-2 win over Peoria in the eighth after Gomez, he also picked up his first save by finishing the final two innings. He set the Javelina’s down in order in his first inning on just eight pitches, including a strikeout, before needing to work a little harder in the ninth. He struck out the leadoff man on three pitches then got a grounder on a 2-2 pitch for the second out before losing a nine-pitch battle by allowing his first walk of the AFL season. With the tying runner up to bat, Neff buckled down and caught him looking on a 3-2 count to end the game. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -For his efforts last week, including an MVP award in the Fall Stars game, Royce Lewis was named the AFL hitter of the week. -After their victory on Monday (10/21) behind Luke Raley and Lewis, the Salt River Rafters have clinched the AFL East Division and will play in the AFL championship game on Saturday. https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1186706048989585408 -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo spoke with Luke Raley after his monster game on Saturday. He talks about his ankle injury that kept him out for most of the MiLB season and getting back into the swing of things in the AFL and with his new organization. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  19. Week four of the AFL season was likely the most interesting to the casual prospect follower, as it featured the circuit’s all-star showcase on Saturday, where the Minnesota Twins top prospect cemented his status with an MVP performance. In the other games during the week the Salt River Rafters went 2-2 to maintain their lead in the East division. That top prospect also continued an impressive hit streak, while the pitchers were a mixed bag. To find out how all your #MNTwinsInTheAFL prospects performed on the week, keep reading! (This report includes the games played through 10/13)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall) Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday. Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single. While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded. In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game. In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman. While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall) Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth. Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play. Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win. In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall) The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall) Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone. The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner. -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game. -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  20. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 6-for-10, 4 R, 2 2B, 3 RBI, 3 BB, 1 K, SB; .397/.455/.672 (overall) Same old story on the AFL season for Royce Lewis, as he again was one of the top performers in the league, culminating with the biggest hit of the game in the Fall Stars showcase on Saturday. Lewis was in center field and batting third for Salt River in the first game of the week, an 11-10 extra inning win over Glendale. The Rafters wasted no time jumping out to a 10-0 lead after two innings, and Lewis got the scoring started with a two-RBI double in the first. He then stole third base and trotted home on another double. In the second inning he drew a walk and a few batters later his teammate Roberto Ramos cleared the bases with a grand slam. He drew another walk in his third plate appearance before adding a single in the seventh inning to account for all of his times on base. In the top of the tenth inning with a runner starting on second, Lewis led off by advancing him to third with a fly out. A sac fly later brought that runner home for the deciding tally as the Desert Dogs were unable to score in their half. Lewis also added an outfield assist in the seventh inning, throwing out a runner trying to go first to third on a single. https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1181784345494712321 While Salt River fell 9-3 to Mesa on Thursday, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis, who tallied half of the teams six hits. Batting fifth and playing second base, he singled in the second inning but was left stranded, before getting the Rafters on the board in the fourth with an RBI double. He then scored when teammate Victor Mesa traded places with him. He added another single in the ninth while the game was well out of hand, and it ended with Salt River unable to score with one out and the bases loaded. In Friday’s seven inning rematch with the Solar Sox, Lewis was back at third base for the Rafters and extended his hitting streak to 11 games with a single in the sixth inning before being caught attempting to steal second. In the top of the fourth he had drawn a walk and came around to score on a two-RBI double from Jerar Encarnacion to account for Salt Rivers only runs on the game. In the circuit's main attraction on Saturday Lewis was THE star in the Fall Stars Game, taking home the MVP honors after blasting a home run in his first at-bat to put the East squad up 2-0 in the second inning. There were just nine hits and 22 strikeouts between