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  1. 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
  2. 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
  3. 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
  4. 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
  5. 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
  6. 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
  7. 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
  8. 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.
  9. 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!
  10. 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
  11. 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.
  12. 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.
  13. 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.
  14. Age: 21 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2018 Stats (Low-A): 100.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 115/38 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP ETA: 2021 2018 Ranking: NR National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR |MLB: NR | ESPN: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like There is a lot to like. When Jhoan Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015 out of the Dominican Republic, he was tall and lanky. That means that he was often touted as “projectable” as he had room to fill out. When the 2018 season ended, Duran stood 6-5 and weighed in at about 220 pounds. With the increased strength, Duran’s fastball has taken off. Duran throws 94-96 and even touched 98 mph. If you watched Tom Froemming’s Prospect Spotlight on Duran, he was hitting 96 in late August despite already being over his previous career high innings. He also gets some sink on his pitches. Duran also throws what appears to be two different breaking balls. He has a slider that can dart out of the zone, but he also has more of a curveball that drops. Both can be swing-and-miss pitches. He also is working to improve his changeup. Potentially, he’s got a big fastball with movement, four pitches and the ability to miss bats. Yes, potentially there is a whole lot to like in Jhoan Duran. What’s Left To Work On For Duran, he needs to work on the things that all young pitchers need to work on. While he has shown good control, he will need to continue to improve his command. While most believe that he can remain a starter, that will likely depend on continuing to improve and be more consistent with his secondary pitches. Especially, his changeup remains a work-in-progress. Development of that third (and maybe fourth) pitch may determine whether he remains a starter or if he becomes a potentially dominant, triple-digit throwing late-inning reliever. Before his six-inning stint to end the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids, his numbers had not yet matched his stuff. He had an ERA of 4.75 a 1.50 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings with Kane County before the trade. He struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 3.9 per nine innings. After joining the Kernels, he was incredible, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP over 36 innings. He increased his K-rate to 11.0 per nine innings, and reduced his walks per nine innings to 2.5. So was it a great, short-sample size six-game stint, which included seven no-hit innings in his Kernels debut, or has Duran actually turned corner in his career? What’s Next After spending last season in Cedar Rapids, Duran will start the 2019 season in Fort Myers. At this point, it’s all about developing those things (third and fourth pitches, consistent command). Working in the Florida State League should allow him an opportunity to put up some big numbers and potentially continue to rise up the Twins prospect charts. If he gets off to a strong start, he will certainly be a candidate for a midseason promotion to the Twins new Double-A affiliate in Pensacola. TD Top Prospects: Honorable Mention TD Top Prospects: 16-20 TD Top Prospects: 11-15 TD Top Prospects: #10 Akil Baddoo TD Top Prospects: #9 Blayne Enlow TD Top Prospects: #8 Lewis Thorpe TD Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran TD Top Prospects: #6 Coming Tomorrow… Get to know more about Duran and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers.
