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  1. With both the Cedar Rapids Kernels and Fort Myers Mighty Mussels dealing with a day off before resuming their championship series action at home, the St. Paul Saints were the lone team in action thanks to a Wichita Wind Surge rain out. Image courtesy of Rob Thompson, St. Paul Saints TRANSACTIONS Catcher David Banuelos placed on the 7-day IL retroactive to September 13 (concussion) SAINTS SENTINEL Louisville 5, St. Paul 1 Box Score Simeon Woods Richardson made the start tonight for the St. Paul Saints and was dominant. He worked six scoreless innings allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out four. He kept Louisville off the scoreboard. Lifted after six strong innings for reliever Drew Strotman, the Saints allowed a run after their new pitcher gave up a hit and a walk. The 7th inning Louisville single broke up the scoreless tie. Answering in the bottom of the 7th inning, Nash Knight ripped a line drive single to drive in Mark Contreras and even the score at one. Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t hold the tie and in the 8th inning, a Bats single from Cristian Santana drove in two putting the good guys behind 3-1. Louisville then added another two runs in the 9th inning and pushed the lead up to 5-1. WIND SURGE WISDOM Postponed Due to inclement weather, Wichita and Midland were postponed tonight. KERNELS NUGGETS No Game The Kernels are off tonight as they prepare for game two of the Midwest League Championship Series. They trail 1-0 and Travis Adams will start tomorrow night at home. MUSSEL MATTERS No Game The Mighty Mussels are off tonight as they prepare for game two of the Florida State League Championship Series. They trail 1-0 and Marco Raya will start tomorrow night at home. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER,1 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – Nash Knight (St. Paul) - 2-4, RBI, K PROSPECT SUMMARY We will keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER,1 BB, 4 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-3, BB THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic Wichita @ Midland (7:00PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing. View full article
  2. TRANSACTIONS Catcher David Banuelos placed on the 7-day IL retroactive to September 13 (concussion) SAINTS SENTINEL Louisville 5, St. Paul 1 Box Score Simeon Woods Richardson made the start tonight for the St. Paul Saints and was dominant. He worked six scoreless innings allowing just two hits and one walk while striking out four. He kept Louisville off the scoreboard. Lifted after six strong innings for reliever Drew Strotman, the Saints allowed a run after their new pitcher gave up a hit and a walk. The 7th inning Louisville single broke up the scoreless tie. Answering in the bottom of the 7th inning, Nash Knight ripped a line drive single to drive in Mark Contreras and even the score at one. Unfortunately, the Saints couldn’t hold the tie and in the 8th inning, a Bats single from Cristian Santana drove in two putting the good guys behind 3-1. Louisville then added another two runs in the 9th inning and pushed the lead up to 5-1. WIND SURGE WISDOM Postponed Due to inclement weather, Wichita and Midland were postponed tonight. KERNELS NUGGETS No Game The Kernels are off tonight as they prepare for game two of the Midwest League Championship Series. They trail 1-0 and Travis Adams will start tomorrow night at home. MUSSEL MATTERS No Game The Mighty Mussels are off tonight as they prepare for game two of the Florida State League Championship Series. They trail 1-0 and Marco Raya will start tomorrow night at home. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER,1 BB, 4 K Hitter of the Day – Nash Knight (St. Paul) - 2-4, RBI, K PROSPECT SUMMARY We will keep tabs on the Twins top prospects. You’ll probably read about them in the team sections, but if they aren’t there, you’ll see how they did here. Here’s a look at how the current Twins Daily Top 20 performed: #6 - Simeon Woods Richardson (St. Paul) - 6.0 IP, 2 H, 0 R, 0 ER,1 BB, 4 K #9 - Matt Wallner (St. Paul) - 0-3, BB THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Louisville @ St. Paul (7:07PM CST) - RHP Jordan Balazovic Wichita @ Midland (7:00PM CST) - RHP Brent Headrick South Bend @ Cedar Rapids (6:35PM CST) - RHP Travis Adams Dunedin @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) - RHP Marco Raya Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Wednesday’s games! It sure is exciting to have all four Twins full-season affiliates back and playing.
  3. It’s no secret that Emilio Pagán has been bad for the Minnesota Twins. The good news is that the Twins have four more than capable in-house options to replace him, should the Twins decide to move on from the man they acquired in exchange for Taylor Rogers this offseason. Emilio Pagán has not only been bad this season for the Minnesota Twins, but has been one of the worst relievers in baseball going on three seasons now. Our friend Aaron Gleeman said it best: Continuing to trot out Pagán every few days is actively harming the Minnesota Twins. He continues to harm the team and his upside is certainly not high enough to warrant the catastrophic performances we see from him on a weekly basis. Additionally, the Minnesota Twins have plenty of players just 15 minutes away from Target Field who could fill in for Pagán. There’s a great chance that these players would perform better than Pagán, and would give each of them valuable experience with an eye toward sticking in the bullpen for years to come. These four players are better options for the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen than Emilio Pagán: Jovani Moran Jovani Moran should be a familiar name for Minnesota Twins fans as he has been up with the Twins many times this season. In his time with the Twins, Moran has been more than solid, owning a 1.93 ERA in 23 1/3 innings in 2022. Moran is a left-handed pitcher who possesses a nasty changeup that can neutralize right-handers. Moran is certainly a pitcher who has a future in this Twins bullpen and the fact that Emilio Pagán is getting more play than him isn’t right. Ronny Henriquez Ronny Henriquez was acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Mitch Garver/Isaiah Kiner-Falefa swap early in the 2022 offseason. Henriquez has not been amazing for the Twins in 2022, owning a 5.90 ERA for the AAA affiliate, but he has been better as of late. In 26 innings since June 21, the right-hander owns a 3.12 ERA with a 29/8 K/BB ratio. What makes Henriquez an intriguing option for the Minnesota Twins bullpen is that he has yet to be tested in a true 1-2 inning bullpen role. Henriquez can get to the upper 90s with his fastball and his pitch repertoire might just be one that thrives in a bullpen role rather than the 4-5 inning stretches that he has been pitching with the Saints this season. Henriquez is currently on the 40-man roster with the Minnesota Twins. Evan Sisk The Minnesota Twins acquired Evan Sisk in its trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 for J.A. Happ. Sisk performed extremely well this season in Wichita and was moved up to the St. Paul Saints where he has continued his great pitching out of the bullpen. In 14 innings with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, Sisk owns a 2.57 ERA with a K/9 of 9.6. Sisk is not currently on the 40-man roster for the Twins so would need to be added if he were to be called up to the big-league club. Drew Strotman Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Nelson Cruz trade last summer, Drew Strotman struggled mightily as a starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins in 2021. Coming into 2022, the Twins opted to convert Strotman into a reliever and he continued to struggle in the early months of this season. Over the past month and a half, though, Strotman appears to have turned a corner and become somewhat of a weapon for the St. Paul Saints. Over his last 10 appearances, Strotman has a 1.32 ERA and opponents are hitting just .180 off of him. On the season, Strotman has demonstrated the ability to miss bats, boasting a K/9 in the double digits. Control can be an issue for Strotman, but when he’s able to locate his pitches, he can be really solid. Strotman is already on the 40-man roster, so no roster finagling would need to be done with a Strotman call-up. Do you agree that these options would be better for the Twins’ bullpen than Emilio Pagán? How would you rank your confidence in these names? Leave a comment below and start the conversation! View full article
  4. Emilio Pagán has not only been bad this season for the Minnesota Twins, but has been one of the worst relievers in baseball going on three seasons now. Our friend Aaron Gleeman said it best: Continuing to trot out Pagán every few days is actively harming the Minnesota Twins. He continues to harm the team and his upside is certainly not high enough to warrant the catastrophic performances we see from him on a weekly basis. Additionally, the Minnesota Twins have plenty of players just 15 minutes away from Target Field who could fill in for Pagán. There’s a great chance that these players would perform better than Pagán, and would give each of them valuable experience with an eye toward sticking in the bullpen for years to come. These four players are better options for the Minnesota Twins’ bullpen than Emilio Pagán: Jovani Moran Jovani Moran should be a familiar name for Minnesota Twins fans as he has been up with the Twins many times this season. In his time with the Twins, Moran has been more than solid, owning a 1.93 ERA in 23 1/3 innings in 2022. Moran is a left-handed pitcher who possesses a nasty changeup that can neutralize right-handers. Moran is certainly a pitcher who has a future in this Twins bullpen and the fact that Emilio Pagán is getting more play than him isn’t right. Ronny Henriquez Ronny Henriquez was acquired from the Texas Rangers in the Mitch Garver/Isaiah Kiner-Falefa swap early in the 2022 offseason. Henriquez has not been amazing for the Twins in 2022, owning a 5.90 ERA for the AAA affiliate, but he has been better as of late. In 26 innings since June 21, the right-hander owns a 3.12 ERA with a 29/8 K/BB ratio. What makes Henriquez an intriguing option for the Minnesota Twins bullpen is that he has yet to be tested in a true 1-2 inning bullpen role. Henriquez can get to the upper 90s with his fastball and his pitch repertoire might just be one that thrives in a bullpen role rather than the 4-5 inning stretches that he has been pitching with the Saints this season. Henriquez is currently on the 40-man roster with the Minnesota Twins. Evan Sisk The Minnesota Twins acquired Evan Sisk in its trade with the St. Louis Cardinals in 2021 for J.A. Happ. Sisk performed extremely well this season in Wichita and was moved up to the St. Paul Saints where he has continued his great pitching out of the bullpen. In 14 innings with the St. Paul Saints in 2022, Sisk owns a 2.57 ERA with a K/9 of 9.6. Sisk is not currently on the 40-man roster for the Twins so would need to be added if he were to be called up to the big-league club. Drew Strotman Acquired from the Tampa Bay Rays in the Nelson Cruz trade last summer, Drew Strotman struggled mightily as a starting pitcher with the Minnesota Twins in 2021. Coming into 2022, the Twins opted to convert Strotman into a reliever and he continued to struggle in the early months of this season. Over the past month and a half, though, Strotman appears to have turned a corner and become somewhat of a weapon for the St. Paul Saints. Over his last 10 appearances, Strotman has a 1.32 ERA and opponents are hitting just .180 off of him. On the season, Strotman has demonstrated the ability to miss bats, boasting a K/9 in the double digits. Control can be an issue for Strotman, but when he’s able to locate his pitches, he can be really solid. Strotman is already on the 40-man roster, so no roster finagling would need to be done with a Strotman call-up. Do you agree that these options would be better for the Twins’ bullpen than Emilio Pagán? How would you rank your confidence in these names? Leave a comment below and start the conversation!
