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  1. Not every starting pitching prospect is going to develop into a rotational stalwart. Here are three of the team's top pitching prospects that might be destined for a bullpen role. Finding solid relief pitching can be a challenging task for an organization. Relievers can burn bright for short periods and then burn out quickly. Many of the best relievers in Twins history were pitching prospects that were unsuccessful as starters, including Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan, and Taylor Rogers. The pitchers listed below are still considered starting pitchers, but their eventual development path may shift them to a bullpen role. Jhoan Duran Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 8 Minnesota originally acquired Duran as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Since then, he has become one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins farm system in quite some time. His electric fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph, even if the gun was a little hot. His off-speed offerings include a slider and a famous "splinker." With at least three big-league pitches, it's easy to imagine him sticking as a starter, but injuries impacted his 2021 season. Last season, he started the year on the IL with forearm/elbow issues, which can cause lingering problems. Duran was limited to 16 innings pitched with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. He flashed some electric stuff and struck out more than a batter per inning. After five appearances, he was placed back in the IL and shut down for the year. Luckily, he avoided surgery, but the bullpen may offer him a way to stay healthy and provide value with his dominant pitch mix. Even Baseball America thinks Duran will be in the bullpen by 2025. Simeon Woods Richardson Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 4 Woods Richardson has been part of two different blockbuster trades before his 21st birthday. At last year's trade deadline, the Twins acquired him along with Austin Martin for José Berríos. Both the Blue Jays and the Twins were aggressive with Woods Richardson last season as he pitched the entire season at Double-A, where he was over 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. Across 15 starts (53 1/3 innings), he posted a 5.91 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP and a 77 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. Currently, he utilizes a four-pitch mix, and he can add more velocity as he adds to his frame. He will likely repeat Double-A next season, where he will still be young for the level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to make it as a starting pitcher, and a move to the bullpen would be multiple years into the future. However, his fastball and changeup are above average pitches that could translate to him becoming a dominant late-inning reliever. Cole Sands Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 13 Sands was an intriguing pick when the Twins took him with a fifth-round pick back in 2018. He had posted a 4.73 ERA in three seasons in college, but he had projectability. Now, he has turned both of his offspeed offerings into plus pitches, and his fastball velocity has increased. Last season at Double-A, he posted a 2.46 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 80 innings. These improvements point to his potential to stick as a starter, but a shift to the bullpen may also be on the table. He has yet to pitch more than 98 innings in a season throughout his professional career. If he is going to stick as a starter, he will have to increase his workload in the years ahead. Another issue was his walk rate more than doubled from 1.8 BB/9 in 2019 to 3.9 BB/9 in 2021. He's dealt with some arm problems in the past, so a shift to the bullpen may give him a better opportunity to impact the big-league roster. Which pitching prospect is destined for a bullpen role? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  2. The Twins have an exciting and deep group of pitching prospects close to the majors. Who could we see first in 2022? If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  3. Finding solid relief pitching can be a challenging task for an organization. Relievers can burn bright for short periods and then burn out quickly. Many of the best relievers in Twins history were pitching prospects that were unsuccessful as starters, including Glen Perkins, Joe Nathan, and Taylor Rogers. The pitchers listed below are still considered starting pitchers, but their eventual development path may shift them to a bullpen role. Jhoan Duran Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 8 Minnesota originally acquired Duran as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade. Since then, he has become one of the most exciting pitching prospects to come through the Twins farm system in quite some time. His electric fastball has been clocked at over 100 mph, even if the gun was a little hot. His off-speed offerings include a slider and a famous "splinker." With at least three big-league pitches, it's easy to imagine him sticking as a starter, but injuries impacted his 2021 season. Last season, he started the year on the IL with forearm/elbow issues, which can cause lingering problems. Duran was limited to 16 innings pitched with a 5.06 ERA and a 1.81 WHIP. He flashed some electric stuff and struck out more than a batter per inning. After five appearances, he was placed back in the IL and shut down for the year. Luckily, he avoided surgery, but the bullpen may offer him a way to stay healthy and provide value with his dominant pitch mix. Even Baseball America thinks Duran will be in the bullpen by 2025. Simeon Woods Richardson Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 4 Woods Richardson has been part of two different blockbuster trades before his 21st birthday. At last year's trade deadline, the Twins acquired him along with Austin Martin for José Berríos. Both the Blue Jays and the Twins were aggressive with Woods Richardson last season as he pitched the entire season at Double-A, where he was over 4.5 years younger than the average age of the competition. Across 15 starts (53 1/3 innings), he posted a 5.91 ERA with a 1.54 WHIP and a 77 to 34 strikeout to walk ratio. Currently, he utilizes a four-pitch mix, and he can add more velocity as he adds to his frame. He will likely repeat Double-A next season, where he will still be young for the level. Minnesota will give him every opportunity to make it as a starting pitcher, and a move to the bullpen would be multiple years into the future. However, his fastball and changeup are above average pitches that could translate to him becoming a dominant late-inning reliever. Cole Sands Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 13 Sands was an intriguing pick when the Twins took him with a fifth-round pick back in 2018. He had posted a 4.73 ERA in three seasons in college, but he had projectability. Now, he has turned both of his offspeed offerings into plus pitches, and his fastball velocity has increased. Last season at Double-A, he posted a 2.46 ERA with 96 strikeouts in 80 innings. These improvements point to his potential to stick as a starter, but a shift to the bullpen may also be on the table. He has yet to pitch more than 98 innings in a season throughout his professional career. If he is going to stick as a starter, he will have to increase his workload in the years ahead. Another issue was his walk rate more than doubled from 1.8 BB/9 in 2019 to 3.9 BB/9 in 2021. He's dealt with some arm problems in the past, so a shift to the bullpen may give him a better opportunity to impact the big-league roster. Which pitching prospect is destined for a bullpen role? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  4. If the Twins truly choose to “punt” on 2022 and get a long look at their young pitching, which prospects can fans expect to see first? 11. Chase Petty Petty, 18, may be the most exciting pitcher in the Twins’ system, with a triple-digits fastball headlining a potentially electric array of weapons. He’s also the furthest away from the majors. The hope for Petty in 2022 is a full-season loaded with strikeouts. 10. Simeon Woods Richardson That Woods Richardson, who pitched at Double-A last year, is the ninth most-likely to debut shows you how many young starters are coming. SWR, 21, struggled to get going in 2021, but a full season in one place should help him progress in 2022. 9. Louie Varland The Twins’ Minor League Pitcher of the Year in 2021, Varland completely broke out to the tune of a 2.10 ERA across Low and High-A. Varland, 24, struck out 142 of the 421 batters he faced (34%) and figures to headline Wichita’s rotation when he breaks camp. 8. Chris Vallimont Vallimont struck out 32% of hitters he faced in 2021 but walked 14% and gave up 15 homers. He’s 24 with 94 innings under his belt at Double-A, albeit with a 6.13 ERA. Vallimont could debut out of the Twins’ bullpen with a good stint in St.Paul. 7. Matt Canterino This may be a surprising spot for Canterino, 24, considering he finished 2021 at High-A in Cedar Rapids. His stuff is flat-out devastating and if the Twins decide he’s a future reliever, his path to Minnesota could be expedited in a hurry. 6. Cole Sands Sands, 24, owns a 2.58 ERA and 28% strikeout rate in over 177 Minor League innings. He was outstanding down the stretch in 2021 and is set to man a spot in the Saints’ rotation to start 2022. If he stays healthy, he should debut by the summer. 5. Jordan Balazovic The Twins are rightly-set on Balazovic as a future starter, which could dial back his debut by a hair. Balazovic, 23, was tinkering with different pitch mixes throughout the 2021 season. He could do more of that in St.Paul to start 2022. 4. Drew Strotman Strotman, 25, pitched over 100 innings at Triple-A in 2021. He started 12 games for the Saints after the Rays traded him to the Twins, and he allowed an .850 opponent’s OPS. A move to the bullpen would speed up his timeline. 3. Jhoan Duran Duran, 24, struck out 14 of the first 28 hitters he faced for St.Paul in 2021, then struggled and missed the rest of the season with an elbow strain. A hybrid Major League role to build Duran’s workload and experience would make a lot of sense. 2. Josh Winder Winder was one of the best starters at Double-A before the Twins moved him up to St.Paul, where he dominated in his first Triple-A start. Like Duran, Winder, 25, then struggled and missed the rest of the season due to injury. He could be the first call-up of 2022. 1. Joe Ryan Ryan has already won over his fair share of Twins fans with a cool demeanor and outstanding results. Ryan’s fastballs look like they ride to the plate on a ramp, and as of now, Ryan is pitching on opening weekend in Chicago. The takeaway: you're set to see a lot of young starters pitch for the Twins in 2022. If healthy, the first five seem like locks, with Sands not far behind, and Canterino a sleeper bullpen addition. Vallimont and Varland aren't miles away either, with Petty and Woods Richardson trailing as the youngest of the group. Who are you most excited to see in 2022? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  5. Minnesota has plenty of prospects that were initially signed as international free agents. Here are the top-5 ranked international prospects in the Twins system. This weekend, the international signing period opens for prospects eligible in 2022. Before new prospects join the organization, MLB Pipeline ranked each organization's top-ranked international prospect. Minnesota has plenty of high-ranking prospects initially signed on the international market. Here is a look at some of the top names. 5. Danny De Andrade, SS Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: NR De Andrade was Minnesota's top-ranked international signee during the 2020-21 signing period. At the time, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 16th overall prospect and the 8th best shortstop in the class. The Twins handed out a $2.2 million signing bonus to get him into the organization. Last season, he made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits in 50 games. Defensively, the majority of his starts came at shortstop, but he is already seeing some time at third base. Some scouts project that third base will be his likely defensive position, but Minnesota will continue to give him every opportunity to stick as a shortstop. 4. Yunior Severino, 2B/3B Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 16 Severino originally signed for nearly $2 million with the Atlanta Braves, and he was considered one of the best international prospects in the 2016-17 class. Following the 2017 season, he became a free agent after the Braves were punished for international signing violations. Minnesota signed him to a $2.5 million bonus, and he has made his way up the organizational ladder. Last season as a 21-year-old, he hit .273/.372/.430 (.802) with 39 extra-base hits in 98 games split between Low- and High-A. He's a player to keep an eye on as he may have unlocked power potential waiting still yet to surface. 3. Misael Urbina, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 12 Minnesota signed Urbina as part of the 2018-19 signing period and gave him the third-highest bonus in the class ($2.75 million). He was ranked as the 6th best prospect in the class, and he has shown some solid tools during his professional career. Last season as a 19-year-old, Urbina made his stateside debut with Fort Myers. In 101 games, he hit .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. He was over two years younger than the average age of the competition at his level, and he only had four plate appearances against younger pitchers. Urbina can play all three outfield positions, and his speed is his best tool at this point. He likely gets another shot at Low-A to start 2022. 2. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 5 With other well-known hitting prospects, Rodriguez may be a little more unknown by fans. Among the top-30 international prospects in 2019-20, Rodriguez was the 8th ranked prospect. Minnesota signed him for a $2.5 million bonus, and the pandemic meant he spent his first two professional seasons in the instructional leagues. Last year, he played 37 games for the FCL Twins and hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits, including ten home runs. At season's end, Rodriguez finished runner-up to Kala'i Rosario as the Twins Daily Short-Season Hitter of the Year. 1. Jhoan Duran, RHP Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 9 Duran may have taken a step back in 2021, but that still doesn't take anything away from his enormous potential. Arizona signed Duran in December 2014 for $65,000. Minnesota acquired Duran along with Gilberto Celestino for Eduardo Escobar's expiring contract at the 2018 trade deadline. Last season, Duran was limited to five Triple-A as an elbow strain put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. When healthy, he can regularly reach triple-digits with his fastball, and he utilizes a sinker-splitter hybrid pitch that is tough for hitters. Duran needs to prove he is healthy in 2022, and then he might be able to help the big-league pitching staff. Which prospect stands out the most to you? Who do you think makes the most significant impact in the years ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE — Yasser Mercedes — Yilber Herrera — Bryan Acuña — International Signing Period History View full article