  15. As you recall, the Twins front office was awfully busy around the trade deadline in 2018. It was a tough time for some Twins fans who would miss seeing some of their favorite players dealt to contending teams. The one positive to come out of that situation was the acquisition of some quality talent including our choice for the Twins #7 prospect, Jhoan Duran. Jhoan Duran came to the Twins along with outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad in exchange for Eduardo Escobar. When the trade was made, we knew very little about the three. It’s fair to say that Duran has made a strong impression in his short time with the Cedar Rapids Kernels.Age: 21 (DOB: 1-8-1998) 2018 Stats (Low-A): 100.2 IP, 3.75 ERA, 115/38 K/BB, 1.25 WHIP ETA: 2021 2018 Ranking: NR National Top 100 Rankings BA: NR |MLB: NR | ESPN: NR |BP: NR What’s To Like There is a lot to like. When Jhoan Duran signed with the Diamondbacks in February of 2015 out of the Dominican Republic, he was tall and lanky. That means that he was often touted as “projectable” as he had room to fill out. When the 2018 season ended, Duran stood 6-5 and weighed in at about 220 pounds. With the increased strength, Duran’s fastball has taken off. Duran throws 94-96 and even touched 98 mph. If you watched Tom Froemming’s Prospect Spotlight on Duran, he was hitting 96 in late August despite already being over his previous career high innings. He also gets some sink on his pitches. Duran also throws what appears to be two different breaking balls. He has a slider that can dart out of the zone, but he also has more of a curveball that drops. Both can be swing-and-miss pitches. He also is working to improve his changeup. Potentially, he’s got a big fastball with movement, four pitches and the ability to miss bats. Yes, potentially there is a whole lot to like in Jhoan Duran. What’s Left To Work On For Duran, he needs to work on the things that all young pitchers need to work on. While he has shown good control, he will need to continue to improve his command. While most believe that he can remain a starter, that will likely depend on continuing to improve and be more consistent with his secondary pitches. Especially, his changeup remains a work-in-progress. Development of that third (and maybe fourth) pitch may determine whether he remains a starter or if he becomes a potentially dominant, triple-digit throwing late-inning reliever. Before his six-inning stint to end the 2018 season in Cedar Rapids, his numbers had not yet matched his stuff. He had an ERA of 4.75 a 1.50 WHIP in 64 2/3 innings with Kane County before the trade. He struck out 9.9 batters per nine innings, but he also walked 3.9 per nine innings. After joining the Kernels, he was incredible, posting a 2.00 ERA and a 0.81 WHIP over 36 innings. He increased his K-rate to 11.0 per nine innings, and reduced his walks per nine innings to 2.5. So was it a great, short-sample size six-game stint, which included seven no-hit innings in his Kernels debut, or has Duran actually turned corner in his career? What’s Next After spending last season in Cedar Rapids, Duran will start the 2019 season in Fort Myers. At this point, it’s all about developing those things (third and fourth pitches, consistent command). Working in the Florida State League should allow him an opportunity to put up some big numbers and potentially continue to rise up the Twins prospect charts. If he gets off to a strong start, he will certainly be a candidate for a midseason promotion to the Twins new Double-A affiliate in Pensacola. TD Top Prospects: Honorable Mention TD Top Prospects: 16-20 TD Top Prospects: 11-15 TD Top Prospects: #10 Akil Baddoo TD Top Prospects: #9 Blayne Enlow TD Top Prospects: #8 Lewis Thorpe TD Top Prospects: #7 Jhoan Duran TD Top Prospects: #6 Coming Tomorrow… Get to know more about Duran and many more minor league players in the 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook. ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (paperback, $17.99) ORDER NOW: 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook (eBook, $12.99) The 2019 Minnesota Twins Prospect Handbook goes in-depth and provides player bios, scouting reports, statistics and much more on almost 160 Twins minor leaguers. Click here to view the article
