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  1. While it has always been unlikely that Correa would wind up back in Minnesota, and it remains unlikely, this is probably as close as it has felt to them looking like a front-runner. Image courtesy of © Matt Krohn-USA TODAY Sports It wasn’t supposed to go this way for Carlos Correa. He spent the last offseason seeking a long-term deal over $300 million. He never got that and instead settled for a one-year contract that paid him the highest average annual value we’ve ever seen for an infielder. Now, still unsigned on January 8, his long-term prognosis has been scrutinized, and sources continue to indicate that Minnesota could be the benefactor. It has been multiple weeks since reports trickled in that Carlos Correa would be signing a 12-year, $315 million deal with the New York Mets. They were a late suitor to the party, but stood there with a wad of cash after the San Francisco Giants wanted to rework their 13-year, $350 million offer following a physical. We now know that the issues stemming from the physical all tie back to an ankle that was surgically repaired as a prospect, and the Twins have seen the same information. According to a source, Minnesota is now using the physical to their advantage. Correa was already cleared last March for what was a three-year contract. As recently as Saturday morning another offer was made. While the deal would still likely require a physical, the Twins have indicated they are comfortable with where Correa’s health and body are. Coming into the season, Minnesota knew that Correa would opt out after one season unless he played poorly or was injured. They sought to keep him on a long-term contract, ultimately offering 10-years, $285 million. That didn’t reach the same realm as either the Giants or Mets, and therefore left the Twins short. Prior to San Francisco making their last push, the Twins felt well positioned. Although that may have been shortsighted, it appears the chances may now be higher than ever. New York is looking to rework Correa’s deal, and a source indicated that language protecting the Mets meant his guaranteed money could be cut by as much as one-third. Correa is looking for long-term certainty, and the Mets adding conditions to exit the deal after seven years would be a non-starter. Although the Twins $285 million over 10 years was originally well short on dollars, it’s now in the ballpark of (or even exceeding) the truly guaranteed money. A source indicated the latest offer, which is thought to give Minnesota very firm footing, is in the range of that previous final offer. With New York reluctant on the length at this point, and with alternatives in top prospects Brett Baty and Mark Vientos, the Mets backing out altogether is not unfathomable. Mets owner Steve Cohen recently liked a tweet suggesting that the player needs his team more than the team needs him. Although that may be true for a franchise that has Francisco Lindor at shortstop and would be pushing Correa to the hot corner, it’s certainly not an ideal way to go about welcoming talent. From the get-go, Minnesota has made Correa and his family feel welcomed and a priority. Again, the front office has stood steadfast in holding close to an original offer despite multiple cutbacks from organizations that have since gotten cold feet. The Twins are growing increasingly comfortable that Boras is not simply playing with the Twins as leverage for the Mets. Instead, he has grown annoyed with the proceedings, wants resolution in the coming days, and Minnesota may even now be the frontrunner. It’s a wait-and-see game regarding Cohen and his unlimited amount of dollars. Whether general manager Billy Eppler wants to push forward or not remains to be seen, but the Mets have acted at the last minute multiple times during this saga. Knowing that players like Manny Machado and Shohei Ohtani will be free agents next offseason has helped to keep some of the biggest markets out of this race. Minnesota won’t be in consideration for those two, and this represents their best chance to make a splash of this caliber. Correa’s dollars could come in nearly $100 million more than Joe Mauer’s hometown extension, and seeing that type of commitment would be welcomed by Twins Territory. While it has always been unlikely that Correa would wind up back in Minnesota, and it remains unlikely, this is probably as close as it has felt to them looking like a front-runner. View full article
  2. It wasn’t supposed to go this way for Carlos Correa. He spent the last offseason seeking a long-term deal over $300 million. He never got that and instead settled for a one-year contract that paid him the highest average annual value we’ve ever seen for an infielder. Now, still unsigned on January 8, his long-term prognosis has been scrutinized, and sources continue to indicate that Minnesota could be the benefactor. It has been multiple weeks since reports trickled in that Carlos Correa would be signing a 12-year, $315 million deal with the New York Mets. They were a late suitor to the party, but stood there with a wad of cash after the San Francisco Giants wanted to rework their 13-year, $350 million offer following a physical. We now know that the issues stemming from the physical all tie back to an ankle that was surgically repaired as a prospect, and the Twins have seen the same information. According to a source, Minnesota is now using the physical to their advantage. Correa was already cleared last March for what was a three-year contract. As recently as Saturday morning another offer was made. While the deal would still likely require a physical, the Twins have indicated they are comfortable with where Correa’s health and body are. Coming into the season, Minnesota knew that Correa would opt out after one season unless he played poorly or was injured. They sought to keep him on a long-term contract, ultimately offering 10-years, $285 million. That didn’t reach the same realm as either the Giants or Mets, and therefore left the Twins short. Prior to San Francisco making their last push, the Twins felt well positioned. Although that may have been shortsighted, it appears the chances may now be higher than ever. New York is looking to rework Correa’s deal, and a source indicated that language protecting the Mets meant his guaranteed money could be cut by as much as one-third. Correa is looking for long-term certainty, and the Mets adding conditions to exit the deal after seven years would be a non-starter. Although the Twins $285 million over 10 years was originally well short on dollars, it’s now in the ballpark of (or even exceeding) the truly guaranteed money. A source indicated the latest offer, which is thought to give Minnesota very firm footing, is in the range of that previous final offer. With New York reluctant on the length at this point, and with alternatives in top prospects Brett Baty and Mark Vientos, the Mets backing out altogether is not unfathomable. Mets owner Steve Cohen recently liked a tweet suggesting that the player needs his team more than the team needs him. Although that may be true for a franchise that has Francisco Lindor at shortstop and would be pushing Correa to the hot corner, it’s certainly not an ideal way to go about welcoming talent. From the get-go, Minnesota has made Correa and his family feel welcomed and a priority. Again, the front office has stood steadfast in holding close to an original offer despite multiple cutbacks from organizations that have since gotten cold feet. The Twins are growing increasingly comfortable that Boras is not simply playing with the Twins as leverage for the Mets. Instead, he has grown annoyed with the proceedings, wants resolution in the coming days, and Minnesota may even now be the frontrunner. It’s a wait-and-see game regarding Cohen and his unlimited amount of dollars. Whether general manager Billy Eppler wants to push forward or not remains to be seen, but the Mets have acted at the last minute multiple times during this saga. Knowing that players like Manny Machado and Shohei Ohtani will be free agents next offseason has helped to keep some of the biggest markets out of this race. Minnesota won’t be in consideration for those two, and this represents their best chance to make a splash of this caliber. Correa’s dollars could come in nearly $100 million more than Joe Mauer’s hometown extension, and seeing that type of commitment would be welcomed by Twins Territory. While it has always been unlikely that Correa would wind up back in Minnesota, and it remains unlikely, this is probably as close as it has felt to them looking like a front-runner.
  3. Injuries to top prospects can be frustrating to a fan base, especially for a player as highly touted as Royce Lewis. He was supposed to be the team’s shortstop of the future with the chance to take over that role at some point in 2022. His injury might end up being a blessing in disguise, because the Twins can take advantage of a rare plethora of free agent shortstops. In some offseasons the free agent shortstop class can be almost non-existent. This past winter saw multiple above average shortstops hit the market including Marcus Siemen, Didi Gregorius, and Simmons. Only Gregorius signed a multi-year deal, so Siemen and Simmons will have to compete with other star players for free agent deals (Age for 2022 season in parentheses). Francisco Lindor (28): Lindor was dealt out of the AL Central this winter and will spend the 2021 campaign with the Mets. It seems most likely for the Mets and their new ownership to work out a contract extension to lock-up Lindor. He’s one of baseball’s most marketable superstars and he already seems like a natural fit in the Big Apple. It’s going to cost north of $300 million to sign him and that is more money than the Twins are going to be willing to spend. Javier Baez (29): Last season, Baez struggled to the tune of a .598 OPS in over 235 plate appearances. However, in the previous four seasons he averaged 25 home runs and 30 doubles per year with a .822 OPS. On top of that, he’s one of baseball’s best defensive shortstops. There’s also a connection between Jose Berrios and Baez as they are brother in-laws and both hale from Puerto Rico. Maybe bringing Baez into the fold will encourage Berrios to sign an extension with Minnesota. Carlos Correa (27): Correa is the youngest player on this list, but he’s also missed time throughout his big-league career. In fact, the 2016 campaign was his lone season with more than 110 games played. There’s no denying his on-field production when he is on the field. He’s averaged a 5.2 WAR in every season where he has played 99 games or more. Also, he’s a well-rounded infielder as he finished second in SABR’s SDI among AL shortstops last season. The injury history might scare some teams away, but it can also bring down his free agent price. Trevor Story (29): Story debuted in 2016 and he’s done nothing but mash since that point. Among shortstops, he has the most home runs during that time-period even though he has fewer at-bats than the next three players behind him in the standings. Story isn’t as strong defensively as some of the others on this list, but he can more than hold his own. He ranks as the seventh best shortstop according to Defensive Runs Above Average since making his debut. Story might be a sneaky good player for the Twins to target next winter. Corey Seager (28): Seager’s star power has dwindled during his time in LA, especially with MVP winners Mookie Betts and Cody Bellinger anchoring the line-up. Unfortunately, he missed nearly all the 2018 season due to Tommy John surgery, but he came back strongly and led the NL in doubles the next season. Last year, he posted career highs in batting average and slugging percentage as the Dodgers claimed the World Series title. Will LA be willing to let one of their best players leave in free agency because of the team’s other stars? Which player do you think would be the best fit in Minnesota? Will the team spend big on a shortstop even with Lewis returning from injury? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. Cleveland Baseball Team: Payroll Dump The team formerly known as the Indians made a blockbuster deal on Thursday by sending shortstop Francisco Lindor and starting pitcher Carlos Carrasco to the New York Mets for a package of four players. Lindor rumors had been swirling for the throughout the offseason as he is one year away from free agency and Cleveland wanted to get something for him before he hit the open market. https://twitter.com/baseball_ref/status/1347248176261160962 Cleveland is clearly trying to dump as much payroll as possible. With players currently on their roster, Cleveland’s Opening Day payroll is scheduled to be around $35 million. Last season, the lowest payroll in baseball was Baltimore and their payroll was over $52 million. In the tweet above, there were two teams with a payroll under $35 million in 2001 with the Twins being the lowest at $24 million. Chicago White Sox: Two Team Race Chicago got their offseason started by hiring Tony La Russa to manager their team. Near the time he was hired, word came out that he had been charged with driving under the influence in Arizona. To make matters worse, it wasn’t his first time being charged with this offense. Besides the off the field issues, La Russa turned 76-years old in October, so his hiring seems questionable even for White Sox fans. To put that in perspective for Twins fans, former manager Tom Kelly is six-years younger than La Russa. The White Sox have made some moves to bolster their roster as well. Chicago dealt Avery Weems and Dane Dunning to Texas for starting pitcher Lance Lynn. Twins fans will remember Lynn’s poor season with the club, but he has been one of baseball’s best pitchers over the last two seasons. In December, the White Sox brought back a familiar face to the South Side by signing outfielder Adam Eaton to a one-year, $7 million contract which includes a club option for 2022. Chicago looks to be the Twins biggest challenger in the AL Central, especially after the moves mentioned above. Detroit Tigers: Hinch Hired for Rebuild Former Twins manager Ron Gardenhire retired as Tigers manager before the end of the 2020 season. This left the Tigers looking for a new man to run the show in Motown. AJ Hinch was suspended for the entire 2020 season after the Astros cheating scandal and now, he will be charged with turning around a Tigers club that has a winning percentage under .400 for four consecutive seasons. Last winter, the Tigers brought in two former Twins, CJ Cron and Jonathan Schoop, to bolster their line-up. This winter Detroit turned to another former Twin by signing outfielder Robbie Grossman to a two-year deal worth $10 million guaranteed. He posted a career high 1.3 WAR last year in Oakland and he did this in just 51 games. Detroit also added to their starting pitching depth by signing Jose Urena to a one-year deal worth $3.25 million. It’s still a waiting game in Detroit as their top prospects work their way to the big leagues. Kansas City: Minor Moves Like Detroit, Kanas City is in the midst of a rebuild with plenty of questions about what the future might hold for the franchise. One of their biggest offseason moves was signing Mike Minor to a two-year deal. At the same time, the club agreed to terms with outfielder Michael Taylor to a one-year, $1.75 million contract. His addition helps the team to add some outfield depth, but it certainly isn’t a difference making move. Another familiar name also signed in Kansas City just before the new year. Former Twins pitcher Ervin Santana agreed to a minor league deal to return to Kanas City, a team he called home back in 2013. If he is on the major league roster, he gets a base salary of $1.5 million with a chance to earn an extra $1.75 million in performance bonuses. Santana didn’t pitch in 2020 and he already turned 38-years old. Minnesota’s lone move has been to sign relief pitcher Hansel Robles. There are likely other moves coming, but the landscape of the AL Central continues to evolve. What are your thoughts about the AL Central so far this winter? 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. Over the past couple of weeks, it has been rumored that the Twins are acting as a shark circling blood in the water. Waiting for an opportunity to make a big move like they did last offseason, it’s been anyone’s guess as to what that may be. Today it was reported that the move could come up the middle. Trevor Bauer is the premier free agent this winter, but shortstop talent is aplenty as well. Andrelton Simmons is a perennial Gold Glove type, while both Didi Gregorious and Marcus Semien bring a more balanced offering in a stopgap type situation. Ken Rosenthal reported today that Minnesota is considering moving Luis Arraez and shifting Jorge Polanco to second base. The question then becomes, who plays short? Arraez broke onto the scene in 2019 and immediately became a fan favorite that looked the part of a Tony Gwynn clone. With great command of the zone and an innate ability to make strong contact, multiple batting titles were projected for his future. Dealing with a slow start in 2020, and lingering knee issues, he finished the year off fine. It’s probably fair to describe him as virtually what we see being who he is. There’s going to be a high average, he won’t strike out, and he’s passable at best on defense. On its own, that works fine for Minnesota. The problem here is that Jorge Polanco is miscast as a shortstop. His arm strength is questionable, and while improved in 2020, his range is suspect. That’s easier to overlook when the power production is what it was in 2019, but he dealt with a nagging ankle issue last season and just underwent another surgery to correct it. There was some talk he could take over as Minnesota’s replacement for Marwin Gonzalez, but you’d probably be sacrificing lineup prowess in that scenario. Moving him to second base seems like a much more fluid fit. So, what happens at short? Royce Lewis is obviously seen as the heir, but there’s plenty of warts to dissect there. His 2019 was not good, and despite glowing reports from the CHS Field alternate site last season, 2020 featured no real game action. A handful of national names continue to suggest he’s not a fit at short long term, and a spot in centerfield makes more sense. That alone isn’t enough to bump him off the position now, but it might be worthy to consider him less than untouchable. At the current juncture two of the game’s best shortstops are on the trade market. Cleveland is going to move Francisco Lindor this offseason, and the Colorado Rockies should be sending Trevor Story out. Neither are under team control past 2022 and as always you have the Coors effect in play (.760 OPS away .994 OPS home) for Story. Both players are going to command an absolute premium and depending on what Derek Falvey and Thad Levine are willing to give up, the hope would likely be an extension works out following a swap. Despite lost revenues in 2020, the Minnesota Twins can’t afford to wait out their next move. The farm system has some very good top prospects, and the depth is also pretty solid. It’s this core however that the front office has been fine tuning, and the window to go all in is the immediate future. With Josh Donaldson having three years left on his mega deal, pairing him and the homegrown core should be of the utmost importance. What impact Royce Lewis or Jordan Balazovic have as key pieces two or three years from now could be the start of an entirely new competitive cycle. This front office can’t go all in and throw care to the wind, but they’ve also never shown a reason to believe that’s how they would operate. Donaldson seemed like a great fit for Minnesota all along last winter, and the Twins picked their spot to get the deal done. Nothing may be imminent on a big splash front right now, but the makings of smoke seem to be billowing and there’s plenty of reason to fan for some flame. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  6. According to FanGraphs, the Twins have the fourth best roster (38.5 WAR) heading into the offseason. The teams ahead of the Twins include the Los Angeles Dodgers (44.3 WAR) the San Diego Padres (39.8 WAR), and the New York Yankees (38.5 WAR). This puts the Twins with the American League’s second-best roster, but Minnesota has clear holes to fill that can push them closer to the same level as the Dodgers. Big Name Trades Two of MLB’s best players, Francisco Lindor and Nolan Arenado, have a chance to be traded this winter. Cleveland has been trying to shed payroll for multiple seasons and Lindor is scheduled to make more than $20 million through arbitration this year, but he would be a free agent at season’s end. Arenado has the potential to be under contract for roughly $35 million per season through the 2026 campaign, but he can opt out after the 2021 season. Arenado doesn’t seem to fit into Minnesota’s future plans as the club already has Josh Donaldson under contract and they play the same defensive position. Lindor is intriguing as his addition can allow Jorge Polanco to move to a super utility role that Marwin Gonzalez has served over the last couple seasons. However, a trade in the division would be tough and the team trading for Lindor is only guaranteed that he would play one season for the club acquiring him. Do the Twins Already Have MLB’s Best Line-Up? Entering the off-season, the Twins might already have the best line-up in baseball. By looking at only position players, the closest teams to Minnesota are both clubs out of Chicago and the Dodgers. Unfortunately, this includes the Twins keeping Eddie Rosario, which seems highly unlikely. https://twitter.com/mike_petriello/status/1324758599424450562?s=20 The other major roster hole not addressed by this chart is the fact that Minnesota’s best hitter, Nelson Cruz, is now a free agent. To have baseball’s best roster, the Twins are going to have to make multiple decisions this winter to complete holes in the line-up, the rotation, and the bullpen. Filling Roster Holes Eddie Rosario’s hole in the line-up seems easily filled by Alex Kirilloff. The club thought highly enough of him that he made his debut in the Twins Wild Card Series against the Astros and it seems likely for him to play the majority of the team’s games in the outfield next season. Designated hitter is another story as Nelson Cruz already turned 40-years old and reports have him looking for a two-year contract. One of the easiest ways for the team to improve their overall WAR would be to sign the best available designated hitter and that might be Marcell Ozuna. He is over a decade younger than Cruz and he is coming off a season where he led the National League in home runs while positing a 1.067 OPS. There are a lot of questions about how the free agent market will transpire this year, but rival executives expect the Twins to be aggressive in the months ahead. There’s lots left to do, but the Twins are definitely in their window of opportunity. What do you think the Twins can do to pass the Dodgers? 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. Cleveland Indians What went right? The Indians seemed to be set up well to find a way to win. Shane Bieber was the American League’s best pitcher for the entire season and the rest of the rotation was strong with Zach Plesac, Carlos Carrasco, and Triston McKenzie making strong contributions. After struggling through parts of 2019, Jose Ramirez posted a .993 OPS while leading the AL in runs. Cesar Hernandez, an eight-year vet, made an impact by leading the AL with 20 doubles. The club won 9 of its final 11 games to pass the White Sox and finish in second place in the division. What went wrong? Cleveland was one of the hottest teams entering the playoffs, but the Yankees were just that much hotter as the Bronx Bombers got healthy at just the right time. New York pounced on Beiber for seven runs in Game 1 as Gerrit Cole cruised through seven innings with 13 strikeouts. Cleveland jumped out to an early 4-0 lead in Game 2, but New York scored nine runs in the last six innings to seal the deal. When Cleveland needed it the most, their pitching didn’t hold up and their season came to an end. What’s next? Francisco Lindor has one arbitration year remaining before he can hit the open market. He’s one of the top players in baseball and he plays a premier defensive position. He turns 27-years old so he could just be entering his prime year and it seems likely for the Indians to try and move him before the start of next season. Chicago White Sox What went right? It seemed like almost everything was going well for the White Sox as the season entered its final weeks. Jose Abreu played like an MVP candidate, Tim Anderson continued to be a masterful hitter, and Luis Robert broke onto the scene as one of the most exciting young players in the game. With eight games remaining, the team held a comfortable three game lead as they looked to lock up their first AL Central title since 2008. Things seemingly couldn’t have gone much better in what was certainly a strange 2020 campaign. What went wrong? After losing seven of their final eight contests, Chicago went from the AL Central frontrunner to the AL’s seventh seed and a first-round match-up against Oakland. The A’s couldn’t solve Lucas Giolito in game 1 and it looked like the White Sox could be the only Central team to make it out of the Wild Card round. In Game 2, Oakland got out to an early 4-0 lead and two unearned runs turned out to be the difference in the game. Both teams went with a bullpen game in Game 3 with no pitchers throwing more than two innings. Chicago