  5. Honorable Mention Wladimir Pinto (St. Paul Saints) 6 G, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP Drew Strotman (St. Paul Saints) 6 G, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 1.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP Andrew Cabezas (Wichita) 8 G, 10.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 9 K, 0.87 ERA, 0.79 WHIP Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) 8 G, 11.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 14 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.90 WHIP Number Three: Matt Mullenbach (Cedar Rapids) 6 G, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP Mullenbach was transferred back to High-A Cedar Rapids at the beginning of July after spending most of May and all of June down in Fort Myers. He worked as a late-inning reliever for the Kernels and proved to be a useful arm at the back end of the bullpen. Old for the level at 25, Mullenbach could push for a move to Double-A if he replicates this month through August. Mullenbach was originally in the Mets system back in 2019 and joined the Minnesota organization last year. He did have a Triple-A appearance in 2021, and while these types of minor league adds generally wind up being organizational depth, there’s no reason why noteworthy outliers can’t exist. Number Two: Cody Laweryson (Wichita) 7 G, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 15 K, 0.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP Maybe a bit unfair in racking up additional innings, Laweryson did make a spot start this month for the Wind Surge. Even with the additional opportunity, he continued a very solid year. Working almost exclusively as a reliever now, Laweryson has taken a sizeable step forward from where he was in 2021. The strikeouts continue to come in bunches and he does a good job limiting walks. Minnesota selected Lawyerson in the 14th round of the 2019 draft from the University of Maine. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League for Minnesota last season and the additional challenge against heightened competition seems to have served him well. Just 23 years old, Minnesota has to be happy with how the start of his pro career has gone. Number One: Hunter McMahon (Cedar Rapids) 8 G, 14.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.64 ERA, 0.50 WHIP McMahon was promoted from Low-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids at the end of June. He responded by being lights out and finishing four games for the Kernels. Having collected six saves this season between the two levels, McMahon has shown an ability to work late in games and get big outs. His 9.3 K/9 this season is a bit lower than 2021, but he’s continued to issue virtually no free passes. The Washington Nationals took McMahon in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Now 24, McMahon joined the Twins organization in 2021 when they traded reliever Ryne Harper. He was little more than a lottery ticket, but pitching like this could certainly give him future promise for a pitcher they were going to instead lose for nothing. Congratulations to each of these relievers on a fantastic month!
  6. Starters and hitters often get the glory, but there’s been plenty of solid relief performances on the farm over the past month as well. Given a constant need for pitching help, any of these performances could translate to future opportunity. Honorable Mention Wladimir Pinto (St. Paul Saints) 6 G, 8.0 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 3 BB, 6 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.88 WHIP Drew Strotman (St. Paul Saints) 6 G, 6.2 IP, 5 H, 1 R, 3 BB, 7 K, 1.35 ERA, 1.20 WHIP Andrew Cabezas (Wichita) 8 G, 10.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 4 BB, 9 K, 0.87 ERA, 0.79 WHIP Jackson Hicks (Fort Myers) 8 G, 11.1 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 4 BB, 14 K, 1.59 ERA, 0.90 WHIP Number Three: Matt Mullenbach (Cedar Rapids) 6 G, 6.1 IP, 4 H, 0 R, 2 BB, 7 K, 0.00 ERA, 0.98 WHIP Mullenbach was transferred back to High-A Cedar Rapids at the beginning of July after spending most of May and all of June down in Fort Myers. He worked as a late-inning reliever for the Kernels and proved to be a useful arm at the back end of the bullpen. Old for the level at 25, Mullenbach could push for a move to Double-A if he replicates this month through August. Mullenbach was originally in the Mets system back in 2019 and joined the Minnesota organization last year. He did have a Triple-A appearance in 2021, and while these types of minor league adds generally wind up being organizational depth, there’s no reason why noteworthy outliers can’t exist. Number Two: Cody Laweryson (Wichita) 7 G, 16.1 IP, 13 H, 1 R, 5 BB, 15 K, 0.55 ERA, 1.10 WHIP Maybe a bit unfair in racking up additional innings, Laweryson did make a spot start this month for the Wind Surge. Even with the additional opportunity, he continued a very solid year. Working almost exclusively as a reliever now, Laweryson has taken a sizeable step forward from where he was in 2021. The strikeouts continue to come in bunches and he does a good job limiting walks. Minnesota selected Lawyerson in the 14th round of the 2019 draft from the University of Maine. He pitched in the Arizona Fall League for Minnesota last season and the additional challenge against heightened competition seems to have served him well. Just 23 years old, Minnesota has to be happy with how the start of his pro career has gone. Number One: Hunter McMahon (Cedar Rapids) 8 G, 14.0 IP, 6 H, 1 R, 1 BB, 11 K, 0.64 ERA, 0.50 WHIP McMahon was promoted from Low-A Fort Myers to High-A Cedar Rapids at the end of June. He responded by being lights out and finishing four games for the Kernels. Having collected six saves this season between the two levels, McMahon has shown an ability to work late in games and get big outs. His 9.3 K/9 this season is a bit lower than 2021, but he’s continued to issue virtually no free passes. The Washington Nationals took McMahon in the 9th round of the 2019 Major League Baseball draft. Now 24, McMahon joined the Twins organization in 2021 when they traded reliever Ryne Harper. He was little more than a lottery ticket, but pitching like this could certainly give him future promise for a pitcher they were going to instead lose for nothing. Congratulations to each of these relievers on a fantastic month! View full article
  7. TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins selected the contract of RHP Tyler Thornburg from the St. Paul Saints. RHP Hunter Wood assigned to St. Paul Saints from FCL Twins. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 5, Rochester 1 Box Score Coming into a series against former Triple-A affiliate Rochester, the St. Paul Saints were sitting with a bleak record of 24-29. Yet after five straight wins over the Red Wings, the Saints broke out the brooms for some Sunday cleaning with a 5-1 win and a series sweep over Rochester. Alex Kirilloff led the Saints with two hits, including a first-inning home run to bring the Saints to 30-29 on the year. On a full count in the first, Kirilloff crushed a ball over the right-center field wall to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. St. Paul added two more runs in the second inning thanks to an RBI double from David Banuelos (4) and an RBI single from Kirilloff. Banuelos' double scored Elliot Soto, who has served as a rock for the Saints' clubhouse this season. Twins Daily's Theo Tollefson wrote about Soto's valuable role recently, check it out! The Saints would strike again in the fifth inning. With two runners on, Jermaine Palacios tallied a two-run RBI single to score Jake Cave and Mark Contreras to give St. Paul a 5-1 lead that held to the final pitch. Starting pitcher Jake Faria (W, 1-2) was excellent for St. Paul, allowing just one run on five hits through five innings while striking out two. Following his departure, the bullpen crew of Hunter Wood, JC Ramirez, Drew Strotman, and Yennier Cano were stellar, tossing four innings of scoreless ball with a combined five strikeouts and just one hit. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 6, Wichita 1 Box Score Slated up against a Texas League foe, Wichita fell short in the series finale against Arkansas on Sunday afternoon. Despite knotting the game at one early on, the Surge left seven runners on base and succumbed to two breakout innings from the Travelers. Wichita scored their only run in the second inning thanks to an RBI single from Dennis Ortega. The Valencia, Venezuela native now has 23 RBI on the year and four hits in his last two games. Starting pitcher Blayne Enlow (L, 0-1) didn't have his best day at the office, giving up three runs (1 earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out two through 3 1/3 innings. Enlow has struggled with an elbow injury and Sunday was his first start since May 31. While the results weren't there, expect Enlow to ease his way back into his dominant self in weeks to come. The Wind Surge are still in excellent shape despite the loss. Wichita sits at 32-23 and atop the North division of the Texas League with a game-and-a-half lead over Tulsa. Arkansas (31-26) is just half a game behind Tulsa. The Wind Surge will head to Tulsa to take on the Drillers in a six-game series starting on Tuesday. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 9 South Bend 3 Box Score Like Tom Cruise in a fighter jet, the Cedar Rapids Kernels hit early, often, and everywhere on Sunday afternoon in a dominant victory over South Bend. Combined with a lights-out performance from Cade Povich on the bump, the Kernels used four extra-base hits, three singles, and eight walks to pummel the Cubs and move to 37-20 on the 2022 season. Cedar Rapids got the party started with a pair of two-run innings in the opening two frames. With Aaron Sabato on first, Seth Gray launched a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead in the first. Gray's homer was his sixth of the season and second of the series against the Cubs. Just an inning later the Kernels mounted a two-out rally to double their lead. Will Holland kicked off the campaign by lacing his seventh double of the year to left field. In the next at-bat, Dylan Neuse punched a single to the left side of the infield that allowed Holland to score thanks to a fielding error. The Cubbies would pay for the error. On the very next pitch, Alerick Soularie doubled to right field and scored Neuse all the way from first base. The former Tennessee Volunteer now has four doubles on the season and three in the month of June. The red-hot Kernels weren't done yet. With the bases loaded and one out, Christian Encarnacion-Strand put the nail in the coffin with a grand slam over the left-field wall to give Cedar Rapids an 8-1 lead. Incredible would be an understatement to describe Encarnacion-Strand's 2022 campaign. The Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect now has 13 homers on the young season and is slashing .298/.389/.769 in the month of June. It wouldn't be shocking to see the 22-year-old get the call up to Wichita sooner rather than later! And while the bats will certainly get the storyline, Kernels starting pitcher Cade Povich was stellar on the afternoon, earning his fourth win of the season. Povich allowed just one run on four hits through six innings while striking out five batters. Walking just two batters, Sunday's matinee masterpiece was the Nebraska Cornhusker's longest outing of the season. MUSSEL MATTERS Game One Daytona 11, Fort Myers 4 Box Score Despite a pair of second run innings the Mussels dropped the first of two games against the Tortugas on Sunday afternoon in the Sunshine State. Trailing 2-0 in the second with a runner on first, Nelson Roberto launched his first homer of the year over the left-center field wall to put Fort Myers on the board and tie the game at two. The Mussels would score on the long ball again in the fourth thanks to a solo shot from Carlos Aguiar (1) that would bring Fort Myers within one run. The Tortugas broke it open in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs followed by two more in the fifth and one more in the sixth. After a lengthy weather delay, the Mussels hoped to wane the deficit but were only able to plate one more run thanks to an RBI walk from Rubel Cespedes in the top of the seventh. Fort Myers starter Pierson Ohl (L, 2-3) gave up five runs (three earned runs) on five hits while striking out four through three innings. Anthony Escobar and Samuel Perez were the only two Fort Myers pitchers that didn't give up a run, each pitching 2/3 of an inning. Game Two Daytona 3, Fort Myers 1 Box Score After a blowout loss in game one, the Mussels played the Tortugas tight in game two of the Sunday afternoon doubleheader. Unfortunately the Fort Myers bats' ran dry and a solid pitching outing from Mike Paredes wasn't enough to propel the Mussels to a win. Starting pitcher Mike Paredes lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two. Paredes is now 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA on the year. Relievers Jackson Hicks and Malik Barrington pitched well enough to keep Fort Myers in the game but the Mussels' offense failed to prevail. Despite tallying only four hits in the game, Fort Myers left a whopping 12 runners on base and were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. The team's lone run came on an RBI single in the fifth inning from LaRon Smith that scored Rubel Cespedes. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Christian Encarnacion Strand (Cedar Rapids)- 1-for-4, HR (Grand Slam), 4 RBI Pitcher of the Day: Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids)- W, 6 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 5 K PROSPECT SUMMARY Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins' Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Sunday. #10 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 0-for-5, 2 BB, K #15 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 0-for-3, K #16 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-for-3, BB, 2 K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, Grand Slam, 4 RBI