  6. Every team has prospects that need to stay healthy to reach their full potential. Here are three top prospects in the Twins system looking for a healthier 2022. Earlier in the week, Baseball America discussed some of baseball’s top prospects looking to return from injury in 2022. It was tough to gauge prospects from an evaluation standpoint, especially on the heels of a nonexistent 2020 minor league season. There are some prominent names in the Twins’ system, and the three names below have a lot riding on how they look next season. Royce Lewis, SS/OF 2021 Injury: Torn ACL Lewis is widely considered one of Minnesota’s top prospects, as he was the top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, he hasn’t appeared in a minor league game since November 2019, and that’s a long time in the prospect development world. When Lewis was last on the field, he won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League while getting an extended look in the outfield. Lewis was sent to the AFL that year on the heels of a sub-par 2019 regular season where he hit .236/.290/.371 (.661) at High- and Double-A. All signs point to Lewis being on pace to start the 2022 season with the chance to begin the year at Triple-A. However, it’s hard to know what he will look like and how long it will take to shake off the rust. A significant knee injury can impact his best tools like his speed and athletic ability. His long-term defensive position and swing have been questioned in the past. There is a lot for Lewis to prove in 2022. Matt Canterino, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Minnesota initially selected Canterino from Rice in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Based on his college experience, his pro debut put him on the prospect map as he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in the low minors. With no 2020 minor league campaign, Canterino worked on his changeup, and reports had this as a dangerous pitch coming out of the shutdown. All signs pointed to Canterino having a breakout 2021 season, but injuries eventually played a factor. Canterino dominated hitters at Cedar Rapids to start 2021 as he struck out 45 batters in 23 innings and only allowed two earned runs. His elbow began bothering him from there, and he was limited to five innings the rest of the season. Canterino’s time at Rice may point to some of his injury issues. Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers. Canterino has the potential to be Minnesota’s top pitching prospect, but he needs to prove he can get past his 2021 injuries. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Duran joined the Twins organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade back at the 2018 trade deadline. At the time, he was a teenager in the low minors, but the Twins believed he had a high ceiling. Since the trade, he has established himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects with a fastball that can hit triple-digits and various off-speed offerings. He got plenty of attention to start 2021 as radar guns had his fastball clocked at over 100 mph. Already at Triple-A, it looked like Duran was knocking on the door to the big leagues. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his 2021 season. He was limited to 16 innings before being shut down with a strained elbow. There was some hope he would be back on the mound after six weeks on the IL, but he didn’t make another appearance last year. So far, he has avoided surgery, and this recent injury has some believing Duran may be heading for a bullpen role. Earlier this month, he turned 24 years old, so there is still time to prove that he can stick as a starter. Which player do you feel has the most to prove? Can they all avoid injury in 2022? 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. Earlier in the week, Baseball America discussed some of baseball’s top prospects looking to return from injury in 2022. It was tough to gauge prospects from an evaluation standpoint, especially on the heels of a nonexistent 2020 minor league season. There are some prominent names in the Twins’ system, and the three names below have a lot riding on how they look next season. Royce Lewis, SS/OF 2021 Injury: Torn ACL Lewis is widely considered one of Minnesota’s top prospects, as he was the top pick in the 2017 MLB Draft. However, he hasn’t appeared in a minor league game since November 2019, and that’s a long time in the prospect development world. When Lewis was last on the field, he won the MVP of the Arizona Fall League while getting an extended look in the outfield. Lewis was sent to the AFL that year on the heels of a sub-par 2019 regular season where he hit .236/.290/.371 (.661) at High- and Double-A. All signs point to Lewis being on pace to start the 2022 season with the chance to begin the year at Triple-A. However, it’s hard to know what he will look like and how long it will take to shake off the rust. A significant knee injury can impact his best tools like his speed and athletic ability. His long-term defensive position and swing have been questioned in the past. There is a lot for Lewis to prove in 2022. Matt Canterino, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Minnesota initially selected Canterino from Rice in the second round of the 2019 MLB Draft. Based on his college experience, his pro debut put him on the prospect map as he posted a 1.44 ERA and a 0.64 WHIP in the low minors. With no 2020 minor league campaign, Canterino worked on his changeup, and reports had this as a dangerous pitch coming out of the shutdown. All signs pointed to Canterino having a breakout 2021 season, but injuries eventually played a factor. Canterino dominated hitters at Cedar Rapids to start 2021 as he struck out 45 batters in 23 innings and only allowed two earned runs. His elbow began bothering him from there, and he was limited to five innings the rest of the season. Canterino’s time at Rice may point to some of his injury issues. Rice University is notoriously known for overworking its pitchers, with many of its graduates having injuries during their professional careers. Canterino has the potential to be Minnesota’s top pitching prospect, but he needs to prove he can get past his 2021 injuries. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Injury: Strained Elbow Duran joined the Twins organization as part of the Eduardo Escobar trade back at the 2018 trade deadline. At the time, he was a teenager in the low minors, but the Twins believed he had a high ceiling. Since the trade, he has established himself as one of the organization’s top pitching prospects with a fastball that can hit triple-digits and various off-speed offerings. He got plenty of attention to start 2021 as radar guns had his fastball clocked at over 100 mph. Already at Triple-A, it looked like Duran was knocking on the door to the big leagues. Unfortunately, that was the highlight of his 2021 season. He was limited to 16 innings before being shut down with a strained elbow. There was some hope he would be back on the mound after six weeks on the IL, but he didn’t make another appearance last year. So far, he has avoided surgery, and this recent injury has some believing Duran may be heading for a bullpen role. Earlier this month, he turned 24 years old, so there is still time to prove that he can stick as a starter. Which player do you feel has the most to prove? Can they all avoid injury in 2022? 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. This weekend, the international signing period opens for prospects eligible in 2022. Before new prospects join the organization, MLB Pipeline ranked each organization's top-ranked international prospect. Minnesota has plenty of high-ranking prospects initially signed on the international market. Here is a look at some of the top names. 5. Danny De Andrade, SS Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: NR De Andrade was Minnesota's top-ranked international signee during the 2020-21 signing period. At the time, MLB Pipeline ranked him as the 16th overall prospect and the 8th best shortstop in the class. The Twins handed out a $2.2 million signing bonus to get him into the organization. Last season, he made his professional debut in the Dominican Summer League, where he hit .264/.340/.348 (.688) with 14 extra-base hits in 50 games. Defensively, the majority of his starts came at shortstop, but he is already seeing some time at third base. Some scouts project that third base will be his likely defensive position, but Minnesota will continue to give him every opportunity to stick as a shortstop. 4. Yunior Severino, 2B/3B Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 16 Severino originally signed for nearly $2 million with the Atlanta Braves, and he was considered one of the best international prospects in the 2016-17 class. Following the 2017 season, he became a free agent after the Braves were punished for international signing violations. Minnesota signed him to a $2.5 million bonus, and he has made his way up the organizational ladder. Last season as a 21-year-old, he hit .273/.372/.430 (.802) with 39 extra-base hits in 98 games split between Low- and High-A. He's a player to keep an eye on as he may have unlocked power potential waiting still yet to surface. 3. Misael Urbina, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 12 Minnesota signed Urbina as part of the 2018-19 signing period and gave him the third-highest bonus in the class ($2.75 million). He was ranked as the 6th best prospect in the class, and he has shown some solid tools during his professional career. Last season as a 19-year-old, Urbina made his stateside debut with Fort Myers. In 101 games, he hit .191/.299/.286 (.585) with 21 extra-base hits. He was over two years younger than the average age of the competition at his level, and he only had four plate appearances against younger pitchers. Urbina can play all three outfield positions, and his speed is his best tool at this point. He likely gets another shot at Low-A to start 2022. 2. Emmanuel Rodriguez, OF Seth's Top-30 Hitter Ranking: 5 With other well-known hitting prospects, Rodriguez may be a little more unknown by fans. Among the top-30 international prospects in 2019-20, Rodriguez was the 8th ranked prospect. Minnesota signed him for a $2.5 million bonus, and the pandemic meant he spent his first two professional seasons in the instructional leagues. Last year, he played 37 games for the FCL Twins and hit .214/.346/.524 (.870) with 17 extra-base hits, including ten home runs. At season's end, Rodriguez finished runner-up to Kala'i Rosario as the Twins Daily Short-Season Hitter of the Year. 1. Jhoan Duran, RHP Seth's Top-30 Pitcher Ranking: 9 Duran may have taken a step back in 2021, but that still doesn't take anything away from his enormous potential. Arizona signed Duran in December 2014 for $65,000. Minnesota acquired Duran along with Gilberto Celestino for Eduardo Escobar's expiring contract at the 2018 trade deadline. Last season, Duran was limited to five Triple-A as an elbow strain put him on the shelf for the rest of the season. When healthy, he can regularly reach triple-digits with his fastball, and he utilizes a sinker-splitter hybrid pitch that is tough for hitters. Duran needs to prove he is healthy in 2022, and then he might be able to help the big-league pitching staff. Which prospect stands out the most to you? Who do you think makes the most significant impact in the years ahead? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER INTERNATIONAL COVERAGE — Yasser Mercedes — Yilber Herrera — Bryan Acuña — International Signing Period History