  16. As you would expect in a season that was disappointing and July gave us four trades, those would be some pretty important and discussed articles on the site, so let’s jump into it. 10. Report Ryan Pressly traded to Houston - July 27 Ryan Pressly was arguably the Twins player who received the most interest from other teams. He had a terrific career with the Twins when you recall that he came to the Twins as a Rule 5 draft pick. The last year or so he put up some very good numbers. As important in today’s game, front offices were able to look at his peripheral numbers and other things, like spin rate, to determine that he could be even better. Houston acquired Pressly for two high-ceiling prospects. 9. Minnesota Twins 2018 trade deadline report card - August 1 A day after the trade, Tom Froemming took a look at the 12 players that the Twins acquired in the various late-July trades, specifically the ten minor league prospects. He also gave grades to each trade and provided reasons why. For me, it’s fun to look back to see what our thoughts were on the players acquired before we got to see them play in the minor leagues for a month (or some in the big leagues for a second month). 8. Offseason Blueprint Hey Big Spenders - November 4 Following the release of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we decided to write up a few blueprints with varying schedules. Tom wrote about a trade-based offseason. I wrote about a build-from-within focused offseason. Nick was tasked with writing about what an offseason of Big Spending might look like. Probably no surprise to anyone which one our readers enjoyed the most. 7. Top 20 Minnesota Twins assets Part 4 (1-5) - January 2 Nick’s annual rankings of the Twins most valuable assets has been a big hit. He just posted his 2019 choices for Top 5 Twins assets. Last year’s version was a success as well, ranking this high. Three of the five in the Top 5 are the same. It’s fun to look back at this series to be reminded of how much can change in one year, one season. 6. Deadline Deal Twins Trade Brian Dozier to Dodgers - July 31 We all knew it was happening. He knew it was happening. Right at the trade deadline, the Twins finally worked out a deal with the Dodgers, sending Brian Dozier in exchange for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer. Dozier provided the Twins with a ton of power production over his six seasons with the Twins. He was an All-Star and clearly a leader. 5. Twins Acquire Jake Odorizzi for Jermaine Palacios - February 17 A day after signing Anibal Sanchez, the Twins made a trade with the Rays. They acquired RHP Jake Odorizzi in exchange for talented shortstop Jermaine Palacios. Palacios was coming off of a strong rebound season, split between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Odorizzi had been a quality, mid-rotation starting pitcher in the AL East for several seasons. While Twins fans acknowledged that Palacios does have a chance to be a big league shortstop, most were happy with receiving two years of a solid, mid-rotation starting pitcher in return. 4. Report Twins to Trade Eduardo Escobar to Arizona - July 27 The first trade chip to be dealt was Eduardo Escobar. Escobar rarely was handed a full-time job over his time with the Twins. But every season, it didn’t take long for a spot to open up and with the playing time, he proved worthy of being in the lineup every day. He was the team’s best hitter (or right there with Eddie Rosario) during most of the first half. The Twins acquired three prospects in return, hard-throwing Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad. 3. The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano - June 26 Miguel Sano played in the 2017 All-Star Game a night after finishing runner-up to Aaron Judge in the home run derby. Since then, it’s been one issue or another and few were good. He had a major injury late in the 2017 season and had a titanium rod put in his leg. He wasn’t able to work out a lot in the offseason. He has had a couple of off-the-field issues as well. Early in the 2018 season, the issue was a very poor approach at the plate. Things got bad enough that the Twins felt their best option was to send Sano all the way down to Ft. Myers for a reboot. Nick Nelson did a great job of providing a great insight into the situation. 2. :Nelson Cruz agrees to deal with Twins - December 27 Most experts predicted that the Twins would land Nelson Cruz this offseason. Around the Winter Meetings, there were rumors that it was between the Twins and the Rays. Before Christmas, it became known that the Astros were also interested in the 38-year-old DH. But just last week, the reports came out that the Twins and Nelson Cruz had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a club option for 2020. The move became official this year. Minnesota Twins 2018 MLB Draft signing tracker - June 8-July 15 Maybe a little anticlimactic, but as we have discussed in the previous installments, Twins Daily fans love the draft. Following the draft’s completion, we started an article showing which players had signed and kept updating it as players signed or there were other updates on the drafted players. The deadline for signing was July 15th. So now you have seen the Top 30 most-viewed articles on Twins Daily in 2018. What do you think? What were your highlights and favorite Twins stories of 2018?