  8. Some stellar offensive performances combined with a pair of dominant pitching outings highlighted the action from across the farm on Sunday. Get the latest updates from the Twins minor league system! TRANSACTIONS Minnesota Twins selected the contract of RHP Tyler Thornburg from the St. Paul Saints. RHP Hunter Wood assigned to St. Paul Saints from FCL Twins. SAINTS SENTINEL St. Paul 5, Rochester 1 Box Score Coming into a series against former Triple-A affiliate Rochester, the St. Paul Saints were sitting with a bleak record of 24-29. Yet after five straight wins over the Red Wings, the Saints broke out the brooms for some Sunday cleaning with a 5-1 win and a series sweep over Rochester. Alex Kirilloff led the Saints with two hits, including a first-inning home run to bring the Saints to 30-29 on the year. On a full count in the first, Kirilloff crushed a ball over the right-center field wall to give the Saints a 1-0 lead. St. Paul added two more runs in the second inning thanks to an RBI double from David Banuelos (4) and an RBI single from Kirilloff. Banuelos' double scored Elliot Soto, who has served as a rock for the Saints' clubhouse this season. Twins Daily's Theo Tollefson wrote about Soto's valuable role recently, check it out! The Saints would strike again in the fifth inning. With two runners on, Jermaine Palacios tallied a two-run RBI single to score Jake Cave and Mark Contreras to give St. Paul a 5-1 lead that held to the final pitch. Starting pitcher Jake Faria (W, 1-2) was excellent for St. Paul, allowing just one run on five hits through five innings while striking out two. Following his departure, the bullpen crew of Hunter Wood, JC Ramirez, Drew Strotman, and Yennier Cano were stellar, tossing four innings of scoreless ball with a combined five strikeouts and just one hit. WIND SURGE WISDOM Arkansas 6, Wichita 1 Box Score Slated up against a Texas League foe, Wichita fell short in the series finale against Arkansas on Sunday afternoon. Despite knotting the game at one early on, the Surge left seven runners on base and succumbed to two breakout innings from the Travelers. Wichita scored their only run in the second inning thanks to an RBI single from Dennis Ortega. The Valencia, Venezuela native now has 23 RBI on the year and four hits in his last two games. Starting pitcher Blayne Enlow (L, 0-1) didn't have his best day at the office, giving up three runs (1 earned) on four hits and two walks while striking out two through 3 1/3 innings. Enlow has struggled with an elbow injury and Sunday was his first start since May 31. While the results weren't there, expect Enlow to ease his way back into his dominant self in weeks to come. The Wind Surge are still in excellent shape despite the loss. Wichita sits at 32-23 and atop the North division of the Texas League with a game-and-a-half lead over Tulsa. Arkansas (31-26) is just half a game behind Tulsa. The Wind Surge will head to Tulsa to take on the Drillers in a six-game series starting on Tuesday. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 9 South Bend 3 Box Score Like Tom Cruise in a fighter jet, the Cedar Rapids Kernels hit early, often, and everywhere on Sunday afternoon in a dominant victory over South Bend. Combined with a lights-out performance from Cade Povich on the bump, the Kernels used four extra-base hits, three singles, and eight walks to pummel the Cubs and move to 37-20 on the 2022 season. Cedar Rapids got the party started with a pair of two-run innings in the opening two frames. With Aaron Sabato on first, Seth Gray launched a 1-1 pitch over the left-field wall to give the Kernels a 2-0 lead in the first. Gray's homer was his sixth of the season and second of the series against the Cubs. Just an inning later the Kernels mounted a two-out rally to double their lead. Will Holland kicked off the campaign by lacing his seventh double of the year to left field. In the next at-bat, Dylan Neuse punched a single to the left side of the infield that allowed Holland to score thanks to a fielding error. The Cubbies would pay for the error. On the very next pitch, Alerick Soularie doubled to right field and scored Neuse all the way from first base. The former Tennessee Volunteer now has four doubles on the season and three in the month of June. The red-hot Kernels weren't done yet. With the bases loaded and one out, Christian Encarnacion-Strand put the nail in the coffin with a grand slam over the left-field wall to give Cedar Rapids an 8-1 lead. Incredible would be an understatement to describe Encarnacion-Strand's 2022 campaign. The Twins Daily Top 20 Prospect now has 13 homers on the young season and is slashing .298/.389/.769 in the month of June. It wouldn't be shocking to see the 22-year-old get the call up to Wichita sooner rather than later! And while the bats will certainly get the storyline, Kernels starting pitcher Cade Povich was stellar on the afternoon, earning his fourth win of the season. Povich allowed just one run on four hits through six innings while striking out five batters. Walking just two batters, Sunday's matinee masterpiece was the Nebraska Cornhusker's longest outing of the season. MUSSEL MATTERS Game One Daytona 11, Fort Myers 4 Box Score Despite a pair of second run innings the Mussels dropped the first of two games against the Tortugas on Sunday afternoon in the Sunshine State. Trailing 2-0 in the second with a runner on first, Nelson Roberto launched his first homer of the year over the left-center field wall to put Fort Myers on the board and tie the game at two. The Mussels would score on the long ball again in the fourth thanks to a solo shot from Carlos Aguiar (1) that would bring Fort Myers within one run. The Tortugas broke it open in the bottom of the fourth, scoring three runs followed by two more in the fifth and one more in the sixth. After a lengthy weather delay, the Mussels hoped to wane the deficit but were only able to plate one more run thanks to an RBI walk from Rubel Cespedes in the top of the seventh. Fort Myers starter Pierson Ohl (L, 2-3) gave up five runs (three earned runs) on five hits while striking out four through three innings. Anthony Escobar and Samuel Perez were the only two Fort Myers pitchers that didn't give up a run, each pitching 2/3 of an inning. Game Two Daytona 3, Fort Myers 1 Box Score After a blowout loss in game one, the Mussels played the Tortugas tight in game two of the Sunday afternoon doubleheader. Unfortunately the Fort Myers bats' ran dry and a solid pitching outing from Mike Paredes wasn't enough to propel the Mussels to a win. Starting pitcher Mike Paredes lasted 3 2/3 innings, giving up two runs on seven hits and two walks while striking out two. Paredes is now 2-2 with a 2.57 ERA on the year. Relievers Jackson Hicks and Malik Barrington pitched well enough to keep Fort Myers in the game but the Mussels' offense failed to prevail. Despite tallying only four hits in the game, Fort Myers left a whopping 12 runners on base and were 1-for-6 with runners in scoring position. The team's lone run came on an RBI single in the fifth inning from LaRon Smith that scored Rubel Cespedes. TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Hitter of the Day: Christian Encarnacion Strand (Cedar Rapids)- 1-for-4, HR (Grand Slam), 4 RBI Pitcher of the Day: Cade Povich (Cedar Rapids)- W, 6 IP, 4 H, R, ER, 2 BB, 5 K PROSPECT SUMMARY Check out the Prospect Tracker for much more on the new Twins' Top 20 prospects after seeing how they did on Sunday. #10 - Noah Miller (Fort Myers) - 0-for-5, 2 BB, K #15 - Matt Wallner (Wichita) - 0-for-3, K #16 - Edouard Julien (Wichita) - 1-for-3, BB, 2 K #18 - Christian Encarnacion-Strand (Cedar Rapids) - 1-for-4, Grand Slam, 4 RBI View full article
  9. Minnesota expected Randy Dobnak to provide rotational depth this season, but his lingering finger issues led him to the 60-day IL. What will be the roster repercussions from Dobnak’s injury? Minnesota already decided to move Griffin Jax and Lewis Thorpe to bullpen roles, which makes sense when looking at their pitching flaws. Last season, Jax was excellent the first time through the order, and he may be a strong candidate to serve in an opener role. Thorpe is out of minor league options, and the team needs to see if he can find success as a reliever. Either pitcher may shift to starting games as part of bullpen games in Dobnak’s absence. Signing a different back-end starting pitcher is also on the table. Rumors surrounding Johnny Cueto coming to the Twins circulated earlier in the week, and he’d be a natural Dobnak replacement. Cueto is coming off a 2021 season where he posted a 4.08 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 114 2/3 innings, but he hadn’t pitched more than 65 innings in three prior seasons. Cueto doesn’t seem to offer a ton of upside, and maybe the Twins are rethinking their back of the rotation options. Another option is to allow other young pitchers to start. Many of the team’s top pitching prospects missed time last season due to injury. Pitchers will be on an innings limit, so when and where do the Twins want those innings? If players start in the minors, those are innings that don’t help the 2022 Twins. Someone like Jhoan Duran can help bolster the team’s bullpen, but Minnesota may not be ready to shift him from starting. Jordan Balazovic is on the 40-man roster, and he pitched nearly 100 innings at Double-A last season. As a 23-year-old, would the Twins start him in the big-league rotation? Nothing stops the team from moving him up and down from Triple-A throughout the 2022 season. Other prospects on the 40-man roster include Josh Winder and Drew Strotman. Winder, like Balazovic, is projected to debut in 2022, but he dealt with a right shoulder impingement that limited him to 72 innings. Winder may be ahead of Balazovic on the depth chart because he made multiple Triple-A starts and is a couple of years older. Last summer, Strotman was acquired as part of the Nelson Cruz trade, and scouts view him as big-league ready. This year, he will start games for the Twins, and Dobnak’s injury may push him into the team’s Opening Day plans. Veteran players like Jharel Cotton, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Dereck Rodriguez have been brought in this winter to provide organizational depth. Cotton projects to be part of the bullpen, but he can bounce back in 2022, including shifting back to being a starter. Gonzalez started 18 games for the Rockies last season but posted a 6.46 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. There’s a chance that leaving Coors Field will help some of his numbers. Rodriguez also provides rotational depth as he looks to get back to the pitcher he was in 2018. After signing his extension last winter, Dobnak’s career has undoubtedly followed a challenging path. Minnesota tried him as a reliever last season, and it didn’t work. From there, his finger injury started bothering him, and he is still dealing with the issue. Over the next three seasons, he is guaranteed $7.75 million, so Minnesota wants him to solve his finger issue and get back on the field. What path do you think the Twins will follow because of Dobnak’s injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. Minnesota already decided to move Griffin Jax and Lewis Thorpe to bullpen roles, which makes sense when looking at their pitching flaws. Last season, Jax was excellent the first time through the order, and he may be a strong candidate to serve in an opener role. Thorpe is out of minor league options, and the team needs to see if he can find success as a reliever. Either pitcher may shift to starting games as part of bullpen games in Dobnak’s absence. Signing a different back-end starting pitcher is also on the table. Rumors surrounding Johnny Cueto coming to the Twins circulated earlier in the week, and he’d be a natural Dobnak replacement. Cueto is coming off a 2021 season where he posted a 4.08 