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  1. The Twins got their 11-game road trip off to such a great start, sweeping Cleveland to take back first place in the AL Central. After that, it appears the road magic may have been all used up. They dropped three of four at Boston, and after a loss Sunday, three of four at Kansas City to put them in a tie for second place in the division.Royals 6, Twins 2 Box Score Hector Santiago struggled, lasting just 3.1 innings while giving up four runs on four hits and a walk. Phil Hughes, who is likely still acclimating himself to coming out of the bullpen again, looked pretty bad too. He gave up two runs on six hits over 1.2 innings. Those performances didn’t give the Twins much of a chance to win, but it’s not like the bats had a great day, either. The team had eight hits, two each from Miguel Sano and Eduardo Escobar, but all of them were singles. They were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Santiago pitched in relief in the Twins 15-inning loss to Tampa Bay on May 28 and hasn’t been the same since. In his ten games prior to that appearance, Santiago had a 4.07 ERA and five quality starts. Since then, he’s given up 19 earned runs over 15 innings pitched (11.40 ERA). Santiago was never a guy who overpowered hitters with his velocity, but losing a couple ticks off a fastball isn’t going to help any pitcher. His readings have been steadily declining all season. Download attachment: SantiagoGraph.jpeg Hector didn’t even bother with his four-seam fastball Sunday, instead sticking primarily with his sinker. As a result, he failed to hit even 90 mph on the day. Download attachment: SantiagoVelo.png Looking from the outside in, trying to read between the lines, it looks to me like Santiago should go back on the DL until he gets right. At the very least, he probably could’ve benefitted from a longer rehab stint than one appearance. Trevor Hildenberger was a bright spot. He pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three batters. The 26-year-old has started his major league career with five scoreless innings. After their terrible 7-16 April, the Royals have gone 34-24 to put them a game above .500. Postgame With Molitor Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Download attachment: Pen72.png Monday Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Angels (Alex Meyer), 7:10 pm CT Welp, Alex Meyer has been pretty darn good for the Angels. In 11 starts he’s got a 3.74 ERA and is averaging 10.1 K/9. On the downside, however, his WHIP is 1.41 and he’s issuing 6.0 BB/9. In five starts away from The Big A, Meyer has a 6.75 ERA. Mejia is coming off back-to-back scoreless starts on the road. That’s given the 24-year-old lefty some odd home-road splits. He now has a 2.31 ERA on the road and 6.11 mark at Target Field. Also curious: he’s got reverse platoon splits (.864 OPS vs. LHB, .795 OPS vs. RHB). AL Central Standings Cleveland 44-37 Twins 41-40 (-3) Kansas City 41-40 (-3) Detroit 36-45 (-8) Chicago 35-45 (-8.5) Click here to view the article
  2. Royals 6, Twins 2 Box Score Hector Santiago struggled, lasting just 3.1 innings while giving up four runs on four hits and a walk. Phil Hughes, who is likely still acclimating himself to coming out of the bullpen again, looked pretty bad too. He gave up two runs on six hits over 1.2 innings. Those performances didn’t give the Twins much of a chance to win, but it’s not like the bats had a great day, either. The team had eight hits, two each from Miguel Sano and Eduardo Escobar, but all of them were singles. They were 2-for-11 with runners in scoring position and left eight men on base. Santiago pitched in relief in the Twins 15-inning loss to Tampa Bay on May 28 and hasn’t been the same since. In his ten games prior to that appearance, Santiago had a 4.07 ERA and five quality starts. Since then, he’s given up 19 earned runs over 15 innings pitched (11.40 ERA). Santiago was never a guy who overpowered hitters with his velocity, but losing a couple ticks off a fastball isn’t going to help any pitcher. His readings have been steadily declining all season. Hector didn’t even bother with his four-seam fastball Sunday, instead sticking primarily with his sinker. As a result, he failed to hit even 90 mph on the day. Looking from the outside in, trying to read between the lines, it looks to me like Santiago should go back on the DL until he gets right. At the very least, he probably could’ve benefitted from a longer rehab stint than one appearance. Trevor Hildenberger was a bright spot. He pitched two scoreless innings and struck out three batters. The 26-year-old has started his major league career with five scoreless innings. After their terrible 7-16 April, the Royals have gone 34-24 to put them a game above .500. Postgame With Molitor https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/881632946943270912 Bullpen Usage Here’s a quick look at the number of pitches thrown by the bullpen over the past five days: Monday Twins (Adalberto Mejia) vs. Angels (Alex Meyer), 7:10 pm CT Welp, Alex Meyer has been pretty darn good for the Angels. In 11 starts he’s got a 3.74 ERA and is averaging 10.1 K/9. On the downside, however, his WHIP is 1.41 and he’s issuing 6.0 BB/9. In five starts away from The Big A, Meyer has a 6.75 ERA. Mejia is coming off back-to-back scoreless starts on the road. That’s given the 24-year-old lefty some odd home-road splits. He now has a 2.31 ERA on the road and 6.11 mark at Target Field. Also curious: he’s got reverse platoon splits (.864 OPS vs. LHB, .795 OPS vs. RHB). AL Central Standings Cleveland 44-37 Twins 41-40 (-3) Kansas City 41-40 (-3) Detroit 36-45 (-8) Chicago 35-45 (-8.5)
  3. Aaron and John talk about the Twins' never-ending pitching problems, falling into a second-place tie with the Royals, how much longer the leash is for Hector Santiago, Thad Levine's quotes about the Twins' trade deadline approach, investing $3 million in 16-year-old Jelfry Marte, Kyle Gibson vs. Jered Weaver, and the latest changes to Byron Buxton's swing. You can listen by downloading us from iTunes, Stitcher or find it at GleemanAndTheGeek.com. Or just click this link. http://traffic.libsy...3?dest-id=74590 Click here to view the article
  4. http://traffic.libsyn.com/gleemangeek/72_part_FINAL.mp3?dest-id=74590
  5. Miguel Sano Sano is off to a torrid start at the plate and he has shown some strong defensive skills at third base. Entering play on Monday, he only trailed Mike Trout and Aaron Judge in the American League WAR standings. He's also hitting the ball with authority. According to MLB's Statcast data, Sano is leading the big leagues in average exit velocity. One has to worry about the Sano that slumped during his sophomore season. He wasn't able to draw as many walks and his power wasn't as regular as his rookie campaign. However, the 24-year old slugger seems primed to make his mark this season. RESULT: REAL Ervin Santana Santana ran into his first hiccup on Sunday after nearly a perfect month of April. Even after allowing a season high six runs, his ERA only rose to 1.72. It seems highly unlikely for Santana to be able to sustain this level of the course of an entire season. His best ERA total for any season was 3.24 and he has a career ERA north of 4.00. He leads both leagues with a 0.79 WHIP while allowing 4.0 hits per nine. His career hits per nine average is more than twice his total this season and he has a career 1.27 WHIP. Santana might not turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight but there's no way he can be this good for all of 2017. RESULT: PRETENDER Brian Dozier After a record-breaking 2016 season, Dozier hasn't exactly set the world on fire to start 2017. His batting average is down to .229 but he is getting on base over 32% of the time. Dozier ranks second on the team with four home runs and he has a team leading six stolen bases. He ranks in the bottom half of AL when it comes to WAR for second basemen. There's nothing stopping Dozier from going on another hot streak as the season progresses. However, it seems more likely that he will be back to the .245/.320/.440 career hitter while averaging 23 home runs. This is the real version of Dozier even after his monster 2016 season. RESULT: REAL Hector Santiago While Santana has been getting a lot of pitching headlines, Santiago is quietly off to a great start. He ranks 13th in the AL in ERA and 16th in WHIP. He's pitched his entire seven year career in the AL and never posted an ERA under 3.33. He's striking out fewer batters per nine innings but he's also walking fewer batters and keeping the ball in the park. As a 29-year old, he has been part of three different organizations and he has been traded twice. He might be a veteran coming into his own or he could be taking advantage of some early struggles from opposing hitters. RESULT: THE JURY IS STILL OUT So who gets your vote for being real or being a pretender? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  6. It seems like the baseball season just began. But by the end of the week, the Twins will have completed over 20% of their schedule. Following Monday's off-day, the Twins sit in a cluster at the top of the AL Central. Besides Kansas City, the rest of the division is separated by a mere 2.0 games. Cleveland might start to separate itself from the pack but for the most part, the AL Central was mired in mediocrity throughout April. If the Twins are going to stay in the playoff race, there are plenty of pieces that will need to fall into place. Each player mentioned below is going to need to decide if he is really playing up to his full potential or pretending to be something he can't sustain. So you make the call... Are they real or pretenders?Miguel Sano Sano is off to a torrid start at the plate and he has shown some strong defensive skills at third base. Entering play on Monday, he only trailed Mike Trout and Aaron Judge in the American League WAR standings. He's also hitting the ball with authority. According to MLB's Statcast data, Sano is leading the big leagues in average exit velocity. One has to worry about the Sano that slumped during his sophomore season. He wasn't able to draw as many walks and his power wasn't as regular as his rookie campaign. However, the 24-year old slugger seems primed to make his mark this season. RESULT: REAL Ervin Santana Santana ran into his first hiccup on Sunday after nearly a perfect month of April. Even after allowing a season high six runs, his ERA only rose to 1.72. It seems highly unlikely for Santana to be able to sustain this level of the course of an entire season. His best ERA total for any season was 3.24 and he has a career ERA north of 4.00. He leads both leagues with a 0.79 WHIP while allowing 4.0 hits per nine. His career hits per nine average is more than twice his total this season and he has a career 1.27 WHIP. Santana might not turn into a pumpkin at the stroke of midnight but there's no way he can be this good for all of 2017. RESULT: PRETENDER Brian Dozier After a record-breaking 2016 season, Dozier hasn't exactly set the world on fire to start 2017. His batting average is down to .229 but he is getting on base over 32% of the time. Dozier ranks second on the team with four home runs and he has a team leading six stolen bases. He ranks in the bottom half of AL when it comes to WAR for second basemen. There's nothing stopping Dozier from going on another hot streak as the season progresses. However, it seems more likely that he will be back to the .245/.320/.440 career hitter while averaging 23 home runs. This is the real version of Dozier even after his monster 2016 season. RESULT: REAL Hector Santiago While Santana has been getting a lot of pitching headlines, Santiago is quietly off to a great start. He ranks 13th in the AL in ERA and 16th in WHIP. He's pitched his entire seven year career in the AL and never posted an ERA under 3.33. He's striking out fewer batters per nine innings but he's also walking fewer batters and keeping the ball in the park. As a 29-year old, he has been part of three different organizations and he has been traded twice. He might be a veteran coming into his own or he could be taking advantage of some early struggles from opposing hitters. RESULT: THE JURY IS STILL OUT So who gets your vote for being real or being a pretender? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. Click here to view the article
  7. When it rains, it pours. That seems to be a theme for the Twins this season. The Twins have been good in one-run games, but when one gets out of hand, the Twins typically haven't found a way to stop the bleeding. Well, until Chris Gimenez comes in. At least on Tuesday night in Boston, that didn't need to happen. The Twins fell to 39-36 and remain a half game behind Cleveland in the AL Central.Rain put a damper on the night in Boston. Twice. The game was initially delayed by about 50 minutes. Then after the second inning, another big wave of rain came over Fenway Park and caused another delay, this one over an hour. Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz remained in the game after the delay. Twins starter, Hector Santiago, did not. He was making his return to the Twins rotation after missing about three weeks. After going on the DL, he told 1500ESPN's Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad that he just wasn't able to reach back and get any velocity. So if you're looking for an encouraging sign, it just might be that Santiago was able to find some extra velocity in his two innings. According to Brooks Baseball, and Pitch f/x, Santiago averaged 92.0 mph on his fastball. He peaked at 94.2 mph. Santiago gave up a second-inning home run to catcher Christian Vasquez. Of course, it came after a walk to Sam Travis. That has been another theme for Twins pitchers this year. Walks Will Haunt, right? And really, after the home run, the Twins were unable to mount enough of a comeback to give themselves a chance to win. (from FanGraphs) Defensive Downer The Twins defense has been a huge factor in their return to relevancy this year. However, on Tuesday night, the Twins defense committed three errors. Five of the Red Sox nine runs scored came after a Twins error. As Molitor said post game, there was "not a lot of damage control." In the third inning, Byron Buxton came charging in on a line drive single. The runner was held at third, but Buxton's throw sailed to the backstop, allowing the run to score. In the fifth inning, Brian Dozier booted a potential double play ball. One run scored. In the sixth inning, Eduardo Escobar was unable to handle a ground ball that would have been the third out with a short throw to second base for a force out. Instead, Matt Belisle, who got the first two outs quickly, had to get a fourth out in the inning. Chris Young demolished a pitch well over the Green Monster for a three- run homer. Bullpen Usage AL Central Standings Cleveland 40-36 .526 Minnesota 39-36 .520 Kansas City 37-38 .493 Detroit 34-42 .447 Chicago 33-43 .434 Wednesday's Game At 6:10 central time, the 39-36 Twins will take on the 43-34 Red Sox in Game 3 of this series. Lefty Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) will take on reigning AL Cy Young Award winner RHP Rick Porcello (4-9, 5.00 ERA). The key for Mejia's success in his most recent start was finding a way to keep runs from scoring. That's always the goal of any starter, right? Of course. But Mejia gave up a lot of base runners, but somehow he survived five shutout innings. He'll have to find a way to limit damage against this very good Red Sox offense. Porcello has had a disappointing season, to be sure. One thing he has done is work innings. He has completed six innings in 15 of his 16 starts this year. He's completed seven innings just twice. However, he has given up five or more earned runs in three of his last four starts. -------------------------------- This was my first attempt at posting the Game Recap. A big shout out to Tom Froemming for doing these every day until today. He's off the grid the next couple of days, so I'll only try to make it half-way decent... and then Tom can come back and make these reports great again! Click here to view the article
