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  1. A.J. Pierzynski has not been a Minnesota Twins player in 20 years, but the team he was drafted by is still reaping the rewards of his return thanks to a favorable trade lineage the Twins have had in that time frame. Image courtesy of Bruce Kluckhohn, USA Today Sports A.J. Pierzynski is a complicated player in Twins' history. He played a big part in keeping the Twins here and was an all-star catcher on the 2002 team that won the division and beat the Moneyball Oakland A’s. Over the course of his six seasons as a Twin, he spent half that time as the starting catcher, hitting .301 with 26 home runs and 193 runs batted in. Pierzynski’s promise to continue as an all-star catcher was there going into the 2003-2004 offseason, but the Twins had a local kid named Joe Mauer, that had much more to offer for the team’s future. On November 14, 2003, the Twins took into favor the promise of Mauer and shipped Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Pierzynski had a one-and-done year with the Giants and signed with the White Sox the next off-season. The Twins, however, are still reaping the benefits of acquiring these three pitchers as their acquisition of Liriano brought forth the opportunity to bring Jhoan Duran into the Twins organization. Nathan needs no reminder of his impact on the Twins. Not only did he become the best closer in franchise history but also one of baseball's best relievers of the 2000s. Bonser was a cult hero with the Twins as a rookie in 2006 making 18 starts and finding success at home in the Metrodome. The success of his rookie year was short-lived as it never carried over into the next two seasons. Bonser spent 2007 as the Twins fifth starter and split time between the rotation and bullpen in 2008. Following an injury that kept him out all of the 2009 season. The Twins flipped Bonser to the Red Sox for minor-leaguer Chris Province who was out of baseball after one year between Double-A and Triple-A. Then there is Liriano, the key figure of this trade and the leg of the trade that lives on today. Liriano was a staple to the Twins' rotation until the 2012 trade deadline. While he was struggling to be consistent at that time after his 2006 Tommy John surgery, the White Sox still called the Twins, seeing value in the lefty. In return for Liriano, the Twins received LHP Pedro Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Hernandez was around for the 2013 season with the Twins making 14 forgettable starts and accounting for a 6.83 ERA on the season. He went 8-3 over 16 starts for the Saints in 2015. Escobar didn’t immediately become the player that most Twins fans remember him. Once he became an everyday player for the Twins in 2014, that’s when fans began to notice him as a utility infielder that could certainly help this team flourish. Escobar’s time as a Twin was most memorable in the 2017 Wild Card season when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and posted a career-high (at the time) with a .758 OPS. As Escobar built off his success in 2017 the next year, the Twins were not able to do so as a team seeing themselves as sellers during the 2018 trade deadline. On July 27, 2018, the Twins traded Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks and in return received a couple of outfield prospects and a pitcher named Duran. Jhoan. Duran. While Jhoan Duran worked his way through the minors as a starting pitcher. In 2022, Twins fans came to know Duran as their best rookie and best reliever. His time with the Twins looks to be certain until he is eligible for free agency in 2028. A lot can still happen between now and then though. There is a possibility the Twins continue growing branches of this trade history lineage tree, in hopes a player of Duran, Escobar, Liriano, or Nathan’s caliber is received in return. View full article
  2. A.J. Pierzynski is a complicated player in Twins' history. He played a big part in keeping the Twins here and was an all-star catcher on the 2002 team that won the division and beat the Moneyball Oakland A’s. Over the course of his six seasons as a Twin, he spent half that time as the starting catcher, hitting .301 with 26 home runs and 193 runs batted in. Pierzynski’s promise to continue as an all-star catcher was there going into the 2003-2004 offseason, but the Twins had a local kid named Joe Mauer, that had much more to offer for the team’s future. On November 14, 2003, the Twins took into favor the promise of Mauer and shipped Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for Joe Nathan, Francisco Liriano, and Boof Bonser. Pierzynski had a one-and-done year with the Giants and signed with the White Sox the next off-season. The Twins, however, are still reaping the benefits of acquiring these three pitchers as their acquisition of Liriano brought forth the opportunity to bring Jhoan Duran into the Twins organization. Nathan needs no reminder of his impact on the Twins. Not only did he become the best closer in franchise history but also one of baseball's best relievers of the 2000s. Bonser was a cult hero with the Twins as a rookie in 2006 making 18 starts and finding success at home in the Metrodome. The success of his rookie year was short-lived as it never carried over into the next two seasons. Bonser spent 2007 as the Twins fifth starter and split time between the rotation and bullpen in 2008. Following an injury that kept him out all of the 2009 season. The Twins flipped Bonser to the Red Sox for minor-leaguer Chris Province who was out of baseball after one year between Double-A and Triple-A. Then there is Liriano, the key figure of this trade and the leg of the trade that lives on today. Liriano was a staple to the Twins' rotation until the 2012 trade deadline. While he was struggling to be consistent at that time after his 2006 Tommy John surgery, the White Sox still called the Twins, seeing value in the lefty. In return for Liriano, the Twins received LHP Pedro Hernandez and infielder Eduardo Escobar. Hernandez was around for the 2013 season with the Twins making 14 forgettable starts and accounting for a 6.83 ERA on the season. He went 8-3 over 16 starts for the Saints in 2015. Escobar didn’t immediately become the player that most Twins fans remember him. Once he became an everyday player for the Twins in 2014, that’s when fans began to notice him as a utility infielder that could certainly help this team flourish. Escobar’s time as a Twin was most memorable in the 2017 Wild Card season when he hit 21 home runs, drove in 73 runs, and posted a career-high (at the time) with a .758 OPS. As Escobar built off his success in 2017 the next year, the Twins were not able to do so as a team seeing themselves as sellers during the 2018 trade deadline. On July 27, 2018, the Twins traded Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks and in return received a couple of outfield prospects and a pitcher named Duran. Jhoan. Duran. While Jhoan Duran worked his way through the minors as a starting pitcher. In 2022, Twins fans came to know Duran as their best rookie and best reliever. His time with the Twins looks to be certain until he is eligible for free agency in 2028. A lot can still happen between now and then though. There is a possibility the Twins continue growing branches of this trade history lineage tree, in hopes a player of Duran, Escobar, Liriano, or Nathan’s caliber is received in return.
  3. Last season, Eddie Rosario was a key player for the Braves on their way to a World Series title. Can any other former Twins help their club find postseason glory in 2022? Image courtesy of Charles LeClaire, USA TODAY Sports Plenty of former fan favorites populate the rosters of the National League’s best teams this season. Not all of these players have performed admirably this season, but the playoffs allow for players to shine on the biggest stage. Here are eight former Twins to watch on the NL’s playoff teams. Mets: Trevor May, Eduardo Escobar Escobar is in his 12th big league season with his fifth different organization. During the 2022 campaign, he has been the primary third baseman for the Mets in their fight for the NL East title. However, his defense at third ranks among the NL’s worst for third basemen, as only Alec Bohm has a lower SDI. Escobar provides other dynamics to a club as he has an OPS+ above 100 for the fifth consecutive season, where he has played more than 60 games. The Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, so the club has pressure to win in October. May is heading to free agency at the season’s end, so he wants to end his Mets tenure on a high note. In 23 appearances, he has an ERA north of 5.50 with a 1.57 WHIP. He is striking out more than ten batters per nine innings for the sixth consecutive season. He’s had multiple IL stints this year for a stress reaction on the lower portion of his humerus and a COVID situation. In September, he has a 