ERA and a 1.37 WHIP in 114 2/3 innings, but he hadn’t pitched more than 65 innings in three prior seasons. Cueto doesn’t seem to offer a ton of upside, and maybe the Twins are rethinking their back of the rotation options. Another option is to allow other young pitchers to start. Many of the team’s top pitching prospects missed time last season due to injury. Pitchers will be on an innings limit, so when and where do the Twins want those innings? If players start in the minors, those are innings that don’t help the 2022 Twins. Someone like Jhoan Duran can help bolster the team’s bullpen, but Minnesota may not be ready to shift him from starting. Jordan Balazovic is on the 40-man roster, and he pitched nearly 100 innings at Double-A last season. As a 23-year-old, would the Twins start him in the big-league rotation? Nothing stops the team from moving him up and down from Triple-A throughout the 2022 season. Other prospects on the 40-man roster include Josh Winder and Drew Strotman. Winder, like Balazovic, is projected to debut in 2022, but he dealt with a right shoulder impingement that limited him to 72 innings. Winder may be ahead of Balazovic on the depth chart because he made multiple Triple-A starts and is a couple of years older. Last summer, Strotman was acquired as part of the Nelson Cruz trade, and scouts view him as big-league ready. This year, he will start games for the Twins, and Dobnak’s injury may push him into the team’s Opening Day plans. Veteran players like Jharel Cotton, Chi Chi Gonzalez, and Dereck Rodriguez have been brought in this winter to provide organizational depth. Cotton projects to be part of the bullpen, but he can bounce back in 2022, including shifting back to being a starter. Gonzalez started 18 games for the Rockies last season but posted a 6.46 ERA with a 1.53 WHIP. There’s a chance that leaving Coors Field will help some of his numbers. Rodriguez also provides rotational depth as he looks to get back to the pitcher he was in 2018. After signing his extension last winter, Dobnak’s career has undoubtedly followed a challenging path. Minnesota tried him as a reliever last season, and it didn’t work. From there, his finger injury started bothering him, and he is still dealing with the issue. Over the next three seasons, he is guaranteed $7.75 million, so Minnesota wants him to solve his finger issue and get back on the field. What path do you think the Twins will follow because of Dobnak’s injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. The Twins have optioned pitchers Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Drew Strotman to Triple-A St. Paul. Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow were also optioned, but he was optioned to Double-A Wichita. It is the second options for Balazovic and Strotman. It is the first options for the others. The spring training roster currently has 53 players on it, including 19 non-roster players. There are still 24 pitchers (7 non-roster), five catchers (2 non-roster), 15 infielders (7 non-roster), and nine outfielders (3 non-roster). The regular-season big-league roster will include 26 players, although it is likely that there will be expanded rosters for a little while when the season begins due to the shortened spring training. It is normal for players on the 40-man roster who will not start the season in the big leagues to be optioned with the first cuts. There are several reasons for that. One might be that if a player gets hurt in big-league spring training, they would go on the big-league Injured List. In this case, these pitchers are likely to be starters in the minor leagues, and they need to be stretched out. They simply won't get the innings in big-league camp to do that. Enlow will start the season on the Wind Surge Injured List, but don't be surprised if he's back to pitching in games by May. He had Tommy John surgery last May. Josh Winder is on the mound today for the Twins in their spring game against the Red Sox. It is possible he is optioned either after the game or in the coming days. If he is not, that tells us he is being considered for an Opening Day job. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY Latest Twins coverage from our writers Recent Twins discussion in our forums Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email
  12. Everything is happening more quickly than normal in spring training, and roster decisions is a part of that. Allowing for them to be able to get more innings and get stretched out to start the minor league season, six pitchers have been optioned. The Twins have optioned pitchers Jordan Balazovic, Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Drew Strotman to Triple-A St. Paul. Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow were also optioned, but he was optioned to Double-A Wichita. It is the second options for Balazovic and Strotman. It is the first options for the others. The spring training roster currently has 53 players on it, including 19 non-roster players. There are still 24 pitchers (7 non-roster), five catchers (2 non-roster), 15 infielders (7 non-roster), and nine outfielders (3 non-roster). The regular-season big-league roster will include 26 players, although it is likely that there will be expanded rosters for a little while when the season begins due to the shortened spring training. It is normal for players on the 40-man roster who will not start the season in the big leagues to be optioned with the first cuts. There are several reasons for that. One might be that if a player gets hurt in big-league spring training, they would go on the big-league Injured List. In this case, these pitchers are likely to be starters in the minor leagues, and they need to be stretched out. They simply won't get the innings in big-league camp to do that. Enlow will start the season on the Wind Surge Injured List, but don't be surprised if he's back to pitching in games by May. He had Tommy John surgery last May. Josh Winder is on the mound today for the Twins in their spring game against the Red Sox. It is possible he is optioned either after the game or in the coming days. If he is not, that tells us he is being considered for an Opening Day job. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY Latest Twins coverage from our writers Recent Twins discussion in our forums Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook, or email View full article
  13. Looking beyond the top 20 illustrates the depth of the organization. These Twins Daily rankings are comprised of the votes of 11 Twins Daily writers who covered the Twins farm system in 2021. The voters followed the system nearly daily over the past season. Many watched a lot of video. Some attended some games at the Twins affiliates. In 2019, Luis Arraez and Jordan Balazovic appeared in this list. Two years ago, names such as Randy Dobnak, LaMonte Wade, Jorge Alcala, Bailey Ober were outside the Top 20. (maybe I shouldn’t mention that Akil Baddoo was a 2020 Honorable Mention.) Last year’s Honorable Mention group contains several players who have moved up the rankings Many of the prospects you’ll read about today could be, and maybe should be, in the Top 20 in one year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of these players are Top 10 prospects one year from now. Before we start, the following players are no longer “prospects” according to Baseball-Reference: Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Ben Rortvedt, Nick Gordon, Bailey Ober, and Ralph Garza, Jr. FIRST-ROUND FEATURES If anyone in the top 20 is unable to fulfill their duties, well, the #21 prospect is 2020 first-round pick Aaron Sabato. The first baseman struggled in his professional debut. We have reviewed and replayed his statistics, the low batting average, lots of strikeouts. But, he also has a very good eye at the plate, and his final couple weeks in Ft. Myers and during his time in Cedar Rapids, Sabato reminded us of the power potential that he possesses. Likewise, 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco falls out of the top 20. While he still has immense tools, speed, power, and arm strength, he continued to struggle at the plate in Ft. Myers, especially as the season went along. He also fought some injuries including a concussion. Cavaco was one of the Twins prospects who was most hurt by the lost 2020 season. He remained young for the Low-A level and certainly had less pro experience than most. But often, talent and athleticism work out and Cavaco remains very intriguing. ALREADY DEBUTED Jovani Moran was drafted in 2015 and in 2021, he finally made his MLB debut in September. The lefty has put up huge strikeout numbers throughout his minor league career. He dominated at Double-A and then Triple-A before spending the final month with the Twins. He could be a big part of the Twins bullpen for years to come. ON THE 40 ALREADY A couple of very hard-throwing right-handers on the 40-man roster fell just outside the Top 20. Drew Strotman came to the Twins from Tampa in the Nelson Cruz trade. He’s got a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that can touch 98 mph. He struggled in his time with the Saints, but he should help the Twins in 2022. Even after Tommy John surgery, the Rays had added Strotman to the 40-man roster. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins from the Marlins in the Lewin Diaz trade in 2019. Another starter with a big fastball, Vallimont sits 94 to 96 and touched 97. He was very inconsistent in 2021, especially with his control. Too many walks. However, he was a strikeout machine and his stuff is so good the Twins put him on their 40-man roster after the season. ARM STRENGTH The 2019 Twins draft included a lot of college pitchers, and several of them have made an impression already, even with the lost 2020 season. Casey Legumina didn’t pitch after that 2019 draft as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, so 2021 was his professional debut. Sawyer Gipson-Long began the season with a rough start, but he proved durable and unlike many, he became an innings eater. At the same time, he too recorded a lot of strikeouts. WE HARDLY KNOW YE We already mentioned Aaron Sabato above, but all four of the Twins 2020 draft picks received votes, but not enough to get into the Top 20. Frankly, we just haven’t seen enough of them yet for various reasons. Alerick Soularie put up big offensive numbers at Tennessee before the Twins made him their second round pick. Unfortunately in spring training, he had a foot injury, so he didn’t get into games until the second half of the season. Marco Raya was the team’s 4th round pick in 2020, and with a minor injury, he did not pitch at all in 2021 either, so he is yet to make his professional debut. Yet, reports out of instructional league mentioned that he was hitting 97 mph with his fastball. When he was drafted, it was for things like control, a strong pitch mix. To add velocity to that is really exciting. Kala’i Rosario was their fifth and final pick of the 2020 draft. He was one of the most powerful prep bats in that draft. His pro debut came in the FCL and he was named the Twins Daily Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year. Of course, we also didn’t see a lot of the 2021 draft picks, but a few of them have already made an impression. No 2021 draft pick made a bigger impression than fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He hit in 21 of 22 games played and posted a .391/.424/.598 (1.022) with four homers. Third-round pick Cade Povich also was impressive. The southpaw from Nebraska pitched in just 10 innings in his pro debut, but he had 19 strikeouts in that time. And again, reports from the instructional league noted that he was hitting 97 mph fairly consistently. Yasser Mercedes received a $1.7 million signing bonus from the Twins just a month ago. An athletic outfielder, Mercedes is just 16-years-old but obviously an intriguing talent. In 2018, Misael Urbina received a $2.75 million signing bonus from the Twins as a 16-year-old international free agent. A week into the 2021 season, Urbina moved up to the Mighty Mussels. He was one of the younger players in the league and struggled, hitting under-.200 and yet he held his own and showed a good plate approach. Yunior Severino came on strong after he was promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. After hitting .245 in 63 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .321 in 35 games for the Kernels. Combined, he was second in the organization with 29 doubles. As I look at this group of Honorable Mentions, it is incredibly exciting. There are five or six pitchers that are very intriguing in this list with big velocity and the ability to get strikeouts. There are a few hitters that have big power potential. As I said in the beginning, many of these players could move up the rankings in 2022. That is a lot of talent, and those are guys who rank outside of the Twins Daily Top 20 prospects. Check back over the next two weeks to see who our 2021 Top 20 Twins Prospects are.