both teams on the game, but thanks to Lewis’ early blast the East team went on to win 4-2. Plus, if I were Lewis this would be my favorite award I’ve ever won: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1183208852595961858 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, W, 1.2 IP, H, 1 ER, 5 BB, 4 K; 4.50 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The hard-throwing righty got the start in Wednesday’s 6-2 win over Glendale, and through the quirks of the leagues scorekeeping, was awarded the win despite finishing only 1 2/3 innings and walking five hitters. Fortunately for Chalmers he allowed only one hit to go along with those walks, a double in the first to score a run for the Desert Dogs but worked around any further damage by striking out four and picking a runner off first base in the second inning. He also likely had another runner picked off after another of those walks as he was awarded an assist on another pickoff attempt where a missed-catch error was charged to the first baseman. While recording just five outs, Chalmers racked up 55 pitches, with only 24 of them going for strikes (44%). If he got the ball anywhere near the zone hitters weren’t able to do much with it, as hitters swung and missed nine times and fouled off seven pitches, but his misses on the day would have reminded you of Rick “Wild Thing” Vaughn being “just a bit outside.” He’ll look to rein back in his control in his next outing. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt's AFL season has come to a close as he has been removed from the Salt River Rafters roster due to a minor knee injury that he had been dealing with for the latter part of his season with the Pensacola Blue Wahoos and into the AFL. He recently had surgery in Minneapolis and is expected to be 100 percent well in advance of Spring Training, looking to solidify his high place on the organizational depth chart for catchers. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, R, 2B, 2 BB, K; .170/.246/.264 (overall) Raley was the designated hitter in the Rafters win over Glendale on Tuesday and like Lewis was also a big part of their six-run first inning. His third double of the AFL season was of the two-RBI variety, making the score 5-0 before later scoring the final run of the frame on a grounder that was misplayed by the Desert Dogs shortstop. He reached based two other times as well in the form of a hit-by-pitch in the sixth inning and drawing a walk in the eighth. Back in right field the next day against Glendale, Raley finished 0-for-3 but contributed on defense in the fifth inning with a nice play. After a one out walk White Sox prospect Gavin Sheets lined a ball toward him in right field, and after catching it he doubled off the runner at first for an inning-ending double play. Like everyone else on the team besides Lewis, Raley’s game on Thursday in a loss against Mesa was forgettable, finishing 0-for-3 with a strikeout. He was again the designated hitter in this one and while the small sample size numbers aren’t there, will look to continue hitting the ball hard in the season’s final weeks. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 5 H, 3 ER, BB; 6.00 ERA, 2.11 WHIP (overall) Gomez was summoned in the seventh inning of Tuesday’s extra-inning win over Glendale, a game in which the Rafters led 10-0 early but were up by just one when he entered the game. He allowed a double to the leadoff hitter then two grounders to the infield later was saddled with a blown save as the tying run scored. After the outfield assist from Lewis, Gomez struck out a batter with the go-ahead run on third to give his team the extra opportunity they needed to pull out the win. In Friday’s game with Mesa Gomez entered the game in the fifth inning with the Rafters up 2-1. He was charged with another blown save after allowing a game-tying solo home run in between his three outs. Back out for the sixth he recorded two quick outs before a double was followed by an RBI single to put the Solar Sox ahead 3-2 and saddle him with the loss. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, BB, 2 K; 3.00 ERA, 2.00 WHIP (overall) The left-handed strikeout artist made just one appearance on the week, getting the sixth inning in Salt Rivers win over Glendale on Wednesday. With his team up 4-1, Moran earned his third hold in the AFL season with a scoreless frame. He struck out the first two hitters he faced before surrendering a walk, but then got a ground out to keep his team well in front. Of his 26 pitches in the inning, 18 went for strikes (69%), including four swinging strikes, topping out at 94.7 MPH on the radar gun. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, 2 K; 2.08 ERA, 0.58 WHIP (overall) Neff’s only appearance on the week came a few innings after Moran’s on Wednesday, coming on for the eighth inning with the score 6-1 in favor of the Rafters over Glendale. He delivered a one-two-three outing, striking out the final two hitters swinging on a curveball on the outside corner and a fastball at 92.5 MPH at the bottom of the zone. The lefty also joined Royce Lewis in the Fall Stars Game on Saturday and would be credited with the save for his efforts in the ninth inning. With the East roster up 4-2, Neff came on with two outs looking to record the final out of the game. He threw only four pitches, allowing a single on his first offering before inducing an infield pop-up on his fourth to close out the showcase. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Brent Rooker has been named to team USA’s Premier12 roster and will play in the first tournament determining eligibility for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. -Heading into the Fall Stars Game MLB.com’s Jim Callis ranked the top tools to be showcased. Royce Lewis was named as honorable mention for best hitter, best power, and fastest runner. -MLB.com’s recap of the AFL Fall Stars game and summary of every MLB team’s representatives in the exhibition. After the contest they also discussed the top 10 performers (highlighting Lewis’ home run) and every player's performance who entered the game. -Lewis was also featured for being named the All-Star game’s MVP, including a post-game interview where he discussed his approach before clubbing his home run. Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  21. The Salt River Rafters went 4-1 on the week in the Arizona Fall League and enter week four with the best record in the league and with a two-and-a-half game lead in the East division. Royce Lewis continued to stand out as a hitter and got some more time in the outfield on the week, while a starting pitcher also had a fantastic outing while showcasing his big fastball. Multiple Twins prospects were also named to the East roster of the Fall Stars Game that will be played on Saturday at the Rafters home ballpark. Keep reading to find out how all the #MNTwinsInTheAFL fared on the week! (This report includes the games played through 10/6)(links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall) It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game. He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback. While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7. Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early. With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games. This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall) After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale. He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day. In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall) While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs. Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning. In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall) The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday. He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall) Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts. His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall) Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season. In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field. It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up). -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday: Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  22. (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 7-for-18, 5 R, 2 2B, RBI, 4 K; .364/.396/.682 (overall) It doesn’t look like Lewis has any intention of slowing down during the AFL season, as for the third straight week he put up strong numbers. While his contact wasn’t as loud this week as his two extra-base hits were only of the double variety, he collected at least one hit and scored at least one run in every game. In Tuesday’s 5-2 win over Scottsdale he was back out playing center field and finished 1-for-5. He reached base on a fielder’s choice in his first at-bat of the game and later led off the sixth inning with a single on a ground ball to third where he forced the throw to be rushed with his speed, and the resulting throwing error allowed him to advance to second base. He scored on a single two batters later for the first run of the game. He finished the game 3-for-5 in Friday’s 10-9 comeback win over the Javelinas, and he played a good part in that effort. His single in the third inning moved a runner to third who later scored, and followed that with an RBI single in the fourth that closed the gap to 8-5. In the sixth inning with Peoria now up 9-6, his double put runners on second and third before a single from teammate Seth Beer scored them both and set the stage for Lewis’ organizational teammate to complete the comeback. While the Javelinas got the Rafters back on Saturday in a 9-7 loss, it wasn’t for a lack of effort from Lewis who again collected multiple hits while batting cleanup. While he struck out in his first two at-bats, he helped kickstart the Rafters attempt at another comeback with a single to load the bases in the sixth inning, that was followed by a grand slam to cut the Peoria lead to four. Leading off the eighth inning, Lewis doubled to center and later scored on a single that made it the final of 9-7. Playing his third game in a row on Sunday, Lewis finished 1-for-4 in the Rafters 6-4 win over Surprise. He singled in the bottom of the third inning and the threat of his speed played some havoc as a pickoff throw got away allowing him to advance an extra base. He then scored on a single to put Salt River up 2-0 early. With hits in each of his games on the week, Lewis extended his hitting streak in the AFL to eight games. This also seems appropriate throw in here even though this game will be recapped next week: https://twitter.com/wboor/status/1181784345494712321 Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 4.