  17. This week, we have reviewed the Top 30 most-viewed Twins Daily articles in 2018. There have been a lot of articles on prospects and the draft, on the Twins trades and offseason speculation. Check out Part 1 (21-30) and Part 2 (11-20)if you haven’t already, and then today enjoy the Top 10 stories of the year.As you would expect in a season that was disappointing and July gave us four trades, those would be some pretty important and discussed articles on the site, so let’s jump into it. 10. Report Ryan Pressly traded to Houston - July 27 Ryan Pressly was arguably the Twins player who received the most interest from other teams. He had a terrific career with the Twins when you recall that he came to the Twins as a Rule 5 draft pick. The last year or so he put up some very good numbers. As important in today’s game, front offices were able to look at his peripheral numbers and other things, like spin rate, to determine that he could be even better. Houston acquired Pressly for two high-ceiling prospects. 9. Minnesota Twins 2018 trade deadline report card - August 1 A day after the trade, Tom Froemming took a look at the 12 players that the Twins acquired in the various late-July trades, specifically the ten minor league prospects. He also gave grades to each trade and provided reasons why. For me, it’s fun to look back to see what our thoughts were on the players acquired before we got to see them play in the minor leagues for a month (or some in the big leagues for a second month). 8. Offseason Blueprint Hey Big Spenders - November 4 Following the release of the Twins Daily Offseason Handbook, we decided to write up a few blueprints with varying schedules. Tom wrote about a trade-based offseason. I wrote about a build-from-within focused offseason. Nick was tasked with writing about what an offseason of Big Spending might look like. Probably no surprise to anyone which one our readers enjoyed the most. 7. Top 20 Minnesota Twins assets Part 4 (1-5) - January 2 Nick’s annual rankings of the Twins most valuable assets has been a big hit. He just posted his 2019 choices for Top 5 Twins assets. Last year’s version was a success as well, ranking this high. Three of the five in the Top 5 are the same. It’s fun to look back at this series to be reminded of how much can change in one year, one season. 6. Deadline Deal Twins Trade Brian Dozier to Dodgers - July 31 We all knew it was happening. He knew it was happening. Right at the trade deadline, the Twins finally worked out a deal with the Dodgers, sending Brian Dozier in exchange for Logan Forsythe, Luke Raley and Devin Smeltzer. Dozier provided the Twins with a ton of power production over his six seasons with the Twins. He was an All-Star and clearly a leader. 5. Twins Acquire Jake Odorizzi for Jermaine Palacios - February 17 A day after signing Anibal Sanchez, the Twins made a trade with the Rays. They acquired RHP Jake Odorizzi in exchange for talented shortstop Jermaine Palacios. Palacios was coming off of a strong rebound season, split between Cedar Rapids and Ft. Myers. Odorizzi had been a quality, mid-rotation starting pitcher in the AL East for several seasons. While Twins fans acknowledged that Palacios does have a chance to be a big league shortstop, most were happy with receiving two years of a solid, mid-rotation starting pitcher in return. 4. Report Twins to Trade Eduardo Escobar to Arizona - July 27 The first trade chip to be dealt was Eduardo Escobar. Escobar rarely was handed a full-time job over his time with the Twins. But every season, it didn’t take long for a spot to open up and with the playing time, he proved worthy of being in the lineup every day. He was the team’s best hitter (or right there with Eddie Rosario) during most of the first half. The Twins acquired three prospects in return, hard-throwing Jhoan Duran and outfielders Gabriel Maciel and Ernie de la Trinidad. 3. The Rise and Fall of Miguel Sano - June 26 Miguel Sano played in the 2017 All-Star Game a night after finishing runner-up to Aaron Judge in the home run derby. Since then, it’s been one issue or another and few were good. He had a major injury late in the 2017 season and had a titanium rod put in his leg. He wasn’t able to work out a lot in the offseason. He has had a couple of off-the-field issues as well. Early in the 2018 season, the issue was a very poor approach at the plate. Things got bad enough that the Twins felt their best option was to send Sano all the way down to Ft. Myers for a reboot. Nick Nelson did a great job of providing a great insight into the situation. 2. :Nelson Cruz agrees to deal with Twins - December 27 Most experts predicted that the Twins would land Nelson Cruz this offseason. Around the Winter Meetings, there were rumors that it was between the Twins and the Rays. Before Christmas, it became known that the Astros were also interested in the 38-year-old DH. But just last week, the reports came out that the Twins and Nelson Cruz had agreed to terms on a one-year deal with a club option for 2020. The move became official this year. Minnesota Twins 2018 MLB Draft signing tracker - June 8-July 15Maybe a little anticlimactic, but as we have discussed in the previous installments, Twins Daily fans love the draft. Following the draft’s completion, we started an article showing which players had signed and kept updating it as players signed or there were other updates on the drafted players. The deadline for signing was July 15th. So now you have seen the Top 30 most-viewed articles on Twins Daily in 2018. What do you think? What were your highlights and favorite Twins stories of 2018? Click here to view the article
