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  1. On Monday, Luis Gil took the mound against his former organization, and he has been impressive in his first taste of the big leagues. Does that mean the Yankees won the Jake Cave trade? It's a lot more complicated than that. In March 2018, the Yankees had a surplus of big-league caliber players on their 40-man roster. This made Jake Cave expendable as the team designated him for assignment. At 25-years-old, Cave hadn’t made a big-league appearance, but he had compiled some strong numbers at Triple-A. In 72 games, he hit .324/.367/.554 with 15 homers. As Minnesota entered their winning window, Cave made sense as outfield depth on a team ready to contend. At the time of the trade, Luis Gil was a 19-year old that was coming off a season in the Dominican Summer League. He was older than the average age of the competition at that level and he posted a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. Minnesota had initially signed him in 2015 for a $90,000 signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He was far from the big leagues, and the Twins didn’t think he would develop into a starter. During Monday’s TV broadcast, Justin Morneau brought up the point that the Twins saw Gil as only having two pitches, which usually results in being a reliever. So far in his big-league career, this evaluation was correct as he has used his fastball and slider over 92% of the time. He has thrown his changeup less than 30 times in five starts. Gil’s first four starts were impressive. He posted a 1.42 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 24 strikeouts across 19 innings. Minnesota’s line-up messed with those numbers on Monday as the club scored five earned runs on seven hits, including three long balls. His fastball is a plus pitch, and his slider is strong, but the 23-year-old has a long time to go before proving he can make it as a starter. Cave’s time in Minnesota can be challenging for fans to evaluate since he is nearing the end of an injury-plagued season. In 64 games, he has hit .193/.259/.310 with a 58 OPS+ a -0.5 WAR. These totals are a far cry from the player that posted a .795 OPS and a 112 OPS+ in his first 163 games with the Twins. He posted positive WAR totals from 2018-2020, which combined for 2.6 total WAR. He was more than filling the role of fourth outfielder. It’s easy to look at Gil and say it would be great for the Twins to have him back in the organization. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and there was no way to know he would develop this way. To add a little perspective, non of his teammates on the 2015 DSL roster have played in the big leagues. Maybe switching organizations changed his development path? Perhaps the Twins would have moved him to a relief role? Perhaps he still ends up as a reliever? Cave has provided some excellent big-league moments, and Gil was a wild-card that the Yankees have turned into one of their organization’s top pitching prospects. It's still going to take time to see how Gil develops, but young, controllable starting pitching is a valuable commodity. Ultimately, it is going to take more time before a true winner of this trade can be declared. Who do you think won the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. In March 2018, the Yankees had a surplus of big-league caliber players on their 40-man roster. This made Jake Cave expendable as the team designated him for assignment. At 25-years-old, Cave hadn’t made a big-league appearance, but he had compiled some strong numbers at Triple-A. In 72 games, he hit .324/.367/.554 with 15 homers. As Minnesota entered their winning window, Cave made sense as outfield depth on a team ready to contend. At the time of the trade, Luis Gil was a 19-year old that was coming off a season in the Dominican Summer League. He was older than the average age of the competition at that level and he posted a 2.59 ERA and 49 strikeouts in 41 2/3 innings. Minnesota had initially signed him in 2015 for a $90,000 signing bonus. He made his professional debut in 2015 but missed all of 2016 due to shoulder surgery. He was far from the big leagues, and the Twins didn’t think he would develop into a starter. During Monday’s TV broadcast, Justin Morneau brought up the point that the Twins saw Gil as only having two pitches, which usually results in being a reliever. So far in his big-league career, this evaluation was correct as he has used his fastball and slider over 92% of the time. He has thrown his changeup less than 30 times in five starts. Gil’s first four starts were impressive. He posted a 1.42 ERA with a 1.26 WHIP and 24 strikeouts across 19 innings. Minnesota’s line-up messed with those numbers on Monday as the club scored five earned runs on seven hits, including three long balls. His fastball is a plus pitch, and his slider is strong, but the 23-year-old has a long time to go before proving he can make it as a starter. Cave’s time in Minnesota can be challenging for fans to evaluate since he is nearing the end of an injury-plagued season. In 64 games, he has hit .193/.259/.310 with a 58 OPS+ a -0.5 WAR. These totals are a far cry from the player that posted a .795 OPS and a 112 OPS+ in his first 163 games with the Twins. He posted positive WAR totals from 2018-2020, which combined for 2.6 total WAR. He was more than filling the role of fourth outfielder. It’s easy to look at Gil and say it would be great for the Twins to have him back in the organization. However, hindsight is always 20/20, and there was no way to know he would develop this way. To add a little perspective, non of his teammates on the 2015 DSL roster have played in the big leagues. Maybe switching organizations changed his development path? Perhaps the Twins would have moved him to a relief role? Perhaps he still ends up as a reliever? Cave has provided some excellent big-league moments, and Gil was a wild-card that the Yankees have turned into one of their organization’s top pitching prospects. It's still going to take time to see how Gil develops, but young, controllable starting pitching is a valuable commodity. Ultimately, it is going to take more time before a true winner of this trade can be declared. Who do you think won the trade? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  3. Not every player that makes it to The Show is going to be flashy, hit dingers every game and go slamming into walls to make a save. There are players that are the perfect addition to the team and make the chemistry what it is. The line-up works and makes plays in the outfield that keep a team in the game. Jake Cave doesn’t break the Twins wallet, and he does his job. He is worth more than his contract shows and fans keep sleeping on him. Jake Cave came swinging onto the Twins scene in 2018 and sealed his spot on the team in his first year with thirteen homeruns and 45 RBIs! He was on fire and 2019 was no slow down. Joining the team in hitting 307 homeruns that year to out hit any team in MLB. Cave has been an integral part of this team since suiting up and he hasn't slowed down in how hard he plays, swings, or dives for outfield balls. The Hampton native continues to defy the trade deadlines, and stays on with the Twins as a minimum salary player with a million dollar attitude. In 2020 Cave struggled a little at the plate, nothing that threw up red flags as the player continued to be a heavy contributor to the line up. When he is up at the plate he has a small lag in his timing, but you could tell early in 2021 that he was not able to rotate as far, move as fast or swing has hard and eventually it became a concern. Fans would say he is getting old, is average or washed out, but it was more than that and I refused to listen to the clamor of the haters. Cave finally disappeared from Minneapolis after feeling immense back pain for a consistent amount of time. The 28 year old center-fielder doesn’t give up. He thought he had a sore back sending him down to the IL, which ended up being a fractured disc due to stress and spent sixty days rehabbing in St. Paul. Over that time, he worked extremely hard to not only take the care needed to improve his back, but also to improve his swing. He batted 11-for-30 with a home run, a double, six runs and five RBI across eight rehab games. He continued to improve and is something that the Twins need to consider keeping around as a depth option in the outfield. His time in St. Paul showed that not only can he hit, but he is an asset at the plate the more he sees it. He has more than shown his worth covering down for players like Buxton, the other centerfielder who can’t seem to stay healthy or in the game. Jake Cave has shown up for the Twins every instance they have needed him without reserve, without complaint and with one-hundred percent effort. He has played every position in the outfield with ease and even been added to the line up as the DH to cover. In those three positions he has only had one error in 46 games that he has played this year in the Twins Club House. Since coming back in July, has continued to make progress at the plate with his August average at .186 even if he has gotten less at bat’s than any of the other players on the team. Jake Cave may not be a shiny-bomba-hitting-player, but he is clutch in the outfield and one of the more reliable players on the team. He continues to show up and do not only his job, but any job that is asked of him, even if he is not perfect. With the season coming to an end and while realizing baseball is a business, it would be bad business to get rid of Cave. The Twins are getting a player out playing his salary and you aren’t going to get dedication or hard work from another player like that and the beard doesn’t hurt either.
  4. A couple of major leaguers were activated for rehab assignments with the St. Paul Saints, but it was a different slugger with major league experience who stole the show at CHS Field on Tuesday night. There were also several big innings from lineups across the system on the night, and even a no-hitter rookie leagues (that asterisk in the title is for a reason, but the scorebook says what the scorebook says!). To find out who hit all those home runs in St. Paul, how the big innings all went down, and who was responsible for that no-hitter in the FCL, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS Catcher Mitch Garver was sent on a rehab assignment to the St. Paul Saints. Good to see him back on the field after his freaky injury. Jake Cave was also activated for a rehab assignment with the Saints. LHP Kody Funderburk and RHP Jordan Gore were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. LHP Aaron Rozek was assigned to the Mighty Mussels from the Wind Surge, and RHP Jason Garcia was placed on the 7-day injured list. Taking the place of the departing pitchers from Cedar Rapids were RHP Osiris German and RHP Louie Varland from Fort Myers. In addition to Rozek the Mighty Mussels also were assigned RHP Orlando Rodriguez. SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 1, St. Paul 19 Box Score With Jake Cave, Mitch Garver, Brent Rooker, and Willians Astudillo in the lineup for the Saints on Tuesday, this one played out just like you might expect when putting a lineup of major leaguers out against one of minor leaguers. St. Paul bludgeoned Columbus pitching early with three runs in the first then four more in the third before exploding for 10 runs in the fourth. When they needed a hit, they got them, and big ones in bunches too. Cave led off the game with a homer and Rooker hit another blast in the first. Rooker and Mark Contreras each went yard in the third. Then Rooker again, and Jose Miranda took one out of the park in the big fourth inning. The lineup got multiple hits from Miranda (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K), Rooker (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K), Contreras (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K), and JT Riddle (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI). Cave and Rooker each scored four runs. As a team St. Paul was 9-for-13 (.692) with runners in scoring position and left only five men on base. In addition to their 14 hits and six walks, five hitters were hit by pitches leading to their runs outpacing hits for the game. Righthander Griffin Jax took the mound for the Saints and went the first five innings, working efficiently. He allowed one run (solo homer) on three hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter, and threw just 63 pitches with 40 going for strikes (63.5%). Reliever Juan Minaya came on for the sixth inning and finished the next three scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, one walk, and struck out four. Joe Harvey finished off the game with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and punching out two. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 7, Wichita 2 Box Score Wichita got on the board first in this one when Trey Cabbage clubbed his third home run of the season, a two run-shot in the second inning. But that was all the offense they would muster on the night as the lineup managed just two other hits on the game. They had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position and left only two men on base for the game. There is not much you can if you never have the opportunities. Righthander Austin Schulfer got the start for the Wind Surge and went five solid innings. He allowed three earned runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out six. Jovani Moran went the next 1 2/3 and was not his usual knife through butter self, being charged with one run on one hit and three walks, though he still did strike out four. Zach Neff came on gave up three runs of his own in 1+ innings. He allowed four hits and struck out one. Jhonleider Salinas finished the game off for the Wind Surge with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 5 Box Score The Kernels too, got on the board early and then often in a single inning on Tuesday as they put up three runs in the first then a five-spot in the fourth that put them ahead 8-1 at the time. The three runs in the first came courtesy of Seth Gray’s seventh home run of the season. The lineup got multiple hits from Gray (3-for-6, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K), Wander Javier (2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K), and Edouard Julien (2-for-5, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K). Julien’s 2-RBI single in the fourth inning capped the scoring for Cedar Rapids and he continues to lead the minors in walks while sporting a .475 on-base percentage across two levels. The eight runs were more than enough to pick up the win as the pitching staff held strong enough as South Bend attempted a comeback. Starter Cody Laweryson went the first four innings for the Kernels, allowing a single earned run on three hits and two walks while punching out six. Tyler Palm allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in his single inning. Ryan Shreve was credited the win after his two innings where he allowed one run on two hits and struck out two. Zach Featherstone pitched the final two innings, allowing a run of his own on one hit and two walks while striking out three. The Kernels improved to 35-26 on the year and are firmly in second place of the Midwest League West Division. MUSSEL MATTERS Jupiter 10, Fort Myers 12 Box Score Fort Myers jumped out to a beg early lead after an eight run second inning, but struggled to keep that lead for the rest of the game and it turned into a back-and-forth contest late. Willie Joe Garry Jr. got the scoring started in the second with a two-RBI single. Misael Urbina followed two batters later with a grand slam that made it 6-1. A Jeferson Morales double and Jesus Feliz single would plate the other two runs in the frame. Starter Brent Headrick went four innings in total, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks, while striking out six. Matthew Swain came out for the fifth inning but was not able to get out of it before being charged with four runs on three walks. He struck out one. With two in the fifth Carlos Suniaga was summoned and went the next 2 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping the Mighty Mussels within one going into the bottom of the seventh. They were able to tie it at nine thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Ruben Santana, but gave it right back in the top of the eighth. Righthander Bradley Hanner came into the game and gave up consecutive single to start the inning, that resulted in a run as the first hitter stole second and reached third on a throwing error. Now down 10-9, Fort Myers would not give up. Yunior Severino delivered an RBI sac fly in the bottom of the eighth after Aaron Sabato reached base on an error and moved to third on a double from Morales. Feliz then put them up by one with an RBI single and executed a double steal with Justin Washington for another run to make it 12-10 in favor of the home team. Back out front for the top of the ninth, the Mighty Mussels brought on Denny Bentley to close out the win. A one out walk and single made it a little interesting, but Bentley buckled down and struck out the final two hitters (and all three outs in the inning) to end the game and pick up his fifth save. In addition to Morales and Feliz, Washington (2-for-4, R, 3B, K, SB) and Santana (2-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB, SB) also multiple hits on the game. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Game 1: FCL Braves 5, FCL Twins 1 Box Score The FCL Twins played a doubleheader with their Atlanta Braves counterpart on Tuesday afternoon, and they each picked up a victory. In game one the Twins were outhit 8-5 and were not able to mount any rallies in losing 5-1. Alexander Pena led the way with a 2-for-3 effort including a double. Kala’I Rosario picked up the only RBI. Starter John Stankiewicz went the first two innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while recording all of his outs via the strikeout (six total). Wilker Reyes went the next four innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks. Cole Bellair finished the game with an unearned run on two walks in the seventh, striking out one. Game 2: FCL Twins 8, FCL Braves 0 Box Score The Twins got back at the Braves in game two behind a no-hitter from their starting pitcher. The caveat here is even in the normally shortened 7-inning game of a doubleheader, only 5+ innings were completed in this one as lightning moved into the area. The Twins scored two in the first and six in the second to account for all their runs. Rosario had two more RBI in this one thanks to a double. Catcher LaRon Smith had three RBI and his second home run of the season. Pena (2-for-4, R, RBI) and Miguel Vallejo (2-for-2, R, 2 2B) had multiple hits. As a team they were 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left just six on base for the game. Pitcher Giovahniey German went five innings and walked just two while striking out four. Quite a performance for the 20-year-old in just his third game pitching in the states! Goes down as a no-hitter in the scorebook no matter who is reading it, congratulations! (Reliever Zach Goree was meant to start the sixth inning before the game was called) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Giovahniey German, FCL Twins (5 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day – Brent Rooker, St. Paul Saints (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 1-for-2, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – All Star Break #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, R, BB #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (wrist sprain) #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – All Star Break #13 – Cole Sands Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 1-for-5, R, GS HR, 4 RBI, BB, K #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-4, 3 K #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury) #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Columbus @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – TBD Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05PM CST) – TBD Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beck (1-1, 1.93 ERA) Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (4-2, 5.89 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games! 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  5. To find out who hit all those home runs in St. Paul, how the big innings all went down, and who was responsible for that no-hitter in the FCL, keep reading! TRANSACTIONS Catcher Mitch Garver was sent on a rehab assignment to the St. Paul Saints. Good to see him back on the field after his freaky injury. Jake Cave was also activated for a rehab assignment with the Saints. LHP Kody Funderburk and RHP Jordan Gore were promoted from Cedar Rapids to Wichita. LHP Aaron Rozek was assigned to the Mighty Mussels from the Wind Surge, and RHP Jason Garcia was placed on the 7-day injured list. Taking the place of the departing pitchers from Cedar Rapids were RHP Osiris German and RHP Louie Varland from Fort Myers. In addition to Rozek the Mighty Mussels also were assigned RHP Orlando Rodriguez. SAINTS SENTINEL Columbus 1, St. Paul 19 Box Score With Jake Cave, Mitch Garver, Brent Rooker, and Willians Astudillo in the lineup for the Saints on Tuesday, this one played out just like you might expect when putting a lineup of major leaguers out against one of minor leaguers. St. Paul bludgeoned Columbus pitching early with three runs in the first then four more in the third before exploding for 10 runs in the fourth. When they needed a hit, they got them, and big ones in bunches too. Cave led off the game with a homer and Rooker hit another blast in the first. Rooker and Mark Contreras each went yard in the third. Then Rooker again, and Jose Miranda took one out of the park in the big fourth inning. The lineup got multiple hits from Miranda (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K), Rooker (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K), Contreras (2-for-4, 2 R, HR, 2 RBI, 2 K), and JT Riddle (2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, 2 RBI). Cave and Rooker each scored four runs. As a team St. Paul was 9-for-13 (.692) with runners in scoring position and left only five men on base. In addition to their 14 hits and six walks, five hitters were hit by pitches leading to their runs outpacing hits for the game. Righthander Griffin Jax took the mound for the Saints and went the first five innings, working efficiently. He allowed one run (solo homer) on three hits. He did not walk or strike out a batter, and threw just 63 pitches with 40 going for strikes (63.5%). Reliever Juan Minaya came on for the sixth inning and finished the next three scoreless innings. He allowed three hits, one walk, and struck out four. Joe Harvey finished off the game with a scoreless ninth, allowing one hit and punching out two. WIND SURGE WISDOM Tulsa 7, Wichita 2 Box Score Wichita got on the board first in this one when Trey Cabbage clubbed his third home run of the season, a two run-shot in the second inning. But that was all the offense they would muster on the night as the lineup managed just two other hits on the game. They had only one at-bat with a runner in scoring position and left only two men on base for the game. There is not much you can if you never have the opportunities. Righthander Austin Schulfer got the start for the Wind Surge and went five solid innings. He allowed three earned runs on two hits and three walks, while striking out six. Jovani Moran went the next 1 2/3 and was not his usual knife through butter self, being charged with one run on one hit and three walks, though he still did strike out four. Zach Neff came on gave up three runs of his own in 1+ innings. He allowed four hits and struck out one. Jhonleider Salinas finished the game off for the Wind Surge with 1 1/3 scoreless innings. He walked one and struck out two. KERNELS NUGGETS Cedar Rapids 8, South Bend 5 Box Score The Kernels too, got on the board early and then often in a single inning on Tuesday as they put up three runs in the first then a five-spot in the fourth that put them ahead 8-1 at the time. The three runs in the first came courtesy of Seth Gray’s seventh home run of the season. The lineup got multiple hits from Gray (3-for-6, 2 R, HR, 3 RBI, K), Wander Javier (2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K), and Edouard Julien (2-for-5, R, 2 RBI, BB, 2 K). Julien’s 2-RBI single in the fourth inning capped the scoring for Cedar Rapids and he continues to lead the minors in walks while sporting a .475 on-base percentage across two levels. The eight runs were more than enough to pick up the win as the pitching staff held strong enough as South Bend attempted a comeback. Starter Cody Laweryson went the first four innings for the Kernels, allowing a single earned run on three hits and two walks while punching out six. Tyler Palm allowed two runs on two hits and a walk in his single inning. Ryan Shreve was credited the win after his two innings where he allowed one run on two hits and struck out two. Zach Featherstone pitched the final two innings, allowing a run of his own on one hit and two walks while striking out three. The Kernels improved to 35-26 on the year and are firmly in second place of the Midwest League West Division. MUSSEL MATTERS Jupiter 10, Fort Myers 12 Box Score Fort Myers jumped out to a beg early lead after an eight run second inning, but struggled to keep that lead for the rest of the game and it turned into a back-and-forth contest late. Willie Joe Garry Jr. got the scoring started in the second with a two-RBI single. Misael Urbina followed two batters later with a grand slam that made it 6-1. A Jeferson Morales double and Jesus Feliz single would plate the other two runs in the frame. Starter Brent Headrick went four innings in total, allowing five runs (three earned) on seven hits and three walks, while striking out six. Matthew Swain came out for the fifth inning but was not able to get out of it before being charged with four runs on three walks. He struck out one. With two in the fifth Carlos Suniaga was summoned and went the next 2 1/3 scoreless innings, keeping the Mighty Mussels within one going into the bottom of the seventh. They were able to tie it at nine thanks to an RBI single off the bat of Ruben Santana, but gave it right back in the top of the eighth. Righthander Bradley Hanner came into the game and gave up consecutive single to start the inning, that resulted in a run as the first hitter stole second and reached third on a throwing error. Now down 10-9, Fort Myers would not give up. Yunior Severino delivered an RBI sac fly in the bottom of the eighth after Aaron Sabato reached base on an error and moved to third on a double from Morales. Feliz then put them up by one with an RBI single and executed a double steal with Justin Washington for another run to make it 12-10 in favor of the home team. Back out front for the top of the ninth, the Mighty Mussels brought on Denny Bentley to close out the win. A one out walk and single made it a little interesting, but Bentley buckled down and struck out the final two hitters (and all three outs in the inning) to end the game and pick up his fifth save. In addition to Morales and Feliz, Washington (2-for-4, R, 3B, K, SB) and Santana (2-for-2, R, RBI, 3 BB, SB) also multiple hits on the game. COMPLEX CHRONICLES Game 1: FCL Braves 5, FCL Twins 1 Box Score The FCL Twins played a doubleheader with their Atlanta Braves counterpart on Tuesday afternoon, and they each picked up a victory. In game one the Twins were outhit 8-5 and were not able to mount any rallies in losing 5-1. Alexander Pena led the way with a 2-for-3 effort including a double. Kala’I Rosario picked up the only RBI. Starter John Stankiewicz went the first two innings, allowing one run on two hits and a walk while recording all of his outs via the strikeout (six total). Wilker Reyes went the next four innings and allowed three earned runs on six hits and two walks. Cole Bellair finished the game with an unearned run on two walks in the seventh, striking out one. Game 2: FCL Twins 8, FCL Braves 0 Box Score The Twins got back at the Braves in game two behind a no-hitter from their starting pitcher. The caveat here is even in the normally shortened 7-inning game of a doubleheader, only 5+ innings were completed in this one as lightning moved into the area. The Twins scored two in the first and six in the second to account for all their runs. Rosario had two more RBI in this one thanks to a double. Catcher LaRon Smith had three RBI and his second home run of the season. Pena (2-for-4, R, RBI) and Miguel Vallejo (2-for-2, R, 2 2B) had multiple hits. As a team they were 7-for-13 with runners in scoring position and left just six on base for the game. Pitcher Giovahniey German went five innings and walked just two while striking out four. Quite a performance for the 20-year-old in just his third game pitching in the states! Goes down as a no-hitter in the scorebook no matter who is reading it, congratulations! (Reliever Zach Goree was meant to start the sixth inning before the game was called) TWINS DAILY MINOR LEAGUE PLAYERS OF THE DAY Pitcher of the Day – Giovahniey German, FCL Twins (5 IP, 0 H, 2 BB, 4 K) Hitter of the Day – Brent Rooker, St. Paul Saints (4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K) PROSPECT SUMMARY Take note that we have finished our midseason update, so there is a new list! Here is a look at how the Twins Daily Midseason Top 20 Twins Prospects performed: #1 – Royce Lewis (Rehab) – Out for season (torn ACL) #2 – Jhoan Duran (St. Paul) – Injured List (elbow strain) #3 – Jordan Balazovic (Wichita) – Did not pitch #4 – Matt Canterino (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (right elbow strain) #5 – Jose Miranda (St. Paul) – 2-for-4, 2 R, 2B, HR, 3 RBI, 2 BB, K #6 – Keoni Cavaco (Fort Myers) – 1-for-2, R #7 – Gilberto Celestino (Minnesota) – All Star Break #8 – Josh Winder (St. Paul) – Did not pitch #9 – Aaron Sabato (Fort Myers) – 1-for-4, R, BB #10 – Matt Wallner (Cedar Rapids) – Injured List (wrist sprain) #11 – Blayne Enlow (Cedar Rapids) – Out for Season (Tommy John surgery) #12 – Bailey Ober (Minnesota) – All Star Break #13 – Cole Sands Cole Sands (Wichita) – Did not pitch #14 – Brent Rooker (St. Paul) – 4-for-6, 4 R, 2B, 3 HR, 7 RBI, 2 K #15 – Misael Urbina (Fort Myers) – 1-for-5, R, GS HR, 4 RBI, BB, K #16 – Spencer Steer (Wichita) – 0-for-4, 3 K #17 – Wander Javier (Cedar Rapids) – 2-for-5, R, 2B, BB, 2 K #18 – Alerick Soularie (Complex) – N/A (foot injury) #19 – Edwar Colina (Rehab) – Injured List (elbow) #20 – Chris Vallimont (Wichita) – Did not pitch WEDNESDAY’S PROBABLE STARTERS Columbus @ St. Paul (7:05PM CST) – TBD Tulsa @ Wichita (12:05PM CST) – TBD Cedar Rapids @ South Bend (6:05PM CST) – RHP Tyler Beck (1-1, 1.93 ERA) Jupiter @ Fort Myers (6:00PM CST) – RHP Sawyer Gipson-Long (4-2, 5.89 ERA) Please feel free to ask questions and discuss Tuesday’s games!