outhit Oakland in every game, but the A’s walked away winners. What’s next? Chicago’s young core showed plenty of promising signs and they certainly look like they will be a threat in the AL Central for years to come. With few holes in the line-up, the White Sox could be looking to add to their pitching staff this off-season. Last off-season, the front office gave out some large contracts to fill areas of need and that could be the case again this year. They fired their manager Rick Renteria too, so that's another hole to fill. Minnesota Twins What went right? For the second straight year, the Twins ended up as AL Central Champions. A year removed from the Bomba Squad, the Twins sought ways to improve their starting staff and acquiring Kenta Maeda turned out to be the team’s best off-season move. He helped the Twins’ pitching staff to finish second overall in fWAR behind Cleveland. Minnesota’s bullpen was also a strength for much of the season as they finished tied with Tampa Bay for the AL’s highest fWAR. Nelson Cruz led the offense through the first part of the season and Byron Buxton showed again why he is one of baseball’s most dynamic players. What went wrong? Minnesota struggled to consistently score runs as the team finished 10th in the AL behind non-playoff teams like the Angels and the Red Sox. Injuries played a big part in Minnesota’s struggles. Josh Donaldson (calf), Byron Buxton (concussion), Jorge Polanco (ankle) and Luis Arraez (knee) were all playing through injuries down the stretch. Houston limited the Twins offense to two runs in the two-game series and Minnesota was eliminated before the calendar turned to October. What’s next? Minnesota has four free agent hitters and up to five free agent pitchers if the team doesn’t pick-up Sergio Romo’s $5 million option for next season. The Twins are going to need to add to their starting rotation depth with Jake Odorizzi and Rich Hill becoming free agents. Another option is turning the reins over to a young core of top prospects that are on the cusp of being big league ready. What do you think happens next in the AL Central? 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
  8. Cleveland Indians (Twins up 4-3 in season series) What We Know The Indians haven’t had an off-day since last Thursday, so they won’t be exactly rested heading into a three-game series this weekend. Unfortunately for the Twins, Shane Bieber is lined up to pitch Game 1 at Target Field. He’s faced the Twins twice this season and picked up the win in both contests while striking out 10 batters or more. Minnesota hitters have gone 7-for-49 (.143 BA) against him with one extra-base hit. He’s the front runner for the AL Cy Young and he’s the type of pitcher that could wreak havoc in a playoff series. What’s Left to Find Out Cleveland’s offense has been anemic for a majority of the season, so will they find enough offense to win the division? Only five teams have a lower OPS than the Indians and their wRC+ is also near the bottom of all of baseball. Jose Ramirez, Francisco Lindor and Franmil Reyes have carried the offensive load, but who’s to say if they will be able to carry the team all the way to October glory. Cleveland’s pitching is good enough to keep them in any game and they will have to take a wait and see approach with the team’s offense. Chicago White Sox (Twins up 4-2 in season series) What We Know Chicago was a wild card coming into the season, because few knew how their young players were going to gel at the big-league level. It turns out their offense is legitimate as they have the American League’s highest wRC+ and highest OPS. They also have barreled up the ball over 10% of the time and only the Padres have done it more often. Eloy Jimenez, Jose Abreu and Luis Robert all have Hard Hit %’s north of 40%. For Twins fans, their offense is reminiscent of what was expected from Minnesota this season, even though that hasn’t come to fruition. What’s Left to Find Out It has become clear throughout the Twins six games with Chicago that the White Sox defense certainly struggles. Could these defensive woes be an Achilles heel for the club? Minnesota currently has the highest Defensive Runs Above Average (DEF) in baseball and the fourth highest Defensive Runs Saved (DRS). In comparison, Chicago’s defense doesn’t rank that low. They rank one spot better than the Twins in DRS, the highest total in the AL, and they are third in baseball in DEF. Chicago’s defensive blunders come through in other statistics such as having 29 errors, which is the fourth highest in baseball. All three top teams in the AL Central will make the postseason, so some of the drama is removed from these late-season games. However, there are bragging rights that come with being the team that wins the division and having homefield advantage in the first round would certainly be helpful. The Twins don’t need to win the division, but the club is in control of its own destiny over the next seven games. How do you feel about the up-coming seven games? 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
  9. Age Questions Back in 2012, one of the first pieces I wrote for Twins Daily examined the questions surrounding Miguel Sano’s age. MLB completed an investigation into his age, but the results were inconclusive. Sano had to drop his asking price and the Twins were happy to sign the young shortstop for $3.15 million. His family lived in a small dirt floored home in the Dominican, so the influx in money had to be a shock to the system. In that original article, I wrote… “For players from the Dominican, there is plenty of pressure to find some way to lie about their age to escape the poverty they are subject to in their home country. According to Sports Illustrated on average, a 16-year old player brings in about $65,000 with their signing bonus. Add two years to their age and an 18-year old signs for an average of $20,000. That is a big difference in a country where the per capita income is only $8,900. A player who shows any sign of promise is going to try and ‘adjust’ their age to put their family in a better place for the future.” The age issue hasn’t been brought up in recent years and that’s probably a good thing for Twins Territory. His age certainly didn’t take away from his high expectations entering the minor leagues. High Expectations Baseball America had Sano ranked in their top-100 prospects for five consecutive seasons (2010-2014). He ranked as the number nine prospect in 2014 and peaked as the number six overall prospect in 2014. MLB.com had him as the 4th best prospect in 2014 while Baseball Prospectus had him just outside the top-10 (11th). Most of the baseball world expected him to turn into one of baseball’s best players. Sano made his Stateside debut in 2011 and he had a breakout year in Elizabethton. In 66 games, he collected 45 extra-base hits and had a .988 OPS. Out of Appalachian League players (minimum of 45 game), only Eddie Rosario had a higher OPS than Sano. He would head into the off-season as the team’s highest-ranked prospect. Over the next four seasons, Sano continued to pound minor league pitching. He combined for an .893 OPS in 2012, a .992 OPS in 2013, and a .918 OPS in 2015. The only thing that was able to slow him down was Tommy John surgery and that cost him the entire 2014 season. He made his big-league debut in 2015 and there was still potential for him to be a superstar. Big League Career During a strong rookie campaign, Sano burst onto the scene with 36 extra-base hits and a .916 OPS in 80 games. He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston’s Carlos Correa and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. In 2016, Sano ran into a little bit of a sophomore slump. He still his 25 home runs and 22 doubles, but his OPS dropped to .781 and he struck out 178 times in 116 games. He was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2017 following a tremendous first half (21 HR and a .906 OPS). He cooled off a little in the second half as he only managed 10 extra-base hits and a .742 OPS in 32 games. MLB had to investigate Sano multiple times in 2018 but this time it wasn’t about his age. He was accused of sexual assault by a Twins photographer. The Office of the Commission of Baseball concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a suspension. Sano was also driving a car when it ran over a police officer in the Dominican Republic. In traffic court, the police found no intent on his part to hurt the officer. Some of these incidents might have impacted his performance last year. In 71 games, he hit .199/.281/.398 with 27 extra-base hits. Minnesota even sent him down to High-A to try to reset his career. Shifting Expectations Sano is certainly putting up strong numbers this season with a 1.009 OPS in his first 14 games. However, I don’t know if he should be seen in the same light as he was when he was signed as a 16-year old. At that time, he looked like he could be the cornerstone of a franchise, a player to be built around. Now, the perspective has changed. He seems like he could be a good player, but I don’t think he is a player the Twins will build around. Sano had the potential to be a superstar and he could still surprise in the years ahead. That being said, it’s more likely his superstar potential is slowly fading away. Do you think Sano can still be considered a superstar? Would you build future Twins rosters around him? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  10. Miguel Sano is in his fifth big league season and he has over 1,600 big league plate appearances. He started his professional career already in the limelight because MLB’s investigation into his age. Heck, there was even a movie made about his signing. He looked like a slam dunk big league player, a future superstar. Now, he’s 26-years old and one must wonder if he will ever be able to become the superstar he seemed destined to become.Age Questions Back in 2012, one of the first pieces I wrote for Twins Daily examined the questions surrounding Miguel Sano’s age. MLB completed an investigation into his age, but the results were inconclusive. Sano had to drop his asking price and the Twins were happy to sign the young shortstop for $3.15 million. His family lived in a small dirt floored home in the Dominican, so the influx in money had to be a shock to the system. In that original article, I wrote… “For players from the Dominican, there is plenty of pressure to find some way to lie about their age to escape the poverty they are subject to in their home country. According to Sports Illustrated on average, a 16-year old player brings in about $65,000 with their signing bonus. Add two years to their age and an 18-year old signs for an average of $20,000. That is a big difference in a country where the per capita income is only $8,900. A player who shows any sign of promise is going to try and ‘adjust’ their age to put their family in a better place for the future.” The age issue hasn’t been brought up in recent years and that’s probably a good thing for Twins Territory. His age certainly didn’t take away from his high expectations entering the minor leagues. High Expectations Baseball America had Sano ranked in their top-100 prospects for five consecutive seasons (2010-2014). He ranked as the number nine prospect in 2014 and peaked as the number six overall prospect in 2014. MLB.com had him as the 4th best prospect in 2014 while Baseball Prospectus had him just outside the top-10 (11th). Most of the baseball world expected him to turn into one of baseball’s best players. Sano made his Stateside debut in 2011 and he had a breakout year in Elizabethton. In 66 games, he collected 45 extra-base hits and had a .988 OPS. Out of Appalachian League players (minimum of 45 game), only Eddie Rosario had a higher OPS than Sano. He would head into the off-season as the team’s highest-ranked prospect. Over the next four seasons, Sano continued to pound minor league pitching. He combined for an .893 OPS in 2012, a .992 OPS in 2013, and a .918 OPS in 2015. The only thing that was able to slow him down was Tommy John surgery and that cost him the entire 2014 season. He made his big-league debut in 2015 and there was still potential for him to be a superstar. Big League Career During a strong rookie campaign, Sano burst onto the scene with 36 extra-base hits and a .916 OPS in 80 games. He finished third in the AL Rookie of the Year voting behind Houston’s Carlos Correa and Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor. In 2016, Sano ran into a little bit of a sophomore slump. He still his 25 home runs and 22 doubles, but his OPS dropped to .781 and he struck out 178 times in 116 games. He was elected to his first All-Star Game in 2017 following a tremendous first half (21 HR and a .906 OPS). He cooled off a little in the second half as he only managed 10 extra-base hits and a .742 OPS in 32 games. MLB had to investigate Sano multiple times in 2018 but this time it wasn’t about his age. He was accused of sexual assault by a Twins photographer. The Office of the Commission of Baseball concluded that there wasn’t enough evidence to warrant a suspension. Sano was also driving a car when it ran over a police officer in the Dominican Republic. In traffic court, the police found no intent on his part to hurt the officer. Some of these incidents might have impacted his performance last year. In 71 games, he hit .199/.281/.398 with 27 extra-base hits. Minnesota even sent him down to High-A to try to reset his career. Shifting Expectations Sano is certainly putting up strong numbers this season with a 1.009 OPS in his first 14 games. However, I don’t know if he should be seen in the same light as he was when he was signed as a 16-year old. At that time, he looked like he could be the cornerstone of a franchise, a player to be built around. Now, the perspective has changed. He seems like he could be a good player, but I don’t think he is a player the Twins will build around. Sano had the potential to be a superstar and he could still surprise in the years ahead. That being said, it’s more likely his superstar potential is slowly fading away. Do you think Sano can still be considered a superstar? Would you build future Twins rosters around him? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  11. After Shane Bieber gave up three home runs and six earned runs in his last start, it looked like the Minnesota Twins, owners of the most potent offense in the MLB, might have an easy time against Cleveland’s starter. However, Bieber figured out the Twins lineup and was able to throw seven innings while only allowing two runs, both coming on solo home runs.Box Score Smeltzer: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 59.8% strikes (49 of 82 pitches) Home Runs: Gonzalez (7), Rosario (18) Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (2-for-4, 2B, HR) WPA of +0.1: None WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.102, Smeltzer -.183 Download attachment: Win64.png (chart via FanGraphs) The Twins had only one other true scoring threat, when they put Miguel Sano at third and Johnathon Schoop at second with two outs in the second inning. Minnesota didn’t move anybody past second base outside of their two solo shots. The Tribe’s bullpen would come in and shut the door, Oliver Perez struck out the side in the eighth, and Brad Hand shut the door for the save in the ninth. The Twins did not record a hit after Eddie Rosario’s home run in the sixth inning. Margo and Rosie Continue Their Tears, Rest of Team Goes Silent One of the bright spots in a bleak night in Cleveland is the continued surges of Marwin Gonzalez and Eddie Rosario. Gonzalez would add a home run and double to his season total, following his strong series in Tampa Bay where he had another game where he had a double and home run. Gonzalez has six home runs and seven doubles this year. Unfortunately, Gonzalez ended his night with a game ending double-play ball. Eddie Rosario only had one hit, but it was his 18th home run this year. The Twins couldn’t muster anything else out of their offense, with another particularly bad performance turned in by right fielder Max Kepler. Kepler went 0-for-4 to extend his at-bat streak without a hit to 17. Outside of Gonzalez and Rosario, the Twins only had two other hits, the double by Jonathan Schoop, and a single by Jorge Polanco. Byron Buxton should have had an infield single in the eighth, but a bobble by Cleveland shortstop Fransisco Lindor made it an error. Smetlzer Can’t Figure Out Lindor, Gets Chased by Back-to-Back Homers Rookie Devin Smeltzer had his “welcome to the big leagues” game as a starter today when he gave up two home runs to Indians’ shortstop Fransisco Lindor. Lindor hit a solo shot in the third on an 0-2 count, a pitch that Smeltzer was trying to locate above the zone, but left it belt-high and middle-in. The second home run that Lindor hit was another pitch middle-in, but this time was a changeup left just under the belt. Lindor finished the game with those two home runs, a walk, and three RBIs. Smeltzer was chased from the game in the seventh inning when he gave up home runs on back-to-back pitches to Cleveland’s Roberto Perez and Jake Bauers. Twins relievers were solid tonight, and not overtaxed as Ryne Harper collected two outs and Tyler Duffey pitched a spotless eighth. The Twins certainly didn’t play up to their potential tonight, but they also got rocked 14-3 to start their last series in Tampa Bay. The bats going cold is concerning, but it’s happened before. Smeltzer didn’t look as untouchable as he did in his last start, but it’s only his second career start and he was only making it as Michael Pineda spends time on the injured list. It never feels good to lose to a division rival, but this series is not make-or-break for the Twins. Look for a good bounce-back tomorrow from Minnesota tomorrow. After all, they are 15-3 following losses. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Bullpen64.png Next Game Wed at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Perez-Carrasco) Last Game MIN 9, TB 7: Odorizzi Shines In Tampa Return More from Twins Daily Twins Select Keoni Cavaco with 13th Overall Pick Twins Select Minnesotan Matt Wallner with 39th Overall Pick Week in Review: Test Passed in Tampa Click here to view the article
  12. Box Score Smeltzer: 6.1 IP, 5 H, 5 ER, 3 BB, 2 K, 59.8% strikes (49 of 82 pitches) Home Runs: Gonzalez (7), Rosario (18) Multi-Hit Games: Gonzalez (2-for-4, 2B, HR) WPA of +0.1: None WPA of -0.1: Kepler -.102, Smeltzer -.183 (chart via FanGraphs) The Twins had only one other true scoring threat, when they put Miguel Sano at third and Johnathon Schoop at second with two outs in the second inning. Minnesota didn’t move anybody past second base outside of their two solo shots. The Tribe’s bullpen would come in and shut the door, Oliver Perez struck out the side in the eighth, and Brad Hand shut the door for the save in the ninth. The Twins did not record a hit after Eddie Rosario’s home run in the sixth inning. Margo and Rosie Continue Their Tears, Rest of Team Goes Silent One of the bright spots in a bleak night in Cleveland is the continued surges of Marwin Gonzalez and Eddie Rosario. Gonzalez would add a home run and double to his season total, following his strong series in Tampa Bay where he had another game where he had a double and home run. Gonzalez has six home runs and seven doubles this year. Unfortunately, Gonzalez ended his night with a game ending double-play ball. Eddie Rosario only had one hit, but it was his 18th home run this year. The Twins couldn’t muster anything else out of their offense, with another particularly bad performance turned in by right fielder Max Kepler. Kepler went 0-for-4 to extend his at-bat streak without a hit to 17. Outside of Gonzalez and Rosario, the Twins only had two other hits, the double by Jonathan Schoop, and a single by Jorge Polanco. Byron Buxton should have had an infield single in the eighth, but a bobble by Cleveland shortstop Fransisco Lindor made it an error. Smetlzer Can’t Figure Out Lindor, Gets Chased by Back-to-Back Homers Rookie Devin Smeltzer had his “welcome to the big leagues” game as a starter today when he gave up two home runs to Indians’ shortstop Fransisco Lindor. Lindor hit a solo shot in the third on an 0-2 count, a pitch that Smeltzer was trying to locate above the zone, but left it belt-high and middle-in. The second home run that Lindor hit was another pitch middle-in, but this time was a changeup left just under the belt. Lindor finished the game with those two home runs, a walk, and three RBIs. Smeltzer was chased from the game in the seventh inning when he gave up home runs on back-to-back pitches to Cleveland’s Roberto Perez and Jake Bauers. Twins relievers were solid tonight, and not overtaxed as Ryne Harper collected two outs and Tyler Duffey pitched a spotless eighth. The Twins certainly didn’t play up to their potential tonight, but they also got rocked 14-3 to start their last series in Tampa Bay. The bats going cold is concerning, but it’s happened before. Smeltzer didn’t look as untouchable as he did in his last start, but it’s only his second career start and he was only making it as Michael Pineda spends time on the injured list. It never feels good to lose to a division rival, but this series is not make-or-break for the Twins. Look for a good bounce-back tomorrow from Minnesota tomorrow. After all, they are 15-3 following losses. Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Next Game Wed at CLE, 6:10 pm CT (Perez-Carrasco) Last Game MIN 9, TB 7: Odorizzi Shines In Tampa Return More from Twins Daily Twins Select Keoni Cavaco with 13th Overall Pick Twins Select Minnesotan Matt Wallner with 39th Overall Pick Week in Review: Test Passed in Tampa
  13. Key Additions: Carlos Santana, Jake Bauers Santana played his first eight big league seasons in Cleveland before signing a three-year $60 million deal with Philadelphia. The Phillies traded him back to the Indians this off-season in a deal that sent Edwin Encarnacion to Seattle. Santana offers some more line-up flexibility since he is a switch-hitter and he can play multiple positions. Jake Bauers was also part of the Santana trade. He could start the year in the Indians outfield or split time with Santana at first base. He’s only 23 years old and he hit 11 home runs last year for Tampa. Since Tampa was willing to part with him, one has to wonder if they know something that others do not. Key Departures: Yonder Alonso, Michael Brantley, Edwin Encarnacion, Yan Gomes, Yandy Diaz, Rajai Davis, Brandon Guyer, Lonnie Chisenhall, Josh Donaldson, Melky Cabrera, Cody Allen, Andrew Miller, and Josh Tomlin. A team could field a pretty good squad with the players that left the Indians from the end of last season. Heck, you might be able to win a Wild Card spot with this crew. Cody Allen and Andrew Miller were key late inning pieces for the Cleveland’s recent success. Francisco Lindor and Jose Ramirez will drive the offense but there are plenty of holes in the rest of the line-up. What if one of their key pieces gets hurt? This club might not score a ton of runs and they are going to rely on their strong starting staff to keep games close. Potential X-Factors: Trevor Bauer Corey Kluber and Carlos Carrasco are going to be a strong one-two punch at the top of the rotation, but Trevor Bauer could be a difference maker as the club’s number three pitcher. He does some outlandish things on social media and has hurt his hand with a drone, but he could put together some solid numbers that help to prove he belongs with the top two Indians arms. FanGraphs Projected 2019 Record: 92-70 My Projected 2019 Record: 87-76 (Win Game 163 against the Twins) 2018 Record: 91-71 (1st Place AL Central, Lost ALDS to Astros) 2017 Record: 102-60, (1st Place AL Central, Lost ALDS to Yankees) 2016 Record: 94-67, (1st Place in the AL Central, Lost World Series to Cubs)
  14. We have spent the last two weeks counting down the Twins Daily Top 20 Minnesota Twins prospects heading into the 2019 season. Today, we arrive at #1. It will surprise no one that shortstop Royce Lewis fits the top spot. The first overall pick in the 2017 draft had a strong 2018 season between Cedar Rapids. He didn’t turn 19 until early June. He is a consensus Top 10 prospect among national publications. This weekend, he will report to Ft. Myers for his first big-league spring training. All of that, and it is important to note that it was not an easy decision for any of the voters. Alex Kirilloff had an incredible return to the diamond in 2018, putting up some of the best offensive numbers in all of minor league baseball. Brusdar Graterol has a triple-digit fastball and potentially three above-average pitches. He could give the Twins a true ace in the not-too-distant future. The Twins drafted a College World Series hero in the first round in 2018, and he had a solid professional debut. The Twins have a Top 5 minor league system, so it is meaningful and well-considered that we continue to rank Royce Lewis as the #1 Twins prospect. Below you will find out more about the future star. Hopefully you have enjoyed this Top 20 series and have renewed hope that there are several future stars in the system. With this information, we certainly encourage you to share your thoughts on Lewis, but also consider how you would rank the Twins top prospects.Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999) 2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB ETA: 2020 2018 Ranking: 1 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6 What’s To Like A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more. HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers.