3.14 ERA while holding opponents to a .694 OPS, so the Mets hope this carries over to the postseason. Braves: Jake Odorizzi, Ehire Adrianza, Eddie Rosario, Robbie Grossman Odorizzi was pitching well for the Astros to start the season, but the Braves traded for him at the deadline for reliever Will Smith. Since joining Atlanta, Odorizzi has posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.67 WHIP in nine starts. Odorizzi isn’t guaranteed to make the playoff rotation with other strong pitchers, but Spencer Strider’s injury may give Odorizzi an opportunity. Adrianza made ten playoff appearances during the Braves’ 2021 World Series run, and the club found a way to bring him back for 2022. He started the year in the Nationals organization, but the Braves traded Trey Harris to Washington for Adrianza. So far in 2022, Adrianza has hit .174/.267/.207 (.473) in limited action. He will likely serve as a bench option for Atlanta as a late-inning defensive replacement. Rosario was a playoff hero for the Braves last season, winning the NLCS MVP before heading to free agency. Atlanta re-signed the outfielder to a 2-year, $18 million contract, and he’s having a career-worst offensive season. In 76 games, he has posted a 69 OPS+ with 18 extra-base hits. Rosario has missed time this season with an eye injury and a hamstring problem. Can Rosario make Braves fans forget his poor season with another October to remember? After leaving the Twins, Grossman revitalized his career in the A’s and Tigers organizations. Since 2019, he has posted a 99 OPS+ while playing strong outfield defense. The Braves acquired Grossman from the Tigers at the trade deadline for Kris Anglin, and he has raised his OPS by 61 points since moving to the NL. Atlanta has multiple outfield injuries that may push Grossman into a more critical role. Dodgers: Brusdar Graterol Graterol is having his best big-league season as he has set career-best marks in ERA, strikeouts, H/9, and ERA+. Los Angeles continued to use him in late-inning situations as he earned the first three saves of his career. His postseason numbers are even better than his regular season totals. In 18 appearances, he has a 2.04 ERA with a 0.62 WHIP and a 13-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Dodgers look like one of baseball’s best teams, and Graterol will be asked to get some big outs in October. Phillies: Kyle Gibson The Phillies are fighting for their playoff lives, and Gibson might be one of the players to push them into the postseason. Gibson is heading to free agency this winter, so October is an opportunity for him to shine. Last season, he was a first-time All-Star but struggled after being traded to the Phillies (5.09 ERA). In 2022, he posted a 4.84 ERA with a 1.32 WHIP across 30 starts. Gibson was terrific in August with a 2.30 ERA as he held batters to a .637 OPS. Philadelphia will need that version of Gibson to make a deep October run. Can any of these players have an Eddie Rosario-type October in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. The Twins didn’t make the playoffs this year. That stinks! However, this should be a fun postseason for all baseball fans. Here’s a guide to who you should root for as the postseason begins. Image courtesy of Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports THE AMERICAN LEAGUE NEW YORK YANKEES: If you can pull yourself away from cheering for the Cowboys, the Lakers, and Notre Dame, this is your team. Also, you are the devil. I hope they break into every Aaron Judge at-bat to show highlights of preseason NHL games. On the plus side, the longer they’re in the playoffs that’s less time for Josh Donaldson to dedicate to his first love (racism). CLEVELAND GUARDIANS: There are those who say, “Well, if the Twins can’t win, I hope the AL Central winner does.” These are the people who fall for every Facebook multi-level marketing scam. They have a garage full of LulaRoe tights. Don’t listen to them. SEATTLE MARINERS: No one deserves to win a World Series. The ideal outcome to this year’s playoffs would be for all 12 participants to get a teamwide case of mono and the league declaring Minnesota the champion since they’re healthy and have kind eyes. Some blowhards might say this title would have an asterisk but it would still be 100x more legit than any title won during the color barrier era so I’ll see you all on the parade route. ANYWAY, since this likely won’t happen, Seattle seems cool. They probably should have won one when they won a thousand games in 2001. You can root for them, sure. My American League pick. TAMPA BAY RAYS: Until they re-rebrand as the Devil Rays, I can’t in good conscience advise cheering for this team. Which is a bummer, because their goofy, awful stadium reminds me of the Metrodome, a goofy, incredible stadium. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: They already have Ruffles All-Dressed chips. They need nothing else from us. HOUSTON ASTROS: No. THE NATIONAL LEAGUE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: This city’s sports fans are true criminals and hooligans yet achieve a level of dirtbag grace that other metro areas can only hope to attain. That said, the Eagles just won a Super Bowl and look great again. They don’t need our help. SAN DIEGO PADRES: I honestly quit paying attention when Fernando Tatis, Jr. got suspended. Remember when their uniforms were yellow and brown? ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: See HOUSTON ASTROS LOS ANGELES DODGERS: If you care whether they win or lose you’re more invested than their fans are. ATLANTA BRAVES: They have both Eddie Rosario and future MVP Robbie Grossman, god bless them both. However, they also have the racist chant and Ron Gant was out and sucks to be you, Lonnie Smith. Worst franchise in sports. Walk into the ocean, bozos. NEW YORK METS: They won a World Series with the entire team out of their minds on cocaine and beat Boston, the most insufferable sports city in America, to do it. They have Ed Escobar, one of the greatest Twins of all time. I hope they win every game 17-2 and they build a statue of Ed. THIS IS YOUR TEAM, MINNESOTA. LOVE THEM LIKE ED LOVES YOU. View full article
  5. THE AMERICAN LEAGUE NEW YORK YANKEES: If you can pull yourself away from cheering for the Cowboys, the Lakers, and Notre Dame, this is your team. Also, you are the devil. I hope they break into every Aaron Judge at-bat to show highlights of preseason NHL games. On the plus side, the longer they’re in the playoffs that’s less time for Josh Donaldson to dedicate to his first love (racism). CLEVELAND GUARDIANS: There are those who say, “Well, if the Twins can’t win, I hope the AL Central winner does.” These are the people who fall for every Facebook multi-level marketing scam. They have a garage full of LulaRoe tights. Don’t listen to them. SEATTLE MARINERS: No one deserves to win a World Series. The ideal outcome to this year’s playoffs would be for all 12 participants to get a teamwide case of mono and the league declaring Minnesota the champion since they’re healthy and have kind eyes. Some blowhards might say this title would have an asterisk but it would still be 100x more legit than any title won during the color barrier era so I’ll see you all on the parade route. ANYWAY, since this likely won’t happen, Seattle seems cool. They probably should have won one when they won a thousand games in 2001. You can root for them, sure. My American League pick. TAMPA BAY RAYS: Until they re-rebrand as the Devil Rays, I can’t in good conscience advise cheering for this team. Which is a bummer, because their goofy, awful stadium reminds me of the Metrodome, a goofy, incredible stadium. TORONTO BLUE JAYS: They already have Ruffles All-Dressed chips. They need nothing else from us. HOUSTON ASTROS: No. THE NATIONAL LEAGUE PHILADELPHIA PHILLIES: This city’s sports fans are true criminals and hooligans yet achieve a level of dirtbag grace that other metro areas can only hope to attain. That said, the Eagles just won a Super Bowl and look great again. They don’t need our help. SAN DIEGO PADRES: I honestly quit paying attention when Fernando Tatis, Jr. got suspended. Remember when their uniforms were yellow and brown? ST. LOUIS CARDINALS: See HOUSTON ASTROS LOS ANGELES DODGERS: If you care whether they win or lose you’re more invested than their fans are. ATLANTA BRAVES: They have both Eddie Rosario and future MVP Robbie Grossman, god bless them both. However, they also have the racist chant and Ron Gant was out and sucks to be you, Lonnie Smith. Worst franchise in sports. Walk into the ocean, bozos. NEW YORK METS: They won a World Series with the entire team out of their minds on cocaine and beat Boston, the most insufferable sports city in America, to do it. They have Ed Escobar, one of the greatest Twins of all time. I hope they win every game 17-2 and they build a statue of Ed. THIS IS YOUR TEAM, MINNESOTA. LOVE THEM LIKE ED LOVES YOU.