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 5 K; 4.32 ERA, 1.44 WHIP (overall) After a rough second turn in the rotation for the Rafters following a strong debut, Chalmers was looking to rebound as he took the mound on Wednesday against Scottsdale. He started the game by striking out the first two hitters he faced on seven pitches and if not for an error by his third baseman to the next hitter would have had a very quick inning. After that gaffe he allowed a single and a walk to load the bases, before getting himself back to the dugout with his third strikeout of the inning on a 97 MPH fastball. In the second frame he allowed a one-out walk but worked around that runner by bookending the inning with two more K’s, the first looking on a curveball and the last on another high 90’s heater. After a single led off the third, he got a doubleplay ball on the first pitch to the next hitter, and a ground out on a 1-0 count for a quick eight pitch inning, and he followed that up with a one-two-three fourth where he needed just five pitches to end his day. In all, Chalmers threw 54 pitches with 33 of them going for strikes (61%). Without the error in the first inning, the outing would have been even more impressive than it already was as it forced him to throw ten more pitches than he needed to early. His fastball was clocked at 95+ all game, topping out at 97.7 MPH in a stellar outing for Salt River. Ben Rortvedt: Did not play; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt did not see any action on the week but this writer has been unable to determine if it is because of injury or if the schedule with an extra day off during the week played a role. In his last at-bat of his last game played he was hit by a pitch, but still finished that game behind the dish. Hopefully he was just given some extra time off to rest a minor ailment and will be back in action this week. If I'm able to find anything out I will be sure to let our readers know. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-14, R, 4 K; .175/.222/.275 (overall) While Raley’s overall line for the week may not look all that impressive, he did come through went it counted in a couple games on the week to finish strong after a slow start. He combined to go 0-for-7 in the games on Tuesday and Wednesday but hit a few balls hard as a couple of those were hard line drive outs. Finally, on Friday he got to play the role of hero in Salt Rivers big win against Peoria. After a triple had tied the game at nine in the sixth inning, Raley stepped into the batter’s box and delivered a sac fly to complete the improbable comeback from an eight-run deficit and put his team in front for good 10-9. Earlier in the game Raley had collected his first hit on the week with a two-out single in the second inning. In the final game of the week on Sunday, Raley went 2-for-3 batting seventh in the lineup for the Rafters. His RBI double in the second inning got the scoring started for the home team and he wasn’t done. With Surprise leading by two runs in the bottom of the seventh, Raley represented the tying run after reaching base with a single, and one batter later was brought home to knot the game at four. A home run from the next batter put them out front for good to close the Rafters week with a win. Moises Gomez: 1 appearance, 1.0 IP, H, 3 K; 4.50 ERA, 2.33 WHIP (overall) The right-handed reliever appeared in just one game on the week, coming on to start the eighth inning with the score 10-9 in favor of Salt River over Peoria on Friday. He allowed a leadoff single but shut it down from there to pick up his second hold in the AFL by striking out the next three hitters. The first of those came on a swing-and-miss 96.9 MPH fastball at the top of the zone, the second on a called 96.1 MPH heater in the same area, and the third on a slider on the outside corner for another swing-and-miss. He threw 22 pitches in the inning, with 15 going for strikes (68%). Even more notable for his outing in this game, Rafters pitchers collected only one other K as a staff against Javelinas hitters on the game. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances 1.2 IP, 2 H, 3 R (0 earned), 2 BB, 2 K; 3.60 ERA, 2.20 WHIP (overall) Moran saw time on the mound in two games on the week, with the first of those coming in Wednesday’s 4-2 win over Scottsdale. With the Rafters up 2-0 in Moran was summoned to start the sixth inning and got a groundout with his first pitch before giving up a five-pitch walk. That was as far as that runner would get however, as he got a fly out from the next batter before picking up a swinging strikeout on a fastball on the inside corner. Moran was credited with his second hold in the AFL for his efforts. His second outing came on Sunday in Salt River’s 6-4 win over Surprise. Summoned for the top of the seventh inning he wouldn’t have as good of luck in this one, though he could blame his infield for the blown save instead of himself, as all three runs he allowed were unearned. This is because after striking out his first hitter and then allowing a walk, he induced a tailor-made 4-6-3 double play ball but the throw from the second baseman was off target for an error. Another walk to load the bases was then followed by an RBI single, a sac fly, and another RBI single before he was pulled with his team now behind 4-2. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, K; 2.35 ERA, 0.65 WHIP (overall) Like Moran, Neff also made two appearances on the week and they were of similar results, though Neff would be charged with his first earned runs of the AFL season. In Friday’s slug fest with Peoria, Neff was the first man up after Salt River’s starter floundered in the second inning. With two runs already on the board in the frame, Neff came on with one out and the bases loaded. He did as good a job as you could expect, retiring the next two hitters and allowing just one of those runners to score on a sac fly. Back out for the third Neff was finally hit with some hard contact in the AFL, as after getting an out on a liner to center field, the next three hitters went triple, triple, double to score two runs and give the Javelinas an early 8-0 lead. He limited the damage as best he could be getting the next two hitters to line out to the shortstop and Luke Raley in right field. It was a quick turnaround between appearances for Neff, as he was back out for the Rafters on Sunday in their win over the Saguaros. He came on in relief of Moran with two outs in the seventh and stopped the bleeding by getting a fly out for the third out. Salt River’s offense then put up four runs of their own to take back the lead at 6-4 and put Neff in line for the win when he came back out for the eighth. He ended up being awarded that win as he delivered a one-two-three inning on fourteen pitches, striking out one. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -Perfect Game caught up with Royce Lewis, discussing how their showcases helped get him on the radar of scouts in high school and how playing new positions in the AFL is helping him (We can all try to ignore that he also mentions Derek Jeter as his role model growing up). -Lewis and Zach Neff will represent the Minnesota Twins organization in the Fall Stars game being played on Saturday: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1181642442316992512 Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  23. In week 2 of the Arizona Fall League season, the Salt River Rafters went 4-1 to end the week tied atop the East Division standings at 6-4. After coming out scorching hot in the seasons first week, Royce Lewis continued that in week two with his bat while also adding his speed on the basepaths to the display of tools he’s shown thus far in the desert. Along with Lewis, a pitcher may have started making a name for himself with a level of efficiency and dominance on the week that’s quite eye-opening.To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall) Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale. He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended. After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3: In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways. In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward. That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day. He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts. He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching. He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall) Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other. In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one. That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River. Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall) Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame. In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that. Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall) Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa. He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts. On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches. If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with. Other AFL and Minor League Links -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall) -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development) Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
  24. To find out how good Lewis was again, who that pitcher was and what he did, and what all the other Twins prospects in the AFL did during week two, keep reading! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 3 games, 4-for-11, 4 R, 2 2B, HR, 4 RBI, BB, 4 K, 2 SB; .346/.400/.808 (overall) Lewis got the first few days of week two off, in part thanks to the Rafters game on Wednesday the 25th being postponed due to lighting in Glendale. He finally started at third base in Thursday’s 5-4 loss to the Desert Dogs, and was again in the three spot of the lineup. With a runner on first base in the bottom of the opening frame, Lewis reached base by beating the double play turn on a grounder to third, then promptly stole second base for his first steal of the AFL season. When the fifth inning started, the Rafters were down 5-0, but after an RBI single from Lewis they had cut that deficit to 5-3. With the same score in the eighth inning, Lewis got another rally going with a one-out double, his second so far in the league, and would be driven in two batters later to close within one, but that’s how the game ended. After another (likely scheduled) day off, Lewis was back in action on Saturday in Salt River’s 10-3 win over Mesa. Finding his home in the three-hole, Lewis contributed the loudest contact of