  9. Right now, Major League Baseball is enduring a lockout. Rob Manfred has shut out the players, and neither side has done any work regarding a resolution for over a month. We’re quickly approaching Spring Training, but games will likely be missed. What if we have the opposite of 2020, and there’s no Major League season at all? Why is that the opposite? Remember, this lockout revolves around only Major League Baseball and its players. Minor League Baseball is not covered under that umbrella, and while that’s often to its detriment, that means affiliated action will go off without a hitch in the year ahead. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we had a 60-game big-league schedule and no minor league action. There was the birth of Alternate Sites, but no games of record took place. Fast forward to where we are now, and a year of development could come on the farm with nothing taking place at Target Field. It’s a really weird thing to think about, the minor league feeder system taking place with no ultimate goal being represented for a year. However, the reality is that it’s on the farm where the most development happens, and losing that season was highly disappointing for plenty of prospects. If time were to stand still on the Major League side, the year would be solely focused on developing the next wave of prospects. While that could be a good thing for guys a bit further away, it's certainly an unfortunate reality for some of the Twins best young talents. Two situations come to mind, and the biggest of them may involve Royce Lewis. Minnesota’s top prospect hasn’t played a game since 2019. After losing the season to Covid, he tore his ACL before 2021 even began. Still an elite talent, Lewis is looking to distance himself for down results last time he was on the field and also trying to build on a swing and position that both still have question marks. There’s no doubt Lewis is a big part of Minnesota’s future, and he has an outside chance of reaching the majors this season. Having recently been added to the 40 man roster, he'd be stuck in limbo with no opportunity to get back on the field but also being pushed further from his ultimate goal. In a cascade of continued unfortunate events, it'd be nice to see Lewis catch a break. The other grouping includes players that could use the additional time to develop and now won’t have that opportunity. After struggling, Trevor Larnach was sent back to Triple-A, and Jose Miranda is still a young kid. Throw in arms like Jordan Balazovic or Jhoan Duran, and there’s a lot of young talent on the Twins 40-man roster. Like Lewis, having been added to the 40-man, none of those players would be eligible to participate in minor league games. Irrelevant is whether they have options or could be maneuvered around the roster. With the league locked out, no transactions are permitted, meaning the pool of players for organizations solely becomes those not on a 40-man roster. At the end of the day, we’re going to have meaningful baseball, and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately, my belief has dwindled that we’ll have a full Major League season, and if there isn’t one at all, it may help as many guys as it hurts. Really this all comes down to Rob Manfred and the league working through this with the union so everyone can get back to work. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  10. Why is that the opposite? Remember, this lockout revolves around only Major League Baseball and its players. Minor League Baseball is not covered under that umbrella, and while that’s often to its detriment, that means affiliated action will go off without a hitch in the year ahead. During the pandemic shortened 2020 season, we had a 60-game big-league schedule and no minor league action. There was the birth of Alternate Sites, but no games of record took place. Fast forward to where we are now, and a year of development could come on the farm with nothing taking place at Target Field. It’s a really weird thing to think about, the minor league feeder system taking place with no ultimate goal being represented for a year. However, the reality is that it’s on the farm where the most development happens, and losing that season was highly disappointing for plenty of prospects. If time were to stand still on the Major League side, the year would be solely focused on developing the next wave of prospects. While that could be a good thing for guys a bit further away, it's certainly an unfortunate reality for some of the Twins best young talents. Two situations come to mind, and the biggest of them may involve Royce Lewis. Minnesota’s top prospect hasn’t played a game since 2019. After losing the season to Covid, he tore his ACL before 2021 even began. Still an elite talent, Lewis is looking to distance himself for down results last time he was on the field and also trying to build on a swing and position that both still have question marks. There’s no doubt Lewis is a big part of Minnesota’s future, and he has an outside chance of reaching the majors this season. Having recently been added to the 40 man roster, he'd be stuck in limbo with no opportunity to get back on the field but also being pushed further from his ultimate goal. In a cascade of continued unfortunate events, it'd be nice to see Lewis catch a break. The other grouping includes players that could use the additional time to develop and now won’t have that opportunity. After struggling, Trevor Larnach was sent back to Triple-A, and Jose Miranda is still a young kid. Throw in arms like Jordan Balazovic or Jhoan Duran, and there’s a lot of young talent on the Twins 40-man roster. Like Lewis, having been added to the 40-man, none of those players would be eligible to participate in minor league games. Irrelevant is whether they have options or could be maneuvered around the roster. With the league locked out, no transactions are permitted, meaning the pool of players for organizations solely becomes those not on a 40-man roster. At the end of the day, we’re going to have meaningful baseball, and that’s a great thing. Unfortunately, my belief has dwindled that we’ll have a full Major League season, and if there isn’t one at all, it may help as many guys as it hurts. Really this all comes down to Rob Manfred and the league working through this with the union so everyone can get back to work. MORE TWINS DAILY CONTENT — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  11. This week, we jump into my choices for the Top 10 hitting and pitching prospects in the Minnesota Twins organization starting with pitchers 6-10 today. This group didn't pitch many pro innings in 2021, but each has the potential to be an impact starter in the big-leagues. Sometimes there aren’t a lot of data points or statistics available in scouting or in prospect analysis. That would be the case today. In this group of five prospects, they combined to pitch just 36 innings of pro ball in 2021. Granted, three of them were drafted in 2021 and threw plenty of innings as amateurs. The other two pitchers missed significant time during the season with injury. So for this group to be pitching prospects six through ten means that they have some impressive scouting reports, stuff, big arms and more. So let’s start. Be sure to discuss and ask questions in the comments below. #10 - LHP Steve Hajjar 2021 Stats: Did Not Pitch Back in 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Steve Hajjar in the 21st round out of Central Catholic High School in Massachusetts. He declined and enrolled at the University of Michigan. He tore his ACL in the fall of his freshman season. He put his name on the map in 2020. Due to Covid, he made just four starts, but he went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Then in 2021, he went 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA over 14 starts. In 81 2/3 innings, he struck out 110 batters while walking just 29 batters. The Twins made him their 2nd round pick. The southpaw works in the low-to-mid 90s, though he has been clocked as high as 97 mph. He’s also an advanced pitcher and has a good breaking ball and changeup as part of his four-pitch mix. The 21-year-old will make his pro debut in 2022 and could be a fast mover through the lower levels of the system. #9 - LHP Cade Povich 2021 STATS: 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 0.90 WHIP, 19/2 K/BB, 10.0 IP The Twins drafted Cade Povich in the third round of the 2021 draft. In his junior season at Nebraska, he went 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA over 15 starts. He tossed 81 innings and struck out 88 batters while walking 22. After signing, he went to Ft. Myers and got adjusted to the professional game and the Twins organization. He ended the season with two innings in the FCL before pitching in eight innings (over three games) to end the season with the Mighty Mussels. Along with the impressive numbers he showed all season and in his ten pro innings, his name was the one I heard most coming out of the Instructional League after the season. He’s blessed with a very strong arm, pitching into the mid-90s, but he also has solid secondary pitches. Video surfaced of him airing it out in a cage last week, throwing 101.2 mph. He will turn 22 in April. #8 - RHP Jhoan Duran 2021 STATS: 0-3, 5.06 ERA, 5/4 G/GS, 1.81 WHIP, 22/13 K/BB, 16.0 IP 2021 was a lost season for Jhoan Duran. He began the season in the Injured List with some forearm/elbow issues. He returned to the mound about a month into the season. He showed his stuff, often hitting 102 mph for the Saints (probably actually 100 mph). He’s got a good slider. He has the noted “splinker.” He has the ability to miss bats and get strikeouts. Unfortunately, as you can see above, he couldn’t stay on the mound. After just five games, he went back on the IL and was shut down. He didn’t have surgery and reports were good late in the year. That will be the question. It is also possible that he could wind up in the bullpen where he could be a force and his arm could be protected more. He came to the Twins in the July 2018 Eduardo Escobar trade from the Diamondbacks. Duran just turned 24 years old over the weekend, so there should be no rush. #7 - RHP Marco Raya 2021 Stats: Did Not Pitch Along with Povich, the name Marco Raya also came with glowing platitudes about how good he looked at the Instructional League. Raya was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2020. He didn’t pitch during the 2021 season due to a minor injury, but he pitched at Instructs. The 19-year-old from Laredo, Texas, was consistently hitting 97 mph on the radar gun. He also has a lot of pitch-ability. He’s got a changeup. He has a couple of different breaking pitches. He has confidence. Now he just needs some innings. He should start the season with the Mighty Mussels. #6 - RHP Chase Petty 2021 STATS: 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 25/17 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 6/1 K/BB, 5.0 IP Chase Petty grew up in Millville, New Jersey. Yes, the hometown of Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. Petty finished out his high school career at Mainland Regional High School, and he actually threw a no-hitter against Trout’s alma mater. In July, the Twins made him the 26th overall pick in the 2021 draft. That night, he immediately showed his personality and charisma that could make him a star off the field. On the field, and specifically on the mound, he has the kind of stuff that could make him an All Star. Petty is blessed with a big arm. He regularly touched triple-digits with his fastball, reportedly hitting 102. While he stands just 6-1, he is lean and has the potential to add strength. But beyond the fastball, Petty throws a slider, a curveball and a changeup, and he has worked on more pitches. After signing, he worked at the Twins complex in Ft. Myers. However, he got into two games at the end of the FCL Twins. He gave up three runs over five innings. He also struck out six batters with just one walk. In games, he was sitting 96-98 mph with the fastball. (Personally, I see this as a good thing) In summary, these five pitchers did not get many professional innings in 2021. They all have potential, and after throwing some innings, we may find that these five and the top five could be pretty interchangeable. This is a group with a ton of potential. Duran is the one that could see big-league time in 2022 if healthy. Povich and Hajjar could be fast movers, and they're left-handed which is certainly an added bonus. Raya and Petty are all about ceiling and upside and the organization should and will be patient with them. This grouping should be a fun list to discuss. I know I'm excited about this group. Discuss these players, their rankings and feel free to ask questions. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10 View full article