  18. Free agency officially opens today, so it’s time to move forward and put this 2018 Twins Highlights series to bed. We’re going to end on a high note, covering what I believe are the most exciting plays to watch in baseball: Web gems.Just a reminder, earlier in this series I dedicated an entire post to Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo, so those two are not included in any of the compilations below. We’re going to go all the way around the horn, starting with pitchers and catchers. When you think about defense, you don’t often take into account the guy on the mound, but the Twins have a couple of guys who would make even Jim Kaat proud in Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios. Well there you have it, this is the final installment of the 2018 Twins Highlights series. I’m sure there were a few memorable moments or incredible plays I missed, but this was a lot of fun to put together. Here’s a rundown of what was covered: Walk-Off Wins Super Rosario and La Tortuga Top Pitching Performances Longest Home Runs Mauer Milestones and More I hope you enjoyed this series. To celebrate its conclusion, I mashed a bunch of these segments together to form a 20-minute long ultimate mixtape on YouTube. Click here to view the article
  19. Just a reminder, earlier in this series I dedicated an entire post to Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo, so those two are not included in any of the compilations below. We’re going to go all the way around the horn, starting with pitchers and catchers. When you think about defense, you don’t often take into account the guy on the mound, but the Twins have a couple of guys who would make even Jim Kaat proud in Kyle Gibson and Jose Berrios. https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/1058169611034734592 How about the rest of the infield? There was a lot of instability due to injuries, trades and Jorge Polanco’s suspension, but there was still some great glovework to be seen in 2018. There were also injuries in the outfield that created some big holes, but that opened the door for Max Kepler to show off his versatility. Jake Cave also broke through and wowed Twins Territory with diving catch after diving catch. Well there you have it, this is the final installment of the 2018 Twins Highlights series. I’m sure there were a few memorable moments or incredible plays I missed, but this was a lot of fun to put together. Here’s a rundown of what was covered: Walk-Off Wins Super Rosario and La Tortuga Top Pitching Performances Longest Home Runs Mauer Milestones and More I hope you enjoyed this series. To celebrate its conclusion, I mashed a bunch of these segments together to form a 20-minute long ultimate mixtape on YouTube.
  20. Eddie Rosario led the Twins with 24 home runs, followed by Max Kepler with 20 and Brian Dozier with 16, but neither of those three are represented among the players who slugged the five longest home runs for the Twins in 2018. Who made the list? Come check it out.Here are the top-five longest home runs hit by Twins batters in 2018, as measured by Statcast’s projected distance: 5. Logan Morrison, 442 feet off Glenn Sparkman on Aug. 4 It’s no surprise to see Sano and Austin top this list, but neither of them led the team in average home run distance this year. That title goes to Cave, whose 13 homers traveled an averaged distance of 419 feet. The runner-up was Mitch Garver, who averaged 408 feet on his seven home runs. Previous installments of the 2018 Highlights Series: Walk-Off Wins | I took a look back at all six of the Twins’ walk-off wins from 2018. Super Rosario and La Tortuga | Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo provided excitement in an otherwise down season. Here I reviewed some of their most entertaining moments. Top Pitching Performances | Here’s a look back at the top five outings of the season as rated by Game Score 2.0. Click here to view the article
  21. Here are the top-five longest home runs hit by Twins batters in 2018, as measured by Statcast’s projected distance: 5. Logan Morrison, 442 feet off Glenn Sparkman on Aug. 4 https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/1053450878412308480 4. Jake Cave, 443 feet off Yovani Gallardo on Sept. 1 https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/1053451247410442240 3. Eduardo Escobar, 443 feet off Josh Tomlin on June 1 *I used exit velocity as the tiebreaker between this and Cave’s bomb. https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/1053451482111135745 2. Tyler Austin, 451 feet off Matthew Boyd on Aug. 17 https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/1053451695194279937 1. Miguel Sano, 455 feet off Mike Fiers on Aug. 25 https://twitter.com/TwinsHighlights/status/1053451938149351424 It’s no surprise to see Sano and Austin top this list, but neither of them led the team in average home run distance this year. That title goes to Cave, whose 13 homers traveled an averaged distance of 419 feet. The runner-up was Mitch Garver, who averaged 408 feet on his seven home runs. Previous installments of the 2018 Highlights Series: Walk-Off Wins | I took a look back at all six of the Twins’ walk-off wins from 2018. Super Rosario and La Tortuga | Eddie Rosario and Willians Astudillo provided excitement in an otherwise down season. Here I reviewed some of their most entertaining moments. Top Pitching Performances | Here’s a look back at the top five outings of the season as rated by Game Score 2.0.
