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  1. Gilberto Celestino had a chance to cement himself as an MLB player in 2022 and couldn’t get the job done. After several outfield additions, it seems his future is unclear. Where does Celestino stand in the organization? Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports Through the end of May, Gilberto Celestino appeared to have turned a corner in 2022. The Twins backup center fielder was slashing .324/.398/.378, 50% above league average by wRC+.With little power to speak of, Celestino was a legitimate offensive contributor for a month or two. And then it all fell apart. From June 1 forward, Celestino slashed .211/.286/.278. The Twins clearly lost faith in him as they acquired Michael A. Taylor in a trade this last week, and he’s likely to fill the backup center field role. Celestino simply has too many questions left unanswered. Nothing demonstrates the Twins lack of trust in Celestino like them trading for a nearly identical player to fill the role he was in last season. Taylor is nearly a carbon copy in terms of raw skills. Both are elite defensive center fielders with little offensive value. It begs the question as to why the Twins traded for Taylor in the first place. There are two main considerations to take into account. First and foremost, the Twins likely have a lack of trust not only in Celestino’s performance, but in his ability to focus. Celestino regularly made awful decisions in the field and on the bases down the stretch in 2022, and in September it reached a breaking point. The offensive struggles were one thing, but it likely said a lot to the Twins brass that in a golden opportunity to prove himself with so many injuries, Celestino was losing focus in several aspects of the game that he had no reason not to be excelling at. It likely told the Twins that for 2023 on days when Byron Buxton is not in center field, Celestino was not a trustworthy replacement even to provide defensive value. A bigger reason for the Taylor trade is that Celestino may be the same zero offense, plus defense type player as Taylor now, but he doesn’t have to be forever. In 2021 Celestino was promoted straight from Double-A as a 22-year-old out of necessity. He was an average hitter there and didn’t have time to adjust before making a massive leap to the MLB. He predictably showed little offensive value, but went down to Triple-A to end the season and slashed a fantastic .290/.384/.443 in 49 games. It seems Celestino is headed back to Triple-A St. Paul to begin 2023, and he may spend significant time there. His unrefined plate approach became too obvious in 2022, and his plan of what to work on is pretty straightforward. He hit the ball to the opposite field more often than any other direction, and as the season went on, he was successfully challenged by pitches inside. He rarely made loud contact, as he appeared to just be trying to hang in there at the plate against MLB pitching. In Triple-A the Twins can work on him pulling the pitches he should be. Even developing some gap power would make him a much more serviceable fill-in. He has one minor league option remaining and won’t even be arbitration eligible until 2025, meaning the Twins have a solid timeline to develop Celestino just a bit more offensively. There is likely still a slight chance that the Twins could trade Celestino if a team calls them up and sees him as a legitimate piece in a trade for an impact player. The Twins would likely prefer however to turn the keys over to Celestino next season after Michael A Taylor departs in free agency. Even if Celestino doesn’t show the offensive upside he flashed in his brief AAA stint, he can play a valuable part in the Twins outfield mix the next few years. It’s obvious that Gilberto Celestino is the big loser in the Michael A Taylor trade, but the Twins have to ensure they don’t find themselves in the same spot as last year. Celestino was dealt a tough hand the day he was promoted directly from AA, and it likely set him back a bit. With Taylor, the Twins bought time for Celestino to develop into the player he’s capable of however, and now it’s up to him to make use of the development time he missed out on in AAA. View full article
  2. Through the end of May, Gilberto Celestino appeared to have turned a corner in 2022. The Twins backup center fielder was slashing .324/.398/.378, 50% above league average by wRC+.With little power to speak of, Celestino was a legitimate offensive contributor for a month or two. And then it all fell apart. From June 1 forward, Celestino slashed .211/.286/.278. The Twins clearly lost faith in him as they acquired Michael A. Taylor in a trade this last week, and he’s likely to fill the backup center field role. Celestino simply has too many questions left unanswered. Nothing demonstrates the Twins lack of trust in Celestino like them trading for a nearly identical player to fill the role he was in last season. Taylor is nearly a carbon copy in terms of raw skills. Both are elite defensive center fielders with little offensive value. It begs the question as to why the Twins traded for Taylor in the first place. There are two main considerations to take into account. First and foremost, the Twins likely have a lack of trust not only in Celestino’s performance, but in his ability to focus. Celestino regularly made awful decisions in the field and on the bases down the stretch in 2022, and in September it reached a breaking point. The offensive struggles were one thing, but it likely said a lot to the Twins brass that in a golden opportunity to prove himself with so many injuries, Celestino was losing focus in several aspects of the game that he had no reason not to be excelling at. It likely told the Twins that for 2023 on days when Byron Buxton is not in center field, Celestino was not a trustworthy replacement even to provide defensive value. A bigger reason for the Taylor trade is that Celestino may be the same zero offense, plus defense type player as Taylor now, but he doesn’t have to be forever. In 2021 Celestino was promoted straight from Double-A as a 22-year-old out of necessity. He was an average hitter there and didn’t have time to adjust before making a massive leap to the MLB. He predictably showed little offensive value, but went down to Triple-A to end the season and slashed a fantastic .290/.384/.443 in 49 games. It seems Celestino is headed back to Triple-A St. Paul to begin 2023, and he may spend significant time there. His unrefined plate approach became too obvious in 2022, and his plan of what to work on is pretty straightforward. He hit the ball to the opposite field more often than any other direction, and as the season went on, he was successfully challenged by pitches inside. He rarely made loud contact, as he appeared to just be trying to hang in there at the plate against MLB pitching. In Triple-A the Twins can work on him pulling the pitches he should be. Even developing some gap power would make him a much more serviceable fill-in. He has one minor league option remaining and won’t even be arbitration eligible until 2025, meaning the Twins have a solid timeline to develop Celestino just a bit more offensively. There is likely still a slight chance that the Twins could trade Celestino if a team calls them up and sees him as a legitimate piece in a trade for an impact player. The Twins would likely prefer however to turn the keys over to Celestino next season after Michael A Taylor departs in free agency. Even if Celestino doesn’t show the offensive upside he flashed in his brief AAA stint, he can play a valuable part in the Twins outfield mix the next few years. It’s obvious that Gilberto Celestino is the big loser in the Michael A Taylor trade, but the Twins have to ensure they don’t find themselves in the same spot as last year. Celestino was dealt a tough hand the day he was promoted directly from AA, and it likely set him back a bit. With Taylor, the Twins bought time for Celestino to develop into the player he’s capable of however, and now it’s up to him to make use of the development time he missed out on in AAA.
  3. Minnesota's 2023 roster has started to come into focus after the front office completed multiple trades in the last week. Here is how the team projects to start Opening Day. Image courtesy of Jeffrey Becker-USA TODAY Sports Last season, the lockout forced MLB to allow teams to begin the year with 28-man rosters. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of player injuries. For 2023, teams must narrow their final roster to 26 players. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Christian Vazquez, Ryan Jeffers Minnesota's catching duo has been set since the club signed Vazquez to a multi-year deal. It was clear from the onset of the off-season that the Twins targeted Vazquez and paid a premium to sign him. The Twins have six catchers among their non-roster invitees to spring training, including veterans Tony Wolters, Grayson Greiner, and Chance Sisco. Teams rarely rely on just two catchers for an entire season, so the Twins will likely need help from these veterans to play at some point during the 2023 campaign. Infielders (5): Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Alex Kirilloff**, Jose Miranda, Jorge Polanco Adding Correa to this group pushed Farmer to a utility role, which might be a better fit for his skill set. Miranda is getting the full-time job at third base after the team traded Gio Urshela earlier this winter. Polanco figures to get most of the playing time at second base, but it will be interesting to see if he feels any pressure from the team's top prospects. Kirilloff will get time at first base, but the team might have another option (see below) if the team wants him to get regular rest at the season's start. Top prospects like Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, Edouard Julien, and Austin Martin can add depth to this group in the second half. Outfielders (6): Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino**, Joey Gallo, Nick Gordon**, Max Kepler, Michael A. Taylor By adding Taylor, the Twins have three former Gold Glove winners in the outfield and another Gold Glove finalist. Minnesota's outfield defense has the potential to be one of baseball's best, but all four players can't fit in the outfield at the same time. Gallo has logged over 746 innings at first base, so the team might be comfortable moving him to the infield so Kirilloff can slowly work his way back. Gilberto Celestino can start the year at Triple-A, a level where he has played fewer than 25 games. Nick Gordon is out of minor-league options, so the Twins will keep him based on his breakout performance in 2022. Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner add depth to the organization's outfield, but they will have to power their way from St. Paul to Minneapolis. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan Some Twins fans were disappointed the Twins traded Arraez, but Lopez lengthened the Twins' starting rotation. Depth was needed because there are injury concerns surrounding numerous players in the rotation. Since the last projection, Bailey Ober got bumped to Triple-A because of the Lopez addition. Other young pitchers like Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic will be waiting for an opportunity. It is one of the deepest rotations the Twins have had in recent memory, and the club will have to rely on that depth if/when the injury bug strikes again. Bullpen (8): Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagan, Jorge Alcala**, Jovani Moran**, Trevor Megill** Minnesota has done little to address the bullpen this winter, but that has been a common theme for a front office that relies on veterans and internal options. Since Twins Daily's initial roster projection, all of the above names have stayed the same. Duran and Lopez should get the bulk of the high-leverage opportunities. Jax and Thielbar will combine to be a bridge to the late-inning arms. Pagan is a wild card, but the Twins are hoping for a better performance from a player with good stuff. ZiPS projects feel like the Twins' bullpen is top-heavy, which makes sense considering the recent track record of players expected to be on the roster. Minnesota will have some decisions at the bullpen's backend with other 40-man roster options like Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Josh Winder. How do you feel about the team's depth at multiple positions? What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  4. Last season, the lockout forced MLB to allow teams to begin the year with 28-man rosters. The lockout forced a shortened spring training, and baseball was worried about an increased chance of player injuries. For 2023, teams must narrow their final roster to 26 players. Players listed below with the ** are on the bubble for the final roster spots. Catchers (2): Christian Vazquez, Ryan Jeffers Minnesota's catching duo has been set since the club signed Vazquez to a multi-year deal. It was clear from the onset of the off-season that the Twins targeted Vazquez and paid a premium to sign him. The Twins have six catchers among their non-roster invitees to spring training, including veterans Tony Wolters, Grayson Greiner, and Chance Sisco. Teams rarely rely on just two catchers for an entire season, so the Twins will likely need help from these veterans to play at some point during the 2023 campaign. Infielders (5): Carlos Correa, Kyle Farmer, Alex Kirilloff**, Jose Miranda, Jorge Polanco Adding Correa to this group pushed Farmer to a utility role, which might be a better fit for his skill set. Miranda is getting the full-time job at third base after the team traded Gio Urshela earlier this winter. Polanco figures to get most of the playing time at second base, but it will be interesting to see if he feels any pressure from the team's top prospects. Kirilloff will get time at first base, but the team might have another option (see below) if the team wants him to get regular rest at the season's start. Top prospects like Royce Lewis, Brooks Lee, Edouard Julien, and Austin Martin can add depth to this group in the second half. Outfielders (6): Byron Buxton, Gilberto Celestino**, Joey Gallo, Nick Gordon**, Max Kepler, Michael A. Taylor By adding Taylor, the Twins have three former Gold Glove winners in the outfield and another Gold Glove finalist. Minnesota's outfield defense has the potential to be one of baseball's best, but all four players can't fit in the outfield at the same time. Gallo has logged over 746 innings at first base, so the team might be comfortable moving him to the infield so Kirilloff can slowly work his way back. Gilberto Celestino can start the year at Triple-A, a level where he has played fewer than 25 games. Nick Gordon is out of minor-league options, so the Twins will keep him based on his breakout performance in 2022. Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner add depth to the organization's outfield, but they will have to power their way from St. Paul to Minneapolis. Rotation (5): Sonny Gray, Pablo Lopez, Tyler Mahle, Kenta Maeda, Joe Ryan Some Twins fans were disappointed the Twins traded Arraez, but Lopez lengthened the Twins' starting rotation. Depth was needed because there are injury concerns surrounding numerous players in the rotation. Since the last projection, Bailey Ober got bumped to Triple-A because of the Lopez addition. Other young pitchers like Louie Varland, Simeon Woods Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic will be waiting for an opportunity. It is one of the deepest rotations the Twins have had in recent memory, and the club will have to rely on that depth if/when the injury bug strikes again. Bullpen (8): Jhoan Duran, Jorge Lopez, Griffin Jax, Caleb Thielbar, Emilio Pagan, Jorge Alcala**, Jovani Moran**, Trevor Megill** Minnesota has done little to address the bullpen this winter, but that has been a common theme for a front office that relies on veterans and internal options. Since Twins Daily's initial roster projection, all of the above names have stayed the same. Duran and Lopez should get the bulk of the high-leverage opportunities. Jax and Thielbar will combine to be a bridge to the late-inning arms. Pagan is a wild card, but the Twins are hoping for a better performance from a player with good stuff. ZiPS projects feel like the Twins' bullpen is top-heavy, which makes sense considering the recent track record of players expected to be on the roster. Minnesota will have some decisions at the bullpen's backend with other 40-man roster options like Ronny Henriquez, Cole Sands, and Josh Winder. How do you feel about the team's depth at multiple positions? What changes will happen to the team's roster before Opening Day? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  5. Once drafted 5th overall in 2020, Austin Martin’s prospect stock has tumbled due to several ongoing concerns. What can we expect moving forward from what was once the main return in the Jose Berrios trade? Image courtesy of Ed Bailey, Wichita Wind Surge Austin Martin was billed as a tremendous hitter with an unknown defensive future when he was taken 5th overall in the 2020 draft. Martin’s minor league career got off to a good but strange start offensively, and the defensive questions quickly grew before being traded to the Twins during the summer following his draft selection. A year and a half later, the Twins are left with more questions than answers. Martin was immediately placed in Double-A with Toronto due to what was seen as an advanced plate approach, and he rewarded them with a 133 wRC+ in his 56 games before being traded. His overall body of work looked like he not only belonged, but that he could shoot up the minors and debut in the MLB in short order. So why would Toronto trade such a player? Martin walked an incredible 14.8% of the time and only struck out 21.2% of the time with Toronto. His .281 batting average and .424 OBP were very impressive. If you’ve followed Twins prospects, however, you likely know the question with Martin was always his power. He slugged just .383 in his debut, a total power outage that was exacerbated by Toronto’s lack of belief in his ability to stick in the middle of the field defensively. He committed 10 errors in just 26 games at shortstop with Toronto before they started moving him around the diamond. The Twins saw an opportunity to buy a player who was losing the faith of the team that drafted him. They traded Jose Berrios for Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. They gave Martin the keys to shortstop in Double-A and began attempting to retool his swing. In his year and a half in the Twins system, Martin’s prospect stock has declined significantly. After finishing 2021 similarly to how he started, Martin completely cratered in 2022. His slash line of .241/.367/.315 was 11% below league average in Double-A. He stole an impressive 34 bases in 90 games, but his walk rate didn’t reach 2021 levels and his power declined even further. He committed 18 errors at shortstop in just 70 games, and by year’s end, it appeared the Austin Martin shortstop experiment had come to an end. He had dealt with hand issues throughout the season which surely held him back to some extent, but his struggles dropped him out of any top 100 prospects list you can find. So what could Austin Martin’s future hold? Of note, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time in 2022 and dominated to the tune of a .374/.454/.482 slash line, stealing 10 bases in just 21 games. It’s possible he was finally healthy and some of those swing changes finally showed themselves. If he can utilize his contact and walk ability and slug even .400, he’s likely to find himself at the door of the Major Leagues in short order at the age of 24. Still, significant questions persist. The Twins have yet to find a position that Martin can play well after spending nearly all of 2022 coming to the conclusion that shortstop isn’t an option. A rational pivot would be to move him across the bag to second base. Unfortunately for Martin, it’s hard to see him finding everyday playing time there in the near future between Jorge Polanco and a mix of prospects such as Edouard Julien, Brooks Lee, etc. who have all blown past Martin in their development. He also doesn’t appear to be a great candidate for any corner infield or outfield spots due to his lack of power and overall questions offensively. Look for the Twins to give Martin some legitimate run in centerfield in 2023. He was always viewed as a freak athlete, and perhaps this would translate better on the grass than it did in the dirt. With players like Gilberto Celestino failing to grab ahold of the job to back up Buxton, Martin could carve out a role for himself quickly if the Twins like what they see. If he can rebound offensively he can have a role in MLB very soon. The longevity of his career and how consistently he’s in the starting lineup will depend on where he can settle in defensively. It’s hard to say Austin Martin’s time in Minnesota has not gone as planned, and his outlook is at an all-time low for his young career. For now, he’s no longer anywhere close to one of the Twins top prospects with so many questions to be answered in his overall game. Still, his Arizona Fall League offered a look at the talent he still possesses and it’s fair to hold out hope for a rebound in 2023 based on health alone. Will 2023 be a rebound season for Martin? What level of MLB player do you think he’ll be at this point in his career? Let us know below! View full article
  6. Gilberto Celestino has had a rocky start to his big-league career. However, the former top prospect offers plenty of long-term upside if he continues to develop. Image courtesy of Jordan Johnson-USA TODAY Sports The Houston Astros originally signed Gilberto Celestino as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He played his first three professional seasons in the Astros organization before being traded to the Twins along with Jorge Alcala for Ryan Pressly at the 2018 trade deadline. His first full season in the Twins organization was spent at the Low-A level, where he posted a .759 OPS in 117 games. He was over a year younger than the average age of the competition, so signs pointed to even more potential. In 2021, Minnesota was aggressive with Celestino coming out of the pandemic by sending him to Double-A. He made brief stops at Double-A (34 games), but the club was forced to promote him to the big-league level because of a lack of outfield options on the 40-man roster. He struggled in 23 games by hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466) before being demoted to Triple-A, a level he had never experienced in his professional career. His performance dramatically improved in St. Paul as he posted an .827 OPS over the season’s final 49 games. Despite his struggles, Celestino looked like a long-term outfield option for the Twins. Minnesota wanted Celestino to get more experience at Triple-A to start the 2022 season, but the club needed him again in the big leagues. He went on to play over 120 games for the Twins and only logged seven total minor-league at-bats in 2022. Celestino showed some of his true potential in May when he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) with three doubles. Those numbers are far from his minor-league track record, and he only had one other month during the season with an OPS above .600. He was inconsistent, but he was only 23 years old with little experience in the upper minors. Last season, Celestino played all three outfield positions, with most of his playing time coming in center field. Baseball Savant ranked him well in Outs Above Average (79th percentile) and Arm Strength (93rd percentile). His Outfield Jump ranked slightly above average and is the most significant area he can improve. He’s had minimal experience in the corner outfield spots throughout his professional career, which might be one reason his Outfield Jump was lower this year. As he gets more experience in the corners, he can get a better read on the ball and see better defensive numbers. Celestino ranked in the 20th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard hit %, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Barrel %. Those numbers are certainly lower than the Twins would like, but his lack of experience in the upper minors is tied to some of his struggles. There are positive signs in his offensive profile. He ranked in the 63rd percentile for BB% and the 86th percentile for chase rate. Celestino has a good eye at the plate, so he needs to translate that into making solid contact on a more regular basis. Across baseball, the average OPS has dropped by over 50 points since 2019. During the 2019 season, the league average for OPS was .706, but the Twins posted a .718 OPS, which ranked fifth in the American League. Celestino has been an above-average hitter during his professional career. He has posted a .753 OPS in over 1,600 plate appearances in the minors. It will be up to the Twins and hitting coach David Popkins to unlock Celestino’s power at the big-league level. Celestino could benefit from more time in Triple-A, but that might not be a luxury the Twins can afford. Byron Buxton needs regular time at the DH spot, and Celestino is the best back-up centerfield option on the 40-man roster. The Twins also mentioned that Joey Gallo has the potential to play sometime in center, but he’s made less than 50 starts at the position during his big-league career. Celestino needs to be on the roster as Buxton insurance. There is more to unlock with Celestino in the years ahead. He’s only 23 years old, and he’s still entering the prime of his career. The Twins need someone who can play centerfield regularly with a bat that stands up when the player has to fit into a corner outfield spot. Celestino will continue to improve on both sides of the ball, which makes it exciting to think about his long-term upside. What is Celestino’s ceiling? Can he improve his power numbers at the big-league level? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  7. The Houston Astros originally signed Gilberto Celestino as a teenager out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. He played his first three professional seasons in the Astros organization before being traded to the Twins along with Jorge Alcala for Ryan Pressly at the 2018 trade deadline. His first full season in the Twins organization was spent at the Low-A level, where he posted a .759 OPS in 117 games. He was over a year younger than the average age of the competition, so signs pointed to even more potential. In 2021, Minnesota was aggressive with Celestino coming out of the pandemic by sending him to Double-A. He made brief stops at Double-A (34 games), but the club was forced to promote him to the big-league level because of a lack of outfield options on the 40-man roster. He struggled in 23 games by hitting .136/.177/.288 (.466) before being demoted to Triple-A, a level he had never experienced in his professional career. His performance dramatically improved in St. Paul as he posted an .827 OPS over the season’s final 49 games. Despite his struggles, Celestino looked like a long-term outfield option for the Twins. Minnesota wanted Celestino to get more experience at Triple-A to start the 2022 season, but the club needed him again in the big leagues. He went on to play over 120 games for the Twins and only logged seven total minor-league at-bats in 2022. Celestino showed some of his true potential in May when he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) with three doubles. Those numbers are far from his minor-league track record, and he only had one other month during the season with an OPS above .600. He was inconsistent, but he was only 23 years old with little experience in the upper minors. Last season, Celestino played all three outfield positions, with most of his playing time coming in center field. Baseball Savant ranked him well in Outs Above Average (79th percentile) and Arm Strength (93rd percentile). His Outfield Jump ranked slightly above average and is the most significant area he can improve. He’s had minimal experience in the corner outfield spots throughout his professional career, which might be one reason his Outfield Jump was lower this year. As he gets more experience in the corners, he can get a better read on the ball and see better defensive numbers. Celestino ranked in the 20th percentile or lower in average exit velocity, hard hit %, xwOBA, xBA, xSLG, and Barrel %. Those numbers are certainly lower than the Twins would like, but his lack of experience in the upper minors is tied to some of his struggles. There are positive signs in his offensive profile. He ranked in the 63rd percentile for BB% and the 86th percentile for chase rate. Celestino has a good eye at the plate, so he needs to translate that into making solid contact on a more regular basis. Across baseball, the average OPS has dropped by over 50 points since 2019. During the 2019 season, the league average for OPS was .706, but the Twins posted a .718 OPS, which ranked fifth in the American League. Celestino has been an above-average hitter during his professional career. He has posted a .753 OPS in over 1,600 plate appearances in the minors. It will be up to the Twins and hitting coach David Popkins to unlock Celestino’s power at the big-league level. Celestino could benefit from more time in Triple-A, but that might not be a luxury the Twins can afford. Byron Buxton needs regular time at the DH spot, and Celestino is the best back-up centerfield option on the 40-man roster. The Twins also mentioned that Joey Gallo has the potential to play sometime in center, but he’s made less than 50 starts at the position during his big-league career. Celestino needs to be on the roster as Buxton insurance. There is more to unlock with Celestino in the years ahead. He’s only 23 years old, and he’s still entering the prime of his career. The Twins need someone who can play centerfield regularly with a bat that stands up when the player has to fit into a corner outfield spot. Celestino will continue to improve on both sides of the ball, which makes it exciting to think about his long-term upside. What is Celestino’s ceiling? Can he improve his power numbers at the big-league level? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  8. Austin Martin was billed as a tremendous hitter with an unknown defensive future when he was taken 5th overall in the 2020 draft. Martin’s minor league career got off to a good but strange start offensively, and the defensive questions quickly grew before being traded to the Twins during the summer following his draft selection. A year and a half later, the Twins are left with more questions than answers. Martin was immediately placed in Double-A with Toronto due to what was seen as an advanced plate approach, and he rewarded them with a 133 wRC+ in his 56 games before being traded. His overall body of work looked like he not only belonged, but that he could shoot up the minors and debut in the MLB in short order. So why would Toronto trade such a player? Martin walked an incredible 14.8% of the time and only struck out 21.2% of the time with Toronto. His .281 batting average and .424 OBP were very impressive. If you’ve followed Twins prospects, however, you likely know the question with Martin was always his power. He slugged just .383 in his debut, a total power outage that was exacerbated by Toronto’s lack of belief in his ability to stick in the middle of the field defensively. He committed 10 errors in just 26 games at shortstop with Toronto before they started moving him around the diamond. The Twins saw an opportunity to buy a player who was losing the faith of the team that drafted him. They traded Jose Berrios for Martin and Simeon Woods Richardson. They gave Martin the keys to shortstop in Double-A and began attempting to retool his swing. In his year and a half in the Twins system, Martin’s prospect stock has declined significantly. After finishing 2021 similarly to how he started, Martin completely cratered in 2022. His slash line of .241/.367/.315 was 11% below league average in Double-A. He stole an impressive 34 bases in 90 games, but his walk rate didn’t reach 2021 levels and his power declined even further. He committed 18 errors at shortstop in just 70 games, and by year’s end, it appeared the Austin Martin shortstop experiment had come to an end. He had dealt with hand issues throughout the season which surely held him back to some extent, but his struggles dropped him out of any top 100 prospects list you can find. So what could Austin Martin’s future hold? Of note, he was sent to the Arizona Fall League to make up for lost time in 2022 and dominated to the tune of a .374/.454/.482 slash line, stealing 10 bases in just 21 games. It’s possible he was finally healthy and some of those swing changes finally showed themselves. If he can utilize his contact and walk ability and slug even .400, he’s likely to find himself at the door of the Major Leagues in short order at the age of 24. Still, significant questions persist. The Twins have yet to find a position that Martin can play well after spending nearly all of 2022 coming to the conclusion that shortstop isn’t an option. A rational pivot would be to move him across the bag to second base. Unfortunately for Martin, it’s hard to see him finding everyday playing time there in the near future between Jorge Polanco and a mix of prospects such as Edouard Julien, Brooks Lee, etc. who have all blown past Martin in their development. He also doesn’t appear to be a great candidate for any corner infield or outfield spots due to his lack of power and overall questions offensively. Look for the Twins to give Martin some legitimate run in centerfield in 2023. He was always viewed as a freak athlete, and perhaps this would translate better on the grass than it did in the dirt. With players like Gilberto Celestino failing to grab ahold of the job to back up Buxton, Martin could carve out a role for himself quickly if the Twins like what they see. If he can rebound offensively he can have a role in MLB very soon. The longevity of his career and how consistently he’s in the starting lineup will depend on where he can settle in defensively. It’s hard to say Austin Martin’s time in Minnesota has not gone as planned, and his outlook is at an all-time low for his young career. For now, he’s no longer anywhere close to one of the Twins top prospects with so many questions to be answered in his overall game. Still, his Arizona Fall League offered a look at the talent he still possesses and it’s fair to hold out hope for a rebound in 2023 based on health alone. Will 2023 be a rebound season for Martin? What level of MLB player do you think he’ll be at this point in his career? Let us know below!