  6. LaMonte Wade, Akil Baddoo, and Nick Anderson have all gone on to find success with other organizations. Teams need to be strong when it comes to scouting, so do the Twins have an issue when it comes to scouting their own talent? There’s no question that successful organizations need to have a strong scouting department. It is the job of this group to find talent at any level and decide if those players are a good fit for an organization. One undervalued scouting skill might be the ability of an organization to evaluate their own talent and decide which pieces are most critical for an organization’s long-term success. Unfortunately, these three players have all found success with other organizations without getting a long look at the big-league level by the Twins. Akil Baddoo, Detroit Tigers Minnesota drafted Baddoo in the second round back in 2016 and he played his first four professional seasons in the organization. Back in 2019, he topped out at High-A where he hit .214/.290/.393 in 29 games. Entering the 2021 season, he didn’t have an at-bat at the Double-A level and the lost 2020 season certainly took away some development time, so the Twins left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Now, it’s looking like the Twins might have given up on him too soon. Detroit is in rebuild mode so they can afford to take some chances in the Rule 5 Draft, and they were willing to give Baddoo a shot at the big-league level. His hot start to the season was well documented as he had a 1.024 OPS through his first 15 games. He may not be getting the hype he was at season’s start, but he entered play on Monday with a 142 OPS+ while leading the American League in triples. Minnesota had a lot of minor league outfield depth, but Baddoo is looking more like he can be a contributor for years to come. LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants Wade was a ninth-round pick by the Twins in the 2015 MLB Draft and the Twins had used him throughout parts of the 2019 and 2020 season. In those two years, he compiled an 87 OPS+ in 42 games and he looked to have a shot at making the 2021 Twins. The decision came down to picking Wade or Jake Cave as the team’s fourth outfielder. Minnesota was able to trade Wade to the Giants in exchange for Shaun Anderson, who was recently claimed off waivers by the Rangers. It was a deal that couldn’t have gone more poorly for the Twins. In his age-27 season, Wade has found a role with the Giants, the first team to 50 wins this season. Through his first 28 games, he has posted a 136 OPS+ while playing all three outfield positions and first base. Cave compiled a 43 OPS+ in 31 games this year before ending up on the 60-day injured list with a stress reaction in his lower back. Wade is finding big-league success on one of baseball’s best teams while the Twins have been forced to shuffle through a variety of outfielders. Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays Anderson, a Minnesota native, had to work his way into professional baseball after attending college at Mayville State University in North Dakota. The Twins signed him out of independent baseball and used him as a reliever in four different seasons as he topped out at Triple-A. In November 2018, the Twins traded him to the Miami Marlins for Brian Schales and Anderson has pitched at the big-league level ever since that deal. Anderson was a critical piece of the Rays bullpen that drove them to the 2020 World Series. Throughout the 2019-20 seasons, he has combined for a 155 ERA+ with a 0.96 WHIP and 15 SO/9. His 2021 season hasn’t started yet as he recovers from a partial torn ligament in his right elbow. The injury didn’t require surgery and he is supposed to return for the season’s second half. This will be a welcome boost to a Rays club that is fighting for an AL East crown. He would also be a welcome addition to a Twins bullpen that has seen it’s fair share of struggles this season. It’s great to see these players writing their own success story, but it’s too bad those achievements didn’t come in a Twins uniform. Minnesota needs to hang on to players like these that can add to their organizational depth and that process might start with looking in the mirror at their own self-scouting. Do you think the Twins have a self-scouting issue? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  7. There’s no question that successful organizations need to have a strong scouting department. It is the job of this group to find talent at any level and decide if those players are a good fit for an organization. One undervalued scouting skill might be the ability of an organization to evaluate their own talent and decide which pieces are most critical for an organization’s long-term success. Unfortunately, these three players have all found success with other organizations without getting a long look at the big-league level by the Twins. Akil Baddoo, Detroit Tigers Minnesota drafted Baddoo in the second round back in 2016 and he played his first four professional seasons in the organization. Back in 2019, he topped out at High-A where he hit .214/.290/.393 in 29 games. Entering the 2021 season, he didn’t have an at-bat at the Double-A level and the lost 2020 season certainly took away some development time, so the Twins left him unprotected in the Rule 5 Draft. Now, it’s looking like the Twins might have given up on him too soon. Detroit is in rebuild mode so they can afford to take some chances in the Rule 5 Draft, and they were willing to give Baddoo a shot at the big-league level. His hot start to the season was well documented as he had a 1.024 OPS through his first 15 games. He may not be getting the hype he was at season’s start, but he entered play on Monday with a 142 OPS+ while leading the American League in triples. Minnesota had a lot of minor league outfield depth, but Baddoo is looking more like he can be a contributor for years to come. LaMonte Wade Jr., San Francisco Giants Wade was a ninth-round pick by the Twins in the 2015 MLB Draft and the Twins had used him throughout parts of the 2019 and 2020 season. In those two years, he compiled an 87 OPS+ in 42 games and he looked to have a shot at making the 2021 Twins. The decision came down to picking Wade or Jake Cave as the team’s fourth outfielder. Minnesota was able to trade Wade to the Giants in exchange for Shaun Anderson, who was recently claimed off waivers by the Rangers. It was a deal that couldn’t have gone more poorly for the Twins. In his age-27 season, Wade has found a role with the Giants, the first team to 50 wins this season. Through his first 28 games, he has posted a 136 OPS+ while playing all three outfield positions and first base. Cave compiled a 43 OPS+ in 31 games this year before ending up on the 60-day injured list with a stress reaction in his lower back. Wade is finding big-league success on one of baseball’s best teams while the Twins have been forced to shuffle through a variety of outfielders. Nick Anderson, Tampa Bay Rays Anderson, a Minnesota native, had to work his way into professional baseball after attending college at Mayville State University in North Dakota. The Twins signed him out of independent baseball and used him as a reliever in four different seasons as he topped out at Triple-A. In November 2018, the Twins traded him to the Miami Marlins for Brian Schales and Anderson has pitched at the big-league level ever since that deal. Anderson was a critical piece of the Rays bullpen that drove them to the 2020 World Series. Throughout the 2019-20 seasons, he has combined for a 155 ERA+ with a 0.96 WHIP and 15 SO/9. His 2021 season hasn’t started yet as he recovers from a partial torn ligament in his right elbow. The injury didn’t require surgery and he is supposed to return for the season’s second half. This will be a welcome boost to a Rays club that is fighting for an AL East crown. He would also be a welcome addition to a Twins bullpen that has seen it’s fair share of struggles this season. It’s great to see these players writing their own success story, but it’s too bad those achievements didn’t come in a Twins uniform. Minnesota needs to hang on to players like these that can add to their organizational depth and that process might start with looking in the mirror at their own self-scouting. Do you think the Twins have a self-scouting issue? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  8. The Twins play their 30th game this afternoon and are currently 11-18. They've been beset by bad luck, bad play and have taken a beating with two rule changes (extra-inning runner on second, 7-inning games for doubleheaders). How do they get out of this funk? I'm sure many in the organization will preach patience and they may be right, but that isn't any fun. Here are some possibilities for change that might help the team: Role change. We've already seen one role change. At least temporarily Alexander Columé is not going to see high-leverage innings. Columé has been a huge disappointment and even when he has worked scoreless innings, he's been shaky. The problem is that taking Columé out of high leverage situations leaves the Twins with few good options, particularly when going 6 or more innings for a starter is a rarity. I think one pitching role change that should be made is to use Taylor Rogers in non-save high leverage situations as happened early in 2019 and sometimes use him for multiple innings. Rogers shouldn't be used in back-to-back days. Moving Alcala to high leverage situations seems to be gradually happening. If things continue to go bad, it makes sense to have him give a shot as a closer. Position players--it seems to me that both Polanco and Kepler should have their roles diminished from full-time regular to something different. Kepler can play a corner and center and Polanco has played short and second, maybe Max should be slotted as the fourth OF or at least platooned with Garlick. I think giving Polanco the role of three-position infielder wouldn't be a stretch. He could get some at-bats as a platoon partner for my choice of regular second baseman (Arraez) and left-handed at-bats in place of Simmons and when Donaldson takes a day off (or is injured). Promotions/demotions. Assuming that Alex Kirilloff is in the big leagues to stay, when healthy the Twins have one extra position player and someone will have to be sent to the minor leagues or released. Discussion has centered on Jake Cave. Several others could be sent down and that doesn't begin to discuss the pitching staff. Many pitchers'performances could merit their demotion. Trades. It is unlikely that anyone will make a significant trade this early in the year. However, the Twins would be a good candidate for a major trade nearer the trade deadline. They have some redundancy (left handed hitting corner outfielders) and holes that need patching (bullpen, perhaps catching) and many candidates to trade. They also have a lot of players who would be free agents after this season. I do wonder if someone who was considered a cornerstone (Polanco, Kepler, Sanó) could be traded. None of these guys have performed remotely well so far but an uptick could make them more marketable. I have to believe that the Twins will bring in new pitchers either in the bullpen or the rotation. What they have at this time in the bullpen just hasn't worked. Personally, I think the Twins will need to do a little bit of everything to turn the corner. I am a proponent of changing roles. I think Kepler and Polanco could be candidates to have limited roles. The Twins need to add at least one strong arm in the bullpen, most likely by trade and Trevor Larnach is reputed to be nearly as much a sure thing as a hitter as Alex Kirilloff, plus he is a better outfielder. There is too much talent for the club to continue to play sub.400 baseball, but I think they need to make changes immediately.