  6. Plenty of former fan favorites populate the rosters of the National League’s best teams this season. Not all of these players have performed admirably this season, but the playoffs allow for players to shine on the biggest stage. Here are eight former Twins to watch on the NL’s playoff teams. Mets: Trevor May, Eduardo Escobar Escobar is in his 12th big league season with his fifth different organization. During the 2022 campaign, he has been the primary third baseman for the Mets in their fight for the NL East title. However, his defense at third ranks among the NL’s worst for third basemen, as only Alec Bohm has a lower SDI. Escobar provides other dynamics to a club as he has an OPS+ above 100 for the fifth consecutive season, where he has played more than 60 games. The Mets haven’t made the playoffs since 2016, so the club has pressure to win in October. May is heading to free agency at the season’s end, so he wants to end his Mets tenure on a high note. In 23 appearances, he has an ERA north of 5.50 with a 1.57 WHIP. He is striking out more than ten batters per nine innings for the sixth consecutive season. He’s had multiple IL stints this year for a stress reaction on the lower portion of his humerus and a COVID situation. In September, he has a 3.14 ERA while holding opponents to a .694 OPS, so the Mets hope this carries over to the postseason. Braves: Jake Odorizzi, Ehire Adrianza, Eddie Rosario, Robbie Grossman Odorizzi was pitching well for the Astros to start the season, but the Braves traded for him at the deadline for reliever Will Smith. Since joining Atlanta, Odorizzi has posted a 5.66 ERA with a 1.67 WHIP in nine starts. Odorizzi isn’t guaranteed to make the playoff rotation with other strong pitchers, but Spencer Strider’s injury may give Odorizzi an opportunity. Adrianza made ten playoff appearances during the Braves’ 2021 World Series run, and the club found a way to bring him back for 2022. He started the year in the Nationals organization, but the Braves traded Trey Harris to Washington for Adrianza. So far in 2022, Adrianza has hit .174/.267/.207 (.473) in limited action. He will likely serve as a bench option for Atlanta as a late-inning defensive replacement. Rosario was a playoff hero for the Braves last season, winning the NLCS MVP before heading to free agency. Atlanta re-signed the outfielder to a 2-year, $18 million contract, and he’s having a career-worst offensive season. In 76 games, he has posted a 69 OPS+ with 18 extra-base hits. Rosario has missed time this season with an eye injury and a hamstring problem. Can Rosario make Braves fans forget his poor season with another October to remember? After leaving the Twins, Grossman revitalized his career in the A’s and Tigers organizations. Since 2019, he has posted a 99 OPS+ while playing strong outfield defense. The Braves acquired Grossman from the Tigers at the trade deadline for Kris Anglin, and he has raised his OPS by 61 points since moving to the NL. Atlanta has multiple outfield injuries that may push Grossman into a more critical role. Dodgers: Brusdar Graterol Graterol is having his best big-league season as he has set career-best marks in ERA, strikeouts, H/9, and ERA+. Los Angeles continued to use him in late-inning situations as he earned the first three saves of his career. His postseason numbers are even better than his regular season totals. In 18 appearances, he has a 2.04 ERA with a 0.62 WHIP and a 13-to-1 strikeout to walk ratio. The Dodgers look like one of baseball’s best teams, and Graterol will be asked to get some big outs in October. Phillies: Kyle Gibson The Phillies are fighting for their playoff lives, and Gibson might be one of the players to push them into the postseason. Gibson is heading to free agency this winter, so October is an opportunity for him to shine. Last season, he was a first-time All-Star but struggled after being traded to the Phillies (5.09 ERA). In 2022, he posted a 4.84 ERA with a 1.32 WHIP across 30 starts. Gibson was terrific in August with a 2.30 ERA as he held batters to a .637 OPS. Philadelphia will need that version of Gibson to make a deep October run. Can any of these players have an Eddie Rosario-type October in 2022? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  7. Minnesota's front office didn't mess around at the 2018 trade deadline. Take a look back at the talent acquired during the last week in July. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over Minnesota's baseball operations department leading into the 2017 season. Each season has taken on a different feel, but they have a track record of making moves at the trade deadline. This series will look back at each trade deadline under this regime. Minnesota surprised many by being in contention during the 2017 season, with their front office shifting between buying and selling at the deadline. The 2018 season was a little easier because the team was below .500 but ended up in second place in the AL Central. The Twins made multiple moves before the deadline, and the big-league roster still feels these trades' impacts. Trade 1 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, P Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel Diamondbacks Receive: INF Eduardo Escobar Escobar was on an expiring contract, so it made sense to deal the veteran who was in the middle of a tremendous season. Duran has turned into the team's dominant high-leverage reliever, which is more than enough for a couple of months of Escobar. De La Trinidad topped out at Double-A last season with the Twins, where he posted a .759 OPS in 80 games. Maciel played 73 games at Cedar Rapids last season with a .621 OPS. In December, he was selected in the minor-league Rule 5 draft by the Athletics organization and has a .733 OPS as he repeats High-A. Trade 2 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino Astros Receive: P Ryan Pressly It was tough to see the Twins part with a reliever that wasn't on an expiring contract, but both prospects in the deal were viewed highly by evaluators. Pressly has stayed in Houston for the remainder of his career while turning into one of baseball's best late-inning arms. Alcala posted decent numbers as a reliever last season, and the team hopes he can return this year to help a struggling bullpen. Celestino has proven his value to the club as a strong center-field defender to complement a decent bat. Minnesota acquired two big-league assets for 14 months of Pressly, so this deal looks great for both teams. Trade 3 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: P Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello Seattle Receive: P Zach Duke Duke was a strong left-handed specialist at a time when relievers could face fewer than three batters. Following the trade, he posted a 5.52 ERA in 27 appearances. De Jong made five appearances with the Twins and allowed 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings. During the 2022 season, he found a role in the Pirates bullpen, having a 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 32 innings. Costello posted a .755 OPS between High- and Double-A during the 2019 season. Tragically, he passed away on November 18, 2019, from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. (Learn more about The RC13 Foundation here.) Trade 4 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: 1B/OF Tyler Austin, P Luis Rijo Yankees Receive: P Lance Lynn Lynn has evolved into one of baseball's best pitchers over the last four seasons, but he was terrible for the Twins in 2018. It made sense to deal with his expiring contract, and the returning players offered some intrigue. Austin played parts of two seasons with the Twins and posted a .786 OPS. Rijo has been limited to nine appearances over the last two seasons as he dealt with right elbow UCL reconstruction. He is currently rehabbing with the FCL Twins. Trade 5 (July 31, 2018) Twins Receive: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, P Devin Smeltzer Dodgers Receive: 2B Brian Dozier One year after being vocal about the team trading away veterans, Dozier found himself dealt to a contender. After leaving the Twins, Dozier only played one more full season, but he won a World Series with the Nationals. Forsythe was included in the deal, so the Twins had someone to fill second base for the season's remaining games. Raley eventually was part of the Kenta Maeda trade as he returned to the Dodger organization. Smeltzer has been a surprise contributor to the Twins rotation in 2022. What do you remember about this trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2017 Trade Deadline View full article
  8. Derek Falvey and Thad Levine took over Minnesota's baseball operations department leading into the 2017 season. Each season has taken on a different feel, but they have a track record of making moves at the trade deadline. This series will look back at each trade deadline under this regime. Minnesota surprised many by being in contention during the 2017 season, with their front office shifting between buying and selling at the deadline. The 2018 season was a little easier because the team was below .500 but ended up in second place in the AL Central. The Twins made multiple moves before the deadline, and the big-league roster still feels these trades' impacts. Trade 1 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: OF Ernie De La Trinidad, P Jhoan Duran, OF Gabriel Maciel Diamondbacks Receive: INF Eduardo Escobar Escobar was on an expiring contract, so it made sense to deal the veteran who was in the middle of a tremendous season. Duran has turned into the team's dominant high-leverage reliever, which is more than enough for a couple of months of Escobar. De La Trinidad topped out at Double-A last season with the Twins, where he posted a .759 OPS in 80 games. Maciel played 73 games at Cedar Rapids last season with a .621 OPS. In December, he was selected in the minor-league Rule 5 draft by the Athletics organization and has a .733 OPS as he repeats High-A. Trade 2 (July 27, 2018) Twins Receive: P Jorge Alcala, OF Gilberto Celestino Astros Receive: P Ryan Pressly It was tough to see the Twins part with a reliever that wasn't on an expiring contract, but both prospects in the deal were viewed highly by evaluators. Pressly has stayed in Houston for the remainder of his career while turning into one of baseball's best late-inning arms. Alcala posted decent numbers as a reliever last season, and the team hopes he can return this year to help a struggling bullpen. Celestino has proven his value to the club as a strong center-field defender to complement a decent bat. Minnesota acquired two big-league assets for 14 months of Pressly, so this deal looks great for both teams. Trade 3 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: P Chase De Jong, 1B/3B Ryan Costello Seattle Receive: P Zach Duke Duke was a strong left-handed specialist at a time when relievers could face fewer than three batters. Following the trade, he posted a 5.52 ERA in 27 appearances. De Jong made five appearances with the Twins and allowed 11 earned runs in 18 2/3 innings. During the 2022 season, he found a role in the Pirates bullpen, having a 2.25 ERA and a 1.00 WHIP in 32 innings. Costello posted a .755 OPS between High- and Double-A during the 2019 season. Tragically, he passed away on November 18, 2019, from a sudden cardiac arrhythmia. (Learn more about The RC13 Foundation here.) Trade 4 (July 30, 2018) Twins Receive: 1B/OF Tyler Austin, P Luis Rijo Yankees Receive: P Lance Lynn Lynn has evolved into one of baseball's best pitchers over the last four seasons, but he was terrible for the Twins in 2018. It made sense to deal with his expiring contract, and the returning players offered some intrigue. Austin played parts of two seasons with the Twins and posted a .786 OPS. Rijo has been limited to nine appearances over the last two seasons as he dealt with right elbow UCL reconstruction. He is currently rehabbing with the FCL Twins. Trade 5 (July 31, 2018) Twins Receive: 2B Logan Forsythe, OF/1B Luke Raley, P Devin Smeltzer Dodgers Receive: 2B Brian Dozier One year after being vocal about the team trading away veterans, Dozier found himself dealt to a contender. After leaving the Twins, Dozier only played one more full season, but he won a World Series with the Nationals. Forsythe was included in the deal, so the Twins had someone to fill second base for the season's remaining games. Raley eventually was part of the Kenta Maeda trade as he returned to the Dodger organization. Smeltzer has been a surprise contributor to the Twins rotation in 2022. What do you remember about this trade deadline? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -2017 Trade Deadline