  9. The Twins failed to secure any of the top right-handed bats on the free agent market. Could they look to a former MVP to marginally improve their offense? He may not be the superstar that he once was, but Andrew McCutcheon does something that this front office loves: he raises the floor. Image courtesy of © Jeff Hanisch-USA TODAY Sports At the onset of the off-season, the Minnesota Twins were in dire need of a big, right-handed bat that could be penciled into the middle of the lineup for the 2023 season and beyond. Carlos Correa was their primary target, but all signs seem to indicate he is landing elsewhere. Not only that, but many of their fallback options to fit that role were signed by other teams in the meantime. While Joey Gallo is a solid, albeit misplaced addition from the left-handed side of the batter’s box, the club could still use a reinforcement on the other side of the plate. Enter Andrew McCutchen. He certainly fits this front office’s pattern of finding veteran hitters whose market isn’t developing as fruitfully as they’d like. But could the former MVP make a positive impact if he were to land with the Twins? His 2022 was rather unexciting, but he is only one year removed from a 27-home run season and has had a great clubhouse reputation throughout his career. Is that enough to make unsatisfied Twins fans forget about Correa? Of course not. But the former star shortstop is all but gone. As Ferris Buehler said: you’re still here? It’s over. Go home. The question isn’t whether McCutchen would be better than Correa. But rather, how much of an improvement would he be over their current fourth-outfielder options such as Gilberto Celestino and Kyle Garlick. These two are currently the only other right-handed outfield options beyond Byron Buxton. With the assumption that the star centerfielder will need to see some time at designated hitter and on the bench entirely, their backup plans need to be solidified. Gallo presents a solid defender in center field when that happens, but it would be prudent to have a capable right-handed hitter slide into a corner outfield spot should the opposing pitcher be a southpaw. McCutchen shouldn’t be counted on to hold a majority share of an outfield platoon. After all, he only saw 53 games in the field last season, with his remaining 82 games played coming from the designated hitter slot. However, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to count on him for spot starts in the field. Despite his -11 outs above average over the last three years, he still possessed speed in the 90th percentile in 2022. He may not be the show-stealing, defensive star that he once was, but maybe he could thrive in a supporting role if he’s willing to accept it at this stage of his career. Celestino presents a younger internal option that has had little success offensively so far in his major league career (.222/.292/.300, 71 wRC+) and has been relatively neutral on defense (0 OAA, -2.4 UZR). Those uninspiring numbers mixed with his lapses in judgment that became all too familiar in 2022 signify that he could use more seasoning at Triple-A. Garlick was rather great as a strict, right-handed platoon in the outfield (.243/.305/.500, 128 wRC+ vs. left-handed pitchers). But he too was limited by injuries in 2022, and was slightly worse than Celestino on defense (-3 OAA, -3.3 UZR). Again, McCutchen didn’t have his finest season in 2022, as made evident by his .237/.316/.384 (98 wRC+) slashline on the year. But that overall figure includes a disastrous first eight weeks of the season. From June 5th on, McCutchen had a stellar .252/.343/.427 (118 wRC+) and appeared in nearly every game for the Brewers. That line is spot-on when compared to his combined slashline of .244/.352/.436 (114 wRC+) from 2018-2021. His performance against lefties after getting back on track starting on June 6th was exactly what the Twins could use in 2023 and beyond. He hit a whopping .245/.345/.479 (131 wRC+) against southpaws from that point on. If the Twins could get that version to show up in a potentially more-limited role, it would be a huge boost to the offense. That’s a big if for a player going into their age-36 season. While he’s a fun player to root for with some upside, there’s still plenty of red flags when it comes to his fit with the Twins. Whether it’s his age, diminishing defensive metrics, his inability to hit sliders or lack of true star-level upside, McCutchen is far from a perfect player. Not to mention, the Twins decision-makers have a reputation for sticking with a struggling veteran for far too long in recent years, as was the case for players such as JA Happ, Matt Shoemaker and Andrelton Simmons. Would they be able to pull the plug if McCutchen got off to another horrid start? It’s clear that McCutchen won’t save the Twins after they lost out on re-signing Correa. It’s a huge task to replace a superstar shortstop in the prime of their career. He’s not the big bat that the Twins desperately needed when the off-season began. But there is certainly a lot that the former MVP could do to marginally improve the team on the field and in the clubhouse. Does he do anything for you? View full article
  10. At the onset of the off-season, the Minnesota Twins were in dire need of a big, right-handed bat that could be penciled into the middle of the lineup for the 2023 season and beyond. Carlos Correa was their primary target, but all signs seem to indicate he is landing elsewhere. Not only that, but many of their fallback options to fit that role were signed by other teams in the meantime. While Joey Gallo is a solid, albeit misplaced addition from the left-handed side of the batter’s box, the club could still use a reinforcement on the other side of the plate. Enter Andrew McCutchen. He certainly fits this front office’s pattern of finding veteran hitters whose market isn’t developing as fruitfully as they’d like. But could the former MVP make a positive impact if he were to land with the Twins? His 2022 was rather unexciting, but he is only one year removed from a 27-home run season and has had a great clubhouse reputation throughout his career. Is that enough to make unsatisfied Twins fans forget about Correa? Of course not. But the former star shortstop is all but gone. As Ferris Buehler said: you’re still here? It’s over. Go home. The question isn’t whether McCutchen would be better than Correa. But rather, how much of an improvement would he be over their current fourth-outfielder options such as Gilberto Celestino and Kyle Garlick. These two are currently the only other right-handed outfield options beyond Byron Buxton. With the assumption that the star centerfielder will need to see some time at designated hitter and on the bench entirely, their backup plans need to be solidified. Gallo presents a solid defender in center field when that happens, but it would be prudent to have a capable right-handed hitter slide into a corner outfield spot should the opposing pitcher be a southpaw. McCutchen shouldn’t be counted on to hold a majority share of an outfield platoon. After all, he only saw 53 games in the field last season, with his remaining 82 games played coming from the designated hitter slot. However, it wouldn’t be unreasonable to count on him for spot starts in the field. Despite his -11 outs above average over the last three years, he still possessed speed in the 90th percentile in 2022. He may not be the show-stealing, defensive star that he once was, but maybe he could thrive in a supporting role if he’s willing to accept it at this stage of his career. Celestino presents a younger internal option that has had little success offensively so far in his major league career (.222/.292/.300, 71 wRC+) and has been relatively neutral on defense (0 OAA, -2.4 UZR). Those uninspiring numbers mixed with his lapses in judgment that became all too familiar in 2022 signify that he could use more seasoning at Triple-A. Garlick was rather great as a strict, right-handed platoon in the outfield (.243/.305/.500, 128 wRC+ vs. left-handed pitchers). But he too was limited by injuries in 2022, and was slightly worse than Celestino on defense (-3 OAA, -3.3 UZR). Again, McCutchen didn’t have his finest season in 2022, as made evident by his .237/.316/.384 (98 wRC+) slashline on the year. But that overall figure includes a disastrous first eight weeks of the season. From June 5th on, McCutchen had a stellar .252/.343/.427 (118 wRC+) and appeared in nearly every game for the Brewers. That line is spot-on when compared to his combined slashline of .244/.352/.436 (114 wRC+) from 2018-2021. His performance against lefties after getting back on track starting on June 6th was exactly what the Twins could use in 2023 and beyond. He hit a whopping .245/.345/.479 (131 wRC+) against southpaws from that point on. If the Twins could get that version to show up in a potentially more-limited role, it would be a huge boost to the offense. That’s a big if for a player going into their age-36 season. While he’s a fun player to root for with some upside, there’s still plenty of red flags when it comes to his fit with the Twins. Whether it’s his age, diminishing defensive metrics, his inability to hit sliders or lack of true star-level upside, McCutchen is far from a perfect player. Not to mention, the Twins decision-makers have a reputation for sticking with a struggling veteran for far too long in recent years, as was the case for players such as JA Happ, Matt Shoemaker and Andrelton Simmons. Would they be able to pull the plug if McCutchen got off to another horrid start? It’s clear that McCutchen won’t save the Twins after they lost out on re-signing Correa. It’s a huge task to replace a superstar shortstop in the prime of their career. He’s not the big bat that the Twins desperately needed when the off-season began. But there is certainly a lot that the former MVP could do to marginally improve the team on the field and in the clubhouse. Does he do anything for you?