  22. Joe Mauer's big send-off yesterday, combined with the ominous uncertainty surrounding Miguel Sano, leaves the corner infield spots as a major source of mystery as the Minnesota Twins embark on their offseason. Let's take an early look at a few players who will be available in free agency.Note: This is an excerpt from the free agency section of the upcoming 2019 Offseason Handbook, which you can officially preorder as of today. You'll find these profiles, plus dozens more, within. Claim your copy today to get it before its official release. To say the Twins lack clarity at the infield corners would be an understatement. Incumbent first baseman Joe Mauer is a free agent, for the first time ever. Incumbent third baseman Miguel Sano is coming off a brutal season bisected by a demotion to Single-A. The latter will be back (barring a trade) but in what capacity? Keep him at third, or move him to first (or even DH)? Up to you. And that decision will dictate planning here. Joe Mauer, 1B Age: 35 Previous Team: Twins 2018 Stats: .282/.351/.379, 6 HR, 48 RBI Mauer is coming off an underwhelming season that saw him turn in some of the worst numbers of his career. But he remains an excellent defensive first baseman and strong situational hitter with above-average OBP skills. If he returns, it'll be as a part-timer and frequent DH. But with righty-swinging Tyler Austin on hand, that might fit. Mauer is contemplating retirement. Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Eduardo Escobar, 3B Age: 30 Previous Team: Diamondbacks 2018 Stats: .272/.334/.489, 23 HR, 84 RBI Cherished clubhouse character and late-blooming versatile slugger. Signing Escobar would restore a recognizable veteran presence to the locker room while allowing Sano to move across the diamond for a potential offensive upgrade at both corners. Esco's ability to fill in at short or second, if needed, helps with flexibility. Estimated Contract: 3 years, $45 million Matt Adams, 1B Age: 30 Previous Team: Cardinals 2018 Stats: .239/.309/.477, 21 HR, 57 RBI Looking for an apt platoon mate to complement lefty-masher Austin, Adams might be your man. He's got an .815 OPS with 41 homers over the past two seasons, and is a career .279/.330/.495 hitter against righties. Can play outfield corners in a pinch. Estimated Contract: 2 years, $15 million Hungry for more? Preorder the Offseason Handbook, which will include profiles on tons of other free agent options, at the corner infield and other areas of need. Click here to view the article
  23. Note: This is an excerpt from the free agency section of the upcoming 2019 Offseason Handbook, which you can officially preorder as of today. You'll find these profiles, plus dozens more, within. Claim your copy today to get it before its official release. To say the Twins lack clarity at the infield corners would be an understatement. Incumbent first baseman Joe Mauer is a free agent, for the first time ever. Incumbent third baseman Miguel Sano is coming off a brutal season bisected by a demotion to Single-A. The latter will be back (barring a trade) but in what capacity? Keep him at third, or move him to first (or even DH)? Up to you. And that decision will dictate planning here. Joe Mauer, 1B Age: 35 Previous Team: Twins 2018 Stats: .282/.351/.379, 6 HR, 48 RBI Mauer is coming off an underwhelming season that saw him turn in some of the worst numbers of his career. But he remains an excellent defensive first baseman and strong situational hitter with above-average OBP skills. If he returns, it'll be as a part-timer and frequent DH. But with righty-swinging Tyler Austin on hand, that might fit. Mauer is contemplating retirement. Estimated Contract: 1 year, $7 million Eduardo Escobar, 3B Age: 30 Previous Team: Diamondbacks 2018 Stats: .272/.334/.489, 23 HR, 84 RBI Cherished clubhouse character and late-blooming versatile slugger. Signing Escobar would restore a recognizable veteran presence to the locker room while allowing Sano to move across the diamond for a potential offensive upgrade at both corners. Esco's ability to fill in at short or second, if needed, helps with flexibility. Estimated Contract: 3 years, $45 million Matt Adams, 1B Age: 30 Previous Team: Cardinals 2018 Stats: .239/.309/.477, 21 HR, 57 RBI Looking for an apt platoon mate to complement lefty-masher Austin, Adams might be your man. He's got an .815 OPS with 41 homers over the past two seasons, and is a career .279/.330/.495 hitter against righties. Can play outfield corners in a pinch. Estimated Contract: 2 years, $15 million Hungry for more? Preorder the Offseason Handbook, which will include profiles on tons of other free agent options, at the corner infield and other areas of need.