  9. 15: Jim Thome: 21 HR Thome became a home run legend during his Hall of Fame career. He hit the first walk-off home run in Target Field history, and it is still one of the best moments in Minnesota Twins history. 13. Oswaldo Arcia/ Kennys Vargas: 22 HR Arcia and Vargas were supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped the Twins turn things around at the big-league level in the 2010s. That didn't come to fruition, but they each were known for their power in their prospect careers. 12. Mitch Garver: 27 HR During the Bomba Squad season, Garver had multiple important home runs. He broke Earl Battey's Twins single-season home run record, which stood since 1963. He also hit the home run that broke the season home run record. 11. Eduardo Escobar: 28 HR Escobar became a beloved figure in Twins history, and he has gone on to have a solid big-league career. His most valuable home run at Target Field came with the Twins trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth inning. Which home run do you remember the most? Which player do you think hits Minnesota's 1,000th home run at Target Field? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. As we countdown the days to Target Fields's 1000th home run, let's countdown the Twins who made it happen. Here are the 11th through 15th best home run hitters in Target Field history and their biggest hits. 15: Jim Thome: 21 HR Thome became a home run legend during his Hall of Fame career. He hit the first walk-off home run in Target Field history, and it is still one of the best moments in Minnesota Twins history. 13. Oswaldo Arcia/ Kennys Vargas: 22 HR Arcia and Vargas were supposed to be part of the first wave of prospects that helped the Twins turn things around at the big-league level in the 2010s. That didn't come to fruition, but they each were known for their power in their prospect careers. 12. Mitch Garver: 27 HR During the Bomba Squad season, Garver had multiple important home runs. He broke Earl Battey's Twins single-season home run record, which stood since 1963. He also hit the home run that broke the season home run record. 11. Eduardo Escobar: 28 HR Escobar became a beloved figure in Twins history, and he has gone on to have a solid big-league career. His most valuable home run at Target Field came with the Twins trailing by two in the bottom of the eighth inning. Which home run do you remember the most? Which player do you think hits Minnesota's 1,000th home run at Target Field? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  11. Francisco Liriano announced his retirement from Major League Baseball today. After 14 years, 419 games, and over 1,800 innings, he’s calling it quits. As a Minnesota Twins fan, though, it’s worth wondering what could have been thinking back to 2006. Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season. From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work. Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively. Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series. Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery. Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would. Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?” Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story. Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories? View full article
  12. Having made his Major League Debut in 2005, Liriano had just 23 2/3 innings under his belt coming into the 2006 season. Ron Gardenhire put Liriano on his Opening Day roster, but the talented lefty was set to begin out of the bullpen. He made his season debut in the second game, throwing two innings of relief against the Toronto Blue Jays. Minnesota won that game 13-4, and Liriano tallied his first three strikeouts of the season. From there, Gardenhire used Liriano mainly for late-inning work. Across 12 games, Liriano pitched 22 1/3 innings of relief work, compiling a 3.22 ERA and impressive 32/4 K/BB mark. Of the eight earned runs given up, five came in a three-inning clunker against the Detroit Tigers. Minnesota lost that game 18-1, and it was the lone stain on Liriano’s relief work. Then the switch happened. On May 19, 2006, Francisco Liriano took the ball to start for the Twins against the Milwaukee Brewers. He didn’t relieve a game again the rest of the way. Against the Brewers, Liriano went five strong innings giving up just one run on two hits while striking out five. A few turns later, this time against the Pittsburgh Pirates on June 16, 2006, Liriano punched out double-digit batters for the first time in his career. Notching 11 strikeouts against the Buccos, Liriano improved to 6-1 on the season, and his ERA sat at just 2.16. Facing the Brewers again on July 2, 2016, Liriano set a new career-high in strikeouts with 12. Throwing eight shutout innings, Liriano pushed his ERA down to 1.99. After a couple more wins, Liriano then put a bow on his early work with a 10 and 12 strikeout performance against Cleveland and Detroit, respectively. Then things changed. Making a start against the Tigers on August 7, 2006, Liriano threw just 67 pitches while allowing four runs on ten hits before being lifted. He was scratched the start prior with forearm inflammation and then lifted against Detroit with what was called a left elbow injury. After an MRI revealed only inflammation on July 31, Liriano was set for another one and told reporters he was more scared this time, saying, “it bothered me. It’s getting worse you know.” Liriano returned for a start on September 13, 2006, but lasted just 27 pitches before his season was over. He had suggested hearing a pop in his elbow. The 1st place Minnesota Twins would be without one of their top arms, ultimately falling to the Oakland Athletics in the American League Division Series. Discussing the MRI’s Liriano had undergone, Twins General Manager Terry Ryan said, "The MRI came back exactly the same as the previous one. He has a ligament strain, but there is no structural damage. That's the good news.” On September 15, 2006, surgery was not the planned course of action. Fast forward less than a month, and on November 6, 2006, Francisco Liriano underwent Tommy John surgery. Working on getting back from his procedure, Liriano returned to the mound for Minnesota on April 13, 2008. It was his first start in more than a year, and the rust showed. He allowed four runs on six hits and didn’t make it through the 5th inning. Throwing his fastball at just 91.9 mph, he’d lost nearly 3 mph off the 94.7 mph he averaged in 2006. The All-Star and third place Rookie of the Year finisher didn’t look the same and ultimately never would. Those 121 innings from a 22-year-old Liriano in 2006 were among the highlights of the Minnesota Twins during the 2000s. Paired with Johan Santana, Ron Gardenhire appeared to have a duo of lefties that could mow down even the best opposing offenses. Playing 12 more seasons and putting up a 4.28 ERA is hardly something to scoff at, but there’s no denying that this is a talent you have to wonder what could have been. Liriano doesn’t have a shot at the Hall of Fame, but maybe he would have. Perhaps the Twins wouldn’t have flipped him for Eduardo Escobar in 2012. His career was solid but ultimately defined by a “what if?” Outside of Liriano as a player on his own, it's worth wondering how the 2006 Minnesota Twins season would've ended had he been a healthy part of the Postseason rotation. The Twins were ultimately swept by a good Oakland Athletics team, but they had to start Boof Bonser in game 2 and turned to Brad Radke in game 3. The Twins came in with home field advantage and have not won a Postseason game dating back to 2004. Just another part of the what could've been story. Do you remember back to that first season of Francisco Liriano? What did you think the Twins had in him? What are some of your favorite memories?
  13. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Minnesota isn't going to end the team's playoff losing streak this year, but plenty of former Twins are helping their team fight for the playoffs. Here is one former Twin assisting each NL playoff contender. The National League isn't the only league with former Twins dotting potential playoff rosters. Some of the names below are fan favorites, and others exited Minnesota under very different circumstances. Division Leaders San Francisco: LaMonte Wade Jr., OF/1B This one hurts for many Twins fans as LaMonte Wade Jr. was traded for Shaun Anderson in February. Anderson appeared in four games for the Twins before being designated for assignment. Wade has posted a 129 OPS+ while being worth 1.8 WAR. Defensively, he has played all three outfield positions and logged over 186 innings at first base. The Giants are a surprise team, and Wade Jr. has been a surprise addition to their success. Milwaukee: Eduardo Escobar, INF Eduardo Escobar was a first-time All-Star this season before being dealt from Arizona to Milwaukee at the trade deadline. His OPS+ has jumped from 107 to 124 since the trade. For the season, his max exit velocity and xSLG rank in the 70th percentile or higher. Milwaukee's starting rotation is built for a deep October run, and Escobar was the team's upgrade for the stretch run. Atlanta: Huascar Ynoa, SP Former Twin Eddie Rosario made some history for the Braves over the weekend by hitting for the cycle, but Huascar Ynoa is more critical for the team's playoff success. Ynoa was traded to the Braves for Jaime Garcia and Anthony Recker in 2017. He has posted a 3.26 ERA and a 1.022 WHIP with a 10.0 strikeout per nine. At 23-years old, he has been a surprise for the Braves as they sit atop the AL East. Wild Card Contenders Los Angeles: Brusdar Graterol Graterol headed to the Dodgers as part of the Kenta Maeda deal, and he helped the Dodgers win the 2020 World Series. He was injured and ineffective in the first half, so his addition to the bullpen has provided a second-half boost. In 23 second-half appearances, he has a 3.24 ERA with a 1.24 WHIP. Any team competing in October needs a good bullpen, and Brusdar Graterol can help the Dodgers on their quest to repeat. St. Louis: J.A. Happ Many were surprised the Twins were able to get anything for Happ at the trade deadline. Now, J.A. Happ has been part of quite the turnaround in St. Louis. The Cardinals seem to do this on an annual basis where the club looks out of the race, and then they fight back into contention. His ERA dropped from 6.77 with the Twins to 4.33 with the Cardinals. He hasn't been outstanding, but he has helped take innings away from their bullpen. Philadelphia: Kyle Gibson Kyle Gibson compiled an impressive first half in Texas on his way to being named an AL All-Star. At the deadline, he was sent to Philadelphia, who now finds themselves fighting for the final Wild Card spot. His time in Philadelphia hasn't been nearly as outstanding as in Texas, but he has pitched six innings or more in six of his ten starts. Which of these players has the most significant impact on the playoff races? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  15. Lance Lynn, RHP White Sox Twins Career (2018): 5.10 ERA, 1.63 WHIP, 100 K, 62 BB, 102 1/3 Innings Lynn’s time in Minnesota was unmemorable as he signed late into spring and never really seemed like he wanted to be in a Twins uniform. MLB.com named him as the player the Twins wish they could have back. He has arguably been one of the baseball’s best pitchers before and after his time in Minnesota. For 2021, he will be in a White Sox uniform, so the Twins should see plenty of their former starter. When the team traded Lynn, they were able to get a small return, but it’s clear he would add depth to the rotation. What’s not clear is how much he’d want to be back in Minnesota after his first stint went so poorly. Liam Hendriks, RHP White Sox Twins Career (2011-13): 6.06 ERA, 1.59 WHIP, 100 K, 46 BB, 156 Innings Some bad news for Twins fans is that two of the players on this list are now going to be key contributors for their top division rival. Hendriks has been arguably the best relief pitcher in baseball over the last two seasons and now he will be closing down games on Chicago’s Southside. Minnesota dropped Hendriks from the 40-man roster when he still had options left and the team hadn’t even tried him out in a relief role. He has resurrected his career and he’d be a great addition to put with Tyler Duffey and Taylor Rogers at the back of the bullpen. However, the White Sox paid him way too much money and it might end up being a contract they regret. Eduardo Escobar, INF Diamondbacks Twins Career (2012-18): .258/.308/.421, 63 HR, 138 2B, 284 RBI, 671 Games When the Twins dealt Escobar, it made sense because the team wasn’t in contention and he was heading towards free agency. Minnesota was able to get quite the haul for Escobar including one of their top pitching prospects and a very good outfielder. Escobar struggled in 2020, but his 2019 season was fantastic, and he brought a lot of positive energy to the team during his Twins tenure. His versatility makes him a potential weapon as he can be penciled in at a variety of positions and still produce. For the 2021 Twins, he had the potential to add some depth to the infield, but Minnesota might have that covered with Andrelton Simmons’ signing last week. Other Options: Aaron Hicks, Eddie Rosario, CJ Cron, Ryan Pressly Pressly has been a tremendous bullpen weapon since leaving the Twins, but the team got back some very good pieces when they traded him away. Minnesota gave up on Hicks and since joining the Yankees, he has accumulated 9.8 WAR over five seasons. Rosario will be back in the AL Central after signing with Cleveland. Will Minnesota miss Rosario’s leadership and energy? If the Twins don’t sign Cruz, CJ Cron can help fill the void at designated hitter. Which of these players do you wish was still in Minnesota? 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
  16. Initial Deal: November 14, 2003 Joe Mauer was waiting in the wings to talk over as the team’s full-time catcher. During the previous minor league season, Mauer posted an .832 OPS with 37 extra-base hits while making it all the way to Double-A. He was widely considered baseball’s best prospect and Baseball America had awarded him their Minor League Player of the Year. Pierzynski was no slouch either as he was an All-Star in 2002 and he was coming off a season where he posted an .824 OPS with 49 extra-base hits. The three players acquired from the Giants were Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. Nathan became one of the baseball’s best closers on the way to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Liriano was electric in the minor leagues and he went on to pitch part of seven seasons for the Twins. Even Bonser pitched nearly 400 innings in Minnesota and he became the next branch in this transaction tree. Bonser Trade: December 10, 2009 As a 28-year old, Bonser was on his way out in Minnesota after the Twins designated him for assignment. Carl Pavano agreed to go to arbitration with the club and this made Bonser expendable. Also, Bonser missed the entire 2009 campaign following shoulder surgery, so it was a surprise the team was able to get anything for him. Bonser was dealt for a player to be named later that turned out to be Chris Province, a 2007 fourth round pick. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League that season as a 25-year old, but his time in the Twins organization would be short-lived. In 2010, he pitched most of the season at Double-A where he posted a 5.58 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. He made a few Triple-A appearances, but his career was done after a brief stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Liriano Trade: July 28, 2012 Joe Nathan would leave the Twins after the 2011 season as the team declined to pick up his $12.5 million option but paid him a $2 million buyout. This ended his part of the transaction tree, but the Twins were able to leverage Liriano to add some pieces to the organization. At the 2012 trade deadline, Minnesota dealt Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez pitched just under 57 innings for the Twins and posted a 6.83 ERA with a 1.82 WHIP. He would only make one more big-league appearance and that came in 2014 with Colorado. Escobar was the key pick-up as he had 671 games in a Twins uniform while playing nearly every defensive position. At the plate, he posted a .729 OPS while getting on base 30.8% of the time. He was a solid contributor, but he was heading to free agency after the 2018 season. Escobar Trade: July 27, 2018 Minnesota was out of contention during the 2018 campaign, so the front office made multiple moves with the trade deadline approaching. Arizona sent three prospects to Minnesota in return for what could have been less than 200 at-bats from Escobar. He eventually resigned with the D-Backs, but that wasn’t a guarantee at the time of the deal. As I wrote about last week, Jhoan Duran was the biggest return for Escobar as he is considered one of the Twins top two starting pitching prospects. Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel have also added depth to the organization. When it comes to Duran, pitching prospects are never a sure thing. That being said, his ceiling seems to be a solid regular starting pitcher and if that doesn’t work, he projects to be a very good relief option. More than two and a half decades after taking Pierzynski in the 1994 MLB Draft, the Twins organization is still feeling the ramifications of his transaction tree. What are your thoughts on these deals? 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
  17. Most Twins fans know about the trade that sent AJ Pierzynski to the San Francisco Giants for a trio of players. In fact, it might be one of the greatest trades in Twins history. Minnesota made that deal back in November 2003 and the ripple effects of that trade are still being felt in the organization. Let’s examine the “AJ Pierzynski Transaction Tree.”Initial Deal: November 14, 2003 Joe Mauer was waiting in the wings to talk over as the team’s full-time catcher. During the previous minor league season, Mauer posted an .832 OPS with 37 extra-base hits while making it all the way to Double-A. He was widely considered baseball’s best prospect and Baseball America had awarded him their Minor League Player of the Year. Pierzynski was no slouch either as he was an All-Star in 2002 and he was coming off a season where he posted an .824 OPS with 49 extra-base hits. The three players acquired from the Giants were Boof Bonser, Francisco Liriano and Joe Nathan. Nathan became one of the baseball’s best closers on the way to being inducted into the Twins Hall of Fame. Liriano was electric in the minor leagues and he went on to pitch part of seven seasons for the Twins. Even Bonser pitched nearly 400 innings in Minnesota and he became the next branch in this transaction tree. Bonser Trade: December 10, 2009 As a 28-year old, Bonser was on his way out in Minnesota after the Twins designated him for assignment. Carl Pavano agreed to go to arbitration with the club and this made Bonser expendable. Also, Bonser missed the entire 2009 campaign following shoulder surgery, so it was a surprise the team was able to get anything for him. Bonser was dealt for a player to be named later that turned out to be Chris Province, a 2007 fourth round pick. He pitched well in the Arizona Fall League that season as a 25-year old, but his time in the Twins organization would be short-lived. In 2010, he pitched most of the season at Double-A where he posted a 5.58 ERA with a 1.65 WHIP. He made a few Triple-A appearances, but his career was done after a brief stint in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Liriano Trade: July 28, 2012 Joe Nathan would leave the Twins after the 2011 season as the team declined to pick up his $12.5 million option but paid him a $2 million buyout. This ended his part of the transaction tree, but the Twins were able to leverage Liriano to add some pieces to the organization. At the 2012 trade deadline, Minnesota dealt Liriano to the White Sox for Eduardo Escobar and Pedro Hernandez. Hernandez pitched just under 57 innings for the Twins and posted a 6.83 ERA with a 1.82 WHIP. He would only make one more big-league appearance and that came in 2014 with Colorado. Escobar was the key pick-up as he had 671 games in a Twins uniform while playing nearly every defensive position. At the plate, he posted a .729 OPS while getting on base 30.8% of the time. He was a solid contributor, but he was heading to free agency after the 2018 season. Escobar Trade: July 27, 2018 Minnesota was out of contention during the 2018 campaign, so the front office made multiple moves with the trade deadline approaching. Arizona sent three prospects to Minnesota in return for what could have been less than 200 at-bats from Escobar. He eventually resigned with the D-Backs, but that wasn’t a guarantee at the time of the deal. As I wrote about last week, Jhoan Duran was the biggest return for Escobar as he is considered one of the Twins top two starting pitching prospects. Ernie De La Trinidad and Gabriel Maciel have also added depth to the organization. When it comes to Duran, pitching prospects are never a sure thing. That being said, his ceiling seems to be a solid regular starting pitcher and if that doesn’t work, he projects to be a very good relief option. Download attachment: Transaction Tree.jpg More than two and a half decades after taking Pierzynski in the 1994 MLB Draft, the Twins organization is still feeling the ramifications of his transaction tree. What are your thoughts on these deals? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  18. Time can change the view of a trade, so here’s what was said back in 2018 at the time of the deal. What Did People Say at the Time of the Trade? Arizona’s manager Torey Lovullo said, “We’re really excited about Eduardo Escobar. He’s got a tremendous track record in this game, he’s a great teammate, he’s a great player. He’ll fit right in.” At the time, Twins general manager Thad Levine said, both scouts and data analysts found the team’s haul in the deal “very exciting.” When referencing the Escobar trade and the Ryan Pressly deal, he said, “I believe four of them will go right into our top 30 prospects, and that’s meaningful. What we were able to accomplish yesterday may not pay dividends tomorrow, but on the horizon, that just got brighter.” Baseball America was very high on Duran at the time of the deal as he was the 10th ranked prospect in the Diamondback organization. They wrote, “He's coveted for his size, projectability and arm strength. His four-seam fastball reaches into the upper 90s and has peaked at 98 mph this season, and he's also shown a two-seam fastball in the low 90s that has flashed plus at low Class A Kane County. He has feel to spin his curveball, but the pitch still needs further refinement to keep hitters from picking it up early. His changeup is well below-average.” The other two players acquire along with Duran were Gabriel Maciel and Ernie De La Trinidad. Baseball America said, “Maciel is a touch undersized but has shown the ability to spray the ball around the park. Even so, scouts see well below-average power with plus speed. He plays an average center field right now, but with his speed has a chance to develop into an above-average defender.” Regarding De La Trinidad, Baseball America said, “De La Trinidad has plenty of power for a player listed at just 5-foot-9 and 165 pounds. His eight home runs are second on Kane County, behind only Jazz Chisholm… He plays hard and gets the most out of his ability, but there is no single carrying tool on his card and he does not project as a big league regular.” Escobar’s Arizona Time The Diamondbacks were trading for only a partial season of Escobar even though they did go on to resign him. In those 54 games in 2018, he hit .268/.320/.444 with eight home runs and 11 doubles. At the time of the trade the Diamondbacks were trailing the Los Angeles Dodgers by 1.5 games in the NL West and they were a half-game behind the Atlanta Braves in the NL wild-card race. Things didn’t go well down the stretch as Arizona ended the season with an 82-80 record which was 9.5 games back in the division. Escobar resigned with the Diamondbacks for three years and $21 million, so he has one more year remaining on that current contract. In 2019, he hit .269/.320/.511 with 35 home runs, 29 doubles, and a league leading 10 triples. The 2020 seasons didn’t go as well for him as his OPS dropped by over 200 points. Minnesota’s Trade Return Back in 2019, Duran was able to reach Double-A as a 21-year-old and the Twins added him to the 40-man roster following the season. His fastball is his key to getting to the big leagues as he can hit triple-digits on the radar gun. His best secondary pitch, a splitter/sinker hybrid pitch, is one that Baseball America has written multiple articles about. This pitch typically sits in the 88-94 mph range and he adds in a curveball that continues to improve. Maciel split the 2019 season between Low- and High-A where he hit .283/.366/.366 with 18 extra-base hits and a 61 to 44 strikeout to walk ratio. Also, he played all three outfield positions. De La Trinidad split the 2019 season between High- and Double-A where he hit .228/.309/.320 with 15 extra base hits and a 68 to 31 strikeout to walk ratio. Without any minor league games, it’s hard to know what kind of improvements any of these players made in 2020. Duran got to work the entire year at the team’s alternate site and the Twins continue to be very high on his potential. Who Won the Trade? Any value the Twins could get for Escobar is positive since he was essential a rental player. Minnesota has a deep farm system and Duran is one of the organization’s top pitching prospects. At best, he should fit into the Twins rotation for the better part of the next decade. If he can’t make it as a starter, his pitch combination could make him a lethal bullpen option. Maciel and De La Trinidad have an outside shot at making the big leagues, but the Twins clearly won with their acquisition of Duran. Looking back, what do you think about the trade? 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
  19. Age: 22 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2019 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 115.0 IP, 3.76 ERA, 136/40 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP ETA: 2020 2019 Ranking: 7 2018 Ranking: Not in the organization National Top 100 Rankings BA: 96 | MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like Duran might have been one of the biggest risers in the entire Twins system last year. He made it all the way to Double-A last year where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. His 115 innings were a career high and he has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. Also, Duran led the Twins minor league system with 136 strikeouts. He has all the traits teams are looking for when it comes to starting pitchers at the big league level. His four-seam fastball is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s and he can crank it into triple-digits. To get strikeouts, he uses a 90+ mph two-seamer that acts more like a sinker/splitter. His curveball continues to improve and his change-up continues to get more work. Duran has a solid frame at 6-foot-5 and he has continued to add weight through his professional career. Since last year at this time, he has gone from 220 pounds to 232 pounds. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020. What’s Left To Work On For any pitcher with Duran’s velocity, there are going to be questions about whether or not he can find consistent success as a starting pitcher. This coming season will be critical for him to prove he can be a starter for the long-term. He needs to continue compiling innings to show he can meet the ever-changing demands on big-league pitchers. Command has also been an issue throughout his professional career because of an inconsistent delivery. That being said, he threw strikes on nearly 65% of his pitches and he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second consecutive season. His secondary pitches improved last season, but he will need to continue to get work with them as he gets closer to the majors. The Twins are in win-now mode and the club was already planning on moving a top pitching prospect to the bullpen. Could the Twins ask Duran to do the same thing? What’s Next Duran ended the year with seven starts at Double-A and that is likely where he will spend the majority of the 2020 season. Minnesota has added plenty of depth to the big-league rotation, so the club doesn’t have to feel like Duran needs to be rushed. He can continue to improve at Double-A with the chance to move to Triple-A in the season’s second half. Who knows? Maybe he could be a late-season addition to the bullpen like the Twins did with Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Duran and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers.
  20. Brusdar Graterol is no longer part of the Twins organization, but the club still has a triple-digit flame thrower in the minor leagues. Jhoan Duran came to the Twins from the Diamondbacks as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Since that time, he has continued to move up prospect rankings and he could be a top-100 prospect at this time next season.Age: 22 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2019 Stats (High-A/Double-A): 115.0 IP, 3.76 ERA, 136/40 K/BB, 1.19 WHIP ETA: 2020 2019 Ranking: 7 2018 Ranking: Not in the organization National Top 100 Rankings BA: 96 | MLB: NR | ATH: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like Duran might have been one of the biggest risers in the entire Twins system last year. He made it all the way to Double-A last year where he was, on average, over three years younger than the competition. His 115 innings were a career high and he has pitched over 100 innings in each of the last two seasons. Also, Duran led the Twins minor league system with 136 strikeouts. He has all the traits teams are looking for when it comes to starting pitchers at the big league level. His four-seam fastball is consistently in the mid-to-upper 90s and he can crank it into triple-digits. To get strikeouts, he uses a 90+ mph two-seamer that acts more like a sinker/splitter. His curveball continues to improve and his change-up continues to get more work. Duran has a solid frame at 6-foot-5 and he has continued to add weight through his professional career. Since last year at this time, he has gone from 220 pounds to 232 pounds. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster this off-season so there is a chance he could make his debut in 2020. What’s Left To Work On For any pitcher with Duran’s velocity, there are going to be questions about whether or not he can find consistent success as a starting pitcher. This coming season will be critical for him to prove he can be a starter for the long-term. He needs to continue compiling innings to show he can meet the ever-changing demands on big-league pitchers. Command has also been an issue throughout his professional career because of an inconsistent delivery. That being said, he threw strikes on nearly 65% of his pitches and he struck out more than 10 batters per nine innings for the second consecutive season. His secondary pitches improved last season, but he will need to continue to get work with them as he gets closer to the majors. The Twins are in win-now mode and the club was already planning on moving a top pitching prospect to the bullpen. Could the Twins ask Duran to do the same thing? What’s Next Duran ended the year with seven starts at Double-A and that is likely where he will spend the majority of the 2020 season. Minnesota has added plenty of depth to the big-league rotation, so the club doesn’t have to feel like Duran needs to be rushed. He can continue to improve at Double-A with the chance to move to Triple-A in the season’s second half. Who knows? Maybe he could be a late-season addition to the bullpen like the Twins did with Brusdar Graterol in 2019. Twins Daily 2020 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 19. Cole Sands, RHP 18. Travis Blankenhorn, 2B/LF 17. Misael Urbina, OF 16. Edwar Colina, RP 15. Matt Canterino, RHP 14. Matt Wallner, OF 13. Wander Javier, SS 12. Gilberto Celestino, OF 11. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 10. Blayne Enlow, RHP 9. Brent Rooker, OF 8. Keoni Cavaco, SS 7. Ryan Jeffers, C 6. Jhoan Duran, RHP Stop by tomorrow for prospect #5! --------------------------------------------------------- Get to know more about Duran and about another 170 minor league players in the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on about 170 Twins minor leaguers. Click here to view the article