  8. Rain put a damper on the night in Boston. Twice. The game was initially delayed by about 50 minutes. Then after the second inning, another big wave of rain came over Fenway Park and caused another delay, this one over an hour. Red Sox starter Drew Pomeranz remained in the game after the delay. Twins starter, Hector Santiago, did not. He was making his return to the Twins rotation after missing about three weeks. After going on the DL, he told 1500ESPN's Phil Mackey and Judd Zulgad that he just wasn't able to reach back and get any velocity. So if you're looking for an encouraging sign, it just might be that Santiago was able to find some extra velocity in his two innings. According to Brooks Baseball, and Pitch f/x, Santiago averaged 92.0 mph on his fastball. He peaked at 94.2 mph. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=thJPert-udg Santiago gave up a second-inning home run to catcher Christian Vasquez. Of course, it came after a walk to Sam Travis. That has been another theme for Twins pitchers this year. Walks Will Haunt, right? And really, after the home run, the Twins were unable to mount enough of a comeback to give themselves a chance to win. (from FanGraphs) Defensive Downer The Twins defense has been a huge factor in their return to relevancy this year. However, on Tuesday night, the Twins defense committed three errors. Five of the Red Sox nine runs scored came after a Twins error. As Molitor said post game, there was "not a lot of damage control." In the third inning, Byron Buxton came charging in on a line drive single. The runner was held at third, but Buxton's throw sailed to the backstop, allowing the run to score. In the fifth inning, Brian Dozier booted a potential double play ball. One run scored. In the sixth inning, Eduardo Escobar was unable to handle a ground ball that would have been the third out with a short throw to second base for a force out. Instead, Matt Belisle, who got the first two outs quickly, had to get a fourth out in the inning. Chris Young demolished a pitch well over the Green Monster for a three- run homer. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S0z-_ADyz0k Bullpen Usage AL Central Standings Cleveland 40-36 .526 Minnesota 39-36 .520 Kansas City 37-38 .493 Detroit 34-42 .447 Chicago 33-43 .434 Wednesday's Game At 6:10 central time, the 39-36 Twins will take on the 43-34 Red Sox in Game 3 of this series. Lefty Adalberto Mejia (2-3, 4.93 ERA) will take on reigning AL Cy Young Award winner RHP Rick Porcello (4-9, 5.00 ERA). The key for Mejia's success in his most recent start was finding a way to keep runs from scoring. That's always the goal of any starter, right? Of course. But Mejia gave up a lot of base runners, but somehow he survived five shutout innings. He'll have to find a way to limit damage against this very good Red Sox offense. Porcello has had a disappointing season, to be sure. One thing he has done is work innings. He has completed six innings in 15 of his 16 starts this year. He's completed seven innings just twice. However, he has given up five or more earned runs in three of his last four starts. -------------------------------- This was my first attempt at posting the Game Recap. A big shout out to Tom Froemming for doing these every day until today. He's off the grid the next couple of days, so I'll only try to make it half-way decent... and then Tom can come back and make these reports great again!
  9. Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Wednesday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS Check out the transactions through the minor league system from late Friday night and Saturday: Hector Santiago and Phil Hughes were officially added to the Rochester Red Wings roster as rehab guys. Their roster is now at 25 plus the two rehabbers. Most of the 2017 Elizabethton roster was added on Wednesday. As noted in the Elizabethton Twins Roster Preview, there will be more moves in coming days. RED WINGS REPORT Rochester 3, Buffalo 1 Box Score Hector Santiago made his rehab start for the Red Wings. The left-hander was given a 60-pitch limit, or four innings, whichever was less. True to Santiago form, he needed 57 pitches to get through three innings. He didn’t give up a hit or a run. He walked two and struck out two. Veteran Kam Mickolio came in to replace him. He got an out, but after making his second pitch to his second batter, he had to leave the game with an apparent injury. Mason Melotakis came into the game, and two pitches later, he finished a walk (credited to Mickolio). But he was able to get the final two outs quickly. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Mitch Garver led off with his sixth homer of the season. Two batters later, Niko Goodrum added his seventh home run to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. Phil Hughes got the top of the fifth inning. The goal was for him to work one inning, and then this weekend, he’ll work in back-to-back games. He was successful. He walked one, but he got through the inning without allowing a run. Ten of his 19 pitches were strikes. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Zack Granite added his second homer, a third solo homer for the Wings. DJ Baxendale got the next seven outs, giving up a run on two hits. Trevor Hildenberger recorded his sixth save with two strikeouts over the final five outs. He reduced his ERA to 2.05. Garver, Goodrum and Tommy Field each had two hits in the game. Granite was 1-3 with a walk. His .349 batting average leads the International League. The runner-up is at .319. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga Box Score The Lookouts are enjoying the third (and final) day of their All-Star break. Of course, there wasn’t an All-Star Game played due to bad weather. The team will begin their second half of their season on Thursday evening at home. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 0 Box Score At the end of last season, Cody Stashak made three starts for Ft. Myers. In 16.2 innings, he gave up just one run (0.54 ERA). That’s where he began this season. However, after his first eight starts this season, he was 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA. He was placed on the disabled list. In his first outing after his return, he threw five shutout innings. On Wednesday night, he threw six shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out seven. He got healthy and has returned to form. Andrew Vasquez faced six batters over two innings and struck out five of them. Sam Clay worked the ninth inning. He gave up a two-out double before finishing the game and maintaining the shutout. In the fourth inning, the Miracle got two walks and an infield single to load the bases. Tanner English walked in a run, and then Rafael Valera followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Miracle a 2-0 lead. That’s where the score remained until the 8th inning when another fielding error allowed another run to score. The Miracle had seven hits and walked four more times. Alex Perez went 2-4, the only player with more than one hit. The Miracle also stole five bases in the game. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids Box Score The Kernels also return from the Midwest League All-Star Game on Thursday night. Eduardo Del Rosario will take on Quad Cities. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cody Stashak, Ft. Myers Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Mitch Garver/Niko Goodrum, Rochester THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (6:05 CST) - RHP Yohan Pino Pensacola @ Chattanooga (6:15 CST) - LHP Stephen Gonsalves Ft. Myers @ Florida (6:35) - LHP Lachlan Wells Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:35 CST) - RHP Eduardo Del Rosario Danville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Wednesday’s games.
  10. Another quiet, all-star weekday in the Twins farm system. The Lookouts and Kernels both had a day off. They’ll start their second halves on Thursday. That’s also when the Elizabethton Twins make their 2017 debut. In other words, these Twins minor league reports are about to start getting bigger and busier again. But hey, six minor league affiliates to follow is even better than four, right? In Rochester, Hector Santiago and Phil Hughes made their first rehab appearances. The Red Wings showed some power as well. The Miracle got a tremendous pitching performance on their way to another win.Find out everything and more that happened happened in the Twins system on Wednesday, starting with the transactions of the day. TRANSACTIONS Check out the transactions through the minor league system from late Friday night and Saturday: Hector Santiago and Phil Hughes were officially added to the Rochester Red Wings roster as rehab guys. Their roster is now at 25 plus the two rehabbers.Most of the 2017 Elizabethton roster was added on Wednesday. As noted in the Elizabethton Twins Roster Preview, there will be more moves in coming days.RED WINGS REPORTRochester 3, Buffalo 1 Box Score Hector Santiago made his rehab start for the Red Wings. The left-hander was given a 60-pitch limit, or four innings, whichever was less. True to Santiago form, he needed 57 pitches to get through three innings. He didn’t give up a hit or a run. He walked two and struck out two. Veteran Kam Mickolio came in to replace him. He got an out, but after making his second pitch to his second batter, he had to leave the game with an apparent injury. Mason Melotakis came into the game, and two pitches later, he finished a walk (credited to Mickolio). But he was able to get the final two outs quickly. In the bottom of the fourth inning, Mitch Garver led off with his sixth homer of the season. Two batters later, Niko Goodrum added his seventh home run to give the Red Wings a 2-0 lead. Phil Hughes got the top of the fifth inning. The goal was for him to work one inning, and then this weekend, he’ll work in back-to-back games. He was successful. He walked one, but he got through the inning without allowing a run. Ten of his 19 pitches were strikes. In the bottom of the fifth inning, Zack Granite added his second homer, a third solo homer for the Wings. DJ Baxendale got the next seven outs, giving up a run on two hits. Trevor Hildenberger recorded his sixth save with two strikeouts over the final five outs. He reduced his ERA to 2.05. Garver, Goodrum and Tommy Field each had two hits in the game. Granite was 1-3 with a walk. His .349 batting average leads the International League. The runner-up is at .319. CHATTANOOGA CHATTER Chattanooga Box Score The Lookouts are enjoying the third (and final) day of their All-Star break. Of course, there wasn’t an All-Star Game played due to bad weather. The team will begin their second half of their season on Thursday evening at home. MIRACLE MATTERS Ft. Myers 3, Jupiter 0 Box Score At the end of last season, Cody Stashak made three starts for Ft. Myers. In 16.2 innings, he gave up just one run (0.54 ERA). That’s where he began this season. However, after his first eight starts this season, he was 1-3 with a 4.50 ERA. He was placed on the disabled list. In his first outing after his return, he threw five shutout innings. On Wednesday night, he threw six shutout innings. He gave up just one hit, walked two and struck out seven. He got healthy and has returned to form. Andrew Vasquez faced six batters over two innings and struck out five of them. Sam Clay worked the ninth inning. He gave up a two-out double before finishing the game and maintaining the shutout. In the fourth inning, the Miracle got two walks and an infield single to load the bases. Tanner English walked in a run, and then Rafael Valera followed with a sacrifice fly to give the Miracle a 2-0 lead. That’s where the score remained until the 8th inning when another fielding error allowed another run to score. The Miracle had seven hits and walked four more times. Alex Perez went 2-4, the only player with more than one hit. The Miracle also stole five bases in the game. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids Box Score The Kernels also return from the Midwest League All-Star Game on Thursday night. Eduardo Del Rosario will take on Quad Cities. TWINS DAILY PLAYERS OF THE DAY Twins Daily Minor League Pitcher of the Day – Cody Stashak, Ft. Myers Twins Daily Minor League Hitter of the Day – Mitch Garver/Niko Goodrum, Rochester THURSDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Lehigh Valley @ Rochester (6:05 CST) - RHP Yohan Pino Pensacola @ Chattanooga (6:15 CST) - LHP Stephen Gonsalves Ft. Myers @ Florida (6:35) - LHP Lachlan Wells Cedar Rapids @ Quad Cities (6:35 CST) - RHP Eduardo Del Rosario Danville @ Elizabethton (6:00 CST) - RHP Edwar Colina Please feel free to ask any questions and discuss Wednesday’s games. Click here to view the article
  11. Heston is not really a prospect. He’s 29 years old and this will be his fourth organization since the end of last year. The good news is that he started 31 games in the big leagues with the Giants in 2015, sporting a 3.95 ERA and threw a no-hitter. The bad news is that AT&T ballpark is pretty forgiving and the Giants didn’t feel compelled to leave room in their rotation for him the following year. He spend 2016 in AAA for the Giants, where he was initially not particularly effective (4.25 ERA) and then succumbed to an oblique injury in July before returning in mid-August. He started this year in Seattle, was designated for assignment and picked up by the Dodgers and now is with the Twins. He has spent most of the year in AAA, mostly starting, and has a 3.89 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 34.2 IP. I don’t see anything in his minor league game log that suggests he has turned any corner. He was drafted by the Twins back in 2007, albeit in the 47th round, and didn’t sign, but it is not uncommon that the Twins are a little extra interested in guys they have followed for a long time. There also isn’t anything in Heston’s AAA work this year that suggests he should be promoted to the majors, but with catcher Chris Gimenez already making his fourth appearance on the mound this year, this could be just another attempt to add a live (in the literal, not figurative sense of the word) arm.