the night, putting the game away in the seventh inning with his third AFL home run, a two-run shot to put the game out of reach for the Solar Sox at 8-3: https://twitter.com/MLBazFallLeague/status/1178155779427164160 In the game’s first inning, Lewis drew a walk and stole second base, putting himself into position to score a run on a single and an early 2-1 lead for the Rafters. In the fifth inning after his team had taken a 3-2 lead, Lewis added another run with an RBI sac fly. For a 1-for-3 performance, Lewis contributed to the big victory in several ways. In the final game of the week for Salt River, Lewis was in the same spots for their 4-3 win over Glendale. He got just one hit in this one, but it turned out to be a big one as it led to the needed insurance run for the Rafters to secure the victory. With the score 3-1 in their favor, Lewis led off the eighth inning with his third double. Two batters later a sac fly brought him home to go up by three. In his other three plate appearances he flew out to left field and struck out twice, but it was overall another fantastic week for Lewis in Arizona. Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R (4 earned), 2 BB, 4 K; 8.31 ERA, 1.85 WHIP (overall) Chalmers made a strong first start in the AFL last week and came into Thursday’s contest against Glendale looking to build off of that moving forward. That didn’t quite happen, as the leadoff man in this one singled and that was followed by a walk, a wild pitch, and then a two-RBI double. Another wild pitch put that runner on third base before he picked up a strikeout, but then another pitch got by the catcher for an early three-run deficit before he struck out the next two hitters to end the inning. Back out for the second inning he didn’t fare much better, hitting the first batter with a pitch, walking the next, and allowing an RBI single before he got another K for the first out of the inning, but that was also the end of his day. He needed 46 pitches to get his four outs, and of those just 23 went for strikes (50%). Chalmers will look to rein in his wildness in his next start while continuing to rack up the strikeouts. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games, 1-for-6, 2 K; .111/.200/.111 (overall) Rortvedt got the starting nod at catcher for two games on the week, batting eighth in both contests. In Tuesday’s 4-1 win over the Naranjeros de Hermosillo of the Mexican League he finished 0-for-4 with a pair of strikeouts, so he was still looking for his first hit in the AFL. But on the defensive side he appeared to have his pitchers locked in, as they held their opponents to just three hits and one walk on the day while racking up 12 strikeouts. He finally got that first hit in Friday’s 6-1 win over the Solar Sox, with a single in the fifth inning that put runners on the corners and led to a 3-0 lead after five completed frames for the Rafters. In the seventh inning he reached base in the form of a hit-by-pitch but would end up stranded. It was another notable day calling pitches behind the plate, as Mesa managed just four hits and three walks while striking out 11 times against Rafters pitching. He’ll look to get his bat going in week three while also getting back his caught stealing mojo from week one as runners were 4-for-4 against him in his two starts on the week. Luke Raley: 3 games, 1-for-9, 3 R, BB, 4 K; .154/.233/.269 (overall) Raley made three starts on the week, playing right-field in two games and as the designated hitter in the other. In their win against their MBL cohorts on Tuesday, Raley was the DH hitting sixth in the lineup. There’s not much to talk about as I’m sure he’d like to forget a 0-for-3 day with three strikeouts, so we’ll move on to the next one. That was Friday’s win over Mesa where he batted cleanup as the right fielder. It took until his fourth at-bat, but he finally reached base on the week by drawing a walk in the eighth inning and later scored the final run of the game for Salt River. Back in the sixth spot of the lineup and in right field again on Saturday, Raley salvaged a hitless week in the 10-3 win, finishing 1-for-3. He was hit by a pitch in the sixth inning and came around to score a run, before doing the same after his single in the seventh inning when the Rafters put the game away with four runs. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.1 IP, 5 H, 2 ER, BB, 4 K; 5.40 ERA, 2.60 WHIP (overall) Gomez’s first appearance of the week came in Thursday’s loss to Glendale, when he came on to start the eighth inning with the score 5-3 in favor of the Desert Dogs. He struck out the first two hitters of the inning swinging, before allowing a single to Jeren Kendall, but he was quickly erased by a caught stealing to end the frame. In their tilt with the Glendale on Sunday, Gomez came on in the bottom of the eighth with the Rafters holding a 4-1 lead. He struck out the leadoff man and got a groundout before giving up a single, again to Kendall of the Desert Dogs. He got the next man with a looking K to end the inning and came back out for the ninth looking to close out the game for the Rafters. This inning didn’t go quite as well, as two singles followed by a double brought Glendale within one, then he walked another batter and got a fly out before the manager was able to get another arm warmed up. He finished 1 1/3 innings, allowing