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  1. Last Night's Game Recap PIT 6, MIN 5: Taylor Rogers Blows Save, Win Streak Snapped Today: Minnesota @ Kansas City Royals, 7:05 PM CT Betting Lines: MIN -155, O/U 9.5 Twins Starter: Devin Smeltzer, LHP 1-0 11.57 ERA Tonight is Smeltzer’s first start of the year as he’s worked as a bulk reliever for his two outings on the season. In six starts a year ago he posted a 4.11 ERA and allowed a .704 OPS to opposing hitters. While his ERA registered at just 3.44 when working in relief for the 2019 Twins, opponents OPS was nearly 200 points higher at .898. Smelter may be fond of Kansas City as they provided his first Major League win. When facing them at Target Field on August 4, 2019 he went 6.0 IP allowing no runs on just two hits while fanning four and walking one. The prototypical profile of a soft-tossing lefty, Smeltzer’s 89 mph average on the fastball won’t blow anyone away. His primary second pitch is the curveball, and it’s there that he looks for punchouts. He’s been a high strikeout guy in the minors and generated 7.0 K/9 last year as a rookie. The homer is his bugaboo and if he can avoid some of the Royals boppers tonight should go well for him. Royals Starter: Jakob Junis, RHP 0-0 4.15 ERA Junis has made just one appearance this season and it was a start against the Chicago White Sox. He lasted just 4.1 IP during that one and ceded two runs on six hits. Now in his fourth Major League season, the book has all but been written on Junis given the consistency he’s shown year over year. You can pencil him in for an ERA in the mid fours, and it’ll be complimented by a modest walk and strikeout rate. He’s been an innings eater of sorts throwing over 170 IP in each of the past two years for Kansas City. Where the biggest opportunity for opponents against Junis comes is launching the longball. He’s never allowed less than 1.4 HR/9 and was up to 1.6 HR/9 each of the past two seasons. Lefties had substantially more success against him last year, though the power numbers came from both sides of the plate. Kansas City knocked the Chicago Cubs around for 13 runs last night so it will be interesting to see if the bats have any runs support left in them. Lineup News & Notes - The St. Louis Cardinals return to the field today following their COVID-19 outbreak. It’s the first time they’ll have played a game since July 29, and the first time all 30 teams are active and healthy since the Marlins outbreak on July 26. UPDATE: More positives for the Cardinals, so no full slate tonight and St. Louis has a postponed game today. https://twitter.com/markasaxon/status/1291780266684559360 - Shohei Ohtani returned to the lineup for the Los Angeles Angels following the MRI revealing a forearm injury that will keep him off the mound for the rest of 2020. He homered. https://twitter.com/Angels/status/1291472127955091457 - Today, Mike Trout turns 29. At 74.0 fWAR he’s already posted the 46th highest mark in MLB history. What comes from here is anyone’s guess but it’s clear we’re watching one of the best ever. Around the AL Central CLE 13, CIN 0 KCR 13, CHC 2 MIL 8, CHW 3 1. MIN 10-3 (+29 run differential) 2. CLE 8-6 (+17) 3. CWS 7-6 (+2) 4. DET 5-5 (-11) 5. KCR 4-10 (-11)
  2. Looking to stretch the winning streak to seven games, the Minnesota Twins came up just short in their final contest with the Pittsburgh Pirates. Now onto another cellar dweller in the Kansas City Royals, Rocco Baldelli’s club faces another series with ample opportunity to bolster the number in the win column.Last Night's Game Recap PIT 6, MIN 5: Taylor Rogers Blows Save, Win Streak Snapped Today: Minnesota @ Kansas City Royals, 7:05 PM CT Betting Lines: MIN -155, O/U 9.5 Twins Starter: Devin Smeltzer, LHP 1-0 11.57 ERA Tonight is Smeltzer’s first start of the year as he’s worked as a bulk reliever for his two outings on the season. In six starts a year ago he posted a 4.11 ERA and allowed a .704 OPS to opposing hitters. While his ERA registered at just 3.44 when working in relief for the 2019 Twins, opponents OPS was nearly 200 points higher at .898. Smelter may be fond of Kansas City as they provided his first Major League win. When facing them at Target Field on August 4, 2019 he went 6.0 IP allowing no runs on just two hits while fanning four and walking one. Download attachment: Smeltzer.PNG The prototypical profile of a soft-tossing lefty, Smeltzer’s 89 mph average on the fastball won’t blow anyone away. His primary second pitch is the curveball, and it’s there that he looks for punchouts. He’s been a high strikeout guy in the minors and generated 7.0 K/9 last year as a rookie. The homer is his bugaboo and if he can avoid some of the Royals boppers tonight should go well for him. Royals Starter: Jakob Junis, RHP 0-0 4.15 ERA Junis has made just one appearance this season and it was a start against the Chicago White Sox. He lasted just 4.1 IP during that one and ceded two runs on six hits. Now in his fourth Major League season, the book has all but been written on Junis given the consistency he’s shown year over year. Download attachment: Junis.PNG You can pencil him in for an ERA in the mid fours, and it’ll be complimented by a modest walk and strikeout rate. He’s been an innings eater of sorts throwing over 170 IP in each of the past two years for Kansas City. Where the biggest opportunity for opponents against Junis comes is launching the longball. He’s never allowed less than 1.4 HR/9 and was up to 1.6 HR/9 each of the past two seasons. Lefties had substantially more success against him last year, though the power numbers came from both sides of the plate. Kansas City knocked the Chicago Cubs around for 13 runs last night so it will be interesting to see if the bats have any runs support left in them. Lineup News & Notes - The St. Louis Cardinals return to the field today following their COVID-19 outbreak. It’s the first time they’ll have played a game since July 29, and the first time all 30 teams are active and healthy since the Marlins outbreak on July 26. UPDATE: More positives for the Cardinals, so no full slate tonight and St. Louis has a postponed game today. - Shohei Ohtani returned to the lineup for the Los Angeles Angels following the MRI revealing a forearm injury that will keep him off the mound for the rest of 2020. He homered. - Today, Mike Trout turns 29. At 74.0 fWAR he’s already posted the 46th highest mark in MLB history. What comes from here is anyone’s guess but it’s clear we’re watching one of the best ever. Around the AL Central CLE 13, CIN 0 KCR 13, CHC 2 MIL 8, CHW 3 1. MIN 10-3 (+29 run differential) 2. CLE 8-6 (+17) 3. CWS 7-6 (+2) 4. DET 5-5 (-11) 5. KCR 4-10 (-11) Click here to view the article
  3. Smeltzer has a unique set of skills that combats his lack of velocity. His fastball rarely cracks 90 which puts him in the 6th percentile for velo among MLB pitchers. The lefty, however, can seriously spin it. His fastball comes in at a 2,400 rpm. The curveball twirls up to the plate at 2,700 rpm. He can also kill the spin on his changeup to get an above average amount of vertical drop. The slider? It was a nothing pitch. The ugly duckling to his three other quality offerings. It backed up a lot, hanging for a moment in the zone, or it would dive well beyond the strike zone, leaving hitters to just watch it skip in the dirt. While Smeltzer’s three-pitch mix worked for him in 2019, having a legitimate slider could be a massive leap forward. The Twins’ pitching analysts like Josh Kalk have long known the benefits of having a slider. Thrown properly, it looks like a fastball longer before darting. In 2008 Kalk wrote about what makes sliders so effective. “ecause curves tend to produce a larger hump, a fast-reacting hitter has slightly more time in which to put on the brakes (or alter his swing) when he realizes that the pitch is not a fastball,” Kalk wrote. “Because sliders tend to stay hidden much further down the line, a batter who is fooled in the information-gathering stage has much less time to recover.” Over 10 years ago, long before “tunneling” had even entered the standard baseball lexicon, Kalk had discovered that curveballs can pop out of the pitcher’s tunnel to give hitters a hint that something is up. This is one reason why the team has encouraged some pitchers to develop a slider. Trevor May to transition to a new slider in 2019 after he played around with a new grip that resulted in better tunneling and more movement. Tyler Duffey also added velocity to his curveball and created a pitch that had more slider-like qualities. Taylor Rogers’ emergence as a late innings force is likewise due to embracing the slider mentality. Curveballs are out, sliders are in. In order to improve his slider, Smeltzer says he targeted three metrics on his Rapsodo: Spin rate, spin axis, and velocity. “I knew what my spin, axis and velo on it needed to be,” Smeltzer says regarding his pitch design targets. “So if I had two of the three that wasn’t it. I had to keep tweaking it.” He tinkered with different grips until he found the one that helped him attain those numbers consistently. “It finally started to click and I really stuck with the grip, it’s pretty unconventional grip but through a lot of talks it just made sense from a physical standpoint of the ball’s got one direction of where to go with how I’m throwing it and it’s out. Again, I just throw it like a fastball and let the grip work.” The unconventional part is that Smeltzer throws his slider off of a one finger grip. Standard sliders are typically thrown using both the index and middle finger applying pressure to the ball but Smeltzer discovered that the middle-finger dominant release was not working. “In the past, I’ve gotten very middle finger dominant and it makes the pitch not as aggressive and it becomes loopy and very inconsistent because that finger, pressure-wise, isn’t a strength for that pitch for me,” Smeltzer explains. Smeltzer continues his pitch design tutorial to the Zoom viewers. “So with this grip here,” he says as he creates a “C” out of his index and thumb, “I’m pressing between these two and when I’m throwing it like a fastball and, because of physics, the ball can only come out this way when I’m coming through so it’s cutting through and kicking that gyro spin.” What Smeltzer is saying is that he’s reducing that loopiness his former slider had. He said that he would often drop down to release that slider and get around the ball, tipping hitters off in the process. Now he can just rip it like he would his fastball and the grip does the work. Why is this particular pitch important for his development? Inconsistent and loopy results in hitters leaving the bat on the shoulder. The 24-year-old left-hander needed something with more action, a viable weapon -- particularly against lefties. Smeltzer has pronounced reverse splits, demonstrating the ability to get right-handed hitters out at a much higher clip than left-handed ones. While his fastball and changeup combination performed well against righties, adding an aggressive slider to his mix would likely help him against those same-sided opponents, as well as keeping righties off-balance. The Twins have created a cottage industry of getting pitchers to improve their slider offerings and see big gains. Devin Smeltzer might be the next on that list.