  11. The shelves in Oakland are bare as the A’s continue to gut their roster. One key piece remains however, and if Billy Beane and company are looking to shed even more payroll, the Twins should be on the phone. Image courtesy of © Robert Edwards-USA TODAY Sports Ramon Laureano was once a huge name on the trade market before failing a PED test and having a down season in 2022. Still, at 28 years old the talented outfielder has a lot to offer a team that’s trying to contend. Laureano’s peak season came in the juiced ball season of 2019 when he posted a 127 wRC+ and was a 4+ win player. Though failing to match that level of output since, Laureano has been an above average hitter in two of three seasons. His defensive value has taken a bit of a hit, though his outfield jump and arm remain at near elite levels. His days as an everyday centerfield may be behind him, but his four defensive runs saved in right field in 2022 show that he can still be a plus defender in the corner with the ability to slide over in a pinch. Laureano isn’t an elite hitter, but he’s a solid one. His best tool is typically his barrel rate and the right-handed hitter is fantastic against left-handed pitching, slashing .268/.346/.444 against southpaws in his career. Despite a disappointing .663 OPS in 2022, Laureano still carries a .768 OPS in his career. It’s hard to imagine he’s done producing at his age. Ramon Laureano is a fiery player and would provide the Twins with a superior and more versatile right-handed option in the outfield than someone like Kyle Garlick. With news that Joey Gallo will be moving around, sometimes to DH and even in the infield, there should be plenty of at bats to go around in the outfield rotation if the Twins want to consolidate their depth. In regards to cost, the Twins would be buying low on Laureano who was a slightly below average hitter in 2022 and proved that his days as an everyday centerfielder are likely finished. Still, a rebound to some degree is probably in the cards, and him being a plus defender in a corner is likely with his raw skills. He won’t cost as much as he once would have, but given his team control through 2025, he’ll still cost a fair bit. Looking at recent trades the A’s have spun for players such as Sean Murphy and Frankie Montas, they seem to favor quantity on the return to quality. Given their inability to fetch top tier prospects for either of these two, the Twins farm system may be a good match considering we’d prefer to hang onto players at the top of our rankings. It’s entirely likely that prospects such as Austin Martin are options as part of the package. Even someone like Gilberto Celestino could make up a portion of a trade given the disappointing debut of Christin Pache in 2022. It’s hard to say what Oakland would be interested in, though it’s safe to say they’re willing to unload Laureano’s increasing arbitration money, and it’s unlikely his cost would cripple the Twins farm system. Adding another dependable outfielder could also open up players such as Matt Wallner or Trevor Larnach for trade packages to acquire further talent if the Twins chose to go that route. While it seems like they have the outfield squared away, Laureano could shake things up and open up an entire world of possibilities. It’s sounded like the Twins are focused on the position player side in trade talks. They should be, assuming Carlos Correa works out a deal elsewhere. Laureano would be the solid right-handed outfield bat it was long expected they’d be pursuing. It may finally be time for the Twins to get involved in the gross teardown in Oakland by prying their final asset away, View full article
  12. Ramon Laureano was once a huge name on the trade market before failing a PED test and having a down season in 2022. Still, at 28 years old the talented outfielder has a lot to offer a team that’s trying to contend. Laureano’s peak season came in the juiced ball season of 2019 when he posted a 127 wRC+ and was a 4+ win player. Though failing to match that level of output since, Laureano has been an above average hitter in two of three seasons. His defensive value has taken a bit of a hit, though his outfield jump and arm remain at near elite levels. His days as an everyday centerfield may be behind him, but his four defensive runs saved in right field in 2022 show that he can still be a plus defender in the corner with the ability to slide over in a pinch. Laureano isn’t an elite hitter, but he’s a solid one. His best tool is typically his barrel rate and the right-handed hitter is fantastic against left-handed pitching, slashing .268/.346/.444 against southpaws in his career. Despite a disappointing .663 OPS in 2022, Laureano still carries a .768 OPS in his career. It’s hard to imagine he’s done producing at his age. Ramon Laureano is a fiery player and would provide the Twins with a superior and more versatile right-handed option in the outfield than someone like Kyle Garlick. With news that Joey Gallo will be moving around, sometimes to DH and even in the infield, there should be plenty of at bats to go around in the outfield rotation if the Twins want to consolidate their depth. In regards to cost, the Twins would be buying low on Laureano who was a slightly below average hitter in 2022 and proved that his days as an everyday centerfielder are likely finished. Still, a rebound to some degree is probably in the cards, and him being a plus defender in a corner is likely with his raw skills. He won’t cost as much as he once would have, but given his team control through 2025, he’ll still cost a fair bit. Looking at recent trades the A’s have spun for players such as Sean Murphy and Frankie Montas, they seem to favor quantity on the return to quality. Given their inability to fetch top tier prospects for either of these two, the Twins farm system may be a good match considering we’d prefer to hang onto players at the top of our rankings. It’s entirely likely that prospects such as Austin Martin are options as part of the package. Even someone like Gilberto Celestino could make up a portion of a trade given the disappointing debut of Christin Pache in 2022. It’s hard to say what Oakland would be interested in, though it’s safe to say they’re willing to unload Laureano’s increasing arbitration money, and it’s unlikely his cost would cripple the Twins farm system. Adding another dependable outfielder could also open up players such as Matt Wallner or Trevor Larnach for trade packages to acquire further talent if the Twins chose to go that route. While it seems like they have the outfield squared away, Laureano could shake things up and open up an entire world of possibilities. It’s sounded like the Twins are focused on the position player side in trade talks. They should be, assuming Carlos Correa works out a deal elsewhere. Laureano would be the solid right-handed outfield bat it was long expected they’d be pursuing. It may finally be time for the Twins to get involved in the gross teardown in Oakland by prying their final asset away,
  13. MLB recently released Statcast data about players' defensive arm strength. Here are some surprising observations from the available data so far. Image courtesy of Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports For baseball fans, there continue to be new forms of data to help build discussions around various topics. Defensive data has continued to improve, especially in the Statcast era. Earlier this season, MLB began posting data about players' defensive arm strength. Currently, arm strength data covers the 2020 through 2022 seasons, but a few observations stand out from Minnesota's data. 1. Gilberto Celestino has underrated arm strength Few fans may be able to identify the Twins player with the best arm strength, but Gilberto Celestino has one of baseball's best arms. Celestino topped the arm strength leaderboard with a 92.4 mph average on over 300 throws. He topped out at 102.3, which was the highest velocity throw by a Twins defender this season. Throughout baseball, only two players had a throw with a higher velocity in 2022. He ranks 10th at the MLB level and fourth in the American League. It will be interesting to see what type of playing time Celestino gets in 2023 and how his arm continues to develop. 2. Luis Arraez might be underserved at first base Minnesota's injury situation forced the Twins to be creative with the team's defensive alignment in 2022. Luis Arraez played a significant amount of time at first base with players like Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff on the IL. According to the available data, Arraez has the best arm strength of any current Twins infielder at 90.2 mph. That ranks even better than Carlos Correa, who posted an 88.0 mph total in his first year with the Twins. During the 2021 season, Arraez finished fifth among third basemen in SDI but only played seven games at third base this season. Next season, it seems likely for Arraez to be moved around to multiple defensive positions, but his arm is better served away from first base. 3. Byron Buxton continues to be one of baseball's best defenders Celestino may have led the team in arm strength this past season, but his sample size is more limited than some of the team's other outfielders. Among players with over 1000 throws, Buxton has the team's highest arm strength rating (91.2 MPH) and the highest max arm speed (101.4 mph). The league average for center fielders has been 88.8 mph over the last three seasons. These totals won't surprise those who have followed Buxton since he was an amateur. In high school, his arm strength was good enough to be one of his team's starting pitchers. 4. Carlos Correa's arm wasn't as strong with the Twins Last season, Carlos Correa compiled elite defensive numbers. He won the AL's Platinum Glove and led the league in SDI. His defensive numbers didn't fare well at the season's start, with him ranking 9th among AL shortstops in SDI. He rose in the rankings throughout the season, and there is a chance for him to be a Gold Glove finalist. Even with his strong defense, Correa's arm strength has dropped in each of the last three seasons. In the shortened 2020 season, his arm strength was in the 87th percentile but down to the 72nd percentile in 2022. Minnesota's defensive alignment might have impacted his totals this season, so it will be interesting to see how Correa fares as he continues to age. What stands out to you about the Twins and arm strength? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  14. For baseball fans, there continue to be new forms of data to help build discussions around various topics. Defensive data has continued to improve, especially in the Statcast era. Earlier this season, MLB began posting data about players' defensive arm strength. Currently, arm strength data covers the 2020 through 2022 seasons, but a few observations stand out from Minnesota's data. 1. Gilberto Celestino has underrated arm strength Few fans may be able to identify the Twins player with the best arm strength, but Gilberto Celestino has one of baseball's best arms. Celestino topped the arm strength leaderboard with a 92.4 mph average on over 300 throws. He topped out at 102.3, which was the highest velocity throw by a Twins defender this season. Throughout baseball, only two players had a throw with a higher velocity in 2022. He ranks 10th at the MLB level and fourth in the American League. It will be interesting to see what type of playing time Celestino gets in 2023 and how his arm continues to develop. 2. Luis Arraez might be underserved at first base Minnesota's injury situation forced the Twins to be creative with the team's defensive alignment in 2022. Luis Arraez played a significant amount of time at first base with players like Miguel Sano and Alex Kirilloff on the IL. According to the available data, Arraez has the best arm strength of any current Twins infielder at 90.2 mph. That ranks even better than Carlos Correa, who posted an 88.0 mph total in his first year with the Twins. During the 2021 season, Arraez finished fifth among third basemen in SDI but only played seven games at third base this season. Next season, it seems likely for Arraez to be moved around to multiple defensive positions, but his arm is better served away from first base. 3. Byron Buxton continues to be one of baseball's best defenders Celestino may have led the team in arm strength this past season, but his sample size is more limited than some of the team's other outfielders. Among players with over 1000 throws, Buxton has the team's highest arm strength rating (91.2 MPH) and the highest max arm speed (101.4 mph). The league average for center fielders has been 88.8 mph over the last three seasons. These totals won't surprise those who have followed Buxton since he was an amateur. In high school, his arm strength was good enough to be one of his team's starting pitchers. 4. Carlos Correa's arm wasn't as strong with the Twins Last season, Carlos Correa compiled elite defensive numbers. He won the AL's Platinum Glove and led the league in SDI. His defensive numbers didn't fare well at the season's start, with him ranking 9th among AL shortstops in SDI. He rose in the rankings throughout the season, and there is a chance for him to be a Gold Glove finalist. Even with his strong defense, Correa's arm strength has dropped in each of the last three seasons. In the shortened 2020 season, his arm strength was in the 87th percentile but down to the 72nd percentile in 2022. Minnesota's defensive alignment might have impacted his totals this season, so it will be interesting to see how Correa fares as he continues to age. What stands out to you about the Twins and arm strength? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  15. The Twins technically did improve on their record in 2021, and with that came several players taking steps forward. Nobody made a bigger leap than late-bloomer Nick Gordon. Before we pay our dues to the Twins former top prospect, several others deserve some love as well. Honorable Mentions: Griffin Jax: 72.