two runs on four hits and a walk, but his replacement was able to secure the win for Salt River. Jovani Moran: 1 appearance 1.1 IP, BB, 3 K; 5.40 ERA, 1.80 WHIP (overall) The left-hander made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s contest against the Mesa Solar Sox. After Tampa Bay Rays prospect Shane Baz ran into trouble in the sixth and had allowed one run already, Moran came on with two outs and runners on second and third looking to snuff any further rally. He surrendered a walk to his first hitter to load the bases but came back to strike out the next hitter and do just that. Back out for the seventh he made quick work of the Mesa hitters, needing only thirteen pitches to set them down in order, including strikeouts to the last two hitters he faced. It was his first scoreless appearance of the AFL season, and in 3 1/3 total innings so far, has walked four but also struck out seven. He’ll look to build off this outing in week three. Zach Neff: 2 appearances, 3.1 IP, H, 4K; 0.00 ERA, 0.43 WHIP (overall) Neff made two appearances on the week, going more than one inning in both Tuesday’s matchup with Hermosillo of the MBL and Saturday’s win over Mesa. He was the first man out the bullpen against the Naranjeros, coming on to start the fifth inning with the Rafters up 1-0. He allowed a leadoff single on his first pitch but got the next three hitters out on just six more, including a strikeout. In the sixth he again attacked hitters, setting them down one-two-three on just eleven pitches, including two more strikeouts. On Saturday against Mesa, he came on with two outs in the sixth inning with runners on the corners and one of baseball’s top prospects, Jo Adell of the Los Angeles Angels, coming up. After reading the way his first appearance on the week went, you may not be surprised to learn it took him just three pitches to send him sulking back to the dugout with a K to end the threat. Back out for the seventh inning, Neff needed to face four hitters as his defense committed an error, but it was another uber-efficient inning, requiring just twelve pitches. If you’re counting, in 3 1/3 innings on the week Neff needed only 33 pitches, with 25 of them going for strikes (76%). The Gameday logs show him throwing a four-seam fastball around 90 MPH, a mid-70’s curveball, and low-80’s slider if you’re wondering what he’s fooling hitters with. Other AFL and Minor League Links -After another strong week, Royce Lewis checks in at #3 on Baseball America’s latest hot sheet (behind their paywall) -MiLB.com’s Rob Terranova takes a look at a topic Nate Palmer examined last week here at Twins Daily, that being why he’s not playing shortstop in the AFL. It’s not a conspiracy, or even what the Twins necessarily had planned for him, he just wants to play! (Also, lots of other great information from Twins director of Minor League operations Jeremy Zoll on Lewis’ development) Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there!
  25. The first week of the AFL season is in the books, and boy was it a good one from one of the games' top prospects. After somewhat of a down year with his bat, Royce Lewis showed there’s still a lot of promise there with multiple big games. He also showed off his defensive chops with a spectacular catch…as an outfielder. In addition to Lewis’ big week, a pitcher also made a strong impression in his first start, and a catcher continued to show why he’s so highly regarded as a defensive backstop.Keep reading to find out how each of the Twins prospects performed during the opening week of the AFL season! (links to each players overall AFL stats provided by clicking their name) Royce Lewis: 4 games, 5-for-15, 4 R, 2B, 2 HR, 6 RBIs, 2 BB, 5 K; .333/.412/.800 (overall) Lewis was one of the biggest stars of the AFL in the first week of the season, and that’s because he crushed two homers, scored four runs, and drove in six over his first four games of the season. Also noteworthy, and as I had predicted in the AFL preview article last week and Nate Palmer discussed earlier today, he did not play any game at the shortstop position. Instead, he was at the hot corner for three games, and in center field in the other. He started the season off with a bang in Wednesday’s 10-6 loss to Peoria with a two-run double in the bottom of the first inning, then drew a walk and singled in four other plate appearances on the day. In Thursday’s 4-1 win over Mesa, Lewis put together a highlight reel while playing in the outfield for just the second time in his career. He robbed a hitter of extra bases to run down a fly ball, then came up to bat in the bottom half of that inning and clubbed his first home run: After getting a day off Lewis was back at third base on Saturday and hitting in the three-hole for the Rafters lineup. It didn’t click on this day for him, as he finished 0-for-4 with 3 K's as the Rafters were bludgeoned 12-0 by the Saguaros, but that “slump” only lasted one game. In Sunday’s 11-4 win over Scottsdale, Lewis finished 2-for-4 with two runs scored, two RBIs and a walk, while again hitting third for Salt River. He also punctuated his first week in the prestigious circuit by getting the Rafters on the board first with his second home run: Dakota Chalmers: 1 start, 3.