  4. Best Fastball: Trevor May FBv: 95.6, wFB: 17.4 With Brusdar Graterol no longer on the roster, there’s a new sheriff in town. Trevor May was supposed to evolve into a middle of the rotation starter when the Twins traded for him, but now he has become a shutdown late-inning relief pitcher. One of the biggest reasons for his improved performance… a lights-out fastball that has continue to improve since he switched to the bullpen. Back in 2014 May was a starter, trying to find himself on a struggling Twins squad. His fastball wasn’t hitting 93 and it didn’t seem like the rotation was a spot where he would thrive. Fast-forward to 2019 and his fastball has jumped to 95.5 mph and he is using it almost 62% of the time. The transition to the bullpen can be tough for some players, but opponents compiled a .150 batting average against his heater and most fans will take that every day of the week. Honorable Mention: Jake Odorizzi (20.8 wFB), Jose Berrios 11.5 (wFB) Best Slider: Taylor Rogers SLv: 82.3, wSL: 7.4 Taylor Rogers is good. Let me restate that, Taylor Rogers is really good, and I don’t think the rest of baseball realizes how good he was last season. One of the biggest changes for him last season was using his curveball less often and relying more on his slider. Spoiler alert… his slider is unhittable when paired with his other off-speed pitches. Outside of Jose Berrios, Rogers might have been the most enjoyable Twins pitcher to watch last season. His calm demeanor on the mound separates him from more recent Twins closers, but his pitching repertoire certainly puts him in the same class as his successors. Having a shortened 2020 season is depriving fans of another stellar year from Rogers. Honorable Mention: Sergio Romo (wSL 3.6), Lewis Thorpe (wSL 3.9) Best Curveball: Devin Smeltzer CBv: 76.6, wCB: 3.0 Smeltzer doesn’t have the velocity most would expect from a big-league pitcher, but the movement on his pitches helps to separate him from others on the staff. Fans are constantly in awe of the movement he is able to create from his lanky frame, especially when the pitches aren’t coming in at triple-digits on the radar gun. One of the biggest reasons for his success is his ability to change pitches and alter the batter’s vantage point. Last season, his spin on his curveball ranked in the 80th percentile across baseball. He only threw the pitch 24.5% of the time so it could be a pitch that see increase usage in the years ahead. Smeltzer is never going to blow away other batters. He has to rely on movement to be successful and he could rely on his unique abilities to be a back of the rotation starter. Honorable Mention: Jose Berrios (wCB -1.8), Tyler Duffey (wCB -0.8) Best Change-Up: Michael Pineda CHv: 87.2, wCH: 4.9 Twins fans might not appreciate how good Michael Pineda was for the team last season. He was once a top prospect, but he has evolved as a pitcher with more big-league experience. His fastball and slider might be below league average but his change-up is on another tier. He threw it more with the Twins than in any other season during the StatCast era. Opponents were held to a .238 batting average and a .253 WOBA on his change-up last season. Compare that to previous seasons and opponents were hitting over .290 with a .318 WOBA. Granted he missed a season due to Tommy John, but it takes nothing away from how he was able to adapt last season. Honorable Metnion:Trevor May (wCH: 2.2), Sergio Romo (wCH: 1.6) Do you agree with these rankings? What is the best pitch in the Twins organization? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. 1. Alter His Workout Routine According to the Star Tribune, Berrios altered some of his workout routines between starts at the end of last season and he saw some positive results. He worked throughout the offseason to develop his stamina and the Twins are hoping this stamina carries throughout the 2020 campaign. Twins pitching coach Wes Johnson was influential in this end-of-season metamorphosis. In his six starts from August 6 through September 4, he got knocked around to the tune of a .971 OPS and an 8.07 ERA. After his meeting of the minds with Johnson, he pitched six innings or more in his final five starts with a 3.08 ERA and opponents being held to a .631 OPS. 2. Extra Rest in the Second Half There was talk throughout last season of giving Jose Berrios extra rest in the second half, which could include skipping his spot in the rotation or being strategic in his second-half usage. In the second half, his ERA was over a run and a half higher than the first half with opponents posting a .268/.328/.428 batting line. There were still some positive signs in those poor second-half numbers. His 9.8 SO/9 was a full strikeout higher than his career mark and he might have been unlucky with a .335 BAbip. Also, Minnesota’s perceived rotational depth could make it easier for Berrios to get extra rest. Rich Hill and Michael Pineda won’t start the year in the rotation and younger players like Devin Smeltzer, Randy Dobnak and Lewis Thorpe will want an opportunity. 3. Add an Early Season Innings Limit Innings limits are usually associated with younger prospects or players coming back from injury, but it could be a strategy utilized by the Twins to save Berrios for the second half. This could allow him to pitch more innings in the second half and keep him fresh. If his entire season as a tube of toothpaste, you don’t want everything squeezed out by the end of July. https://twitter.com/ParkerHageman/status/1229868843738243072?s=20 Historically, August and September have been his worst months. His ERA in August is nearly 6.00 for his career with batters hitting .279/.355/.456 with 42 extra base hits in 21 games. His September ERA is a more respectable 4.64, but that’s still over half a run higher than his next highest month. 4. Throw More Pitches Out of the Zone This might seem like a counterproductive option for a player if you want to be pitching better in the second half, but Berrios threw 50% of his pitches in the zone last season, a career high. His 33.4% chase rate was also a career high, but batters were making solid contact when they weren’t chasing the ball. When it comes to his four-pitch mix, could any of his pitches be thrown out of the zone on a more regular basis? Being in the zone also likely caused Berrios to post a 6.5% Barrel % and an 86.5 mph Exit Velocity, which were both the highest since his rookie season. Granted the juiced-up baseball might have helped increase the exit velocity for all players. His 36.3% Hard Hit rate was the highest of his career and it was 8.4% higher than his career best mark in 2017. What do you think the Twins need to do with Berrios? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  6. The 2019 Minnesota Twins offense put up some historic numbers. On Tuesday, we learned that the team had added one of the best hitters over the last dozen years to the already-strong lineup. Twins fans got excited, thinking about the offensive numbers the team could produce. At the same time, many quickly jumped back to asking if the team still needs to add more pitching.Clearly the Twins went into the offseason hoping to add a top starting pitcher. Use the word “impact” if you like. The two impact starters on the free agent market weren’t coming here (Cole, Strasburg). Two of the free agent starters who fit in that next tier (Bumgarner and Wheeler) went elsewhere for non-baseball and non-dollar reasons. And it appears that the Twins just didn’t (understandably) want to give Hyun-Jin Ryu a fourth year. With that, they shifted their attention to adding to an already-great offense. They gave Josh Donaldson a guaranteed $92 million over the next four years, and an option for 2024 that makes it pretty likely he is retained. I am often told by Twins fans to expect the offense and several of its hitters to regress in 2020. First, my assumption is that something will be done with the baseball, which may reduce some offensive numbers, but that will be across the board, for all teams. And yes, teams will have more data points to develop a way to attack the Twins hitters. So, regression for some and for the whole, is certainly possible. However, much of the Twins offense is made up of a core of players between 22-year-old Luis Arraez and 29-year-old Silver Slugger Mitch Garver. And none of them had seasons that were so far out of the realm of their potential that makes you think that any regression would have to be major. Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler all had strong seasons, but none of them outside of what we thought they could do when they were prospects. Silver Slugger Nelson Cruz is going to turn 40 during the season. It’s silly to expect him to put up the same kind of numbers he put up in 2019, but his approach and his strength should still produce really good numbers in the middle of a lineup. Josh Donaldson replaces CJ Cron in the lineup. While he is older, he’s been one of the greatest hitters in baseball. If healthy, he should continue to put up eye-popping numbers. Injuries? Yes, injuries happen and they aren’t necessarily easy or possible to predict. But, there is one good way to alleviate some of those concerns. The first is simply to have depth. The Twins have depth. Simply in the form of Marwin Gonzalez there is depth. He can play the corner infield and corner outfield spots. LaMonte Wade and Jake Cave can man the outfield spots when needed. Ehire Adrianza is a terrific utility infielder. Alex Avila is the backup catcher. And there are prospects, high-caliber prospects at each position, who are close to MLB-ready. The Twins were able to keep Jake Odorizzi away from free agency for one more year by offering him the $17.8 million Qualifying Offer (and him accepting it). They also retained the services of right-hander Michael Pineda for the next two years. He will finish the final 39 games of his suspension and rejoin the team in mid-May. Jose Berrios is entering his Age-26 season. He will need to figure out August, but there’s a lot to be excited about it, and there is potential for him to find another level. Jake Odorizzi found his next level in 2019. Michael Pineda, at the time he was suspended, was being talked about as a possible Game 1 starter in the playoffs. That’s a solid first three. Homer Bailey? No, not exciting, but he has certainly had his moments. And, he was really good in the second half of 2019. Rich Hill? Man, if only he could stay healthy. Over the last five years, he has been a top 10-15 starting pitcher in baseball. Of course, he won’t be back until at least June after elbow surgery. There is no way to know how that recovery and rehab will go with 100% confidence. But they got him for a great contract and even if he’s back by the end of July, and can get close to what he’s been in recent years, that’s a nice pitcher to have in August, September and October. Can the Twins get the best out of him? With Hill and Pineda unable to start the season on the active list, the rotation will contain Berrios, Odorizzi, Bailey and… Well, for right now, that answer comes down to about four options; Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer. Yes, Blaine Hardy will be at spring training. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll be at big-league spring training for a while. There may be other names mentioned early in spring training. But for all intents and purposes, it comes down to those four pitchers. All four pitched in the big leagues in 2019. Randy Dobnak: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2019 when he pitched in Ft. Myers, Pensacola, Rochester and ended the season with the Twins, pitching well enough in September to earn a Game 2 start in the playoffs. It didn’t go well, but it shouldn’t minimize how much he grew and improved over the course of the season. And, in addition to being a good story, he’s a good pitcher too. Lewis Thorpe: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2018. He spent most of 2019 in Rochester but came up a couple of times. He made a few starts and also pitched out of the bullpen. He had some good games and some not-so-good games, but what he did well is miss bats. Devin Smeltzer: He moved back into a starting role in 2019 and started in Pensacola. A month later he was in Rochester, and before the end of May, he made his major-league debut and it went very well. He was a frequent guest on the Rochester-to-Minneapolis travel list but experienced success in a variety of roles in the big leagues. Brusdar Graterol: He came up for September and worked out of the bullpen. He was off to a good start last year in AA, but he missed nearly three months in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury. He came back in the bullpen so that he could be called up and his triple-digit fastball could help the Twins late. He will be on some sort of innings plan, but most would think that it’d be ideal for him to continue developing as a starter. Could that be as a ‘Primary’ pitcher, or could he just be a regular starter until Pineda comes back, or until Hill returns? Derek Falvey is often given a lot of credit for the pitching development in Cleveland. We have seen them continue to develop a pipeline of quality starters. Several of their current pitchers were not top prospects when they came up but certainly have developed into that status. Corey Kluber might just be the best example of that development plan and process, though he will be with the Rangers in 2020. So, should we believe in Derek Falvey’s track record? Should we trust the processes that have been initiated by Falvey along with pitching guru Josh Kalk and minor league pitching coordinator Paul Maki, and each of the minor league coaches and coordinators brought in? How about their utilization of technologies in recent years? Why not give these guys a chance? Herein lies the question from today’s title, Do the Twins need to add another starter? In my opinion, the answer is obvious. No, they don’t NEED to add another starter. With this offense, the team will win a lot of games. Their top two pitchers (Berrios, Odorizzi) are good. Bailey certainly can be good. And, four young pitchers who got time in 2019 are certainly capable of being solid, and a few of them have the potential to be pretty good. Having that offensive support should certainly encourage them to throw a lot of strikes. Pineda will be back. Hill should be back a little later. But, it isn’t that simple. While they don’t NEED to add another starter, Falvey and Thad Levine should continue to monitor the starting pitcher trade market. I don’t think Jon Gray or German Marquez are going to be available this offseason, but those are the caliber of pitcher that the team should show interest in. Y’all know I’m not at all high on Matt Boyd, but if the Twins research and development crew says that he could be a pitcher of the Berrios/Odorizzi/Pineda quality in 2020, maybe try that. There may be names that we haven’t even thought of that they could get. But don’t just add any more pitchers just to add more pitchers. If they’re going to make a move, make it a good one. Get a pitcher as good as Odorizzi, or better. If not, take your chances with a strong offense and a pretty solid starting rotation (and a pretty solid bullpen too, mind you). Continue to evaluate and teach those inexperienced pitchers, Get Pineda back. Get Hill back… And keep an eye on the phone, always looking to make a big addition in July… or June… or May! For much more on Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer, along with Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic and about 90 other Twins minor league pitchers, order a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF ebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  7. Clearly the Twins went into the offseason hoping to add a top starting pitcher. Use the word “impact” if you like. The two impact starters on the free agent market weren’t coming here (Cole, Strasburg). Two of the free agent starters who fit in that next tier (Bumgarner and Wheeler) went elsewhere for non-baseball and non-dollar reasons. And it appears that the Twins just didn’t (understandably) want to give Hyun-Jin Ryu a fourth year. With that, they shifted their attention to adding to an already-great offense. They gave Josh Donaldson a guaranteed $92 million over the next four years, and an option for 2024 that makes it pretty likely he is retained. I am often told by Twins fans to expect the offense and several of its hitters to regress in 2020. First, my assumption is that something will be done with the baseball, which may reduce some offensive numbers, but that will be across the board, for all teams. And yes, teams will have more data points to develop a way to attack the Twins hitters. So, regression for some and for the whole, is certainly possible. However, much of the Twins offense is made up of a core of players between 22-year-old Luis Arraez and 29-year-old Silver Slugger Mitch Garver. And none of them had seasons that were so far out of the realm of their potential that makes you think that any regression would have to be major. Jorge Polanco, Miguel Sano, Byron Buxton, Eddie Rosario and Max Kepler all had strong seasons, but none of them outside of what we thought they could do when they were prospects. Silver Slugger Nelson Cruz is going to turn 40 during the season. It’s silly to expect him to put up the same kind of numbers he put up in 2019, but his approach and his strength should still produce really good numbers in the middle of a lineup. Josh Donaldson replaces CJ Cron in the lineup. While he is older, he’s been one of the greatest hitters in baseball. If healthy, he should continue to put up eye-popping numbers. Injuries? Yes, injuries happen and they aren’t necessarily easy or possible to predict. But, there is one good way to alleviate some of those concerns. The first is simply to have depth. The Twins have depth. Simply in the form of Marwin Gonzalez there is depth. He can play the corner infield and corner outfield spots. LaMonte Wade and Jake Cave can man the outfield spots when needed. Ehire Adrianza is a terrific utility infielder. Alex Avila is the backup catcher. And there are prospects, high-caliber prospects at each position, who are close to MLB-ready. The Twins were able to keep Jake Odorizzi away from free agency for one more year by offering him the $17.8 million Qualifying Offer (and him accepting it). They also retained the services of right-hander Michael Pineda for the next two years. He will finish the final 39 games of his suspension and rejoin the team in mid-May. Jose Berrios is entering his Age-26 season. He will need to figure out August, but there’s a lot to be excited about it, and there is potential for him to find another level. Jake Odorizzi found his next level in 2019. Michael Pineda, at the time he was suspended, was being talked about as a possible Game 1 starter in the playoffs. That’s a solid first three. Homer Bailey? No, not exciting, but he has certainly had his moments. And, he was really good in the second half of 2019. Rich Hill? Man, if only he could stay healthy. Over the last five years, he has been a top 10-15 starting pitcher in baseball. Of course, he won’t be back until at least June after elbow surgery. There is no way to know how that recovery and rehab will go with 100% confidence. But they got him for a great contract and even if he’s back by the end of July, and can get close to what he’s been in recent years, that’s a nice pitcher to have in August, September and October. Can the Twins get the best out of him? With Hill and Pineda unable to start the season on the active list, the rotation will contain Berrios, Odorizzi, Bailey and… Well, for right now, that answer comes down to about four options; Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer. Yes, Blaine Hardy will be at spring training. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster, so he’ll be at big-league spring training for a while. There may be other names mentioned early in spring training. But for all intents and purposes, it comes down to those four pitchers. All four pitched in the big leagues in 2019. Randy Dobnak: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2019 when he pitched in Ft. Myers, Pensacola, Rochester and ended the season with the Twins, pitching well enough in September to earn a Game 2 start in the playoffs. It didn’t go well, but it shouldn’t minimize how much he grew and improved over the course of the season. And, in addition to being a good story, he’s a good pitcher too. Lewis Thorpe: He was the Twins minor league pitcher of the year in 2018. He spent most of 2019 in Rochester but came up a couple of times. He made a few starts and also pitched out of the bullpen. He had some good games and some not-so-good games, but what he did well is miss bats. Devin Smeltzer: He moved back into a starting role in 2019 and started in Pensacola. A month later he was in Rochester, and before the end of May, he made his major-league debut and it went very well. He was a frequent guest on the Rochester-to-Minneapolis travel list but experienced success in a variety of roles in the big leagues. Brusdar Graterol: He came up for September and worked out of the bullpen. He was off to a good start last year in AA, but he missed nearly three months in the middle of the season with a shoulder injury. He came back in the bullpen so that he could be called up and his triple-digit fastball could help the Twins late. He will be on some sort of innings plan, but most would think that it’d be ideal for him to continue developing as a starter. Could that be as a ‘Primary’ pitcher, or could he just be a regular starter until Pineda comes back, or until Hill returns? Derek Falvey is often given a lot of credit for the pitching development in Cleveland. We have seen them continue to develop a pipeline of quality starters. Several of their current pitchers were not top prospects when they came up but certainly have developed into that status. Corey Kluber might just be the best example of that development plan and process, though he will be with the Rangers in 2020. So, should we believe in Derek Falvey’s track record? Should we trust the processes that have been initiated by Falvey along with pitching guru Josh Kalk and minor league pitching coordinator Paul Maki, and each of the minor league coaches and coordinators brought in? How about their utilization of technologies in recent years? Why not give these guys a chance? Herein lies the question from today’s title, Do the Twins need to add another starter? In my opinion, the answer is obvious. No, they don’t NEED to add another starter. With this offense, the team will win a lot of games. Their top two pitchers (Berrios, Odorizzi) are good. Bailey certainly can be good. And, four young pitchers who got time in 2019 are certainly capable of being solid, and a few of them have the potential to be pretty good. Having that offensive support should certainly encourage them to throw a lot of strikes. Pineda will be back. Hill should be back a little later. But, it isn’t that simple. While they don’t NEED to add another starter, Falvey and Thad Levine should continue to monitor the starting pitcher trade market. I don’t think Jon Gray or German Marquez are going to be available this offseason, but those are the caliber of pitcher that the team should show interest in. Y’all know I’m not at all high on Matt Boyd, but if the Twins research and development crew says that he could be a pitcher of the Berrios/Odorizzi/Pineda quality in 2020, maybe try that. There may be names that we haven’t even thought of that they could get. But don’t just add any more pitchers just to add more pitchers. If they’re going to make a move, make it a good one. Get a pitcher as good as Odorizzi, or better. If not, take your chances with a strong offense and a pretty solid starting rotation (and a pretty solid bullpen too, mind you). Continue to evaluate and teach those inexperienced pitchers, Get Pineda back. Get Hill back… And keep an eye on the phone, always looking to make a big addition in July… or June… or May! For much more on Brusdar Graterol, Lewis Thorpe, Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer, along with Jhoan Duran, Jordan Balazovic and about 90 other Twins minor league pitchers, order a copy of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF ebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. 2019 was a fun year for so many reasons. Our Minnesota Twins fielded a historically great offense, bashing teams into submission for the entirety of the regular season. We watched huge homeruns soar out of Target Field, we watched clutch performances from our workhorses like Jose Berrios, as well as game ending dominant performances from Taylor Rogers. 2019 will be a year of fantastic Twins memories for me. Looking back on it however, no memory is quite as vivid to me as Devin Smeltzer's debut for some reason. Smeltzer was acquired at the trade deadline in 2018 along with Luke Raley for Brian Dozier. Twins fans were sad, Dodgers fans were happy, just another year for Minnesota sports fans. As 2019 rolled on however, we started to see that we hadn't just given Dozier away for peanuts. Smeltzer rifled through AA after 30 innings. Apparently a .60 ERA was enough to get a promotion. In AAA, Smeltzer fared well, pitching to a 3.63 ERA and respectable 23.2 K%. When the Twins were in need of a spot start on May 28th, Smeltzer got the call. Smeltzer was tasked with facing a vaunted Brewers lineup. The big storyline as you have all likely heard by now was that Devin Smeltzer, a childhood cancer survivor, had fought his way into the major leagues. It was about as fantastic of a storyline you'll find in the MLB, and that paired with my excitement to see the individual behind the gaudy numbers he had put up in the minors, I was glued to that couch cushion for this one. He went on to allow 3 hits over 6 innings, striking out 7 Brewers that night. Smeltzer would finish the year cycling in and out of the rotation, as Pineda's suspension and Kyle Gibson's illness left plenty of innings to fill. He would finish the season with a 3.86 ERA and 4.58 FIP. He had a tougher time striking out hitters at the major league level, sending only 18.8% of the batters he faced down on strikes. This along with his difficulty with the longball (1.47/9) were the reason for the discrepancy in his ERA and FIP. Smeltzer was used in a few roles as the season went on. He accumulated 30.2 innings pitched as a starter, finishing with a 4.11 ERA and holding opposing hitters to a .239/.294.410 slash line. As a reliever in 18.1 innings, Smeltzer had a seemingly better 3.44 ERA, although this appeared to be questionable given his triple slash allowed of .306/.342/.556. Let's also not forget the 3.1 innings of 2 hits 4 Ks, and no runs against the Yankees out of the bullpen in the playoffs. Looking ahead to 2020, Devin Smeltzer's role is up in the air. He comes off a relatively strong rookie season. While some peripherals say he overperformed, he also has some favorable Statcast number with his fastball spin rate falling into the 87th percentile, as well as a curveball in the 81st percentile. Would these measurements be best maximized in the traditional starter role we saw Smeltzer debut in? As it stands, there are two rotation spots open for the combination of Dobnak, Thorpe, and Smeltzer until Rich Hill returns from injury and Michael Pineda comes off his suspension. Even if Smeltzer gets the short end of the stick for a rotation spot, he can begin the season in AAA to stay stretched out until we need him (A strong possibility after what we've seen in 2019). Would Smeltzer's skill set play up in a bullpen role? The Twins still lack a lefty other than Taylor Rogers in the bullpen. Where would you like to see Devin Smeltzer in 2020 for our Minnesota Twins? I would also like to take this opportunity to share the link to Devin Smeltzer's ongoing fundraising for pediatric cancer. As a childhood cancer survivor himself, Devin has set up a page of awesome merchandise where the proceeds go to Katie's Krusaders, a foundation that funds expenses for pediatric cancer patients. This program made headlines a few months ago, but I wanted to make sure people are aware of the great work Devin does off the field, which can be lost in the shuffle when you're tuning into what he does on the field. https://www.500level.com/collections/devin-smeltzer-catch-cancer-looking
  9. Randy Dobnak Minnesota trusted Dobnak enough to start a playoff game at Yankee Stadium so he already might in line to get a starting rotation spot. Last week, Matthew Trueblood wrote that Dobnak might be better than people think. He pitched 58 big league innings last year and posted a 3.88 ERA with a 1.28 WHIP. It would be nice to see Dobnak more in the fifth starter role than higher in the rotation. Obviously, Michael Pineda’s suspension will play a role in that decision at the beginning of the year and it should give Dobnak the opportunity to prove he belongs in the rotation. Devin Smeltzer Smeltzer is another intriguing option after he compiled a 3.86 ERA and a 1.27 WHIP in 11 appearances (49 IP). He had an interesting start to his career as he only allowed seven earned runs in his first 27 2/3 innings and opponents were held to a .651 OPS. What was more remarkable was the fact that his fastball averaged under 90 mph, but his off-speed pitches kept batters off-balance. His final six games saw his ERA rise to nearly 6.00 as the team used him more out of the bullpen. Smeltzer seems like a player that could be coming back-and-forth between Rochester and Minneapolis. Lewis Thorpe Thorpe was once one of the team’s top prospects and he won the team’s 2018 Minor League Pitcher of the Year award. Thorpe made all but two of his appearances out of the bullpen since Taylor Rogers was the team’s lone left-handed relief pitcher. Over the last two seasons at Triple-A, Thorpe has amassed a 4.73 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and an 11.1 SO/9. Those numbers could fit in the back half of a starting rotation if he can translate that to the big leagues. It seems likely for Thorpe to get more opportunities to be a starter with the Twins in 2020, but will he have to prove himself in Rochester first? Brusdar Graterol Graterol was an exciting call-up at season’s end last year and the Twins used him entirely out of the bullpen. The plan will most definitely be for him to return to the rotation to start 2020 and this could be with Rochester. As a 20-year old, he dominated in Pensacola last season although he only made 12 appearances with the Blue Wahoos. He was limited to four Triple-A relief appearances, so the club will likely want him to build up some innings at that level. He has never pitched more than 102 innings in a season, so this year will be critical for him to stay healthy and get stretched out. Likely all the names above will have some impact on the 2020 Twins. Out of this group, who do you trust the most to be in the rotation for the majority of the season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Smeltzer was able to cruise through the minor league system in 2019 and eventually make his MLB debut thanks in part to the two characteristics mentioned in the previous paragraph. The majors proved to be another challenge in itself for Smeltzer but he was able to pitch to the tune of a 3.86 ERA and 4.58 FIP over his first 49 innings. Unfortunately for Smeltzer, however, is the fact that this upcoming offseason will likely push him out of the major leagues. The starting rotation is as barren as a bar at noon but the Twins have talked up their plans to step on the gas and acquire impact arms. Whether that happens or not will be seen in time but each starter gained will be another obstacle in the way of Smeltzer in 2020. If the Twins decided to stay in-house for a rotation spot or two then Smeltzer finds himself in trouble yet again as his 2019 performance was behind Randy Dobnak and he doesn’t have the prospect status or strikeout potential of Lewis Thorpe. Throw on top the likely inevitable move back to a starting spot for Brusdar Graterol and well, you see the obstacles in Smeltzer’s way. Where Smeltzer may find a niche is in the bullpen in a relief role. Now, I have always been a fan of teams getting creative with how they use relievers and I believe that Smeltzer has a unique opportunity to become a multi-inning threat out of the bullpen. What draws me to this is his splits when going through a lineup for the first time. As a starter, he had a 20.4 K-BB% when going through the lineup for the first time and as a reliever, he had a 17.1 K-BB% when going through the lineup for the first time. For context, a 20.4 K-BB% would put him above names like Robbie Ray and Patrick Corbin and a 17.1 K-BB% was exactly the same number José Berríos had on the year. Granted, the starters I’m comparing him to did this over all situations, but doesn’t it sound nice to say that Smeltzer was as effective as Patrick Corbin*? *Actual statisticians can still be damned He’s great when going through the lineup for the first time, which is nice, are there any downsides? Yes there are, voice in my head, thank you. Smeltzer was one of those weird pitchers who actually had reverse splits at the major league level. Lefties slashed .316/.395/.474 against him with a wOBA of .373, that isn’t good. I know just about nothing as far as pitching goes but if I had to guess what the issue was, I would narrow it down to two things: 1. His sequencing to lefties needs to be adjusted 2. He possibly needs to better develop his slider which he only threw 5.6% of the time at the major league level Either way, his ability to mow down hitters when facing them for the first time makes me believe that Smeltzer can be a powerful weapon out of the bullpen in a multi-inning “Andrew Miller” role. Rosters will expand to 26 players next season and the added man may prove to be helpful for a pitcher on the cusp like Smeltzer. If he is to be a big part of the 2020 Twins, it would not surprise me if it is in a creative role out of the bullpen. No matter what, expect some silky smooth changeups and Jack Morris to say that Smeltzer is “pitching, not throwing” ... whatever that means. Please share your thoughts in the comments below. Not registered? Click here to create an account. To stay up to date, follow Twins Daily on Twitter and Facebook. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — 3 Creative Ways for Twins to Leverage Their Spending Flexibility — Mitch Garver, Nelson Cruz Win 2019 Silver Slugger Award — 2020 Offseason Handbook Now Available for Download
  11. Again, at a minimum, the Twins will either bring back some of the starters who will become free agents (Jake Odorrizi, Michael Pineda, and Kyle Gibson) and/or sign and trade for new pitchers. But this exercise will give us an idea of the current strength, or lack thereof, of the organization’s starting pitching. The Given We’ll start with the only “lock” for the 2020 starting rotation – Jose Berrios. Hopefully, Derrek Falvey and Thad Levine will prioritize adding a starter or two in the general talent vicinity of Berrios, but there is no doubt that he will be at or near the top of the rotation. At times Berrios has looked like a true ace, especially in the first half of seasons. Even if he's more of a number two when factoring in his overall numbers (including his annual August meltdown – career 5.96 ERA), he is a nice piece and still young enough to improve. Highly Likely Randy Dobnak’s ascent from Independent ball all the way to the big leagues was one of the great stories of 2019. Ranking him this highly could be an overstatement, but we are simply looking at what the rotation would look like with no external additions. Through that lens, Dobnak is a near lock to make the rotation. Aside from his postseason start, in which expecting much from the rookie was a tall order, Dobnak was great throughout his minor league season and didn’t skip a beat after joining the big-league rotation (1.59 ERA, 2.90 FIP). Dobnak has great command and throws a sinker (36.5%), curve (27.9%), four-seamer (22.7%), and changeup (12.9%). The velocity on his four-seamer (93.4) and sinker (92.2) is respectable and he got a lot of whiffs (46.3%) on his curve. The fact that he was called upon to start Game 2 in New York says a lot about Manager Rocco Baldelli’s confidence in Dobnak. Probable This next group of young starters all debuted in 2019. We’ll start with the first who was called up, Devin Smeltzer. Besides topping Dobnak in the heart-warming backstory department by beating cancer in this youth, Smeltzer also did a fine job in his first big-league stint. Like Dobnak, Smelter wasn’t a highly-touted prospect and he was even relegated to the bullpen while in Double A last season. He was given another opportunity to start in 2019 and made the most of it. He reached high levels of success in both Triple A (3.63 ERA) and the majors (3.86 ERA), although his FIP suggests some regression (5.05 AAA, 4.58 MLB). While big in heart, Smeltzer in small in stature and lacks big velocity (89.1 mph four-seamer), however, he does have the fact that he is left-handed going for him. Like Dobnak, he seems unfazed by the big stage. The next “probable” is another southpaw, Australian Lewis Thorpe. Thorpe was a more highly-regarded prospect than both Dobnak and Smeltzer, and he seemed the most likely of the group to reach the majors this year. Thorpe has better swing and miss