  21. Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015, shortly after his 17th birthday. That summer in the Dominican Summer League, he went 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 starts. The next year, he came to the States and pitched at two rookie-league levels. The Diamondbacks kept moving him slowly. In 2017, he played for Hillsboro in the advanced short-season Northwest League. He went 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 11 starts. The Diamondbacks didn’t move him up real quickly, and for good reason. Last month, the Twins announced that they had hired Mike Bell to be their new Bench Coach, replacing Derek Shelton who had been named the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bell has spent the past 27 years in professional baseball. He was a player who got a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues. He became a coach and a manager in the minor leagues upon his retirement as a player. However, he has spent the last eight seasons as the Vice President of Player Development for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, he was their Minor League Director. Mike Bell was ultimately in charge of the development of each of the Diamondbacks minor leaguers, including Jhoan Duran. Bell said, “When we saw him, he had a real heavy sinker. We took some baby steps with him. We knew the kind of talent he was, so we were playing it pretty safe with him in rookie ball. We saw a fastball up to 99 with heavy sink, and he is around the strike zone with command.” He began 2018 with Kane County in the Midwest League. He was 5-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 starts. Then came July 27th, 2018. He found out that afternoon that he had been traded, along with outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad, in exchange for infielder Eduardo Escobar. Regarding the trade, Bell noted, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go.” He continued, “I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization. I’m super-excited to reconnect with him.” From Duran’s perspective, it was something new. He had obviously never been traded before then. He said he knew no one in the Twins organization at the time of the trade. But he took it as a positive. He said (through Twins translator Elvis Martinez), “It was actually a good experience. I got to meet new people, new staff.” And he made a nice first impression in the new organization. In his first Kernels start, he threw seven no-hit, one-walk innings and struck out seven batters. He faced the minimum, 21 batters. In his fourth Kernels start, he struck out nine batters and gave up just one run over seven innings. The next start, he faced his old teammates from the Kane County Cougars. He gave up just one hit and struck out ten batters over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. In his six Kernels starts, he went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA and had 44 strikeouts in 36 innings. Duran spoke of it being nice to get off to a good start in his new organization, “It was a learning process. I think it was more mental than physical. I was just trying to get better every outing.” Duran began the 2019 season in Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he went just 2-9 despite an impressive 3.23 ERA. He also had 95 strikeouts (and 31 walks) over his 78 innings in the Florida State League. He never gave up more than three earned runs in any of his 16 outings. He moved up to Double-A Pensacola and made seven more starts. He went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA. He struck out 41 batters, and walked just nine, over his 37 innings there. In his penultimate start of the season, he struck out 11 batters (and walked just one) over eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball against the Jackson Generals. The soft-spoken Duran said of his 2019 season, “I felt really good overall, however, I feel I can do better.” The Twins obviously believe there is much more in there as well. In November, he was an easy choice to add to the team’s 40-man roster. Of course, it wasn’t as obvious to him. “Actually, it was something that took me by surprise, but I was really happy. I was not expecting it, but it was one of my goals.” Duran stands 6-5 and while he is lean, he is strong, weighing in at about 230 pounds. He has always been projectable. That 99 mph he was showing in rookie ball and now crept into the triple-digits often. His fastball averaged 97 mph in 2019. Duran briefly spoke about his best pitch and the pitches that he feels most comfortable with right now. “Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” He also has a pretty good breaking ball or two that he continues to work on and hopes to make more consistent. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster. He’s been to Twins Fest. He now has his Dominican high school diploma. And to top things off, he is on the cover of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. As he looks toward 2020, Duran has a couple of goals in mind. “My main goal is to go out there and keep working, to get better and to try to make the team.” And being on the roster means he is just one phone call away from reaching a lifelong dream, the big leagues. He notes, “It will mean a lot. It will be a dream come true.” His former farm director Mike Bell could become his bench coach with that big-league promotion, and I think his final comments on Duran echo those of Twins fans. “I’m excited to see what he can do here.” No, I won't be giving away the whole book, but here is the Jhoan Duran profile page to show you what you will find in the pages of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF (for immediate download). Order your copies today!
  22. On Wednesday afternoon, Jhoan Duran added another key achievement in his life. He was one of eight Twins minor leaguers to graduate and receive their high school diploma through the club’s Dominican Baseball Academy in Boca Chica. Get to know a little more about one of the Twins top pitching prospects.Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015, shortly after his 17th birthday. That summer in the Dominican Summer League, he went 4-1 with a 3.25 ERA in 12 starts. The next year, he came to the States and pitched at two rookie-league levels. The Diamondbacks kept moving him slowly. In 2017, he played for Hillsboro in the advanced short-season Northwest League. He went 6-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 11 starts. The Diamondbacks didn’t move him up real quickly, and for good reason. Last month, the Twins announced that they had hired Mike Bell to be their new Bench Coach, replacing Derek Shelton who had been named the manager of the Pittsburgh Pirates. Bell has spent the past 27 years in professional baseball. He was a player who got a brief cup of coffee in the big leagues. He became a coach and a manager in the minor leagues upon his retirement as a player. However, he has spent the last eight seasons as the Vice President of Player Development for the Arizona Diamondbacks. In other words, he was their Minor League Director. Mike Bell was ultimately in charge of the development of each of the Diamondbacks minor leaguers, including Jhoan Duran. Bell said, “When we saw him, he had a real heavy sinker. We took some baby steps with him. We knew the kind of talent he was, so we were playing it pretty safe with him in rookie ball. We saw a fastball up to 99 with heavy sink, and he is around the strike zone with command.” He began 2018 with Kane County in the Midwest League. He was 5-4 with a 4.73 ERA in 15 starts. Then came July 27th, 2018. He found out that afternoon that he had been traded, along with outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad, in exchange for infielder Eduardo Escobar. Regarding the trade, Bell noted, “It was a painful trade, being on that side of it, watching him go.” He continued, “I was definitely in the room. I think it was a good trade for both teams. Escy’s a very good player, and a good teammate. I’ll tell you what, Duran is an incredible talent. I think he’s going to do a lot of good things here in the organization. I’m super-excited to reconnect with him.” From Duran’s perspective, it was something new. He had obviously never been traded before then. He said he knew no one in the Twins organization at the time of the trade. But he took it as a positive. He said (through Twins translator Elvis Martinez), “It was actually a good experience. I got to meet new people, new staff.” And he made a nice first impression in the new organization. In his first Kernels start, he threw seven no-hit, one-walk innings and struck out seven batters. He faced the minimum, 21 batters. In his fourth Kernels start, he struck out nine batters and gave up just one run over seven innings. The next start, he faced his old teammates from the Kane County Cougars. He gave up just one hit and struck out ten batters over 6 2/3 scoreless innings. In his six Kernels starts, he went 2-1 with a 2.00 ERA and had 44 strikeouts in 36 innings. Duran spoke of it being nice to get off to a good start in his new organization, “It was a learning process. I think it was more mental than physical. I was just trying to get better every outing.” Duran began the 2019 season in Ft. Myers. With the Miracle, he went just 2-9 despite an impressive 3.23 ERA. He also had 95 strikeouts (and 31 walks) over his 78 innings in the Florida State League. He never gave up more than three earned runs in any of his 16 outings. He moved up to Double-A Pensacola and made seven more starts. He went 3-3 with a 4.86 ERA. He struck out 41 batters, and walked just nine, over his 37 innings there. In his penultimate start of the season, he struck out 11 batters (and walked just one) over eight innings of two-hit, shutout baseball against the Jackson Generals. The soft-spoken Duran said of his 2019 season, “I felt really good overall, however, I feel I can do better.” The Twins obviously believe there is much more in there as well. In November, he was an easy choice to add to the team’s 40-man roster. Of course, it wasn’t as obvious to him. “Actually, it was something that took me by surprise, but I was really happy. I was not expecting it, but it was one of my goals.” Duran stands 6-5 and while he is lean, he is strong, weighing in at about 230 pounds. He has always been projectable. That 99 mph he was showing in rookie ball and now crept into the triple-digits often. His fastball averaged 97 mph in 2019. Duran briefly spoke about his best pitch and the pitches that he feels most comfortable with right now. “Obviously I feel most comfortable with my fastball, but I also have another pitch that I really like to use and feel really comfortable with, and that’s my sinker.” He also has a pretty good breaking ball or two that he continues to work on and hopes to make more consistent. Jhoan Duran is on the 40-man roster. He’s been to Twins Fest. He now has his Dominican high school diploma. And to top things off, he is on the cover of the 2020 Twins Prospect Handbook. As he looks toward 2020, Duran has a couple of goals in mind. “My main goal is to go out there and keep working, to get better and to try to make the team.” And being on the roster means he is just one phone call away from reaching a lifelong dream, the big leagues. He notes, “It will mean a lot. It will be a dream come true.” His former farm director Mike Bell could become his bench coach with that big-league promotion, and I think his final comments on Duran echo those of Twins fans. “I’m excited to see what he can do here.” No, I won't be giving away the whole book, but here is the Jhoan Duran profile page to show you what you will find in the pages of the 2020 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. It is available in paperback or PDF(for immediate download). Order your copies today! Click here to view the article