  12. The Twins claimed right-handed starting pitcher Chris Heston from the Dodgers this afternoon, making room on the 40-man roster by releasing pitcher Nick Tepesch. Heston will be placed on the major league roster and join the team in Seattle. Update: The Twins announced they have placed Hector Santiago on the disabled list to make room for Heston on the 25-man roster. Heston is not really a prospect. He’s 29 years old and this will be his fourth organization since the end of last year. The good news is that he started 31 games in the big leagues with the Giants in 2015, sporting a 3.95 ERA and threw a no-hitter. The bad news is that AT&T ballpark is pretty forgiving and the Giants didn’t feel compelled to leave room in their rotation for him the following year. He spend 2016 in AAA for the Giants, where he was initially not particularly effective (4.25 ERA) and then succumbed to an oblique injury in July before returning in mid-August. He started this year in Seattle, was designated for assignment and picked up by the Dodgers and now is with the Twins. He has spent most of the year in AAA, mostly starting, and has a 3.89 ERA and 32 strikeouts in 34.2 IP. I don’t see anything in his minor league game log that suggests he has turned any corner. He was drafted by the Twins back in 2007, albeit in the 47th round, and didn’t sign, but it is not uncommon that the Twins are a little extra interested in guys they have followed for a long time. There also isn’t anything in Heston’s AAA work this year that suggests he should be promoted to the majors, but with catcher Chris Gimenez already making his fourth appearance on the mound this year, this could be just another attempt to add a live (in the literal, not figurative sense of the word) arm. Click here to view the article
  13. Another All-Star First Half Santiago has shown flashes of this type of pitching in the past. During the 2015 campaign, he got the season off to a great start and was named an American League All-Star. In the season's first half, he posted a 2.33 ERA with a 98 to 33 strikeout to walk ratio. In those 18 games, batters hit .213/.281/.356 against him. Following his All-Star first half, things fell apart in the second half of the season. His ERA rose to 5.47 and his WHIP rose from 1.10 to 1.49. Batters OPS also rose by over 200 points. Minnesota is seeing glimpses of Santiago's all-star abilities but there's no evidence of him being able to sustain this level for an entire season. What's Up, Pitches? Opponents have struggled this season with making consistent contact against Santiago's sinker. For his career, batters have hit .217 against him when he throws this pitch. So far this season, opponents have been limited to a .135 average with two extra-base hits. His velocity has dipped a little with this pitch but he seems to be using it more effectively. He has yet to surrender an extra-base hit with his secondary pitches but he throws these less than 40% of the time. When throwing his change-up, batters have been limited to a .200 average which is almost 60 points lower than his career mark. His cut fastball has yielded a .750 opponent's batting average, the highest of any pitch he throws. The Jason Castro Factor During the entire off-season, Twins fans heard rave reviews about Jason Castro and his ability to coax umpires into calling strikes. This might not have been more evident than on Sunday afternoon when "Castro had the best day of any backstop at getting his pitchers extra strikes." For seven innings on Sunday, Santiago was the beneficiary of Castro's catching abilities. Fangraphs showed multiple pitches from Santiago that ended up being called strikes. Castro is clearly factoring into the Twins early season pitching success. It's been a small sample size and there is plenty of season still ahead. Santiago needs to prove that he can sustain these numbers over the course of an entire season. He's shown flashes of this type of pitching in the past but the league will adjust. Can he make the types of changes necessary to sustain this success? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion.
  14. First impressions are important, but everyone deserves a second chance. Santiago got off to an absolutely rotten start with the Twins, but he ended the season pitching well, and there’s reason to believe he could in line for a bounce-back year. Over his final seven starts of 2016, Santiago posted a 3.19 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while limiting hitters to a .207/.294/.389 line. He also may stand to benefit from recent changes in hitting philosophy. Santiago may be the perfect antidote to the "elevate and celebrate" trend so many hitters seem to have (justifiably) gotten behind. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs recently wrote a piece about how pitchers could adjust to that trend. I don't want to give away the whole article (it's well worth your time), but in it Sullivan makes a pretty significant discovery: Homer rates are trending up, but only on pitches in the lower and middle third of the zone. The takeaway? "... conventional wisdom has said the best way to avoid a home run is to pitch down. In truth, at least now, it’s probably to pitch up. High fastballs are associated with homers, but they should really be associated with pop-ups and empty whiffs." It just so happens Santiago’s fastball is pretty nasty up in the zone. His career swinging strike percentage is 8.1%, but that number skyrockets on heaters in the upper third of the strike zone, according to data from BrooksBaseball. ​ To put that into perspective, neither Clayton Kershaw nor Stephen Strasburg have a single spot on the grid where their fastballs have a whiff rate of 20 percent, let alone three. Taking a look at the zone profile of slugging percentage against Santiago over his career, you can see even more evidence that staying up in the zone may be advantageous. With a defense led by Byron “Death To Flying Things” Buxton, the Twins are expected to be above average in the outfield. The infield? Not so much, particularly on the left side. Toss in the fact that BABIP is much higher on ground balls than fly balls and it seems to make a lot of sense for Santiago to try to continue his extreme fly ball ways. He led all qualified pitchers with a 50 percent fly ball rate last season. The Castro bump You can’t talk about Twins pitching these days without dropping the F Word: Framing. What did you think I was gonna say? With the arrival of pitch-presenting guru Jason Castro, the hope is the entire Twins staff will take a step forward, but it seems nobody wants to divvy out any of that hope to Hector. Well, Castro's strengths should actually be particularly well-suited to benefit Santiago. Here's a look at Santiago’s called strike percentage against right-handed hitters from FanGraphs: It's very difficult for lefty pitchers to get that up and away corner called as a strike against right-handed batters, but if anybody's going to help it's Jason Castro. Parker Hageman recently wrote an excellent piece on Castro's framing, er ... proper receiving. In that article, was this graphic showing where Castro excelled in getting strikes called: Castro is a wizard at getting outside strikes called on right-handed batters. Dallas Keuchel, a lefty who has thrown primarily to Castro over his career, gets that high and outside pitch to right-handers called strike called 61 percent of the time. Even a small improvement for Santiago up from 54 percent could go a long way toward him becoming a more effective pitcher. There's also evidence that Santiago has benefited from working with other good pitch framers in the past. Here is a breakdown of all the catchers he’s pitched to for at least 50 innings, sorted by ERA: A.J. Pierzynski: 2.84 ERA, .639 OPS Geovany Soto: 3.00 ERA, .653 OPS Tyler Flowers: 3.41 ERA, .692 OPS Hank Conger: 3.47 ERA, .660 OPS Chris Iannetta: 3.74 ERA, .727 OPS Carlos Perez: 4.26 ERA, .766 OPS The only one of those guys who rated out as a below-average framer during his time as a teammate of Santiago’s, according to StatCorner, is Perez (-6.6 RAA over last two seasons). Santiago had the least amount of success working with Perez. Hmm ... Infield flys rule Another part of the “secret sauce” that has made Santiago a deceptively good pitcher his his ability to induce popups. Santiago ranked ninth among qualified pitchers with a 13.5 IFFB percentage last season. If a pitcher can get a high percentage of strikeouts and infield fly balls, good things are going to happen. Here's a look at how Twins pitchers have fared in those categories over the past five seasons: Santiago: 20.5 K% + 12.1 IFFB% = 32.6 Hughes: 18.6 + 11.5 = 30.1 Santana: 19.3 + 9.5 = 28.8 Gibson: 15.6 + 10.0 = 25.6 What about the WBC? Santiago has been away from the team, pitching in a long relief role for Puerto Rico, but it would appear he's still in good shape to be ready for the regular season. Here's a summary of all his appearances this spring: Feb. 28: 12 pitches March 5: 24 pitches March 11: 42 pitches March 14: 52 pitches March 20: 63 pitches Santiago is scheduled to start for the Twins Sunday. I’d imagine he can crank it up to 80 or so pitches in that start before flirting with 100 in his final warmup game of the spring. Having pitchers in the WBC isn't ideal, but Hector looks like should be ready to go. Plus, I imagine he may have learned a thing or two working with Yadier Molina the past few weeks, so maybe that time away from the team turns out to be beneficial. So, he’s Cy Santiago? I’d love to wrap this up by making some bold prediction that Hector is going to be the ace of the staff and lead the Twins rotation back to respectability, but that’s probably not going to happen. Santiago’s command is spotty, his strikeout rate dropped to a career low last season and you can expect him to still give up his share of walks and home runs. But can we be optimistic about Santiago delivering a solid season? Something in line with his career averages prior to last year? I think so, yet most Twins fans are trying to find ways to run him out of town. There’s a reason Hector has made it this far. When he was drafted in the 30th round, he threw a fastball and … nope, that’s it. One pitch. Over time, he evolved a diverse enough pitch mix to become an effective major league starter. He’s been making adjustments his entire career. It seems unwise to count him out now, especially if you have any faith in Derek Falvey’s ability to foster a pitching staff. Santiago is also hitting free agency for the first time at the end of the year, so there’s all the incentive in the world for him to spin out a good season. Hector Santiago’s time with the Minnesota Twins didn’t get off on the right foot, but he deserves another chance.