  15. Age: 19 (DOB: 6-5-1999) 2018 Stats (Low-A/High-A): .292/.352/.451 (.803), 29-2B, 14-HR, 28/36 SB ETA: 2020 2018 Ranking: 1 National Top 100 Rankings BA: 9 |MLB: 5 | ESPN: 9 |BP: 8 |FG: 6 What’s To Like A lot. To show that, let’s take a look at where Lewis is in terms of the standard scouting tools (Hit, Hit for Power, Speed, Defense, Arm) and then add some more. HIT - Lewis has a good approach at the plate. While he generally knows the strike zone and doesn’t extend too much, he also is aggressive inside the zone. He stands at the plate, relaxed, and as the pitcher begins his delivery, he uses a big leg kick/lift. However, as you can see from the below picture, he remains very balanced. In the next photo, you can see that as his front foot touches the ground, his hands are ready to explode to the pitch and his weight transfers. https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/975328810831941633 He is aggressive and yet he rarely takes a swing that looks out of control. He doesn’t strike out real often (15.0% in Cedar Rapids and 16.8% in Ft. Myers). He will use the whole field, though he typically has shown much more power to his pull side. Very few hit .300 in MLB anymore, but he could be a .280-.300 type of hitter. HIT FOR POWER - Through the first 32 games of the season, Lewis was hitting .305, but he had just four doubles and one home run. Many were clamoring for him to be promoted to Ft. Myers because he had spent 18 games with the Kernels to end 2017. Over his next 43 games with the Kernels, the power arrived. He hit .323, but he added 19 doubles and eight home runs. He earned his promotion to the Miracle, and while he struggled some, he showed really good power in the pitcher-friendly parks for the Florida State League. In 46 games, he hit six doubles, three triples and knocked five home runs. (For comparison’s sake, Alex Kirilloff had seven homers in 65 games for the Miracle) While 30 home runs may be excessive, but Lewis could be a 20-25 homer per year guy during his big league career. SPEED - Byron Buxton. Who is the one player in the Twins organization who might - might! - be faster than Royce Lewis. As important as the pure speed, Lewis knows how to utilize his speed on the baseball diamond. His 28 stolen bases led the organization. He was caught just eight times and he is still learning the finer points. He is able to go from first-to-home or first-to-third really well. He also shows good instincts most of the time on the bases. He also uses his speed on defense. DEFENSE - Lewis has good range both up the middle and deep into the 5.5 hole. There are times when he winds up (no, not like Shawon Dunston for those of you who are in my age category) a little bit. He does a really nice job going back on pop ups and he takes leadership on the infield, another important trait for a shortstop. Tom Froemming put Lewis's defense under the Prospect Spotlight. Take a look below. In the video, I was at the game in Cedar Rapids when he made the running catch down the left field line. First, it reminded me of Derek Jeter, but when he caught it and knew it was a great catch, he had a Griffey Jr-like smile. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1pNhG2RIZkI ARM - Lewis has a strong arm. He can make all of the throws. For those that think his future may be better out in center field, he has plenty of arm to play out there. INTANGIBLES - Lewis is a natural leader. By that I mean that he doesn’t have to work to lead, but teammates gravitate to him. He has a great charisma that plays well on the field and in the clubhouse. Lewis works hard. He added weight last season through a regimented lifting program in-season. He’s got good size. He’s tall and he’s strong but he has added the size and strength without losing any speed. In addition, Lewis never takes a play off. He hustles out every grounder. He looks to take second on singles to the outfield. He has instincts. And while some may not think that it matters, but when you watch Royce Lewis play baseball and practice, you can see the joy that he has, the love of the game. It is an intangible, but it is one of the reasons that Francisco Lindor is so much fun to watch and cheer for even if he is on the Twins top competitor. What’s Left To Work On The easy response for Lewis as far as things he needs to work out would be the cliche, “He needs to continue working on everything” or “He just needs more at-bats” or “He just needs more real-time situations on defense.” Well, let’s just say that cliches usually become cliches for a reason, because they’re true. Lewis does simply need more at-bats. He needs to continue working up the ladder and seeing pitchers with better command of their pitch mix. He needs to see more sharp sliders down and away so that he can keep working on trying to lay off of them. There are still question marks about Lewis’s defense. While I’ve talked to several people who saw him play in 2018 that said he took big strides and there is more of a certainty that he can be at least an average defensive shortstop. There are still some scouts who think that his speed and instinct would best play in center field. Lewis can make the great play. As noted, he has great range and can make the great plays. He just needs to keep working and be more consistent on the routine plays and the routine throws. Again, needs more time at shortstop and more opportunities. What makes Lewis so exciting as a prospect is that he does everything so well already. But what makes him so intriguing is knowing that he can still improve all areas of his game (even quite a bit in some places). While he is ahead of the pace at this point in this career than top young shortstops Carlos Correa and Francisco Lindor, the Twins can be as patient as they need to be. What’s Next Royce Lewis is traveling to Ft. Myers today and will report as a non-roster invite to Minnesota Twins spring training. He will get the opportunity to work with and learn from the veterans, and also work with and be seen by the big-league coaches. With just 46 games in High-A Ft. Myers, plus a playoff run that that led to a Florida State League championship, it is likely that he will begin the season with the Miracle. It is very likely that he will spend most of his season with the Blue Wahoos in Pensacola. While I think that the odds are low that Lewis surfaces in the big leagues in 2019, I wouldn’t put anything past him. With Jorge Polanco now signed long-term, Jonathan Schoop set to spend the year in a Twins uniform, and Nick Gordon in Triple A, the Twins do not need to rush this talented prospect in 2019. I would not be surprised if Lewis is the Twins Opening Day shortstop and #2 hitter when they open the 2020 season (though being promoted 20 days later might make more economic sense). Twins Daily 2019 Top 20 Prospects Honorable Mentions 20. Jose Miranda, 2B/3B 19. Jorge Alcala, RHP 18. LaMonte Wade, OF 17. Zack Littell, RHP 16. Gilberto Celestino, OF 15. Yunior Severino, 2B 14. Ben Rortvedt, C 13. Ryan Jeffers, C 12. Stephen Gonsalves, LHP 11. Nick Gordon, SS 10. Akil Baddoo, OF 9. Blayne Enlow, RHP 8. Lewis Thorpe, LHP 7. Jhoan Duran, RHP 6. Brent Rooker, 1B/LF 5. Wander Javier, SS 4. Trevor Larnach, OF 3. Brusdar Graterol, RHP 2. Alex Kirilloff, OF TD Top Prospect: #1- Royce Lewis Get to know more about Royce Lewis 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.
  16. One question I get often on Twins Daily and on Twitter: "When could we expect to see Royce Lewis in the big leagues with the Twins?" To answer that question, I thought it might make some sense to look at two recently drafted shortstops selected high in their particular drafts who have gone on to big league successes, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa. Maybe a glimpse at their timelines might help us better understand a possible timeline for Royce Lewis. Let’s start also by saying that anything below this point likely assumes health. That’s never a guarantee, and it certainly can effect a timeline. Secondly, Correa and Lindor are proven All-Stars already. They are players that Lewis often gets compared to, and that’s not necessarily fair either. Royce Lewis gets comps to Derek Jeter, not to Lenny Faedo. But as Lewis has said frequently, while he enjoys watching those players and their games, he is not trying to be the next Player X. Instead, he insisted in a podcast interview this past offseason, “Being comped with players is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, I want to be Royce Lewis. I don’t want to be Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor, as amazing as those people are. I just want to be Royce Lewis, and I want to be my own type of person and bring something new to the game that others may have already brought but in my own special way.” THE DRAFT Royce Lewis: As we know, Lewis was the Twins top pick and the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He had turned 18 years old just a week before being selected. Carlos Correa: Houston surprised many people in and around the game of baseball when they selected Correa with the first overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He didn’t turn 18 until a few weeks after his draft season (September). Francisco Lindor: Lindor grew up in Puerto Rico, but he went to high school in Florida. Cleveland made him the #8 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He turned 18 five months after he was drafted (November). DRAFT SEASON Royce Lewis (2017): Lewis signed quickly and the Twins sent him to Ft. Myers where he began his professional career in the GCL. He homered in his first at-bat. He played 36 games there and hit .271/.390/.414 (.803). We were then surprised that he was sent to Low-A Cedar Rapids (Midwest League) where he played in 18 games and hit .296/.363/.394 (.757). Carlos Correa (2012): After signing, the Astros sent Correa to the GCL. He played in 39 games and hit .232/.270/.355 (.625) before ending that season with 11 games in the Appalachian League. Francisco Lindor (2011): Lindor signed a bit later and his pro career began with just five games in the New York/Penn League. FIRST FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2018): Lewis returned to Cedar Rapids to start the season. He played in 75 games for the Kernels and hit .315/.368/.485 (.853). About a month ago, he was promoted to High-A Ft. Myers where he has now hit .329/.418/.506 (.924) after his big game last night. Combined, he has 29 doubles and 12 home runs. Lewis turned 19 in early June. Carlos Correa (2013): The Astros had Correa begin his first full professional season in the Midwest League with Quad Cities. He spent the full season with the Bandits where he hit .320/.405/.467 (.872) in 117 games. He hit 33 doubles, three triples and nine homers. Correa played the whole season at age 18. Francisco Lindor (2012): Cleveland had Lindor start his first season in the Midwest League as well with Lake County. He played 122 games for the Captains and hit .257/.352/.355 (.707). He hit 24 doubles, three triples and six home runs. He spent the full season at age 18. SECOND FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2019): To be determined. Lewis will turn 20 in early June. Carlos Correa (2014): Correa was 19 years old throughout his second full season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full season. In mid-June, Correa’s season came to an end when he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year. He played well to that point, hitting .325/.416/.510 (.926) in just 62 games at High-A Lancaster in the California League. He hit 16 doubles, six triples and six home runs in his partial season. He turned 19 after the season. Francisco Lindor (2013): Lindor began his second full season at High-A Carolina of the Carolina League. In 83 games, he hit .306/.373/.410 (.783). He moved up to AA Akron for his final 21 games of the season. Smaller sample, but he hit .289/.407/.395 (.801). Combined, Lindor hit 22 doubles, seven triples and two home runs. He turned 19 after the season. THIRD FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2020): To be determined. He will turn 21 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2015): Correa successfully rehabbed his broken leg and was invited to big league spring training. He began the season at AA where he hit .385/.459/.726 (1.185) in 29 games before being pushed forward to AAA. He spent less time in AAA, just 24 games, and hit .276/.345/.449 (.794). Between AA and AAA, he hit 21 doubles, three triples and ten homers. He was called up to the Astros and made his MLB debut on June 8, 2015 (age 20 years, 259 days). Despite playing just 99 games with the Astros, he won the American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .279 with 21 doubles, a triple and 22 home runs. He turned 21 late in the MLB season. Francisco Lindor (2014): Lindor began the 2014 season where he ended the 2013 season, at AA. In 88 games, he hit .278/.352/.389 (.741). He ended the season with 38 games at AAA Columbus and hit .273/.307/.388 (.695). Combined, he hit 16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. He turned 21 a month after the season completed. FOURTH FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2021): To be determined. He will turn 22 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2016): Correa’s first full season with the Astros. As a 21-year-old, he played in 153 games and hit .274 with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. Francisco Lindor (2015): Lindor began his 2015 at AAA. He played 59 games there and hit .284/.350/.402 (.752) with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Six days after Correa, he was called up and made his MLB debut on June 14, 2015 (age 21 years, 212 days). In 99 games for Cleveland, Lindor hit .313/.353/.482 (.835) with 22 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs. He finished runner up to Correa for Rookie of the Year. Correa and Lindor have had terrific starts to their careers. They are both in their fourth season in the big leagues now and have established themselves as stars. Correa won that 2015 Rookie of the Year award. He was an All-Star in 2017 and then helped lead the Astros to a World Series title. Lindor has been a three-time All-Star, and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. He led Cleveland to the World Series in 2016 when they fell in a tough Game 7 to the Cubs. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Carlos Correa made his MLB debut three years after being drafted, almost to the date. It was in his third full season as a professional. It was especially aggressive considering he missed half of a season with a broken leg. Francisco Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after her was drafted out of high school. It was halfway through his fourth full season. Obviously Royce Lewis’s debut will not be based on Correa and Lindor’s timeline. It will be based on his progress at each level and the Twins front office’s plan for his arrival, and what they want him to accomplish at least stop along the way. However, here are some scenarios: Correa debuted three months before his 21st birthday. For Lewis, that would be Opening Day 2020. Correa debuted approximately three years after his draft day. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2020. Lindor debuted about four months before he turned 22 years old. For Lewis, that would mean Opening Day 2021. Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after he was drafted. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2021. That’s a pretty big range for when we could see Royce Lewis debut in the big leagues. And again, I have to reiterate that prospect and player development is not necessarily linear. Players develop at different rates. That’s important to remember and remind yourself before you get to this next paragraph. Lewis is in his first full professional season. I’m guessing you noticed that both Lindor and Correa spent their entire first full season in the Midwest League. By season’s end, Lewis will have about 50 games in the Florida State League. We could say the Lewis is about a half-season ahead of Correa and Lindor were at the same stage. Additionally, I’m sure you noticed that the power numbers that Lewis has displayed surpass the power numbers shown by Correa and Lindor. Those two didn’t show much power until they got to the big leagues. There is reason for excitement. But you’ll notice that Cleveland was a lot more patient with Lindor than Houston was with Correa, especially when you consider that he missed about half a year. If you want my opinion, I think there is an outside chance, but a chance nonetheless, that Twins fans could see Royce Lewis at Target Field late in the 2019 season. I fully expect the Twins to invite Lewis to big league spring training next year, and I expect that he will make an impression on the coaches. In addition to Lewis’s development offensively and defensively, a call up in 2019 may depend as much on the Twins season and playoff competitiveness. AGGRESSIVE: July 2019 is very aggressive. Lewis will have just turned 20 and could help the Twins down the stretch. REALISTIC: June 2020 is probably the most realistic timeline for Lewis. PATIENT: June 2021 is a patient approach, especially considering how quickly the Twins have moved Lewis to this point, but Francisco Lindor has turned out quite good despite a slower approach. It is a question I get often. I try to answer in a realistic manner, but I did want to dig into the development timeline of two great young shortstops, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. While they are just two data points, it gives us something to compare to, something that could be achievable. So now it’s your turn? When do you think Royce Lewis will be able to make his MLB debut? What do you think the determining factors should be for his promotion?