  9. Catcher Mitch Garver and Ryan Jeffers are penciled in to get the majority of the innings behind the plate. However, Willians Astudillo is making the Opening Day roster and he can be used occasionally at catcher. Garver and Astudillo’s bats are strong enough that they may be used at other defensive positions as well. Jeffers is the best defensive catcher as his pitch framing skills are among baseball’s best. First Base Miguel Sano is set to be the primary first baseman, but his long-term role might end up being DH. Reports praise Alex Kirilloff and his athleticism at first, but he is starting the year in the minor leagues. Mitch Garver might be the team’s best back-up option at first until Kirilloff is called up. Max Kepler and Willians Astudillo also have some experience at first, but the Twins can get creative and use other players at first. Second Base Jorge Polanco has shifted from shortstop to second base, but he certainly isn’t anchored at that position. Luis Arraez will see time at second along with Astudillo. It is going to be intriguing to see how good Polanco can be in his transition to a new position. His previous defensive flaws won’t be magnified as much at second and some think he can be above average at second. Third Base As Twins fans saw last season, Josh Donaldson might not be able to be in the line-up for 162-games. Baldelli will need to find days off for him to get rest as he continues to age. Sano has the most experience at third among Twins players and the team sounds open to him making periodic starts at the hot corner. Arraez and Astudillo will also get opportunities at third. Shortstop If Andrelton Simmons is in the line-up, he is going to be the starting shortstop, because he has proven to be one of the best defenders at that position in baseball history. On the Opening Day roster, Polanco is the most likely player to take over if Simmons needs a day off. On the team’s official depth chart, Arraez is listed as the third option at short, but that would be in an emergency situation. Left Field One of the biggest question marks entering spring was who would take over for Eddie Rosario. Minnesota’s initial answer will be a platoon of Kyle Garlick and Jake Cave. Brent Rooker and Kirilloff were in the mix, but they didn’t make the club. Arraez has a chance to make starts in left, but he has very limited outfield experience and that inexperience showed itself during the spring. Center Field Much like shortstop, Byron Buxton is the primary center fielder, but he isn’t the club’s only option. Kepler has shown the ability to fill in nicely and he is an underrated defender in center. Also, Cave has experience starting in center even if he is the worst defender of the three. Right Field Max Kepler is one of the best defensive right fielders in baseball and he should start here on a regular basis. Many of the same options from left field can fill in for Kepler if he is needed in center field or if he needs rest. Garlick and Cave can shift to either corner spot so that adds even more flexibility. How many different defensive alignments will Baldelli use in 2021? What’s the team’s best defensive line-up? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  10. Catchers (2): Mitch Garver, Ryan Jeffers In the initial roster projection, Willians Astudillo was included as a third catcher and bench option for Rocco Baldelli. Things have shifted with other parts of the roster and this made Astudillo the first player dropped from the 26-man roster. Garver and Jeffers will rotate catcher duties and Astudillo can rake in St. Paul until he is needed at the big-league level. Infielders (5): Miguel Sano, Jorge Polanco, Luis Arraez, Josh Donaldson, Andrelton Simmons Little has changed here with all infield positions solidified and Luis Arraez set to shift into a super-utility role. How will Jorge Polanco adjust to second base? Can Josh Donaldson stay healthy? Will Andrelton Simmons help the Twins to have their best defensive team ever? There are still plenty of questions to be answered, but this group looks solid to start on Opening Day. Outfield (4): Jake Cave, Byron Buxton, Max Kepler, Brent Rooker There’s some talk that the Twins could ignore some of the service time rules and allow Alex Kirilloff to be with the team from season’s start. That is certainly a possibility, but it seems more likely for him to start the year at Triple-A with Jake Cave and Brent Rooker getting outfield at-bats. Byron Buxton bulked up again this winter and Max Kepler might have something to prove in 2021. Designated Hitter (1): Nelson Cruz Cruz is over 40-years old this season and few players have found success after crossing this plateau. Can Cruz join this elite list of players that all made the Hall of Fame? Rotation (5): Kenta Maeda, Jose Berrios, Michael Pineda, J.A. Happ, Matt Shoemaker The biggest change since the first roster projection is Minnesota signed Matt Shoemaker to fill out the fifth spot in the rotation. This pushed Randy Dobnak out of a rotation spot for the time being. After pitchers threw limited innings last year, some teams are considering a six-man rotation to help ease workloads. Dobnak can easily be a fill-in starter or a long reliever to eat innings if another starter has a short outing. Bullpen (9): Taylor Rogers, Tyler Duffey, Alex Colome, Jorge Alcala, Hansel Robles, Caleb Thielbar, Cody Stashak, Randy Dobnak, Shaun Anderson The first seven bullpen spots are relatively set-in stone barring any injuries. This leaves at least one spot available as the team needs to decide if they are going with a 13- or 14-man pitching staff. Last year, teams were limited to 13-pitchers when there were 26-man rosters. That rule has been dropped for 2021, so Minnesota can start the year with a nine-man bullpen to help starters ease back into the workload associated with a full 162-game season. Dobnak moves from the rotation to the bullpen as a long-reliever and Shaun Anderson gets the bump up to the final bullpen spot. Who do you think makes the Opening Day roster? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. The Rundown Left field has become far more interesting ahead of the 2021 season. Every Central team besides the Twins have a good deal of certainty around the position. Ex Twins will man the position for two other Central teams in 2021, while the Royals recently traded for a reclamation project at the position. Let’s see what the division has to offer at left field in 2021. Detroit Tigers The Tigers recently brought former Twin Robbie Grossman in on a 2 year, $10MM deal. Grossman projects as Twins fans will remember him, a patient gap hitter. Grossman had an excellent season at the plate in 2020 for Oakland, putting up a 127 wRC+, mostly thanks to a HardHit% which improved 7.5% from 2019. Grossman has improved in the field since his Twins tenure, putting up 6 OAA in Oakland in his last two seasons (-15 in the previous 3 in Minnesota). Ultimately, Grossman projects as a slightly above average hitter in 2021 (105 wRC+), and a solid defender. He’ll likely put up 1.0-1.5 fWAR, and is the worst of the bunch in the AL Central. Kansas City Royals Andrew Benintendi’s trade to the Royals marked the final member of the 2018 World Series winning outfield departing the Red Sox. Benintendi has occupied a huge range of outcomes in his short career, putting up a 4.4 fWAR in 2018 and -0.5 fWAR in 2020 (in only 14 games). He’ll likely feature somewhere in the middle of those two extremes in 2021. Steamer projects him to put up 1.6 fWAR and be a marginally above average hitter (103 wRC+). Benintendi is a poor outfielder (-10 OAA in his last three seasons). Despite this, the Benintendi trade made a ton of sense for the Royals, who have a strong young offensive core and excellent organizational pitching depth. While it’s far from a sure thing, Benintendi is young enough to rebound and return to form as an above average left fielder. Cleveland It seemed almost inevitable that Eddie Rosario would sign with Cleveland after being non-tendered by the Twins. Rosario made improvements in his approach in 2020, adding 5% to a previously criminal BB%. He fills a huge need in Cleveland, where a few similar signings 3-4 years ago could have put them over the top for a World Series. Steamer projects Rosario for 1.6 fWAR in 2021, with a 108 wRC+. Rosario is a horrible defender, which is often overlooked because he has an incredible arm. In 2019 alone he put up -18 OAA, making him easily the worst fielding outfielder of those examined so far (still got to get to Eloy!). Remarkable throws, baserunning blunders, you'll likely see it all again, just in a different uniform. Chicago White Sox Get used to seeing Eloy Jimenez in left field for the White Sox. He’s signed through 2024 with two further years of team options. Acquired in the deal with the Cubs for Jose Quintana, Jimenez is a classic slugging outfielder. Huge bat, wretched, truly horrible glove. Jimenez mashed 45 HR over the last two seasons, and Steamer likes him to be the best of the AL Central bunch in 2021, projecting him for 3.3 fWAR and a 130 wRC+. It would be remiss not to mention his abjectness in the field, managing -14 OAA in left over the last two seasons. Make no mistake, he more than makes up for it adding another huge bat to a potent Sox offense. Minnesota Twins There should be a whole article about who will play LF for the Twins. Luckily, Matthew Lenz already wrote it. For the purposes of this preview, I’m going to focus on Kirilloff. While he likely starts in the minors to suppress service time, he’s the heir apparent to the position. Kirilloff is now a consensus top prospect but with only one MLB game, he’s not going to get a ton of love in projection systems. Steamer projects a 101 wRC+ and 0.8 fWAR in 2021 from around 400 plate appearances. This feels like the floor for Kirilloff, with the eventual ceiling being an All Star outfielder. Kirilloff has averaged a 145 wRC+ in his last two MiLB seasons, and performed well at the alternate site in 2020. Rooker has a big bat but is a poor outfielder (-2 OAA) in just 7 MLB games in 2020. He could be a good platoon option with Jake Cave for the first month of the season but is better suited to a DH or 1B role. Cave is a perfect 4th outfielder for the Twins, with a close to league average bat, good outfield defense, and the ability to play all three outfield positions. It's likely Luis Arraez may see time in left, particularly at the beginning of the season as the Twins will give a player projected to be AL batting champion as many ABs as possible. Grade ‘Em Detroit Tigers: D Grossman is a solid addition and credit to the Tigers for adding to a poor team. Grossman is a league average hitter and a fine option for Detroit in 21/22 when they won’t be competing for the AL Central. Kansas City Royals: C Kansas City has had a great winter. Even if Benintendi doesn’t return to his 2018 peak, the Royals have acquired a solid MLB outfield to supplement their strong, young offensive core. Cleveland: C+ There’s no denying Rosario is a good signing for Cleveland. He’s a solid, if streaky hitter but a vast improvement for a Cleveland outfield which has been miserable for years. You’ll get highs and lows. The dynamic of Twins VS Cleveland will be much more interesting as a result. Chicago White Sox: A- Despite being a horror show defensively, Eloy Jimenez is currently the cream of the crop in the central and probably the AL. He’s going to be a big, problematic bat in a great offensive for at least the next 4 seasons. Minnesota Twins: B- The Twins are hard to grade here. Kirilloff projects to be an excellent MLB hitter who is ready now. The Twins have enough options to keep his spot warm at a respectable level until he takes over the role full time sometime in 2021. The Voice of the People https://twitter.com/twinsdaily/status/1362985193330511872 MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  12. Today, Luis Arraez had his first availability for Twin Cities media ahead of spring training. Arraez may have given a hint of the Twins initial plans for his position in his opening press Zoom call. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1361748537546076161 With Alex Kirilloff likely starting the year in the minors to suppress service time, Arraez may see time in left field, along with Jake Cave, and Brent Rooker. This is hardly surprising, the Twins will look to get a bat projected to win the AL batting title into the lineup at every opportunity. Additionally, Arraez indicated that he is fully healthy after struggling with knee issues in 2020. https://twitter.com/dohyoungpark/status/1361748056924975104 What do you think of Arraez in left field? Hamilton Clear Waivers The Twins sneaked Ian Hamilton through waivers Tuesday, and have now added Brandon Waddell and Hamilton as additional upside relief depth. Hamilton will remain with the team as a non-roster invite to spring training. I’d expect to see him in St. Paul and Minneapolis this summer. It’s an interesting strategy to add organizational depth after exhausting payroll budget. While these moves may seem insignificant now, depth is clearly a point of emphasis in all aspects of the roster and organization after a shortened 2020 season. https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1361762167582769157 Twins Twitter Rages over Offseason Efficacy On an otherwise slow news day, Twins twitter debated the quality of the Twins offseason. https://twitter.com/NickNelsonMN/status/1361714460600262657 At best I think it’s hard to convincingly argue that the Twins roster has taken a step back from last year. The 2020 squad was decimated by injuries. As a result, the 2021 squad is deeper. The front office has produced another playoff caliber team. How the team takes advantage of that, or not, is why we watch the games. https://twitter.com/tlschwerz/status/1361721685800550405 Where do you land on the Twins offseason, assuming they’ve wrapped up major moves. Do you think they improved, held serve, or regressed? What does the roster still lack? Transactions Here’s a roundup of transactions from around the league on Tuesday: The Mets signed Kevin Pillar to a deal worth $3.6 MM this year and a complex combination of player and club options. The Brewers signed Brett Anderson to a 1 year, $2.5 MM deal The Pirates signed Tyler Anderson to a 1 year, $2,5 MM deal. The Dodgers traded RHP Josh Sborz to the Rangers for RHP Jhan Zambrano The Nationals signed T.J. McFarland to a MiLB deal. The Reds signed Cam Bedrosian to a MiLB deal. The Dodgers signed Matt Davidson to a MiLB deal. The Phillies signed Jeff Mathis to a MiLB deal The Yankees signed Robinson Chirinos to a MiLB deal MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  13. Current Corner Outfielders: Max Kepler, Alex Kirilloff Minnesota locked up Max Kepler at the right time as the 27-year-old is under team control for four more seasons with a team-friendly deal. Over the last two seasons, he has hit .246/.332/.499 with 45 home runs and 41 doubles in 182 games. Not to mention, he represented MLB in Germany last winter by “promoting baseball and inspiring the next generation of players.” Kirilloff’s 2020 debut was well documented because he became the first player in league history to make his debut by starting a playoff game. He went 1-for-4 in the game as the Twins were swept by the Astros. Kirilloff has been one of the team’s top prospects since he was drafted in the first round back in 2016. Entering last season, he was a consensus top-100 prospect with MLB.com and Baseball America having him ranked in the top 32. 40-Man Options While Kirilloff is expected play the majority of the team’s games in the outfield, Jake Cave has a chance to start the year in left field so they Twins can control Kirilloff’s service time. Since joining the Twins, Cave has hit .254/.321/.451 while showing the ability to play all three outfield positions. He does a good job of fitting into the fourth outfielder role, but some of the younger players mentioned below might start encroaching on his playing time in the coming year. Brent Rooker made a strong impression last year as he hit .316/.381/.579 with three extra-base hits. Unfortunately, his season only last seven games as he suffered a fractured forearm on a hit by pitch. LaMonte Wade Jr. has played 42 big-league games over the last two seasons and he has compiled a .684 OPS. Defensively, the Twins have used him at all three outfield positions, and he has even seen some time at first base. On the Farm Options Outside of the options mentioned above, there are other corner options in the minor leagues including some strong prospects. Trevor Larnach is actually older than Kirilloff and he has been right behind him when it comes to prospect rankings in the organization. He spent the 2020 season with Kirilloff at the alternate training site after coming off a 2019 season where he was the organization’s Minor League Player of the Year. Larnach likely fits into the team’s long-term plans in the outfield which allows Kirilloff to switch to first base in the years to come. Kerrigan showed some up in the upper levels of the minor leagues last season as he accumulated 31 extra-base hits in just 98 games. He adds to the organizational depth and he can play all three outfield positions. Wallner was drafted out of college in 2019 and saw time in Elizabethton and Cedar Rapids in his professional debut. He posted an .810 OPS with 31 extra-base hits in 65 games with all his defensive innings coming in right field. Soularie and Rosario joined the Twins as part of the 2020 draft class. Soularie was the team’s second round pick out of the University of Tennessee. In his two collegiate seasons, he hit .336/.448/.586 with more walks (49) than strikeouts (47). Rosario was Minnesota’s final draft pick in the 2020 draft since it was shortened to five rounds. He has a lot of raw power and impressive exit velocities for a prep player. Aguiar, a native of Venezuelan, has been in the Twins system for two years. In 2019, he was limited to seven games, but he was the youngest player on the GCL Twins. What do you think about the future of corner outfielders in Minnesota? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES -Catcher -Second Base -First Base -Third Base -Shortstop MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  14. Byron Buxton is coming off a strong season where he led the Twins in WAR even though he only appeared in 39 of the team’s 60 games. He combined to hit .254/.267/.577 (.844) with 13 home runs and three doubles. Granted it was a small sample size, but his OPS and his slugging percentage were both career highs. It might seem silly to trade away a player of his caliber, but this is going to be an offseason unlike any other. Buxton’s name has come up in trade talks before. At the 2019 trade deadline, the Twins were looking to upgrade their rotation for a potential playoff run. One of the teams Minnesota had discussions with was the New York Mets. The Twins were interested in acquiring starting pitcher Noah Syndergaard, but talks stalled when the Mets insisted that Buxton be included in any trade. Minnesota wasn’t willing to deal Buxton then, so what might have changed? One of the reasons the Twins might be more willing to deal Buxton is his current contract situation. Minnesota only has team control of Buxton for two more seasons as he enters his second year as an arbitration eligible player. He will likely be making somewhere between $4-6 million this season and next year would be a higher in his final arbitration year. Two years of team control might be the sweet spot for trading away a player, because the team acquiring him isn’t getting an expiring contract. The Twins can also go in a different direction with Buxton if they wanted to try and sign him to an extension. Minnesota was able to work out extensions with some of the other young core players like Max Kepler, Jorge Polanco and Miguel Sano. Would Buxton be willing to sign a deal that bought out his remaining arbitration years while also giving the Twins more team control? Approaching a Buxton extension is a little trickier than the names mentioned above, because of the way his career has transpired. There’s no question that he is a dynamic player, but injuries are part of his career that can’t be ignored. He’s only played more than 92 games in one big league season. The Twins have tried some creative approaches to keeping him on the field including having him start further back defensively and trying to jump off of two feet instead of one foot when attempting catches at the wall. Other teams know his injury history too and that might make a deal tougher to find. Minnesota would have a big hole to fill in center field if Buxton were traded. Max Kepler can take over in center, but he has expressed concerns in the past about the wear his body goes through when playing at a more demanding defensive position. Other options on the 40-man roster include Jake Cave, Gilberto Celestino and LaMonte Wade Jr. A more intriguing choice would be promoting Royce Lewis, but he has only played a handful of games above the High-A level and he’s played limited defensive innings in center. Buxton’s trade value may never be higher as he enters the prime of his career and he has two years of team control. Minnesota is a better team when he is on the field, but this off-season is going to force teams to make some tough choices. Trading Buxton would be a difficult decision, but if the deal was right, it might be the time to move in a new direction. Do you think the time is right to trade Byron Buxton? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  15. In a traditional season I expected Minnesota to look for an arm, preferably of the starting category. I wrote about how Trevor Bauer made sense if the Reds made him available, but that would have been a high-risk rental. The only reason I like him is that it was a clear upgrade on their current options. It turned out the only arm of that ilk to move was the Indians Mike Clevinger, and a team-controlled asset from within the division would have come with an astronomical price tag. The fact that the Twins didn’t go get a bat, or even another relief arm, is defensible. Byron Buxton returns September 1, with Josh Donaldson set to follow him the next day. Cody Stashak is hopefully around the corner, and maybe even Zack Littell will make his way back. There are big league assets currently on the Injured List that have tickets for September and should still play a key part. If there’s an indefensible situation though, it’s not addressing the elephant in the outfield, a right-handed bat. Minnesota has one of those ready and waiting in St. Paul, and it’s been past time Brent Rooker was given a shot. Rooker was a 1st round pick back in 2017 and entered pro ball at 22. He’s now 25 and will be 26 this calendar year. He’s not a young prospect by any means, and having played over 250 games on the farm, he isn’t too green anymore either. Rooker spent 65 games with Triple-A Rochester in 2019, and while he missed time due to injury, he posted a .933 OPS. The Twins selected him based on his power bat profile and his 54 minor league home runs have brought the belief to fruition. While fans could be clamoring for top 100 prospect Alex Kirilloff, there’s two key differentiators at play with Rooker. First and foremost, he bats right-handed. Minnesota’s outfield is exclusively left-handed without Byron Buxton, and the duo of Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade are more than redundant. Adding to the lineup flexibility, it’s plenty clear a righty is necessary. Then there’s also the idea of playing time colliding with development. Kirilloff is a very high ceiling prospect but is just 22 and has yet to play above Double-A (94 games where he had just a .756 OPS). Making sure his bat is completely ready before throwing him to the wolves at the highest level is a must. Kirilloff is also transitioning to more of a first base role and continuing to work through all types of developmental skills is imperative for his long-term success. I don’t put any stock in the notion of a guy needing consistent playing time during 2020. Despite the fact that Rooker can spell both corners and routinely see three games per week, the reality is nothing taking place at MLB alternate sites constitutes “real” game action anyways. It’s not as though Rooker or Kirilloff can’t get the same level of drill work in at Target Field. At bats may be a bit more sporadic and travel is thrown in, but opportunity remains relatively consistent. There’s no telling whether or not Brent Rooker being promoted would immediately result in a rejuvenation of the Twins run scoring prowess. What he does do is give Rocco Baldelli a righty in the outfield that he’s been hamstrung without, and an opportunity for Minnesota’s front office to tag in a high-level prospect that you’re worried substantially less about a falling floor. Soon there will be a time for Alex Kirilloff, but right now is Brent Rooker’s turn. I’ll defend the front office over trusting in their internal talent at the deadline. There’s no defense for failing to utilize it after that. Let the Bulldog out. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  16. From positioning to footwork to jumping, the Twins are doing all they can to help Byron Buxton stay healthy in the field during his blistering run at the plate. And they're not done yet.In The Athletic on Thursday, pro bono Yangtze Restaurant Public Relations Manager Aaron Gleeman wrote about the new approaches the Twins are taking to protect Byron Buxton from himself. Twins Daily dug deeper to see how the team plans to keep their star-crossed center fielder healthy. Remove outfield walls in Target Field. While this might seem controversial, team officials say putting down some painter’s tape where the wall would otherwise be might pass muster. “Can’t run into a wall if there’s no wall,” said a front office source with knowledge of the situation. “Dick Bremer’s brother-in-law is a contractor and he’s volunteered to come in to tape it all up, and we can just put down a bunch of comfortable pillows behind the tape for Byron to land in softly and safe from harm.”Make his uniform out of his sliding glove. Buxton’s oven mitt-sized glove helps prevent hand injuries during the speedster’s head-first slides. “What we’re thinking is, make the jersey, the pants, the stirrups, everything out of that material,” said a source close to the coaching staff. “We built a prototype and had Jake Cave try it on. Unfortunately, it’s very bulky. He was bullied by some local teens who chased him down as he attempted to waddle away and they gave him swirlies and at least one purple nurple. So we’re still a ways off.” Cave is listed as day-to-day (America’s bullying crisis) on the team’s injury report.Russian vaccines. When Vladimir Putin announced that his country had developed an effective COVID-19 vaccine, many were skeptical. The Twins were not. “There’s a chance it might be BS, but what if it works,” asked a clubhouse source. “Let’s just say we’re better safe than sorry with Byron.” Another source revealed that the Pohlad family acquired a vaccine sample in exchange for Bill Pohlad filming his next three musician biopics in Russia. “We gave a test injection to Caleb Thielbar and it’s…well, do you know if he glowed in the dark the first time he was on the team?” Thielbar is listed as day-to-day (early onset Dr. Manhattan-ism) on the team’s injury report, while shooting on the life story of Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne begins in Volgograd in mid-2021.The team says it will continue looking to innovate as the season continues. “I know there’s a whiteboard in Thad Levine’s office that just says ‘PARACHUTES’ with a few question marks after it,” said the front office source. “Everything’s on the table.” Image license here. Click here to view the article