  15. Hector Santiago is a fascinating pitcher in that he defies all the advanced metrics. Taking into account all the best ERA predictors, it makes no sense that from 2012-15 he managed a 3.84 ERA, which is identical to Jon Lester's mark over that same span. A big part of what made the difference for Santiago was that he was as tough as nails when pitching with runners in scoring position. His performance with runners on slipped last season, along with the majority of his other stats. The sabermetric community appears to have taken the stance that Hector's luck finally ran out, but is it that simple? Does he not get any benefit of the doubt for being a solid starter for over 500 innings prior to last season?First impressions are important, but everyone deserves a second chance. Santiago got off to an absolutely rotten start with the Twins, but he ended the season pitching well, and there’s reason to believe he could in line for a bounce-back year. Over his final seven starts of 2016, Santiago posted a 3.19 ERA and 1.23 WHIP while limiting hitters to a .207/.294/.389 line. He also may stand to benefit from recent changes in hitting philosophy. Santiago may be the perfect antidote to the "elevate and celebrate" trend so many hitters seem to have (justifiably) gotten behind. Jeff Sullivan of FanGraphs recently wrote a pieceabout how pitchers could adjust to that trend. I don't want to give away the whole article (it's well worth your time), but in it Sullivan makes a pretty significant discovery: Homer rates are trending up, but only on pitches in the lower and middle third of the zone. The takeaway? "... conventional wisdom has said the best way to avoid a home run is to pitch down. In truth, at least now, it’s probably to pitch up. High fastballs are associated with homers, but they should really be associated with pop-ups and empty whiffs." It just so happens Santiago’s fastball is pretty nasty up in the zone. His career swinging strike percentage is 8.1%, but that number skyrockets on heaters in the upper third of the strike zone, according to data from BrooksBaseball. ​ To put that into perspective, neither Clayton Kershaw nor Stephen Strasburg have a single spot on the grid where their fastballs have a whiff rate of 20 percent, let alone three. Taking a look at the zone profile of slugging percentage against Santiago over his career, you can see even more evidence that staying up in the zone may be advantageous. With a defense led by Byron “Death To Flying Things” Buxton, the Twins are expected to be above average in the outfield. The infield? Not so much, particularly on the left side. Toss in the fact that BABIP is much higher on ground balls than fly balls and it seems to make a lot of sense for Santiago to try to continue his extreme fly ball ways. He led all qualified pitchers with a 50 percent fly ball rate last season. The Castro bump You can’t talk about Twins pitching these days without dropping the F Word: Framing. What did you think I was gonna say? With the arrival of pitch-presenting guru Jason Castro, the hope is the entire Twins staff will take a step forward, but it seems nobody wants to divvy out any of that hope to Hector. Well, Castro's strengths should actually be particularly well-suited to benefit Santiago. Here's a look at Santiago’s called strike percentage against right-handed hitters from FanGraphs: It's very difficult for lefty pitchers to get that up and away corner called as a strike against right-handed batters, but if anybody's going to help it's Jason Castro. Parker Hageman recently wrote an excellent piece on Castro's framing, er ... proper receiving. In that article, was this graphic showing where Castro excelled in getting strikes called: Castro is a wizard at getting outside strikes called on right-handed batters. Dallas Keuchel, a lefty who has thrown primarily to Castro over his career, gets that high and outside pitch to right-handers called strike called 61 percent of the time. Even a small improvement for Santiago up from 54 percent could go a long way toward him becoming a more effective pitcher. There's also evidence that Santiago has benefited from working with other good pitch framers in the past. Here is a breakdown of all the catchers he’s pitched to for at least 50 innings, sorted by ERA: A.J. Pierzynski: 2.84 ERA, .639 OPS Geovany Soto: 3.00 ERA, .653 OPS Tyler Flowers: 3.41 ERA, .692 OPS Hank Conger: 3.47 ERA, .660 OPS Chris Iannetta: 3.74 ERA, .727 OPS Carlos Perez: 4.26 ERA, .766 OPS The only one of those guys who rated out as a below-average framer during his time as a teammate of Santiago’s, according to StatCorner, is Perez (-6.6 RAA over last two seasons). Santiago had the least amount of success working with Perez. Hmm ... Infield flys rule Another part of the “secret sauce” that has made Santiago a deceptively good pitcher his his ability to induce popups. Santiago ranked ninth among qualified pitchers with a 13.5 IFFB percentage last season. If a pitcher can get a high percentage of strikeouts and infield fly balls, good things are going to happen. Here's a look at how Twins pitchers have fared in those categories over the past five seasons: Santiago: 20.5 K% + 12.1 IFFB% = 32.6 Hughes: 18.6 + 11.5 = 30.1 Santana: 19.3 + 9.5 = 28.8 Gibson: 15.6 + 10.0 = 25.6 What about the WBC? Santiago has been away from the team, pitching in a long relief role for Puerto Rico, but it would appear he's still in good shape to be ready for the regular season. Here's a summary of all his appearances this spring: Feb. 28: 12 pitches March 5: 24 pitches March 11: 42 pitches March 14: 52 pitches March 20: 63 pitches Santiago is scheduled to start for the Twins Sunday. I’d imagine he can crank it up to 80 or so pitches in that start before flirting with 100 in his final warmup game of the spring. Having pitchers in the WBC isn't ideal, but Hector looks like should be ready to go. Plus, I imagine he may have learned a thing or two working with Yadier Molina the past few weeks, so maybe that time away from the team turns out to be beneficial. So, he’s Cy Santiago? I’d love to wrap this up by making some bold prediction that Hector is going to be the ace of the staff and lead the Twins rotation back to respectability, but that’s probably not going to happen. Santiago’s command is spotty, his strikeout rate dropped to a career low last season and you can expect him to still give up his share of walks and home runs. But can we be optimistic about Santiago delivering a solid season? Something in line with his career averages prior to last year? I think so, yet most Twins fans are trying to find ways to run him out of town. There’s a reason Hector has made it this far. When he was drafted in the 30th round, he threw a fastball and … nope, that’s it. One pitch. Over time, he evolved a diverse enough pitch mix to become an effective major league starter. He’s been making adjustments his entire career. It seems unwise to count him out now, especially if you have any faith in Derek Falvey’s ability to foster a pitching staff. Santiago is also hitting free agency for the first time at the end of the year, so there’s all the incentive in the world for him to spin out a good season. Hector Santiago’s time with the Minnesota Twins didn’t get off on the right foot, but he deserves another chance. Click here to view the article
  16. Vargas “Hobbled” In Friday night’s game, recently returned designated hitter candidate Kennys Vargas fouled a pitch off his foot or shin. He stayed in the game, but when he hit a fly ball to the outfield, he pulled up limping halfway to first base and left the game. After the game, we were told that x-rays had turned up nothing and that he was day-to-day. Today the Twins were not as optimistic. Manager Paul Molitor described Vargas as “hobbled” and said the Twins might potentially have another look at the injury. Vargas isn’t in a cast, or even an air cast, but he was on crutches, said Molitor. After playing sparingly in the WBC competition, Vargas was already going to need to accumulate at-bats to secure the designated hitter role for which he was the leading candidate entering camp. With only five Grapefruit League games remaining after tonight’s tilt, his prospects look grim. Especially given that ByungHo Park has had such a strong camp. The Fifth Starter Competition Molitor addressed the media prior to the game about Berrios’ demotion and the starts by Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Duffey at the minor league complex this morning. While it was possible that Berrios might have been able to get his pitch count high enough in time for his first start, the Twins were worried about rushing that process. “I was of the opinion, and I think everyone was, that the lack of work and consistency of work ... to try and rush the buildup here in the last ten days to try and get him ready to try and be in that spot didn’t make a lot of sense to me,” said Molitor. It should be noted that according to Twins pitcher and Puerto Rico WBC teammate Hector Santiago, Berrios did work while playing with the Puerto Rican WBC team to try to build up his pitch count, including throwing a 55-pitch live batting practice session. “But I know it’s tough for [the Twins] on their side. They want to make sure he’s healthy and they don’t want to force him out there, run him out there and have something happen,” said Santiago, while lamenting the difficult decision. Meanwhile, Molitor said that he thought both Duffey and Mejia had good but not outstanding mornings. “It wasn’t a seperator day for me,” said Molitor. “We just kind of need to look at the whole thing and see how it fits.” It sounds like this was the last chance for both to make their case. Molitor said he’ll talk with pitching coaches Neil Allen and Eddie Guardado and they’ll make their decision before their next bullpen, which would be Monday. Santiago’s Return Hector Santiago made his first start since returning from the WBC and threw 77 pitches over four innings. If his next start is in five days, it would be Thursday, the last Grapefruit League game and he would be up to a pitch count of 90. It sounds like he’ll line up to pitch the second game of the season at Target Field on April 5th. Others at Twins Daily have analyzed Santiago, but this was my first time charting pitches for the left-hander, and he’s an interesting case. Pitch F/X says he throws a fastball over 60% of the time, and then a changeup 20% of the time and a mix of other stuff. But that’s not what he says, or at least not what he threw tonight. He didn’t mention a changeup today at all. He says he threw a lot of fastballs away but concentrated on three offspeed offerings: a slider (which would usually be used against lefties), a curveball (which he usually uses primarily against right-handers, and a screwball (which officially puts me out of my depth). He concentrated on the offspeed pitches tonight because he says he threw them so rarely in the WBC. According to Santiago, in his last outing he threw 68 pitches, and only four were not fastballs. That was his focus and probably explains why he only had 49 strikes in the 77 pitches he threw. His line was solid enough: three strikeouts in four innings pitched with a walk and four hits. Unfortunately, two of those hits went over the wall, but they were solo shots. Kohl Stewart Appearance Twins pitching prospect (and #4 overall draft choice from 2013 draft) Kohl Stewart was called over from the minor league complex and brought on the road game to make an appearance in relief. The good news is that he can say he struck out JJ Hardy and Hyun Soo Kim. He can also say he gave up a home run to Chris Davis, which is probably an even better story to tell his grandkids. It wasn’t a great outing; he had a lot of trouble throwing strikes, he walked a few guys and he gave up four runs in his two innings. And I hope he doesn’t care one bit. Tomorrow is a home game and it would not be surprising if there were some roster moves. Stay tuned….