stuff than his previously mentioned peers, but his results in both Triple A and the MLB were a bit of a mixed bag. His ERA was high at both levels (AAA – 4.58, MLB – 6.18), but his FIP suggests better results (AAA – 3.72, MLB – 3.47) and he has pitched well in the past. Thorpe’s walk rate was high (3.25 BB/9) but he struck a lot of batters out (10.08 K/9). He has a good pitch mix (four-seamer (51.2%), slider (19.7%), curve (17.5%), and changeup (11.6%)) with his fastball averaging 91.2 mph. Thorpe hasn’t quite put it all together yet, but if he does, he could be a mid-to-back end of the rotation starter. Finally, we finish this group with the most exciting of the bunch. Brusdar Graterol debuted, as a 21-year-old September callup. Although a starter by trade, he pitched out of the bullpen as he was coming back from a shoulder condition and best served the Twins in that capacity. Graterol’s stuff is electric, as he features a sinker (49.3%), slider (30.6%), four-seamer (18.1%), and changeup (2.1%) and averaged 99.0 mph on his sinker. His slider has the potential to be devastating and if his changeup develops, he could be a front end of the rotation starter. The right-hander’s durability may determine of whether he is destined for the rotation or relief, but either way his future is bright. Outside Looking In With the hypothetical “Twins do nothing” rotation set, we turn to the next group of starters who are close, but not quite ready. Some of these pitchers are closer than others, and naturally some also offer much higher upside. Since none of them will be starting the year in this hypothetical MLB rotation, they should all get a bit more time to develop in the minors, and in reality, not all of them are expected to be MLB ready in 2020. I’ll break them down into a few different groups. High Upside, Not Quite Ready This first group consists of guys who have good stuff, good numbers, and could potentially see some big-league action in 2020. They are ranked in order of who would be most likely to be called up first and not on prospect status (in which case the order would be reversed). Baily Ober (RHP) – Ober was very good in 2019 and has been great throughout his minor league career. He has battled injuries, but his numbers have been remarkable (2019 high-A: 0.99 ERA, 26.7% K-BB%, AA: 0.38 ERA, 38.1% K-BB%). The 24-year-old has yet to pitch in Triple A, but if he continues to pitch as he has and stays healthy, he could be ready for an MLB audition. Edwar Colina (RHP) – Colina was another pitcher who flew through the system this year, starting in High A, moving up to Double A, and finishing with a brief stint in Rochester. Colina is short for a starter but throws hard and put up very good numbers (2.34 ERA high-A, 2.03 ERA AA). If he doesn’t make it as a starter, he could end up being a high-velocity, late-inning arm. Jhoan Duran (RHP) – Duran is another high-upside starter who has a chance to pitch for the Twins in 2020. He throws hard and made it all the way to Double A this year. His ERA rose from 3.23 in High A to 4.86 in Double A, but his FIP (2.76) suggests that he outperformed his ERA. Jordan Balazovic (RHP) – Balazovic may be a bit further away, as he spent 2019 pitching between Low A and High A, but he should start 2020 in Double A, and he probably ranks second only to Graterol in stuff. He pitched to a 1.61 FIP in Cedar Rapids with 14.37 K/9 and continued to pitch very well after moving up to Fort Myers (2.28 FIP, 11.84 K/9). Further Away This second group is a bit further away, but still offers a lot of upside. Cole Sands (RHP) – Sands is another guy who pitched really well this year, going all the way from Low A to a brief stint in Double A. The 2018 fifth-round pick didn’t pitch in upon joining the organization, so this was his first season in the minors. He will likely begin 2020 in Double A and could move fast. Chris Vallimont (RHP) – Vallimont came to the Twins as part of the Sergio Romo trade and was more than just a throw-in. Like Sands, Vallimont pitched very well in 2019, spending the entire season in High A, and should begin 2020 in Double A. Dakota Chalmers (RHP) – Chalmers isn’t as polished as Sands or Vallimont but he offers plenty of upside. The 23-year-old came to the Twins in exchange for Fernando Rodney and is another fire-baller. He gets a ton of strikeouts, but his future will depend on whether he can improve his control. Chalmers is currently pitching in the Arizona Fall League. Blayne Enlow (RHP) – The Twins went over slot to sign Enlow in 2017 with the 76th overall pick, and he has pitched pretty well since joining the organization. Enlow’s ERA improved upon being called up to High-A (from 4.57 to 3.38), but he regressed in groundball rate and strikeouts, only striking out 6.62 per nine. However, Enlow is still just 20-years-old so he has plenty of time to develop. The Others There are plenty of other young starters who could see time with the Twins in 2020. Kohl Stewart (RHP) was up in 2018 and 2019 but his upside is limited and he may not stay on the 40-man roster. This was more or less a lost year for Stephen Gonsalves (LHP), but if healthy he could re-emerge in 2020. Sean Poppen (RHP) also pitched for Minnesota this year and both Griffin Jax (RHP) and Charlie Barnes (LHP) made it all the way to Triple A. This group doesn’t scream upside, but neither did Dobnak or Smeltzer coming into this season. Minnesota will probably look to add a minimum of two or three arms this offseason and we needn’t worry about seeing our hypothetical rotation. However, a lot can happen throughout the year, and several of the pitchers who were mentioned will see time with the Twins in the next year or two. With the competitive window blown fully open in 2019, the front office will need to prioritize improving the team’s one glaring hole, but it is reassuring to have plenty of alluring depth in the system to be called upon if needed. Besides, Gerrit Cole may need an occasional breather.
  12. Today, we would like to announce our choices for 2019 Minnesota Twins All-Stars. Our Twins Daily minor league report writers were asked to vote for a catcher, first baseman, second baseman, third baseman, shortstop, three outfielders, a DH, a left-handed starting pitcher, a right-handed starting pitcher, a left-handed reliever and a right-handed reliever. The player at each position who received the most votes takes the spots. There were some ties, and in those cases, we each voted for the player(s) to break the ties. Read through our choices for each position. Check out how each of our writers voted. And then discuss and cast your votes as well. Let’s get started. (Note - all photos below from Seth Stohs, Twins Daily, unless noted.) The Twins Daily 2019 Minnesota Twins Minor League All Star Team Catcher: Ryan Jeffers - Ft. Myers Miracle/Pensacola Blue Wahoos Acquired: 2nd round draft pick in 2018 from UNC-Wilmington 2019 Stats: .264/.341/.421 (.762) with 16 doubles, 14 homers and 49 RBI Some were surprised when the Twins used a second-round pick in 2018 on the talented catcher. However, he has proven a lot of people wrong to this point. Known more for his bat, there are mixed reviews on his defense still. Few question his bat. He’s got a good approach at the plate, but he can provide some thump to a lineup too. He definitely likes proving people wrong. ETA - May 2021 First Base: Zander Wiel - Rochester Red Wings Acquired: 12th round pick in 2015 from Vanderbilt 2019 Stats: .254/.320/.514 (.834) with 40 doubles, 5 triples, 24 homers and 78 RBI Wiel has quietly been very productive as he has moved up the organizational ladder one level per season. He was on this team in 2016 and 2018 and was an easy choice again in 2019. He played first base most every day for the Red Wings, and he hit a ton of extra-base hits. His 69 extra-base hits led the International League. ETA - May 2020 Second Base: Travis Blankenhorn, Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Acquired: Twins 3rd round pick in 2015 out of high school in Pennsylvania 2019 Stats: .277/.321/.466 (.787) with 22 doubles, 2 triples, 19 home runs and 54 RBI. Blankenhorn returns to the Twins Daily All-Star team for the first time since 2017. After a tough 2018, he returned to Ft. Myers, but within a month, he was promoted to AA Pensacola. He hit 18 doubles and 18 homers after his promotion to the Blue Wahoos. The 23-year-old remains one of the best athletes in the organization. ETA: July 2021 Third Base: Spencer Steer - Elizabethton Twins, Cedar Rapids Kernels Acquired: Twins 3rd-round in 2019 out of the University of Oregon 2019 Stats: .280/.385/.424 (.809) with 18 doubles, 3 triples, 4 home runs and 33 RBI. The Twins drafted Steer as a shortstop, and he played there for a handful of games while with the Elizabethton Twins after the draft, but he spent most of his time playing second base and third base for the Kernels. While he struggled at times for the Kernels, he provided extra-base hits and a couple of walkoff hits for the team. ETA: June 2023 photo by Steve Buhr Shortstop: Nick Gordon - Rochester Red Wings Acquired: 1st round pick in 2014 out of high school in Florida 2019 Stats: .298/.342/.459 (.801) with 29 doubles, 3 triples, 4 homers and 40 RBI It was a frustrating 2019 season for Gordon. He missed the first month of the season with a stomach issue, and he missed the final month of the season with a knee injury. He kept a positive attitude throughout it. However, in between he put up some real solid numbers. He hit for average, got on base, and hit a lot of doubles. He returns to our All-Star team for the first time since 2016. ETA: June 2020 Outfielder: Trevor Larnach - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Acquired: Twins 1st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Oregon State 2019 Stats: .309/.384/.458 (.842) with 30 doubles, 1 triple, 13 homers and 66 RBI Larnach had a very impressive professional debut in 2019. He homered in his first big-league spring training at bat. He began the season with Ft. Myers and was promoted to Double-A Pensacola after the All-Star Game. He was the Florida State League Player of the Year and Twins Daily’s choice for Minor League Hitter of the Year. ETA: July 2020 Outfielder: Jaylin Davis - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos Acquired: Twins 24th round draft pick in 2015 out of Appalachian State 2019 Stats: .298/.391/.563 (.954) with 20 doubles, 1 triple, 25 home runs, 67 RBI. What a year for Jaylin Davis! He began in AA Pensacola, but when he moved up to AAA Rochester, he began destroying the baseball. His numbers above are remarkable, but then consider that he spent the final month of the minor league season in the Giants organization after a trade. He continued to hit AAA pitching for Sacramento before being called up to the Giants for September. Last night, his first MLB homer was a walkoff winner for San Francisco. He's been struggling a bit in the big leagues, but hey, he got to meet Willie Mays. ETA: September 2019 (with Giants) Outfielder - Brent Rooker - Rochester Red Wings Acquired: Twins 1st-round (compensation) draft pick in 2017 out of Mississippi State 2019 Stats: .281/.398/.535 (.933) with 16 doubles, 14 home runs and 47 RBI. Rooker has made this All-Star team each of his three seasons since being drafted in 2017. He got off to a slow start in Rochester in 2019, but when the calendar turned to May, Rooker took off. He cut his strikeout rate, increased his walk rate and started to hit for power. Unfortunately a late season injury ended his season prematurely. ETA: June 2020 Designated Hitter: Gabe Snyder - Cedar Rapids Kernels Acquired: Twins 21st-round draft pick in 2018 out of Wright State 2019 Stats: .259/.338/.462 (.800) with 21 doubles, 4 triples, 19 homers and 58 RBI Snyder was not even on the Kernels opening day roster when the season began. Sure, he joined the team about a week later, but he took off right away. He was a Midwest League All-Star at the midseason, and he was on the postseason All-Star roster. The burly 2018 draft pick provided power to the Kernels lineup throughout the season. ETA: July 2022 Right-Handed Starting Pitcher: Randy Dobnak - Ft. Myers Miracle, Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings Acquired: signed as undrafted free agent from Utica Unicorns (USPBL) via Alderson-Broaddus College 2019 Stats: 12-4, 2.07 ERA, 0.98 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 7.3 K/9 No doubt 2019 has been a bit of a whirlwind for Randy Dobnak. 26 months ago, the Twins signed him, shortly after he got engaged while playing in the United Shores Professional Baseball League. He spent all of the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids. He began 2019 in Ft. Myers before moving up to Pensacola, and then Rochester, and then back to Pensacola and then back to Rochester. And almost exactly two years after signing, he made his MLB debut. Frankly, he’s been impressive and he pitched six innings of one-hit ball in his final start of the season and will likely make the Twins postseason roster… after getting married on Saturday. And hey, he and his fiance are asking people who want to give gifts to them to instead donate to St. Judes. You can click here to do that. Dobnak was the Twins Daily choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. ETA: August 2019 Left-Handed Starting Pitcher: Devin Smeltzer - Pensacola Blue Wahoos, Rochester Red Wings, Minnesota Twins Acquired: Trade from Dodgers (with Luke Raley, Logan Forsythe for Brian Dozier) in July 2018. 2019 Stats: 4-5, 2.76 ERA, 1.05 WHIP, 1.9 BB/9, 9.0 K/9 When the Twins acquired Smeltzer from the Dodgers at the 2018, most Twins fans probably said, “Who?” The bespectacled southpaw was mostly known for being a childhood cancer survivor. And, he has done so much good, including his Catch Cancer Looking t-shirt campaign. However, none of that alters the fact that he had a tremendous season. He came to the Twins after the Dodgers moved him to the bullpen. He pitched the rest of last season, including in the Arizona Fall League, out of the bullpen. This spring, he returned to starting, and he returned to AA. After a month, he moved up to AAA and continued to pitch well. He made his MLB debut with six shutout innings against Milwaukee in late May and pitched well most of the time in the big leagues. He went back and forth but continued to pitch well all season. ETA: May 2019 Right-Handed Relief Pitcher: Moises Gomez - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle Acquired: signed as undrafted free agent in April 2014 from Venezuela 2019 Stats: 1-4, 10 saves, 2.91 ERA, 0.93 WHIP, 3.6 BB/9, 13.3 K/9 Gomez has been in the organization a long time, and he has had his struggles at times. He figured some things out in 2019 with the Kernels and then with the Miracle. The 22-year-old from Venezuela has been able to throw more strikes and missed a lot more bats. He has a power arm and some mix. He had a breakout season and it is continuing as he is pitching in the Arizona Fall League. ETA: August 2021 Left-Handed Relief Pitcher: Zach Neff - Cedar Rapids Kernels, Ft. Myers Miracle Acquired: Twins 31st-round pick in 2018 out of Mississippi State 2019 MiLB Stats: 6-3, 8 saves, 2.97 ERA, 1.20 WHIP, 3.0 BB/9, 11.0 K/9 After three seasons at Austin Peay, Neff transferred to Mississippi State. Following his senior season, the Twins drafted him. He began 2019 where he ended 2018, with the Cedar Rapids Kernels. He was promoted to Ft. Myers in the second half where he continued to pitch well. He showed good control, mixed his pitches well and recorded a lot of strikeouts. He is also pitching for the Salt River Rafters in the Arizona Fall League. ETA: September 2021 ------------------------------------------------------------------ PREVIOUS Twins Daily Minor League All Stars Looking Back: 2016 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Nelson Molina, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Daniel Palka, DH: Adam Brett Walker. RH SP: Fernando Romero, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Trevor Hildenberger, LH RP: Michael Theofanopoulos. Looking Back: 2017 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Mitch Garver, 1B: Jonathan Rodriguez, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: TJ White, SS: Jermaine Palacios, OF:LaMonte Wade, Zack Granite, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker. RH SP: Clark Beeker, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: John Curtiss, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. Looking Back: 2018 Twins Daily Minor League All Stars C: Taylor Grzelakowski, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Jose Miranda, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Alex Kirilloff, Jaylin Davis, Akil Baddoo, DH: Brent Rooker. RH SP: Tyler Wells, LH SP: Stephen Gonsalves, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Andrew Vasquez. ---------------------------------------------------------------- The Votes So there you have it. The fourth annual Twins Daily Minor League All Star team. Who would get your vote? Below are the votes/selections of our 2019 Twins Daily minor league writers: Seth: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Ryan Costello, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Lewin Diaz, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff. Cody: C: Wilin Rosario, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Luis Arraez, 3B: Wander Valdez, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, DH: Lewin Diaz RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Anthony Vizcaya, LH RP: Sam Clay. Tom: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Lewin Diaz, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Ryan Costello, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Jaylin Davis, Trevor Larnach, Gilberto Celestino, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Jordan Balazovic, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Cody Stashak, LH RP: Zach Neff. Ted: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Wilin Rosario, 2B: Nick Gordon, 3B: Wander Valdez, SS: Spencer Steer, OF: Trevor Larnach, Brent Rooker, Zander Wiel, DH: Travis Blankenhorn, RH SP: Randy Dobnak, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Melvi Acosta, LH RP: Sam Clay. Steve: C: Tomas Telis, 1B: Zander Wiel, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Drew Maggi, SS: Nick Gordon, OF: Trevor Larnach, Alex Kirilloff, Brent Rooker, DH: Gabe Snyder, RH SP: Jordan Balazovic, LH SP: Devin Smeltzer, RH RP: Moises Gomez, LH RP: Zach Neff. Matt: C: Ryan Jeffers, 1B: Gabe Snyder, 2B: Travis Blankenhorn, 3B: Spencer Steer, SS: Royce Lewis, OF: Jake Cave, Alejandro de Aza, Trevor Larnach, DH: Brent Rooker, RH SP: Bailey Ober, LH SP: Lewis Thorpe, RH RP: Derek Molina, LH RP: Zach Neff.