  17. In The Athletic on Thursday, pro bono Yangtze Restaurant Public Relations Manager Aaron Gleeman wrote about the new approaches the Twins are taking to protect Byron Buxton from himself. Twins Daily dug deeper to see how the team plans to keep their star-crossed center fielder healthy. Remove outfield walls in Target Field. While this might seem controversial, team officials say putting down some painter’s tape where the wall would otherwise be might pass muster. “Can’t run into a wall if there’s no wall,” said a front office source with knowledge of the situation. “Dick Bremer’s brother-in-law is a contractor and he’s volunteered to come in to tape it all up, and we can just put down a bunch of comfortable pillows behind the tape for Byron to land in softly and safe from harm.” Make his uniform out of his sliding glove. Buxton’s oven mitt-sized glove helps prevent hand injuries during the speedster’s head-first slides. “What we’re thinking is, make the jersey, the pants, the stirrups, everything out of that material,” said a source close to the coaching staff. “We built a prototype and had Jake Cave try it on. Unfortunately, it’s very bulky. He was bullied by some local teens who chased him down as he attempted to waddle away and they gave him swirlies and at least one purple nurple. So we’re still a ways off.” Cave is listed as day-to-day (America’s bullying crisis) on the team’s injury report. Russian vaccines. When Vladimir Putin announced that his country had developed an effective COVID-19 vaccine, many were skeptical. The Twins were not. “There’s a chance it might be BS, but what if it works,” asked a clubhouse source. “Let’s just say we’re better safe than sorry with Byron.” Another source revealed that the Pohlad family acquired a vaccine sample in exchange for Bill Pohlad filming his next three musician biopics in Russia. “We gave a test injection to Caleb Thielbar and it’s…well, do you know if he glowed in the dark the first time he was on the team?” Thielbar is listed as day-to-day (early onset Dr. Manhattan-ism) on the team’s injury report, while shooting on the life story of Electric Light Orchestra’s Jeff Lynne begins in Volgograd in mid-2021. The team says it will continue looking to innovate as the season continues. “I know there’s a whiteboard in Thad Levine’s office that just says ‘PARACHUTES’ with a few question marks after it,” said the front office source. “Everything’s on the table.” Image license here.
  18. For Dustin Morse, collecting each of the team’s home run balls in Chicago was not “premeditated.” However, the first pitch of the season put in place some historic moments for the Twins in their first series of the year. Bomba 1: Kepler’s First Pitch Minnesota’s season started with a bang as Max Kepler took Lucas Giolito deep on the first pitch of the season. “Before I really even got my scorebook out, Kepler put one in the seats,” said Morse. “Being a little bit of a history buff, I knew it was going to be some type of record.” https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1286817990332350467?s=20 “I made a call to the White Sox and said, ‘Hey, how do I get that ball?’ and they said the best bet is probably just to go get it.” And so, the Bomba hunting journey began. Morse was in an unfamiliar ballpark amid a pandemic and that changed his path to the ball. “I took off for it and tried to navigate the right way to get out there. It wasn’t easy. There were doors that were locked and stairs that weren’t being used. I had to cut through some weird spots, parts of the ballpark I had never seen, kitchens and backdoors.” “I got out to right field and was able to track down the ball for Max or for the Twins. At the time, I didn’t know. I figured Max might want it. If not, the Twins would certainly take it.” Bomba 2: Kepler’s Second At-Bat Kepler wasted little time making Morse head out on another baseball hunting journey. In his second at-bat of the year, he hit another home run and Morse knew this had to be another historical moment. Time to track down another ball. “Then Max did it again,” said Morse. “I knew that was going to be historic. A guy to hit homers in back-to-back at-bats to start the season.” “At that point, I knew the process, so I could just go out and get it. It’s ours.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1286833289140076544?s=20 Kepler plans to keep the balls and give them both to his parents. Bomba 3: Cruz, the Ageless Wonder Minnesota’s second game in Chicago didn’t go exactly as planned as Dallas Keuchel stymied the Twins for most of the game. Before the bullpen imploded, Nelson Cruz helped to make the game a little closer by cranking his first home run of the season. “Nelson Cruz put one in the seats and I kind of thought to myself, ‘Well that’s Nelson Cruz. How many guys have home runs when they are 40?’ Might as well get it. It’s just sitting out there.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1287117340178612229?s=20 Morse continued, “At that point, I exchanged numbers with the [MLB] authenticator and he said, ‘Yeah, if you want to get it, I see it. So, then I was three-for-three and it kind of became a thing.” Bomba 4: Cave’s Grand Salami The Twins were clearly frustrated after Saturday’s loss and they took that frustration out on the White Sox pitching staff. Cave got the Bomba barrage started with a first inning grand slam. But this might have been the toughest home run for Morse to track down because of where it landed. “I thought, ‘All right, let’s do it.’ But that one was tricky, because it went into the White Sox bullpen and I just didn’t have the guts to go down there and ask those guys for a grand slam ball as we are piling on the runs.” “I ended up talking to my counterpart with the White Sox and he sent a text to one of the clubhouse attendants and one of the ball boys went down the line. He ended up getting it, bringing it in, and I met their PR guy in one of the back hallways and ended up getting the Cave ball.” Bomba 5: Cruz, the (Still) Ageless Wonder Before he was able get the Cave ball, Morse had already acquired Minnesota’s second home run of the day. Nelson Cruz hit his second home run of the year in the top of the fourth inning and luckily for Morse, that ball landed in a location that was a little more easily accessible. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287472332160868357?s=20 “I ended up getting the Nelson Cruz ball, which was a blast out into left field, prior to getting the Cave ball and I ended up getting on a hot streak.” Bomba 6: Still Cruzing Cruz wasn’t done for the day after his fourth inning blast. He ended up tallying two doubles, two home runs and seven RBI on his way to being named the American League Player of the Week. Because of his post-game duties, the eighth inning is getting a little late in the game for Morse to track down a ball. “The second Cruz ball, at that point, was just something to do and I was able to get it. I was settled on kind of six-for-six. Kind of a fun cool story.” But the story wasn’t done there. Bomba 7: Marwin Makes It Tough If Morse wanted to complete his perfect weekend, it would take a sprint out to the stands after Gonzalez hit the team’s seven home run in the series. “My postgame job is setting up for the media and we do it all through Zoom in the Zoom Room. So I was in a conference room down in the tunnel kind of off of home plate. Buried kind of deep in the ballpark.” “I looked up and I saw Marwin up and I said to a couple of our advanced guys, ‘If Marwin puts one in the right field corner here, I am going to have a hard time.’ And the next pitch, he did it.” “I set up the Zoom for post-game and I decided I need to at least give it a try. I didn’t know how to get out there, so I had to backtrack toward left field and go up a level to come back down to right field… And there it was, seven-for-seven.” https://twitter.com/morsecode/status/1287505349436682242?s=20 More Bomba Hunting? Is Morse going to continue to try and hunt down all the home run balls for the Twins this season? “I don’t think I can keep up the pace,” he said. “I don’t think I will need to do it at home. We have a lot of good people and volunteers collecting balls at Target Field.” “The good news is as a team I think we will be able to collect most of them, but I don’t know how much longer I can bother the home team.” It certainly was exciting to follow Morse and his Bomba hunting escapades. Let’s home he has plenty more hunting to do throughout the rest of the 2020 season. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Jake Cave, OF Byron Buxton’s injury is one of the biggest reasons Cave was given the opportunity to play in two of the team’s first three games. He certainly made his presence felt in Sunday’s game by cracking a first inning grand slam that put the Twins on the way to a blowout win. For the series, he finished 3-for-9 with six RBI. The argument can also be made that he is the best fourth outfielder in baseball. https://twitter.com/Brandon_Warne/status/1287454374978039810?s=20 Defensively, Cave has been playing in centerfield, which could be viewed as an interesting choice by manager Rocco Baldelli. Max Kepler is the better defender in center as he played nearly 460 innings there last season and was worth 4 DRS and 3.6 DEF. Cave was worth -3 DRS and -2.1 DEF, so there is little question that Baldelli should put Kepler in center. However, Cave’s impact was felt in both of the team’s victories this weekend so maybe this formula works (for now). Ehire Adrianza, IF Adrianza played in one of the team’s games this weekend and it was the only game the Twins lost, but he still can impact the game. He went 1-for-4 and scored one of the team’s three runs that game. His biggest influence comes on the defensive side of the ball because he is the best defensive infielder on the roster not named Josh Donaldson. https://twitter.com/fsnorth/status/1287106518672908290?s=20 Last season, he played 59 innings or more at second base, first base, shortstop and third base. Looking at the regulars penciled in at those positions, it is going to be tough for Adrianza to get playing time at any of those spots this season. This means he will likely have to settle for being used sparingly unless an injury were to occur (knock on wood). Marwin Gonzalez, OF/1B Gonzalez entered the 2020 season in a different spot than last season. Miguel Sano started 2019 injured and this meant Gonzalez started the year as the team’s everyday third baseman. Sano isn’t injured this season, but his positive COVID-19 test kept him out of the start of Summer Camp, and he could have put his swing a little behind schedule. This allowed Gonzalez to start two games over the weekend and he went 2-for-8 with a homer. https://twitter.com/HomeRunVideos/status/1287518369462341633?s=20 One of the most impressive things from Gonzalez this weekend might have been his professional approach at the plate. On Saturday afternoon, he faced off against former teammate Dallas Keuchel who was rolling through the early innings. Gonzalez did his best to mess with Keuchel’s timing and even Justin Morneau made note of it from the booth. He did the same thing on Sunday when Reynaldo Lopez was struggling early in the game. Out of players still on the Twins, Gonzalez had the fifth most plate appearances last season, so it will be interesting to see how the club finds him at-bats this year. Which player adds the most to the Twins depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  20. Weekly Snapshot: Fri, 7/24 through Sun, 7/26 *** Record Last Week: 2-1 (Overall: 2-1) Run Differential Last Week: +10 (Overall: +10) Standing: Tied for 1st Place in AL Central Bomba Counter: 7 (On Pace for 140) Not everything went to plan for Minnesota in the opening series. Jake Odorizzi was originally expected to start for the Twins in Chicago, and then Rich Hill was, but both pitchers ended up getting pushed back. Byron Buxton missed all three games as his sprained foot heals, though it sounds like there's optimism he'll be out there for the first homestand. Even though they weren't quite at full strength, the Twins still looked plenty strong at Guaranteed Rate Field, taking two of three from the White Sox to kick off their quest for a second straight division title. HIGHLIGHTS The Bomba Squad wasted no time getting back to business, with Max Kepler launching a home run on the first pitch of the season from Lucas Giolito. It sparked a 10-run, 11-hit barrage in Minnesota's 10-5 Opening Day victory over the Sox. Kepler homered again in his next at-bat, and has gone 0-for-12 since. Baseball. Leading the charge in a tremendous series for the Twins was Nelson Cruz, who had himself a hell of a weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field: 7-for-13, three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBIs. If the ageless wonder can stay healthy for the full 60-game sprint, this offense's upside feels almost limitless. https://twitter.com/Twins/status/1287505761749409797 While Cruz is a bona fide superstar, the offense's depth and length are what makes it truly special. We saw these strengths come into play already during the first series. Luis Arráez, who batted ninth and seventh in the two games he started, went 4-for-8, delivering a key two-run single in the opener. Jake Cave, who stepped in to make two starts with Buxton unavailable, also had a big two-run hit in the opener, and launched a first-inning grand slam on Sunday that set the tone in 14-2 a laugher. The White Sox pitching staff has already experienced what plenty of others are going to: Facing this relentless Twins lineup is a daunting and draining task. Sunday's 14-run explosion provided plenty of breathing room for Kenta Maeda in his Twins debut, and for his part, the right-hander made things look easy. While Cruz controlled the offense, Maeda went on cruise control, coasting through five innings of two-run ball with six strikeouts, one walk, and four hits. https://twitter.com/TFTwins/status/1287458818423754754 He was one of several players to make their first appearances as Twins over the weekend, and for the most part, all made good first impressions. Tyler Clippard pitched a scoreless frame on Friday night, combining with Trevor May, Tyler Duffey and Cody Stashak for five innings of shutout ball from the bullpen. Offseason waiver pickup Matt Wisler is the only Twins pitcher with two appearances thus far, and he's looked filthy: 2.1 IP, two hits, six strikeouts, and 13 swinging strikes on 63 pitches (20.6% whiff rate). The bullpen overall has piled up 19 strikeouts through its first 13 innings of work. And Taylor Rogers hasn't pitched yet. When they come to Target Field to open a two-game series against the Cardinals on Tuesday, the Twins will carry a well-stocked and well-rested relief corps. LOWLIGHTS Not everyone on the Twins saw their season get off to such a smooth start, in large part because Chicago's lineup showed its prowess. They gave José Berríos plenty of trouble on Opening Day, touching him up for five runs on seven hits over four innings. Berríos got just one strikeout and seven swinging strikes on 75 pitches. There didn't seem to be anything wrong with him physically – in fact, his velocity was noticeably up, with his fastball sitting comfortably in the mid-90s touching 97 several times, but the command just wasn't quite there. https://twitter.com/jeffwzimmerman/status/1287002032927375360 It could be construed as a sign that Berríos might've been a little TOO amped up for this highly anticipated start. The righty sacrificed spin for heat and it didn't seem to benefit him as Chicago hitters were on a number of his pitches. He's in line to open a crucial early-season series against Cleveland on Thursday, so hopefully adjustments are made. Count Zack Littell and Devin Smeltzer among other Twins pitchers who didn't have much fun against the Chicago lineup. Saturday's contest spun out of control under their watch. Littell entered in the fifth inning of a one-run game, and allowed home runs to three of the seven batters he faced, with four earned runs coming across in total. In a 60-game season, Littell's implosion will make it extremely tough for him to get his ERA (currently 36.00) to a good place before the finish line. Then again, it bears noting that last year he allowed eight earned runs in 4 1/3 innings in his second appearance for the Twins, then posted a 0.88 ERA the rest of the way. After Cruz brought the game back within reach on his three-run homer, Smeltzer came in and promptly pushed it back out of reach. In two innings the left-hander allowed five runs on six hits, including two more homers. Smeltzer's outing wasn't quite as bad as it looks on paper – his reworked breaking ball showed some promise, and five of his six outs came on strikeouts – but he looks very much like a work in progress. In such a short season, it can be tough to rely on someone like that. While the offense is mostly clicking out of the gates, Miguel Sanó is still searching for his first hit of the season. He was behind in Spring Training 2.0 after reporting late due to a positive COVID test, and the rust was evident on Friday and Saturday as he went 0-for-8 with four strikeouts. The quality of at-bats has not been good. Sanó got the day off on Sunday but will surely be out there for the home opener. Fellow corner infielder Josh Donaldson was mostly quiet in his first series as a Twin, going just 1-for-10 with an infield single representing the extent of his damage. But on the bright side, he drew four walks, showing the value he can bring beyond slugging, and the Twins scored 27 runs even without getting much of anything from him. Imagine when he heats up. TRENDING STORYLINE When will Odorizzi pitch? His first turn through the rotation is being skipped due to back soreness. He'll face live hitters within the next couple days, and it sounds like the Twins will assess his timeline based on how that goes. https://twitter.com/DanHayesMLB/status/1287437187902996481 The team has never signaled much concern regarding Odorizzi's status. If things go well in the BP session, he could conceivably start the first game against Cleveland on Thursday, though it's more likely he'd go sometime during the weekend. Then again, as Cody Pirkl wrote here recently, we are wise not to downplay this reportedly "minor" issue because back injuries can be very tricky for pitchers and Odorizzi has a history with them. The 2019 All-Star is a critical piece for this rotation. We'll be keeping a close eye on his health updates. LOOKING AHEAD Two more Twins debuts are on tap in the home-opening series against St. Louis, with Homer Bailey and Hill slated to start for Minnesota. It'll be interesting to see how they fare against Paul Goldschmidt and a pretty good Cards team. Then, the top presumptive challengers in the division come to town, with Cleveland coming for four games. It's tough to overstate the magnitude of this home series for the Twins. A sweep either way would be a seismic development in the division race. This series will feature pennant-race-intensity baseball, played a week into the season before an empty stadium. Gonna be weird. TUESDAY, 7/28: CARDINALS @ TWINS – RHP Homer Bailey v. RHP Carlos Martinez WEDNESDAY, 7/29: CARDINALS @ TWINS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Miles Mikolas THURSDAY, 7/30: INDIANS @ TWINS FRIDAY, 7/31: INDIANS @ TWINS SATURDAY, 8/1: INDIANS @ TWINS SUNDAY, 8/2: INDIANS @ TWINS Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 1 | MIN 10, CHW 5: Kepler Blasts 2 Bombas, Twins Outlast White Sox Game 2 | CHW 10, MIN 3: White Sox Hit 5 Homers Off Twins Bullpen Game 3 | MIN 14, CHW 2: Lineup Flexes Early to Aid Maeda in Victorious Twins Debut MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  21. A new season is finally underway, and that means it's time for the return of our weekly recap series. Read on for a full review of the Minnesota Twins' successful opening weekend in Chicago, featuring a series win, several Twins debuts, and of course plenty of bombas. Weekly Snapshot: Fri, 7/24 through Sun, 7/26 *** Record Last Week: 2-1 (Overall: 2-1) Run Differential Last Week: +10 (Overall: +10) Standing: Tied for 1st Place in AL Central Bomba Counter: 7 (On Pace for 140) Not everything went to plan for Minnesota in the opening series. Jake Odorizzi was originally expected to start for the Twins in Chicago, and then Rich Hill was, but both pitchers ended up getting pushed back. Byron Buxton missed all three games as his sprained foot heals, though it sounds like there's optimism he'll be out there for the first homestand. Even though they weren't quite at full strength, the Twins still looked plenty strong at Guaranteed Rate Field, taking two of three from the White Sox to kick off their quest for a second straight division title. HIGHLIGHTS The Bomba Squad wasted no time getting back to business, with Max Kepler launching a home run on the first pitch of the season from Lucas Giolito. It sparked a 10-run, 11-hit barrage in Minnesota's 10-5 Opening Day victory over the Sox. Kepler homered again in his next at-bat, and has gone 0-for-12 since. Baseball. Leading the charge in a tremendous series for the Twins was Nelson Cruz, who had himself a hell of a weekend at Guaranteed Rate Field: 7-for-13, three home runs, two doubles, 10 RBIs. If the ageless wonder can stay healthy for the full 60-game sprint, this offense's upside feels almost limitless. The team has never signaled much concern regarding Odorizzi's status. If things go well in the BP session, he could conceivably start the first game against Cleveland on Thursday, though it's more likely he'd go sometime during the weekend. Then again, as Cody Pirkl wrote here recently, we are wise not to downplay this reportedly "minor" issue because back injuries can be very tricky for pitchers and Odorizzi has a history with them. The 2019 All-Star is a critical piece for this rotation. We'll be keeping a close eye on his health updates. LOOKING AHEAD Two more Twins debuts are on tap in the home-opening series against St. Louis, with Homer Bailey and Hill slated to start for Minnesota. It'll be interesting to see how they fare against Paul Goldschmidt and a pretty good Cards team. Then, the top presumptive challengers in the division come to town, with Cleveland coming for four games. It's tough to overstate the magnitude of this home series for the Twins. A sweep either way would be a seismic development in the division race. This series will feature pennant-race-intensity baseball, played a week into the season before an empty stadium. Gonna be weird. TUESDAY, 7/28: CARDINALS @ TWINS – RHP Homer Bailey v. RHP Carlos Martinez WEDNESDAY, 7/29: CARDINALS @ TWINS – LHP Rich Hill v. RHP Miles Mikolas THURSDAY, 7/30: INDIANS @ TWINS FRIDAY, 7/31: INDIANS @ TWINS SATURDAY, 8/1: INDIANS @ TWINS SUNDAY, 8/2: INDIANS @ TWINS Catch Up On Twins Daily Game Recaps Game 1 | MIN 10, CHW 5: Kepler Blasts 2 Bombas, Twins Outlast White SoxGame 2 | CHW 10, MIN 3: White Sox Hit 5 Homers Off Twins BullpenGame 3 | MIN 14, CHW 2: Lineup Flexes Early to Aid Maeda in Victorious Twins DebutMORE FROM TWINS DAILY— Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email Click here to view the article