  12. Sometimes there aren’t a lot of data points or statistics available in scouting or in prospect analysis. That would be the case today. In this group of five prospects, they combined to pitch just 36 innings of pro ball in 2021. Granted, three of them were drafted in 2021 and threw plenty of innings as amateurs. The other two pitchers missed significant time during the season with injury. So for this group to be pitching prospects six through ten means that they have some impressive scouting reports, stuff, big arms and more. So let’s start. Be sure to discuss and ask questions in the comments below. #10 - LHP Steve Hajjar 2021 Stats: Did Not Pitch Back in 2018, the Milwaukee Brewers selected Steve Hajjar in the 21st round out of Central Catholic High School in Massachusetts. He declined and enrolled at the University of Michigan. He tore his ACL in the fall of his freshman season. He put his name on the map in 2020. Due to Covid, he made just four starts, but he went 3-0 with a 2.70 ERA. Then in 2021, he went 4-2 with a 3.09 ERA over 14 starts. In 81 2/3 innings, he struck out 110 batters while walking just 29 batters. The Twins made him their 2nd round pick. The southpaw works in the low-to-mid 90s, though he has been clocked as high as 97 mph. He’s also an advanced pitcher and has a good breaking ball and changeup as part of his four-pitch mix. The 21-year-old will make his pro debut in 2022 and could be a fast mover through the lower levels of the system. #9 - LHP Cade Povich 2021 STATS: 0-0, 0.90 ERA, 4/3 G/GS, 0.90 WHIP, 19/2 K/BB, 10.0 IP The Twins drafted Cade Povich in the third round of the 2021 draft. In his junior season at Nebraska, he went 6-1 with a 3.11 ERA over 15 starts. He tossed 81 innings and struck out 88 batters while walking 22. After signing, he went to Ft. Myers and got adjusted to the professional game and the Twins organization. He ended the season with two innings in the FCL before pitching in eight innings (over three games) to end the season with the Mighty Mussels. Along with the impressive numbers he showed all season and in his ten pro innings, his name was the one I heard most coming out of the Instructional League after the season. He’s blessed with a very strong arm, pitching into the mid-90s, but he also has solid secondary pitches. Video surfaced of him airing it out in a cage last week, throwing 101.2 mph. He will turn 22 in April. #8 - RHP Jhoan Duran 2021 STATS: 0-3, 5.06 ERA, 5/4 G/GS, 1.81 WHIP, 22/13 K/BB, 16.0 IP 2021 was a lost season for Jhoan Duran. He began the season in the Injured List with some forearm/elbow issues. He returned to the mound about a month into the season. He showed his stuff, often hitting 102 mph for the Saints (probably actually 100 mph). He’s got a good slider. He has the noted “splinker.” He has the ability to miss bats and get strikeouts. Unfortunately, as you can see above, he couldn’t stay on the mound. After just five games, he went back on the IL and was shut down. He didn’t have surgery and reports were good late in the year. That will be the question. It is also possible that he could wind up in the bullpen where he could be a force and his arm could be protected more. He came to the Twins in the July 2018 Eduardo Escobar trade from the Diamondbacks. Duran just turned 24 years old over the weekend, so there should be no rush. #7 - RHP Marco Raya 2021 Stats: Did Not Pitch Along with Povich, the name Marco Raya also came with glowing platitudes about how good he looked at the Instructional League. Raya was the Twins fourth-round pick in 2020. He didn’t pitch during the 2021 season due to a minor injury, but he pitched at Instructs. The 19-year-old from Laredo, Texas, was consistently hitting 97 mph on the radar gun. He also has a lot of pitch-ability. He’s got a changeup. He has a couple of different breaking pitches. He has confidence. Now he just needs some innings. He should start the season with the Mighty Mussels. #6 - RHP Chase Petty 2021 STATS: 0-0, 5.40 ERA, 25/17 G/GS, 1.40 WHIP, 6/1 K/BB, 5.0 IP Chase Petty grew up in Millville, New Jersey. Yes, the hometown of Angels’ outfielder Mike Trout. Petty finished out his high school career at Mainland Regional High School, and he actually threw a no-hitter against Trout’s alma mater. In July, the Twins made him the 26th overall pick in the 2021 draft. That night, he immediately showed his personality and charisma that could make him a star off the field. On the field, and specifically on the mound, he has the kind of stuff that could make him an All Star. Petty is blessed with a big arm. He regularly touched triple-digits with his fastball, reportedly hitting 102. While he stands just 6-1, he is lean and has the potential to add strength. But beyond the fastball, Petty throws a slider, a curveball and a changeup, and he has worked on more pitches. After signing, he worked at the Twins complex in Ft. Myers. However, he got into two games at the end of the FCL Twins. He gave up three runs over five innings. He also struck out six batters with just one walk. In games, he was sitting 96-98 mph with the fastball. (Personally, I see this as a good thing) In summary, these five pitchers did not get many professional innings in 2021. They all have potential, and after throwing some innings, we may find that these five and the top five could be pretty interchangeable. This is a group with a ton of potential. Duran is the one that could see big-league time in 2022 if healthy. Povich and Hajjar could be fast movers, and they're left-handed which is certainly an added bonus. Raya and Petty are all about ceiling and upside and the organization should and will be patient with them. This grouping should be a fun list to discuss. I know I'm excited about this group. Discuss these players, their rankings and feel free to ask questions. Previous Rankings Hitters Part 1: 26-30 Hitters Part 2: 21-25 Hitters Part 3: 16-20 Hitters Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 1: 26-30 Pitchers Part 2: 21-25 Pitchers Part 3: 16-20 Pitchers Part 4: 11-15 Pitchers Part 5: 6-10
  13. 2022 is a critical year for the development of the Twins' deep farm system. Here are 3 critical St. Paul Saints storylines to watch in 2022. Understandably, much of the discourse between Twins fans this offseason has surrounded the lack of pitching upgrades, a frustration compounded by a stagnant lockout. Since Derek Falvey arrived in Minnesota in 2016 the organization has made an enormous commitment to maximizing player development. The Twins were on the front end of hiring college coaches for their MLB staff (Wes Johnson). Additionally, they catapulted their front office staff from near the bottom of the proverbial pile to a modern, sophisticated, and extremely expertly staffed group. While Twins fans spend most of their time sweating the status of the rotation and the potential competitiveness of the MLB roster in 2022, I’d argue that the outcomes of the Wichita Wind Surge and St. Paul Saints will have a greater impact on any retrospective of Falvey’s tenure than anything the MLB club does in 2022. The Twins are completely committed to developing their own pitching pipeline to achieve the ‘sustainable success’ Falvey spoke of when he first arrived in Minnesota. With this in mind, here are three critical St. Paul Saints' storylines to watch closely in 2022. The Development of the Twins’ Starting Pitching Pipeline This has to be the year Twins starting pitching prospects breakthrough and show what they can do at the MLB level. The majority of Joe Ryan’s development should be credited to the Rays. Bailey Ober was an exceptional surprise in 2021 but is likely a mid-back end of the rotation guy. In 2022, the Twins need to see a pitcher breakthrough who shows the potential to start a playoff game at the MLB level. There is certainly no shortage of possibilities! Chris Vallimont, Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic all finished 2021 at Double-A Wichita and should all see time in St. Paul in 2022. Sands is a particularly unheralded Twins prospect, striking out 96 in just 80 1/3 innings in 2021 while producing a 2.46 ERA. Josh Winder and Jhoan Duran spent time in St. Paul in 2021 and should start there in 2022. It will, in particular, be a critical season for Duran who lost the majority of his 2021 to injury. Owner of perhaps the nastiest stuff in the Twins system (along with Chase Petty), Duran needs to stay healthy in order to show some sustained success at Triple-A. Coaching Staff Turnover This storyline goes hand-in-hand with the development of the Twins' incredibly deep farm system. One inevitable price you pay when developing excellent infrastructure is it will constantly be poached. St. Paul Saints Triple-A hitting coach, Matt Borgschulte was hired by the Orioles to be their co-MLB hitting coach this offseason. Additionally, Mike McCarthy, who was gracious enough to interview with me in 2021 for Twins Daily, took a Triple-A pitching coach job with the Padres. It’s unusual to lose both hitting and pitching coaches in one offseason and particularly challenging with such a pivotal developmental season for so many prospects ahead in 2022. I’d argue that these are two absolutely critical hires for 2022 and beyond. This will be worth paying attention to when they are announced. Bullpen Help is on the Way The Twins bullpen was a horror show in the first half of 2021. Despite significant improvement in the second half, Minnesota was already out of contention. There will be a significant turnover in the bullpen in 2022. Jovani Moran made the leap to the MLB level at the end of 2021 (pay attention to his changeup). Additionally, the Twins have three MLB-ready relief prospects in Yennier Cano, Ian Hamilton, and Ryan Mason. In 182 minor-league innings in 2021 (AA and AAA), the three combined for a 3.34 ERA and 235 strikeouts. All three will likely see the majors in 2022. The Twins front office has hitched their wagon to developing their own talent over the last five years. 2022 should be the year when it comes to fruition for the major league team with more consistency. While the Twins MiLB system doesn’t have the same elite-level prospects as some other top systems, they have some of the best depth in baseball. Do yourself a favor and get to CHS Field as often as you can in 2022. 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
  14. Understandably, much of the discourse between Twins fans this offseason has surrounded the lack of pitching upgrades, a frustration compounded by a stagnant lockout. Since Derek Falvey arrived in Minnesota in 2016 the organization has made an enormous commitment to maximizing player development. The Twins were on the front end of hiring college coaches for their MLB staff (Wes Johnson). Additionally, they catapulted their front office staff from near the bottom of the proverbial pile to a modern, sophisticated, and extremely expertly staffed group. While Twins fans spend most of their time sweating the status of the rotation and the potential competitiveness of the MLB roster in 2022, I’d argue that the outcomes of the Wichita Wind Surge and St. Paul Saints will have a greater impact on any retrospective of Falvey’s tenure than anything the MLB club does in 2022. The Twins are completely committed to developing their own pitching pipeline to achieve the ‘sustainable success’ Falvey spoke of when he first arrived in Minnesota. With this in mind, here are three critical St. Paul Saints' storylines to watch closely in 2022. The Development of the Twins’ Starting Pitching Pipeline This has to be the year Twins starting pitching prospects breakthrough and show what they can do at the MLB level. The majority of Joe Ryan’s development should be credited to the Rays. Bailey Ober was an exceptional surprise in 2021 but is likely a mid-back end of the rotation guy. In 2022, the Twins need to see a pitcher breakthrough who shows the potential to start a playoff game at the MLB level. There is certainly no shortage of possibilities! Chris Vallimont, Cole Sands, Simeon Woods-Richardson, and Jordan Balazovic all finished 2021 at Double-A Wichita and should all see time in St. Paul in 2022. Sands is a particularly unheralded Twins prospect, striking out 96 in just 80 1/3 innings in 2021 while producing a 2.46 ERA. Josh Winder and Jhoan Duran spent time in St. Paul in 2021 and should start there in 2022. It will, in particular, be a critical season for Duran who lost the majority of his 2021 to injury. Owner of perhaps the nastiest stuff in the Twins system (along with Chase Petty), Duran needs to stay healthy in order to show some sustained success at Triple-A. Coaching Staff Turnover This storyline goes hand-in-hand with the development of the Twins' incredibly deep farm system. One inevitable price you pay when developing excellent infrastructure is it will constantly be poached. St. Paul Saints Triple-A hitting coach, Matt Borgschulte was hired by the Orioles to be their co-MLB hitting coach this offseason. Additionally, Mike McCarthy, who was gracious enough to interview with me in 2021 for Twins Daily, took a Triple-A pitching coach job with the Padres. It’s unusual to lose both hitting and pitching coaches in one offseason and particularly challenging with such a pivotal developmental season for so many prospects ahead in 2022. I’d argue that these are two absolutely critical hires for 2022 and beyond. This will be worth paying attention to when they are announced. Bullpen Help is on the Way The Twins bullpen was a horror show in the first half of 2021. Despite significant improvement in the second half, Minnesota was already out of contention. There will be a significant turnover in the bullpen in 2022. Jovani Moran made the leap to the MLB level at the end of 2021 (pay attention to his changeup). Additionally, the Twins have three MLB-ready relief prospects in Yennier Cano, Ian Hamilton, and Ryan Mason. In 182 minor-league innings in 2021 (AA and AAA), the three combined for a 3.34 ERA and 235 strikeouts. All three will likely see the majors in 2022. The Twins front office has hitched their wagon to developing their own talent over the last five years. 