  17. The Twins lost to the Orioles last night 6-3, but most of the day’s drama came earlier. There was a 5th starter battle on the minor league fields and we learned that other 5th starter candidate, Jose Berrios, was optioned to the minors. We also got some important injury news and a glimpse of another top pitching prospect. Let’s cover the highlights:Vargas “Hobbled” In Friday night’s game, recently returned designated hitter candidate Kennys Vargas fouled a pitch off his foot or shin. He stayed in the game, but when he hit a fly ball to the outfield, he pulled up limping halfway to first base and left the game. After the game, we were told that x-rays had turned up nothing and that he was day-to-day. Today the Twins were not as optimistic. Manager Paul Molitor described Vargas as “hobbled” and said the Twins might potentially have another look at the injury. Vargas isn’t in a cast, or even an air cast, but he was on crutches, said Molitor. After playing sparingly in the WBC competition, Vargas was already going to need to accumulate at-bats to secure the designated hitter role for which he was the leading candidate entering camp. With only five Grapefruit League games remaining after tonight’s tilt, his prospects look grim. Especially given that ByungHo Park has had such a strong camp. The Fifth Starter Competition Molitor addressed the media prior to the game about Berrios’ demotion and the starts by Adalberto Mejia and Tyler Duffey at the minor league complex this morning. While it was possible that Berrios might have been able to get his pitch count high enough in time for his first start, the Twins were worried about rushing that process. “I was of the opinion, and I think everyone was, that the lack of work and consistency of work ... to try and rush the buildup here in the last ten days to try and get him ready to try and be in that spot didn’t make a lot of sense to me,” said Molitor. It should be noted that according to Twins pitcher and Puerto Rico WBC teammate Hector Santiago, Berrios did work while playing with the Puerto Rican WBC team to try to build up his pitch count, including throwing a 55-pitch live batting practice session. “But I know it’s tough for [the Twins] on their side. They want to make sure he’s healthy and they don’t want to force him out there, run him out there and have something happen,” said Santiago, while lamenting the difficult decision. Meanwhile, Molitor said that he thought both Duffey and Mejia had good but not outstanding mornings. “It wasn’t a seperator day for me,” said Molitor. “We just kind of need to look at the whole thing and see how it fits.” It sounds like this was the last chance for both to make their case. Molitor said he’ll talk with pitching coaches Neil Allen and Eddie Guardado and they’ll make their decision before their next bullpen, which would be Monday. Santiago’s Return Hector Santiago made his first start since returning from the WBC and threw 77 pitches over four innings. If his next start is in five days, it would be Thursday, the last Grapefruit League game and he would be up to a pitch count of 90. It sounds like he’ll line up to pitch the second game of the season at Target Field on April 5th. Others at Twins Daily have analyzed Santiago, but this was my first time charting pitches for the left-hander, and he’s an interesting case. Pitch F/X says he throws a fastball over 60% of the time, and then a changeup 20% of the time and a mix of other stuff. But that’s not what he says, or at least not what he threw tonight. He didn’t mention a changeup today at all. He says he threw a lot of fastballs away but concentrated on three offspeed offerings: a slider (which would usually be used against lefties), a curveball (which he usually uses primarily against right-handers, and a screwball (which officially puts me out of my depth). He concentrated on the offspeed pitches tonight because he says he threw them so rarely in the WBC. According to Santiago, in his last outing he threw 68 pitches, and only four were not fastballs. That was his focus and probably explains why he only had 49 strikes in the 77 pitches he threw. His line was solid enough: three strikeouts in four innings pitched with a walk and four hits. Unfortunately, two of those hits went over the wall, but they were solo shots. Kohl Stewart Appearance Twins pitching prospect (and #4 overall draft choice from 2013 draft) Kohl Stewart was called over from the minor league complex and brought on the road game to make an appearance in relief. The good news is that he can say he struck out JJ Hardy and Hyun Soo Kim. He can also say he gave up a home run to Chris Davis, which is probably an even better story to tell his grandkids. It wasn’t a great outing; he had a lot of trouble throwing strikes, he walked a few guys and he gave up four runs in his two innings. And I hope he doesn’t care one bit. Tomorrow is a home game and it would not be surprising if there were some roster moves. Stay tuned…. Click here to view the article
  18. In the excitement of spring training, we can often forget some of the business side of baseball. As we make projections for the Twins Opening Day roster, we often make a lot of assumptions. But there are some little-talked-about rules that could alter the thinking as we move through spring training. There are a handful of Twins players who are working under somewhat non-guaranteed contracts.Back in late November, the Twins had to make arbitration decisions on five players (after releasing Trevor Plouffe earlier). In January the Twins avoided arbitration with all five of those players; infielder Eduardo Escobar, LHP Hector Santiago, and RHPs Kyle Gibson, Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Pressly. Arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed. In other words, if Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were to release any of the five arbitration players before the 16th day of spring training, they would only need to pay the player approximately 1/6th of their arbitration agreement. If they are released between the 16th day and the end of spring training, they are guaranteed approximately ¼ of their arbitration number. Let’s take a quick look at what that means for the five Twins players. HECTOR SANTIAGO - When the Twins traded Ricky Nolasco to the Angels last August 1st, they sent $4 million with him. The term ‘salary neutral’ was introduced. Nolasco is owed $12 million in 2017. It was likely known that Santiago was going to get about $8 million in arbitration, so the $4 million made the costs neutral (not factoring in Alex Meyer and Alan Busenitz, the other players involved in the deal). The Twins aren’t going to release Santiago within the first 16 days. In fact, he’ll be pitching for Puerto Rico in the WBC. It’s actually assumed and very probable that he will be on the 25-man roster. However, it is worth at least noting that if he were released before Opening Day, the Twins would only owe him $2 million, which would give them $6 million to play with later in the season. Santiago will be in the starting rotation to start the season. A trade is much, much more likely than a release. BRANDON KINTZLER - The right-hander currently sits atop the list as most likely to be the Twins closer. He was reliable in 2016 and should be reliable in 2017 whether it is in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning. Like Santiago, it’s much more likely that Kintzler would be traded than released. If released he would only be paid $731,250 (25% of his $2.925 million arbitration agreement, saving about $2.2 million). KYLE GIBSON - The right-hander, like Santiago, will be in the Twins starting rotation to start the season. One year removed from being the Twins pitcher of the year, Gibson is looking to stay healthy and take a step or two forward in 2017. If released, he would still cost $725,000 (25% of his $2.9 million arbitration agreement, saving just under $2.2 million). EDUARDO ESCOBAR - Escobar finds himself in an interesting position this spring. A year ago, he was finally handed the Twins starting shortstop job. Injury and struggles in 2016 meant that at this time, he’s most likely going into the season as a utility man again, a role he has thrived in. However, with question marks surrounding Jorge Polanco’s defense, Escobar could be valuable as he could move back into the starting role again. However Ehire Adrianza being in the picture complicates that as well. There is a scenario in which the Twins have to pick between Escobar and Adrianza for one spot. In that case, Adrianza (who had agreed to a $600,000 arbitration number with the Giants earlier in the offseason) and his defensive prowess might make more sense. Escobar agreed to a $2.6 million arbitration number. If he is released, the team would save just under $2 million. RYAN PRESSLY - The former Rule 5 pick agreed to a $1.175 million arbitration deal. While he hasn’t been able to put together a full season yet in the big leagues, he has certainly shown the stuff and velocity to become a terrific set up man. $1.175 million is peanuts in baseball terms. If released before Opening Day, he would still get $293,750, so the Twins would be saving about $900,000. As I noted, the most likely scenario is that all five of these guys will be on the Opening Day roster. But the finances have to make sense too. The front office will need to evaluate if the dollars make sense for each of these, relative to the other options at the start of the season. Do you think that this information will, or even should, factor into Opening Day decisions this year? Click here to view the article
  19. Back in late November, the Twins had to make arbitration decisions on five players (after releasing Trevor Plouffe earlier). In January the Twins avoided arbitration with all five of those players; infielder Eduardo Escobar, LHP Hector Santiago, and RHPs Kyle Gibson, Brandon Kintzler and Ryan Pressly. Arbitration contracts are not fully guaranteed. In other words, if Derek Falvey and Thad Levine were to release any of the five arbitration players before the 16th day of spring training, they would only need to pay the player approximately 1/6th of their arbitration agreement. If they are released between the 16th day and the end of spring training, they are guaranteed approximately ¼ of their arbitration number. Let’s take a quick look at what that means for the five Twins players. HECTOR SANTIAGO - When the Twins traded Ricky Nolasco to the Angels last August 1st, they sent $4 million with him. The term ‘salary neutral’ was introduced. Nolasco is owed $12 million in 2017. It was likely known that Santiago was going to get about $8 million in arbitration, so the $4 million made the costs neutral (not factoring in Alex Meyer and Alan Busenitz, the other players involved in the deal). The Twins aren’t going to release Santiago within the first 16 days. In fact, he’ll be pitching for Puerto Rico in the WBC. It’s actually assumed and very probable that he will be on the 25-man roster. However, it is worth at least noting that if he were released before Opening Day, the Twins would only owe him $2 million, which would give them $6 million to play with later in the season. Santiago will be in the starting rotation to start the season. A trade is much, much more likely than a release. BRANDON KINTZLER - The right-hander currently sits atop the list as most likely to be the Twins closer. He was reliable in 2016 and should be reliable in 2017 whether it is in the 7th, 8th or 9th inning. Like Santiago, it’s much more likely that Kintzler would be traded than released. If released he would only be paid $731,250 (25% of his $2.925 million arbitration agreement, saving about $2.2 million). KYLE GIBSON - The right-hander, like Santiago, will be in the Twins starting rotation to start the season. One year removed from being the Twins pitcher of the year, Gibson is looking to stay healthy and take a step or two forward in 2017. If released, he would still cost $725,000 (25% of his $2.9 million arbitration agreement, saving just under $2.2 million). EDUARDO ESCOBAR - Escobar finds himself in an interesting position this spring. A year ago, he was finally handed the Twins starting shortstop job. Injury and struggles in 2016 meant that at this time, he’s most likely going into the season as a utility man again, a role he has thrived in. However, with question marks surrounding Jorge Polanco’s defense, Escobar could be valuable as he could move back into the starting role again. However Ehire Adrianza being in the picture complicates that as well. There is a scenario in which the Twins have to pick between Escobar and Adrianza for one spot. In that case, Adrianza (who had agreed to a $600,000 arbitration number with the Giants earlier in the offseason) and his defensive prowess might make more sense. Escobar agreed to a $2.6 million arbitration number. If he is released, the team would save just under $2 million. RYAN PRESSLY - The former Rule 5 pick agreed to a $1.175 million arbitration deal. While he hasn’t been able to put together a full season yet in the big leagues, he has certainly shown the stuff and velocity to become a terrific set up man. $1.175 million is peanuts in baseball terms. If released before Opening Day, he would still get $293,750, so the Twins would be saving about $900,000. As I noted, the most likely scenario is that all five of these guys will be on the Opening Day roster. But the finances have to make sense too. The front office will need to evaluate if the dollars make sense for each of these, relative to the other options at the start of the season. Do you think that this information will, or even should, factor into Opening Day decisions this year?