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, BB, 4 K; 0.00 ERA, 1.00 WHIP (overall) Chalmers got the start for the Rafters on Friday in their 4-1 loss against Surprise and was efficient in his three innings against the Saguaros lineup. He struck out two in the first inning, worked around a double and a pair of errors in the second by inducing an inning-ending double-play ball, then struck out two more in the third to end his day. Of his 43 pitches on the game, 30 went for strikes (69.8%), including six of the swinging variety. Ben Rortvedt: 2 games (1 start), 0-for-3; .000/.000/.000 (overall) Rortvedt’s first game action came as a defensive replacement in the season opener, as he entered the game at catcher in the eighth inning against Peoria. He was on deck when Lewis popped out to end the game. In Friday’s loss with Chalmers on the mound he got his first start at catcher, batting eighth. He grounded out to second base in all three of his plate appearances and was again on deck when the final out of the game was made. I made it a point to highlight Rortvedt’s defense, and especially his arm, in my preview article and he showed it off in both his appearances on the week. After entering the game on Wednesday, he caught Seattle Mariner’s second base prospect Jose Caballero, who had swiped 33 bases in just 69 games during the minor league season, attempting to steal second. Then on Friday he also cut down Surprise’s leadoff hitter and Kansas City Royals speedster, Brewer Hicklen, who had also stolen 39 bases in the minors on the year. Luke Raley: 4 games, 3-for-17, 3 R, 2B, 3B, 2 RBI, 4 K; .176/.167/.353 (overall) Raley started four games on the week, playing in right field in two, left field in one, and getting penciled in at DH in the other. He batted fifth in his first two games, before sliding down to sixth and seventh in the batting order to end the week. In the opening day game, he finished 0-for-5 with two K's, but also scored a run as he reached on an error in the first inning. He followed that up with a 0-for-4 night the next day against Mesa, reaching base once on a fielder’s choice. He got his first hit on Sunday against Surprise with a double in the sixth inning to drive in the Rafters only run of the game. In Sunday’s win against Scottsdale, Raley added two more hits, including a triple to lead off the eighth inning before picking up an RBI with a sac fly in the ninth to end his week on a high note. Moises Gomez: 2 appearances, 2.2 IP, 3 H, 4 R (1 earned) 4 BB, 3 K; 3.38 ERA, 2.63 WHIP (overall). Gomez was the first Twins pitcher to make an appearance in the AFL this year, coming in for the eighth inning of their opening day tilt against Peoria when Rortvedt took over behind the plate. He struck out the first batter he faced, gave up a single before Rortvedt threw out the runner stealing, then tacked on another K to end the inning. Back out for the ninth he walked the leadoff man before getting another K and a ground ball for two outs, but an error and another walk ended his day at 1 2/3 innings. He pitched again on Saturday in the blowout loss to Surprise, finishing the game for the Rafters but not before being responsible for three of their twelve runs allowed on the day. He got a fly out to start the inning, but then two singles and a walk were followed by consecutive errors, including one on Gomez that led to his first two runs allowed. A bases-loaded walk led to the third before he induced a grounder that turned two to stop the bleeding. Jovani Moran: 2 appearances, 2.0 IP, 2 H, 3 R (2 earned), 3 BB, 4 K; 9.00 ERA, 2.50 WHIP (overall). The lefty made his first appearance of the week in Thursday’s win over Mesa, coming on for the top of the sixth with his team up 4-0. He promptly struck out the first two hitters of the inning on just eight pitches before giving up a single and a four-pitch walk. The next batter sent a grounder toward first base, but it was misplayed for an error to load the bases before another walk to score the Solar Sox lone run of the game. After a mound visit, he struck out another batter for the third out. In Sunday’s thrashing of Scottsdale, Moran came on for the eighth inning and again got himself into trouble. A leadoff walk, single, and wild pitch put runners on second and third before a grounder scored one and a sac fly another. He then struck out a hitter to end the inning with his team still up big 11-4. Zach Neff: 1 appearance, 1.1 IP, H, 2 K; 0.00 ERA, 0.75 WHIP (overall). The Twins other left-handed prospect in the AFL made just one appearance on the week, and it came in Friday’s loss to the Saguaros. After Rafter’s pitcher Antonio Santos had allowed consecutive two-out singles in the fifth, he came on to keep their deficit at two, and did so by getting a fly out. Back out for the sixth he struck out the first two hitters of the inning before allowing a single, but that was it as he got the next man to fly out to center. Other AFL and Minor League Links: -MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo caught up with Royce Lewis after his big first week to discuss what Lewis is looking to accomplish in the AFL, and also talks about all the other Twins prospects in Arizona. -For a great AFL Twitter follow (and tons of video of prospects) follow William Boor of MLB.com and MLB Pipeline: Please feel free to ask questions about the AFL and the players who are there! Click here to view the article
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