  14. Over the next couple of weeks, Twins Daily will be counting down our Top 20 Minnesota Twins Prospects. We start today by discussing several Honorable Mentions, guys who received votes but finished outside the Top 20. Today’s list of players illustrates the depth that is developing in the organization. Looking beyond the top 20 illustrates the depth of the organization. These Twins Daily rankings are comprised of the votes of 11 Twins Daily writers who covered the Twins farm system in 2021. The voters followed the system nearly daily over the past season. Many watched a lot of video. Some attended some games at the Twins affiliates. In 2019, Luis Arraez and Jordan Balazovic appeared in this list. Two years ago, names such as Randy Dobnak, LaMonte Wade, Jorge Alcala, Bailey Ober were outside the Top 20. (maybe I shouldn’t mention that Akil Baddoo was a 2020 Honorable Mention.) Last year’s Honorable Mention group contains several players who have moved up the rankings Many of the prospects you’ll read about today could be, and maybe should be, in the Top 20 in one year. In fact, I wouldn’t be surprised if a couple of these players are Top 10 prospects one year from now. Before we start, the following players are no longer “prospects” according to Baseball-Reference: Alex Kirilloff, Ryan Jeffers, Brent Rooker, Trevor Larnach, Ben Rortvedt, Nick Gordon, Bailey Ober, and Ralph Garza, Jr. FIRST-ROUND FEATURES If anyone in the top 20 is unable to fulfill their duties, well, the #21 prospect is 2020 first-round pick Aaron Sabato. The first baseman struggled in his professional debut. We have reviewed and replayed his statistics, the low batting average, lots of strikeouts. But, he also has a very good eye at the plate, and his final couple weeks in Ft. Myers and during his time in Cedar Rapids, Sabato reminded us of the power potential that he possesses. Likewise, 2019 first-round pick Keoni Cavaco falls out of the top 20. While he still has immense tools, speed, power, and arm strength, he continued to struggle at the plate in Ft. Myers, especially as the season went along. He also fought some injuries including a concussion. Cavaco was one of the Twins prospects who was most hurt by the lost 2020 season. He remained young for the Low-A level and certainly had less pro experience than most. But often, talent and athleticism work out and Cavaco remains very intriguing. ALREADY DEBUTED Jovani Moran was drafted in 2015 and in 2021, he finally made his MLB debut in September. The lefty has put up huge strikeout numbers throughout his minor league career. He dominated at Double-A and then Triple-A before spending the final month with the Twins. He could be a big part of the Twins bullpen for years to come. ON THE 40 ALREADY A couple of very hard-throwing right-handers on the 40-man roster fell just outside the Top 20. Drew Strotman came to the Twins from Tampa in the Nelson Cruz trade. He’s got a four-pitch mix that includes a fastball that can touch 98 mph. He struggled in his time with the Saints, but he should help the Twins in 2022. Even after Tommy John surgery, the Rays had added Strotman to the 40-man roster. Chris Vallimont came to the Twins from the Marlins in the Lewin Diaz trade in 2019. Another starter with a big fastball, Vallimont sits 94 to 96 and touched 97. He was very inconsistent in 2021, especially with his control. Too many walks. However, he was a strikeout machine and his stuff is so good the Twins put him on their 40-man roster after the season. ARM STRENGTH The 2019 Twins draft included a lot of college pitchers, and several of them have made an impression already, even with the lost 2020 season. Casey Legumina didn’t pitch after that 2019 draft as he was recovering from Tommy John surgery, so 2021 was his professional debut. Sawyer Gipson-Long began the season with a rough start, but he proved durable and unlike many, he became an innings eater. At the same time, he too recorded a lot of strikeouts. WE HARDLY KNOW YE We already mentioned Aaron Sabato above, but all four of the Twins 2020 draft picks received votes, but not enough to get into the Top 20. Frankly, we just haven’t seen enough of them yet for various reasons. Alerick Soularie put up big offensive numbers at Tennessee before the Twins made him their second round pick. Unfortunately in spring training, he had a foot injury, so he didn’t get into games until the second half of the season. Marco Raya was the team’s 4th round pick in 2020, and with a minor injury, he did not pitch at all in 2021 either, so he is yet to make his professional debut. Yet, reports out of instructional league mentioned that he was hitting 97 mph with his fastball. When he was drafted, it was for things like control, a strong pitch mix. To add velocity to that is really exciting. Kala’i Rosario was their fifth and final pick of the 2020 draft. He was one of the most powerful prep bats in that draft. His pro debut came in the FCL and he was named the Twins Daily Short-Season Minor League Hitter of the Year. Of course, we also didn’t see a lot of the 2021 draft picks, but a few of them have already made an impression. No 2021 draft pick made a bigger impression than fourth-round pick Christian Encarnacion-Strand. He hit in 21 of 22 games played and posted a .391/.424/.598 (1.022) with four homers. Third-round pick Cade Povich also was impressive. The southpaw from Nebraska pitched in just 10 innings in his pro debut, but he had 19 strikeouts in that time. And again, reports from the instructional league noted that he was hitting 97 mph fairly consistently. Yasser Mercedes received a $1.7 million signing bonus from the Twins just a month ago. An athletic outfielder, Mercedes is just 16-years-old but obviously an intriguing talent. In 2018, Misael Urbina received a $2.75 million signing bonus from the Twins as a 16-year-old international free agent. A week into the 2021 season, Urbina moved up to the Mighty Mussels. He was one of the younger players in the league and struggled, hitting under-.200 and yet he held his own and showed a good plate approach. Yunior Severino came on strong after he was promoted from Ft. Myers to Cedar Rapids. After hitting .245 in 63 games with Ft. Myers, he hit .321 in 35 games for the Kernels. Combined, he was second in the organization with 29 doubles. As I look at this group of Honorable Mentions, it is incredibly exciting. There are five or six pitchers that are very intriguing in this list with big velocity and the ability to get strikeouts. There are a few hitters that have big power potential. As I said in the beginning, many of these players could move up the rankings in 2022. That is a lot of talent, and those are guys who rank outside of the Twins Daily Top 20 prospects. Check back over the next two weeks to see who our 2021 Top 20 Twins Prospects are. View full article
  15. If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. The Twins have an exciting and deep group of pitching prospects close to the majors. Who could we see first in 2022? If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  17. It's hard to fathom that former AL Central staple Zack Greinke will be entering his 19th season in Major League Baseball in the 2022 season. At 38, the crafty veteran still has gas left in the tank and could prove to be a valuable asset for a Twins rotation that is flooded with youth. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically. View full article
  18. Sports fanatics classify the term 'journeyman' as someone who has spent an arm and a leg in the league bouncing between teams with adequate success but nothing special. Zack Greinke crosses off a few of those checkmarks; he isn't exactly a spring chicken anymore and the eephus-touting free agent has played for six teams throughout the course of his MLB career. For the lack of success part? Not so much. A six time all star with a Cy Young award (has also finished top ten in voting three times) and four gold gloves, Greinke has maintained a level of consistency that is rare for veteran pitchers who've long surpassed their peak years. The hitting-loving, burrito connoisseur finished last season in Houston with an 11-6 record and 4.16 ERA before electing free agency. That steeps above his career ERA of 3.41 but through the lens of "he's 37 and battled a variety of injuries," it's still impressive. His 29 starts in 2021 are on par with the high 20's-low 30's range that cemented his 'glory days' in Kansas City. Greinke may not have the flashy appeal of other names on the free-agent market like Carlos Rodon and Clayton Kershaw. Yet in addition to his consistency, Greinke's value to the Twins could extend far beyond metrics on the mound. It's a move that coincides with previous organizational patterns and one that could lay the foundation in a young Twins rotation. Aged like Fine Wine As expected, one of the biggest rebuttals to signing Greinke is his age, lack of strikeouts, and low velocity. All of these are valid concerns; Greinke's 120 strikeouts and 6.3 strikeouts per nine innings in 2021 were the lowest number in his career (in a full season). The late 30's have presented him a somewhat high-density of minor injuries in the past few years, including a neck injury in 2019 and shoulder and abdominal injuries in 2021. None of those injuries landed him on anything longer than the 10-day Injured List; pretty impressive. Minus the 2006 season when he prioritized his mental health, Greinke has pitched close to a full season throughout the entirety of his career. There are a couple of things that contribute to his longevity; Greinke knows what works for him and what doesn't. While many pitchers toss out the '”I pitch 100% all the time," he doesn't. He knows what works for and what doesn't in terms of maximizing his value and health. Take this 2014 article from Yahoo! Sports as an example; Greinke admits that he has become more selective with his slider due to the strain it previously presented to his elbow. The epitome of work smarter, not harder, Greinke's pitch arsenal is