  20. We have projected all of the hitters in the Minnesota Twins organization over the last couple of weeks. Today we dive into what could very possibly be the most important part of any baseball team. The bullpen is important, but it can be helped by starters being good and giving six and seven innings consistently. The hitters obviously have to score runs, but the starting pitchers have to give the offense a chance. There are plenty of questions as it relates to starting pitching with the Twins, as you would expect. There are some veterans who will get a shot, but there are also some high-end, talented pitchers who will likely get an opportunity in 2017 as well. If you missed any of the previous articles, you can find them here: Catchers, Middle Infielders, Corner Infielders, Outfielders.So let’s get to it. At the end, discuss your thoughts on the Twins starting pitcher roster projections. Minnesota Twins - Ervin Santana (34), Hector Santiago (29), Kyle Gibson (29), Phil Hughes (30), Jose Berrios (21), (Trevor May (27), Tyler Duffey (26), Ryan Vogelsong (39), Justin Haley (25)) Ervin Santana may not be an “Ace” but he’s been a very solid MLB pitcher for most of the past decade. 2016 was one of his better seasons. Beyond Santana, the Twins are going to have to hope for improvements and a return to past success. While most aren’t terribly excited about Hector Santiago’s outlook, due to his walks and home runs allowed, the hope should be that he can get back to a sub-3.75 ERA. It isn’t an unattainable number for Santiago. It’s something he had done for four straight seasons before 2016. Kyle Gibson was the Twins Pitcher of the Year in 2015 when he posted a 3.84 ERA. Last year, he missed six-plus weeks due to shoulder issues and struggled the remainder of the season to find success. Phil Hughes is now two full seasons separated from his historic (K/BB rate) 2014 season. He also had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last summer and hopes to return healthy in 2017. After that, it will be very interesting to see how things play out. Obviously any setbacks with the aforementioned starters would open up a second rotation spot. In my opinion, if Jose Berrios reports to spring training and shows much improved fastball command, he will be in the big leagues. Trevor May will report to spring training with an opportunity to start again. If he and Berrios pitch well in spring, there may have to be another transaction. Of course, at least a couple of others will be given a shot at a rotation spot. Tyler Duffey has certainly shown flashes but with a two-pitch mix, he may be best suited for the bullpen. Justin Haley will likely get some starter innings in spring while competing for a long relief position. Ryan Vogelsong is likely in the same boat, competing as a starter and for a long relief job. Others you’ll see below. Rochester Red Wings - Jason Wheeler (26), Adalberto Mejia (23), Aaron Slegers (24), Nick Tepesch (28), David Hurlbut(27), Drew Rucinski (28), Nick Greenwood (29), Yohan Pino (33) Adalberto Mejia is the one pitcher on this list who is on the Twins 40-man roster. He came to the Twins in the Eduardo Nunez trade last summer. At various times in his career, he’s been considered a prospect. He could be a back-of-the-rotation guy in time. Jason Wheeler and David Hurlbut are pretty similar pitchers, southpaws who rely on fastball command and decent secondary stuff. Both have been in the Twins system since 2011. Nick Greenwood fits the same mold, though he came to the organization mid-season last year from the independent leagues. He had pitched for the Cardinals in 2014 and 2015. The Nick Tepesch and Ryan Vogelsong signings were announced on the same day. Vogelsong is nearly 40 but his representatives like to say that his arm didn’t get used as much early so it’s still strong. Tepesch debuted with the Rangers and spent a couple of years with them, though he missed all of 2015 and most of 2016 with injury. A college teammate of Kyle Gibson, if he returns to form, he too can be a back of rotation guy. Drew Rucinski spent last year with the Cubs AAA team in the PCL. He spent some time with the Angels big league club in 2014 and 2015. Chattanooga Lookouts - Stephen Gonsalves (22), Felix Jorge (23), Tyler Jay (22), Kohl Stewart (22), Randy Rosario (22), Keaton Steele (25) Last year, the big story early in the year was the starting rotation of the Ft. Myers Miracle. That group should all start the season in Chattanooga in 2017 as well. All but Steele ended their season in Chattanooga. Stephen Gonsalves emerged as arguably the Twins top starting pitching prospect with his strong 2016 season which was actually even better once he moved up to the Lookouts. He was the Twins' and Twins Daily’s Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2016. Adding a slider to his pitch mix helped him increase those strikeout numbers. Kohl Stewart began the season by repeating in Ft. Myers, where he increased his strikeout rate. When he moved up to AA, the K-rate completely dropped again, so he should spend the full 2017 season with the Lookouts. Felix Jorge remained remarkably consistent. Some observers contend he was the best of the group in Ft. Myers, and it would be hard to argue. He struggled in his first couple of starts in Chattanooga, but after that he again became an aggressive innings-eater. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November. Tyler Jay had expected ups and downs in his first full pro season and in the transition to starting pitcher. In six starts between May 4 and June 8, he posted a 0.70 ERA in 38.1 innings. In that stretch, he showed why there were a lot of teams interested in him as a starter. He has a four-pitch mix, but finding a consistency with them will be key. Or, he could move to the bullpen and dominate. Randy Rosario got through his first full season after Tommy John surgery healthy. He had moments with the Miracle, though the strikeout numbers were down. He throws mid-to-high 90s, left-handed, so he remains very intriguing. Keaton Steele was the veteran of the rotation in Ft. Myers. He put up pedestrian overall numbers though he came on stronger in the season’s second half. Ft. Myers Miracle - Fernando Romero (22), Cody Stashak (22), Dereck Rodriguez (24), Randy LeBlanc (24), Henry Centeno (22), Lewis Thorpe (21) Fernando Romero missed two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a 2015 knee surgery. He returned in early May to the Kernels, but his stay was short there because he dominated. He moved up to the Miracle and continued to rack up impressive numbers before being shut down late. He is another very strong candidate for Twins top pitching prospect. Randy LeBlanc had a terrific 2016 season. For the first time, he was a full-time starter. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 0.74 ERA in Cedar Rapids. He posted a 4.70 ERA in Ft. Myers, but he then posted ten scoreless innings in Chattanooga to end the season. Cody Stashak went 8-5 with a 3.16 ERA in Cedar Rapids. At the end of the season, he moved up to Ft. Myers and gave up just one run in 16.2 innings over three starts. Dereck Rodriguez started the season in Cedar Rapids and really struggled, but he figured things out and was promoted to Ft. Myers where he continued to pitch well. It’s been an interesting offseason for the right-hander. He carried some momentum into the Puerto Rican Winter League where he pitched very well out of the bullpen. He carried that success onto the Puerto Rico WBC roster. The Twins signed Henry Centeno as a minor league free agent out of the Rays organization. Still just 22, he went 5-1 with a 1.34 ERA in nine outings (six starts) in the Midwest League. He moved up to the Florida State League and went 3-3 with a 2.72 ERA. In 93 innings, he walked 29 and struck out 83. Lewis Thorpe has missed the last two seasons after Tommy John surgery. He hopes to get back on the mound in 2017. Since he’s missed so much time, they may choose to ease him back in, maybe some EST or maybe out of the bullpen. Hopefully by the end of the year, he’ll be making quality starts. Cedar Rapids Kernels - Lachlan Wells (19), Eduardo Del Rosario (21), Tyler Wells (22), Miguel DeJesus (21), Tyler Beardsley (22), Ryan Mason (22), Brady Anderson (24), Sean Poppen (22) Lachlan Wells came up to the Kernels in late June and was lights out. The Australian southpaw went 6-4 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts as a 19-year-old. He was recently named to Australia’s WBC team. Eduardo Del Rosario came up a month earlier. After some early struggles, he came on pretty solidly at the end of the season. He went 6-2 with a 3.67 ERA in 16 starts. Miguel DeJesus split 2016 between the GCL and Elizabethton. The right-hander throws hard, up to mid-90s, but he’ll need to work on secondary stuff. Tyler Beardsley and Sean Poppen are 2016 draft picks who each pitched a handful of games with the Kernels. Tyler Wells was also drafted last year. After a slow start in Elizabethton, he pitched very well late including seven scoreless innings of one-hit, 14-strikeout ball. It was followed by six shutout innings and two hits. He was in Cedar Rapids for their playoff run, though not on the roster. Ryan Mason was also drafted last season and pitched in Elizabethton. Brady Anderson wasn’t drafted last year out of Florida Gulf Coast, but he pitched so well in the GCL (2-0, 0.98 ERA in 27.2 innings) that he jumped up to the Kernels rotation and pitched well there too (3-1, 2.62 ERA, 34.1 innings). Extended Spring Training - Huascar Ynoa (18), Brusdar Graterol (18), Jordan Balazovic (18), Jovani Moran (19), Taylor Clemensia (19), Jose Martinez (20), Matt Jones (18), Bo Hellquist (22), Tyler Fox (23), Tyler Benninghoff (DL - 19) It seems a little funny to say, but it’s OK to be excited about the starting pitchers in this EST group. Huascar Ynoa and Brusdar Graterol have the talent and potential to be Top 10 Twins prospects at this time next year. Ynoa is the younger brother of White Sox reliever Michael Ynoa. He’s young, but he has really good stuff besides a fastball that’s 92-95. Speaking of fastballs, Graterol has a huge one. In Instructs, he was sitting 95-97 and touched 100 a couple of times. He has just a dozen or so innings pitched in the DSL before he had mid-season 2015 Tommy John surgery, but he has immense upside. Jordan Balazovicisn’t too far behind those two when it comes to potential. The 2016 draft pick from the suburbs of Toronto was very impressive in his debut, and reports say that he was even more impressive in Instructs. Moran was drafted in 2015, but he missed the 2016 season after having some bone chips removed from his elbow. The Puerto Rican has some good stuff from the left side. Another lefty, Taylor Clemensia, is from The Netherlands. A great athlete, he played a lot of outfield in his amateur days. He’s got good stuff on the mound, but he’s still very raw. Martinez struggled last year in Elizabethton, so expect him to head back there. Jones signed late last year after being drafted out of Canada. He’ll likely go back to the GCL. Tyler Benninghoff was drafted in the 11th round last year and immediately had Tommy John surgery. He will most likely miss the entire 2017 season. Bo Hellquist and Tyler Fox were non-drafted free agents signed after the draft. Hellquist pitched at Minnesota-Duluth, and Fox was one of the best pitchers at Nebraska-Omaha. They could compete for spots in Cedar Rapids or spend time in extended spring. Top Prospects 1.) Stephen Gonsalves 2.) Fernando Romero 3.) Tyler Jay 4.) Felix Jorge 5.) Adalberto Mejia 6.) Kohl Stewart 7.) Huascar Ynoa 8.) Lachlan Wells 9.) Brusdar Graterol 10.) Lewis Thorpe So, there are a lot of questions to discuss in this segment. Of course, it all starts with the big league rotation. Who will be the five there? After meeting expectations in Ft. Myers last year, how will the guys who start in Chattanooga do in 2017? Can Fernando Romero take the next step and become a true ace? How many of these guys could we see in 2017? (Gonsalves? Romero? Jay? Jorge? Mejia?) Which starters will come out of nowhere and become prospects a year from now? Click here to view the article
  21. So let’s get to it. At the end, discuss your thoughts on the Twins starting pitcher roster projections. Minnesota Twins - Ervin Santana (34), Hector Santiago (29), Kyle Gibson (29), Phil Hughes (30), Jose Berrios (21), (Trevor May (27), Tyler Duffey (26), Ryan Vogelsong (39), Justin Haley (25)) Ervin Santana may not be an “Ace” but he’s been a very solid MLB pitcher for most of the past decade. 2016 was one of his better seasons. Beyond Santana, the Twins are going to have to hope for improvements and a return to past success. While most aren’t terribly excited about Hector Santiago’s outlook, due to his walks and home runs allowed, the hope should be that he can get back to a sub-3.75 ERA. It isn’t an unattainable number for Santiago. It’s something he had done for four straight seasons before 2016. Kyle Gibson was the Twins Pitcher of the Year in 2015 when he posted a 3.84 ERA. Last year, he missed six-plus weeks due to shoulder issues and struggled the remainder of the season to find success. Phil Hughes is now two full seasons separated from his historic (K/BB rate) 2014 season. He also had thoracic outlet syndrome surgery last summer and hopes to return healthy in 2017. After that, it will be very interesting to see how things play out. Obviously any setbacks with the aforementioned starters would open up a second rotation spot. In my opinion, if Jose Berrios reports to spring training and shows much improved fastball command, he will be in the big leagues. Trevor May will report to spring training with an opportunity to start again. If he and Berrios pitch well in spring, there may have to be another transaction. Of course, at least a couple of others will be given a shot at a rotation spot. Tyler Duffey has certainly shown flashes but with a two-pitch mix, he may be best suited for the bullpen. Justin Haley will likely get some starter innings in spring while competing for a long relief position. Ryan Vogelsong is likely in the same boat, competing as a starter and for a long relief job. Others you’ll see below. Rochester Red Wings - Jason Wheeler (26), Adalberto Mejia (23), Aaron Slegers (24), Nick Tepesch (28), David Hurlbut (27), Drew Rucinski (28), Nick Greenwood (29), Yohan Pino (33) Adalberto Mejia is the one pitcher on this list who is on the Twins 40-man roster. He came to the Twins in the Eduardo Nunez trade last summer. At various times in his career, he’s been considered a prospect. He could be a back-of-the-rotation guy in time. Jason Wheeler and David Hurlbut are pretty similar pitchers, southpaws who rely on fastball command and decent secondary stuff. Both have been in the Twins system since 2011. Nick Greenwood fits the same mold, though he came to the organization mid-season last year from the independent leagues. He had pitched for the Cardinals in 2014 and 2015. The Nick Tepesch and Ryan Vogelsong signings were announced on the same day. Vogelsong is nearly 40 but his representatives like to say that his arm didn’t get used as much early so it’s still strong. Tepesch debuted with the Rangers and spent a couple of years with them, though he missed all of 2015 and most of 2016 with injury. A college teammate of Kyle Gibson, if he returns to form, he too can be a back of rotation guy. Drew Rucinski spent last year with the Cubs AAA team in the PCL. He spent some time with the Angels big league club in 2014 and 2015. Chattanooga Lookouts - Stephen Gonsalves (22), Felix Jorge (23), Tyler Jay (22), Kohl Stewart (22), Randy Rosario (22), Keaton Steele (25) Last year, the big story early in the year was the starting rotation of the Ft. Myers Miracle. That group should all start the season in Chattanooga in 2017 as well. All but Steele ended their season in Chattanooga. Stephen Gonsalves emerged as arguably the Twins top starting pitching prospect with his strong 2016 season which was actually even better once he moved up to the Lookouts. He was the Twins' and Twins Daily’s Starting Pitcher of the Year in 2016. Adding a slider to his pitch mix helped him increase those strikeout numbers. Kohl Stewart began the season by repeating in Ft. Myers, where he increased his strikeout rate. When he moved up to AA, the K-rate completely dropped again, so he should spend the full 2017 season with the Lookouts. Felix Jorge remained remarkably consistent. Some observers contend he was the best of the group in Ft. Myers, and it would be hard to argue. He struggled in his first couple of starts in Chattanooga, but after that he again became an aggressive innings-eater. He was added to the Twins 40-man roster in November. Tyler Jay had expected ups and downs in his first full pro season and in the transition to starting pitcher. In six starts between May 4 and June 8, he posted a 0.70 ERA in 38.1 innings. In that stretch, he showed why there were a lot of teams interested in him as a starter. He has a four-pitch mix, but finding a consistency with them will be key. Or, he could move to the bullpen and dominate. Randy Rosario got through his first full season after Tommy John surgery healthy. He had moments with the Miracle, though the strikeout numbers were down. He throws mid-to-high 90s, left-handed, so he remains very intriguing. Keaton Steele was the veteran of the rotation in Ft. Myers. He put up pedestrian overall numbers though he came on stronger in the season’s second half. Ft. Myers Miracle - Fernando Romero (22), Cody Stashak (22), Dereck Rodriguez (24), Randy LeBlanc (24), Henry Centeno (22), Lewis Thorpe (21) Fernando Romero missed two seasons due