2022 should be the year when it comes to fruition for the major league team with more consistency. While the Twins MiLB system doesn’t have the same elite-level prospects as some other top systems, they have some of the best depth in baseball. Do yourself a favor and get to CHS Field as often as you can in 2022. 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. Continuing our rankings of the most valuable player assets in the Minnesota Twins organization, we highlight our picks for 11 through 15. This list attempts to answer a simple question: Which 20 players and prospects are most indispensable in the team's quest to win a championship? Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP From there, we dive into the top 15. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15 15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 2021 Ranking: NR The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did. "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.” That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Ranking: 12 In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated. Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings. With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2021 Ranking: 13 While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind. 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 2021 Ranking: 10 Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while. Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A. It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward. 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 2021 Ranking: 11 Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset. First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year. It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves. Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him? Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  16. In his three season as Twins manager, Rocco Baldelli is yet to name a closer, and that likely won't change anytime soon. But, we know which relievers get the highest-leverage situations and most of the ninth innings. It's hard to predict which pitchers will fill that role, especially in the future. However, today we consider which Twins minor leaguers mighty be strong candidates. Although most pitching prospects begin their minor league careers as starters, many of them eventually wind up in the bullpen at the MLB level. The Minnesota Twins are very familiar with how this transition can lead to a fruitful career with the likes of Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, and, more recently, Tyler Duffey doing so under their watch. The Twins currently have a multitude of pitching prospects who are knocking on the door to the majors, but it is unlikely that all of them will stick as starters. Below are five names who could not only make the switch to the pen, but may ultimately perform well in the closer role. RHP JHOAN DURAN 2021 stats (Triple-A): 5 G, 4 GS, 16 IP, 5.06 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 22 K, 13 BB, 16.7% HR/FB Duran has, without a doubt, the most electric raw stuff in the Twins' farm system. He regularly hits 100 mph with his 4-seam fastball, which pairs well with his splitter-sinker hybrid (low-90s) and curveball (mid-80s). However, his poor command and right upper-extremity injury history may limit the overall height of his ceiling; he’s only ever thrown more than 70 innings in a season once. There are many similarities between Duran and former Twin Brusdar Graterol, so it would not be surprising to see their careers take indistinguishable paths. Graterol was solid out of the pen for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021, though he functioned more as a set-up man than a closer. A shift to the bullpen may be in Duran — and the Twins' — best interests in the short and long-term. RHP LOUIE VARLAND 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 20 G, 18 GS, 103 IP, 2.10 ERA, 2.34/3.20 FIP, 142 K, 30 BB, 6.9%/5.8% HR/FB The Twins' 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year burst forth out of obscurity this past summer on the back of a fastball that jumped in average velocity from the low-90s while at Division II Concordia University, St. Paul to the mid- to upper-90s with above average spin. He also owns a biting curveball that plays well down in the zone, feeding off the dominance of his fastball up. However, he lacks a third pitch and, despite low walk numbers, occasionally struggles with command, particularly that of his breaking ball. Varland will likely stick in a starting role as he advances through the minor leagues, but unless he develops a third offering or cleans up his curveball, his future may be as a back of the bullpen ace. The Twins have had previous success with closers from St. Paul, after all. RHP OSIRIS GERMAN 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 38 G, 0 GS, 4 SV, 59 1/3 IP, 3.34 ERA, 3.14/2.69 FIP, 90 K, 24 BB, 12.5%/4.5% HR/FB At just 23 years old, German is still at least a couple of years away from sniffing the majors, but it’s easy to see why he is highly thought of after watching just a couple of pitches. German has that undefinable, yet important electricity that many of the game’s best bullpen arms possess. While his fastball pops out of the hand and plays well up in the zone, it’s his breaking ball that is the star of his show. What may prevent German from reaching his potential, however, is his erraticism and high-effort delivery. German doesn’t possess good command of either his fastball or curve, often overthrowing both. From a mechanics perspective, doesn’t get enough push off from his lower extremity which causes him to rely on the whipping action of his core and shoulder to produce torque and velocity German is the perfect candidate for a tweak in his delivery as well as the development of a third pitch (perhaps a cutter?). If he can hone his command, his stuff is good enough to reach the majors. RHP COLE SANDS 2021 stats (Double-A): 19 G, 18 GS, 80 1/3 IP, 2.46 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 96 K, 35 BB, 7.2% HR/FB Sands was among the Twins’ most steady minor league starting pitchers in 2021. He consistently pitched until at least the fifth inning and racked up strikeouts with the best in the system, ranking ninth overall. The former Florida State Seminole has a three pitch mix consisting of a fastball, curve, and changeup, though only his breaking ball is currently an above average offering. (His fastball is close, and may already be there, depending on whose opinion you seek.) In many respects, Sands is a carbon copy of current Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey, who has been among the team's more consistent bullpen arms over the past couple of seasons. Sands currently may lack an electric fastball — which is often a requirement among back of the bullpen arms — but his curveball and punch out pedigree is intriguing. HIBERNATION CANDIDATE: LHP AARON ROZEK 2021 stats (Rookie Ball through Double-A): 16 G, 7 GS, 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 0.81/2.48/4.40/2.15 FIP, 74 K, 7 BB, 0.0%/14.3%/18.2%/0.0% HR/FB Rozek came out of nowhere during the 2021 season. The Burnsville native and Minnesota State University, Mankato alum signed with the Twins on a minor league deal in late June before proceeding to pitch to great success across four levels of play. (He had never played in the minors prior to his signing, though he did play Indy Ball during 2019.) Rozek possesses two breaking pitches — a slider and a loopier slurve — which he uses primarily as his out pitches as well as a a fastball, though it is rather mediocre. At age 26 with less than one season of MiLB experience under his belt, the likelihood Rozek ever makes it to the parent squad is slim. Add in the fact that he is left-handed and doesn’t possess an elite fastball, and the odds of him ever being a closer are nearly nil. But for an undrafted free agent from an NCAA Division II school, he displayed plenty of talent that should pique the interest of Twins’ fans. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here View full article
  17. Although most pitching prospects begin their minor league careers as starters, many of them eventually wind up in the bullpen at the MLB level. The Minnesota Twins are very familiar with how this transition can lead to a fruitful career with the likes of Joe Nathan, Glen Perkins, and, more recently, Tyler Duffey doing so under their watch. The Twins currently have a multitude of pitching prospects who are knocking on the door to the majors, but it is unlikely that all of them will stick as starters. Below are five names who could not only make the switch to the pen, but may ultimately perform well in the closer role. RHP JHOAN DURAN 2021 stats (Triple-A): 5 G, 4 GS, 16 IP, 5.06 ERA, 3.86 FIP, 22 K, 13 BB, 16.7% HR/FB Duran has, without a doubt, the most electric raw stuff in the Twins' farm system. He regularly hits 100 mph with his 4-seam fastball, which pairs well with his splitter-sinker hybrid (low-90s) and curveball (mid-80s). However, his poor command and right upper-extremity injury history may limit the overall height of his ceiling; he’s only ever thrown more than 70 innings in a season once. There are many similarities between Duran and former Twin Brusdar Graterol, so it would not be surprising to see their careers take indistinguishable paths. Graterol was solid out of the pen for the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2021, though he functioned more as a set-up man than a closer. A shift to the bullpen may be in Duran — and the Twins' — best interests in the short and long-term. RHP LOUIE VARLAND 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 20 G, 18 GS, 103 IP, 2.10 ERA, 2.34/3.20 FIP, 142 K, 30 BB, 6.9%/5.8% HR/FB The Twins' 2021 Minor League Pitcher of the Year burst forth out of obscurity this past summer on the back of a fastball that jumped in average velocity from the low-90s while at Division II Concordia University, St. Paul to the mid- to upper-90s with above average spin. He also owns a biting curveball that plays well down in the zone, feeding off the dominance of his fastball up. However, he lacks a third pitch and, despite low walk numbers, occasionally struggles with command, particularly that of his breaking ball. Varland will likely stick in a starting role as he advances through the minor leagues, but unless he develops a third offering or cleans up his curveball, his future may be as a back of the bullpen ace. The Twins have had previous success with closers from St. Paul, after all. RHP OSIRIS GERMAN 2021 stats (Low-/High-A): 38 G, 0 GS, 4 SV, 59 1/3 IP, 3.34 ERA, 3.14/2.69 FIP, 90 K, 24 BB, 12.5%/4.5% HR/FB At just 23 years old, German is still at least a couple of years away from sniffing the majors, but it’s easy to see why he is highly thought of after watching just a couple of pitches. German has that undefinable, yet important electricity that many of the game’s best bullpen arms possess. While his fastball pops out of the hand and plays well up in the zone, it’s his breaking ball that is the star of his show. What may prevent German from reaching his potential, however, is his erraticism and high-effort delivery. German doesn’t possess good command of either his fastball or curve, often overthrowing both. From a mechanics perspective, doesn’t get enough push off from his lower extremity which causes him to rely on the whipping action of his core and shoulder to produce torque and velocity German is the perfect candidate for a tweak in his delivery as well as the development of a third pitch (perhaps a cutter?). If he can hone his command, his stuff is good enough to reach the majors. RHP COLE SANDS 2021 stats (Double-A): 19 G, 18 GS, 80 1/3 IP, 2.46 ERA, 3.55 FIP, 96 K, 35 BB, 7.2% HR/FB Sands was among the Twins’ most steady minor league starting pitchers in 2021. He consistently pitched until at least the fifth inning and racked up strikeouts with the best in the system, ranking ninth overall. The former Florida State Seminole has a three pitch mix consisting of a fastball, curve, and changeup, though only his breaking ball is currently an above average offering. (His fastball is close, and may already be there, depending on whose opinion you seek.) In many respects, Sands is a carbon copy of current Twins’ reliever Tyler Duffey, who has been among the team's more consistent bullpen arms over the past couple of seasons. Sands currently may lack an electric fastball — which is often a requirement among back of the bullpen arms — but his curveball and punch out pedigree is intriguing. HIBERNATION CANDIDATE: LHP AARON ROZEK 2021 stats (Rookie Ball through Double-A): 16 G, 7 GS, 56 1/3 IP, 2.40 ERA, 0.81/2.48/4.40/2.15 FIP, 74 K, 7 BB, 0.0%/14.3%/18.2%/0.0% HR/FB Rozek came out of nowhere during the 2021 season. The Burnsville native and Minnesota State University, Mankato alum signed with the Twins on a minor league deal in late June before proceeding to pitch to great success across four levels of play. (He had never played in the minors prior to his signing, though he did play Indy Ball during 2019.) Rozek possesses two breaking pitches — a slider and a loopier slurve — which he uses primarily as his out pitches as well as a a fastball, though it is rather mediocre. At age 26 with less than one season of MiLB experience under his belt, the likelihood Rozek ever makes it to the parent squad is slim. Add in the fact that he is left-handed and doesn’t possess an elite fastball, and the odds of him ever being a closer are nearly nil. But for an undrafted free agent from an NCAA Division II school, he displayed plenty of talent that should pique the interest of Twins’ fans. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Read more of Lucas's minor league prospect coverage here