a testament to his lengthy career. According to Baseball Savant, 67% of his pitches in 2021 consisted of fastballs (averaging at 89 MPH) and changeups (averaging at 86 MPH). That means that less than a third of his pitches are curveballs and sliders, two pitches that tend to shred the arm. And no, fans won't be shouting "throw 'em the heater, Zacky!" when he's on the bump, they never have. That doesn't matter when a pitcher hits his spots. Greinke only walked 36 batters in 2021, scoring him in the 95th percentile for walks across Major League Baseball. The 'ground out/pop up out' brand of pitcher has been a constant for the Twins over the years. Yet few have nailed the craft to a T as consistently and accurately as Greinke has. Old Bull Among Young Calves With the absences of José Berríos (traded to Blue Jays) and Kenta Maeda (Tommy John Surgery), the Twins starting rotation is faced with crossroads of uncertainty. Michael Pineda is expected to return in 2022 but is a free agent and has drawn interest from some of his previous teams. A few things are certain; offseason addition Dylan Bundy will play a role in the rotation and young bucks Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan will have ample opportunities to soak their feet in the pond of Major League pitching. Scraps and appetizers of the meal are there, but the entrée is missing; a well-seasoned veteran who has experienced success throughout his career yet has endured experiences that have shaped him as a pitcher and potential mentor for young, undeveloped talent. Greinke certainly has his quirks, we all do. Yet it's tough to imagine Greinke not being an excellent mentor for young pitchers like Ober and Ryan. His career has encountered trades, free agency, winning teams, abysmal teams, and everything in between. Frankly, he's seen the game of baseball from all different angles and perspectives. Ryan and Ober come to the Twins from very different paths; Ober was drafted by the organization in 2017 and developed as 'in-house' talent whereas Ryan came to the Twins last season via the Nelson Cruz alongside Drew Strotman. And while Ober has a bit more experience under his belt than Ryan, a guy like Greinke could prove valuable to help weather the mountains and valleys that come with the territory of being a young MLB Pitcher. To top it off, Greinke's arsenal parallels Ober and Ryan to an extent. Both youngsters rely heavily on a fastball in the low 90's and have untapped potential with their respective off-speed pitches. Not the First Rodeo It's no secret that the Twins have developed a reputation for signing and trading for high-quality players who may be past their prime but haven't hit E on the tank yet. The previous regime did it with names like Jim Thome and Ervin Santana and the current leadership continued the pattern with Maeda, and most notably, Nelson Cruz. It's become a way of life for the Twins, a mid-market team that frankly doesn't have the 'street cred' of Los Angeles, New York, or even Chicago. The latter doesn't mention names like C.J. Cron or Logan Morrison, veteran acquisitions that perhaps didn't come to fruition the way that the front office would have liked. Zack Greinke isn't Logan Morrison though. The only 'eye sore' season in his decorated career was almost two decades ago and his progression only elevated following his time off in 2006. Just a few years later, the Royals' ace was a Cy Young winner. Another appeal? Given his age, Greinke is likely to be in the $12-15 million range (estimation by Twins Daily's Nick Nelson and others); those are numbers that the Twins can work with. Given the Buxton extension and the fact that the Twins play in the AL Central (as opposed to a division like the AL East or NL West with two-plus legit contenders), the focus of going all-in and forgoing a rebuild is a legitimate (and almost expected) possibility. Greinke's familiarity with the Central and the division's ballparks, playing styles, etc. is only gravy on top. The cry for starting pitching has resounded loudly throughout Twins Territory during this long and dark offseason. Don't be surprised if the organization alleviates those cries by making a move on a pitching who could change the outlook of the pitching rotation drastically.
  19. Drew Strotman is truly a renaissance man; professional baseball player, cinema enthusiast, and Friends connoisseur are just a few phrases to describe the 6'3 righty that joined the Twins as a part of the midseason Nelson Cruz trade last year. Strotman spent the back end of the summer with the St. Paul Saints where he started 12 games and compiled a 3-3 record through 54 innings. Prior to the trade, the Sunnyville, California native dominated for the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of Tampa Bay), posting a 7-2 record and 3.39 ERA on the season. WATCH TWINS SPOTLIGHT WITH DREW STROTMAN Raised in The Bay on McCovey Cove homers and Barry Zito's curveball, Strotman is certain to be an asset for the Twins organization in 2022. It's no secret that the team's rotation and pitching duties are blanketed with uncertainty given the absence of José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, and company. Yet if there's anyone who has learned to embrace uncertainty and adversity, it's Strotman. Unlike many top prospects, he wasn't a childhood prodigy; he only played two years of varsity baseball in high school and didn't get looks from typical 'blue blood' college baseball programs. He ended up at St. Mary's (CA), the school that plays Gonzaga in basketball as he describes it. Yet clout and rankings don't determine success; hard work and the willingness to learn do. Whether it's with the Saints or the parent club, Strotman will have a prime opportunity to showcase his talents to Twins Territory in 2022. A well-versed young man who gives off the 'I'd like to have a beer with this guy' vibe, spending an hour to watch Seth's conversation with Drew is well worth your time. And while the uncertainty of the 2022 season looms, here are four takeaways from Drew's conversation that will spur your offseason itch for baseball and hopefully prompt some excitement about the talented prospect. 1. Flying under the Radar As mentioned, Strotman wasn't a a top-tier high school prospect. He would watch Barry Zito in high school and chat with his father about how he'll never be able to throw that fast (and Zito was NOT a flamethrower). Needless to say, things have changed. Never the 'top' player on his team, Strotman was surrounded by a strong pitching fraternity at St. Mary's, including names like Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin. And while scouts often came to watch bigger names, Strotman's dominance out of the bullpen began to draw eyes; enough eyes to earn him a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft. 2. The Nelson Cruz Trade Being part of a trade that involves a potential hall of famer is a unique situation to be in. Strotman goes in depth about the experience and the emotions while chatting with Seth. "I wasn't pitching that day so I was at the end of the dugout rail talking to some people. It was the first inning and one of my coaches came up and just said, 'Hey, you've been traded.'" Described as an out-of-body experience, Strotman does appreciate the circumstances of the trade given the caliber the Twins have played at in recent years. "I remember thinking, this is a contending team, they're going to return to a high level in the next couple of years and I hope to be a part of that. It's a land of opportunity with a team that has a solid base. (The trade) wasn't just a player dump." 3. Similarities between the Twins and Rays While the trade presented it's challenges, Strotman was surprised and impressed with the overlap between the Twins and Rays. Both organizations have strong developmental programs and prioritize cutting-edge analytics and data analysis. That gave Strotman a boost of confidence in terms of learning and moving forward in a new organization. An accounting major at St. Mary's, Drew appreciates the attention to detail when it comes to analytics in the Twins organization. The fact that so much overlaps with what he learned in Tampa gave him faith in the systems and practices being used by the Twins staff. That's something that can't be taken for granted when switching organizations. While the Twins and Rays are known for being on the front end, many teams still hone on the 'art of the game' much more than modern analytics. Strotman appreciates the balance that he's found in both organizations. Strotman's Arsenal From a kid who never thought he'd throw harder than Barry Zito, Strotman has come a long way. His fastball was clocked in the high 90's last year at CHS Field and has become a weapon for the emerging star. In addition to the heater, Strotman relies on his 'dip sinker,' comparing it to the pitch that Twins staple Tyler Duffey utilizes. Strotman also uses his curveball but is really honing in on improving his changeup in the offseason. The pitch had moments of brilliance last year but was inconsistent at times. Drew hopes to make this pitch a constant as he aims for a 'true mix' of pitches in 2022. Extra Innings Strotman was teammates with Royce Lewis, Jovani Moran, Ben Rortvedt and other Twins in the Arizona Fall League in 2019. Amidst the pandemic and shutdown, Drew took to Zoom to complete his college degree in Accounting! Despite having Tommy John Surgery between the 2018-19 seasons, Strotman feels healthy as ever and is thankful to overcome the mental hump following the surgery in addition to the physical side. Strotman started his own TV series review blog during the 2020 shutdown in order to stay out of the Florida heat. You can find it at BingeWorthy. A lifelong learner, Drew has become near fluent in Spanish and is currently working on learning Japanese. Tune in TONIGHT at 6pm CST for a new episode of Twins Spotlight featuring Twins Minor League Picher of the Year Louie Varland and his brother Gus who pitches in the Dodgers organization!