to Tommy John surgery and a 2015 knee surgery. He returned in early May to the Kernels, but his stay was short there because he dominated. He moved up to the Miracle and continued to rack up impressive numbers before being shut down late. He is another very strong candidate for Twins top pitching prospect. Randy LeBlanc had a terrific 2016 season. For the first time, he was a full-time starter. He began the season by going 6-2 with a 0.74 ERA in Cedar Rapids. He posted a 4.70 ERA in Ft. Myers, but he then posted ten scoreless innings in Chattanooga to end the season. Cody Stashak went 8-5 with a 3.16 ERA in Cedar Rapids. At the end of the season, he moved up to Ft. Myers and gave up just one run in 16.2 innings over three starts. Dereck Rodriguez started the season in Cedar Rapids and really struggled, but he figured things out and was promoted to Ft. Myers where he continued to pitch well. It’s been an interesting offseason for the right-hander. He carried some momentum into the Puerto Rican Winter League where he pitched very well out of the bullpen. He carried that success onto the Puerto Rico WBC roster. The Twins signed Henry Centeno as a minor league free agent out of the Rays organization. Still just 22, he went 5-1 with a 1.34 ERA in nine outings (six starts) in the Midwest League. He moved up to the Florida State League and went 3-3 with a 2.72 ERA. In 93 innings, he walked 29 and struck out 83. Lewis Thorpe has missed the last two seasons after Tommy John surgery. He hopes to get back on the mound in 2017. Since he’s missed so much time, they may choose to ease him back in, maybe some EST or maybe out of the bullpen. Hopefully by the end of the year, he’ll be making quality starts. Cedar Rapids Kernels - Lachlan Wells (19), Eduardo Del Rosario (21), Tyler Wells (22), Miguel DeJesus (21), Tyler Beardsley (22), Ryan Mason (22), Brady Anderson (24), Sean Poppen (22) Lachlan Wells came up to the Kernels in late June and was lights out. The Australian southpaw went 6-4 with a 1.77 ERA in 12 starts as a 19-year-old. He was recently named to Australia’s WBC team. Eduardo Del Rosario came up a month earlier. After some early struggles, he came on pretty solidly at the end of the season. He went 6-2 with a 3.67 ERA in 16 starts. Miguel DeJesus split 2016 between the GCL and Elizabethton. The right-hander throws hard, up to mid-90s, but he’ll need to work on secondary stuff. Tyler Beardsley and Sean Poppen are 2016 draft picks who each pitched a handful of games with the Kernels. Tyler Wells was also drafted last year. After a slow start in Elizabethton, he pitched very well late including seven scoreless innings of one-hit, 14-strikeout ball. It was followed by six shutout innings and two hits. He was in Cedar Rapids for their playoff run, though not on the roster. Ryan Mason was also drafted last season and pitched in Elizabethton. Brady Anderson wasn’t drafted last year out of Florida Gulf Coast, but he pitched so well in the GCL (2-0, 0.98 ERA in 27.2 innings) that he jumped up to the Kernels rotation and pitched well there too (3-1, 2.62 ERA, 34.1 innings). Extended Spring Training - Huascar Ynoa (18), Brusdar Graterol (18), Jordan Balazovic (18), Jovani Moran (19), Taylor Clemensia (19), Jose Martinez (20), Matt Jones (18), Bo Hellquist (22), Tyler Fox (23), Tyler Benninghoff (DL - 19) It seems a little funny to say, but it’s OK to be excited about the starting pitchers in this EST group. Huascar Ynoa and Brusdar Graterol have the talent and potential to be Top 10 Twins prospects at this time next year. Ynoa is the younger brother of White Sox reliever Michael Ynoa. He’s young, but he has really good stuff besides a fastball that’s 92-95. Speaking of fastballs, Graterol has a huge one. In Instructs, he was sitting 95-97 and touched 100 a couple of times. He has just a dozen or so innings pitched in the DSL before he had mid-season 2015 Tommy John surgery, but he has immense upside. Jordan Balazovic isn’t too far behind those two when it comes to potential. The 2016 draft pick from the suburbs of Toronto was very impressive in his debut, and reports say that he was even more impressive in Instructs. Moran was drafted in 2015, but he missed the 2016 season after having some bone chips removed from his elbow. The Puerto Rican has some good stuff from the left side. Another lefty, Taylor Clemensia, is from The Netherlands. A great athlete, he played a lot of outfield in his amateur days. He’s got good stuff on the mound, but he’s still very raw. Martinez struggled last year in Elizabethton, so expect him to head back there. Jones signed late last year after being drafted out of Canada. He’ll likely go back to the GCL. Tyler Benninghoff was drafted in the 11th round last year and immediately had Tommy John surgery. He will most likely miss the entire 2017 season. Bo Hellquist and Tyler Fox were non-drafted free agents signed after the draft. Hellquist pitched at Minnesota-Duluth, and Fox was one of the best pitchers at Nebraska-Omaha. They could compete for spots in Cedar Rapids or spend time in extended spring. Top Prospects 1.) Stephen Gonsalves 2.) Fernando Romero 3.) Tyler Jay 4.) Felix Jorge 5.) Adalberto Mejia 6.) Kohl Stewart 7.) Huascar Ynoa 8.) Lachlan Wells 9.) Brusdar Graterol 10.) Lewis Thorpe So, there are a lot of questions to discuss in this segment. Of course, it all starts with the big league rotation. Who will be the five there? After meeting expectations in Ft. Myers last year, how will the guys who start in Chattanooga do in 2017? Can Fernando Romero take the next step and become a true ace? How many of these guys could we see in 2017? (Gonsalves? Romero? Jay? Jorge? Mejia?) Which starters will come out of nowhere and become prospects a year from now?
  22. MLB unveiled the World Baseball Classic rosters this evening on MLB Network, and the Minnesota Twins organization has several current and former players (MLB or minor league) playing in the tournament. It's no surprise that Australia leads the way in terms of former and current Twins organization players with 14, but Puerto Rico also has seven players with Twins roots. Several other countries have at least one player with some tie to the Twins organization.The WBC is coming next month. It is the reason the spring training is starting earlier across baseball. But let's take a look at the teams that have current or former members of the Twins organization. AUSTRALIA Let's start Down Under where there are 14 players with Twins ties. Current Twins minor leaguers RHP Todd Van Steensel, LHP Lachlan Wells and OF Aaron Whitefield are on the team. Wells will be joined by his twin brother Alexander, a member of the Orioles organization. James Beresford will again represent the green and gold of Australia. He remains a free agent following his long-awaited MLB debut last September. Former Twins big leaguers Liam Hendriks and Luke Hughes are also on the roster. There are a bunch of former Twins minor leaguers also on the Australian roster: RHP Tim Atherton, C Allan De San Miguel, RHP Josh Guyer, RHP Peter Moylan, OF Trent Oeltjen, IF/OF Logan Wade, and RHP Matt Williams. Also, former Twins Rule 5 pick, LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, is on the team. PUERTO RICO We expected the Twins to be well represented on the Puerto Rico team. Big leaguers Kennys Vargas, Eddie Rosario, Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios are on the team. RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who along with Rosario helped capture the Caribbean Series championship for Puerto Rico this past weekend, is a surprise addition to the team. He pitched very well in the Puerto Rico Winter League. Finally, former Twins LHP JC Romero is still pitching, and he is on the team as well. Another former Twins player, catcher Rene Rivera, is also on the roster. CANADA Oh Canada! The team has three former Twins big leaguers on its roster. Justin Morneau is still looking for a big league team to sign him this year, but he's on the WBC roster. Andrew Albers signed a deal with the Braves. The lefty will pitch for Canada. OF Rene Tosoni is also on the team again. COLOMBIA Colombia has two current Twins minor leaguers on its WBC roster. Yohan Pino was another guy who put in his dues in the minor leagues before finally getting a shot with the Twins. He also saw time with the Royals. He is returning to the Twins this spring. 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez has been in the system for a few years now. He played a huge role last spring in giving Colombia a berth in the WBC with a strong Qualifier. NETHERLANDS The Netherlands has a lot of players from Curacao on its roster. One of them, RHP Shairon Martis, spent a season with the Twins and even pitched some in September for the big club. Tom Stuifbergen played hero for the first Netherlands WBC team when he pitched four scoreless innings in a game that eliminated the strong Dominican team from the first round. 7-footer Loek Van Mil had a couple of stints in the Twins organization including in April of 2016. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Only former Twins RHP Sam Deduno and LHP Fernando Abad have any ties to the Twins organization from the Dominican roster. VENEZUELA Three former Twins minor leaguers are on the Venezuelan roster. Omar Bencomo pitched for the Twins AA and AAA rosters the last couple of seasons. He's a free agent now. Former top prospect Deolis Guerra is a reliever on the team. Finally, Yangervis Solarte, who always hit well in the Twins minor leagues, has put together a solid MLB career as a third baseman for the Yankees and Padres. ISRAEL The team from Israel has three former Twins on their roster too. We all remember the Jason Marquis era. Also, outfielder Sam Fuld is on the roster. And, Craig Breslow, former and current Twins LHP will be on their staff. ITALY Italy was the team that surprised a lot of people in the previous WBC. Drew Butera and Chris Colabello both played a big role in that, and they'll hope to do the same in 2017. CHINA Ray Chang spent a couple of seasons in the Twins organization. Remember the story of Denard Span going up to Chang, thinking he was the newly-signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Span politely bowed, introduced himself and asked if he knew any English. To which Chang responded "Sure I do. I'm from Kansas City." Chang is retiring after the WBC to work for MLB. CHINESE TAIPEI Chi-Wei Hu is not on the roster, but former Twins prospect Kuo Hua Lo - who spent the first four months of 2016 with the Kernels - is pitching for them. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Well, there are not any current Twins on the roster. There was some talk that Brian Dozier might make the roster, but he didn't. However, one Minnesotan and former Twins player, Pat Neshek, is on the Team USA roster. That's it, and that's a lot. So, are we cheering at all for Australia? Maybe Puerto Rico? Or... USA! USA! USA! Discuss your thoughts on the WBC, the players, and what it should do going forward. Click here to view the article
  23. The WBC is coming next month. It is the reason the spring training is starting earlier across baseball. But let's take a look at the teams that have current or former members of the Twins organization. AUSTRALIA Let's start Down Under where there are 14 players with Twins ties. Current Twins minor leaguers RHP Todd Van Steensel, LHP Lachlan Wells and OF Aaron Whitefield are on the team. Wells will be joined by his twin brother Alexander, a member of the Orioles organization. James Beresford will again represent the green and gold of Australia. He remains a free agent following his long-awaited MLB debut last September. Former Twins big leaguers Liam Hendriks and Luke Hughes are also on the roster. There are a bunch of former Twins minor leaguers also on the Australian roster: RHP Tim Atherton, C Allan De San Miguel, RHP Josh Guyer, RHP Peter Moylan, OF Trent Oeltjen, IF/OF Logan Wade, and RHP Matt Williams. Also, former Twins Rule 5 pick, LHP Ryan Rowland-Smith, is on the team. PUERTO RICO We expected the Twins to be well represented on the Puerto Rico team. Big leaguers Kennys Vargas, Eddie Rosario, Hector Santiago and Jose Berrios are on the team. RHP Dereck Rodriguez, who along with Rosario helped capture the Caribbean Series championship for Puerto Rico this past weekend, is a surprise addition to the team. He pitched very well in the Puerto Rico Winter League. Finally, former Twins LHP JC Romero is still pitching, and he is on the team as well. Another former Twins player, catcher Rene Rivera, is also on the roster. CANADA Oh Canada! The team has three former Twins big leaguers on its roster. Justin Morneau is still looking for a big league team to sign him this year, but he's on the WBC roster. Andrew Albers signed a deal with the Braves. The lefty will pitch for Canada. OF Rene Tosoni is also on the team again. COLOMBIA Colombia has two current Twins minor leaguers on its WBC roster. Yohan Pino was another guy who put in his dues in the minor leagues before finally getting a shot with the Twins. He also saw time with the Royals. He is returning to the Twins this spring. 1B Reynaldo Rodriguez has been in the system for a few years now. He played a huge role last spring in giving Colombia a berth in the WBC with a strong Qualifier. NETHERLANDS The Netherlands has a lot of players from Curacao on its roster. One of them, RHP Shairon Martis, spent a season with the Twins and even pitched some in September for the big club. Tom Stuifbergen played hero for the first Netherlands WBC team when he pitched four scoreless innings in a game that eliminated the strong Dominican team from the first round. 7-footer Loek Van Mil had a couple of stints in the Twins organization including in April of 2016. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC Only former Twins RHP Sam Deduno and LHP Fernando Abad have any ties to the Twins organization from the Dominican roster. VENEZUELA Three former Twins minor leaguers are on the Venezuelan roster. Omar Bencomo pitched for the Twins AA and AAA rosters the last couple of seasons. He's a free agent now. Former top prospect Deolis Guerra is a reliever on the team. Finally, Yangervis Solarte, who always hit well in the Twins minor leagues, has put together a solid MLB career as a third baseman for the Yankees and Padres. ISRAEL The team from Israel has three former Twins on their roster too. We all remember the Jason Marquis era. Also, outfielder Sam Fuld is on the roster. And, Craig Breslow, former and current Twins LHP will be on their staff. ITALY Italy was the team that surprised a lot of people in the previous WBC. Drew Butera and Chris Colabello both played a big role in that, and they'll hope to do the same in 2017. CHINA Ray Chang spent a couple of seasons in the Twins organization. Remember the story of Denard Span going up to Chang, thinking he was the newly-signed Tsuyoshi Nishioka. Span politely bowed, introduced himself and asked if he knew any English. To which Chang responded "Sure I do. I'm from Kansas City." Chang is retiring after the WBC to work for MLB. CHINESE TAIPEI Chi-Wei Hu is not on the roster, but former Twins prospect Kuo Hua Lo - who spent the first four months of 2016 with the Kernels - is pitching for them. UNITED STATES OF AMERICA Well, there are not any current Twins on the roster. There was some talk that Brian Dozier might make the roster, but he didn't. However, one Minnesotan and former Twins player, Pat Neshek, is on the Team USA roster. That's it, and that's a lot. So, are we cheering at all for Australia? Maybe Puerto Rico? Or... USA! USA! USA! Discuss your thoughts on the WBC, the players, and what it should do going forward.