  24. Heading into the offseason, the Minnesota Twins will once again have the luxury of spending some money. With very little committed to the 2019 payroll, I’d imagine the front office will target something close to the 2018 Opening Day number when the dust settles. Having the luxury of a team composed of players still in arbitration years helps to provide financial flexibility. It’s worth wondering where it will be allocated this time around. Last offseason, it was hard to suggest that Derek Falvey and Thad Levine did anything short of knocking the ball out of the park. They were in on the most premiere free agent talent, and began the season with a strong influx of ability. As we saw this season, many of those acquisitions didn’t work out, and that’s why the year went as it did. While each player had their own shortcomings, one thing worth coming back to is the talk of one-year deals. It has been brought up multiple times down the stretch that the Twins clubhouse was somewhat toxic this year. Having signed multiple guys on one-year deals, it’s worth wondering if there wasn’t more of a focus on a “me” game intended to land the next real paycheck. This winter, I’d imagine Minnesota would be more focused on landing guys believed to help the organization in the long term, and given a financial commitment to do so. Although there’s plenty still up in the air as to how the 2019 Opening Day roster will look, here’s a free agent addition for each position group that could make a whole lot of sense: Starting Pitcher- Patrick Corbin To the casual observer, Dallas Keuchel is likely the big name when it comes to the 2019 free agent pitching crop. He’s not the Cy Young winner he was a few years ago, and he’s settled into more of a number two type role. What Keuchel does present is a good deal of consistency and reliability. I’d imagine he’ll be paid handsomely, and think there’s probably a better option out there. Corbin is a year younger than the Astros starter, and he has had an incredible 2018. His 3.01 ERA and 11.2 K/9 are more than worthy of salivating over. What’s holding the Diamondbacks starter back is the lack of a true track record. He was pretty mediocre in 2017, and downright poor the season before that. Over the course of his career though, strikeouts have been a thing he can generate, and limiting walks has been a pretty safe bet. Teams will need to push down his ask a bit by noting that lack of consistency, but he’s the guy I’d pay for. The Twins have run out more than a handful of starters once again this season, and only Jose Berrios and Kyle Gibson should be 2019 rotation locks. Fernando Romero should be a mainstay and take another step forward, while the emergence of an arm from the group of Zack Littell, Stephen Gonsalves, Chase De Jong, and others would be a nice realization. Bringing in another top half hurler on a long-term deal makes sense for the Twins, and this could be their guy. Other possibilities: Keuchel, Nathan Eovaldi, Hyun-Jin Ryu Relief Pitcher: Kelvin Herrera In 2019, Minnesota shed a ton of talent out of the bullpen. Guys like Fernando Rodney and Zach Duke were brought in on one-year deals making them expendable. Ryan Pressly, one of the best relief arms in baseball, was capitalized on in the form of a nice prospect return. Regardless of where they’re at now, the reality is that the Twins will need to re-tool. Addison Reed will be in the final year of his deal, and the hope would be that he could rebound from a disastrous 2018. Taylor Rogers and Trevor Hildenberger look the part of developed talent, and should be able to bolster the back end of ball games. From there though, it’s a significant amount of question marks. Alan Busenitz, Tyler Duffey, and John Curtiss are getting to the point where feeling them out needs to produce results. Jake Reed and Nick Anderson should’ve already had a look, and Gabriel Moya must show more stuff than deception. While signing relievers to long-term deals is never an ideal scenario, one or two coming in on two-year pacts makes some sense. In Herrera, the Twins would be getting a guy that throws hard, and knows the division. Kelvin has previous closer experience, and would be an immediate boost to the back end of the pen. There are a few other names that could be a fit, but this is the combination of stuff and results that jumps off the page for me. Other possibilities: Jeurys