  17. On Monday night, 2017 #1 overall pick Royce Lewis faced 2018 #1 overall pick Casey Mize in Lakeland, Florida. It was the Florida State League debut for Mize. It was Lewis’s 21st game with the Miracle. On this night, Lewis went 2-for-2 with a home run against Mize, and 4-for-6 with two home runs overall as the Miracle topped the Flying Tigers 13-0. Obviously it was a fun matchup, but it is a matchup that fans of the Minnesota Twins and Detroit Tigers hope to see a lot of over the next decade, or more. As a hard-throwing right-hander, Mize is likely to fly through the Tigers system and could debut as early as midseason 2019. But it gets me wondering just when we might see that match up at Comerica Park or Target Field.One question I get often on Twins Daily and on Twitter: "When could we expect to see Royce Lewis in the big leagues with the Twins?" To answer that question, I thought it might make some sense to look at two recently drafted shortstops selected high in their particular drafts who have gone on to big league successes, Cleveland’s Francisco Lindor and Houston’s Carlos Correa. Maybe a glimpse at their timelines might help us better understand a possible timeline for Royce Lewis. Let’s start also by saying that anything below this point likely assumes health. That’s never a guarantee, and it certainly can effect a timeline. Secondly, Correa and Lindor are proven All-Stars already. They are players that Lewis often gets compared to, and that’s not necessarily fair either. Royce Lewis gets comps to Derek Jeter, not to Lenny Faedo. But as Lewis has said frequently, while he enjoys watching those players and their games, he is not trying to be the next Player X. Instead, he insisted in a podcast interview this past offseason, “Being comped with players is pretty cool, but at the end of the day, I want to be Royce Lewis. I don’t want to be Carlos Correa or Francisco Lindor, as amazing as those people are. I just want to be Royce Lewis, and I want to be my own type of person and bring something new to the game that others may have already brought but in my own special way.” THE DRAFT Royce Lewis: As we know, Lewis was the Twins top pick and the #1 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft. He had turned 18 years old just a week before being selected. Carlos Correa: Houston surprised many people in and around the game of baseball when they selected Correa with the first overall pick out of the Puerto Rico Baseball Academy. He didn’t turn 18 until a few weeks after his draft season (September). Francisco Lindor: Lindor grew up in Puerto Rico, but he went to high school in Florida. Cleveland made him the #8 overall pick in the 2011 draft. He turned 18 five months after he was drafted (November). DRAFT SEASON Royce Lewis (2017): Lewis signed quickly and the Twins sent him to Ft. Myers where he began his professional career in the GCL. He homered in his first at-bat. He played 36 games there and hit .271/.390/.414 (.803). We were then surprised that he was sent to Low-A Cedar Rapids (Midwest League) where he played in 18 games and hit .296/.363/.394 (.757). Carlos Correa (2012): After signing, the Astros sent Correa to the GCL. He played in 39 games and hit .232/.270/.355 (.625) before ending that season with 11 games in the Appalachian League. Francisco Lindor (2011): Lindor signed a bit later and his pro career began with just five games in the New York/Penn League. FIRST FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2018): Lewis returned to Cedar Rapids to start the season. He played in 75 games for the Kernels and hit .315/.368/.485 (.853). About a month ago, he was promoted to High-A Ft. Myers where he has now hit .329/.418/.506 (.924) after his big game last night. Combined, he has 29 doubles and 12 home runs. Lewis turned 19 in early June. Carlos Correa (2013): The Astros had Correa begin his first full professional season in the Midwest League with Quad Cities. He spent the full season with the Bandits where he hit .320/.405/.467 (.872) in 117 games. He hit 33 doubles, three triples and nine homers. Correa played the whole season at age 18. Francisco Lindor (2012): Cleveland had Lindor start his first season in the Midwest League as well with Lake County. He played 122 games for the Captains and hit .257/.352/.355 (.707). He hit 24 doubles, three triples and six home runs. He spent the full season at age 18. SECOND FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2019): To be determined. Lewis will turn 20 in early June. Carlos Correa (2014): Correa was 19 years old throughout his second full season. Unfortunately, it wasn’t a full season. In mid-June, Correa’s season came to an end when he broke his fibula and missed the rest of the year. He played well to that point, hitting .325/.416/.510 (.926) in just 62 games at High-A Lancaster in the California League. He hit 16 doubles, six triples and six home runs in his partial season. He turned 19 after the season. Francisco Lindor (2013): Lindor began his second full season at High-A Carolina of the Carolina League. In 83 games, he hit .306/.373/.410 (.783). He moved up to AA Akron for his final 21 games of the season. Smaller sample, but he hit .289/.407/.395 (.801). Combined, Lindor hit 22 doubles, seven triples and two home runs. He turned 19 after the season. THIRD FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2020): To be determined. He will turn 21 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2015): Correa successfully rehabbed his broken leg and was invited to big league spring training. He began the season at AA where he hit .385/.459/.726 (1.185) in 29 games before being pushed forward to AAA. He spent less time in AAA, just 24 games, and hit .276/.345/.449 (.794). Between AA and AAA, he hit 21 doubles, three triples and ten homers. He was called up to the Astros and made his MLB debut on June 8, 2015 (age 20 years, 259 days). Despite playing just 99 games with the Astros, he won the American League Rookie of the Year after hitting .279 with 21 doubles, a triple and 22 home runs. He turned 21 late in the MLB season. Francisco Lindor (2014): Lindor began the 2014 season where he ended the 2013 season, at AA. In 88 games, he hit .278/.352/.389 (.741). He ended the season with 38 games at AAA Columbus and hit .273/.307/.388 (.695). Combined, he hit 16 doubles, four triples and 11 home runs. He turned 21 a month after the season completed. FOURTH FULL SEASON Royce Lewis (2021): To be determined. He will turn 22 years old in early June. Carlos Correa (2016): Correa’s first full season with the Astros. As a 21-year-old, he played in 153 games and hit .274 with 36 doubles, 20 homers and 96 RBI. Francisco Lindor (2015): Lindor began his 2015 at AAA. He played 59 games there and hit .284/.350/.402 (.752) with 11 doubles, five triples and two home runs. Six days after Correa, he was called up and made his MLB debut on June 14, 2015 (age 21 years, 212 days). In 99 games for Cleveland, Lindor hit .313/.353/.482 (.835) with 22 doubles, four triples and 12 home runs. He finished runner up to Correa for Rookie of the Year. Correa and Lindor have had terrific starts to their careers. They are both in their fourth season in the big leagues now and have established themselves as stars. Correa won that 2015 Rookie of the Year award. He was an All-Star in 2017 and then helped lead the Astros to a World Series title. Lindor has been a three-time All-Star, and won both a Gold Glove and Silver Slugger Awards. He led Cleveland to the World Series in 2016 when they fell in a tough Game 7 to the Cubs. WHAT DOES IT MEAN? Carlos Correa made his MLB debut three years after being drafted, almost to the date. It was in his third full season as a professional. It was especially aggressive considering he missed half of a season with a broken leg. Francisco Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after her was drafted out of high school. It was halfway through his fourth full season. Obviously Royce Lewis’s debut will not be based on Correa and Lindor’s timeline. It will be based on his progress at each level and the Twins front office’s plan for his arrival, and what they want him to accomplish at least stop along the way. However, here are some scenarios: Correa debuted three months before his 21st birthday. For Lewis, that would be Opening Day 2020.Correa debuted approximately three years after his draft day. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2020.Lindor debuted about four months before he turned 22 years old. For Lewis, that would mean Opening Day 2021.Lindor debuted almost exactly four years after he was drafted. For Lewis, that would mean mid-June 2021.That’s a pretty big range for when we could see Royce Lewis debut in the big leagues. And again, I have to reiterate that prospect and player development is not necessarily linear. Players develop at different rates. That’s important to remember and remind yourself before you get to this next paragraph. Lewis is in his first full professional season. I’m guessing you noticed that both Lindor and Correa spent their entire first full season in the Midwest League. By season’s end, Lewis will have about 50 games in the Florida State League. We could say the Lewis is about a half-season ahead of Correa and Lindor were at the same stage. Additionally, I’m sure you noticed that the power numbers that Lewis has displayed surpass the power numbers shown by Correa and Lindor. Those two didn’t show much power until they got to the big leagues. There is reason for excitement. But you’ll notice that Cleveland was a lot more patient with Lindor than Houston was with Correa, especially when you consider that he missed about half a year. If you want my opinion, I think there is an outside chance, but a chance nonetheless, that Twins fans could see Royce Lewis at Target Field late in the 2019 season. I fully expect the Twins to invite Lewis to big league spring training next year, and I expect that he will make an impression on the coaches. In addition to Lewis’s development offensively and defensively, a call up in 2019 may depend as much on the Twins season and playoff competitiveness. AGGRESSIVE: July 2019 is very aggressive. Lewis will have just turned 20 and could help the Twins down the stretch. REALISTIC: June 2020 is probably the most realistic timeline for Lewis. PATIENT: June 2021 is a patient approach, especially considering how quickly the Twins have moved Lewis to this point, but Francisco Lindor has turned out quite good despite a slower approach. It is a question I get often. I try to answer in a realistic manner, but I did want to dig into the development timeline of two great young shortstops, Francisco Lindor and Carlos Correa. While they are just two data points, it gives us something to compare to, something that could be achievable. So now it’s your turn? When do you think Royce Lewis will be able to make his MLB debut? What do you think the determining factors should be for his promotion? Click here to view the article
  18. Work To Be Done For many, it’s hard to believe that Puerto Rico is still trying to dig out from Hurricane Maria. Most major cities are closer to being back to normal but the mountainous regions are still dealing with the long-term effects. Players and coaches with connections to Puerto Rico are hoping the mountain regions get more focus during this two game series. “We still have work to do,” Red Sox manager Alex Cora said. “People don’t realize there are people in the mountains that have no water, no power. It’s been six or seven months. That’s tough. We complain we don’t have power for three days and we’re going nuts, so imagine not having that. Our population is an older one. There are a lot of people in need in the mountains. It’s a struggle for them.” Eddie Rosario and Francisco Lindor will be looking to help out the community in other ways. As part of the “Players Going Home” program, both players will welcome roughly 250 youth to a special baseball clinic. The students will come from the elementary school Lindor attended as a child. Other fundraising events will be happening throughout the coming days. According to MLB.com, there will be a charity golf event to benefit the Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico and Habitat for Humanity, a PLAY BALL event and a Puerto Rico R.B.I. (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities) game. Ceremonial Events The importance of this event hasn’t been lost on Rosario. “I’m happy because we will be able to bring happiness to my island after Hurricane Maria. These two days will be unforgettable for me and the island of Puerto Rico. People are extremely excited and happy to be able to witness Major League Baseball.” Some of the excitement will be built on the field before the games, where there will be other important Puero Ricans in attendance. Former big leaguer Bernie Williams will sing the Star-Spangled Banner and recently retired Carlos Beltran will throw out the first pitch. Before the first game, there will also be a ceremony honoring residents who helped in the wake of Hurricane Maria. “These two regular season games will show the world that we are open for business,” said Anaymir Munoz Grajales, Vice President of MB Sports. “Puerto Rico is ready to receive fans from all over to enjoy our hospitality and all that the island has to offer.” What Can You Do? As events get underway, you might be asking how you can help the situation in Puerto Rico. There are plenty of opportunities this week. Hall of Famers Cal Ripken Jr. and Roberto Alomar are hosting an online auction with proceeds going to the Habitat for Humanity and Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico. The auction items include autographs and experiences from multiple sports. Auction items will end on Thursday, April 19 at 7 pm. Here are some other options for assisting those in need (some of the list compiled by PBS.org): Boys & Girls Clubs of Puerto Rico is one of the organizations that MLB has identified for multiple events this week. Before hurricanes Irma and Maria, 58% of Puerto Rican children lived in poverty. One has to believe that number increased with the devastation caused by the storm. Habitat for Humanity of Puerto Rico is another organization supported by Major League Baseball as part of their relief efforts. Habitat is responding to the hurricane by preparing to help families to rebuild and repair their homes. ConPRmetidos, a nonprofit based in San Juan, and Foundation for Puerto Rico are trying to raise $10 million to finance long-term relief efforts. Donations to their Puerto Rico Real-Time Recovery Fund will be used to help restore power, fund structural repairs in the most marginalized communities and improve needs assessment efforts to identify and support unattended areas. Unidos Por Puerto Rico was created through a partnership between the First Lady of Puerto Rico, Beatriz Rosselló, and the private sector. The initiative is focused on helping individuals and small businesses on the island recover by offering support for housing, food and health needs. The Hurricane Maria Community Relief & Recovery Fund is supporting immediate and long-term rebuilding of Puerto Rico by awarding grants to local initiatives and low-income communities hardest hit by the hurricane. The Center for Disaster Philanthropy is addressing medium and long-term recovery needs, including mental health treatment and the rebuilding of infrastructure, homes and businesses. Along with helping Puerto Rico, donations to the fund will provide relief to other areas in the U.S. mainland and the Caribbean ravaged by the 2017 hurricane season. Other national and global humanitarian organizations, such as Oxfam, American Red Cross, International Medical Corps, Americares, Save the Children and The Salvation Army are collecting donations to mobilize supplies and volunteers on the island.