  13. Box Score Smeltzer: 5 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 70% strikes (57 of 81 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Jonathan Schoop (23), Willians Astudillo (4) Multi-Hit Games: Ian Miller (2-for-5), Willians Astudillo (4-for-5), Jonathan Schoop (2-for-5), Jake Cave (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Cave .213, Astudillo .200, Miller .198 Young Players Make an Impact Ian Miller collected both his first big league hit and RBI in the third inning to give Minnesota an early lead. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for Ronald Torreyes stealing second, marking only the fourth stolen base for Minnesota since the All-Star break. LaMonte Wade made his first professional start at first base. He hadn’t played the position since his sophomore year of college, five years ago, and was borrowing Max Kepler’s first baseman's mitt. This was an all-around interesting lineup. Bomba Squad Reaches 300 and Beyond In the top of the seventh inning, Jonathan Schoop hit his 23rd home run of the season and the 300th of the year for the Minnesota Twins. With that home run, Minnesota became the first team to ever hit 300 home runs in a season and once again passed the Yankees for the most home runs this year. In the eighth inning, Willians Astudillo made it 301 bombas when he blasted his fourth of the year over the left field fence, giving Minnesota a 10-4 lead. Winding Down With the division already clinched and the 2019 regular season coming to an end, with no chance of leapfrogging the Yankees or Astros in the A.L. standings, we can expect to see more lineups similar to today's. Enjoy watching stress-free baseball against Kansas City and get locked in for postseason baseball. There’s nothing better and we’ve earned this, Twins Territory. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1177324912676990976 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  14. The day after celebrating their first division title since 2010, the Minnesota Twins deployed a lineup consisting of six players who began the year in the minor leagues. Seven if you count the starting pitcher, Devin Smeltzer. Luckily they were playing against Detroit, whose regular lineup is still worse than the Twins Triple-A lineup.Box Score Smeltzer: 5 IP, 10 H, 3 ER, 0 BB, 4 K, 70% strikes (57 of 81 pitches) Bullpen: 4 IP, 3 H, 1 ER, 1 BB, 7 K Home Runs: Jonathan Schoop (23), Willians Astudillo (4) Multi-Hit Games: Ian Miller (2-for-5), Willians Astudillo (4-for-5), Jonathan Schoop (2-for-5), Jake Cave (2-for-5) Top 3 WPA: Cave .213, Astudillo .200, Miller .198 Young Players Make an Impact Ian Miller collected both his first big league hit and RBI in the third inning to give Minnesota an early lead. This wouldn’t have been possible if not for Ronald Torreyes stealing second, marking only the fourth stolen base for Minnesota since the All-Star break. LaMonte Wade made his first professional start at first base. He hadn’t played the position since his sophomore year of college, five years ago, and was borrowing Max Kepler’s first baseman's mitt. This was an all-around interesting lineup. Bomba Squad Reaches 300 and Beyond In the top of the seventh inning, Jonathan Schoop hit his 23rd home run of the season and the 300th of the year for the Minnesota Twins. With that home run, Minnesota became the first team to ever hit 300 home runs in a season and once again passed the Yankees for the most home runs this year. In the eighth inning, Willians Astudillo made it 301 bombas when he blasted his fourth of the year over the left field fence, giving Minnesota a 10-4 lead. Winding Down With the division already clinched and the 2019 regular season coming to an end, with no chance of leapfrogging the Yankees or Astros in the A.L. standings, we can expect to see more lineups similar to today's. Enjoy watching stress-free baseball against Kansas City and get locked in for postseason baseball. There’s nothing better and we’ve earned this, Twins Territory. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  15. Kyle Gibson W-L 13-7, 4.76 ERA, 1.40 WHIP, 151 K, 50 BB, 155.0 IP Minnesota used Kyle Gibson as a reliever on Sunday and things didn’t go exactly to plan. He entered the game after Fernando Romero had already put multiple runners on base and then Gibson surrendered a three-run home run. Only one of the earned runs was charged to Gibson, but the big hit came when he was pitching. One of the bigger issues for Gibson are the health issues he has been battling for most of the season. In spring training, he was also diagnosed with E. coli that he contracted while doing mission work during the off-season. He entered camp around 200 pounds, which is down about 15 pounds from his desired weight. Recently, he returned from the 10-day IL after missing time because of ulcerative colitis. Gibson struggles when batters get repeated looks at him in the same game, especially for the third time. His first time through the batting order he has held batters to a .248/.315/.376 (.691) slash line with a 63 to 18 strikeout to walk ratio. His third time through the line-up results in batters hitting .333/.386/.558 (.944) with eight of his 22 homers allowed coming in this situation. Martin Perez W-L 10-7, 4.89 ERA, 1.47 WHIP, 125 K, 64 BB, 152.2 IP Perez didn’t even start the year in Minnesota’s rotation, but he was a breath of fresh air when he was added to the rotation in mid-April. From April 15-May 23, he looked like one of the best pitchers in the league as he posted a 2.17 ERA and held batters to a .644 OPS. His cut fastball was a revelation and it helped him to strike out 44 batters in eight games. He looked like a candidate for the All-Star Game and it certainly seemed like Minnesota had made something out of nothing. In his 18 starts since May 23, Perez has not looked like the same pitcher. His cut fastball, that had been his bread and butter during his hot start, has not looked the same. He has allowed more than a hit per inning and he’s only managed 69 strikeouts in 94 2/3 innings. With 16 home runs allowed, he has surrendered nearly a home run per appearance. Right-handed batters have compiled an .817 OPS against him throughout the year. This isn’t good news for the Twins that will be facing the Yankees or the Astros in the ALDS and both clubs are very right-hand heavy. Only New York and Houston have higher OPS totals than Minnesota this year so there doesn’t seem like a scenario where Perez would be asked to see their line-up multiple times in the same game. Bullpen Game After Friday night’s botched rainout, the Twins were left no available starting pitchers for Saturday’s doubleheader. This left the team with a unique strategic situation and a full September roster of bullpen arms. In Game 1, the Twins were able to shut out the Indians behind three innings from Devin Smeltzer and more than one inning from Zack Littell, Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers. During Game 2, Lewis Thorpe was the lone pitcher to surrender any runs as he struggled with command throughout his appearance. Cody Stashak and Trevor May joined the shutout crew from Game 1, but the most impressive appearance was from 21-year old Brusdar Graterol. Over two innings, he was regularly sitting in triple-digits with his fastball and this pitch had more movement than any of his other big-league appearances. Add in a strong slider and he looked lights out. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1173231000123559939?s=20 During last year’s playoffs, the Milwaukee Brewers used a bold strategy as they used Wade Miley as the starter and he only pitched to one batter. Manager Craig Counsell was hoping the Dodgers would load their line-up with left-handed hitters and then the Brewers quickly switched to a left-handed pitcher. Teams are likely more aware of this type of strategy, but it is something a team could try during October, especially one like the Twins with few starting pitching options. What strategy do you think the Twins would use in Game 3 of the ALDS? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  16. The Twins defeated the Indians 2-0 in the first game of their doubleheader Saturday. Devin Smeltzer set the tone with three scoreless innings and the rest of the bullpen continued to shut out Cleveland. Jorge Polanco provided the big blow, hitting a two-run homer in the third inning.Box Score Smeltzer: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 59% strikes (29 of 49 pitches) Bullpen: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4), Arraez (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Rogers (.209), Smeltzer (.162), Littell (.135) Devin Smeltzer entered this start with 14 2/3 innings pitched against Cleveland. Smeltzer had allowed 17 hits, 13 runs and six homers, including three from Francisco Lindor. Smeltzer’s success against Lindor on Saturday was a reflection of his outing. He held the All-Star to two foul pop-outs and the Indians to just one hit and no runs in three innings. Mike Clevinger started with his 11-2 record and 2.49 FIP. Luckily for the Twins, Jorge Polanco was not fazed. His two-run shot and dazzling diving stop in the third were decisive. Hitting home runs is vital in beating dominant pitchers, and Minnesota proved that on Saturday. Clevinger struck out 10 in eight strong innings. The Twins were planning on one bullpen game Saturday, but not two. After Jake Odorizzi’s start was washed away, Minnesota knew they would need 18 innings from the second-best bullpen in the American League since Aug. 1. They did not disappoint in game one. Zack Littell made his case to be a primary set-up man down the stretch with two scoreless innings. Littell could fill in for Sam Dyson after the former Giant was shut down and will undergo evaluation on his right arm. Taylor Rogers is seemingly unavailable for tonight's game after completing the five-out save. Rogers was huge once again, and is further submitting himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. This win means Minnesota will lead the AL Central by at least 2.5 games heading into the final 13-game stretch with the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. The Twins can smell the ALDS. The magic number is 11. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  17. Box Score Smeltzer: 3 IP, 1 H, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 59% strikes (29 of 49 pitches) Bullpen: 6 IP, 4 H, 0 ER, 0 BB, 8 K Home Runs: Polanco (22) Multi-Hit Games: Kepler (2-for-4), Arraez (2-for-4) Top 3 WPA: Rogers (.209), Smeltzer (.162), Littell (.135) Devin Smeltzer entered this start with 14 2/3 innings pitched against Cleveland. Smeltzer had allowed 17 hits, 13 runs and six homers, including three from Francisco Lindor. Smeltzer’s success against Lindor on Saturday was a reflection of his outing. He held the All-Star to two foul pop-outs and the Indians to just one hit and no runs in three innings. Mike Clevinger started with his 11-2 record and 2.49 FIP. Luckily for the Twins, Jorge Polanco was not fazed. His two-run shot and dazzling diving stop in the third were decisive. Hitting home runs is vital in beating dominant pitchers, and Minnesota proved that on Saturday. Clevinger struck out 10 in eight strong innings. The Twins were planning on one bullpen game Saturday, but not two. After Jake Odorizzi’s start was washed away, Minnesota knew they would need 18 innings from the second-best bullpen in the American League since Aug. 1. They did not disappoint in game one. Zack Littell made his case to be a primary set-up man down the stretch with two scoreless innings. Littell could fill in for Sam Dyson after the former Giant was shut down and will undergo evaluation on his right arm. Taylor Rogers is seemingly unavailable for tonight's game after completing the five-out save. Rogers was huge once again, and is further submitting himself as one of the best relievers in baseball. This win means Minnesota will lead the AL Central by at least 2.5 games heading into the final 13-game stretch with the White Sox, Royals, and Tigers. The Twins can smell the ALDS. The magic number is 11. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  18. Box Score Dobnak: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 67% strikes (22 of 33 pitches) Bullpen: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: LaMonte Wade jr. (0.13), Ryne Harper (0.03), Fernando Romero (0.02) Bottom 3 WPA: Cron (-0.10), Dobnak (-0.10), Polanco (-0.09) Clevinger dominates against strange Twins lineup The Twins have been hit with the injury bug a frustrating amount of times this season, and that was on full display today. By the second inning, only three Twins players in the lineup were in the lineup on Opening Day. The Twins did what was expected with this lineup against the elite Mike Clevinger by getting just four hits over 6 1/3 innings. Max Kepler left the game after a first inning at-bat that had him feeling some upper chest pain, and Ian Miller got his first career at-bat. He struck out and was eventually replaced by Twins legend Ryan LaMarre. Through seven innings no Twin had more than one hit and a bases-loaded opportunity went to waste. The Twins did get a bit of offense off of Clevinger with this Mitch Garver home run. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1170777394866638848?s=20 Twins opener not as successful the second time around The Twins broke out their first real opener last week against Boston and saw the Dobnak/Lewis Thorpe combination lead to a win, but today did not go as well. Dobnak started again but gave up two runs, and then his replacement was Smeltzer, who also gave up two runs. With Michael Pineda suspended, Kyle Gibson on the IL, Jose Berrios struggling, and Martin Perez being a huge question mark, the opener strategy will likely be utilized by the Twins down the stretch. It may even be used in the playoffs so hopefully they can get a solid rotation or combination going to see what works. Indians bullpen finishes off the game The Twins were finally able to get Clevinger out of the game, and they were threatening to get back in to it. After loading the bases with one out, C.J. Cron and Mitch Garver both struck out swinging. As a team, the Twins are hitting just .215/.221/.318 with the bases loaded. Also, the Twins lead all of baseball in wOBA, but they are somehow last in wOBA with the bases loaded. Baseball is weird. The eighth inning was easy for the Indians as Oliver Perez set down the side 1-2-3, and then Brad Hand and his 6.00 second-half ERA came in to finish it off. Luis Arraez hit a ball 98 MPH with a .400 xBA but Greg Allen made a great catch to rob him of a double. Adrianza flew out, Wade was hit by a pitch, Schoop walked, and 2018 Twins legend Ryan LaMarre stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game ... He struck out. Twins fall to 5.5 games over the Indians The Twins basically just had to go 3-3 over these last six against the Red Sox and Indians and they did exactly that. Now moving on to six more tough games against Washington and Cleveland, the Twins should just go 3-3 again to secure the division. What is your panic level? I mean it shouldn’t be high except for the absurd amount of injuries, but let me know in the comments and I’ll discuss with you. Twins lose the series two games to one against the division rival Indians. Postgame with Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1170817142062632960 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  19. The Twins sent out one of the strangest lineups we've seen all season and eventually even Ian Miller and Ryan LaMarre worked their way in there for this Twins loss. The opener strategy was deployed again headlined by Randy Dobnak and Devin Smeltzer, but it did not go as well this second time around. The Twins lost this game and series to the Indians.Box Score Dobnak: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 K, 67% strikes (22 of 33 pitches) Bullpen: 7.0 IP, 8 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: None Multi-Hit Games: None Top 3 WPA: LaMonte Wade jr. (0.13), Ryne Harper (0.03), Fernando Romero (0.02) Bottom 3 WPA: Cron (-0.10), Dobnak (-0.10), Polanco (-0.09) Clevinger dominates against strange Twins lineup The Twins have been hit with the injury bug a frustrating amount of times this season, and that was on full display today. By the second inning, only three Twins players in the lineup were in the lineup on Opening Day. The Twins did what was expected with this lineup against the elite Mike Clevinger by getting just four hits over 6 1/3 innings. Max Kepler left the game after a first inning at-bat that had him feeling some upper chest pain, and Ian Miller got his first career at-bat. He struck out and was eventually replaced by Twins legend Ryan LaMarre. Through seven innings no Twin had more than one hit and a bases-loaded opportunity went to waste. The Twins did get a bit of offense off of Clevinger with this Mitch Garver home run. Twins opener not as successful the second time around The Twins broke out their first real opener last week against Boston and saw the Dobnak/Lewis Thorpe combination lead to a win, but today did not go as well. Dobnak started again but gave up two runs, and then his replacement was Smeltzer, who also gave up two runs. With Michael Pineda suspended, Kyle Gibson on the IL, Jose Berrios struggling, and Martin Perez being a huge question mark, the opener strategy will likely be utilized by the Twins down the stretch. It may even be used in the playoffs so hopefully they can get a solid rotation or combination going to see what works. Indians bullpen finishes off the game The Twins were finally able to get Clevinger out of the game, and they were threatening to get back in to it. After loading the bases with one out, C.J. Cron and Mitch Garver both struck out swinging. As a team, the Twins are hitting just .215/.221/.318 with the bases loaded. Also, the Twins lead all of baseball in wOBA, but they are somehow last in wOBA with the bases loaded. Baseball is weird. The eighth inning was easy for the Indians as Oliver Perez set down the side 1-2-3, and then Brad Hand and his 6.00 second-half ERA came in to finish it off. Luis Arraez hit a ball 98 MPH with a .400 xBA but Greg Allen made a great catch to rob him of a double. Adrianza flew out, Wade was hit by a pitch, Schoop walked, and 2018 Twins legend Ryan LaMarre stepped to the plate with a chance to tie the game ... He struck out. Twins fall to 5.5 games over the Indians The Twins basically just had to go 3-3 over these last six against the Red Sox and Indians and they did exactly that. Now moving on to six more tough games against Washington and Cleveland, the Twins should just go 3-3 again to secure the division. What is your panic level? I mean it shouldn’t be high except for the absurd amount of injuries, but let me know in the comments and I’ll discuss with you. Twins lose the series two games to one against the division rival Indians. Postgame with Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  20. Chronologically, the first trade was the Eduardo Escobar trade. Escobar was a beloved by Twins fans but trading him made loads of sense because he was an impending free agent and seemed unlikely to resign with the Twins. In return for Escobar the Twins received RHP Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel, and OF Ernie De La Trinidad from the Arizona Diamondbacks. At the time of the trade it seemed like a pretty good return as Duran and Maciel were intriguing prospects with some upside. After one year the trade is looking even better. Jhoan Duran has been really good since joining the Twins. After the trade, Duran pitched for Cedar Rapids for the remainder of the 2018 season and was dominant. In 36 innings Duran struck out 44 batters while walking only 10. He finished with a 2.00 ERA and .81 WHIP and opponents hit just .154 off him. It has been more of the same this year, as Durant started in High-A Fort Myers and has pitched to a 3.23 ERA with 95 strikeouts in 78 innings pitched. In the past week Duran was called up to AA Pensacola and is inching closer and closer to the big leagues. He can hit triple digits with his heater and certainly appears to be the top dog of the 2018 trade acquisitions. Duran looks like he may make it as a starter but would certainly be enticing at the back end of a bullpen as well. Duran is 21-years-old. Gabriel Maciel has also done well early in his time with the organization. The Brazilian is a center fielder who has elite speed but has yet to develop much power and is listed as 5’10” and 170 pounds. He held his own last year at Cedar Rapids and began 2019 there as well. After 45 games and an impressive .309/.395/.377 triple slash, Maciel was promoted to High-A Fort Myers. He has done well since joining the Miracle, hitting .288/.366/.360, and is an ideal leadoff hitter with his speed and ability to get on base. Maciel has stolen 20 bases so far this year and is still just 20 years old. Ernie De La Trinidad was more of a throw in and has struggled to a .228/.314/.300 triple slash between Fort Meyers and Pensacola in 2019. He actually started the year in AA Pensacola but was sent back down to Single-A where he played in 2018. He is rather small in stature, has limited upside, and is already 23-years-old. Overall this trade is looking really good as Duran has become one of Minnesota’s top pitching prospects and Maciel has done quite well while flying a bit under the radar. Either one of these two could become important trade chips and have a good chance of reaching the majors. The Twins quickly made another big trade when they traded Ryan Pressly to the Houston Astros for RHP Jorge Alcala and OF Gilberto Celestino. Pressly was having a solid 2018 for Minnesota pitching to a 3.40 ERA (2.95 FIP) and was striking out 13/9 IP. He still had one year of team control left. Pressly has become one of the best relievers in all of baseball since joining the Astros. Pressly has pitched to a 1.60 ERA (2.31 FIP) with a WHIP of .768 for Houston. He has been absolutely filthy and would obviously be really, really nice to have in the current Twins pen. Like Duran, Jorge Alcala is another guy who tops out at over 100 mph. He too joined the Twins organization as a starter but many questioned whether he would remain so. Alcala pitched exclusively as a starter since joining the Twins but very recently shifted to the pen. Alcala has pitched in AA in both seasons with Minnesota and the results have not been pretty. In 2019 he has an ERA of 6.22 with a WHIP of 1.51 but he still gets strikeouts (98 in 94 IP). Walks have always been an issue with Alcala but hopefully Alcala will be able to tone things down in the pen and reach his full potential. Alcala just turned 24. Gilberto Celestino was a big international signing for Houston in 2015. Like Maciel, Celestino is a centerfielder but has a better chance to hit for power than Maciel. After joining the Twins, Celestino spent 2018 playing short season ball in Elizabethton and has played for Cedar Rapids in 2019. Celestino’s numbers on the year are not overly impressive (.249/.324/.366) but he has shown improvement month by month and has really heated up of late (.322/.390/.500 in July). Like Maciel, Celestino will only be 20 for the remainder of the season and contains plenty of upside. Although Alcala and Celestino have plenty of upside, this is probably a trade the Twins would like to take back. Pressly would make quite a 1-2 combo with Taylor Rogers and had the front office known the Twins would be contenders in 2019 this trade likely would not have been made. Next, the Twins traded Zach Duke to the Seattle Mariners for RHP Chase De Jong and 1B/3B Ryan Costello. As a lefty specialist, Duke was unlikely to bring back much and so far the results of this return have been fairly underwhelming. Chase De Jong split time between the minors and the major league club and was not particularly effective in either. For the Twins he did okay it 2018 as he posted a 3.57 ERA in four starts but the outings were short and his FIP was 4.92. 2019 has been a complete disaster for De Jong. He pitched one inning for the big league club and gave up four runs. Unfortunately, he wasn’t much better in Rochester, as he was 0-5 with a 9.73 ERA in 45.1 innings. He was released by the Red Wings on July 12. Ryan Costello is another player without a ton of upside but he did show some “pop” by hitting 20 home runs in 2018 (16 of them came with in low-A ball with Seattle). 2019 has been a struggle for Costello. Between High-A and AA he has hit just .212/.337/.361 for an OPS of .698 with eight long balls. Costello spends the majority of his time at first base so he will need to hit to further his career. He is 23-years-old. On the same day that Duke was traded, Minnesota traded Lance Lynn to the New York Yankees for 1B Tyler Austin and RHP Luis Rijo. Minnesota’s haul in this trade seemed pretty impressive as Lynn had struggled with the Twins and was a rental player. Austin was traded again from the Twins to the San Francisco Giants early this season. His time with the Twins was brief, but he made sense as a depth piece at first base with Joe Mauer’s looming retirement. With the Twins picking up C.J. Cron off of waivers and signing Nelson Cruz to DH, there was no room for Austin in 2019. Austin hit .236/.294/.488 with 9 home runs in 35 games for the Twins last season and since joining San Francisco he has hit just .181/.278/.402 in 68 games. The second piece of this trade is looking really good so far for Minnesota. Luis Rijo finished 2018 pitching for Elizabethton in rookie ball and his numbers were impressive as he was 2-0 with a 1.27 ERA in five starts. He has built upon that success in Low-A Cedar Rapids this year with a 2.55 ERA and 1.09 WHIP in 77.2 innings. Rijo’s fastball now sits in the mid-90s and he also throws a curve and changeup. With his success this year and added velocity, Rijo is sure to continue moving up the prospect lists. Rijo is 20-years-old. On the last day of the trade deadline the Twins sent fan favorite Brian Dozier to the Los Angeles Dodgers for 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, and LHP Devin Smeltzer. Dozier was having a down year for the Twins and was also in the last year of his contract so his trade value had greatly diminished. Forsythe, who like Dozier was in the last year of his contract, was thrown in to offset Dozier’s salary and is no longer a Twin. Luke Raley is a strong and athletic outfielder who has raked since joining the organization. He hit .276/.371/.449 in AA for the remained of his 2018 season and joined AAA Rochester for the start of 2019. This year Raley was turning heads by hitting .302/.362/.516 but suffered a dislocated tendon in his left ankle that required surgery and has been out since mid-May. The Twins will need to decide whether or not to add Raley to the 40-man roster this off season as he will be eligible for the Rule-5 draft. Raley is 24-years-old. The other prospect acquired in the Dozier trade is one that Twins fans have become quite familiar with this year. Devin Smeltzer was moved to the bullpen in 2018 while in the Dodger’s minor league system and finished last season in the bullpen after joining the Twins organization as well. However, Smeltzer wanted one more chance to remain a starter and the Twins granted him his wish. In 2019, between AA and AAA Smeltzer has pitched to a 2.21 ERA and .993 WHIP with 92 Ks in 89.2 innings. Smetzer has been up with the Twins three times this season, making two starts and a total of four appearances. So far Smeltzer has done well with the big league club, pitching to a 2.91 ERA and 1.015 WHIP in 21.2 innings of work. Smeltzer is likely to see more time with the Twins this season either as a spot starter or out of the pen. Smeltzer is 23-years-old. The MLB has done away with the August waiver wire trade deadline but the Twins did make one August trade last season. The Twins traded closer Fernando Rodney to the Oakland A’s for Dakota Chalmers. Rodney had a team option for 2019, but exercising the option was far from certain due to Rodney’s age and performance (he has not been good in 2019). Dakota Chalmers is another high upside player who has struggled with control throughout his career. The former third-round pick ($1.2 million signing bonus) recently returned from Tommy John surgery and joined High-A Fort Meyers after a short rehab assignment in the Gulf Coast League. Chalmers struck out 19 batters in 13.1 innings in the GCL but also walked eight. Chalmers is more of a lottery ticket at this point, but if he is able to put it all together he could be another player with the potential to shoot up the prospect lists. Overall, the 2018 trade return looks pretty solid. Duran, Maciel, Rijo, Raley, and Smeltzer have all had great starts in their first full year in the organization and Celestino, Alcala, and Chalmers still offer plenty of upside. The Twins were able to add great depth to an already good farm system and the only significant loss was not having Ryan Pressly in the 2019 bullpen. The Twins would love to have Pressly now but they were able to gain plenty of prospect capital and depth. This makes it easier to deal prospects without decimating the farm as well as giving the Twins plenty of hope for the future. Looking back a year later, how do you think the FO did for the 2018 trade deadline? Did all the additions make the loss of Pressly worthwhile? Which of the additions has most impressed you since joining the Twins organization?