  23. It did make some sense to have Adrianza around. Although Polanco’s bat looked like it would play at the MLB level, there were plenty of question marks pertaining to his ability to play short. Many in the industry, and Twins organization, felt Polanco’s long-term home would be at second, where he was then blocked by Dozier. Things were also a bit uncertain with Escobar as he had really struggled with the bat in 2016 and was underwhelming defensively. Adrianza at least gave the Twins a player who could step in and play solid defense, if not offering much with the bat. Up to this season, Adrianza has pretty much been the player fans could expect. He has been dependable, if not overly impressive. Adrianza has shown the ability to play short and play all around the diamond as well. In his time with Minnesota, he has played every position outside of center field and catcher, even pitching an inning this year. While his bat wasn’t great in 2017-18, he did show significant improvement from his number with the Giants. In 552 plate appearances, Adrianza slashed .256/.309/.380 for an OPS of .689, acceptable for a glove-first utility player. Coming into 2019, Adrianza’s role seemed even more up in the air as the Twins signed Marwin Gonzalez to a two-year, $21 million contract. With Gonzalez serving as the main ultility player, Adrianza was in a familiar position as the second utility option. With Minnesota’s stacked lineup, opportunities looked to be sparse, but Adrianza still filled a need as he is more palatable defensively at short than Gonzalez if Polanco were to suffer an injury. The season definitely got off to a slow start for Adrianza. Through May 10 Adrianza was hitting an unsightly .125/.218/.188 (.406 OPS). As the weather warmed so has Adrianza, batting a remarkable .355/.443/.518 (.961 OPS) in 47 games (31 starts) since May 11. This has been the best run of Adrianza’s career and thus far 2019 has been a career year for the utility man. Adrianza’s 2019 looks great against his career numbers, but he has also stacked up well against his peers in 2019. He currently holds a .348 wOBA (.297 career) compared to the MLB average of .320 and a 115 wRC+. For a utility player more regarded for his ability to fill in anywhere on the diamond, it’s pretty impressive that Adrainza has been an above average hitter in 2019. By comparison, Minnesota’s “everyday” utility man, Marwin Gonzalez, has a below average .310 wOBA and a wRC+ of just 90. Gonzales has accumulated a bWAR of 1.5 in 97 games (391 plate appearances) while Adrianza has a 1.2 bWAR in just 67 games (189 plate appearances). Image courtesy of FanGraphs This is not to imply that Adrianza should be getting playing time over Gonzalez. Gonzalez has been extremely valuable, playing the best defense of his career and providing the Twins with a much needed quality outfielder in the absence of Bryon Buxton. Gonzalez also has a better track record than Adrianza, offers more power and has valuable experience as a World Series champion. Gonzalez is heating up and he came up huge with his recent three-run homer in game one of the Milwaukee series (Adrianza also had a clutch pinch-hit RBI double earlier in that game). The main catalyst in Adrianza’s improvement on offense seems to be his improved plate discipline. In 2018, Adrianza walked in just 6.6% of his plate appearances and had a 22.4 % strikeout rate. This season, Adrianza has raised his walk rate to 10% (MLB average – 8.3%) and has lowered his strikeout rate to 15.3% (MLB average – 21.6%). Adrianza is also hitting the ball to all fields (he has pulled the ball less this year) and has reduced the amount of soft contact on batted balls from 21.4% for his career to 11.3 % in 2019. On the year, Adrianza’s playing time has been limited, but he has seen more action in August due to all of the injuries the Twins have experienced. Until Nelson Cruz comes back, Minnesota has the luxury of giving Polanco an occasional break as DH and letting Adrianza fill in at short. However, when Cruz is back, Minnesota may want to consider getting Adrianza in against lefties and sitting Polanco. While Polanco has had a great year, he has really struggled as a right-handed hitter, slashing just .262/.301/.376. Adrianza, on the other hand, has crushed .316/.400/.526 against southpaws (he’s done okay against righties as well - .275/.369/.383). As the season has dragged on Polanco has looked like he could use some rest. Polanco started the year red-hot, slashing .338/.409/.590 through May 31, but has hit just .260/.313/.408 since. He is nearing his career high in plate appearances and is on pace to play the most games of his career. Utilizing Adrianza a bit more could help Polanco perform better down the stretch by being better rested and not having to face left-handed pitching as much. Although Adrianza was formerly known as a defensive specialist, his defensive numbers on the year have not been all that great. His numbers have been the worst at third and short and he rates best at second base and as an outfielder. With that said, we’re dealing with a very small sample size, making the defensive metrics more unreliable and there is certainly value in Adrianza’s ability to play almost everywhere on the diamond. He has made some big plays of late and is also the only realistic option to fill in at short, as both Gonzalez and Luis Arraez are stretched on the left side of the middle infield. On a team that has set the all-time franchise record for home runs and is on pace to break the MLB record, it is easy to overlook a player like Ehire Adrianza. However, Adrianza has been invaluable to Minnesota because of his ability to step in and play virtually any position while providing above average offense and getting on base at a .380 clip. His ability to put up great numbers since mid-May without consistent playing time has been a major boost to the team. Marwin Gonzalez will continue to get more playing time than Adrianza, but with Gonzalez filling in at right and Max Kepler sliding over to center in Byron Buxton’s absence, Adrianza should get plenty of opportunities down the stretch. Next season will be Adrianza’s last year of arbitration should the Twins decide to bring him back, which they certainly seem likely to do at this point. With Gonzalez around for one more season as well, Adrianza will probably continue to play second fiddle, but it would be interesting to see what Adrianza could do with more playing time. Escobar soared to new heights in his age-29 season with regular playing time and has been even better in 2019. While Adrianza is unlikely to ever see quite the power surge that Escobar has, his numbers are also improving with age, and if he keeps it up maybe he too can one day become an everyday player.
  24. This is an excerpt of an article originating at Zone Coverage. Click here to read it in full. On the surface, it was just a home run. In a year where 4,588 of them have been hit already, that hardly seems like a real headline-grabber. MLB hitters have been hitting home runs at a rate of 1.39 per game -- by far the most in a season in history. It's not even really close; the 2017 season ranks second at 1.27 long balls per nine, and no other season is over 1.20. The homer also came late in a game that ended 18-7. That type of score is more commonplace in today's game with balls flying out of the park at an unprecedented rate. Also more commonplace in today's game is position players pitching, and in this case, it was a position player serving up the hitter's second home run of the game. Alright, that's enough of that cryptic business. The home run was in Phoenix, and it came off the bat of Eduardo Escobar. That pitch was thrown by perhaps his best friend in all of baseball -- Washington Nationals second baseman Brian Dozier. If Dozier isn't his closest friend in the game, it's possible the guy catching is -- Nationals backstop Kurt Suzuki. So when Dozier -- a right-handed thrower -- attempted to sneak a 69 mph floater past Escobar -- a switch hitter batting from the right side -- the Diamondbacks' jack-of-all-trades crushed it into oblivion, well into the left-field seats. All three guys did a fairly good job of letting the moment play itself out, until Escobar did his customary home run celebration after rounding third. That's when Suzuki had to get involved, as he playfully told Escobar to get back into the dugout while Dozier simply smiled as he watched his former teammate round the bases. The trio was like mismatched socks -- a Hawaiian, a Mississippi boy and a guy from Venezuela -- who drew glee during their Twins days from bouncing around each other like said socks in a dryer.
  25. Acquired in exchange for Francisco Liriano was back in 2012, Eduardo Escobar was a middle infielder that would shuffle his was around the diamond. After five big league seasons in Minnesota compiling a .709 OPS the 2018 season saw him break out in a big way. Through 97 games on a bad team a year ago, Escobar posted an .852 OPS and looked like he’d challenge the all-time doubles record. 23 homers were a new career high and he did it while providing utility all over. Jettisoned to Arizona Escobar left a starting position open. The expectation isn’t for a utility player to take over an everyday role, but there’s certainly at bats to be gobbled up and opportunity to be had. In 2019 Ehire Adrianza is rewriting his own narrative. In the offseason prior to the 2017 campaign Ehire was placed on waivers by the San Francisco Giants. After being claimed initially by the Milwaukee Brewers, Minnesota brought him in. Getting in just 70 games that season he posted a .707 OPS. Adrianza was always billed as a very good defensive shortstop who’d never been given much leash in the Bay. The Twins played him in five different positions last season and that versatility was the bulk of his value as he posted just a 0.5 fWAR and .680 OPS. Fast forward to 2019 and the explosion of sorts has happened. Adrianza hasn’t joined his teammates as a chief member of the Bomba Squad, but he’s no longer just a fringe utility man either. He’s got a career best .288/.377/.432 slash line and nearly has surpassed his career high fWAR (1.0 in 2017) through just 53 games of action. Dating back to May 12, 31 games ago, Adrianza owns a .397/.473/.603 slash line across 93 plate appearances. Jumping into his first career pitching performance 2019 has come with seven different positions on the diamond. No one is willing to suggest that Adrianza is an All-Star caliber player or the guy that you build a roster around, but he’s absolutely the type that you round out a very good team with. In the Postseason you can generally find significant value in the 25th man on any given roster. Ehire has afforded Rocco Baldelli a significant amount of versatility in his lineups, and because his bat has performed at an otherwise unseen clip, there’s been less of a dropoff when teammates have dealt with injury. Credit Adrianza for taking the path often traveled and turning it into a consistent opportunity. Rare is the light hitting minor leaguer like Luis Arraez coming up and batting near .400 for any considerable amount of time. Ehire’s trajectory is one many big leaguers before him have traveled. He could’ve been Pedro Florimon for something like 10 years and fizzled out over time. Instead he’s an irreplaceable cog on one of the best teams in baseball and all his teammates are better for it.
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