  20. Twins Daily's Seth Stohs spent an hour chatting with top pitching prospect Drew Strotman in the most recent episode of Twins Spotlight. Here's what you need to know about Strotman and his promising future. Drew Strotman is truly a renaissance man; professional baseball player, cinema enthusiast, and Friends connoisseur are just a few phrases to describe the 6'3 righty that joined the Twins as a part of the midseason Nelson Cruz trade last year. Strotman spent the back end of the summer with the St. Paul Saints where he started 12 games and compiled a 3-3 record through 54 innings. Prior to the trade, the Sunnyville, California native dominated for the Durham Bulls (Triple-A affiliate of Tampa Bay), posting a 7-2 record and 3.39 ERA on the season. WATCH TWINS SPOTLIGHT WITH DREW STROTMAN Raised in The Bay on McCovey Cove homers and Barry Zito's curveball, Strotman is certain to be an asset for the Twins organization in 2022. It's no secret that the team's rotation and pitching duties are blanketed with uncertainty given the absence of José Berríos, Kenta Maeda, and company. Yet if there's anyone who has learned to embrace uncertainty and adversity, it's Strotman. Unlike many top prospects, he wasn't a childhood prodigy; he only played two years of varsity baseball in high school and didn't get looks from typical 'blue blood' college baseball programs. He ended up at St. Mary's (CA), the school that plays Gonzaga in basketball as he describes it. Yet clout and rankings don't determine success; hard work and the willingness to learn do. Whether it's with the Saints or the parent club, Strotman will have a prime opportunity to showcase his talents to Twins Territory in 2022. A well-versed young man who gives off the 'I'd like to have a beer with this guy' vibe, spending an hour to watch Seth's conversation with Drew is well worth your time. And while the uncertainty of the 2022 season looms, here are four takeaways from Drew's conversation that will spur your offseason itch for baseball and hopefully prompt some excitement about the talented prospect. 1. Flying under the Radar As mentioned, Strotman wasn't a a top-tier high school prospect. He would watch Barry Zito in high school and chat with his father about how he'll never be able to throw that fast (and Zito was NOT a flamethrower). Needless to say, things have changed. Never the 'top' player on his team, Strotman was surrounded by a strong pitching fraternity at St. Mary's, including names like Corbin Burnes and Tony Gonsolin. And while scouts often came to watch bigger names, Strotman's dominance out of the bullpen began to draw eyes; enough eyes to earn him a 4th round pick in the 2017 draft. 2. The Nelson Cruz Trade Being part of a trade that involves a potential hall of famer is a unique situation to be in. Strotman goes in depth about the experience and the emotions while chatting with Seth. "I wasn't pitching that day so I was at the end of the dugout rail talking to some people. It was the first inning and one of my coaches came up and just said, 'Hey, you've been traded.'" Described as an out-of-body experience, Strotman does appreciate the circumstances of the trade given the caliber the Twins have played at in recent years. "I remember thinking, this is a contending team, they're going to return to a high level in the next couple of years and I hope to be a part of that. It's a land of opportunity with a team that has a solid base. (The trade) wasn't just a player dump." 3. Similarities between the Twins and Rays While the trade presented it's challenges, Strotman was surprised and impressed with the overlap between the Twins and Rays. Both organizations have strong developmental programs and prioritize cutting-edge analytics and data analysis. That gave Strotman a boost of confidence in terms of learning and moving forward in a new organization. An accounting major at St. Mary's, Drew appreciates the attention to detail when it comes to analytics in the Twins organization. The fact that so much overlaps with what he learned in Tampa gave him faith in the systems and practices being used by the Twins staff. That's something that can't be taken for granted when switching organizations. While the Twins and Rays are known for being on the front end, many teams still hone on the 'art of the game' much more than modern analytics. Strotman appreciates the balance that he's found in both organizations. Strotman's Arsenal From a kid who never thought he'd throw harder than Barry Zito, Strotman has come a long way. His fastball was clocked in the high 90's last year at CHS Field and has become a weapon for the emerging star. In addition to the heater, Strotman relies on his 'dip sinker,' comparing it to the pitch that Twins staple Tyler Duffey utilizes. Strotman also uses his curveball but is really honing in on improving his changeup in the offseason. The pitch had moments of brilliance last year but was inconsistent at times. Drew hopes to make this pitch a constant as he aims for a 'true mix' of pitches in 2022. Extra Innings Strotman was teammates with Royce Lewis, Jovani Moran, Ben Rortvedt and other Twins in the Arizona Fall League in 2019. Amidst the pandemic and shutdown, Drew took to Zoom to complete his college degree in Accounting! Despite having Tommy John Surgery between the 2018-19 seasons, Strotman feels healthy as ever and is thankful to overcome the mental hump following the surgery in addition to the physical side. Strotman started his own TV series review blog during the 2020 shutdown in order to stay out of the Florida heat. You can find it at BingeWorthy. A lifelong learner, Drew has become near fluent in Spanish and is currently working on learning Japanese. Tune in TONIGHT at 6pm CST for a new episode of Twins Spotlight featuring Twins Minor League Picher of the Year Louie Varland and his brother Gus who pitches in the Dodgers organization! View full article
  21. Seth sits down with RHP Drew Strotman, acquired last July from the Tampa Bay Rays that sent Nelson Cruz to Tampa. A big righty with a live arm and electric stuff, Strotman could play a significant role in the 2022 Twins bullpen. View full video
  22. Seth sits down with RHP Drew Strotman, acquired last July from the Tampa Bay Rays that sent Nelson Cruz to Tampa. A big righty with a live arm and electric stuff, Strotman could play a significant role in the 2022 Twins bullpen.
  23. As we continue to countdown the top Minnesota Twins pitching prospects, we have five pitchers with high ceilings and some question marks. When looking at starting pitchers, you would like to see a consistent third or fourth pitch. There are injuries and rehab. It's not easy to get to the big leagues as a pitcher, but I believe all five of these pitchers can be big leaguers. In today’s list of five Twins pitching prospects, you’ve got five pitchers that have big potential, high ceilings, but also may have a question mark or two. That may be the need to add a third (or fourth) pitch, gain better control or command, or return from injury and continue to improve. #15 - RHP Drew Strotman 2021 STATS: 3-3, 7.33 ERA, 12/12 G/GS, 1.76 WHIP, 42/30 K/BB, 54.0 IP Drew Strotman was the Rays fourth-round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary’s College (California). He had Tommy John surgery in June 2018. He returned to the mound with nine games and 24 innings. He got some extra time playing with Twins prospects in the Arizona Fall League after the season. The Rays added him to the 40-man roster after the season, but he didn’t pitch in a game in 2020. In 2021, he had been 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA for Triple-A Durham. Then in late July, he came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in the trade for Nelson Cruz. He struggled with the Saints. Overall on the season, he threw 112 1/3 innings> He struck out 104 but walked 63 batters. Obviously after Tommy John, he will need to regain control and command, but the velocity is certainly back. He was sitting in the mid-90s with the Saints and touched 99 mph with the fastball. He has secondary pitches that can be really good at times. He will be 25 throughout the 2022 season. If he can find control, he has a chance to be a big-league starter. But with his fastball and a good slider, he could be a big bullpen arm for a long time. #14 - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long 2021 STATS: 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 20/19 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 134/27 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins drafted Sawyer Gipson-Long in the 6th round of the 2019 draft out of Mercer University in his home state of Georgia.He made six starts that summer in Elizabethton. After the missed 2020 season, the Twins had him start with the Mighty Mussels. He made 13 starts and went 5-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. He ended the season with six starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. And went 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA. Overall, he worked 97 innings. He walked just 27 and struck out 134 batters (12.4 K/9). Gipson-Long looks the part of a big-league pitcher, standing tall and strong. He’s got a really good fastball and as you can see, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. Like all pitchers, there are areas he can keep improving upon and the big thing may be consistency with his secondary pitches. But if you’re looking for a breakout pitcher in the Twins system for 2022, just-turned-24-year-old Gipson-Long just might be it. #13 - RHP Cole Sands 2021 STATS: 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 19/18 G/GS, 1.17 WHIP, 96/35 K/BB, 80.1 IP In November, Cole Sands was added to the Twins 40-man roster, and it was likely an easy decision. In 19 games (18 starts) for Double-A Wichita, Sands was really good when he was on the mound. He has arguably the best curveball in the organization and his fastball is in the low-90s, touching 94-95 mph. Unfortunately, he missed time a couple of times on the Injured List for short stints. The 24-year-old spent three seasons playing in his hometown, for Florida State, before the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He made his professional debut in 2019 and pitched at Ft. Myers, Cedar Rapids and Double-A Pensacola. He didn’t pitch in 2020. #12 - RHP Louie Varland 2021 STATS: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 20/18 G/GS, 1.09 WHIP, 142/30 K/BB, 103.0 IP Louie Varland, a North St. Paul High School grad, chose to join his older brother Gus at Concordia University in St. Paul. The two were on the team for two seasons before Gus was drafted by the A’s in 2018. A year later, Louie was the 15th round pick of the Twins. He made three appearances for Elizabethton that season and then did not pitch in 2020. So while most Twins that don’t follow Twins Daily didn’t know about him before the season, he had a monster breakout season in 2021. He pitched in ten games for the Mighty Mussels and went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. He moved up to Cedar Rapids in the second half and was 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 103 innings, he struck out 142 batters (12.4 K/9) and walked just 30. He was the easy choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Varland made a name for himself last offseason when video of him hitting 100 mph on the radar gun surfaced on Twitter. In games, he generally sat between 94 and 96 mph with the fastball. He also has a slider that at times can be really, really sharp. The pitch that will determine his future is the changeup. At times this year, it was really good. I mean, look at his numbers. He was on all year, but that is his third pitch and one he will continue to develop. The next challenge for Varland will be Double-A in 2022. He will be 24-years-old throughout the season. #11 - RHP Blayne Enlow 2021 STATS: 1-1, 1.84 ERA, 3/3 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 23/6 K/BB, 14.2 IP Blayne Enlow has been in the Twins organization for a long-time already. He was the Twins third-round draft pick in 2017 out of high school in Louisiana. The Twins were able to meet his signing bonus request, and he gave up his scholarship to LSU. He slowly worked up the system, ending the 2019 season at High-A Ft. Myers. That is where he began the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. He made three starts for the Kernels and was throwing hard and missing a lot of bats. In those games, he worked 14 2/3 innings and struck out 23 batters. Unfortunately, in a between-starts bullpen session, he didn’t feel right. In June, he had Tommy John surgery. After some time off, he has been rehabbing in Ft. Myers. The Twins had a tough decision, but chose to add him to the 40-man roster because of his upside. Unfortunately, when the lockdown started, he was no longer able to work at the Twins complex or talk with people with the Twins. He has been working in Arizona and hopes to be ready for the start of the season. The Twins will be patient with such a talent. When healthy, Enlow was pitching in the mid-90s, having added velocity in the lost-2020 season. He’s always been known for his spin and throws both a curveball and a slider. He also had a much-improved changeup. Just as important, he is in a good frame of mind and has full confidence. In summary, this is a really exciting group of pitchers. They fit into the mold of this front office. These guys can spin the ball. Four of the five were drafted out of college. Each of them has had a big increase in velocity. And, each of them has a real chance to pitch in the big leagues. Feel free to discuss these pitchers and ask questions below. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 View full article