  18. Before getting started, you can get up to speed on the ground rules, which were covered in the first installment. Here are the players we've ranked so far: 20. Matt Canterino, RHP 19. Josh Winder, RHP 18. Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP 17. Gilberto Celestino, CF 16. Chase Petty, RHP From there, we dive into the top 15. Top 20 Twins Assets of 2022: 11 through 15 15. Jose Miranda, 3B/2B 2021 Ranking: NR The system's shining star of 2021. Since being drafted in the second round back in 2016, Miranda always seemed on the verge of a breakout, and last year it finally came. In 127 games between Double-A and Triple-A, he slashed .344/.401/.572 with 30 homers and 94 RBIs. The infielder's emergence was no accident. Similar to former Twin (and fellow Puerto Rican) Eddie Rosario, Miranda is gifted with amazing bat-to-ball skills, which can lead to overly aggressive tendencies. In 2021, the 23-year-old turned a corner that Rosario never really did. "At instructs last fall, our guys worked with Jose on the value of hard contact, of going deeper into counts if it meant getting a better pitch,” Derek Falvey told Phil Miller. “He saw the advantage of patience.” That's not to say drawing walks was a strength for Miranda. He's an aggressive hitter who wants to swing, and in 2021 he did damage. So much that it's impossible to dismiss as a one-off outlier from a perennial underperformer. The infielder's bat is legit. The question is HOW legit, and where will he settle in defensively. 14. Jhoan Duran, RHP 2021 Ranking: 12 In the last installment, I talked about the clustered grouping of minor-league pitchers at the back end of this list. As a composite, they're pivotal to the franchise's future, but individually, none have separated all that much. Duran and Jordan Balazovic are the pitching prospects in this system that have separated. Duran's demonstrated upside may exceed that of Balazovic, but injuries hold him back as an asset. In 2021, Duran was able to throw only 16 total innings, with an elbow strain costing him nearly the whole season. Surgery was not deemed necessary, and that hopeful sign keeps him relatively high on this year's rankings. With Brusdar Graterol gone, there isn't a more powerful arm in the system. It now seems more likely than ever that Duran will follow Graterol's path and wind up as a flamethrowing reliever, but he can bring huge value in that role. 13. Jordan Balazovic, RHP 2021 Ranking: 13 While he didn't avoid the injury bug entirely, missing the first month with a back issue, Balazovic held up better than most pitching prospects in 2021's return to action. He set a career high with 97 innings, and threw well at Double-A: 3.62 ERA, 9.5 K/9, 3.5 BB/9, 9 HR allowed in 20 GS. The fact that 97 IP marked a new personal record shows how slowly Balazovic has come along from a workload standpoint. Drafted back in 2016, he has accrued only 325 total innings as a pro. He's still very much on a starting pitcher track, but it's going to take some time to build his stamina to the level of a traditional SP workload. Maybe that's not what the Twins have in mind. 12. Trevor Larnach, OF 2021 Ranking: 10 Coming into the 2021 season, Larnach was one of the Twins' most outstanding outfield prospects. His debut brought forth both sides of that descriptor: "outstanding" and "prospect." During his first few weeks in the big leagues, Larnach looked like a natural, working counts and driving the ball with authority. Before long he was routinely batting third in Rocco Baldelli's lineups. Then, we were reminded that Larnach is a 24-year-old whose development was rushed by circumstance. While not quite as out-of-place in the majors as Gilberto Celestino, Larnach was definitely called up out of necessity, having only three Triple-A games under his belt after a lost year. To his credit, he handled it well, for a while. Through 32 games and 118 PA, Larnach was slashing .273/.390/.434 with a 29% K-rate. In the next 47 games and 183 PA, he'd slash .193/.279/.298 with a 38% K-rate. He further struggled after returning to Triple-A. It's hard to get a true feel for where he's at, and how heavily we should weigh the flaws that dragged him down after that good start. I tend to lean toward favoring his pedigree, reputation for adjustments, and raw skill. Larnach remains a crux piece for this organization going forward. 11. Luis Arraez, UTIL 2021 Ranking: 11 Many won't like to hear it, but this is a very generous ranking for Arraez. He's extremely popular and beloved among fans – understandably so – but there are a number of factors detracting from his value as an asset. First, there are the bad knees. They've frequently forced him off the field, and hobbled him while playing. Not a great long-term indicator for a 24-year-old. Then there is the lack of defensive impact. He's not above-average anywhere he plays, maybe not even average. Also, Arraez hasn't hit for any power, having turned in a paltry .376 slugging percentage last year. It feels necessary to get these drawbacks out of the way, only because anyone who's watched him knows Arraez is special. He has rarefied bat-to-ball skills, and a keen eye at the plate. His on-base proficiency is key to making a power-driven Twins lineup run. Arraez has a .313 average and .374 OBP through three big-league seasons. Those numbers speak for themselves. Though he's not great defensively at any one position, Arraez's ability to hold his own at several could be viewed as a major strength. I'm just not sure it's one that fits well with the Twins and their current situation. Will they trade him? Check back in next week for Part 3, where we'll crack into the top 10 of our rankings! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  19. Starting pitching must be part of Minnesota’s offseason equation, and Dylan Bundy has been the team's only offseason addition. Will the Twins rely on their young pitching depth in the years ahead? Current Starting Pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe Two young pitchers and three pitchers that struggled last season isn't the recipe needed for a last-place team trying to rebound. Bundy certainly has some intrigue, especially when looking back to his 2020 season. If the Twins can work with his pitch mix, he may improve enough to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. He's the most veteran pitcher on the staff, so there is a possibility the team adds other arms before Opening Day. Ober and Ryan were terrific during their first taste of the big leagues. Many were surprised by Ober's ability to pound the strike zone and work quickly. Ryan's unique fastball made it challenging for hitters to adjust, and he looks to be part of the team's long-term plans. Expectations need to be tempered with both pitchers because there will likely be some growing pains during their sophomore seasons. Last winter, Minnesota signed Dobnak to a unique extension, and then he proceeded to have his worst professional season. The Twins tried to use him in the bullpen to start the year, which was just the start of his season-long issues. Thorpe was limited to less than 40 innings last year, and he struggled at multiple levels. He's out of minor-league options, so he will have to earn a rotation spot this spring, or the team can try him in a bullpen role. 40-Man Roster Options Many of Minnesota's top pitching prospects are scheduled to spend time at Triple-A, and that might be one reason the club didn't spend big money on free agent pitching this winter. Top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Josh Winder, and Cole Sands are all on the 40-man roster and project to spend time in St. Paul. All four of these arms ranked in the team's top-20 prospects in the second half of the season. Griffin Jax has big-league experience, making him a depth option if some of the top prospects aren't ready. Minnesota acquired Drew Strotman and Ryan as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. One of the reasons the Twins acquired him was because he is close to big-league ready. Other players on the 40-man roster include Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow. Vallimont posted a 6.03 ERA in 21 Double-A starts last season, so it seems likely for him to get a repeat trip with Wichita. In June, Blayne Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery, so he won't be back into game action until later this summer. This winter, Minnesota had a tough decision regarding adding Enlow to the 40-man roster, but he can eventually be moved to the 60-day IL to open an additional roster spot. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's starting pitching depth. Minnesota has multiple starting pitching options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. At Triple-A, there are multiple players with big-league experience. Jake Faria received a non-roster invite when Minnesota signed him at the beginning of December. Devin Smeltzer was removed from the 40-man roster after injuries limited him to one appearance in 2021. Charlie Barnes posted a 3.79 ERA with a 1.28 in 16 Triple-A starts. Bryan Sammons and Austin Schulfer are both Rule 5 eligible but can slot into roles with St. Paul if they stay in the organization. Some of the team's other top-pitching prospects are penciled in for Double-A. Minnesota acquired Simeon Woods Richardson as part of the Jose Berrios trade. As a 20-year-old, he spent all of 2021 at Double-A and played in the Olympics. The Twins selected Matt Canterino in the second round back in 2019, but he was limited to six starts last season because of an elbow strain. Louie Varland finished the year at High-A, and he will be looking to build off his breakout 2021 season. There are some other names to watch in the minor's lower levels. Much of the organization's 2019 draft class projects to be at High-A, including Cody Laweryson, Sean Mooney, and Sawyer Gipson-Long. Laweryson was young for Cedar Rapids last season, and he posted a 3.86 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. In 13 starts, Mooney posted a 2.79 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. Gipson-Long struck out over 12 batters per nine innings at Low- and High-A in 2021. Steve Hajjar and Cade Povich were top-100 draft picks in 2021. Hajjar was one of the Big Ten's best pitchers in 2021, and that's why the Twins took him with the 61st pick. He has yet to make his professional debut. Povich dominated in his four starts after being drafted as he allowed one earned run and struck out more than 17 batters per nine innings. Their college experience can help to make them fast risers next season. Marco Raya and Chase Petty are two young pitchers to watch with the FCL Twins. Minnesota drafted Raya in the 4th round back in 2020 out of high school in Texas. Petty was the Twins 2021 first-round pick out of high school in New Jersey. Raya has yet to make a professional appearance, and Petty made two appearances after signing last year. Besides the names mentioned here, many other pitchers at each level can impact the upcoming season. Overall, Minnesota's current starting rotation doesn't look built for a playoff run, but 2022 may be set up for the young pitching core to debut. What do you think about the organization's starting pitching depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop — Center Field — Corner Outfield View full article
  20. It was a nightmare 2021 for Randy Dobnak. A massive opportunity was missed due to injury and general struggles. Even after a disappointing season, a massive opportunity awaits Dobnak on a pitching-needy 2022 Twins roster. The Twins offseason did not leave a great taste in the mouths of the fanbase before the CBA lockout commenced. The only addition to a rotation in need of at least three more reliable options was rebound-candidate Dylan Bundy with few high-end free agent options left. As a result, it sounds like the Twins could lean heavily on internal options. Much attention is rightfully drawn to the shiny prospects we haven’t seen yet, but people seem to be forgetting about Randy Dobnak. Dobnak’s popularity comes from more than his entertaining story and killer ‘stache. He was leaned on heavily down the stretch in 2019 en route to a surprising division title. He posted a 1.59 ERA in 28 1/3 innings as a whole and got off to a similar start in 2020. After a miserable 2021 where his ERA neared 8, however, why is Dobnak first in line for an opportunity? For starters, his 2021 needs to be taken with a grain of salt. His grip on the slider was reportedly changed before the season, and it just never really took. His expected batting average on the pitch rose from .204 to .356. Before he could attempt to make the necessary adjustments, he injured his right middle finger, a pivotal body part in executing a pitch. Baseball being a game of adjustments, it’s safe to assume Dobnak will spend this offseason trying to figure out what went wrong. He’ll surely continue to tweak his signature whiff pitch and could always pivot back to his previous grip on the slider if all else fails. Health is also a factor, as it’s easy to see how a new slider could end up finding inopportune parts of the strike zone more often when the finger used to guide it is in pain. The Twins shut Dobnak down rather than having him continue to fight through it, so the hope is that the extra time he was given has him fully healthy and ready to compete pain-free in 2022. Dobnak has also already earned the trust of the organization, and for good reason. He was thrust into a Game 2 playoff start in Yankee Stadium during his rookie season. Despite the results, paired with how much he helped the Twins rotation in 2019 and 2020 far outweighs his struggles during a 2021 season where it seemed like nobody lived up to expectation. The approximate $9m invested into the contract that will keep Dobnak in Minnesota through 2026 isn’t incredibly high, but the Twins surely won’t call that a sunk cost just yet. The fact of the matter is Dobnak is probably somewhere in between the sub 2.00 ERA pitcher we saw when he debuted and the one that posted a near 8.00 ERA in 2021. He won’t be the savior that shores up the front of the rotation, but profiling him behind Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan isn’t absurd. He’s a groundball artist who limits home runs and walks which is more than enough for a pitcher to settle into a solid career on a good baseball team. The pitching pipeline does grow ever closer to the Major Leagues with pitchers like Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder finally having reached AAA. It appears there will almost certainly be rotation spots to contend for during Spring Training, however, and Randy Dobnak would be my odds on favorite to get some run early in the year. It’s easy to forget after a miserable 2021, but if handed a rotation spot, there’s a chance Randy Dobnak simply doesn’t give it back. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here View full article