  24. With that in mind, let's try to project (OK, guess) what will happen over the next two days. Post your thoughts and guesses in the Comments below. HECTOR SANTIAGO Service Time: 5.016 2016 Salary: $5.0 Million MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $8.6 Million Twins Daily Projection: 8.0 Million Santiago came to the Twins at the deadline last year in exchange for Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer. He struggled early, but was better late. He has been an All-Star and until his 4.70 ERA in 2016, he had never posted an ERA over 3.75. He has pitched over 180 innings in each of the last two seasons. Seth’s Guesses Santiago Asks: $8.5 Million Twins Offer: $7.0 Million Midpoint: $7.75 Million A huge salary bump after a rough season for Santiago doesn’t make sense, but he’ll get a bump because of the innings and the numbers prior to 2016. That means there is potentially a pretty big difference between what Santiago’s side wants and what the Twins might be willing to offer. The bigger the gap, the more difficult it can be for both sides to reach an agreement in the middle. Remember that the Twins sent $4 million to the Angels in that trade last year to avoid needing to pay Nolasco $12 million in 2017. In other words, it appears that they anticipated needing to pay him around $8 million. BRANDON KINTZLER Service Time: 4.128 2016 Salary: $1.1 Million MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2.2 Million Twins Daily Projection: $2.5 Million Kintzler’s road to the big leagues was interesting and even included a stint with the St. Paul Saints. After a couple of solid seasons in middle relief for the Brewers, he missed much of the 2015 season with a knee injury. The Brewers non-tendered him after that season and the Twins quickly signed him to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Though he didn’t start the season in the big leagues, he was with the Twins within a month. Not only did he pitch well and show increased velocity, but he became the Twins closer and recorded 17 saves. Seth’s Guesses Kintzler Asks: $2.95 Million Twins Offer: $2.25 Million Midpoint: $2.6 Million This is an interesting one because of the saves. Frankly, if he had just worked in middle relief, he would likely be in line for a deal between $1.9 and $2.2 million. The reality is that the saves probably mean something in arbitration discussions. While I can’t imagine Kintzler’s side overstating their case, they should be using it to their advantage. That’s why I kept them just shy of $3 million. The Twins will argue that he isn’t really a typical closer and fits the role of middle relief. That would be an easier case for them if they had a veteran closer on the staff at this point. This feels like one where an agreement should be easy to reach. KYLE GIBSON Service Time: 3.056 2016 Salary: approximately $600,000 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.5 Million Twins Daily Projection: $2.5 Million Gibson was being fast-tracked to the big leagues. He was the team’s #1 pick in 2009 and began his career in Ft. Myers in 2010. He finished the season with several starts in AAA. That’s where he began the 2011 season. By season’s end, he had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 season. He debuted in 2013 and became a fixture in the Twins rotation since 2014. He was the Twins pitcher of the year in 2015. A month into the 2016 season, he landed on the DL with some shoulder pain. He returned about six weeks later and was inconsistent the rest of the season. Seth’s Guesses Gibson Asks: $3.55 Million Twins Offer: $2.55 Million Midpoint: $3.05 Million This is another difficult one. It is Gibson’s first trek into arbitration. There are some first-year arbitration eligible starting pitchers who have reached closer to $4 million, but I don’t think Gibson can reach that level. But the Twins may be able to use his 2016 struggles to negate some of the value he could have received after 2015. The Twins can’t really go any lower than $2.5 million. My guess is that they will reach an agreement with Gibson just shy of the midpoint with some innings-incentives that could push him just past the midpoint. Using my guesses, I could see a deal for about $2.9 million with $50K bonus at 140 innings, $50K at 170 innings, $50K at 185 innings and $50K at 200 innings. RYAN PRESSLY Service Time: 3.053 2016 Salary: approximately $550,000 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 Million Twins Daily Projection: $1.5 Million Pressly came to the Twins in the December 2012 Rule 5 draft. He spent the entire 2013 season with the Twins, but he was able to go to Rochester in 2014. He returned late in 2014 and pitched well. He was off to a very good start in 2015 but an injury ended his season early. Pressly was one of the most used relievers early in the 2016 season and in time it caught up to him. Blessed with a fastball that reached 98 and even 99 mph, he has the potential to be very good in the bullpen. Seth’s Guesses Pressly Asks: $1.65 Million Twins Offer: $1.15 Million Midpoint: $1.4 Million I can’t imagine this one even getting to the point of exchanging figures. They should be fairly close in the $1.1 to $1.5 million range. I would think that they are close enough where midpoint agreement would work. He pitched innings, but was average for a reliever, numbers-wise. He has missed time the two previous seasons, so he should fit into a typical first-year arbitration reliever range. So what do you think? Which players will come to an agreement with the Twins before exchanging numbers? Is it possible that the Twins could go to arbitration for the first time in over a decade in 2017? We shall find out in the next couple of days.
  25. Back in November, the Twins had to decide whether or not to offer 2017 contracts to six players. They non-tendered Trevor Plouffe (who now has an agreement with the A’s). The Twins agreed to terms with Eduardo Escobar who will make $2.6 million in 2017. The Twins offered arbitration to four other players for 2017: Hector Santiago, Brandon Kintzler, Kyle Gibson and Ryan Pressly. If those players do not have an agreement with the Twins by Friday (several players already have), the two sides will exchange numbers. Obviously the player and his agent will ask the team for a number. The Twins side will likely think that number is a bit high and will come in with their own number, likely lower. Most often, the two sides wind up meeting somewhere near the midpoint on a deal.With that in mind, let's try to project (OK, guess) what will happen over the next two days. Post your thoughts and guesses in the Comments below. HECTOR SANTIAGO Service Time: 5.016 2016 Salary: $5.0 Million MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $8.6 Million Twins Daily Projection: 8.0 Million Santiago came to the Twins at the deadline last year in exchange for Ricky Nolasco and Alex Meyer. He struggled early, but was better late. He has been an All-Star and until his 4.70 ERA in 2016, he had never posted an ERA over 3.75. He has pitched over 180 innings in each of the last two seasons. Seth’s Guesses Santiago Asks: $8.5 Million Twins Offer: $7.0 Million Midpoint: $7.75 Million A huge salary bump after a rough season for Santiago doesn’t make sense, but he’ll get a bump because of the innings and the numbers prior to 2016. That means there is potentially a pretty big difference between what Santiago’s side wants and what the Twins might be willing to offer. The bigger the gap, the more difficult it can be for both sides to reach an agreement in the middle. Remember that the Twins sent $4 million to the Angels in that trade last year to avoid needing to pay Nolasco $12 million in 2017. In other words, it appears that they anticipated needing to pay him around $8 million. BRANDON KINTZLER Service Time: 4.128 2016 Salary: $1.1 Million MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $2.2 Million Twins Daily Projection: $2.5 Million Kintzler’s road to the big leagues was interesting and even included a stint with the St. Paul Saints. After a couple of solid seasons in middle relief for the Brewers, he missed much of the 2015 season with a knee injury. The Brewers non-tendered him after that season and the Twins quickly signed him to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training. Though he didn’t start the season in the big leagues, he was with the Twins within a month. Not only did he pitch well and show increased velocity, but he became the Twins closer and recorded 17 saves. Seth’s Guesses Kintzler Asks: $2.95 Million Twins Offer: $2.25 Million Midpoint: $2.6 Million This is an interesting one because of the saves. Frankly, if he had just worked in middle relief, he would likely be in line for a deal between $1.9 and $2.2 million. The reality is that the saves probably mean something in arbitration discussions. While I can’t imagine Kintzler’s side overstating their case, they should be using it to their advantage. That’s why I kept them just shy of $3 million. The Twins will argue that he isn’t really a typical closer and fits the role of middle relief. That would be an easier case for them if they had a veteran closer on the staff at this point. This feels like one where an agreement should be easy to reach. KYLE GIBSON Service Time: 3.056 2016 Salary: approximately $600,000 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $3.5 Million Twins Daily Projection: $2.5 Million Gibson was being fast-tracked to the big leagues. He was the team’s #1 pick in 2009 and began his career in Ft. Myers in 2010. He finished the season with several starts in AAA. That’s where he began the 2011 season. By season’s end, he had Tommy John surgery and missed the 2012 season. He debuted in 2013 and became a fixture in the Twins rotation since 2014. He was the Twins pitcher of the year in 2015. A month into the 2016 season, he landed on the DL with some shoulder pain. He returned about six weeks later and was inconsistent the rest of the season. Seth’s Guesses Gibson Asks: $3.55 Million Twins Offer: $2.55 Million Midpoint: $3.05 Million This is another difficult one. It is Gibson’s first trek into arbitration. There are some first-year arbitration eligible starting pitchers who have reached closer to $4 million, but I don’t think Gibson can reach that level. But the Twins may be able to use his 2016 struggles to negate some of the value he could have received after 2015. The Twins can’t really go any lower than $2.5 million. My guess is that they will reach an agreement with Gibson just shy of the midpoint with some innings-incentives that could push him just past the midpoint. Using my guesses, I could see a deal for about $2.9 million with $50K bonus at 140 innings, $50K at 170 innings, $50K at 185 innings and $50K at 200 innings. RYAN PRESSLY Service Time: 3.053 2016 Salary: approximately $550,000 MLB Trade Rumors Projection: $1.1 Million Twins Daily Projection: $1.5 Million Pressly came to the Twins in the December 2012 Rule 5 draft. He spent the entire 2013 season with the Twins, but he was able to go to Rochester in 2014. He returned late in 2014 and pitched well. He was off to a very good start in 2015 but an injury ended his season early. Pressly was one of the most used relievers early in the 2016 season and in time it caught up to him. Blessed with a fastball that reached 98 and even 99 mph, he has the potential to be very good in the bullpen. Seth’s Guesses Pressly Asks: $1.65 Million Twins Offer: $1.15 Million Midpoint: $1.4 Million I can’t imagine this one even getting to the point of exchanging figures. They should be fairly close in the $1.1 to $1.5 million range. I would think that they are close enough where midpoint agreement would work. He pitched innings, but was average for a reliever, numbers-wise. He has missed time the two previous seasons, so he should fit into a typical first-year arbitration reliever range. So what do you think? Which players will come to an agreement with the Twins before exchanging numbers? Is it possible that the Twins could go to arbitration for the first time in over a decade in 2017? We shall find out in the next couple of days. Click here to view the article
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