Familia, Zach Britton, Adam Ottavino Starting Lineup: Eduardo Escobar Trying to decipher how the Twins will line up to start 2019 is quite the question mark. There are plenty of bodies to put into positions, but the reality is that expectations are left unfulfilled all over the place. Miguel Sano needs a committed offseason, and Byron Buxton needs a bill of health. Does Joe Mauer return in a limited role, and what are the thoughts behind the plate? From where we sit today, I think we can safely consider Eddie Rosario, Jorge Polanco, and Miguel Sano to be starters. Byron Buxton and Max Kepler should be the second wave of near certainties, and that leaves just a handful of openings. What Minnesota does at first base remains to be seen, and the options aren’t ideal. Second base is open, and Nick Gordon doesn’t appear ready. Jason Castro should be back behind the plate with Mitch Garver spelling him, but it’s worth considering an upgrade. As crazy as it sounds, the best fit from a constructive standpoint is superstar Manny Machado. He moves Sano to first, gets a mega deal from a team with money to spend, and becomes a cornerstone for a budding organization. It’s hard to live in that reality, so the next step down (and an obvious significant one) is the return of Eduardo Escobar. He can play second or third regularly, and his midline is one that still remains above league average. The Twins front office probably has some relationship equity to regain here, but that’s not something that will be new to them this winter. Other possibilities: Manny Machado, Yasmani Grandal, D.J. LeMahieu, Wilson Ramos For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  25. This is an excerpt of an article from Zone Coverage. Please click here to read the entire piece. Mike Herman still remembers it like it was yesterday, and can recall it down to the minute. “June 8, 2012....10:30 a.m.,” he said when we sat down in his satellite office in the Twins clubhouse at Target Field prior to an early-August game. Prior to that moment, Herman was the team’s No. 1 public relations guy. Dustin Morse -- who has that role now -- was second in command. But that morning, then-Twins general manager Terry Ryan walked into the team’s communications office on the service level of Target Field, pointed at Herman and said, “Mike, you are the interim director of team travel. Dustin, you are the interim director of baseball communications. Do you have any questions?” The two exchanged bewildered looks due to the abruptness of the move, but otherwise took on their duties head-on. Now, some six years later, both are still in those roles and thriving. It wasn’t an unwelcome move for Herman, who had already interviewed for that position with the San Francisco Giants earlier that year. But again, the suddenness sort of made Herman have to spring into action. Fortunately, it was the beginning of a homestand and he had a little time to get ready for the upcoming road trip, but it was still a baptism by fire. Herman’s wife Brittany was very helpful. As a former hotel rep, she knew a lot of the little details Mike would have to deal with, and helped him rein those in quickly. “Find the hotel contracts for every city,” she instructed him. “Print them off and bring them home.” She went through them with a highlighter and helped him learn about the specific needs and things to ask for when dealing with hotels on the road. “That was extremely helpful,” he said with a laugh. The first road trip proved to be a unique challenge as well, as the team was headed to Pittsburgh and Cincinnati -- two road cities the Twins play in roughly once every six years. “If it were Chicago, Detroit, Cleveland or Kansas City, I would have had some more familiarity with being in those cities a lot,” Herman said. But nevertheless, seven baseball seasons later, Herman is still at his post and enjoying it. But those seven seasons have brought seven MLB trade deadlines, and while fans see the players who are coming and going, they almost certainly don’t know the work going on behind the scenes once things are set in motion. The 2018 trade deadline was the most active in club history. On a Friday night in Boston, the Twins dealt Eduardo Escobar to the Arizona Diamondbacks before the game, and after the game news broke that Ryan Pressly was headed to the Houston Astros.
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