  21. Cody Pirkl

    Reboundin' Randy

    The Twins offseason did not leave a great taste in the mouths of the fanbase before the CBA lockout commenced. The only addition to a rotation in need of at least three more reliable options was rebound-candidate Dylan Bundy with few high-end free agent options left. As a result, it sounds like the Twins could lean heavily on internal options. Much attention is rightfully drawn to the shiny prospects we haven’t seen yet, but people seem to be forgetting about Randy Dobnak. Dobnak’s popularity comes from more than his entertaining story and killer ‘stache. He was leaned on heavily down the stretch in 2019 en route to a surprising division title. He posted a 1.59 ERA in 28 1/3 innings as a whole and got off to a similar start in 2020. After a miserable 2021 where his ERA neared 8, however, why is Dobnak first in line for an opportunity? For starters, his 2021 needs to be taken with a grain of salt. His grip on the slider was reportedly changed before the season, and it just never really took. His expected batting average on the pitch rose from .204 to .356. Before he could attempt to make the necessary adjustments, he injured his right middle finger, a pivotal body part in executing a pitch. Baseball being a game of adjustments, it’s safe to assume Dobnak will spend this offseason trying to figure out what went wrong. He’ll surely continue to tweak his signature whiff pitch and could always pivot back to his previous grip on the slider if all else fails. Health is also a factor, as it’s easy to see how a new slider could end up finding inopportune parts of the strike zone more often when the finger used to guide it is in pain. The Twins shut Dobnak down rather than having him continue to fight through it, so the hope is that the extra time he was given has him fully healthy and ready to compete pain-free in 2022. Dobnak has also already earned the trust of the organization, and for good reason. He was thrust into a Game 2 playoff start in Yankee Stadium during his rookie season. Despite the results, paired with how much he helped the Twins rotation in 2019 and 2020 far outweighs his struggles during a 2021 season where it seemed like nobody lived up to expectation. The approximate $9m invested into the contract that will keep Dobnak in Minnesota through 2026 isn’t incredibly high, but the Twins surely won’t call that a sunk cost just yet. The fact of the matter is Dobnak is probably somewhere in between the sub 2.00 ERA pitcher we saw when he debuted and the one that posted a near 8.00 ERA in 2021. He won’t be the savior that shores up the front of the rotation, but profiling him behind Bailey Ober and Joe Ryan isn’t absurd. He’s a groundball artist who limits home runs and walks which is more than enough for a pitcher to settle into a solid career on a good baseball team. The pitching pipeline does grow ever closer to the Major Leagues with pitchers like Jhoan Duran and Josh Winder finally having reached AAA. It appears there will almost certainly be rotation spots to contend for during Spring Training, however, and Randy Dobnak would be my odds on favorite to get some run early in the year. It’s easy to forget after a miserable 2021, but if handed a rotation spot, there’s a chance Randy Dobnak simply doesn’t give it back. — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email — Follow Cody Pirkl on Twitter here
  22. Current Starting Pitchers: Dylan Bundy, Bailey Ober, Joe Ryan, Randy Dobnak, Lewis Thorpe Two young pitchers and three pitchers that struggled last season isn't the recipe needed for a last-place team trying to rebound. Bundy certainly has some intrigue, especially when looking back to his 2020 season. If the Twins can work with his pitch mix, he may improve enough to be a middle-of-the-rotation pitcher. He's the most veteran pitcher on the staff, so there is a possibility the team adds other arms before Opening Day. Ober and Ryan were terrific during their first taste of the big leagues. Many were surprised by Ober's ability to pound the strike zone and work quickly. Ryan's unique fastball made it challenging for hitters to adjust, and he looks to be part of the team's long-term plans. Expectations need to be tempered with both pitchers because there will likely be some growing pains during their sophomore seasons. Last winter, Minnesota signed Dobnak to a unique extension, and then he proceeded to have his worst professional season. The Twins tried to use him in the bullpen to start the year, which was just the start of his season-long issues. Thorpe was limited to less than 40 innings last year, and he struggled at multiple levels. He's out of minor-league options, so he will have to earn a rotation spot this spring, or the team can try him in a bullpen role. 40-Man Roster Options Many of Minnesota's top pitching prospects are scheduled to spend time at Triple-A, and that might be one reason the club didn't spend big money on free agent pitching this winter. Top prospects Jordan Balazovic, Jhoan Duran, Josh Winder, and Cole Sands are all on the 40-man roster and project to spend time in St. Paul. All four of these arms ranked in the team's top-20 prospects in the second half of the season. Griffin Jax has big-league experience, making him a depth option if some of the top prospects aren't ready. Minnesota acquired Drew Strotman and Ryan as part of the Nelson Cruz trade. One of the reasons the Twins acquired him was because he is close to big-league ready. Other players on the 40-man roster include Chris Vallimont and Blayne Enlow. Vallimont posted a 6.03 ERA in 21 Double-A starts last season, so it seems likely for him to get a repeat trip with Wichita. In June, Blayne Enlow underwent Tommy John surgery, so he won't be back into game action until later this summer. This winter, Minnesota had a tough decision regarding adding Enlow to the 40-man roster, but he can eventually be moved to the 60-day IL to open an additional roster spot. On the Farm Options Not all of the players listed below are guaranteed to be on the team's roster at the start of next season. Still, it offers some insight into the organization's starting pitching depth. Minnesota has multiple starting pitching options populating the rosters throughout the minor leagues. At Triple-A, there are multiple players with big-league experience. Jake Faria received a non-roster invite when Minnesota signed him at the beginning of December. Devin Smeltzer was removed from the 40-man roster after injuries limited him to one appearance in 2021. Charlie Barnes posted a 3.79 ERA with a 1.28 in 16 Triple-A starts. Bryan Sammons and Austin Schulfer are both Rule 5 eligible but can slot into roles with St. Paul if they stay in the organization. Some of the team's other top-pitching prospects are penciled in for Double-A. Minnesota acquired Simeon Woods Richardson as part of the Jose Berrios trade. As a 20-year-old, he spent all of 2021 at Double-A and played in the Olympics. The Twins selected Matt Canterino in the second round back in 2019, but he was limited to six starts last season because of an elbow strain. Louie Varland finished the year at High-A, and he will be looking to build off his breakout 2021 season. There are some other names to watch in the minor's lower levels. Much of the organization's 2019 draft class projects to be at High-A, including Cody Laweryson, Sean Mooney, and Sawyer Gipson-Long. Laweryson was young for Cedar Rapids last season, and he posted a 3.86 ERA in the Arizona Fall League. In 13 starts, Mooney posted a 2.79 ERA with a 1.07 WHIP. Gipson-Long struck out over 12 batters per nine innings at Low- and High-A in 2021. Steve Hajjar and Cade Povich were top-100 draft picks in 2021. Hajjar was one of the Big Ten's best pitchers in 2021, and that's why the Twins took him with the 61st pick. He has yet to make his professional debut. Povich dominated in his four starts after being drafted as he allowed one earned run and struck out more than 17 batters per nine innings. Their college experience can help to make them fast risers next season. Marco Raya and Chase Petty are two young pitchers to watch with the FCL Twins. Minnesota drafted Raya in the 4th round back in 2020 out of high school in Texas. Petty was the Twins 2021 first-round pick out of high school in New Jersey. Raya has yet to make a professional appearance, and Petty made two appearances after signing last year. Besides the names mentioned here, many other pitchers at each level can impact the upcoming season. Overall, Minnesota's current starting rotation doesn't look built for a playoff run, but 2022 may be set up for the young pitching core to debut. What do you think about the organization's starting pitching depth? Leave a COMMENT and start the discussion. OTHER POSTS IN THE SERIES — Catchers — First Base — Second Base — Third Base — Shortstop — Center Field — Corner Outfield
  23. There's been a lot of frustration expressed over the Twins and their unwillingness to spend on free agent pitching. I share that frustration. I'm not going to defend it here. I'm just going to try and explain the likely reasoning behind it. Aaron Gleeman penned a great piece for The Athletic last week addressing the team's hesitance to spend on pitching. This has been a trend for years, and now has become a glaring oddity, given the severe need for rotation help. Unless they sign Carlos Rodón (unlikely), it is clear the Twins have actively decided to bow out of the high-end free agent pitching market this offseason. They had money in hand, and yet they let every frontline type fall off the board, with no signs of serious pursuit. Why? Part of it undoubtedly ties to a fundamental aversion to risk, but I think there are deeper strategic underpinnings. When you look at the organization's pitching pipeline, and the number of MLB-ready arms that need to be evaluated, it becomes a bit easier to understand the desire for extreme flexibility. A pipeline ready to pay off It's no secret: this front office was brought in to develop pitching. That was Cleveland's specialization when Derek Falvey was there, and it's been a calling card of successful mid-market organizations over the years. There seems to be a sense that Falvey has fallen short in this regard, but we're judging an incomplete picture. Realistically it takes around five years or so to draft-and-develop a pitcher. This regime had a minor-league season wiped out by COVID in their fourth. When you look at the proliferation of intriguing arms in the system that are approaching MLB-readiness, the plan appears to be on track following a jarring disruption. All of these pitching prospects could feasibly be listed with an ETA of 2022: Jordan Balazovic, RHP (23 next season) Jhoan Duran, RHP (24) Josh Winder, RHP (25) Cole Sands, RHP (24) Chris Vallimont, RHP (25) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (21) Drew Strotman, RHP (25) Matt Canterino, RHP (24) Louie Varland, RHP (24) When I say these are "interesting" pitching prospects, I don't mean, "These are guys with raw stuff who could put up numbers if they figure things out." They've all put up numbers. In some cases, ridiculous numbers. Most of them have reached the high minors, and nearly all are at an age where good prospects tend to take the big-league step. Are the Twins viewing 2022 as a season to fully evaluate the quality of these pitchers and assess the strategy they've been developing for half a decade? It seems that way to me. What to expect after the lockout If this theory is correct, it doesn't mean the Twins are going to stand idly and let Dylan Bundy be their only pitching addition. None of the prospects mentioned above will be ready to go out of the gates, barring an unforeseen spring development. But it does mean they'll likely continue to avoid larger investments in pitchers, and the commitments those entail. I wouldn't be surprised to see them sign one or two of the better mid-tier starters remaining – say, Zack Greinke or Michael Pineda – and then round out the staff with a bunch of hybrid