  21. Keep reading to find out how all those extra innings played out and how all your favorite prospects performed on Tuesday! TRANSACTIONS There were the following player movements in the Twins system on Tuesday: In Triple-A, 3B Brian Schales was assigned to Fort Myers and RHP Griffin Jax to Pensacola, while RHP Trevor Hildenberger was activated from the injured list. With Jax returning to the Blue Wahoos, RHP Cole Sands was placed on theseven-day injured list in the Southern League. The Twins assigned their latest free agent acquisitions to the GCL Twins in the form of their latest independent league signing, C Eric Jones, and IF Adrian Guzman. RED WINGS REPORT Buffalo 1, Rochester 4 Box Score The Red Wings were able to get a big inning late to pull out a victory on Tuesday night against the Bisons at Frontier Field. Devin Smeltzer made the start and was effective for the first six innings, picking up a quality start. He allowed just one earned run on five hits and a walk, striking out three. The run came on solo homer in the second inning. In his first appearance since being promoted to AAA, Jorge Alcala worked two scoreless frames of relief. He walked one and struck out two to pick up his first Triple-A win. Off his rehab assignment in the GCL, Trevor Hildenberger closed out the ninth for his second save with Rochester on the season while allowing only a walk. Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Red Wings offense finally broke through against the Bisons’ bullpen after top prospect and fireballer Nate Pearson’s day was finished. It wasn’t their bats however, but their patience as four hitters drew a walk before a Wilin Rosario two-RBI single gave them a 4-2 lead. Each team had just five hits on the game and all of the Red Wings knocks were singles. The teams combined to go just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base for the game. BLUE WAHOOS BITES Pensacola 4, Mississippi 2 (10 innings) Box Score Pensacola utilized the opener in this one, with Marcos Diplan handling the first two innings before “primary” (and scheduled starting) pitcher Edwar Colina entered the game. Diplan allowed one hit, walked one, and struck out four. Colina went the next three innings and was just as stingy by allowing only one hit and a walk while striking out three. Jonathan Cheshire got the next two frames and continued to hold the Braves scoreless by scattering three hits and striking out two. Mississippi was finally able to break the deadlock on the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth against Alex Phillips thanks to a two-out triple that was followed by a single, a stolen base, and another single for the 2-0 lead heading into the ninth. The Blue Wahoos answer was a leadoff walk from Caleb Hamilton, an RBI triple from Mark Contreras, and sac fly from Jimmy Kerrigan to tie the game at two. Phillips delivered a one-two-three bottom of the inning to send it to extras. Royce Lewis started the inning on second base but got himself thrown out at third on a grounder to first from Alex Kirilloff, but it would not matter as Ryan Jeffers followed with his fourth home run with the Blue Wahoos to put them out front 4-2. Andrew Vasquez closed out the victory with a scoreless inning to earn his second save on the year with Pensacola, allowing only a walk. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Charlotte 2 (13 innings) Box Score Just like their higher-level cousins, runs were hard to come by in the Florida State League for the Miracle and Stone Crabs on Tuesday, and they also required extra innings to declare a victor. Dakota Chalmers made the start for Fort Myers and was fantastic for his second turn in a row. He made it through 5 1/3 innings in this one, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks while striking out seven. In his past two outings he’s allowed just the one run on six hits and four walks in 11 1/3 innings while striking out 16. Calvin Faucher and Moises Gomez combined to hold Charlotte scoreless over the next 4 2/3 innings. Gomez allowed the only hit between them and struck out three, with Faucher punching out the first five of the six hitters he faced. Gomez also struck out himself…I think?! https://twitter.com/MiracleBaseball/status/1163989734609362944 Joe Record came on for the 11th frame and would finish the game for the Miracle to pick up his fourth win. In three innings he allowed only an unearned run on one hit and two walks while punching out four. The Miracle got their first run of the game in the fourth inning to tie it at one when Trey Cabbage singled to score Jacob Pearson. In the top of the thirteenth a single from Yeltsin Encarnacion brought in Cabbage and Andrew Bechtold before a wild pitch allowed a third run to scamper home for a 4-1 lead that would hold. Despite playing four extra innings, the teams combined for just ten hits on the game while striking out 36 times. They were 5-for-32 with runners in scoring position and left 20 men on base between them. Pearson picked up two hits, including a double, and stole a base to lead the way. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Quad Cities 9 Box Score The Kernels fell into an early hole against the River Bandits, and then dug themselves deeper and were unable to climb out against a team they’ve been battling in the Midwest League Western Division all season. Starter Kody Funderburk was roughed up for six earned runs in the outing. He allowed seven hits, walked four, and struck out three in his 4 1/3 innings. J.T. Perez didn’t fare much better in the next 1 2/3, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk, striking out two. Jose Martinez finished the final two innings for Cedar Rapids, and they finally were of the scoreless variety. He allowed two hits and struck out four. The Kernels were finally able to put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth thanks to an RBI ground out from Spencer Steer after a throwing error on a pickoff attempt put a runner on third base. In the ninth they got two more courtesy of Jared Akins 11th home run of the season to account for the final tally. Tyler Webb and Daniel Ozoria contributed two hits each to the effort. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 7, Princeton 6 (11 innings) Box Score Starter Cody Laweryson worked around some baserunners for the first three innings, but Princeton finally broke through with a run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Elizabethton answered with two runs in the top of the fifth thanks to a Matt Wallner home run, his sixth of the season, but Laweryson gave them right back with a home run allowed in the bottom half. Laweryson finished five innings, allowing the three runs on five hits and a walk along with striking out eight. The Twins tied it back up at three in the sixth when Seth Gray launched his ninth home run of the year, then the teams traded solo home runs in the eighth with Will Holland clubbing his seventh on the season to head into the ninth tied at four. After Laweryson’s exit, Owen Griffith contributed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. Tyler Beck allowed one run on three hits and a walk in his inning, striking out one. Benjamin Dum came on for the ninth and got them into extra innings, finishing two total innings. He allowed an unearned run on one hit while striking out two. Both teams were able to bring in the runner starting on second base in the tenth. In the top of the eleventh, Elizabethton got a leadoff double from Janigson Villalobos that put runners on second and third, then a throwing error allowed both of them to score for a 7-5 lead. For the bottom half the Twins summoned pitcher Denny Bentley and though he allowed the runner starting the extra frame on second to score on a sac fly, retired all three hitters he faced to close out a victory. The Twins got multiple hits from six hitters in their lineuptheir and were able to pull out the win despite going just 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Luckily for them, the Rays were also an inept 3-for-20. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Pirates 10, GCL Twins 2 Box Score Righthander Regi Grace made the start for the GCL Twins squad and after a leadoff walk led to a run scoring in the first inning, he held the Pirates scoreless for his next two frames. In the fourth a two-out rally added two runs for a 3-0 deficit and an end to his outing. In four innings he allowed three earned runs on six hits and a walk while picking up seven strikeouts. The Pirates then poured it on against the bullpen, with Niall Windeler and Matthew Swain allowing a combined seven runs (three earned) from their two innings apiece. Jose Guevara pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the game for the Twins, walking one and striking out two. The Twins lineup wasn’t able to muster much offense with six hits and five walks on the game and finishing 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. One of their runs scored on a throwing error, while the other came on a sac fly, both in the fifth inning. Third baseman Jake Hirabayashi picked up two hits in three at-bats, drew a walk, and scored a run to lead the way. Francisco Martinez contributed the sac fly, a walk, and the Twins only extra-base hit, a double, in the loss. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Calvin Faucher, Fort Myers Miracle (2.0 IP, 5 K) Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (2-for-5, go-ahead HR in 10th inning) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 1-for-4, BB, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-for-5, R #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 0-for-4, BB, 3 K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL) - Did not play (quad) #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Injured List (groin) #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - Injured List (hamstring) #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (leg contusion) #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 2-for-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, R #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) - 2-for-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did not play #17 - Akil Baddoo (Fort Myers) - Injured List (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - (W, 2.0IP, BB, 2 K) #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL) - 1-for-2, K #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 0-for-5, 3 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Buffalo @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes (1-0, 5.79 ERA) Pensacola @ Mississippi (1:05PM CST) - RHP Bailey Ober (1-0, 1.29 ERA) Charlotte @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - LHP Tyler Watson (1-5, 3.74 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (6:30PM CST) - RHP Luis Rijo (5-7, 2.63 ERA) Elizabethton @ Johnson City (5:30PM CST) - TBD GCL Orioles @ GCL Twins (11:00AM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  22. It was a long day in the Minnesota Twins' farm system on Tuesday, as three of their six affiliate’s games went into extra innings. Hits were also hard to come by overall on the night, but luckily their pitchers picked up the slack and helped them to victories in each of the contests that went extra frames. Devin Smeltzer also matched a top pitching prospect in the Blue Jays system in Triple-A, helping allow his offense to pull out a win.Keep reading to find out how all those extra innings played out and how all your favorite prospects performed on Tuesday! TRANSACTIONS There were the following player movements in the Twins system on Tuesday: In Triple-A, 3B Brian Schales was assigned to Fort Myers and RHP Griffin Jax to Pensacola, while RHP Trevor Hildenberger was activated from the injured list.With Jax returning to the Blue Wahoos, RHP Cole Sands was placed on theseven-day injured list in the Southern League.The Twins assigned their latest free agent acquisitions to the GCL Twins in the form of their latest independent league signing, C Eric Jones, and IF Adrian Guzman.RED WINGS REPORTBuffalo 1, Rochester 4 Box Score The Red Wings were able to get a big inning late to pull out a victory on Tuesday night against the Bisons at Frontier Field. Devin Smeltzer made the start and was effective for the first six innings, picking up a quality start. He allowed just one earned run on five hits and a walk, striking out three. The run came on solo homer in the second inning. In his first appearance since being promoted to AAA, Jorge Alcala worked two scoreless frames of relief. He walked one and struck out two to pick up his first Triple-A win. Off his rehab assignment in the GCL, Trevor Hildenberger closed out the ninth for his second save with Rochester on the season while allowing only a walk. Down 1-0 heading into the bottom of the eighth, the Red Wings offense finally broke through against the Bisons’ bullpen after top prospect and fireballer Nate Pearson’s day was finished. It wasn’t their bats however, but their patience as four hitters drew a walk before a Wilin Rosario two-RBI single gave them a 4-2 lead. Each team had just five hits on the game and all of the Red Wings knocks were singles. The teams combined to go just 2-for-7 with runners in scoring position and left nine men on base for the game. BLUE WAHOOS BITES Pensacola 4, Mississippi 2 (10 innings) Box Score Pensacola utilized the opener in this one, with Marcos Diplan handling the first two innings before “primary” (and scheduled starting) pitcher Edwar Colina entered the game. Diplan allowed one hit, walked one, and struck out four. Colina went the next three innings and was just as stingy by allowing only one hit and a walk while striking out three. Jonathan Cheshire got the next two frames and continued to hold the Braves scoreless by scattering three hits and striking out two. Mississippi was finally able to break the deadlock on the scoreboard in the bottom of the eighth against Alex Phillips thanks to a two-out triple that was followed by a single, a stolen base, and another single for the 2-0 lead heading into the ninth. The Blue Wahoos answer was a leadoff walk from Caleb Hamilton, an RBI triple from Mark Contreras, and sac fly from Jimmy Kerrigan to tie the game at two. Phillips delivered a one-two-three bottom of the inning to send it to extras. Royce Lewis started the inning on second base but got himself thrown out at third on a grounder to first from Alex Kirilloff, but it would not matter as Ryan Jeffers followed with his fourth home run with the Blue Wahoos to put them out front 4-2. Andrew Vasquez closed out the victory with a scoreless inning to earn his second save on the year with Pensacola, allowing only a walk. MIRACLE MATTERS Fort Myers 4, Charlotte 2 (13 innings) Box Score Just like their higher-level cousins, runs were hard to come by in the Florida State League for the Miracle and Stone Crabs on Tuesday, and they also required extra innings to declare a victor. Dakota Chalmers made the start for Fort Myers and was fantastic for his second turn in a row. He made it through 5 1/3 innings in this one, allowing just one run on three hits and three walks while striking out seven. In his past two outings he’s allowed just the one run on six hits and four walks in 11 1/3 innings while striking out 16. Calvin Faucher and Moises Gomez combined to hold Charlotte scoreless over the next 4 2/3 innings. Gomez allowed the only hit between them and struck out three, with Faucher punching out the first five of the six hitters he faced. Gomez also struck out himself…I think?! Joe Record came on for the 11th frame and would finish the game for the Miracle to pick up his fourth win. In three innings he allowed only an unearned run on one hit and two walks while punching out four. The Miracle got their first run of the game in the fourth inning to tie it at one when Trey Cabbage singled to score Jacob Pearson. In the top of the thirteenth a single from Yeltsin Encarnacion brought in Cabbage and Andrew Bechtold before a wild pitch allowed a third run to scamper home for a 4-1 lead that would hold. Despite playing four extra innings, the teams combined for just ten hits on the game while striking out 36 times. They were 5-for-32 with runners in scoring position and left 20 men on base between them. Pearson picked up two hits, including a double, and stole a base to lead the way. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 3, Quad Cities 9 Box Score The Kernels fell into an early hole against the River Bandits, and then dug themselves deeper and were unable to climb out against a team they’ve been battling in the Midwest League Western Division all season. Starter Kody Funderburk was roughed up for six earned runs in the outing. He allowed seven hits, walked four, and struck out three in his 4 1/3 innings. J.T. Perez didn’t fare much better in the next 1 2/3, giving up three runs on four hits and a walk, striking out two. Jose Martinez finished the final two innings for Cedar Rapids, and they finally were of the scoreless variety. He allowed two hits and struck out four. The Kernels were finally able to put a run on the scoreboard in the top of the eighth thanks to an RBI ground out from Spencer Steer after a throwing error on a pickoff attempt put a runner on third base. In the ninth they got two more courtesy of Jared Akins 11th home run of the season to account for the final tally. Tyler Webb and Daniel Ozoria contributed two hits each to the effort. E-TWINS E-NOTES Elizabethton 7, Princeton 6 (11 innings) Box Score Starter Cody Laweryson worked around some baserunners for the first three innings, but Princeton finally broke through with a run in the bottom of the fourth to take a 1-0 lead. Elizabethton answered with two runs in the top of the fifth thanks to a Matt Wallner home run, his sixth of the season, but Laweryson gave them right back with a home run allowed in the bottom half. Laweryson finished five innings, allowing the three runs on five hits and a walk along with striking out eight. The Twins tied it back up at three in the sixth when Seth Gray launched his ninth home run of the year, then the teams traded solo home runs in the eighth with Will Holland clubbing his seventh on the season to head into the ninth tied at four. After Laweryson’s exit, Owen Griffith contributed two scoreless innings, allowing one hit and striking out three. Tyler Beck allowed one run on three hits and a walk in his inning, striking out one. Benjamin Dum came on for the ninth and got them into extra innings, finishing two total innings. He allowed an unearned run on one hit while striking out two. Both teams were able to bring in the runner starting on second base in the tenth. In the top of the eleventh, Elizabethton got a leadoff double from Janigson Villalobos that put runners on second and third, then a throwing error allowed both of them to score for a 7-5 lead. For the bottom half the Twins summoned pitcher Denny Bentley and though he allowed the runner starting the extra frame on second to score on a sac fly, retired all three hitters he faced to close out a victory. The Twins got multiple hits from six hitters in their lineuptheir and were able to pull out the win despite going just 2-for-17 with runners in scoring position. Luckily for them, the Rays were also an inept 3-for-20. GCL TWINS TAKES GCL Pirates 10, GCL Twins 2 Box Score Righthander Regi Grace made the start for the GCL Twins squad and after a leadoff walk led to a run scoring in the first inning, he held the Pirates scoreless for his next two frames. In the fourth a two-out rally added two runs for a 3-0 deficit and an end to his outing. In four innings he allowed three earned runs on six hits and a walk while picking up seven strikeouts. The Pirates then poured it on against the bullpen, with Niall Windeler and Matthew Swain allowing a combined seven runs (three earned) from their two innings apiece. Jose Guevara pitched a scoreless ninth to finish the game for the Twins, walking one and striking out two. The Twins lineup wasn’t able to muster much offense with six hits and five walks on the game and finishing 0-for-5 with runners in scoring position. One of their runs scored on a throwing error, while the other came on a sac fly, both in the fifth inning. Third baseman Jake Hirabayashi picked up two hits in three at-bats, drew a walk, and scored a run to lead the way. Francisco Martinez contributed the sac fly, a walk, and the Twins only extra-base hit, a double, in the loss. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Calvin Faucher, Fort Myers Miracle (2.0 IP, 5 K) Hitter of the Day – Ryan Jeffers, Pensacola Blue Wahoos (2-for-5, go-ahead HR in 10th inning) PROSPECT SUMMARY Here’s a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 - Royce Lewis (Pensacola) - 1-for-4, BB, K #2 - Alex Kirilloff (Pensacola) - 1-for-5, R #3 - Brusdar Graterol (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #4 - Trevor Larnach (Pensacola) - 0-for-4, BB, 3 K #5 - Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) - Did not play #6 - Jordan Balazovic (Fort Myers) - Did not pitch #7 - Keoni Cavaco (GCL) - Did not play (quad) #8 - Brent Rooker (Rochester) - Injured List (groin) #9 - Jhoan Duran (Pensacola) - Did not pitch #10 - Blayne Enlow (Fort Myers) - Injured List (hamstring) #11 - Lewis Thorpe (Minnesota) - Did not pitch #12 - Nick Gordon (Rochester) - Injured List (leg contusion) #13 - Ryan Jeffers (Pensacola) - 2-for-5, R, HR, 2 RBI, 3 K #14 - Luis Arraez (Minnesota) - 1-for-4, R #15 - Matt Wallner (Elizabethton) - 2-for-6, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K #16 - Ben Rortvedt (Pensacola) - Did not play #17 - Akil Baddoo (Fort Myers) - Injured List (Tommy John surgery) #18 - Jorge Alcala (Rochester) - (W, 2.0IP, BB, 2 K) #19 - Misael Urbina (DSL) - 1-for-2, K #20 - Travis Blankenhorn (Pensacola) - 0-for-5, 3 K WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Buffalo @ Rochester (6:05PM CST) - LHP Charlie Barnes (1-0, 5.79 ERA) Pensacola @ Mississippi (1:05PM CST) - RHP Bailey Ober (1-0, 1.29 ERA) Charlotte @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - LHP Tyler Watson (1-5, 3.74 ERA) Cedar Rapids @ Clinton (6:30PM CST) - RHP Luis Rijo (5-7, 2.63 ERA) Elizabethton @ Johnson City (5:30PM CST) - TBD GCL Orioles @ GCL Twins (11:00AM CST) - TBD Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games! 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  23. Box Score Pineda: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 63.9% strikes (55 of 86 pitches) Bullpen (Smeltzer): 4.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Arraez (3), Sano (22), Rosario (27) Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (3-for-5), Cave (2-for-3), Gonzalez (4-for-5), Polanco (2-for-6) Top 3 WPA: Arraez (.170), Pineda (.115), Cave (.111) Twins Offense Strikes Early and Often The scouting report on right-handed pitcher Payano showed two things: 1) He has reverse splits with more success against left-handed batters, and 2) He struggles commanding the strike zone. That explains Sano batting second for the first time in his career as well as the five-run second inning where he was missing his spots badly after a quick first inning. Luis Arraez started the party with a home run, which seemed about as likely as Kenny Wu joining the Bash Brothers, what with Payano’s success against lefties. All Mighty Duck references aside, Arraez got it started again in the third with a two-out double down the right field line followed by a Marwin Gonzalez single to drive him in. After two full-count walks in the fourth, Payano’s night was over after just 3 1/3 innings although that didn’t mean much to the Twins hitters. The offense would go on to score 13 runs on 14 hits including three home runs. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1162158302727290880 Pineda Looks Good in Return to Rotation Michael Pineda’s didn’t miss a beat after suffering a triceps strain during his August 1 start against the Marlins. If you haven’t been tracking him closely Pineda has been the Twins best pitcher (in terms of fWAR) since June 1 and he looked all the part tonight. It wasn’t until the fourth inning with two outs that the Rangers were able to get their first hit and at that point they were down by 10, which definitely made things easier for Pineda. With a home run to start the inning by Willie Calhoun followed by back-to-back singles, the Rangers scored their second run of the game on Jorge Polanco’s fourth error in his last three games. After a total of five hits, two earned runs, and 30 pitches Pineda would get through the fifth and give way to Devin Smeltzer out of the Twins bullpen. Throughout the night, Pineda was pinpointing his fastball and slider to the tune of six strikeouts and just one walk. The Twins will look to stay hot tomorrow against Mike Minor who’s having the best year of his career. Meanwhile, Odorizzi will take the bump for the Twins and look to continue pitching well after he’s given up one run or less in his last three starts. Postgame With Baldelli https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1162212711033266178 Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days.
  24. The Twins offense was due. It had been over a week since the Twins put up double -digit runs, and with Pedro Payano on the mound for the Rangers, tonight's result was somewhat predictable. Michael Pineda provided five solid innings and despite a rough outing from Devin Smeltzer out of the bullpen the Twins came out on top 13-6.Box Score Pineda: 5.0 IP, 6 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 6 K, 63.9% strikes (55 of 86 pitches) Bullpen (Smeltzer): 4.0 IP, 7 H, 3 ER, 1 BB, 2 K Home Runs: Arraez (3), Sano (22), Rosario (27) Multi-Hit Games: Arraez (3-for-5), Cave (2-for-3), Gonzalez (4-for-5), Polanco (2-for-6) Top 3 WPA: Arraez (.170), Pineda (.115), Cave (.111) Twins Offense Strikes Early and Often The scouting report on right-handed pitcher Payano showed two things: 1) He has reverse splits with more success against left-handed batters, and 2) He struggles commanding the strike zone. That explains Sano batting second for the first time in his career as well as the five-run second inning where he was missing his spots badly after a quick first inning. Luis Arraez started the party with a home run, which seemed about as likely as Kenny Wu joining the Bash Brothers, what with Payano’s success against lefties. All Mighty Duck references aside, Arraez got it started again in the third with a two-out double down the right field line followed by a Marwin Gonzalez single to drive him in. After two full-count walks in the fourth, Payano’s night was over after just 3 1/3 innings although that didn’t mean much to the Twins hitters. The offense would go on to score 13 runs on 14 hits including three home runs. Pineda Looks Good in Return to Rotation Michael Pineda’s didn’t miss a beat after suffering a triceps strain during his August 1 start against the Marlins. If you haven’t been tracking him closely Pineda has been the Twins best pitcher (in terms of fWAR) since June 1 and he looked all the part tonight. It wasn’t until the fourth inning with two outs that the Rangers were able to get their first hit and at that point they were down by 10, which definitely made things easier for Pineda. With a home run to start the inning by Willie Calhoun followed by back-to-back singles, the Rangers scored their second run of the game on Jorge Polanco’s fourth error in his last three games. After a total of five hits, two earned runs, and 30 pitches Pineda would get through the fifth and give way to Devin Smeltzer out of the Twins bullpen. Throughout the night, Pineda was pinpointing his fastball and slider to the tune of six strikeouts and just one walk. The Twins will look to stay hot tomorrow against Mike Minor who’s having the best year of his career. Meanwhile, Odorizzi will take the bump for the Twins and look to continue pitching well after he’s given up one run or less in his last three starts. Postgame With Baldelli Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet Click here for a review of the number of pitches thrown by each member of the bullpen over the past five days. Click here to view the article
  25. In case you haven’t noticed, the Twins starting rotation has been a huge area of concern since August began. Jose Berrios has dropped off a bit, Jake Odorizzi and Kyle Gibson struggle with consistency and then the number five spot is a fight between Martin Perez and Devin Smeltzer with neither of them doing enough to secure a job. The most consistent and reliable starter recently is Michael Pineda, but he hit the IL as August began and since then the Twins rotation holds a 5.55 ERA, 5.16 FIP, 1.61 HR/9, and 3.94 BB/9. Ironically, the Twins lost a key starting pitcher just a couple days after they did not add a starting pitcher at the deadline. That was controversial to some, but that is for a different day. So the Twins came into August fighting for a division, needing all hands on deck, and a few key players, including Pineda, landed on the IL at the worst time. People seem to forget this, but Big Mike began the season with four excellent starts before he started to slow down in his first season back from TJ surgery. There was talk about a long term extension before fans wanted to DFA him during his bad period of starts. He was eventually placed on the IL for the first time as a sort of break/precaution to get him some rest. Since his return he had been lights out, holding a 2.95 ERA, 1.16 WHIP, 4.4 K/BB, and .662 OPS against. The funny thing is that nobody really started talking about how good he has been until the start before the most recent, his second, IL stint. Michael Pineda had quietly been putting up ace numbers since the start of June. A lot of this success has come from his ability to limit walks. He is fourth in the American League with just a 4.4 BB% so keeping guys off the bases has been key for his success. This BB% isn’t even a career high, so maybe he can get even better in that area, which would certainly be impressive. With Cleveland steamrolling through every opponent they face at like a .900 winning percentage, the Twins will need Pineda to return from his stint on the IL and get back into the role he had. It seems as if he stabilizes the rotation every fifth day with a guaranteed quality start. He actually has the second most quality starts on the Twins, trailing only Berrios, so he is definitely reliable. If the playoffs began today, Pineda would likely be the number two starter for the Twins, taking on Gerrit Cole of the Astros ... that’s scary, but it’s the truth. A playoff rotation of Berrios/Pineda/Odorizzi isn’t flashy but hopefully it could get the job done. Overall, the weight on this entire starting staff has only gotten much heavier with the Indians catching the team and no help for the starting staff being added at the deadline. The front office showed they have confidence in this group to get it done in big games this year so let’s see Big Mike step in and prove the Twins are here to stay. The Indians didn’t have to face him in the most recent series, but if they really want to take the division from the Twins then they have to beat the healthy version of the Twins. After this season Pineda will become a free agent and you should not be surprised if he returns to the Twins on a short two-year deal. He has become a solid pitcher and with the Twins having only Berrios and Perez under control, expect the team to make a noticeable effort to keep Pineda around. Before Pineda was put on the IL the second time, it seemed as if he was getting better with every start. It will be crucial for the Twins division chances if he can come back on that same wave he had been riding. On that note, I wonder what he would look like surfing... back to baseball. Keep in mind this is still his first season after TJ surgery so his innings could be limited. The Twins definitely seem to have a plan in place to keep him around for the long haul this season with scheduled breaks or IL stints for him to rest his arm so hopefully fatigue or major injury do not become concerns. He should be returning to this rotation this week so hopefully he can make the group a whole lot more reliable than they have been lately. All five starters will need to contribute if the Twins want to take the division for the first time since 2010, and I expect Michael Pineda to be leading the rotation.
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