  19. After narrowly missing the bulk of Hurricane Irma's effects, Puerto Rico will look back on Wednesday September 20, 2017 as a day it won't soon forget. Hurricane Maria makes landfall and demolishes the small island. A place that has become a growing epicenter for baseball talent, and set to host a Major League Baseball series in 2018, was simply devastated. This isn't a tale of the destruction however, but instead a look at the resolve of each part involved. Early in January 2018, Major League Baseball officially announced that the two game series (April 17th and 18th) between the Cleveland Indians and Minnesota Twins will still take place. Hiram Bithorn Stadium, the site for the contests, was badly damaged during both hurricanes Irma and Maria. While the island itself remains the focus, it is the stadium that was set to house baseball for what was destined to be a great moment for the sport. As the weather interrupted, there was a serious doubt cast upon what was next for baseball's plans. As did the people of Puerto Rico, the Minnesota Twins persevered and continued from the onset to suggest that the games would go on as scheduled. For both the Indians and the Twins, Puerto Rico holds a special place among the 25 man roster and the organization as a whole. For the Indians, Francisco Lindor hails from the small island, and is a great friend of Twins star Jose Berrios. Cleveland's backup catcher Roberto Perez calls Puerto Rico home, while Eddie Rosario and Kennys Vargas also represent Puerto Rico in Minnesota. The influx of talent into Major League Baseball hailing from the small island has truly been a joy to watch. Minnesota has been especially keen on developing the island as they've continued to use top draft picks on natives such as Jose Miranda and Ricardo de la Torre. Looking across the sport, some of the biggest names accelerating the game forward hail from Puerto Rico. Including Lindor and Berrios, it's also hard to overlook World Champions Carlos Correa and Javier Baez. Seattle Mariners closer Edwin Diaz also has burst onto the scene, and has represented his homeland incredibly well. Although their elder, Yadier Molina has also been a leader for quite some time. There's a relative brotherhood tying each of them together, and it's obvious that there's a pride in being able to represent Puerto Rico at the highest level. In getting to know the Minnesota Twins Jose Berrios from afar over the past few seasons, seeing the passion for the place he calls home is truly special. From highlighting his beach workouts, to giving back through charity events with Baez and Lindor, or playing in events put on by Molina, there's no end to the pride and generosity. For Berrios, playing a series of games back home in the wake of a tragedy that was trying on multiple levels, will certainly be a joy. Sports have often tried to transcend the United States, and expand their borders. While it's not easy to get behind the NFL playing games in London or the NBA in Mexico City, Major League Baseball in Puerto Rico seems like a match made in heaven. The island has continued to foster the sport, and the excitement for the big leagues that starts at such a young age their may be unrivaled. Allowing two teams with young stars so prolific among the Puerto Rican community to put their island on display was heartwarming even before the tragic events caused by two massive storms. While the island is still grieving and looking to get back to its former self, baseball may be able to provide a small sense of healing. Jose Berrios' aunt Maria recently noted on Twitter that she just received power. This came 147 days after Hurricane Irma made landfall. She goes on to note that 40% of the island still remains without power, and there's still significant rebuilding to be done. Hiram Bithorn Stadium's improvements and reconstruction done in advance of the Twins and Indians series is such a small blip on the radar, but the healing provided by what takes place there can be an impactful step in the right direction. Puerto Rico isn't yet distanced from two storms that rocked the island to its core, and it will continue to take time and hard work in order to restore a previous sense of completeness. That being said, the island of Puerto Rico has persevered, Major League Baseball stayed its course, and the healing from a sport could be an integral part in helping the amazing territory to move forward. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  20. April has come and gone. With the calendar flipping to May, there have been plenty of story-lines to follow across the baseball world. Bryce Harper seems to have found his swing again. Aaron Judge is making himself known as a Bronx Bomber. Even Eric Thames is having a resurgence in Milwaukee. Teams in the AL Central have been making headlines of their own. The four top teams are separated by two games. Meanwhile, the Royals are the lone team with an under .500 record. What's been going well for each AL Central squad? What needs to improve in the coming months? Let's dive in.Cleveland Indians (April Record 14-10) What's Gone Right Following their World Series run, the Indians might have come out of the gate a little slower than they would like. Francisco Lindor is continuing his strong performance from last year's postseason. He leads all shortstops in home runs, slugging percentage and WAR. Jose Ramirez is also proving he can hold his own. Through April, he hitting .330/.388/.593 with six home runs, the second highest total on the team. Cleveland's pitching staff continues to be one of it's strengths. Indians pitchers have compiled the highest WAR total in all of baseball. Both their starters and relievers rank in the top six in WAR. Their 9.97 K/9 ranks as the best in baseball while their 2.79 BB/9 is the second lowest mark. Cleveland's strong pitching helped the club to sweep three-game series from the Twins and Rangers during the season's first month. Room For Improvement Edwin Encarnacion was the team's big free agent acquisition and he has't exactly gotten off to a hot start. Through April's action, he was hitting .200/343/.353 with one home run. Those averages are all below his career production. Jason Kipnis has been limited to nine games and his production has suffered when he's been on the field. Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer have both struggled at the back of the Indians rotation. Tomlin has posted an 8.87 ERA, the club's worst mark, while averaging less than five innings per start. Bauer's ERA is slightly better at 6.26 and he's been close to six innings per appearance. Cleveland was only swept by one team in April, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and both Tomlin and Bauer made starts in that series. Chicago White Sox (April Record 13-10) What's Gone Right The White Sox were supposed to be in the midst of a rebuild but they find themselves a half game out of first place after the season's first month. Avisail Garcia is batting .368/.409/.621 and he leads the team with 10 extra-base hits. Matt Davidson joins Garcia in the .600 slugging percentage club and he's also been getting on base over 33% of the time. Miguel Gonzalez and Derek Holland have been quiet surprises in the White Sox rotation. Gonzalez leads the team with three wins and he's posted a 3.27 ERA with 21 strikeouts. Holland's ERA is better at 2.17 and he's second on the team in strikeouts. Even former Twins Anthony Swarzak has been good out of the bullpen as he has yet to allow a run in over 12 innings. Improvement Areas Veterans on the team like Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera haven't started strong. Frazier is hitting under .185 while getting on base less than 29% of the time. Cabrera's .260 average is 25 points lower than his career mark. His .668 SLG would also be his lowest total since the 2014 campaign. Jose Quintana, the team's best starter a year ago, has struggled out of the gate. His ERA is north of 5.00 for April and his WHIP is over 1.46. James Shields was brought in as a veteran starter and he has been limited to three starts while currently being on the 10-day DL. Former Twin Mike Pelfrey has made a pair of starts so you know you're in desperation mode when you turn to Big Pelf. Detroit Tigers (April Record 12-12) What's Gone Right The Tigers took advantage of six games with the Twins as 25% of their victories have come against Minnesota. Justin Upton has provided the most value to the Tigers as he has gotten on base over 40% of the time while compiling a .968 OPS. Both of those totals, if sustained, would be career-best marks. Ian Kinsler and Alex Avial have also had good starts to the year. Detroit's pitching has been a mixture of good and bad. Michael Fulmer has put together the most consistent starts as he has a staff leading 3.19 ERA with 26 strikeouts over 31 innings. Justin Wilson and Shane Green have also limited damage out of the bullpen. Improvement Areas Former Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera has been limited to five extra-base hits and a .268 average. He currently is on the 10-day DL. Veteran slugger Victor Martinez has been limited in his time at DH. He has combined to hit .218/.281/.276 with only three extra-base hits in over 96 plate appearances. Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann are supposed to be the anchors of this starting staff. Verlander, the 2016 runner-up for Cy Young, has a 4.60 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. Zimmermann has a 1.62 WHIP and and ERA of over 6.00. Francisco Rodriguez has also struggled as the closer as he has allowed 14 hits (3 home runs) and six earned runs in less than 10 innings. Kansas City Royals (7-16) What's Gone Right Not much has gone right for the 2016 World Series champions. Lorenzo Cain leads the team in WAR and over half of his value comes on the defensive side of the ball. Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas have combined for 13 home runs with each having OPS over .835. Other than that, there hasn't been much to write home about. The Royals top three starters (Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Vargas) all have ERA totals under 3.00. Kennedy and Vargas have a WHIP under 1.00. Because of the strong start by the Royals starters, the club ranks first in the AL for WAR from their starting staff. Kansas City's lone sweep in the first month came in a three-game homestand versus the Angels. Improvement Areas Positive signs on the offensive side of the ball have been few and far between. The Royals rank at the bottom of the AL in many offensive categories. Their .210 batting average is 10 points lower than any team in the league. Slugging percentage doesn't rank them any better as they are in last by 14 points. While the front end of the rotation has been strong, the bullpen has been a weakness for Kansas City. The team's relief core has the third worst ERA in the AL while posting a negative WAR total. Relief pitchers Matt Strahm and Travis Wood both have ERA marks north of 11.50. Nate Karns and Jason Hammel have also struggled in the back end of the rotation. A lot of pitching help will be needed to turn things around in KC. What will May entail for the AL Central? Will anyone be able to separate themselves from the pack? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  21. Cleveland Indians (April Record 14-10) What's Gone Right Following their World Series run, the Indians might have come out of the gate a little slower than they would like. Francisco Lindor is continuing his strong performance from last year's postseason. He leads all shortstops in home runs, slugging percentage and WAR. Jose Ramirez is also proving he can hold his own. Through April, he hitting .330/.388/.593 with six home runs, the second highest total on the team. Cleveland's pitching staff continues to be one of it's strengths. Indians pitchers have compiled the highest WAR total in all of baseball. Both their starters and relievers rank in the top six in WAR. Their 9.97 K/9 ranks as the best in baseball while their 2.79 BB/9 is the second lowest mark. Cleveland's strong pitching helped the club to sweep three-game series from the Twins and Rangers during the season's first month. Room For Improvement Edwin Encarnacion was the team's big free agent acquisition and he has't exactly gotten off to a hot start. Through April's action, he was hitting .200/343/.353 with one home run. Those averages are all below his career production. Jason Kipnis has been limited to nine games and his production has suffered when he's been on the field. Josh Tomlin and Trevor Bauer have both struggled at the back of the Indians rotation. Tomlin has posted an 8.87 ERA, the club's worst mark, while averaging less than five innings per start. Bauer's ERA is slightly better at 6.26 and he's been close to six innings per appearance. Cleveland was only swept by one team in April, the Arizona Diamondbacks, and both Tomlin and Bauer made starts in that series. Chicago White Sox (April Record 13-10) What's Gone Right The White Sox were supposed to be in the midst of a rebuild but they find themselves a half game out of first place after the season's first month. Avisail Garcia is batting .368/.409/.621 and he leads the team with 10 extra-base hits. Matt Davidson joins Garcia in the .600 slugging percentage club and he's also been getting on base over 33% of the time. Miguel Gonzalez and Derek Holland have been quiet surprises in the White Sox rotation. Gonzalez leads the team with three wins and he's posted a 3.27 ERA with 21 strikeouts. Holland's ERA is better at 2.17 and he's second on the team in strikeouts. Even former Twins Anthony Swarzak has been good out of the bullpen as he has yet to allow a run in over 12 innings. Improvement Areas Veterans on the team like Todd Frazier and Melky Cabrera haven't started strong. Frazier is hitting under .185 while getting on base less than 29% of the time. Cabrera's .260 average is 25 points lower than his career mark. His .668 SLG would also be his lowest total since the 2014 campaign. Jose Quintana, the team's best starter a year ago, has struggled out of the gate. His ERA is north of 5.00 for April and his WHIP is over 1.46. James Shields was brought in as a veteran starter and he has been limited to three starts while currently being on the 10-day DL. Former Twin Mike Pelfrey has made a pair of starts so you know you're in desperation mode when you turn to Big Pelf. Detroit Tigers (April Record 12-12) What's Gone Right The Tigers took advantage of six games with the Twins as 25% of their victories have come against Minnesota. Justin Upton has provided the most value to the Tigers as he has gotten on base over 40% of the time while compiling a .968 OPS. Both of those totals, if sustained, would be career-best marks. Ian Kinsler and Alex Avial have also had good starts to the year. Detroit's pitching has been a mixture of good and bad. Michael Fulmer has put together the most consistent starts as he has a staff leading 3.19 ERA with 26 strikeouts over 31 innings. Justin Wilson and Shane Green have also limited damage out of the bullpen. Improvement Areas Former Triple Crown winner Miguel Cabrera has been limited to five extra-base hits and a .268 average. He currently is on the 10-day DL. Veteran slugger Victor Martinez has been limited in his time at DH. He has combined to hit .218/.281/.276 with only three extra-base hits in over 96 plate appearances. Justin Verlander and Jordan Zimmermann are supposed to be the anchors of this starting staff. Verlander, the 2016 runner-up for Cy Young, has a 4.60 ERA and a 1.40 WHIP. Zimmermann has a 1.62 WHIP and and ERA of over 6.00. Francisco Rodriguez has also struggled as the closer as he has allowed 14 hits (3 home runs) and six earned runs in less than 10 innings. Kansas City Royals (7-16) What's Gone Right Not much has gone right for the 2016 World Series champions. Lorenzo Cain leads the team in WAR and over half of his value comes on the defensive side of the ball. Salvador Perez and Mike Moustakas have combined for 13 home runs with each having OPS over .835. Other than that, there hasn't been much to write home about. The Royals top three starters (Danny Duffy, Ian Kennedy, and Jason Vargas) all have ERA totals under 3.00. Kennedy and Vargas have a WHIP under 1.00. Because of the strong start by the Royals starters, the club ranks first in the AL for WAR from their starting staff. Kansas City's lone sweep in the first month came in a three-game homestand versus the Angels. Improvement Areas Positive signs on the offensive side of the ball have been few and far between. The Royals rank at the bottom of the AL in many offensive categories. Their .210 batting average is 10 points lower than any team in the league. Slugging percentage doesn't rank them any better as they are in last by 14 points. While the front end of the rotation has been strong, the bullpen has been a weakness for Kansas City. The team's relief core has the third worst ERA in the AL while posting a negative WAR total. Relief pitchers Matt Strahm and Travis Wood both have ERA marks north of 11.50. Nate Karns and Jason Hammel have also struggled in the back end of the rotation. A lot of pitching help will be needed to turn things around in KC. What will May entail for the AL Central? Will anyone be able to separate themselves from the pack? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  22. Last month on social media, Berrios sent out a challenge to fellow young Puerto Ricans Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez. The two young future stars accepted the challenge. On December 12th and 13th, there will be clinics for teenagers between 14 and 16 years old. On December 19th and 20th, there will be a series of games. According to Berrios, "The idea came out during a training session with my staff, brainstorming about what can we do to help keep teenagers away from the streets." Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor recently finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting (behind fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Correa). He has a tremendous combination of great defense and offense. Javier Baez debuted with the Cubs in 2014 and came up late in the 2015 season again. When Addison Russell was hurt in the playoffs, Baez was thrown into the spotlight and into the lineup. Berrios said the trio has been close for a long time. “We played Little League since (we were) 5 to 6 years old. We are friends. We are family.” Berrios feels that it is important to use his celebrity to help others is important. He takes his role as a role model seriously, as seriously as his offseason workouts. He wanted to do something to help others. “Not only being role models, but we want to be able to help those in need.” Berrios set up a Go Fund Me account today and hopes to generate $30,000 for Fundacion Lake Makina. Asked what his foundation would use any raised money for, he said there were three things at this time. “The money will be distributed as follows: 1.) Hogar Foriadores de Esperanza, 2.) The Spina Bifida Association, and 3.) the Luis Rodriguez Olmo family. Luis was a famous catcher. He is now diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his family has made public their financial situation in order to take care of him. We want to help them. And any special case we understand needs help, we will do our best.” The Hogar Foriadores de Esperanza is “a homeless kids home” in Bayamon. Spina Bifida I the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. It happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all the way. Every day, about eight babies born in the United States have Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine. It is a defect that is very personal to Javier Baez. In April, his 21-year-old sister Noely, passed away from Spina Bifida. Twins fans are very excited to see Berrios reach the big leagues. Most fans wanted to see him late in the 2015 season, but they will have to wait until 2016. Berrios said, “2016 will be my year.” But it is impressive that a 21-year-old with so much in front of him is willing to take a step back in an effort to help those less fortunate. “I’m praying to God to be able to help more kids through the years. That is one of my fuels to keep pushing the game. In the future, (I want to) do something in Minnesota too, with my teammates,” Berrios continued, “In addition to pursuing a World Series championship.” Again, if you are interested and able to contribute, you can go to the Go Fund Me account here.
  23. 2015 was a big year for JO Berrios. He was the Twins Daily (and the Twins) Minor League Starting Pitcher of the Year for the second straight season. However, like so many members of the Twins organization, Berrios also does a lot off the field to contribute to his community. He has organized a pretty neat event in his hometown of Bayamon, in Puerto Rico, for December.Last month on social media, Berrios sent out a challenge to fellow young Puerto Ricans Francisco Lindor and Javier Baez. The two young future stars accepted the challenge. On December 12th and 13th, there will be clinics for teenagers between 14 and 16 years old. On December 19th and 20th, there will be a series of games. According to Berrios, "The idea came out during a training session with my staff, brainstorming about what can we do to help keep teenagers away from the streets." Cleveland shortstop Francisco Lindor recently finished second in American League Rookie of the Year voting (behind fellow Puerto Rican Carlos Correa). He has a tremendous combination of great defense and offense. Javier Baez debuted with the Cubs in 2014 and came up late in the 2015 season again. When Addison Russell was hurt in the playoffs, Baez was thrown into the spotlight and into the lineup. Berrios said the trio has been close for a long time. “We played Little League since (we were) 5 to 6 years old. We are friends. We are family.” Berrios feels that it is important to use his celebrity to help others is important. He takes his role as a role model seriously, as seriously as his offseason workouts. He wanted to do something to help others. “Not only being role models, but we want to be able to help those in need.” Berrios set up a Go Fund Me account today and hopes to generate $30,000 for Fundacion Lake Makina. Asked what his foundation would use any raised money for, he said there were three things at this time. “The money will be distributed as follows: 1.) Hogar Foriadores de Esperanza, 2.) The Spina Bifida Association, and 3.) the Luis Rodriguez Olmo family. Luis was a famous catcher. He is now diagnosed with Alzheimer’s and his family has made public their financial situation in order to take care of him. We want to help them. And any special case we understand needs help, we will do our best.” The Hogar Foriadores de Esperanza is “a homeless kids home” in Bayamon. Spina Bifida I the most common permanently disabling birth defect in the United States. It happens when a baby is in the womb and the spinal column does not close all the way. Every day, about eight babies born in the United States have Spina Bifida or a similar birth defect of the brain and spine. It is a defect that is very personal to Javier Baez. In April, his 21-year-old sister Noely, passed away from Spina Bifida. Twins fans are very excited to see Berrios reach the big leagues. Most fans wanted to see him late in the 2015 season, but they will have to wait until 2016. Berrios said, “2016 will be my year.” But it is impressive that a 21-year-old with so much in front of him is willing to take a step back in an effort to help those less fortunate. “I’m praying to God to be able to help more kids through the years. That is one of my fuels to keep pushing the game. In the future, (I want to) do something in Minnesota too, with my teammates,” Berrios continued, “In addition to pursuing a World Series championship.” Again, if you are interested and able to contribute, you can go to the Go Fund Me account here. Click here to view the article
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