starter/reliever types who can contribute bulk innings while offering some upside. I outlined what a model might look like in practice back in early November. This model would be ideal for gradually bringing along young rookie starters in a controlled setting. You're not asking them to go out and throw six innings every fifth day, which none are physically built up to do. You're simply asking them to let loose and impact games. Maybe even win some games. Is this a "rebuild"? Falvey has bristled at the notion his team is headed for a rebuild in 2022. "I'm not using that word," he told reporters. Is he off base? Even if the approach I've put forth above is accurate, I think it's fair to steer away from such a characterization. "Rebuild" implies having no real aspiration to contend, but rather starting anew with a long-term scope. The Twins aren't starting anew. They're sticking with the rebuilding plan that's already been in place throughout this front office's tenure. These internally-developed arms were always going to the hold the key to Falvey and Thad Levine's vision for a sustainable winner. It's time to get a gauge on the validity of that vision. A prototype to follow Looking back through franchise history, we can find a pretty decent parallel for what a youthful takeover of the rotation could look like: the 2008 season. That season, too, had the makings of a rebuild on the surface. Minnesota traded Johan Santana for prospects during the previous offseason, while letting Torii Hunter walk. They didn't go out and make any big moves in free agency. The rotation ended up being led by Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins. Of those four, only Baker had more than 100 innings of major-league experience coming into the campaign. All were between 24 and 26 years old. Ironically, the biggest misstep by the front office that year was signing Liván Hernández under the pretense that this young group of starters needed a veteran leader. Hernández posted a 5.48 ERA over 23 starts before being cut in August to make room for Francisco Liriano – another young starter who rounded out the youth-led rotation. That youth-led rotation proved very capable. The Twins came within a game of a postseason berth, thanks in part to a solid offense led by a pair of MVP contenders in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. The 2022 Twins offense, led by Byron Buxon, Jorge Polanco and others, will have a chance to win if they get any help from the pitching. Why can't that help come primarily from the internal pipeline? It's happened before. A learning year Despite my efforts here to understand and justify the front office's lack of aggressiveness on the pitching market, I can't deny that the youth movement plan is a long shot. For every example like the 2008 Twins, there are plenty more where inexperience doomed a young rotation. But I'd argue that even in that scenario, the coming season can be a valuable one. They can throw numerous guys into the fire, take stock of what they've got, and assess their needs going forward more accurately. Ideally, they'll add at least one more moderately good free agent starter and another impact arm via trade, so as to improve their odds and lessen the total reliance on unknowns. But as a general course of action, I don't hate the idea of letting the pipeline produce. It's not the start of a rebuild. It's the summation of a rebuild that was initiated six years ago when Falvey and Levine first took over. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
  24. Aaron Gleeman penned a great piece for The Athletic last week addressing the team's hesitance to spend on pitching. This has been a trend for years, and now has become a glaring oddity, given the severe need for rotation help. Unless they sign Carlos Rodón (unlikely), it is clear the Twins have actively decided to bow out of the high-end free agent pitching market this offseason. They had money in hand, and yet they let every frontline type fall off the board, with no signs of serious pursuit. Why? Part of it undoubtedly ties to a fundamental aversion to risk, but I think there are deeper strategic underpinnings. When you look at the organization's pitching pipeline, and the number of MLB-ready arms that need to be evaluated, it becomes a bit easier to understand the desire for extreme flexibility. A pipeline ready to pay off It's no secret: this front office was brought in to develop pitching. That was Cleveland's specialization when Derek Falvey was there, and it's been a calling card of successful mid-market organizations over the years. There seems to be a sense that Falvey has fallen short in this regard, but we're judging an incomplete picture. Realistically it takes around five years or so to draft-and-develop a pitcher. This regime had a minor-league season wiped out by COVID in their fourth. When you look at the proliferation of intriguing arms in the system that are approaching MLB-readiness, the plan appears to be on track following a jarring disruption. All of these pitching prospects could feasibly be listed with an ETA of 2022: Jordan Balazovic, RHP (23 next season) Jhoan Duran, RHP (24) Josh Winder, RHP (25) Cole Sands, RHP (24) Chris Vallimont, RHP (25) Simeon Woods Richardson, RHP (21) Drew Strotman, RHP (25) Matt Canterino, RHP (24) Louie Varland, RHP (24) When I say these are "interesting" pitching prospects, I don't mean, "These are guys with raw stuff who could put up numbers if they figure things out." They've all put up numbers. In some cases, ridiculous numbers. Most of them have reached the high minors, and nearly all are at an age where good prospects tend to take the big-league step. Are the Twins viewing 2022 as a season to fully evaluate the quality of these pitchers and assess the strategy they've been developing for half a decade? It seems that way to me. What to expect after the lockout If this theory is correct, it doesn't mean the Twins are going to stand idly and let Dylan Bundy be their only pitching addition. None of the prospects mentioned above will be ready to go out of the gates, barring an unforeseen spring development. But it does mean they'll likely continue to avoid larger investments in pitchers, and the commitments those entail. I wouldn't be surprised to see them sign one or two of the better mid-tier starters remaining – say, Zack Greinke or Michael Pineda – and then round out the staff with a bunch of hybrid starter/reliever types who can contribute bulk innings while offering some upside. I outlined what a model might look like in practice back in early November. This model would be ideal for gradually bringing along young rookie starters in a controlled setting. You're not asking them to go out and throw six innings every fifth day, which none are physically built up to do. You're simply asking them to let loose and impact games. Maybe even win some games. Is this a "rebuild"? Falvey has bristled at the notion his team is headed for a rebuild in 2022. "I'm not using that word," he told reporters. Is he off base? Even if the approach I've put forth above is accurate, I think it's fair to steer away from such a characterization. "Rebuild" implies having no real aspiration to contend, but rather starting anew with a long-term scope. The Twins aren't starting anew. They're sticking with the rebuilding plan that's already been in place throughout this front office's tenure. These internally-developed arms were always going to the hold the key to Falvey and Thad Levine's vision for a sustainable winner. It's time to get a gauge on the validity of that vision. A prototype to follow Looking back through franchise history, we can find a pretty decent parallel for what a youthful takeover of the rotation could look like: the 2008 season. That season, too, had the makings of a rebuild on the surface. Minnesota traded Johan Santana for prospects during the previous offseason, while letting Torii Hunter walk. They didn't go out and make any big moves in free agency. The rotation ended up being led by Scott Baker, Nick Blackburn, Kevin Slowey, and Glen Perkins. Of those four, only Baker had more than 100 innings of major-league experience coming into the campaign. All were between 24 and 26 years old. Ironically, the biggest misstep by the front office that year was signing Liván Hernández under the pretense that this young group of starters needed a veteran leader. Hernández posted a 5.48 ERA over 23 starts before being cut in August to make room for Francisco Liriano – another young starter who rounded out the youth-led rotation. That youth-led rotation proved very capable. The Twins came within a game of a postseason berth, thanks in part to a solid offense led by a pair of MVP contenders in Justin Morneau and Joe Mauer. The 2022 Twins offense, led by Byron Buxon, Jorge Polanco and others, will have a chance to win if they get any help from the pitching. Why can't that help come primarily from the internal pipeline? It's happened before. A learning year Despite my efforts here to understand and justify the front office's lack of aggressiveness on the pitching market, I can't deny that the youth movement plan is a long shot. For every example like the 2008 Twins, there are plenty more where inexperience doomed a young rotation. But I'd argue that even in that scenario, the coming season can be a valuable one. They can throw numerous guys into the fire, take stock of what they've got, and assess their needs going forward more accurately. Ideally, they'll add at least one more moderately good free agent starter and another impact arm via trade, so as to improve their odds and lessen the total reliance on unknowns. But as a general course of action, I don't hate the idea of letting the pipeline produce. It's not the start of a rebuild. It's the summation of a rebuild that was initiated six years ago when Falvey and Levine first took over. MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email
  25. José Miranda and Louie Varland both broke out in a massive way in 2021, paving their path to the majors. Who could follow their lead in 2022? 6-10: 10. LHP Jovani Morán 9. LHP Steve Hajjar 8. RHP Marco Raya 7. RHP Chris Vallimont 6. OF Kala’i Rosario 5. RHP Simeon Woods Richardson Predicting a breakout for a global top-100 prospect seems odd. For Woods Richardson, you could describe it as more of a bounce back. The Twins received the tall, well-regarded right-hander and Austin Martin in the blockbuster that sent José Berríos to Toronto last July. Woods Richardson had a forgettable season, posting a 5.91 ERA and 14% walk rate in just over 53 innings at Double-A. Even with those numbers, Woods Richardson used his (fluctuating) mid-90s fastball and sharp slider to strike out 77 of the 240 batters he faced. He just turned 21, and his future remains bright. 4. LF/OF Alerick Soularie The Twins picked Soularie in the 2nd round of the 2020 draft after he hit a remarkable .336/.448/.586 in 76 games at Tennessee. Soularie’s 1.068 OPS in 2019 was the third-highest mark in the SEC, behind only JJ Bleday (Marlins No. 5 prospect) and future teammate Austin Martin. Soularie’s future position is questionable, and he’ll likely fill multiple spots as he moves up the system. He was limited with a broken foot early in 2021 but returned to hit .240/.367/.360 in 34 games, mainly for Fort Myers. I’ll take the over on Soularie’s projected impact for 2022. 3. 1B Aaron Sabato It was a rough professional start for Sabato, whom the Twins selected with their first-round pick during the COVID-19 shutdown. The slugging Sabato hit just .189 for Fort Myers but buoyed it with a .365 On-Base Percentage, walking in nearly 20% of his plate appearances. The Twins promoted Sabato despite his shoddy numbers, and he responded hugely. The former North Carolina star hit .253/.402/.613 for an OPS over 1.000 in 97 plate appearances for the Kernels. He bashed eight homers in just 22 games, finally taking advantage of strikes he received for getting ahead in the count. He has a chance to move up quickly in 2022. 2. RHP Jhoan Duran Duran was undoubtedly on his way to Minnesota before an elbow injury derailed his season. Standing 6-foot-5 and 230 pounds, Duran is an imposing presence with the stuff to boot. He reaches 100 MPH with his fastball and pairs it with a devastating “splinker” hybrid, a pitch that should help him get both lefties and righties out in the majors. The Twins have a slew of potential threes or fours in their system. They only have a few who possess the repertoire to become a true No. 1 starter. Duran fits that bill, and it’s not out of the question that he could operate a spot in the Twins’ rotation as early as mid-2022. 1. OF Emmanuel Rodríguez It’s ill-advised to project teenagers as future stars, but if there’s one player in the Twins’ system who could warrant that excitement, it’s Rodríguez. Signed as an international free agent in 2019, Rodríguez quickly established himself during his first professional season. The 18-year-old left-handed swinger slugged .524 in 37 games for the FCL Twins. Rodríguez posted an .870 OPS despite striking out in nearly 40% of his plate appearances. More consistent contact and an adapted approach would turn Rodríguez, who plays a strong centerfield, into a true force. That could happen in 2022. Who are you most excited about? Comment below! MORE FROM TWINS DAILY — Order the Offseason Handbook — Latest Twins coverage from our writers — Recent Twins discussion in our forums — Follow Twins Daily via Twitter, Facebook or email View full article
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