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 26.9% K rate, 6.9% BB rate, 0.9 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR At the end of 2021, it became clear Jax lacked the pitch mix to thrive as a starter so he made the switch to the bullpen. It’s hard to expect more than what he provided the Twins. Arguably a Top 3 reliever for the team for most of the year, Jax turned to his wipeout slider nearly 50% of the time and the pitch was dominant in every way. Headed into 2023, it’ll be interesting to see if Jax can continue improving in his new role. Luis Arraez: .316/.375/.420, 8.3% BB rate, 7.1% K rate, 3.2 fWAR, 4.4 bWAR It’s hard for one of the team’s best players over the last few years to get “most improved” consideration but Arraez has earned it. Not only did he take his offense to the next level by winning a batting title and slugging a career-high eight home runs, but he also had an underrated season defensively. After struggling to stick at any one position, Arraez found himself playing first base for the first time in his career and more than held his own. Though his hamstring caused him issues at season’s end, he played a career-high 144 games. Hopefully, we can see more of the same moving forward. Gilberto Celestino: .238/.313/.302, 9.2% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, 0 fWAR, 0.5 bWAR To be fair, Celestino didn’t look to be an MLB-caliber player in 2021, and so even his modest 2022 numbers got him some love as one of the Twins most improved players. He showed flashes throughout the year that hint at his ability to at least become a solid fourth outfielder. He put up comfortably positive defensive metrics in center field across the board, and any kind of power development would be huge. Still just 23 years old, Celestino may very well find himself on this list again next year. Twins Daily's Most Improved Player Nick Gordon: .272/.316/.427, 4.3% BB rate, 23.7% K rate, 1.5 fWAR, 1.6 fWAR So much to be impressed by with Gordon’s 2022 season. Early calls to jettison him off the roster in favor of Royce Lewis were quickly rescinded, as Gordon found himself in a trial by fire due to injuries and came out on the other side looking like a legitimate piece of the Twins future. Gordon showed contact ability and power like never before and even did a little bit of damage against left-handed pitching on occasion. Though the Twins tailed off at the beginning of September, they’d have been out of the race well before without their former 2014 1st round pick. Gordon pivoted off of his longtime position in the middle infield and is likely a better defensive outfielder at this point, a testament to the work he put in and his raw physical ability. The Twins outfield has plenty of left-handed hitters, but Gordon is a nice complement to the hulking sluggers such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner. He seems like a favorite to fill a platoon-type role moving forward, finding himself in the lineup regularly when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. One thing that should really be appreciated about Gordon is the joy he plays with. Perhaps stemming from the long path to get to this point, Gordon isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve in every situation. From a huge smile on his face following a big hit to his visible frustration when being pulled for a pinch hitter, you just have to love how invested he looks no matter the situation. With team control until 2028 and a versatile skill set, Nick Gordon may just be getting started. In the midst of a disappointing season, the development he’s shown was truly a bright spot. For that reason, join us in congratulating Nick Gordon as Twins Daily’s Most Improved Player! View full article
  16. Honorable Mentions: Griffin Jax: 72.1 IP, 3.36 ERA, 26.9% K rate, 6.9% BB rate, 0.9 fWAR, 0.9 bWAR At the end of 2021, it became clear Jax lacked the pitch mix to thrive as a starter so he made the switch to the bullpen. It’s hard to expect more than what he provided the Twins. Arguably a Top 3 reliever for the team for most of the year, Jax turned to his wipeout slider nearly 50% of the time and the pitch was dominant in every way. Headed into 2023, it’ll be interesting to see if Jax can continue improving in his new role. Luis Arraez: .316/.375/.420, 8.3% BB rate, 7.1% K rate, 3.2 fWAR, 4.4 bWAR It’s hard for one of the team’s best players over the last few years to get “most improved” consideration but Arraez has earned it. Not only did he take his offense to the next level by winning a batting title and slugging a career-high eight home runs, but he also had an underrated season defensively. After struggling to stick at any one position, Arraez found himself playing first base for the first time in his career and more than held his own. Though his hamstring caused him issues at season’s end, he played a career-high 144 games. Hopefully, we can see more of the same moving forward. Gilberto Celestino: .238/.313/.302, 9.2% BB rate, 22.2% K rate, 0 fWAR, 0.5 bWAR To be fair, Celestino didn’t look to be an MLB-caliber player in 2021, and so even his modest 2022 numbers got him some love as one of the Twins most improved players. He showed flashes throughout the year that hint at his ability to at least become a solid fourth outfielder. He put up comfortably positive defensive metrics in center field across the board, and any kind of power development would be huge. Still just 23 years old, Celestino may very well find himself on this list again next year. Twins Daily's Most Improved Player Nick Gordon: .272/.316/.427, 4.3% BB rate, 23.7% K rate, 1.5 fWAR, 1.6 fWAR So much to be impressed by with Gordon’s 2022 season. Early calls to jettison him off the roster in favor of Royce Lewis were quickly rescinded, as Gordon found himself in a trial by fire due to injuries and came out on the other side looking like a legitimate piece of the Twins future. Gordon showed contact ability and power like never before and even did a little bit of damage against left-handed pitching on occasion. Though the Twins tailed off at the beginning of September, they’d have been out of the race well before without their former 2014 1st round pick. Gordon pivoted off of his longtime position in the middle infield and is likely a better defensive outfielder at this point, a testament to the work he put in and his raw physical ability. The Twins outfield has plenty of left-handed hitters, but Gordon is a nice complement to the hulking sluggers such as Trevor Larnach and Matt Wallner. He seems like a favorite to fill a platoon-type role moving forward, finding himself in the lineup regularly when a right-handed pitcher is on the mound. One thing that should really be appreciated about Gordon is the joy he plays with. Perhaps stemming from the long path to get to this point, Gordon isn’t afraid to wear his heart on his sleeve in every situation. From a huge smile on his face following a big hit to his visible frustration when being pulled for a pinch hitter, you just have to love how invested he looks no matter the situation. With team control until 2028 and a versatile skill set, Nick Gordon may just be getting started. In the midst of a disappointing season, the development he’s shown was truly a bright spot. For that reason, join us in congratulating Nick Gordon as Twins Daily’s Most Improved Player!
  17. As the 2022 season closes, there are still meaningful opportunities for Twins players. Here are three players with something to prove in the season’s final games. Image courtesy of Brad Rempel-USA TODAY Sports Teams out of contention are offered a unique opportunity in the season’s final weeks. It can be a time for younger players to prove they are part of the team’s long-term plans, while veteran players can tie a bow on their season. Each player below has something to show the team before the end of the 2022 season. Gilberto Celestino, OF 2022 Recap: It’s easy to forget that Celestino is a 23-year-old with fewer than 60 big-league at-bats entering the 2022 season. Outfield injuries have allowed him to play in over 100 games this season with mixed results. May was his best month as he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) with three doubles and five runs. Since June, he has hit .214/.282/.284 (.565) while providing -0.51 WPA. His frustrations boiled over on the field as Rocco Baldelli benched him following a base running error and a long walk back to the dugout after a frustrating at-bat. What To Watch: How will Celestino bounce back after being benched? He is still young and can use his benching as motivation for the season’s remaining games. Celestino needs to show that his performance over the last three months isn’t indicative of the type of big leaguer he can be for the long term. Ryan Jeffers, C 2022 Recap: Minnesota showed trust in Jeffers taking over the team’s full-time catching duties this winter when the team traded Mitch Garver to the Rangers. Jeffers posted a 119 OPS+ during his rookie season, but he suffered sophomore struggles as his OPS+ dropped to 84 in 2021. In 60 games this season, Jeffers hit .214/.291/.375 (.666) with ten doubles and seven home runs. He has been sidelined since the middle of July with a broken thumb that required surgery. He has begun a rehab assignment with the Saints and has hit two home runs on his way back to the roster. What To Watch: Obviously, it hasn’t been an ideal season for Jeffers, but there are things to watch as he returns from injury. Minnesota needs to decide on a catching plan for 2023 and beyond. The Twins will likely use Jeffers as the primary catcher next season, but the backup catcher role still needs to be decided. Gary Sanchez is a free agent, so Minnesota needs to ensure how much Jeffers can be relied on moving forward. Luis Arraez, 1B/DH 2022 Recap: Arraez started his season with a bang as he hit .333/.403/.440 (.844) through the end of July. He was selected to his first All-Star Game and recorded a typical Arraez hit on the national stage. His second half hasn’t gone as well as the first. In 43 games since August 1st, Arraez has hit .276/.312/.385 (.697), falling out of first place in the AL batting title race. Plenty of hitters haven’t performed well for the Twins, but Arraez’s struggles have been more evident because of how well he played in the first half. What To Watch: Arraez might be one of the only players that can stop New York’s Aaron Judge from winning the Triple Crown. Over the last week, Arraez’s season batting average has dropped six points. He has fought through some injuries this season but has stayed on the field. Can he become the first Twin to win the batting title since Joe Mauer? Which players will you keep an eye on as the season winds down? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  18. Teams out of contention are offered a unique opportunity in the season’s final weeks. It can be a time for younger players to prove they are part of the team’s long-term plans, while veteran players can tie a bow on their season. Each player below has something to show the team before the end of the 2022 season. Gilberto Celestino, OF 2022 Recap: It’s easy to forget that Celestino is a 23-year-old with fewer than 60 big-league at-bats entering the 2022 season. Outfield injuries have allowed him to play in over 100 games this season with mixed results. May was his best month as he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) with three doubles and five runs. Since June, he has hit .214/.282/.284 (.565) while providing -0.51 WPA. His frustrations boiled over on the field as Rocco Baldelli benched him following a base running error and a long walk back to the dugout after a frustrating at-bat. What To Watch: How will Celestino bounce back after being benched? He is still young and can use his benching as motivation for the season’s remaining games. Celestino needs to show that his performance over the last three months isn’t indicative of the type of big leaguer he can be for the long term. Ryan Jeffers, C 2022 Recap: Minnesota showed trust in Jeffers taking over the team’s full-time catching duties this winter when the team traded Mitch Garver to the Rangers. Jeffers posted a 119 OPS+ during his rookie season, but he suffered sophomore struggles as his OPS+ dropped to 84 in 2021. In 60 games this season, Jeffers hit .214/.291/.375 (.666) with ten doubles and seven home runs. He has been sidelined since the middle of July with a broken thumb that required surgery. He has begun a rehab assignment with the Saints and has hit two home runs on his way back to the roster. What To Watch: Obviously, it hasn’t been an ideal season for Jeffers, but there are things to watch as he returns from injury. Minnesota needs to decide on a catching plan for 2023 and beyond. The Twins will likely use Jeffers as the primary catcher next season, but the backup catcher role still needs to be decided. Gary Sanchez is a free agent, so Minnesota needs to ensure how much Jeffers can be relied on moving forward. Luis Arraez, 1B/DH 2022 Recap: Arraez started his season with a bang as he hit .333/.403/.440 (.844) through the end of July. He was selected to his first All-Star Game and recorded a typical Arraez hit on the national stage. His second half hasn’t gone as well as the first. In 43 games since August 1st, Arraez has hit .276/.312/.385 (.697), falling out of first place in the AL batting title race. Plenty of hitters haven’t performed well for the Twins, but Arraez’s struggles have been more evident because of how well he played in the first half. What To Watch: Arraez might be one of the only players that can stop New York’s Aaron Judge from winning the Triple Crown. Over the last week, Arraez’s season batting average has dropped six points. He has fought through some injuries this season but has stayed on the field. Can he become the first Twin to win the batting title since Joe Mauer? Which players will you keep an eye on as the season winds down? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  19. Saturday was a long, tough day for the Twins and their fans, but the Twins woke up on Sunday, got dressed, went to the ballpark and just continued to show up. Joe Ryan was fantastic with some help from his defense. Jake Cave gave him an early lead, and they got a couple of huge insurance runs late from a likely source. Image courtesy of Aaron Josefczyk-USA TODAY Sports Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (95 pitches, 64 strikes (67.4%) Home Runs: Jake Cave (5) Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (0.559), Carlos Correa (0.087), Luis Arraez (0.078) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Joe Ryan Does it Again, Well, Not Quite That, but… Earlier in the week, Twins starter Joe Ryan threw seven no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. While disappointed, it was easy to understand why he was removed after the seventh inning, and it was said often. His next start would be his biggest start of the season. Well, that may or may not still be true - based on the Twins losing the first three games of this series, and being seven games back coming into the day - it was a very important game for the Twins. Saturday was a long day that ended in a double-header sweep at the hands of the Guardians. The Twins had lost eight straight games to Cleveland in key September games. The Twins needed a big outing from Ryan, and he gave it to the Twins. After Saturday, it was important for Ryan to start out well. He had a one-two-three first inning that included a strikeout of Twins Killer Amed Rosario and a Jose Ramirez pop-out. He got two groundouts and a strikeout in the second inning, which does mean that he had nine straight no-hit innings. He walked a guy in the third inning, but no hits again. The fourth inning was again perfect, including a ground out by Rosario and a strikeout of Ramirez. His no-hit streak ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame when Tyler Freeman singled. He gave up two more hits and walked two batters, but he even recorded two outs in the eighth inning. After a Myles Straw single, lefty Jovani Moran came on and got Andrew Gimenez to fly out to end the inning and officially close the book on Joe Ryan’s fantastic outing. Defense Comes Through Any great pitching performance is likely to include some help from his defense. In the fifth inning, there were runners on first and second with just one out, but Austin Hedges grounded into a double play. Then in the sixth inning, Straw led off with a double before Gimenez was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second and nobody out. Amed Rosario stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. Straw remained at third with Jose Ramirez to bat. The perennial MVP candidate lined a shot to deep center field, but Gilberto Celestino got a great jump and was able to run it down on a full sprint to the warning track to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead. But that catch always reminds me of another great Celestino catch, and why not show that one again… Josh Naylor walked to lead off the seventh inning, but with one out, Richie Palacios grounded into an inning-ending double play. Captain Cave… Man! Jake Cave has had a couple of tough years the last two seasons with the Twins, at least offensively. Prior to that, he was a very solid fourth outfielder, but with the Twins injuries the last couple of seasons, he has been forced into more action than was intended, including a lot of ABs against southpaws. Last year, he missed significant time with a fractured back. Removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, Cave spent most of this season at Triple-A St. Paul. He played great, getting on-base pretty much every game. In 85 games, he hit 273/.370/.509 (.879) with 20 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs. As impressive, he continued to put up numbers as he watched player after player get called up to the Twins before he was. In fact, he was about the eighth outfielder on the depth chart when he was finally called back up. And, since then, more injuries have meant that he’s again played more than was planned. Now, I’m not here to say that he’s been great. I’m not saying they should bring him back. I’m just saying that he’s filled in admirably and does not deserve the online hate that he often gets. On Sunday afternoon, he gave the Twins their 1-0 lead in the second inning when he hit a solo homer. It was his fifth homer since joining the Twins and his second big home run in this Cleveland series. One general observation from watching him play with the Saints and in his return to the Twins is that he is staying down on the ball and doing a much better job driving the ball to the opposite field, as he did today. He has played solid defense wherever he’s been, and been happy with any opportunities he gets. And no one can ever question his effort. All Rise for Arraez Jovani Moran got the final out of the 8th inning to maintain a 1-0 lead for the Twins, but that isn’t exactly a comfortable lead. A little insurance sure would have been nice! The first two batters in the top of the ninth inning got out, but then Celestino walked. It was followed by a single from Mark Contreras (who had come in an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Matt Wallner, who had two hits in the game). Nick Gordon then pinch hit for Jermaine Palacios, and he waAll-Starlked to load the bases. That set the stage for All Star Luis Arraez, and he came through with yet another big hit for the Twins. He lined a solid single up the middle to score two runs and give the Twins a 3-0 lead. In addition, Carlos Correa continued his red-hot September. With three hits on Sunday, he had his seventh multi-hit game in the month. Sanchez Helps Duran Jhoan Duran has been, arguably, the most dominant reliever in baseball for much of the second half, if not all year. Obviously, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is in that conversation as well. However, on Sunday, he didn’t display the same kind of control and command as we have seen from him throughout the season. He got the leadoff man (Rosario) out, but then he walked Jose Ramirez, and not intentionally. He started Josh Naylor off with a fastball for a ball. At that point, just four of Duran’s 11 pitches were strikes. Personal opinion and observation… With a 1-0 count, Gary Sanchez called three straight slow(ish) sliders (the upper-80s one that drops more than the other one) and Naylor missed all three for a strikeout. Sanchez continued to call mostly breaking balls and struck out Oscar Gonzalez on the same pitch. Gary Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. That’s probably putting it fairly nicely. The difference between Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers is very noticeable both by the eye test and by statistical measures. However, have to give credit where credit is due, Sanchez deserves credit for having Duran mix it up. With his fastball command lost in this game, Sanchez recognized it and helped Duran by calling another of his pitches, and fortunately that pitch was on. In the end, he threw 17 pitches, so he ended the game with six straight strikes to end the game with two strikeouts. Pre-Game Transaction Following Saturday’s lengthy double-header, the Twins wanted to make sure they had a long-relief option. Dereck Rodriguez was terrific in his 3 2/3 innings in that role in Saturday’s late game. Unfortunately, for him, that meant that he was optioned back to St. Paul. Ronny Henriquez was set to start on Sunday afternoon for the Saints. Instead, he traveled to Cleveland and was activated shortly before the Twins game started. Veteran Ariel Jurado made the start for the Saints in his place. Henriquez came to the Twins in the Mitch Garver trade to Texas. He turned 22 years old in mid-June, and has a 3-4 record with a 5.66 ERA with the Saints. The hard-throwing Dominican has made 14 starts and come out of the bullpen ten times. While his overall numbers don’t look great, he has been much better of late. Over his past five outings, he is 1-0 with a save. In 21 innings, he has just four walks to go with 24 strikeouts. He has given up just one or two runs in four of his past five appearances. On September 7th, he gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. In five innings, he struck out nine batters. On September 13th, he came out of the bullpen and recorded a four-inning save. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. In short, if he doesn’t hurt himself with walks, he can be very effective and has some really sharp, nasty stuff. Texas had already placed him on the 40-man roster, so the Twins didn’t need to make an additional 40-man roster move. What’s Next? The Twins had hoped to take at least four (if not five) games in this five-game series. On Monday afternoon, they’ll send RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) to the mound and attempt to win a second game in a row, and in the series. The game will start at 12:05 central time and air on Bally Sports North. Cleveland will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA). Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Moran 40 0 0 0 15 5 60 Jax 0 0 18 22 13 0 53 Duran 0 0 19 16 0 17 52 Sanchez 0 0 0 0 49 0 49 Fulmer 0 0 21 11 17 0 49 López 0 17 0 0 32 0 49 Thielbar 0 12 12 15 0 0 39 Pagán 0 0 0 0 31 0 31 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  20. Box Score SP: Joe Ryan: 7 2/3 IP, 3 H, 0 ER, 2 BB, 5 K (95 pitches, 64 strikes (67.4%) Home Runs: Jake Cave (5) Top 3 WPA: Joe Ryan (0.559), Carlos Correa (0.087), Luis Arraez (0.078) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Joe Ryan Does it Again, Well, Not Quite That, but… Earlier in the week, Twins starter Joe Ryan threw seven no-hit innings against the Kansas City Royals at Target Field. While disappointed, it was easy to understand why he was removed after the seventh inning, and it was said often. His next start would be his biggest start of the season. Well, that may or may not still be true - based on the Twins losing the first three games of this series, and being seven games back coming into the day - it was a very important game for the Twins. Saturday was a long day that ended in a double-header sweep at the hands of the Guardians. The Twins had lost eight straight games to Cleveland in key September games. The Twins needed a big outing from Ryan, and he gave it to the Twins. After Saturday, it was important for Ryan to start out well. He had a one-two-three first inning that included a strikeout of Twins Killer Amed Rosario and a Jose Ramirez pop-out. He got two groundouts and a strikeout in the second inning, which does mean that he had nine straight no-hit innings. He walked a guy in the third inning, but no hits again. The fourth inning was again perfect, including a ground out by Rosario and a strikeout of Ramirez. His no-hit streak ended with one out in the bottom of the fifth frame when Tyler Freeman singled. He gave up two more hits and walked two batters, but he even recorded two outs in the eighth inning. After a Myles Straw single, lefty Jovani Moran came on and got Andrew Gimenez to fly out to end the inning and officially close the book on Joe Ryan’s fantastic outing. Defense Comes Through Any great pitching performance is likely to include some help from his defense. In the fifth inning, there were runners on first and second with just one out, but Austin Hedges grounded into a double play. Then in the sixth inning, Straw led off with a double before Gimenez was hit by a pitch. Runners on first and second and nobody out. Amed Rosario stepped to the plate and grounded into a double play. Straw remained at third with Jose Ramirez to bat. The perennial MVP candidate lined a shot to deep center field, but Gilberto Celestino got a great jump and was able to run it down on a full sprint to the warning track to end the threat and maintain a 1-0 lead. But that catch always reminds me of another great Celestino catch, and why not show that one again… Josh Naylor walked to lead off the seventh inning, but with one out, Richie Palacios grounded into an inning-ending double play. Captain Cave… Man! Jake Cave has had a couple of tough years the last two seasons with the Twins, at least offensively. Prior to that, he was a very solid fourth outfielder, but with the Twins injuries the last couple of seasons, he has been forced into more action than was intended, including a lot of ABs against southpaws. Last year, he missed significant time with a fractured back. Removed from the 40-man roster in the offseason, Cave spent most of this season at Triple-A St. Paul. He played great, getting on-base pretty much every game. In 85 games, he hit 273/.370/.509 (.879) with 20 doubles, seven triples and 14 home runs. As impressive, he continued to put up numbers as he watched player after player get called up to the Twins before he was. In fact, he was about the eighth outfielder on the depth chart when he was finally called back up. And, since then, more injuries have meant that he’s again played more than was planned. Now, I’m not here to say that he’s been great. I’m not saying they should bring him back. I’m just saying that he’s filled in admirably and does not deserve the online hate that he often gets. On Sunday afternoon, he gave the Twins their 1-0 lead in the second inning when he hit a solo homer. It was his fifth homer since joining the Twins and his second big home run in this Cleveland series. One general observation from watching him play with the Saints and in his return to the Twins is that he is staying down on the ball and doing a much better job driving the ball to the opposite field, as he did today. He has played solid defense wherever he’s been, and been happy with any opportunities he gets. And no one can ever question his effort. All Rise for Arraez Jovani Moran got the final out of the 8th inning to maintain a 1-0 lead for the Twins, but that isn’t exactly a comfortable lead. A little insurance sure would have been nice! The first two batters in the top of the ninth inning got out, but then Celestino walked. It was followed by a single from Mark Contreras (who had come in an inning earlier as a defensive replacement for Matt Wallner, who had two hits in the game). Nick Gordon then pinch hit for Jermaine Palacios, and he waAll-Starlked to load the bases. That set the stage for All Star Luis Arraez, and he came through with yet another big hit for the Twins. He lined a solid single up the middle to score two runs and give the Twins a 3-0 lead. In addition, Carlos Correa continued his red-hot September. With three hits on Sunday, he had his seventh multi-hit game in the month. Sanchez Helps Duran Jhoan Duran has been, arguably, the most dominant reliever in baseball for much of the second half, if not all year. Obviously, Cleveland’s Emmanuel Clase is in that conversation as well. However, on Sunday, he didn’t display the same kind of control and command as we have seen from him throughout the season. He got the leadoff man (Rosario) out, but then he walked Jose Ramirez, and not intentionally. He started Josh Naylor off with a fastball for a ball. At that point, just four of Duran’s 11 pitches were strikes. Personal opinion and observation… With a 1-0 count, Gary Sanchez called three straight slow(ish) sliders (the upper-80s one that drops more than the other one) and Naylor missed all three for a strikeout. Sanchez continued to call mostly breaking balls and struck out Oscar Gonzalez on the same pitch. Gary Sanchez is not a good defensive catcher. That’s probably putting it fairly nicely. The difference between Sanchez and Ryan Jeffers is very noticeable both by the eye test and by statistical measures. However, have to give credit where credit is due, Sanchez deserves credit for having Duran mix it up. With his fastball command lost in this game, Sanchez recognized it and helped Duran by calling another of his pitches, and fortunately that pitch was on. In the end, he threw 17 pitches, so he ended the game with six straight strikes to end the game with two strikeouts. Pre-Game Transaction Following Saturday’s lengthy double-header, the Twins wanted to make sure they had a long-relief option. Dereck Rodriguez was terrific in his 3 2/3 innings in that role in Saturday’s late game. Unfortunately, for him, that meant that he was optioned back to St. Paul. Ronny Henriquez was set to start on Sunday afternoon for the Saints. Instead, he traveled to Cleveland and was activated shortly before the Twins game started. Veteran Ariel Jurado made the start for the Saints in his place. Henriquez came to the Twins in the Mitch Garver trade to Texas. He turned 22 years old in mid-June, and has a 3-4 record with a 5.66 ERA with the Saints. The hard-throwing Dominican has made 14 starts and come out of the bullpen ten times. While his overall numbers don’t look great, he has been much better of late. Over his past five outings, he is 1-0 with a save. In 21 innings, he has just four walks to go with 24 strikeouts. He has given up just one or two runs in four of his past five appearances. On September 7th, he gave up two runs on one hit and one walk. In five innings, he struck out nine batters. On September 13th, he came out of the bullpen and recorded a four-inning save. He gave up one run on two hits. He walked none and struck out three. In short, if he doesn’t hurt himself with walks, he can be very effective and has some really sharp, nasty stuff. Texas had already placed him on the 40-man roster, so the Twins didn’t need to make an additional 40-man roster move. What’s Next? The Twins had hoped to take at least four (if not five) games in this five-game series. On Monday afternoon, they’ll send RHP Sonny Gray (8-4, 2.83 ERA) to the mound and attempt to win a second game in a row, and in the series. The game will start at 12:05 central time and air on Bally Sports North. Cleveland will counter with RHP Cal Quantrill (12-5, 3.51 ERA). Postgame Interviews Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT SUN TOT Moran 40 0 0 0 15 5 60 Jax 0 0 18 22 13 0 53 Duran 0 0 19 16 0 17 52 Sanchez 0 0 0 0 49 0 49 Fulmer 0 0 21 11 17 0 49 López 0 17 0 0 32 0 49 Thielbar 0 12 12 15 0 0 39 Pagán 0 0 0 0 31 0 31 Henriquez 0 0 0 0 0 0 0