  22. With the magnitude of each game heightened, teams will be less likely to throw in the towel on any given day, and more teams in contention will mean more competitive games. Minnesota went to extra innings in twelve games last season (and didn’t fare well at 5-and-7), but could very well see an increase in the percentage of extra inning games due to more teams being in it to win it and fighting through all nine innings. With the MLB adopting the MiLB rule of starting off every extra inning with a runner at second base, speed could become even more significant. The runner who is placed at second will be the batter who made the last out of the previous inning, so unless Byron Buxton made the last out, the Twins will probably end up with a less than ideal base runner. It’s not only extra-inning affairs in which a speedy runner would come in handy. In any close game having a burner who can steal a bag or take an extra base is extremely valuable. A fast base runner also gives the pitcher one extra thing to worry about, and every little advantage will matter in 2020. Teams do have the opportunity to pinch run, and with a 30-man bench to start the season, filling in a roster spot with a speedster who could be a pinch run specialist makes some sense. Teams such as the Dodgers (Terrance Gore), Giants (Billy Hamilton), and Astros (Myles Straw) have done just that, but does Minnesota have anyone who fits the bill? One player with a bit of speed who is likely to make the team due to the roster expansion is OF LaMonte Wade Jr. According to Baseball Savant, Wade Jr. trails only Buxton (30.3 ft./sec.) and Jorge Polanco (28.2 ft./sec.) with a Sprint Speed of 28.1 ft./sec. While that’s better than average, Wade Jr.’s not exactly a burner. The next fastest bench option would be Jake Cave, who comes in just behind Max Kepler (27.7 ft./sec.) at 27.6 ft./sec. That’s still above average and would make sense for replacing someone like Nelson Cruz or Miguel Sano on the bases, but it’s hardly the late inning speed that would strike fear into opposing hurlers. Minnesota will also have the remainder of the 60-man roster nearby in St. Paul and ready to be called upon. There are at least a few names who could provide some value for the big league team, if only as a speed option. Interestingly, Minnesota recently invited OF Aaron Whitefield to join the group. Whitefield spent the majority of 2019 in high-A Fort Myers where he didn’t exactly set the world on fire with just a .607 OPS. He finished the year at AA Pensacola and his numbers were even worse, but he has elite speed and managed to steal 30 bases on the year. While his bat doesn’t warrant being on the 40-man, the Twins might consider utilizing his speed or possibly his defense as he plays a really good center field. Two other possibilities would be Gilberto Celestino and Royce Lewis. Like Whitefield, Celestino is a center fielder who would be capable of filling in for Buxton defensively, but has only played eight games above low-A, and while speedy isn’t quite the base stealing threat that Whitefield is. Lewis, who is widely considered the Twins top prospect, has yet to be added to the 40-man roster but does offer elite speed. If Minnesota doesn’t want to mess around with calling up a prospect primarily to be a pinch runner, it’s also likely that someone like Billy Hamilton would be available when teams begin to fall out of contention (which shouldn’t take long for the Giants) and might even be available on the waiver wire. All in all, the Twins are in great shape and there’s rightfully a lot of excitement for the season that’s about to get underway. Not having elite speed on the bench isn’t a reason to damper this excitement, but winning the margins is ever imperative in a 60-game sprint, and a little extra speed could be crucial in crossing the finish line first. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  23. There’s no denying that the Minnesota Twins are one of baseball’s most exciting teams. Their bullpen should rank among the league’s best, and the lineup is one that provides envy to virtually every other group out there. Kicking off a weird 2020 season though, they may need to make some changes. When Byron Buxton went down in a heap after tracking a fly ball on Monday night the worst was feared. Fortunately, it’s just a mid-foot sprain, and while that may have some lingering effects, there’s still reason to believe the recovery could be sooner rather than later. Unfortunately for the Twins, their starting first basemen is uninjured but has yet to show up to Summer Camp. Miguel Sano received a positive test diagnosis upon returning to Target Field. Quarantined and awaiting two negative COVID-19 tests before his return, the runway to ramp up for the season is running out. The Twins travel to Chicago in five days, play an exhibition against the Cubs in six, and open their 2020 campaign against the White Sox in eight. Calling a return that quickly rushed would be putting it lightly. So, where does that leave us? Let’s tackle the more probable scenario, who plays first base? That answer should be relatively straightforward with utility man Marwin Gonzalez sliding in. MarGo has started 154 games at first base in his career and has logged over 1,400 innings there. He’s still best suited in left field, but there really isn’t a position besides shortstop that he’s overly stretched in. Certainly, Sano’s bat would be preferred, but having Marwin trend back towards the .900 OPS he compiled while listening to the trash can would be a nice resurgence. Assuming Buxton isn’t back for Opening Day, or even a few games thereafter, Gonzalez is actually piece of that puzzle as well. Sliding Max Kepler to center and filling a corner spot with the utility man makes a ton of sense. With him already in the lineup, the next turn would logically be Jake Cave. While LaMonte Wade Jr. has a strong on-base presence, Cave is the more complete player. He should be avoided in center but has a good enough bat to play on the corners. Last season Cave finished with an .805 OPS, but what’s even more impressive is having done that after bottoming out at a .615 OPS prior to a May demotion. From his mid-June return through the end of the year he posted an .855 OPS. In 141 plate appearances from July 7 onward he generated a very nice .964 mark. The bat may be inconsistent, but it’s plenty capable. Both of these should be relatively short-term scenarios. For Sano, we see the effects of COVID-19 and what the virus is going to do to this season. A player with no symptoms tests positive and costs the team their services over a specific stretch of games. In a 60-game season, that missed time could be catastrophic, especially if said player is Josh Donaldson or Jose Berrios. On the Buxton side, contingency plans in the outfield remain a must for Minnesota. Unfortunate and unlucky as he is health wise, any absence by Byron will need to be evaluated in the short and long term. Immediately a Cave or Wade replacement makes sense. Knowing that him being out of the lineup opens a corner spot, both Brent Rooker and Trevor Larnach could then find themselves in the mix for a more prolonged absence. Let’s hope we aren’t discussing these scenarios too long into 2020, and their realities are few and far between. Minnesota has a shot at the World Series this year, but they’ll need all contributors for as much time as necessary. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
  24. Initial Reports Byron Buxton is recovering from season-ending surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left-shoulder. He started swinging in late January, hitting off a tee in February and taking live batting practice this week. Slow and steady seems to be the name of the game and it’s certainly makes sense with Buxton’s injury history. Near the beginning of spring training, Twins manager Rocco Baldelli said the club anticipated Buxton being ready for game action by mid-March. This deadline is quickly approaching, and Buxton has yet to appear in a game. Even if he does appear in games in the next week, will that be enough time put him on the Opening Day roster by March 26. "There's no rushing this process," Buxton told MLB.com. "I know what I've got to do to be able to get back to being myself, and rushing is not one of them." Manager Rocco Baldelli echoed this sentiment on Monday. "I don't have a schedule for Byron Buxton," Baldelli said. "Our training staff does not have a schedule for Byron. He's going to show us what his schedule will be by how well everything goes as it is laid out." Buxton was off to a strong start last season before getting injured as he seemed to have found himself offensively. In 87 games, he hit .262/.314/.513 (.827) with 44 extra-base hits. His 30 doubles were near the top of the league before he missed time. Matthew Trueblood wrote there could be one seemingly small adjustment that would yield a big payoff. Roster Impact If Buxton isn’t ready for Opening Day, there will be a few moving pieces that impact the overall 26-man roster. Firstly, Max Kepler would move from right field to center field where he played for parts of last season after Buxton’s injury. Secondly, Marwin Gonzalez would likely take over as an everyday player to start the year, but he has been coming back from an offseason knee surgery of his own, so the Twins would need other outfield depth. Jake Cave and LaMonte Wade Jr. would likely be vying to serve in the back-up outfielder role. Cave hit .258/.351/.455 (.805) with 21 extra-base hits in 72 games last season. Wade Jr. dislocated his thumb in his second big-league game and was forced to sit out from early July until the middle of August. He returned to the big-leagues as a September call-up and hit .196/.348/.375 (.723) with five extra-base hits in 26 games last year. Cave is already in a battle for the final roster spot with Willians Astudillo, so it seems more likely for both players to make the Opening Day roster if Buxton is unable to go. Should fans be worried about Buxton? Is it better to take it slow with him because of his injury history? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. My last Opening Day roster projection (version 2.0) was put out on February 10th. Not much has changed since then, and I feel good about what I came up with. The end of the position players come down to a two-way battle in my mind, and that would be between The Turtle and Rake Cave. After jumping into relevance during 2018, Astudillo came back to earth a year ago. Cave was acquired in exchange for Luis Gil and has served in an adequate fourth outfielder role since. Now entering 2020 with one of the best rosters in baseball, it will be about production and function when considering who will grab that coveted 26th roster spot. Let’s get to the tale of the tape. What Does Willians Do Well? When considering the functionality of Astudillo, you’d be hard pressed not to immediately notice his flexibility. No, not in terms of limberness, but in the sense of positional opportunity. Over the past two seasons he has played six different positions each year and calling him a primary anything may be a stretch. On top of being able to move him all over the diamond, there’s his ability to put the round bat on the round ball. He’s got 301 major league plate appearances and has struck out just 11 times. That 4% strikeout rate is in line with the 3% mark he set in the minors over 2,500 plate appearances as well. In a league dominated by power, commanding the zone to that extent is a feat in and of itself. What Doesn’t Willians Do Well? This is where strengths also become weaknesses for the artist famously known as La Tortuga. Rocco Baldelli is afforded the ability to play Astudillo all over the diamond, but defensive metrics suggest it’s not an opportunity he should be excited about. He’s a below average catcher, small target at first base, poor at third, and substantially stretched in the outfield. He’s a utility player in that he “can,” but the utility is lost in thinking whether he “should.” Also, about that strikeout rate. Last season Astudillo’s swing tendencies were exploited to the tune of a dismal .678 OPS. He still didn’t strike out at all, but because he doesn’t take walks either, he’ll never be a strong OBP guy. He has a very good ability to hit the ball, but a poor ability to discern what pitches he should be attacking. A 40% ground ball rate and 30% hard hit rate aren’t going to result in many positive outcomes. Aggressiveness works against him for the most part and opposing pitchers have exploited it. What Does Cave Do Well? Andrew Thares recently did a great job breaking down Jack Cave over at Twins Daily. His 2019 was exponentially better than starting outfielder Eddie Rosario, and he played a key role after Byron Buxton went down. Finishing with an .805 OPS in 72 games, Cave posted a .296/.377/.556 slash line over his final 50 games (39 starts 142 AB). He certainly fans plenty but doubling his walk rate to nearly 10% was a good adjustment. In the field Cave is limited to just the grass, but he contributes in all three positions. Although he’s an average at best outfielder, it’s not as though he’s a liability. Centerfield is not the place you’d want to put him, but he’s plenty adequate on the corners. Given the volatility involved with Minnesota’s starting centerfield option, the ability to cycle players through makes a good amount of sense. What Doesn’t Cave Do Well? I’m not sure Cave’s greatest hinderance is that there’s something he doesn’t inherently do well on his own as much as it’s the hand he’s currently being dealt. He’s a fourth outfielder on a team that has one of the better outfields in all of baseball. Although Eddie Rosario could be replaceable, that doesn’t appear to be a blueprint that will happen internally at the moment. On top of that, acquisitions in the infield have made Marwin Gonzalez more of an outfielder (a role he has been defensively superior at) pushing Cave further down the ladder. From a personal contribution standpoint, Cave does have some opportunity for growth in terms of contact rate. He’s just below 70%, and given the 52% hard hit rate in 2020, more bats on balls is a good thing. He owned a .358 BABIP despite just a .258 average. Sure, the counting numbers aren’t there yet but that could turn quick. At the end of the day, I think there’s little argument to be made that Cave isn’t the better player of the two. What this could come down to is the more ideal positional fit, and right now, Astudillo has that working in his favor. For more from Off The Baggy, click here. Follow @tlschwerz
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