  24. In today’s list of five Twins pitching prospects, you’ve got five pitchers that have big potential, high ceilings, but also may have a question mark or two. That may be the need to add a third (or fourth) pitch, gain better control or command, or return from injury and continue to improve. #15 - RHP Drew Strotman 2021 STATS: 3-3, 7.33 ERA, 12/12 G/GS, 1.76 WHIP, 42/30 K/BB, 54.0 IP Drew Strotman was the Rays fourth-round pick in 2017 out of St. Mary’s College (California). He had Tommy John surgery in June 2018. He returned to the mound with nine games and 24 innings. He got some extra time playing with Twins prospects in the Arizona Fall League after the season. The Rays added him to the 40-man roster after the season, but he didn’t pitch in a game in 2020. In 2021, he had been 7-2 with a 3.39 ERA for Triple-A Durham. Then in late July, he came to the Twins with Joe Ryan in the trade for Nelson Cruz. He struggled with the Saints. Overall on the season, he threw 112 1/3 innings> He struck out 104 but walked 63 batters. Obviously after Tommy John, he will need to regain control and command, but the velocity is certainly back. He was sitting in the mid-90s with the Saints and touched 99 mph with the fastball. He has secondary pitches that can be really good at times. He will be 25 throughout the 2022 season. If he can find control, he has a chance to be a big-league starter. But with his fastball and a good slider, he could be a big bullpen arm for a long time. #14 - RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long 2021 STATS: 8-8, 4.55 ERA, 20/19 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 134/27 K/BB, 97.0 IP The Twins drafted Sawyer Gipson-Long in the 6th round of the 2019 draft out of Mercer University in his home state of Georgia.He made six starts that summer in Elizabethton. After the missed 2020 season, the Twins had him start with the Mighty Mussels. He made 13 starts and went 5-5 with a 4.54 ERA in 67 1/3 innings. He ended the season with six starts for the Cedar Rapids Kernels. And went 3-3 with a 4.55 ERA. Overall, he worked 97 innings. He walked just 27 and struck out 134 batters (12.4 K/9). Gipson-Long looks the part of a big-league pitcher, standing tall and strong. He’s got a really good fastball and as you can see, he has the ability to miss a lot of bats. Like all pitchers, there are areas he can keep improving upon and the big thing may be consistency with his secondary pitches. But if you’re looking for a breakout pitcher in the Twins system for 2022, just-turned-24-year-old Gipson-Long just might be it. #13 - RHP Cole Sands 2021 STATS: 4-2, 2.46 ERA, 19/18 G/GS, 1.17 WHIP, 96/35 K/BB, 80.1 IP In November, Cole Sands was added to the Twins 40-man roster, and it was likely an easy decision. In 19 games (18 starts) for Double-A Wichita, Sands was really good when he was on the mound. He has arguably the best curveball in the organization and his fastball is in the low-90s, touching 94-95 mph. Unfortunately, he missed time a couple of times on the Injured List for short stints. The 24-year-old spent three seasons playing in his hometown, for Florida State, before the Twins drafted him in the fifth round of the 2018 draft. He made his professional debut in 2019 and pitched at Ft. Myers, Cedar Rapids and Double-A Pensacola. He didn’t pitch in 2020. #12 - RHP Louie Varland 2021 STATS: 10-4, 2.10 ERA, 20/18 G/GS, 1.09 WHIP, 142/30 K/BB, 103.0 IP Louie Varland, a North St. Paul High School grad, chose to join his older brother Gus at Concordia University in St. Paul. The two were on the team for two seasons before Gus was drafted by the A’s in 2018. A year later, Louie was the 15th round pick of the Twins. He made three appearances for Elizabethton that season and then did not pitch in 2020. So while most Twins that don’t follow Twins Daily didn’t know about him before the season, he had a monster breakout season in 2021. He pitched in ten games for the Mighty Mussels and went 4-2 with a 2.09 ERA. He moved up to Cedar Rapids in the second half and was 6-2 with a 2.10 ERA. In 103 innings, he struck out 142 batters (12.4 K/9) and walked just 30. He was the easy choice for Twins Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year. Varland made a name for himself last offseason when video of him hitting 100 mph on the radar gun surfaced on Twitter. In games, he generally sat between 94 and 96 mph with the fastball. He also has a slider that at times can be really, really sharp. The pitch that will determine his future is the changeup. At times this year, it was really good. I mean, look at his numbers. He was on all year, but that is his third pitch and one he will continue to develop. The next challenge for Varland will be Double-A in 2022. He will be 24-years-old throughout the season. #11 - RHP Blayne Enlow 2021 STATS: 1-1, 1.84 ERA, 3/3 G/GS, 1.30 WHIP, 23/6 K/BB, 14.2 IP Blayne Enlow has been in the Twins organization for a long-time already. He was the Twins third-round draft pick in 2017 out of high school in Louisiana. The Twins were able to meet his signing bonus request, and he gave up his scholarship to LSU. He slowly worked up the system, ending the 2019 season at High-A Ft. Myers. That is where he began the 2021 season, this time in Cedar Rapids. He made three starts for the Kernels and was throwing hard and missing a lot of bats. In those games, he worked 14 2/3 innings and struck out 23 batters. Unfortunately, in a between-starts bullpen session, he didn’t feel right. In June, he had Tommy John surgery. After some time off, he has been rehabbing in Ft. Myers. The Twins had a tough decision, but chose to add him to the 40-man roster because of his upside. Unfortunately, when the lockdown started, he was no longer able to work at the Twins complex or talk with people with the Twins. He has been working in Arizona and hopes to be ready for the start of the season. The Twins will be patient with such a talent. When healthy, Enlow was pitching in the mid-90s, having added velocity in the lost-2020 season. He’s always been known for his spin and throws both a curveball and a slider. He also had a much-improved changeup. Just as important, he is in a good frame of mind and has full confidence. In summary, this is a really exciting group of pitchers. They fit into the mold of this front office. These guys can spin the ball. Four of the five were drafted out of college. Each of them has had a big increase in velocity. And, each of them has a real chance to pitch in the big leagues. Feel free to discuss these pitchers and ask questions below. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15
  25. The Twins need some bullpen help in 2022 in addition to significant rotation help. Unfortunately, there’s only so much money to go around. Transitioning some younger arms into bullpen pieces could benefit the players and team alike and get them into the majors that much quicker. The Twins have some great young arms who could be primed to make this switch. Matt Canterino Canterino was a 2nd round pick and has been a starting pitcher for much of his minor league career. His highest ERA in a single season was 1.80 as he’s dominated every stop of the minors to this point. He sports a devastating slider and a solid complementary changeup. His fastball took a big step forward during the pandemic forced break in minor league action. He can now run it up to the high 90s consistently. With such a deep pitch mix, why shouldn’t Canterino be a starting pitcher? Canterino is already 24 years old and has only made it as high as A+ ball in his three years with the Twins. He’s thrown 48 total innings in his professional career thus far. This is partially due to the lost 2020 season, but Canterino also dealt with multiple forearm injuries which eventually ended his 2021 season. Headed into 2022, Canterino has a long way to go in developing as a starter. Staying the course not only would likely keep him out of the majors for another year or two at least, but more innings also make a recurrence of the recent arm troubles more likely. Canterino has the raw stuff to debut very soon and be an effective reliever. It’s an option the Twins could very well consider at this point. Chris Vallimont Recently added to the 40 man roster, Vallimont had too much raw talent for the Twins to risk letting him go. His 6.06 ERA across 91 innings in AA aren’t impressive, but his raw skills were. Vallimont struck out 31.1% of his hitters faced, but walked a crippling 14.6% while allowing a 1.48 HR/9. He has a decent mix of pitches featuring a low to mid 90s fastball and a decent slider, curve and change. Pitchers like Vallimont move to the bullpen all the time. Jorge Alcala was the Twins' latest iteration. Moving into a short burst role actually helped iron out the walks and allowing his stuff to play up in 1-2 inning stints helped him work around the walks he was still issuing. Unlike Alcala however, Vallimont already has a steady pitch mix to immediately have a third option. The Twins protected him in the rule 5 draft because even with his walks and homer issues, Vallimont may have the floor to join a team’s bullpen and contribute in some fashion immediately. With his 40 man spot secured, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Twins make this move and fast track him to Minneapolis sometime in 2022. Drew Strotman Acquired with Joe Ryan from the Rays, Strotman also already has a 40 man spot. He also has already reached AAA, although he struggled mightily in St. Paul, posting a 7.33 ERA in 54 innings down the stretch after posting a 3.86 mark with the Rays affiliate in his 58 innings prior. It’s very possible he faded down the stretch as 2021 was his first full season coming off Tommy John. He has an impressive 60 grade fastball which he mostly pairs with the strong duo that is his cutter and slider. He also has impressive control. The Twins may be tempted to see if Strotman can hold out his performance in a rotation role again in 2022. It’s possible however, especially if they’re trying to compete, that they acclimate him to the bullpen to start the season and quickly bring him up. His big fastball and command of his pitches give him a solid floor in the bullpen and he lacks a strong changeup which could have him bullpen bound eventually anyways. Strotman also was a reliever for much of his college career. It would be far from a failure given what we’ve already gotten from Joe Ryan if Drew Strotman simply turns out to be a reliable reliever. Are there any other pitchers in the Twins system that are bullpen bound? Would you like to see any of these three stay the course? Let us know below! — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forum — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
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