  21. As the season winds down, it's easier to focus on some players who may be the team's secret weapons. So, who have been Minnesota's most underappreciated players in 2022? Image courtesy of Jesse Johnson, USA TODAY Sports Last week, MLB.com attempted to name the most underappreciated player on every team. This can be a challenging exercise for a national writer who can't focus on the day-to-day of every MLB team. The Twins have players that have exceeded expectations and others that have struggled to fill their roles. Here are the team's most underappreciated players this season. Gio Urshela, 3B MLB.com picked Urshela as the team's most underappreciated player for multiple reasons. Surprisingly, he has a higher OPS than Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson. That doesn't tell the entire story with Urshela. His defense at third base has dramatically improved in the second half, which helps his overall value to the club. During the offseason, the Twins will need to decide whether or not to offer Urshela arbitration in his final year of eligibility. Urshela's contributions to the team may be underappreciated because of baseball's offensive drop this season. He has an OPS near his career mark of .744, which translates to a 114 OPS+ in 2022. According to FanGraphs, Urshela has provided his second highest amount of value ($10.6 million) in any big-league season. Minnesota may consider this when deciding whether or not to bring him back for 2023. Caleb Thielbar, RP It's easy to look at Thielbar's overall numbers for the season and not be impressed with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. However, some poor appearances near the season's start cloud those numbers. Since April 30, Thielbar has posted a 2.36 ERA with a 57-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings. For much of the season, he has also been the team's only left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. While others have struggled, Thielbar has been invaluable as a late-inning option. Before the 2020 season, Thielbar was close to retiring from baseball as he was going to take a college coaching job. Luckily, the Twins convinced him that he had something left in the tank. Over the last three seasons, Thielbar has provided the Twins with nearly $20 million worth of value, including close to $9 million in 2022. Relievers can go through ups-and-downs with the small sample size of innings they pitch in a season, but Thielbar has continued to be consistent into his mid-30s. Gilberto Celestino, OF In 2021, Celestino's first taste of the big leagues couldn't have gone much worse. He hit .136/.177/.288 (.466) with three doubles and two home runs in 23 games. Minnesota rushed him to the MLB level without playing at Triple-A, so the results should have been expected for a 22-year-old. He has improved significantly during the 2022 campaign, including a month when he was one of the team's best hitters. Back in May, he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) across 19 games. With Byron Buxton getting regular rest, Celestino has been needed to fill the void in center field. Celestino can't compare to Buxton's defensive prowess, but few players can be that good. Defensively, Celestino ranks in the 82nd percentile for Outs Above Average, and his sprint speed is in the 65th percentile. He is an above-average defender that has provided offensive value that impacts the line-up. Some may forget that he is only 23 years old and has played fewer than 120 games at the big-league level. Minnesota will need him to continue to fill an outfield role in the years ahead. Who do you think have been the most underappreciated Twins players this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. View full article
  22. In a four-hour marathon, the Yankees walked off the Twins in 12 innings at the Bronx. Louie Varland had a lovely big-league debut, but the bullpen relinquished the lead twice. Image courtesy of Gregory Fisher-USA TODAY Sports Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 1/3 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K (80 pitches, 55 strikes, 68.8%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Trevor Megill (-.570), Griffin Jax (-.254), Gio Urshela (-.201) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland is sharp in his major league debut (pulled too early?) There probably isn’t a much tougher way to start your major league career than the one Louie Varland had to. Called up for the first time on Tuesday, the St. Paul native had been the most anticipated Twins prospect since… what? Byron Buxton? Some might go even a little further and say… Joe Mauer? Either way, the amount of expectation this kid had to burden was enormous. Then, you look at all the elements surrounding today’s game. The Twins have been constantly crushed by the New York Yankees for the past two decades; they have been Minnesota’s perennial foes in the postseason in that same span; they haven’t lost a single series against the Twins since 2018, and not one at home since 2014. The list goes on. This game, in particular, is even more crucial short-term, as the Twins started the day a game and a half back from the Guardians for the division first place. Not being competitive in this Bronx series could be the end of the season for the Twins. Is that pressure enough for the 24-year-old Minnesotan? Before Varland even stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, the offense made a good effort to relieve some of the pressure and perhaps calm him down. Luis Arraez jumped on the game’s second pitch and doubled against starter Domingo German. After a Carlos Correa strikeout, José Miranda hit a laser to the deep left corner for a home run, making it 2-0 Twins early. Whether or not the run support made a difference for Varland at that point, making him less nervous, we’ll never know. But the fact is that he had a nearly perfect first time through the order to begin his big-league career, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He also struck out three of those batters, including American League MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge for his first-ever MLB strikeout. That’s a heck of a greeting card. Varland’s first hit given up was an Oswald Peraza two-out double in the third, but he responded to that with an inning-ending groundout, his third of the game. Then, the offense came through for him again with some more run support. In the top of the fourth, Germán got two quick outs, but the bottom third of Minnesota’s lineup did some two-out damage. Jake Cave, Gary Sanchez, and Gilberto Celestino hit three consecutive singles, and, with that, another run scored, making it 3-0 Twins. The Yankees responded quickly, though, with Judge getting back at Varland in the bottom of the same inning with a leadoff home run, cutting the Twins’ lead to two. Varland displayed some impressive nerves after that, retiring batters three through five of the Yankee lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts following the Judge home run. Varland pitched into the sixth, facing two batters: he lost Peraza for a leadoff single but came back to strike out Oswaldo Cabrera. Before he could face Judge (the tying run) a third time in this game, Rocco Baldelli decided to call it a game for him. Griffin Jax was brought in, and he got Judge to pop out for the second out, but before he could finish the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Baldelli’s decision to pull Varland when he did cause mixed feelings throughout Twins Twitter. Twins Daily’s writers Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs, for example, had opposing views of Baldelli’s call (here and here). Do you think Varland should’ve stayed to face Judge and Torres? Use the comment section to give your opinion. Bats quiet down, bullpen trio takes the game into extras The Twins’ offense couldn’t bother the Yankees again for the better part of the game, with the only exception coming during the eighth inning. Miranda snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a one-out single, and Nick Gordon followed him up with a single of his own, posing the first Minnesota threat since the fourth inning. Unfortunately for the Twins, both runners ended up being stranded. Fortunately for them, though, the bullpen did a fine job maintaining this a tied game for the remainder of regulation. After Jax blew the lead in the sixth, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran did a fantastic job preventing New York from scoring. With Duran pitching in the ninth, Sánchez made a huge play catching Tim Locastro trying to steal second with a laser throw for the second out that Jermaine Palacios somehow caught and kept the tag on as Locastro came off the base. Then, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third with a steal and a throwing error, Correa ended the inning with a crucial defensive move. Celestino puts the Twins ahead, but the Yankees tie it, walk it off With Celestino starting the 10th inning at second base, Arráez hit a single to shallow right, and the outfielder was waved around. However, he hesitated a bit heading from third to home and was caught by catcher Jose Trevino with plenty of time. Duran pitched a scoreless 10th, and the game headed for the 11th. After the offense went down in order in the top of the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom after an intentional walk to Judge and a walk to Torres. A beautiful 3-2-3 double play prevented the winning run from scoring and paved the way for another inning. Came the 12th inning, the Twins put some pressure on reliever Ron Marinaccio, with Cave drawing a leadoff walk. With a Sánchez strikeout, New York had a double play in order, but Celestino had other plans. He hit a sharp groundball to right, deep enough to score ghost runner Jermaine Palacios from second, snatching the lead back for the Twins. Arráez drew a walk to load the bases before the inning was done, but Correa and Miranda couldn’t take advantage. That lead didn’t last long, though. Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball off Trevor Megill to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez scored from second. Trevino then hit a one-out single that sent Kiner-Falefa to third and, despite getting Peraza to fly out for the second out, Megill couldn’t retire Cabrera, who hit a grounder to short, past a diving Gordon, to bring Kiner-Falefa home and end the game. What’s Next? Game two of the doubleheader is about to start with Joe Ryan (3.88 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota and Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA) starting for the Yankees. Currently, Minnesota still has the chance to split the series, as both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game four of the series. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sanchez 70 0 0 0 0 70 Duran 0 20 0 0 28 48 Megill 0 0 27 0 20 47 Fulmer 0 14 0 0 16 30 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 11 26 Pagán 0 0 22 0 0 22 Jax 0 8 0 0 12 20 López 0 0 0 0 15 15 Davis 0 0 11 0 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0 View full article
  23. Box Score Starting Pitcher: Louie Varland, 5 1/3 IP, 3H, 2R, 2ER, 1BB, 7K (80 pitches, 55 strikes, 68.8%) Home Runs: Jose Miranda (14) Bottom 3 WPA: Trevor Megill (-.570), Griffin Jax (-.254), Gio Urshela (-.201) Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) Varland is sharp in his major league debut (pulled too early?) There probably isn’t a much tougher way to start your major league career than the one Louie Varland had to. Called up for the first time on Tuesday, the St. Paul native had been the most anticipated Twins prospect since… what? Byron Buxton? Some might go even a little further and say… Joe Mauer? Either way, the amount of expectation this kid had to burden was enormous. Then, you look at all the elements surrounding today’s game. The Twins have been constantly crushed by the New York Yankees for the past two decades; they have been Minnesota’s perennial foes in the postseason in that same span; they haven’t lost a single series against the Twins since 2018, and not one at home since 2014. The list goes on. This game, in particular, is even more crucial short-term, as the Twins started the day a game and a half back from the Guardians for the division first place. Not being competitive in this Bronx series could be the end of the season for the Twins. Is that pressure enough for the 24-year-old Minnesotan? Before Varland even stepped on the Yankee Stadium mound, the offense made a good effort to relieve some of the pressure and perhaps calm him down. Luis Arraez jumped on the game’s second pitch and doubled against starter Domingo German. After a Carlos Correa strikeout, José Miranda hit a laser to the deep left corner for a home run, making it 2-0 Twins early. Whether or not the run support made a difference for Varland at that point, making him less nervous, we’ll never know. But the fact is that he had a nearly perfect first time through the order to begin his big-league career, retiring the first eight batters he faced. He also struck out three of those batters, including American League MVP frontrunner Aaron Judge for his first-ever MLB strikeout. That’s a heck of a greeting card. Varland’s first hit given up was an Oswald Peraza two-out double in the third, but he responded to that with an inning-ending groundout, his third of the game. Then, the offense came through for him again with some more run support. In the top of the fourth, Germán got two quick outs, but the bottom third of Minnesota’s lineup did some two-out damage. Jake Cave, Gary Sanchez, and Gilberto Celestino hit three consecutive singles, and, with that, another run scored, making it 3-0 Twins. The Yankees responded quickly, though, with Judge getting back at Varland in the bottom of the same inning with a leadoff home run, cutting the Twins’ lead to two. Varland displayed some impressive nerves after that, retiring batters three through five of the Yankee lineup, including back-to-back strikeouts following the Judge home run. Varland pitched into the sixth, facing two batters: he lost Peraza for a leadoff single but came back to strike out Oswaldo Cabrera. Before he could face Judge (the tying run) a third time in this game, Rocco Baldelli decided to call it a game for him. Griffin Jax was brought in, and he got Judge to pop out for the second out, but before he could finish the inning, Gleyber Torres hit a two-run home run that tied the game. Baldelli’s decision to pull Varland when he did cause mixed feelings throughout Twins Twitter. Twins Daily’s writers Nick Nelson and Seth Stohs, for example, had opposing views of Baldelli’s call (here and here). Do you think Varland should’ve stayed to face Judge and Torres? Use the comment section to give your opinion. Bats quiet down, bullpen trio takes the game into extras The Twins’ offense couldn’t bother the Yankees again for the better part of the game, with the only exception coming during the eighth inning. Miranda snapped an 0-for-9 skid with a one-out single, and Nick Gordon followed him up with a single of his own, posing the first Minnesota threat since the fourth inning. Unfortunately for the Twins, both runners ended up being stranded. Fortunately for them, though, the bullpen did a fine job maintaining this a tied game for the remainder of regulation. After Jax blew the lead in the sixth, Caleb Thielbar, Jorge Lopez, and Jhoan Duran did a fantastic job preventing New York from scoring. With Duran pitching in the ninth, Sánchez made a huge play catching Tim Locastro trying to steal second with a laser throw for the second out that Jermaine Palacios somehow caught and kept the tag on as Locastro came off the base. Then, after Isiah Kiner-Falefa singled and reached third with a steal and a throwing error, Correa ended the inning with a crucial defensive move. Celestino puts the Twins ahead, but the Yankees tie it, walk it off With Celestino starting the 10th inning at second base, Arráez hit a single to shallow right, and the outfielder was waved around. However, he hesitated a bit heading from third to home and was caught by catcher Jose Trevino with plenty of time. Duran pitched a scoreless 10th, and the game headed for the 11th. After the offense went down in order in the top of the inning, the Yankees loaded the bases in the bottom after an intentional walk to Judge and a walk to Torres. A beautiful 3-2-3 double play prevented the winning run from scoring and paved the way for another inning. Came the 12th inning, the Twins put some pressure on reliever Ron Marinaccio, with Cave drawing a leadoff walk. With a Sánchez strikeout, New York had a double play in order, but Celestino had other plans. He hit a sharp groundball to right, deep enough to score ghost runner Jermaine Palacios from second, snatching the lead back for the Twins. Arráez drew a walk to load the bases before the inning was done, but Correa and Miranda couldn’t take advantage. That lead didn’t last long, though. Kiner-Falefa hit a ground ball off Trevor Megill to lead off the bottom of the 12th, and former Twin Marwin Gonzalez scored from second. Trevino then hit a one-out single that sent Kiner-Falefa to third and, despite getting Peraza to fly out for the second out, Megill couldn’t retire Cabrera, who hit a grounder to short, past a diving Gordon, to bring Kiner-Falefa home and end the game. What’s Next? Game two of the doubleheader is about to start with Joe Ryan (3.88 ERA) on the mound for Minnesota and Gerrit Cole (3.28 ERA) starting for the Yankees. Currently, Minnesota still has the chance to split the series, as both teams are back on the field tomorrow for game four of the series. Bullpen Usage Spreadsheet SAT SUN MON TUE WED TOT Sanchez 70 0 0 0 0 70 Duran 0 20 0 0 28 48 Megill 0 0 27 0 20 47 Fulmer 0 14 0 0 16 30 Thielbar 0 15 0 0 11 26 Pagán 0 0 22 0 0 22 Jax 0 8 0 0 12 20 López 0 0 0 0 15 15 Davis 0 0 11 0 0 11 Moran 0 0 0 0 0 0
  24. Last week, MLB.com attempted to name the most underappreciated player on every team. This can be a challenging exercise for a national writer who can't focus on the day-to-day of every MLB team. The Twins have players that have exceeded expectations and others that have struggled to fill their roles. Here are the team's most underappreciated players this season. Gio Urshela, 3B MLB.com picked Urshela as the team's most underappreciated player for multiple reasons. Surprisingly, he has a higher OPS than Isiah Kiner-Falefa and Josh Donaldson. That doesn't tell the entire story with Urshela. His defense at third base has dramatically improved in the second half, which helps his overall value to the club. During the offseason, the Twins will need to decide whether or not to offer Urshela arbitration in his final year of eligibility. Urshela's contributions to the team may be underappreciated because of baseball's offensive drop this season. He has an OPS near his career mark of .744, which translates to a 114 OPS+ in 2022. According to FanGraphs, Urshela has provided his second highest amount of value ($10.6 million) in any big-league season. Minnesota may consider this when deciding whether or not to bring him back for 2023. Caleb Thielbar, RP It's easy to look at Thielbar's overall numbers for the season and not be impressed with a 3.80 ERA and a 1.18 WHIP. However, some poor appearances near the season's start cloud those numbers. Since April 30, Thielbar has posted a 2.36 ERA with a 57-to-12 strikeout to walk ratio in 42 innings. For much of the season, he has also been the team's only left-handed pitcher out of the bullpen. While others have struggled, Thielbar has been invaluable as a late-inning option. Before the 2020 season, Thielbar was close to retiring from baseball as he was going to take a college coaching job. Luckily, the Twins convinced him that he had something left in the tank. Over the last three seasons, Thielbar has provided the Twins with nearly $20 million worth of value, including close to $9 million in 2022. Relievers can go through ups-and-downs with the small sample size of innings they pitch in a season, but Thielbar has continued to be consistent into his mid-30s. Gilberto Celestino, OF In 2021, Celestino's first taste of the big leagues couldn't have gone much worse. He hit .136/.177/.288 (.466) with three doubles and two home runs in 23 games. Minnesota rushed him to the MLB level without playing at Triple-A, so the results should have been expected for a 22-year-old. He has improved significantly during the 2022 campaign, including a month when he was one of the team's best hitters. Back in May, he hit .364/.426/.418 (.844) across 19 games. With Byron Buxton getting regular rest, Celestino has been needed to fill the void in center field. Celestino can't compare to Buxton's defensive prowess, but few players can be that good. Defensively, Celestino ranks in the 82nd percentile for Outs Above Average, and his sprint speed is in the 65th percentile. He is an above-average defender that has provided offensive value that impacts the line-up. Some may forget that he is only 23 years old and has played fewer than 120 games at the big-league level. Minnesota will need him to continue to fill an outfield role in the years ahead. Who do you think have been the most underappreciated Twins players this season? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  25. After snapping a six-game losing streak Friday night, the Twins hoped to begin a new winning streak against the Giants and keep their postseason hopes alive Saturday night. With pitching carrying the weight for most of the game, the Twins had to walk their way around the bases to win this one. Box Score SP: Sonny Gray 5 IP, 1 H, 1 ER, 4 BB, 4 K (90 pitches, 53 strikes (59 strike %)) Home Runs: None Top 3 WPA: Jake Cave .665, Jhoan Duran .304, Carlos Correa .231 Win Probability Chart (via FanGraphs) With Sonny Gray on the mound, the Twins had a good start to their Saturday evening, keeping the Giants shutout through the first two innings. Gray only allowed one base runner in the first two innings on a walk to Thairo Estrada. In the bottom of the second inning, the Twins mounted a two-out threat against Giants starter Alex Cobb. Max Kepler and Gilberto Celestino reached base on back-to-back walks, but with two outs, a ground out to first ended the threat. Even with no runs scored, the Twins still managed to get Cobb to throw 31 pitches in the second inning alone. He tallied 49 pitches in two innings of work. Gray faced trouble for the first time in the third when he walked back-to-back batters with one out. Fortunately, he got out of the jam by striking out former Twin LaMonte Wade Jr. and getting Wilmer Flores to ground out. The Twins once again mounted a two-out threat in the bottom of the fourth inning with singles from Gio Urshela and Kepler. A strikeout ended the inning. Gray started the fifth with another walk to Austin Slater, his fourth of the game. Slater took a risky lead off first and was picked off for the first out of the inning. The pickoff was only the seventh of Gray’s career. The next at-bat saw Giants left fielder Luis Gonzalez get hit on the foot to reach base as Gray’s command continued to slip in the middle innings. Gray’s no-hit bid ended in the next at-bat when he gave up a double to Joey Bart to put runners on second and third with one out. The Giants took advantage with a Tommy La Stella sacrifice fly that scored Slater and put the Giants up 1-0. The Twins remained scoreless through five innings, but they were able to push Cobb’s pitch count to 99 pitches for the evening. Carlos Correa was the last Twins hitter to get a hit off him for the day. Caleb Thielbar was the first reliever for the Twins, and he pitched an effective 1 1/3 innings, facing just four batters. When Thielbar was removed for Griffin Jax with one out in the seventh, Jorge Polanco also exited the game with a bum knee. Nick Gordon shifted to second base and Jake Cave came into the game in left field to bat in Polanco’s spot. In the bottom of the 7th inning, Max Kepler reached base for the third time in the game with an opposite-field single. The Twins struggles continued as the inning ended with a double play. Gary Sanchez came on to pinch hit for Leon and walked to keep the seventh alive. Luis Arraez came up looking to end his cold streak of one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Unfortunately, the streak continued as Arraez flew out to end the seventh. The Twins and Giants sat threw a 51-minute rain delay putting the eighth inning on hold. Once the delay was lifted, Trevor Megill came into the game for the Twins and retired the side on 11 pitches. A rain delay might have been just what the Twins needed. Carlos Correa led off the bottom of the eighth inning with a single and advanced to third on a Cave single. But again, scoring opposite wasted. Megill remained on the mound for the ninth and ran into trouble. He gave up three singles which were followed by a Slater sacrifice fly which put the Giants up 2-0. Megill got out of the jam, but the Twins now needed to score at least two runs in the bottom of the ninth just to keep the game alive. Kepler led off the bottom of the ninth with a walk, but the next two batters got out. Arraez was the last hope for the Twins and kept the game alive with a walk. That brought up Correa for the opportunity to do what he does best (even though he hasn't very often this season). Shine in big moments. Could he walk-off for the Twins for the first time all season? He didn’t walk it off, but the Twins caught a break on a base running communication that ended up with Kepler scoring and Arraez at third. Now down by just one run, Jake Cave came to the plate and delivered his biggest hit this season, a single to left to tie the game at 2-2.. The Twins were headed to extra frames for the sixth time in the month of August. Jhoan Duran was given the ball for the 10th. The Twins caught a huge break when the Manfred Man left second on a ground ball to Correa. The shortstop threw the ball to third base for an easy first out. Joey Bart, a slower runner, was left at first base with one out. Duran retired the next two hitters without another runner making it to first base. He was throwing hard and his fastest pitch at 102.3 MPH against Evan Longoria. Caleb Hamilton came into the game as the ghost runner in place of Jose Miranda. Nick Gordon placed a sacrifice bunt down the third base line to advance Hamilton to third, Gio Urshela followed with a walk and Kepler was given an intentional pass which loaded the bases with one out for Gilberto Celestino. He was unable to record a big hit but only because the Giants reliever Dominic Leone threw four pitches nowhere near the strike zone. Celestino took four pitches, jogged down to first base and Caleb Hamilton cross home plate to give the Twins a 3-2 victory. What’s Next? The Twins concluded their series against the Giants at 1:10 tomorrow afternoon. Aaron Sanchez is on the mound for the Twins against Jakob Junis. Postgame Interviews The game was a nationally-televised game on Fox. No Bally Sports North broadcast, so no postgame video. Bullpen Usage Sheet TUE WED THU FRI SAT TOT Megill 8 0 23 0 35 66 Pagán 14 0 0 28 0 42 Fulmer 0 23 0 12 0 35 Duran 0 0 20 0 13 33 Smeltzer 0 27 0 0 0 27 Thielbar 0 0 0 0 22 22 López 0 0 18 0 0 18 Jax 0 0 6 0 8 14 View full article
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